SPECTRE is a fictional organisation featured in the James Bond novels by Ian Fleming, the films based on those novels, and James Bond video games. Led by criminal mastermind Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the international organisation first formally appeared in the novel Thunderball and in the film Dr. No. SPECTRE is not aligned to any nation or political ideology, enabling the later Bond books and Bond films to be regarded as somewhat apolitical, though the presence of former Gestapo members in the organisation are a clear sign of Fleming's warning of Nazi fugitives after the Second World War first detailed in the novel Moonraker. SPECTRE began in the novels as a small group of criminals but became a vast international organisation with its own SPECTRE Island training base in the films, to replace the Soviet SMERSH.

Philosophy and goals

In Ian Fleming's novels, SPECTRE is a commercial enterprise led by Blofeld. The top level of the organisation is made up of twenty-one individuals, eighteen of whom handle day-to-day affairs and are drawn in groups of three from six of the world's most notorious organisations—the Nazi German Gestapo, the Soviet SMERSH, Yugoslav Marshal Josip Broz Tito's OZNA, the Italian Mafia, the French-Corsican Unione Corse, and a massive Turkish heroin-smuggling operation. The remaining three members are Blofeld himself and two scientific/technical experts. Their début is in the ninth Bond novel, Thunderball. When Fleming was writing the novel in 1959, he believed that the Cold War might end during the two years it would take to produce the film, and came to the conclusion that the inclusion of a contemporary political villain would leave the film looking dated; he therefore thought it better to create a politically neutral enemy for Bond. Fleming's SPECTRE has elements inspired by mafia syndicates and organised crime rings that were actively hunted by law enforcement in the 1950s. The strict codes of loyalty and silence, and the hard retributions that followed violations, were hallmarks of American gangster rings, the Italian Mafia, the Unione Corse, the Chinese Tongs and Triads and the Japanese Yakuza and Black Dragon Society. During the events of Thunderball, SPECTRE successfully hijack two nuclear warheads and plan to hold the world to ransom.
The organisation is next mentioned in the tenth novel, The Spy Who Loved Me, when Bond describes investigating their activities in Toronto before the story begins, though they play no part in the story itself. The organisation's third appearance is in the eleventh novel, On Her Majesty's Secret Service where Blofeld, hired by an unnamed country or party—though the Soviet Union is implied—is executing a plan to ruin British agriculture with biological warfare. Blofeld, with a weakened SPECTRE, would appear for the final time in the twelfth novel, You Only Live Twice. By this point, the organisation has largely been shut down, and what remains is focused on maintaining Blofeld's alias as Dr. Guntram von Shatterhand and his compound in Japan.
In the films, the organisation often acts as a third party in the ongoing Cold War. Their objectives have variously ranged from supporting Dr. Julius No in sabotaging American rocket launches, holding the world to ransom, and demanding clemency from governments for their previous crimes. The goal of world domination was only ever stated in You Only Live Twice, and SPECTRE was working not for itself but on behalf of an unnamed Asian government whose two representatives Blofeld speaks to during the film; this is strongly implied to be Red China, who earlier backed Auric Goldfinger in the film of the same name.
Its long-term strategy, however, is illustrated by the analogy of the three Siamese fighting fish Blofeld keeps in an aquarium aboard SPECTRE's yacht in the film version of From Russia with Love. Blofeld notes that one fish is refraining from fighting two others until their fight is concluded. Then, that cunning fish attacks the weakened victor and kills it easily. Thus SPECTRE's main strategy is to instigate conflict between two powerful enemies, namely the superpowers, hoping that they will exhaust themselves and be vulnerable when it seizes power. SPECTRE thus works with, and against, both sides of the Cold War. For example, in the film Thunderball, it simultaneously blackmails a Japanese double agent, distributes Red Chinese narcotics in the United States, kills a defector to the USSR on behalf of the French Foreign Ministry, and threatens NATO with stolen nuclear weapons, while continuing ordinary criminal operations such as advising on the British Great Train Robbery.
In both the film and the novel Thunderball, the physical headquarters of the organisation are laid in Paris, operating behind a front organisation aiding refugees. Organisational discipline is notoriously draconian, with the penalty for disobedience or failure being death. Furthermore, to heighten the impact of the executions, Blofeld often chooses to focus attention on an innocent member, making it appear his death is imminent, only to suddenly strike down the actual target when that person is off guard.


