M is an officer at the head of MI-6 and James Bond's boss.
- Code Name: M is simply a title given to the head of MI6.
- Da Chief: M frequently berates Bond when he takes initiatives that would cause much trouble with the British government, as M is fully responsible for the actions of MI6 agents.
- Expy: Of Rear Admiral John Godfrey, commanding officer of the Royal Naval Intelligence Division in which Ian Fleming served during World War II.
- Legacy Character:
- The first M, Admiral Sir Miles Messervy, was Bernard Lee. As he died before For Your Eyes Only was filmed, M is absent and Bond is briefed by the Minister of Defence and Bill Tanner. A painting of Messervy◊ appears at the MI-6 headquarters in The World is Not Enough, acknowledging Judi Dench's M as one of his successors.
- In Octopussy, Robert Brown is the new M. He is very possibly Admiral Hargreaves, the character Brown played in The Spy Who Loved Me.
- In GoldenEye, Judi Dench took over the role (inspired by the MI5 being led by a woman at the time), and remained there in the Daniel Craig years despite the Continuity Reboot.
- Dench dies in Skyfall, but in the film's ending, Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) becomes the new M. Dench's M recorded one more mission order for Bond which was played back in Spectre, which resulted in the Mexico City incident and Bond's own investigation on Spectre.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: As explained in Da Chief above, M tends to not like when Bond takes initiatives on his own, because it can result in much troubles for M's ass if the British government finds out about it.
- Prophetic Name: All of the canonical people holding the title have last names and sometimes first names as well starting with "M".
- Reasonable Authority Figure: M is generally far from being an incompetent boss, and helps Bond whenever the trails he follows are serious or when he is on something crucial.
- Especially Bernard Lee's M, often doing all he can to give Bond the elbow room he needs and frequently clashing with his government superiors for doing so. For instance, in Moonraker, after Bond ends up embarrassing both him and Frederick Gray, M is forced to take Bond off the case until he produces a vial of the gas he recovered in Drax's laboratory. M decides to give him a two-week leave of absence in order to pursue a lead in Rio.
- Gareth Mallory also proves to be a strong moral rampart when MI-6 itself is shut down in Spectre, defending it to the very end against Max Denbigh's mass surveillance program. While he tries to keep MI-6 alive, he also finds out Bond is on a serious trail and lets him operate. All of this turns out to be the best thing to do, as Denbigh is actually a Spectre mole. Mallory even directly helps Bond in taking down Spectre's nefarious project by directly confronting Blofeld and Denbigh.
Admiral Sir Miles Messervy / M
Played by: Bernard Lee
Dubbed by: Serge Nadaud (French, 1962-1974), Jean Brunel (French, 1977-1979)
Appearances: Dr. No | From Russia with Love | Goldfinger | Thunderball | You Only Live Twice | On Her Majesty's Secret Service | Diamonds Are Forever | Live and Let Die | The Man with the Golden Gun | The Spy Who Loved Me | Moonraker
The first M in the film series.
- Alliterative Name: Sir Miles Messervy.
- Character Aged with the Actor: Bernard Lee played M for 17 years, in 11 movies, more than any other actor in the role, and it showed (his hair had turned completely white by the time of Moonraker).
- Deadpan Snarker: He can really get in some good jabs when he wants to, and Bond never fails to provide him reasons to snark.
- Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: He is seen with a pipe sometimes. He doesn't always smoke with it.
- Frontline General: While not getting directly involved, this M would often set up a field office not too far from where Bond is working.
- Moment Killer: Constantly interrupts Bond and Moneypenny's flirting.
- Noodle Incident: In From Russia with Love M and Moneypenny are listening to an audio recording sent to them by Bond. When Bond starts to mention an embarrassing incident involving M in Tokyo, M immediately pauses the recording and dismisses Moneypenny from the room.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Lee's M and Connery's Bond, for all their bickering, were still clearly friends (to the point that they once apparently wingmanned for each other in Japan). This is most obvious in Thunderball, where M repeatedly defends Bond in front of his doubting superiors.
Admiral Marian Hargreaves / M
Played by: Robert Brown
Dubbed by: Émile Duard (French, The Spy Who Loved Me), Jean Davy (French, 1983-1985), Philippe Dumat (French, 1987-1989)
Appearances: The Spy Who Loved Menote | Octopussy | A View to a Kill | The Living Daylights | Licence to Kill
The second M in the film series.
