A CIA agent and James Bond's American friend and counterpart. He's usually there to provide informations and various kinds of support to Bond whenever the CIA and MI-6 are cooperating against common enemies.
With two exceptions lasting more than one film, the role has been constantly recast in the film series, presumably because the producers wanted to avoid him becoming too much of a Breakout Character to American viewers (which was somehow seen as a possibility back in the day), although there were some contract disputes involved as well.
- Abled in the Adaptation: So far, no movie version of Felix Leiter ever had a Hook Hand.
- Adaptation Dye-Job: He's described as having straw-coloured hair in the novels. None of the actors who played him have been blonde.
- Adaptation Name Change: In the 1954 TV adaptation of Casino Royale, he is named "Clarence Leiter" (played by Michael Pate).
- Adaptational Nationality: He was British in the 1954 TV adaptation of Casino Royale, whereas Bond was made an American and got renamed Jimmy.
- Adaptational Ugliness: He is significantly less attractive in the Guy Hamilton-directed films Goldfinger and Diamonds are Forever.
- Adapted Out: Felix appears in the novel version of The Man with the Golden Gun, but doesn't in the film adaptation.
- Deadpan Snarker: He always has one or two snarky comments in store for Bond, specially about the latter's methods of action.
- Depending on the Writer: In the Terence Young films (Dr. No and Thunderball), he's portrayed as a cool, slick sunglasses-wearing American equivalent to Bond. In the first two Guy Hamilton films (Goldfinger, Diamonds are Forever), he's a much less attractive and slightly more comical and exasperated bureaucrat.
- The Lancer: Acts as Bond's foil of the closely allied variety in the films and novels he appears in.
- Mr. Exposition: He usually provides Bond with informations on his targets.
- Non-Action Guy: Licence to Kill is the only film in the series where Leiter is clearly seen in action (in the opening, leading the DEA team to arrest Franz Sanchez, with Bond accompanying them). Before that, whenever he didn't entirely leave it to Bond to defeat the bad guys, it was usually The Cavalry Arrives Late.
- Overshadowed by Awesome: A subversion for the most part, since his job is usually to provide CIA support for Bond while MI-6 handles the mission. It's played straight in the Daniel Craig films, however.
- Artificial Limbs: In Diamonds Are Forever, he has a hook for his missing hand and a prosthetic leg after losing them in Live and Let Die.
- BFG: In Goldfinger, when arriving to rescue Bond at the battle of Fort Knox, he wields a special bazooka modified for his hook to hold.
- Black and White Morality: In the novel version of The Man with the Golden Gun, he criticizes Bond's slight admiration for Scaramanga, saying that as far as he is concerned, an enemy is just an enemy.
- Handicapped Badass: In the later novels, after being partially eaten by a shark in Live and Let Die. He acquires a hook hand as well as a prosthetic leg.
- Private Detective: After losing a leg and his hand to a shark attack, he left the CIA and joined the Pinkerton Detective Agency.
- Semper Fi: In the books, he served as a U.S Marine in World War II and eventually became Captain.
Played by: Jack Lord
Appearances: Dr. No
The first film incarnation of Felix Leiter. He investigates the activities of Dr. No's network in Jamaica with the help of Quarrel and Puss Feller, and Bond bumps into them.
- The Cavalry Arrives Late: He shows up on a patrol boat to pick up Bond and Honey Ryder after Bond destroyed Dr. No's facility on Crab Key all on his own.
- Cool Shades: He wears sunglasses, which adds to the badass image.
- The Kindnapper: Leiter holds Bond at gunpoint after the latter has being kidnapped by Quarrel and Puss Feller. Then he reveals to Bond that he's from the CIA, that he's been spying on him ever since his arrival in Jamaica, and that Quarrel and Feller work with him [Leiter].
- Sharp-Dressed Man: He wears a suit as snappy as Bond's. He brings up the fact that his suit was made by "a guy in Washington" after Bond said that his was tailor-made in Savile Row, London.
