The Best Movie Spies That Aren't James Bond

List Rules
Vote up the spies who could save the world from any threat.

Everyone knows about James Bond, the British super-spy who chugs martinis, rocks at baccarat, and beds more women than the Sealy Mattress company. But what about the other, lesser-known super-spies? The cinema landscape is littered with tough-as-nails covert agents who are just as cool as 007.

Some of these characters lead double lives, while the rest of them are just spies through and through. Many of the best spy characters have been brainwashed by their respective governments and have a chip on their shoulders, but some of these black op characters work to take down global threats for queen and country just like Bond, James Bond.

Which one of these movie spies is the best, and which of them deserve to have their cover blown?


  • Who Is HeJohn Mason might actually be James Bond. He's a former British spy, as well as a former member of MI6, and he's escaped from a variety of prisons - most notably Alcatraz. Incarcerated for more than 30 years after stealing documents from the FBI, he's never given up the location of the pilfered microfilm.

    Who Does He Work For: When we meet Mason in The Rock, he's in prison, so he's in this game for himself. However, he spent many of his formative years in British intelligence.

    Special Skills: Is Mason good with a gun? Sure. But his real prowess is his brain. He's an excellent planner who thinks on his feet and knows how to inspire the people working for him.

    Greatest Feats: There's really nothing like watching a sixty-year-old spy rip through a bunch of Marines with Nicolas Cage by his side. Mason doesn't get a chance to go hand to hand all that often in The Rock, but when he does, he packs a surprising wallop.

  • 2
    35 VOTES
    George Smiley
    Photo: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy / StudioCanal

    Who Is He: George Smiley is the opposite of the dashing super spy. He's short, polite, and he would rather take abuse from someone that gets into a row about something meaningless.

    Who Does He Work For: The British overseas intelligence agency, otherwise known as "The Circus." 

    Special Skills: Even though he looks like a human doormat, Smiley is a master spy. He has a genius IQ and a mastery of modern spycraft techniques. He knows that people underestimate him, and that's when he's most deadly.

    Greatest Feats: One of Smiley's greatest moments occurs when he convinces a Russian mole to essentially out himself by outing a different spy who's pretending to be the mole. It's super impressive.

  • 3
    58 VOTES
    Jason Bourne
    Photo: The Bourne Identity / Universal Pictures

    Who Is He: An Army vet from the middle of nowhere Missouri, Bourne was born David Webb. After his father, a CIA analyst, is taken out by his own men, Webb joins a black ops program where he's brainwashed into the perfect undercover agent. When he's shot during a mission, Bourne suffers amnesia before hitting back at the operatives he once worked for.

    Who Does He Work For: Bourne is a former operative of the CIA/Treadstone who's since gone into business for himself.

    Special Skills: Bourne speaks multiple languages, has an exceptional IQ that may have been altered by the government, and has extremely well-attuned hand-eye coordination.

    Greatest Feats: Jason Bourne has accomplished a lot of cool stuff in his tenure as an amnesiac former assassin, but we've got to take our hats off to the time he broke into CIA headquarters by convincing an entire task force he was hanging out in a local park. After making a phone call to the co-chair of the task force and telling her he wanted to meet, Bourne simply waited for everyone to clear out before he sauntered into the CIA's offices in New York City and walked out with files pertaining to his past.

  • 4
    33 VOTES

    Harry Palmer

    Harry Palmer
    Photo: The Ipcress File / Rank Film Distributors

    Who Is He: A secret agent with a chip on his shoulder, Harry Palmer has seen it all. He started his life as a criminal before joining the British Army and getting thrown into the world of espionage.

    Who Does He Work For: The Ministry of Defense.

    Special Skills: Palmer may not HALO jump or travel through time, but the one thing you can count on him to do is zig when he's supposed to zag. After getting brainwashed in The Ipcress File, Palmer undoes his conditioning by simply being so dang insubordinate.

    Greatest Feats: Once again, this guy undid days of black ops brainwashing, thus bringing a domestic terror operation to a screeching halt by simply being an ornery jerk.

  • 5
    39 VOTES

    Lorraine Broughton

    Lorraine Broughton
    Photo: Atomic Blonde / Focus Features

    Who Is She: Resourceful, dangerous, and extremely capable, Lorraine spends much of her spy time working as a double agent behind the Berlin Wall in Berlin.

    Who Does She Work For: MI6.

    Special Skills: Accents, surveillance, and hand-to-hand combat are where this super-spy excels.

    Greatest Feats: Lorraine's most boss moment occurs when she fights her way to the top of an apartment complex full of armed enemy combatants. It's 10 minutes of pure, bloody bliss.

  • 6
    40 VOTES
    Tony Mendez
    Photo: Argo / Warner Bros.

    Who Is He: An exfiltration specialist, Tony Mendez is the guy you call when you need to get people out of a sticky situation. For instance, if someone needed to secretly help six would-be Canadian hostages escape from Iran, he would be the person for the job.

    Who Does He Work For: The CIA.

    Special Skills: Mendez is able to devise high-concept schemes with multiple layers when attempting to help those in need out of sticky situations. He also has a lot of contacts in Hollywood, which is hard enough for people in the industry - let alone a guy who lives in Virginia in the 1980s.

    Greatest Feats: Tricking the Iranian government by posing as the producer for a science fiction film titled "Argo" in an effort to rescue six Canadian citizens who were nearly taken hostage by Iranian terrorists.