Yes, Indeed, James Bond is a Codename (And Skyfall Proved it)

Is James Bond a code name?

James Bond is a codename, but James Bond doesn’t know that it’s a codename. Because the man who knows himself as James Bond has been brainwashed. And all the answers live within the 2012 film Skyfall.

For decades, there has been an ongoing debate over the continuity of the James Bond films.  You can call it the James Bond Codename Theory.

Specifically, the debate is between two options:

  1. the James Bond films do not care at all about continuity, and yes, each character is named James Bond, and he’s the same James Bond, who cares that he looks and acts different all the time, or
  2.  the James Bond films tell one long story, in which a variety of men adopt the codename of James Bond when they join MI6.

Well, the debate has mostly subsided after Skyfall, as many people found it to be proof that James Bond’s name is James Bond, considering that Daniel Craig’s Bond goes to his childhood home, named Skyfall, where he looks at the gravestones of his parents, whose names are Mr. and Mrs. Bond.

Seems straightforward... or is it?
Seems straightforward… or is it?

This suggests, definitively to many viewers, that James Bond is absolutely not a codename.

What I suggest instead is this: James Bond is a codename, but James Bond doesn’t know that it’s a codename.  Why?  Because the man who knows himself as James Bond has been brainwashed.

The suggestions of this reality are all there, with one standing above all the others: the relationship between Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem’s character), M (Judi Dench), and James Bond.  Silva is a former MI6 agent who worked under M, before taking up the occupation of cyber-terrorist.  Throughout the film, he repeatedly attempts to bond with 007, including referring to both himself and Bond as rats, held and tortured by M.

This part.
This part.

And this next part of my theory is a credit to Bardem’s acting, as it’s something I cannot capture through simple plot synopsis and analysis.  There is an element to Bardem’s acting that not only ensnares you, but in which it appears that he has a secret he isn’t sharing.  His grin, his eyes, his body language, and the way he lingers on certain words as he speaks.

Columnist Stephen L. Carter has suggested that this secret is that Silva is the long-lost son of M, writing about it in “The Secret James Bond Missed in Skyfall.”  While I agree with the evidence for this, my interpretation is not that he is the literal son of M, but that he identifies as one of her many sons, as all her agents are her sons.  But he is also this: the only other living James Bond.

It explains his connection (and affection) regarding Bond, his disdain for M, their complicated dynamic, and, finally, let’s return to Bardem’s acting.  Remember that knowing look of his?  It’s on full view as he arrives at Skyfall, casually walking out of his helicopter and tossing grenades at the house.  He remembers Skyfall well.  It’s the place he had been brainwashed into believing was his childhood home.  Just as Daniel Craig’s Bond was brainwashed into thinking the same thing.  The brainwashing was so thorough, the identity so complete, that Silva even knew Bond would bring M there, and he had prepared for it.  Not only is it the place where they are brainwashed into believing they were raised, but it is also the place where their training and brainwashing occurred.

Where it all began, and ended.
Where it all began, and ended.

This also explains Silva’s thorough need to “make an entrance as he attacks” and, ultimately, leave the estate in shambles, by shredding the home with bullets, tossing grenades into it, and ultimately burning it down.  He considers himself so betrayed, so thoroughly manipulated, that killing M and discrediting MI6 isn’t enough: he must burn down the place where it all started.

Finally, this ties into the other films, particularly the loose continuity that ties them all together.  An example being, how was Judi Dench the only character who bridged from the Pierce Brosnan films to the Craig films?  And why do some of the James Bonds remember things that happened to Bonds played by different actors?

The one answer to all the lingering questions regarding 007 is simple: yes, James Bond is a codename, but no, James Bond doesn’t know it’s a codename.

Now let’s considered this debate settled, and starting looking forward to Spectre.