Played by: Cec Linder
The second incarnation of Felix Leiter. He investigates the activities of Auric Goldfinger, which leads Bond to cooperate with him.
- The Cavalry: He shows up alongside the US army at Fort Knox in the climax.
- Faking the Dead: He's among the many "victims" of Goldfinger's Deadly Gas... which has been replaced by an innocuous gas thanks to Bond's effort to rally Pussy Galore to their side. Like the soldiers in the base of Fort Knox, he fakes death until Goldfinger and his goons are in the vaults, then moves to trap them.
- Friend on the Force: Provides Bond with some CIA informations about Goldfinger once he gets to the USA.
- Nice Hat: Wears a nice Fedora.
- Sorry to Interrupt: Shows up to Bond in Miami right as he was having a nice massage session by Dink (played by pin up model Margaret Nolan) by a swimming pool in a hotel resort.
Played by: Rik Van Nutter
The third film incarnation of Felix Leiter. He helps Bond against Emilio Largo in the Bahamas, since the USA are also targeted by SPECTRE's nuclear blackmail.
- "Be Quiet!" Nudge: On the receiving end of it. Just as Bond is about to find Quist (one of Emilio Largo's mooks, who's waiting in the bathroom to ambush Bond), Felix knocks at the door. As Bond opens the door, Felix starts uttering Bond's codename, and Bond punches and shushes him before he's finished saying it, so Quist won't hear it.Felix: That's a fine way to treat the CIA...Bond: Sorry about that Felix, but you were just about to say "Double-O-Seven".
- Cool Shades: Just like the Dr. No version (which was also directed by Terence Young), he wears sunglasses sometimes.
- Sharp-Dressed Man: About as snappily dressed as his Dr. No version of Felix, per the director's taste.
Played by: Norman Burton
Appearances: Diamonds Are Forever
The fourth film incarnation of Felix Leiter. He helps Bond smuggle diamonds and the corpse of Peter Frank into the USA, and helps Bond in his efforts to stop Blofeld.
- The Cavalry Arrives Late: When Felix and his CIA team get to the house where Willard Whyte is detained, Bond has already defeated Bambi and Thumper, the two She-Fu-practitioning ladies who were tasked to guard Whyte.
- Friend on the Force: Backs up Bond with CIA informations once he comes to America.
- Janitor Impersonation Infiltration: In order to allow Bond to transfer the body of Peter Franks (with a shipment of stolen diamonds hidden in the coffin) safely into the USA, Felix disguises himself as a customs agent at the airport.
Played by: David Hedison
Appearances: Live and Let Die | Licence to Kill
The fifth film incarnation of Felix Leiter. He was the first to appear in more than one film. In Live and Let Die, he spies on the activities of Kananga in New York City. In Licence to Kill, on the day of his wedding with Della Churchill, he arrests drug lord Franz Sanchez, who immediately escapes and bloodily retaliates on Felix and his wife, which in turn triggers Bond's quest for vengeance.
- Abled in the Adaptation: Mild example. The scene where he gets fed to a shark in Licence to Kill is lifted from the novel version of Live and Let Die, where he loses both a leg and an arm after falling in the pool. Here, he only loses a leg, because he was lowered in the pool by his chained hands.
- An Arm and a Leg: He gets his leg fed to a shark in Licence to Kill. Perhaps as a result, he never appears again until Casino Royale (which is a reboot of the series) and is substituted by another American agent, Jack Wade, in the Brosnan era.
- Ascended Extra: The Felix Leiter with the most screentime in the film series so far, due to Licence to Kill, and due to having a more important role in it than he had in Live and Let Die. In Licence to Kill, he is shown to be a very close friend to Bond, up to making him his Best Man at his wedding, and his role is crucial to the plot in that his maiming at the hands of Sanchez and the rape and murder of his wife on their very honeymoon is the catalyst for Bond's Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
- Fed to the Beast: Upon escaping custody, Sanchez kidnaps Felix and has him lowered into the hidden Shark Pool of Milton Krest's marine facility, while Dario tells him about what he did to his wife before killing her. Felix doesn't die of it however, the sharks only ate his left leg before Sanchez decided to lift him and bring him back at his home in a bag, where Bond finds him, with a message reading "He disagreed with something that ate him".