- All There in the Manual: This M's name is never pronounced or indicated in the films, but it's very plausible that the character Robert Brown played in The Spy Who Loved Me, Admiral Hargreaves, may have been promoted after a possible death of Messervy in-universe.
- Hero Antagonist: He becomes this in Licence to Kill when he tries to stop a rogue and increasingly reckless Bond.
- No Sense of Humor: This M had little to no humor.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: He's the most uptight, inconsiderate and inflexible of the Ms as shown in Licence to Kill when he places work over Bond's care for his friend Felix Leiter.
- Pointy-Haired Boss: In Licence to Kill, he neglects to inform Bond that there are operations going on at Sanchez's Banana Republic lair when Bond accuses their American allies for doing nothing and instead results to haranguing him for "sentimental rubbish."
- Sudden Sequel Heel Syndrome: In Licence to Kill, he is noticeably more of an Obstructive Bureaucrat towards Bond than his past appearances.
- Tautological Templar: Robert Brown in Licence to Kill reacts cold-heartedly to the Leiters' tragedy, labels Bond as a Rogue Agent for caring about them, claiming that it's not MI-6's business (despite the many times Leiter assisted them), and then orders MI-6 operatives to arrest Bond or even execute him if necessary when he goes rogue. Deep down however, he still wishes Bond to survive, if his very worried "God help you, Commander" when Bond escapes custody is any indication.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: In Licence to Kill, he is very abrupt and harsh with Bond when he confronts him in Florida about the neglect of his duties, due to his vendetta, showing No Sympathy towards Felix's tragedy and criticizes Bond for lack of professionalism and objectivity. Brown also treats Moneypenny slightly more poorly then before, criticizing her for making typing errors.
- Ungrateful Bastard: Despite all the service Leiter has done for MI-6, this M places duty above all and shows No Sympathy towards the tragedy that involves Leiter losing a leg and having his bride murdered.
- Upper-Class Twit: His Obstructive Bureaucrat Da Chief and Pointy-Haired Boss approach to his job makes him the worst M in the franchise.
Barbara Mawdsley / Olivia Mansfield / M
Played by: Judi Dench
Dubbed by: Liliane Gaudet (French, 1995-1999), Annie Bertin (French, Die Another Day), Nadine Alari (French, 2006-2015)
Appearances: GoldenEye | Tomorrow Never Dies | The World is Not Enough | Die Another Day | Casino Royale | Quantum of Solace | Skyfall | Spectre note
The third M in the film series, and the first, and, to this day, only female M. Notably, she technically played two Ms; one in the classic continuity for Pierce Brosnan's Bond from 1995 to 2002, and one in the reboot continuity for Daniel Craig's Bond from 2006 to 2012.
- All There in the Manual: Assuming Robert Brown's M was Admiral Hargreaves, Judi Dench's M holds the distinction of being the only M whose name is not revealed in the entire film series (she apparently didn't like it, since her response to Craig's Bond when he was about to say it out loud was, "Utter one more syllable and I'll have you killed"), and considering the fact that Casino Royale was a Continuity Reboot, she actually played two different Ms. The name of the Brosnan era M was "Barbara Mawdsley" according to the script of GoldenEye, as well as in the Raymond Benson novel The Facts of Death. A prop from the end of Skyfall reveals that her name in the Craig continuity is "Olivia Mansfield".
- Boyish Short Hair: Her hairstyle represents the suppression of her femininity in order to succeed in a male-dominated field. She even tells Bond in The World Is Not Enough that her job requires her to ignore her maternal instincts. She keeps the short hair in the Craig era, but by then it has more to do with the fact that Dench is in her late 70's.
- The Chains of Commanding: She needs to make the hard decisions, no matter what her personal feelings are. Best exemplified in The World Is Not Enough when she ignores her maternal-like connection to Elektra King and uses the younger woman twice as bait to try to catch the terrorist Renard, and in Skyfall when she orders Eve to take a shot that endangers Bond's life.
- Character Aged with the Actor: Judi Dench's tenure in the series lasted as long as Bernard Lee's (17 years). In-universe the character is also considered a veteran, especially in Skyfall as Gareth Mallory pushes her to resign before the hearing so she could get a honorable retirement.
- Character Death: She bleeds to death from her wounds at the end of Skyfall. She is the first M to die onscreen.
