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In the James Bond universe most characters go by a code name M, Q, the various 00s, In Skyfall Silva is a made up name. Others such as Tanner, Robinson and Moneypenny, Trevelyan we're not so sure but we've got no reason to believe they're real.

However Bond uses his own name - we've even seen the grave of his parents to confirm this.

Why does Bond use his real name and (as far as we know) no one else does?

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Excellent Question. KUDOS...... +1 for you my friend. –  Nishant May 13 '13 at 9:32
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There is a theory out there that James Bond is actually just a code-name for anyone under the 007 moniker –  TylerShads May 13 '13 at 12:36
    
I found this interesting comment on Wikipedia - "In the first draft of Casino Royale he decided to use the name James Secretan as Bond's cover name while on missions." –  Liath May 13 '13 at 12:37
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@TylerShads I've not heard that one. I'd throw in there that in GoldenEye 006 is named as Alec Trevelyan implying that not all 00s are called JB. –  Liath May 13 '13 at 12:38

5 Answers 5

up vote 12 down vote accepted

The use of monikers such as M and Q is, IMO, more to do with tradition and traditional anonymity than secrecy. (See my answer to another Bond question for more on this.) You can see colleagues mingling socially (the opening scenes of Licence to Kill come to mind) and Bond pops up to M's flat on a couple of occasions. M, Q, and Miss Moneypenny are all invited to Bond's wedding in OHMSS, and the scene, IIRC, begins with "Your Royal Highnesses". I'd say that this out-of-office mingling isn't done without knowledge of their real names. Furthermore, M is often a well known political appointee just like the head of the real MI6. The first M was a Sir Miles Messervy.

James Bond too has an alias within MI6—he is 007. I don't think/consider Moneypenny to be a codename.

(The question of why Bond does not use an alias outside MI6 is a good one. While the correct answer to this is, of course, "because it's the movies", there is a rather feeble in-universe explanation for this.

James Bond's front when he is out on the job is that he is an employee of Universal Exports, a shell company created by MI6. Presumably, this also explains his frequent travels abroad and general worldliness. However, when this alias does not suit his purposes, he happily takes on other personae such as that of Sir Hilary Bray (OHMSS), James St. John Smythe (aVtaK), et al.)

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I think one thing you also have to keep in mind with this question is that Silva was a made-up name on purpose. Silva wanted to break away from MI6 and go underground, so any mention of his real name would likely have tripped some tracking program (think NSA). So he made up the name Silva, and it was only when Silva was brought in to MI6 that they knew who he was. They just likely kept referring to him as 'Silva' since that was the name most people who even had a passing idea of the case would have heard. –  Barry Hammer Nov 8 '13 at 11:06

While one would expect a "secret agent" to always use a cover, James Bond is not a secret agent:

  • Intelligence organizations have complete and detailed files on him.
  • Most bad guys know who he is, what kind of firearm he carries, and how he likes his drinks. The bad guy usually tries to kill Bond as he arrives in town.
  • When he investigates someone, he almost always meets them socially first—a gentlemanly introduction perhaps to learn the other side of their persona, or gather information useful to plot later espionage. But they always know he is 007 James Bond.
  • Apparently his actions are reported worldwide in mass media, like when he was "killed" in You Only Live Twice.

If he is any kind of secret agent at all, he is an "open secret agent".

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Truthfully I've never thought of Bond as a Secret Agent, no matter what the books may say. He was a covert assassin for the British government. His license was to kill for the Crown. –  CGCampbell Jun 21 at 17:57

I'm going to throw out my own thoughts. Wikipedia states that

In the first draft of Casino Royale he decided to use the name James Secretan as Bond's cover name while on missions.

This approach was clearly discarded and for several books he keeps the name Bond. If memory serves however his identity as James Bond and 007 are kept separate so for the most part only a few key members of the secret service are aware of his position within the organisation.

In the early films this trend is continued although he introduces himself as "Bond, James Bond" it's very rare that villains are aware of his job. After Sean Connery's line in the Doctor No (1962) the character was never going to introduce himself any other way!

The franchise is the "James Bond" series. To have the main character introducing himself using a variety of names in each film (with different actors) would be extremely confusing to first time and casual viewers and watchers. In order to keep the films simple and avoid confusing viewers this approach of keeping his position in MI6 secret rather than his name has been maintained.

In short - James Bond uses his real name because the filmmakers want to maintain the famous name of the character on screen. His safety comes from the fact that the people he encounters on his adventures are unaware (except for a few exceptional villains) that he is 007.

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Bond does use an alias in several of the Bond films as detailed in this article;

   Movie                             Alias
From Russia with Love              David Somerset
You Only Live Twice                Mr. Fisher
On Her Majesty's Secret Service    Sir Hilary Bray
Diamonds Are Forever               Peter Franks
Diamonds Are Forever               Mr. Jones
Diamonds Are Forever               Klaus Hergescheimer
Diamonds Are Forever               Burt Saxby
The Man With The Golden Gun        Fransisco Scaramanga
The Spy Who Loved Me               Robert Sterling
A View to a Kill                   James St. John Smythe
A View to a Kill                   James Stock
The Living Daylights               Jerzy Bondov
The World Is Not Enough            Dr. Mikhal Arkov
Die Another Day                    Van Bierk
Casino Royale                      Arlington Beech
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My problem with this answer is that it only demonstrates that he does sometime use aliases rather than why he doesn't always use them... good resource nevertheless! –  Liath May 20 '13 at 12:53

Interestingly enough, there are other indicators that suggest that "James Bond" becomes the name of the new agent designated for the 007 slot, so that would logically provide the alias from his real identity...and anonymity for a few missions until an enemy agency picks up on the name. However, given tech these days, a permanent alias wouldn't do much good anyway, since cameras and databases everywhere are going to verify who he is at light speed. The trick is to just not let people know where you ARE, and that's always been his style, and something that right pisses off his employers regularly. He just doesn't go through the trouble of the ID when he's expected.

Remember, as the reboot proved, everyone knows his name from the start...but, quizzically, he's also a new agent in the role, showing the two kills he needed for 00 status. M also says "orphans make the best agents," which hints at more than one orphaned naval intelligence officer donning the role.

They're very cagey about the whole thing, but the clues are there.

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Hi Will, can you expand your answer To include what these clues are that you mentioned are? Can you provide quotes from either the books or the films? As it stands it's currently very opinion based. –  Liath Apr 27 at 17:22
    
@Liath: cracked.com/article/… #6: "James Bond" Is Not a Man, But a Code Name –  SQB Jun 27 at 8:22

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