SPECTRE is headed by the criminal mastermind Ernst Stavro Blofeld who usually appears accompanied by a Chinchilla Silver Persian cat in the films, but not in the books. In both the films and the novels, Emilio Largo is the second in command. It is stated in the novel that if something were to happen to Blofeld, Largo would assume command. Largo appears in the 1961 novel Thunderball, the 1965 film version and its
1983 remake, Never Say Never Again, where he is renamed Maximilian Largo and is said to be Romanian rather than Italian.
The SPECTRE cabinet had a total of twenty-one members. Blofeld was the chairman and leader because he founded the organisation, and Largo was elected by the cabinet to be second in command. A physicist named Kotze and an electronics expert named Maslov were also included in the group for their expertise on scientific and technical matters.
Members are typically referred to by number rather than by name. In the novels, the numbers of members were initially assigned at random and then rotated up by two digits on a once-a-month basis to prevent detection; for example, if a SPECTRE operative is titled "Number 1" in the present month, the security system will designate them "Number 3" in the next month, "Number 5" in the following month and so forth. However, in the EON films the number indicates rank within the organisation: Blofeld is always referred to as "Number 1" and Emilio Largo, in Thunderball, is "Number 2". This particular example of numbering is perhaps deliberately borrowed from revolutionary organisations, wherein members exist in cells, and are numerically defined to prevent identification and cross-betrayal of aims. By deliberately drawing attention away from the true leader of the organisation, he is protected by masquerading as a target of lower importance, and the structure of the organisation is also obscured from intelligence services.
Members who fail missions are immediately executed, usually in gory and spectacular ways. In the novel, Blofeld electrocutes one member in his chair for sexually molesting a girl who had been kidnapped by the organization; he had previously strangled a second to death with a garrote and shot a third through the heart with a compressed-air pistol. In the film, Number 9 is electrocuted at the Thunderball meeting where he and Number 11 report on the proceeds from a narcotics-related operation; he was killed for embezzlement, which resulted in SPECTRE only receiving $2,300,000, rather than the higher figure Blofeld had anticipated. The merciless killing of assistant Helga Brandt in You Only Live Twice, for failing to kill James Bond, horrifies even visiting Red Chinese agents; she is thrown into Blofeld's piranhas pool and dies in terror as she is eaten.



In the original Bond novel series, SPECTRE's first and last appearance as a worldwide power is in the novel Thunderball, published in 1961. In the novel, SPECTRE, headed by Blofeld, attempts to conduct nuclear blackmail against NATO. Apparently disbanded afterwards, SPECTRE is said to be active again in the next book, The Spy Who Loved Me, although the organisation is not involved in the plot. In On Her Majesty's Secret Service, the second chapter of what is known as the "Blofeld Trilogy", Blofeld has revived SPECTRE where he attempts to carry out biological warfare against the United Kingdom. Blofeld's final appearance is in You Only Live Twice, where SPECTRE has largely disbanded.
Later, the John Gardner Bond novel, For Special Services introduces a revived SPECTRE led by Blofeld's daughter, Nena Bismaquer. Although Bond ultimately prevents SPECTRE from reforming, it continued, under the leadership of Tamil Rahani, to play a part in Role of Honour and Nobody Lives for Ever. The next Bond novelist, Raymond Benson, reintroduces Irma Bunt, Blofeld's assistant, in his short story "Blast From the Past", which is a sequel to You Only Live Twice.


In the EON Productions James Bond series, which began in 1962 with Dr. No, SPECTRE plays a more prominent role. The organisation is first mentioned in Dr. No as the organisation for which Dr. No works, though the main villain organisation is No's personal army. This was changed from Fleming's novels, which had Dr. No working for the USSR. In the films, SPECTRE usually replaced SMERSH as the main villains, although there is a brief reference to SMERSH in the second EON Bond film, From Russia with Love. The film adaptation of From Russia with Love also features the first on-screen appearance of Blofeld, although he is only identified by name in the closing credits of the film and his face is not seen at all. SPECTRE also serve as the primary antagonists of the film, orchestrating a plan to humiliate and kill James Bond as revenge for the death of Dr. No.
After being absent from the third film, Goldfinger, SPECTRE returns in the fourth film, Thunderball, which closely mirrors the events of the novel, and subsequently is featured in the following films. During the events of the fifth film, You Only Live Twice, they attempt to incite a war between the nuclear powers, the United States and Soviet Union. In film number six, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Blofeld develops a germ warfare programme and plans to demand clemency and recognition of a claimed title of nobility. SPECTRE's final appearance is in the seventh film, Diamonds Are Forever, where they attempt to forcibly disarm the Cold War powers. SPECTRE was dismantled for good after Diamonds Are Forever. Following Diamonds Are Forever, SPECTRE and Blofeld were retired from the EON Films series, except for a cameo by Blofeld in film 12, For Your Eyes Only in which said character is finally killed. Partly owing to a copyright dispute between rival Bond producers Albert R. Broccoli and Kevin McClory, the character is never referred to by name and is credited as "Wheelchair Villain", though the closed captions for the film later referred to him as Blofeld.
The organisation returns in the Daniel Craig series of Bond films, which are set in an entirely separate story to the earlier movies. In the 2015 film Spectre, the eponymous committee is simply referred to by that title. In the film, Bond is posthumously sent by Judi Dench's M to assassinate Marco Sciarra, which in turn leads him on the trail of the organisation. It is revealed throughout the course of the film that Spectre, and in turn Ernst Stavro Blofeld, have been responsible for the villainous events of the previous Craig films. The Quantum organisation from 2008's Quantum of Solace is revealed to be a subsidiary of Spectre, while Raoul Silva from Skyfall is shown to be affiliated with the organisation. In addition to Silva, Le Chiffre, Mr. White, and Dominic Greene are all revealed to have a direct connection to Spectre. The organisation behind Le Chiffre in 2006's Casino Royale was revealed to be Spectre in the 2015 film through retroactive establishment. This iteration of Spectre will return in the upcoming 2020 film No Time to Die.