- Damsel in Distress: She is imprisoned in the appropriately-named Maiden's Tower in The World Is Not Enough, and Bond must rescue his boss from Elektra's clutches.
- Dark Secret: In The World is Not Enough, M is so ashamed over how she handled Elektra King's kidnapping that she sealed Elektra's file so that no one else can access it. When Bond requests the classified information as an employee, M flatly refuses with a stern warning ("I will not tolerate insubordination, 007"), so he resorts to using their implicit mother-son relationship (the gentle way he asks, "What happened?") before she willingly discloses a painful part of her past.
- Deadpan Snarker: Very much like Bernard Lee's M, she has quite a supply of wit against Bond.
- Foil: In The World is Not Enough, M and Elektra King are powerful women who have very different ways of exercising control within a patriarchal system. Elektra overuses her femininity to manipulate the men around her, whereas M suppresses her femininity to maintain her authority over her employees (especially male chauvinists like Bond); when handling Elektra's kidnapping, M even explicitly states that she went against her instincts as a mother.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: Played with; she never leaves anybody in doubt as to who's calling the shots at MI-6, and is especially disdainful of Bond upon her introduction. However, she eventually comes to trust his judgement and is quite reasonable with him when he must resort to unorthodox tactics to resolve a crisis.
- Frontline General: She got into scrapes a couple times, none of her predecessors did before.
- Hauled Before A Senate Subcommittee: In Skyfall, she is required to testify before a Defence Ministry hearing about her services' effectiveness following Bond's failure in Turkey and the bombing of her headquarters. It's rendered moot when Silva and his henchmen attack the hearing and M is eventually killed before they come to any decision.
- Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: In the climax of Skyfall, she keeps missing with Bond's PPK and notes that she's never been a good shot.
- Iron Lady: In the Daniel Craig movies in particular as his Bond is more "wild" than Pierce Brosnan's, and therefore she has to be more stern with the former in order to try to keep him under control.
- It's Personal: Bond accuses M of this in The World is Not Enough, as she was a very close friend of Sir Robert.Bond: I brought the money in that killed King.
M: Don't make this personal.
Bond: I'm not; are you?
- Parental Substitute: She takes on a motherly Tough Love role to Bond throughout the Craig years. This is also present to a lesser extent during the Brosnan era, where M mentions to Elektra King that Bond is her best agent, but she'd never tell him that in person. As a close friend of Sir Robert King, M is a maternal figure towards his daughter Elektra (whose mother had passed away some years ago before the events of The World is Not Enough).
- Power Hair: Her short hairstyle, which she keeps in the Craig era, but by then it has more to do with the fact that Dench was pushing 80.
- Punny Name: "Olivia Mansfield" appears to be a pun on "I live in a man's field".
- Retirony: In Skyfall, Gareth Mallory tries to convince her to retire due to her age and the hearing also means her career has great chances to end. She eventually dies of her wounds in the Final Battle.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: She delivers a scathing one to Bond upon her introduction in Golden Eye, firmly establishing her grip on MI-6 and shoots down any doubts Bond may have about how far she is willing to go to get the job done. Bond wisely chooses not to challenge her any further.
- Shrine to the Fallen: Like Miles Messervy before her, there's now a portrait of her at the MI6 office in the 25th Bond film as shown by behind-the-scenes photos.
- Video Wills: In Spectre, Bond receives a video following her death in Skyfall, which basically kicks off the plot. It contains her last will, that is going after Marco Sciarra, killing him and uncovering the organisation he works for, providing him his first lead to Spectre.Bond: She wasn't gonna let death get in the way of her job.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: She delivers this to Bond in Die Another Day when she's led to believe that Bond has surrendered valuable information to the enemy during his captivity in North Korea, and promptly strips him of his 00-license when he is finally recovered. It isn't long though before he escapes and she realizes that something far bigger than Bond is unfolding and promptly reinstates him.
Gareth Mallory / M
Played by: Ralph Fiennes
Dubbed by: Bernard Gabay (French)
The Chairman of the British Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee and formerly a Lieutenant Colonel in the SAS, he got promoted at the head of MI6 following the death of the previous M (Judi Dench).
- Badass Bureaucrat: He's initially a Member of Parliament and he works at a desk, but don't think he's a pushover. He's one of the first to jump into the firefight with Silva and his cohorts and handles himself nicely despite taking a shot to the shoulder.