Interested in more on this subject? Read the follow-ups to this blog post: James Bond, Fan Theories, and the Fragile Online Fan and How Spectre Reaffirmed the Brainwashed Bond Fan Theory

Or—if you’re one of the readers who think the issue with this is D. F. Lovett’s overactive imagination—check out The Moonborn by D. F. Lovett


  1. Great theory, worths to be true. Thinking about, it has more range of expansion if it is true. This explains why always the boss of the 00 department is “M” (and this passes on), and possibly helps to understand why there is always a “Moneypenny” who always has a relationship of sorts with the James Bonds. Furthermore, I don’t see no reason for this not to be true to rest of the 00s, everyone with his own identity and codename as 007 is James Bond. Furthermore, I think there must be some trauma with a girl to make a new James Bond the Bond we all know (to fix his personality, I mean), much in the line of Vesper. Furthermore, there must be something similar going on with the Felix Lighters over the years… It’s so great as a theory it may expand the universe by itself. Amazing.

  2. Wow you really over thought this one you have quite an imagination you should wright your own stories.

    1. Thank you! I am working on my own stories, you can check out my About the Author page or check back in a few months to grab a copy of my forthcoming novel.

  3. Yeeeeeaaah…, you have a huge imagination, i”ll give you that. But the answer is obvious, it’s not a codename, and you’re a fucking retard for thinking that it is, you just want it to be a codename so bad you’re making up crazy stupid shit that has nothing to do with the story of the movie. It’s not a codename, they just don’t give a fucking fuck about continuity.


    1. Thank you for reading, and for complimenting my imagination, and for taking the time to comment. It’s awesome knowing that my writing can provoke such a passionate response from a stranger.

  4. Great read, but Spectre would seem to have done away with that theory with the guardianship of Bond after the death of his parents. Maybe his is a Time Lord-

    1. I would agree… but I actually have a theory that I’m working on about how Spectre reaffirms the brainwashed theory, which I’ll be posting on here some time soon.

      1. If it were a codename, why would Roger Moore’s bond be grieving at Tracy’s grave in For your Eyes Only when she was killed in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, when Lazenby was Bond? Or when Connery tried to get revenge on Blofeld for murdering his wife?
        Why would they put “British Naval Commandeer James Bond murdered”in the newspaper in You Only Live Twice when Bond faked his death?
        Why would George Lazenby’s Bond be reflecting on past missions while looking through his office at things he collected when he was played by Connery?
        And another great big problem with your “theory” is if it’s a codename that they pass to the next 007, why does it switch from Connery in You only live twice to Lazenby in On her Majesty’s Secret Service and then back to Connery in Diamonds are Forever?????
        James Bond is NOT a codename. There is only one Bond. Nobody does it better.
        Sorry about your theory. You have a great imagination but you have to look at the facts.

    1. Thanks for reading, although didn’t you learn not to call people names? I’m a pretty big believer in Death of the Author, which makes anything the writer says irrelevant. (I’m also unclear which writer you mean)

  5. Hey idiot, have you forgotten his resignation, that doesn’t just from10-15 years in the force, that shows that he has been through all lot of trauma and he can no longer keep those feelings of sorrow bottled up inside- A brain-washed my would not be able to feel such things.

  6. The Craig movies are PREQUALS people. He is supposed to be Bond starting out. The first M was a male, which is why Judi died off and Ralph Fiens is now M. The original M was a man and we are now caught up to the movies before Dr. No.

  7. Late to the discussion but I think the biggest flaw in your theory is that Silva didn’t know about the tunnel under the house-only realising that M could have escaped after seeing the light across the moor. Given that Kincade says Bond hid down there for days after his parents’ deaths and that Bond himself seems familiar with the tunnel, a previous iteration of him would have known to seal it off or destroy it before the assault.

    Also, it’s clear that M has a kind of intimate relationship with all her agents and that spy work is numbing to the soul so it’s not hard to imagine any 00 going rogue with enough of a push and blanking her. And Silva’s attitude when destroying the house was callous rather than an impassioned destruction. It’s pretty clear that he’s very straightforward about killing so it’s likely that he was just trying to get the job done.

  8. What does your theory make of Kinkade? How does it take him and his lines and their (Bond’s and Kinkade’s) knowledge of each other into account? It seems your theory would have to make Kinkade a plant, and “in the know” about brainwashing. It was a fun read though, and I have no vulgar names to call you (why do some people get so worked up about fiction as though they were being threatened with the loss of job or home?).

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting! I agree that Kinkade would have to be an agent of M and the 007 brainwashing program on some level.

      I’ve been planning on writing a follow-up to this where I address both some of these questions but also how Spectre fits in.