- Hero of Another Story: He's been investigating on Franz Sanchez well before the beginning of Licence to Kill.
- Not Quite Dead: Happens in Licence to Kill when Franz Sanchez feeds him to a shark, leaving him for dead in his home with the body of his wife. Bond assumes the worst when he sees his body bag and it's only because of Bond's timely arrival that he lives to tell his story.
- Pun: Bond makes a joke about the microphone concealed as a car lighter in Live and Let Die.Bond: A genuine Felix Lighter, illuminating!
- Trauma Conga Line: In Licence to Kill, Felix not only loses one of his legs, but his new wife is raped and killed.
- Wedding Day: Licence to Kill opens on his wedding day, with Bond as his Best Man. He is informed that drug lord Franz Sanchez is in the Bahamas and steps in to arrest him. Which leads Sanchez to take revenge immediately, by having Felix's newlywed wife Della raped and killed and Felix himself fed to a shark, triggering Bond's Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
- Widowed at the Wedding: His wife Della is raped and killed on the very night of their wedding day.
Played by: John Terry
Appearances: The Living Daylights
The sixth film incarnation of Felix Leiter. He spies on the network of arms dealer Brad Whitaker in Tangier, Morocco.
- Cool Boat: When in Tangier, he uses a spy boat full of electronic devices and camouflaged as a pleasure craft.
- The Kindnapper: In Tangier, he has Bond kidnapped at gunpoint by his two sexy female underlings after the apparent assassination of Pushkin by Bond, thinking 007 has gone crazy. Then Bond explains him he helped Pushkin faking his death to prevent Whitaker and Koskov from assassinating him.
- Spies in a Van: More like "spies in a pleasure craft".
Played by: Jeffrey Wright
Appearances: Casino Royale | Quantum of Solace | Bond 25
The seventh film incarnation of Felix Leiter. In Casino Royale, he takes part to the Casino Royale Texas hold'em tournament in order to arrest Le Chiffre. In Quantum of Solace, he's part of a shadowy deal between the CIA and Dominic Greene, who Bond works to expose.
- Bad Liar: In Quantum of Solace, when shown a picture of Bond on a phone by his colleague Gregg Beam onboard Dominic Green's plane, he pretends not to know him. Then Beam is quick to identify Bond, and has a veiled remark about Leiter's obvious lie.
- Bald of Awesome: Set photos of the 25th Bond film show that Felix is completely bald when he meets Bond again.
- Black and White Morality: He takes exception to the CIA working with Dominic Greene in Quantum of Solace as long as he thinks the deal can benefit his country. Kind of subverted since as soon as he sees that Bond is working to expose Greene, he start smelling that the deal is fishy and doesn't do anything to stop Bond, unlike his corrupt colleague Gregg Beam.
- The Bus Came Back: He is back in the 25th Bond film, returning twelve years after Quantum of Solace. He was absent from both Skyfall and Spectre.
- The Ghost: Leiter doesn't appear in Spectre, but he is mentioned. Bond tells Lucia Sciarra to contact Leiter so she can get to the American embassy and demand protection, as she's now on Spectre's hit list.
- Race Lift: Beginning with Casino Royale, Felix is black, whereas he was always portrayed by white actors in the film series before. Jeffrey Wright is not the first African-American to portray Leiter however, that distinction goes to the non-Eon Productions canon film Never Say Never Again, in which Felix was played by Bernie Casey.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: He goes against the CIA's shadowy deal with Dominic Greene by doing nothing to stop Bond and informing him about the place where Greene has a meeting with General Medrano, fully trusting Bond about Greene's true intentions.
- This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: He helps Bond the best he can in his mission (and personal revenge) against Quantum leader Dominic Greene, but otherwise he has to sit back and not involve the CIA in any capacity against Greene, since the CIA (mostly his colleague Gregg Beam) made a shadowy deal with him about Bolivia's resources.