Missing image
S.P.E.C.T.R.E.'s leader, Ernst Stavro Blofeld

The SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion (S.P.E.C.T.R.E.) is a fictional terrorist organization led by Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Its first appearance was in Ian Fleming's James Bond novel, Thunderball, and subsequently in a number of James Bond films including the very first Bond film, Dr. No, where it has been the spy's most persistent opponent.


Philosophy and goals

The goal of the organization is extortion and world domination. To achieve this, their basic strategy of the organization is illustrated by the analogy of the three Siamese fighting fish Blofeld keeps in an aquarium 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 S.P.E.C.T.R.E.'s main strategy is to instigate conflict between two powerful enemies, namely the superpowers, hoping that they will exhaust themselves and be vulnerable when S.P.E.C.T.R.E. finally moves in to seize power.

In both the film and the novel Thunderball, the physical headquarters of the organisation are laid in Paris, operating behind the front of an international organisation aiding refugees.

Organization 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 imminent, only to suddenly strike down the actual target when that person is off guard.


Missing image
S.P.E.C.T.R.E.'s second in command, Emilio Largo from Thunderball

S.P.E.C.T.R.E. is headed up by the supervillain, Ernst Stavro Blofeld who usually appears accompanied by a white Angora cat in the movies, but not in the books. In both the films and the novels, Emilio Largo is the second in command (although not indicated so by number). It is stated in the novel that if something were to happen to Blofeld, Largo would assume command. Largo appears for the first and final time in Thunderball.

In the novels, the numbers of members are deliberately assigned at random and regularly rotated to prevent detection. At the time of Thunderball, the leader, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, has been assigned 'Number 2', while Emilio Largo is assigned 'Number 1'. In the films the number indicates rank. Blofeld is always referred to as 'Number 1' and Emilio Largo, in Thunderball, is 'Number 2'.



In the original Bond novel series, S.P.E.C.T.R.E.'s first and last true appearance was also in the book Thunderball. It appears that after James Bond and Felix Leiter smashed S.P.E.C.T.R.E.'s plot to blackmail NATO with stolen nuclear weapons, S.P.E.C.T.R.E. was disbanded. In On Her Majesty's Secret Service, the second chapter of what is known as the 'Blofeld Trilogy', Blofeld appears to be working on his own with only the help of his henchman Irma Bunt. Although there are references to S.P.E.C.T.R.E. and speculation by Bond that Blofeld was attempting to reform S.P.E.C.T.R.E., the organization as a full entity was never re-established. Blofeld made one final appearance in Fleming's You Only Live Twice.

Later, the John Gardner Bond novel, For Special Services introduced a revived S.P.E.C.T.R.E. under the leadership of a new Blofeld. Although Bond ultimately prevents S.P.E.C.T.R.E. from reforming, it continued to play a part in Role of Honour and Nobody Lives Forever. The next Bond novelist, Raymond Benson, reintroduced Irma Bunt in his short story "Blast From the Past."


The first mention of S.P.E.C.T.R.E occurred in the first official film, Dr. No. In the novel, Dr. Julius No was working in association with the Soviets. This was changed, however, for the film as well as subsequent adaptations of the novels where either the Soviets or their counter-spy agency, SMERSH are Bond's main nemesis. SMERSH, however, does have a small part in the film From Russia With Love.

Differing from the novel series by Fleming, S.P.E.C.T.R.E. is much more resilient, coming back after each defeat by Bond with increasingly grander schemes. S.P.E.C.T.R.E. is behind the villainous plots in some way in four James Bond films including Dr. No, From Russia With Love, Thunderball, and finally You Only Live Twice where it appears they are ultimately defeated. S.P.E.C.T.R.E. is mentioned by name one last time in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, but this film and its follow up, Diamonds Are Forever feature Blofeld working independently. Blofeld appears one more time in the pre-title sequence of For Your Eyes Only where he supposedly meets his demise.

In 1983, S.P.E.C.T.R.E. was revived in the unofficial remake of Thunderball, Never Say Never Again.

Copyright issues

Main article: The controversy over Thunderball

S.P.E.C.T.R.E. and its characters have been at the center of a long-standing litigation case starting in 1961 between Kevin McClory and Ian Fleming over the film rights to Thunderball and the ownership of the organization and its characters. In 1963 Ian Fleming settled out of court with McClory, which awarded McClory with the film rights to Thunderball, although the literary rights would stay with Fleming and thus allow continuation author John Gardner to use S.P.E.C.T.R.E. in a number of his novels.

In 1963 the producers of EON Productions, Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman made an agreement with McClory to adapt the novel into the fourth official James Bond film. The agreement also stipulated that McClory would not be allowed to make further adaptations of Thunderball for at least ten years since the release. Although S.P.E.C.T.R.E. is used in a number of films previous and after Thunderball, the issue over the copyright of Thunderball, did prevent S.P.E.C.T.R.E. and Blofeld from becoming the main villains in 1977's The Spy Who Loved Me. In 1983, McClory released the unofficial remake of 1965's Thunderball, Never Say Never Again.

Although to this day, McClory retains the film rights to Thunderball, the courts in 2001 awarded MGM with the exclusive film rights to the fictional character James Bond. This technically prevents McClory from creating further adaptations of the novel.

S.P.E.C.T.R.E. henchmen

Henchmen working for S.P.E.C.T.R.E. include (order of appearance):


  • Dr. Julius No (Dr. No)
  • Professor R. J. Dent (Dr. No)
  • Miss Taro (Dr. No)
  • Rosa Klebb (From Russia With Love)
  • Donald "Red" Grant (From Russia With Love)
  • Kronsteen (From Russia With Love)
  • Morzeny (From Russia With Love)
  • Emilio Largo (No. 2, Thunderball)
  • Fiona Volpe (Thunderball)
  • Colonel Jacques Bouvar (No. 6, Thunderball)
  • Count Lippe (Thunderball)
  • Angelo Palazzi/Major Francois Derval (Thunderball)
  • Vargas (Thunderball)
  • Professor Ladislav Kutze (Thunderball)



All henchmen listed below are from Thunderball

  • Emilio Largo — 'Number 1'
  • Giuseppe Petacchi — Domino Petacchi's brother
  • Pierre Borraud — Killed by Blofeld for raping a girl
  • Dr. Kandinsky
  • Dr. Kotze
  • Count Lippe

Parodies and clones

S.P.E.C.T.R.E. is often cloned or parodied in films, video games, and novels. The most obvious is the Austin Powers series of movies. In this series, a man named Dr. Evil (parody of Ernst Stavro Blofeld) is the leader of a villainous organization simply called "Dr. Evil's Evil organization."

  • In the video game series No One Lives Forever a man simply called "The director" leads a similar organization called "H.A.R.M.." A running joke during the series is that no one actually knows what H.A.R.M. stands for.
  • The James Bond spinoff animated series, James Bond Jr, featured a clone of S.P.E.C.T.R.E. called "S.C.U.M.."

See also

External links

  • Blofeld (http://www.mjnewton.demon.co.uk/bond/blofeld.htm) from The Bond Film Informant (http://www.mjnewton.demon.co.uk/bond/)
  • spectreorganisation.com (http://www.spectreorganisation.com/index.html) -- Information on Kevin McClory's fight for the rights to Thunderball and S.P.E.C.T.R.E.

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