James Bond might be the quintessential secret agent, but he’s also a pretty bad spy. However, there’s more than enough evidence to suggest that this might actually be by design. Both on and off the screen, Bond’s abysmal espionage is sort of… well, perfect.

The James Bond franchise is based on the stories of Ian Fleming. Fleming served in the British Naval Intelligence Division during World War II, and based Bond on his first-hand experiences. According to the author, Bond was written as a compound of the various agents and commandos that he met during his service. Not all the James Bond movies have been direct adaptations of Fleming’s stories. Recent movies have told original stories in a modern setting, but remain inspired by the Bond novels.

However, many have pointed out that James Bond is actually an awful secret agent. He loudly identifies himself by name, he lacks any subtlety in his investigations, and he leaves a trail of dead bodies in his wake. Even so, he’s still the best-known and most beloved secret agent of all time. So how does being a bad spy make James Bond so perfect?

James Bond Being A Bad Spy Helps Protect Real-Life Agents

James Bond is a bad spy - Pierce Brosnan as James Bond

One of the regular criticisms of the James Bond movies is that they misrepresent the work of real spies. After watching the movies, it seems as though being a secret agent is all about avoiding deadly traps or engaging in high-speed car chases and public shootouts. Of course, real agents don’t really do those things at all – spy work is mostly about gathering intelligence.

As the world’s best-known secret agent, James Bond being a bad spy actually helps his real-life counterparts. Building public misconceptions about the work spies do only helps the real agents carry out their work undetected. After all, if you were looking for a spy, you’d be looking for a someone suave and self-assured sipping on a martini. Meanwhile, the real-life spies can blend into the background, safely carrying out their work. In this, Bond’s larger-than-life actions actually protect real-life people.

Bond’s Terrible Spy Work Might Serve An In-Universe Purpose

Daniel Craig as James Bond 007

There are many crazy fan theories about James Bond. However, there’s one that posits his bad spy work might serve a purpose within the confines of his fictional universe, too. The theory goes that Bond is actually a terrible spy by choice, and it makes a surprising amount of sense.

It suggests that Bond is sent in to distract the villains by clumsily gathering intel and engaging henchmen in every form of armed combat imaginable. While Bond does this, better spies work to gather real intelligence, then slip away undetected. The theory is actually based on supposed real-life tactics used by spy agencies and military organizations, so it may well be more plausible than it sounds. Either way, it seems that James Bond being a bad spy serves a purpose – so next time you criticize his incredibly tactless attempts at stealth, you should think twice. He might just be saving a life.