- Bait-and-Switch Tyrant: Early on in Skyfall, he seems to be an obstruction to Judi Dench's M and Co., and before Silva shows up there's even a bit of fauxshadowing that makes it seem like he might be be behind the attacks on MI6.
- Benevolent Boss: M (Judi Dench) screwed up spectacularly, so Mallory had no choice but to hold her accountable. Much the same, at the beginning of Spectre, Bond went way overboard and was promptly chewed out. But other than these two instances, Mallory is a man who has utmost faith in his men and wholly supports them - even teaching them a thing or two about Loophole Abuse.
- Big Good: In Spectre especially, as he's the staunchest defender of MI6 when Max Denbigh wants to shut the intelligence service in favor of the Orwellian "Nine Eyes" (which is actually a backdoor entrance into the world's major intelligence services' databases for SPECTRE). In the climax, M eventually puts a stop to Denbigh's project and has Blofeld arrested.
- Colonel Badass: He was a Lt. Colonel in the SAS and survived torture at the hands of the IRA during The Troubles.
- Deadpan Snarker: Particularly in Spectre.
- Everyone Has Standards: Spectre in particular shows that he has strong moral principles.
- In Skyfall, he unapologetically believes that M should be called to account for her handling of the crisis, but is visibly appalled when it becomes clear that the actual committee hearing is basically turning into little more than a Kangaroo Court.
- In Spectre, he opposes Max Denbigh's Big Brother Is Watching project as he feels it is oppressive and anti-democratic.
- The Fettered: In Spectre, his moral compass drives him to firmly oppose Max Denbigh's mass surveillance project. Even the shutting of MI6 doesn't prevent him from actively trying to stop what is revealed to be Spectre's nefarious scheme to control the flow of intel of the major secret services of the world.
- Frontline General: He is involved in the action during his tenure, in the climax of Spectre especially.
- Jerkass Has a Point: In the beginning when he's in Obstructive Bureaucrat mode, at least, when he shuts down M's objections to being summoned to meet him:M: Forgive me, but why am I here?
Mallory: Three months ago you lost a computer drive containing the identity of almost every NATO agent embedded in terrorist organizations across the globe. A list, which in the eyes of our allies, never existed. So, if you'll forgive me, I think you know why you're here.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: While he may be a bit harsh towards Judi Dench's M before her hearing, there's no doubt that Mallory is just doing his job. When he takes over as M, he shows himself to be far less harsh and bitchy than his predecessor. Indeed, the only time he's harsh with 007 is when 007 went AWOL and killed someone for apparently no reason, a situation in which he was very right to be upset. Once his reasoning is clear, he does try to dissuade 007 from pursuing the plan further, but doesn't expend too much effort in stopping him when he does.
- Legacy Character: He becomes the new M after the death of Judi Dench's character.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: In his conversations with Judi Dench's M he initially appears to be some arrogant pencil pusher that will get in her way of catching the bad guys. He is actually not, and never does.
- Reasonable Authority Figure:
- Judi Dench's M screwed up and he wants her to be held accountable. Nothing odd there. Following his promotion, he's more akin to the Ms of old in terms of how he approaches the job. He only chews out Bond on a single occasion - and he really deserved it.
- He was also on Q's and Tanner's side when they were trying to lure Silva to where Bond and Dench's M would be hiding.Mallory: What are you doing?Q: *stammering* We're just... monitoring—Mallory: Creating a false tracking signal for Silva to follow.Tanner: W-well...Q: N-no sir—Mallory: Excellent thinking. Get him isolated. Send him on the A9, it's the direct route. You can monitor his progress more directly, and confirm it with the traffic cameras.Q: B-but sir, what if the PM finds out?Mallory: Well then we're all buggered. Carry on.
- Retired Badass: He's an ex-SAS colonel (this alone makes him a badass for life by default) who was once held hostage for three months by the IRA. As Silva and his goons learn the hard way, this is a bureaucrat who can more than hold his own alongside and against MI-6's finest.
- Taking the Bullet: When Silva attacks the inquiry hearing, Mallory instinctively jumps a railing. Seeing Silva about to shoot M with his pistol, Mallory pushes her to the ground and takes a bullet in his left arm. He's seen wearing a sling for the remainder of the movie.
- Took a Level in Kindness: After the previous M dies. He succeded in her position at the head of MI-6 and becomes more friendly and nicer to James and every of his agent subordinates at the end of Skyfall and onwards in Spectre.