  9. It is a nice theory, but seems a little over thought. The reason that other actors that have played Bond appear to have knowledge of previous adventures is easily explained in that Daniel Craig’s Bond is a re-boot. Casino Royale is the 1st Book and continuity wise consider it the 1st film. I think the fact that George Lazenby got married to Tracy & years later Roger Moore is at her grave. The fact that Felix mentions that Timothy Dalton’s Bond was once married. The fact that Daniel Craig goes to his family home and sees his parents grave is a lot less convoluted. This is Bond not Bourne.

  10. So when you said “they proved it” what you really meant to say, because of course you wouldn’t be trying to clickbait because that’s a horrible practice which you’re so clearly not doing, anyway, what you meant to say was “and skyfall gives some weak circumstancial evidence to suggest the possibility of the theory that its a codename”

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting and suggesting what I meant to say… but no, I said what I said, meant what I meant, said what I meant and meant what I said.

    1. That’s the most straightforward aspect of this fan theory. She’s M for the tenure of two different James Bonds.

  11. So each Bond is somehow implanted with the memories and skills accumulated by all the previous Bonds? Wouldn’t the Daniel Craig Bond ever stop to question why he remembers fighting Dr No back in 1962 when he isn’t even old enough to have been born then?

    1. No, I didn’t mean to suggest that he’s brainwashed into getting Bond’s entire backstory.

  12. I’ve heard of other people trying to say similar things about 007 being a number that gets passed around along with the name but I don’t agree. To develop any theories about James Bond you have to study the books not the movies which bear very little resemblance to the books. In the books James Bond is very definitely the same person throughout.

    1. Thanks, but I disagree about the books versus the movies. While it’s illustrating to read the source material, this theory is based on the films alone.

  13. I really like your theory and as mentioned before, the continuation is terrible within the 007 movies (not to be mistaken with the books). However, if we are to look at it from very very broad perspective, it makes sense for the character to use a codename, regardless if its by brainwashing from childhood or by knowingly so. Now that we are having a female 007 things would get interesting when it comes to naming the main character. My personal belief is that, yes – the names given within the fictional MI6 are all codenames (M.. Q… Moneypenny.. James Bond…)

    P.S. to all the people that criticize your imagination – All forms of art, including movies, should provoke and inspire one’s imagination. If you perseive all storytelling and art as fact based truths, you might be really sad to know that Bambi is not a real thing.

  14. I disagree with the theory but I like it, nonetheless, and I cannot believe the aggression you’re getting from other people whose views don’t align with yours. The Internet really has brought the end of pleasant discussion.

  15. And why couldn’t all memoeries be added while brainwashing new James Bond?
    Imagine if there is a technology to transfere years of experience from one TOP agent to another by adding new 007 memories from previous 007s.
    Experience is the reason why 007 is the best and if 30 years old agent can have experience of 50-60 years work in HMSS, he is not only a best there is, he’s a legend in small circle of secret agents even if JB never was a single person.
    If You have seen “V for Vendeta”, there was a line “Behind this mask there is more than just flesh. Beneath this mask there is an idea… and ideas are bulletproof.”.
    Maybe James Bond IS a codename, the mask that is worn by more then one agent. Maybe JB in his cinematic version was never a person, but idea, a name, a mask, worn by the best agent there is… at the moment. And upgraded with memories – experience of every previous incarnation of this idea, this legend who had her own name. And name of this idea is Bond. James Bond.

  16. Well .. what do you think now? The most telling thing to me in ‘No Time To Die’ was the portrait of Robert Brown as M (might have been Bernard Lee but can’t remember). Why would he be included? The only reason can be that his tenure of M existed, and thus so did Connery’s as Bond. So it IS a code name. There are lots of flaws to the theory – inconstancies rather – as mentioned earlier by Cody and others. But a lot of retcons have these problems that we will just have to conveniently ignore. I think it’s a cool idea. And we can now get either Dalton or Brosnan back in for a cameo – or as the baddie (though I think that would be a step too far, personally).

    1. I think the mystery has deepened! Intrigued by what happens next, although I agree with you that Dalton or Brosnan as a Bond villain would be a step too far for my taste as well.

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