While most viewers miss it, The Living Daylights contains James Bond’s only onscreen f-bomb. Even fans of Roger Moore’s Bond era will admit the star probably stayed on in the role one or two movies too long. His successor was Timothy Dalton, who had previously been lined up for the role a couple of times. Dalton sought to ground the series in some kind of reality again, which included making the female love interests more than window dressing and making 007 feel closer to the version author Ian Fleming wrote.
While Dalton’s two James Bond adventures were both hits, they received a somewhat lukewarm response at the time. License To Kill was also released during a particularly crowned blockbuster summer in 1989 – which included Tim Burton’s Batman and Ghostbusters II – and it ended up being one of the franchise’s lowest-grossing to date. While Dalton was in line to return for GoldenEye, he eventually exited the role and Pierce Brosnan came on.
Timothy Dalton is now generally considered the most underrated incarnation of Bond. In his two outings, he brought both a suave charm and a dangerous edge to the part. He also gave his 007 a more romantic touch, as his Bond Girls were more than just conquests. During a major setpiece in The Living Daylights, Bond is making a getaway on a cargo plane filled with opium (long story), and his love interest Kara (Maryam d’Abo) pulls up alongside in a jeep. He tries to communicate with her through the windscreen, leading to a surprise – and well-disguised – f-bomb by 007.
Bond opens the cargo hold o the plane and tries to guide Kara to drive her jeep into the back. She has trouble understanding him, and Timothy Dalton’s Bond is seen mouthing “F***ing hell!” to himself in frustration. Due to both the roar of the plane’s engine and the fact he’s behind a windscreen, the actual audio isn’t heard. Still, The Living Daylights marks, to date, the only time Bond has dropped an f-bomb onscreen.
Following The Living Daylights, Timothy Dalton’s Bond dropped a few more swears in License To Kill, but with slightly milder profanity like “b**tard.” This is likely due to producers wanting to keep the character somewhat classy, and even Craig’s harder-edged 007 keeps the potty mouth to a minimum. That said, his era has the only actual, unfiltered f-bomb in the series. During the third act of Skyfall, Judi Dench’s M is heard saying “I really f***ed this up, didn’t I?” to Bond as they await villain Silva’s attack. Unless Craig makes a late play for Dalton’s crown in No Time To Die, the actor remains the only James Bond to utter an f-bomb yet.