In Ian Fleming's James Bond novels and the derived films, the 00 Section of MI6 is considered the secret service's elite. A 00 (typically read "Double O" and denoted in Fleming's novels by the letters "OO" rather than the digits "00") agent holds a licence to kill in the field, at his or her discretion, to complete the mission. The novel Moonraker establishes that the section routinely has three agents concurrently; the film series, beginning with Thunderball, establishes the number of 00 agents at a minimum of 9, with the likelihood of more.
In the first novel, Casino Royale, and the 2006 film adaptation, the 00 concept is introduced and, in Bond's words, means "that you've had to kill a chap in cold blood in the course of some assignment." Bond's 00 number (007) was awarded to him because he twice killed in fulfilling assignments. (This differentiates from deadly force used by non-00 agents in the course of self-defence or offensive action; plus, in the original time frame of the novel—the early 1950s—many MI6 agents would have had recent war service.) In the second novel, Live and Let Die, the 00 number designates a past killing; not until the third novel, Moonraker, does the 00 number designate a licence to kill. Thereafter, the novels are ambiguous about whether a 00 agent's licence to kill is limited, with varying accounts in Dr. No, Goldfinger, and The Man with the Golden Gun.
Per Fleming's Moonraker, 00 agents face mandatory retirement at 45; John Gardner contradicts this in his novels, depicting a fifty-odd-year-old secret agent. Sebastion Faulks' Devil May Care features M giving Bond a choice of when to retire.
Fleming himself only mentions five 00 agents in all. According to Moonraker, James Bond is the most senior of three 00 agents; the two others were 008 and 0011. The three men share an office and a secretary named Loelia Ponsonby. Later novels feature two more 00 agents; 009 is mentioned in Thunderball and 006 is mentioned in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Other authors have elaborated and expanded upon the 00 agents. While they presumably have been sent on dangerous missions as Bond has, little has been revealed about most of them. Several have been named, both by Fleming and other authors, along with passing references to their service records, which suggest that agents are largely recruited (as Bond was) from the British military's special forces.
In the films, the 00 section is a discrete area of MI6, whose agents report directly to M, and tend to be sent on special assignments and troubleshooting missions, often involving rogue agents (from Britain or other countries) or situations where an "ordinary" intelligence operation uncovers or reveals terrorist or criminal activity too sensitive to be dealt with using ordinary procedural or legal measures, and where the aforementioned discretionary "licence to kill" is deemed necessary or useful in rectifying the situation. The World Is Not Enough introduces a special insignia for the 00 Section. Bond's fellow 00 agents appear receiving briefings in Thunderball and The World Is Not Enough. The latter film shows a woman in one of the 00 chairs. In Thunderball, there are nine chairs for the 00 agents; Moneypenny says every 00 agent in Europe has been recalled, not every 00 agent in the world. As with the books, other writers have elaborated and expanded upon the 00 agents in the films and in other media. In GoldenEye, 006 is an alias for Alec Trevelyan.
List of 00s
The following lists are of the known 00 agents of the British Secret Service who exist in the Ian Fleming novels & short stories, the officially-licensed novels, the EON movies, or in the official video games or comic strips.