Non-EON film appearances

In 1983 Warner Bros. released Never Say Never Again, starring Sean Connery and based on the same original source material as Thunderball. The film retells the basic story of Thunderball, albeit with some new characters and in an updated setting. It also reintroduces both SPECTRE and Blofeld. Though the film was not made by EON Productions, it nevertheless makes every attempt to fit into the continuity already established in the EON series and there is no suggestion that the Blofeld and SPECTRE in this film is in any way separate or different from the SPECTRE long established by earlier Sean Connery films. The film is essentially another chapter in the continuing series.

Video games

SPECTRE is shown, but never mentioned by name, in the game . Instead, it is referred to as a "powerful criminal organisation". It is depicted as being much more powerful than it was in any of the films or books, possessing a massive undersea black market known as "The Octopus", resembling Karl Stromberg's Atlantis lair from The Spy Who Loved Me, a large lair built into an extinct volcano akin to the films which is used as the main base of operations, and also the personal structures of its members such as Auric Goldfinger's Auric Enterprises facility and casino and Dr. No's Crab Key, also returning from the films. SPECTRE also possesses extremely advanced technology, such as virtual reality and energy generators in its volcano lair.
Although the From Russia with Love video game mirrors much of the plot of the eponymous film, it uses an organisation called OCTOPUS rather than SPECTRE to avoid copyright issues.


A version of SPECTRE similar to the novels was featured in the comic strips published in the Daily Express newspaper between 1958 and 1983. The organisation however didn't appear in the comic books until Eidolon, a miniseries published by Dynamite Entertainment in 2016, written by Warren Ellis and illustrated by Jason Masters. In this comic, SPECTRE has a World War II organisation that is mostly defunct. Loyalists endured as plants and sleeper agents in the aftermath of a Warsaw Pact surge, waiting for the right moment for SPECTRE to have a reformation and resurgence.

Copyright issues

SPECTRE and its characters were at the centre of long-standing litigation between Kevin McClory and Ian Fleming over the film rights to Thunderball and the ownership of the organisation and its characters. In 1963, Fleming settled out of court with McClory, which awarded McClory the film rights to Thunderball, although literary rights would stay with Fleming and thus allow continuation author John Gardner to use SPECTRE in a number of his novels.
In 1963, EON Productions producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman made an agreement with McClory to adapt the novel into the fourth James Bond film, also stipulating that McClory would not be allowed to make further adaptations of Thunderball for at least ten years after the release. Although SPECTRE and Blofeld were used in a number of films before and after Thunderball, the issue over the copyright of Thunderball prevented SPECTRE and Blofeld from becoming the main villains in 1977's The Spy Who Loved Me. In 1983, McClory released a film based on his Bond rights entitled Never Say Never Again.
In 1998, MGM/UA took legal action against Sony and McClory in the United States to prevent Warhead 2000 AD from going into production. MGM/UA abandoned the claim after settling with Sony. McClory's Bond rights, including his rights in SPECTRE, were unaffected.
On 15 November 2013, MGM and the McClory estate announced that they had formally settled the issue with Danjaq, LLC and MGM had acquired the full copyright to the characters and concepts of Blofeld and SPECTRE. Having lost its mantle of acronym, now simply called Spectre, the organisation and Blofeld were the main antagonists in the first Bond film released after the settlement, Spectre.

SPECTRE henchmen

Henchmen working for SPECTRE, one of its members, or directly for Ernst Stavro Blofeld:


This is only a brief description of the numbers of each member. In the first book to include SPECTRE, Thunderball, it is stated that the numbers of each member changes periodically to avoid detection and Blofeld is in fact "Number 2".


; By order of appearance and fate:


In Casino Royale, it is revealed Le Chiffre and a reluctant Vesper Lynd are in league with a crime syndicate that is behind Mr. White and subsequently identified as Spectre in the 2015 film of the same name led by Ernst Stravo Blofeld in this rebooted continuity as well. Blofeld reveals to Bond he was behind Le Chiffre and the organisation known as Quantum from the 2008 Bond film, it being a subsidiary of Spectre. Blofeld was also behind Raoul Silva's rampage in Skyfall. The film Spectre presents the organisation as a conspiracy of legitimate businesses and organised crime, moving to become a private intelligence agency.
Due to the embargo placed on the series as a result of the copyright dispute, the rebooted series initially introduced the terrorist cell Quantum as a replacement, but was then retconned to be a subsidiary of Spectre.

Members and acquaintances

SPECTRE is often parodied in films, video games, and novels. Well known examples are THRUSH and KAOS from The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Get Smart. The most obvious is the Austin Powers series of films. In this, a man named Dr. Evil is the leader of a villainous organisation called Virtucon. Dr. Evil's second in command, known only as "Number Two", is a parody of Emilio Largo, Blofeld's second in command.