The novel explains that Dr. No was born in Peking to a German Methodist missionary and a Chinese girl, but was raised by his aunt. As an adult, he went to Shanghai, where he was involved with the Tongs, a Chinese crime syndicate. Later he was smuggled to the United States and settled in New York City, where he became a clerk and eventually Treasurer for a Tong in America, called the "Hip-Sings".
In the late 1920s, a mob war broke out in New York, forcing the police to crack down on them. No stole a million dollars in gold from the Tongs and disappeared. But the Tongs tracked him down and tortured him to find the location of the gold. When No refused to tell them, the Tongs cut off his hands, shot him through the left side of the chest and left him for dead. No survived, due to a condition called dextrocardia, in which his heart is on the right side of the body.
No spent a long time in hospital, then enrolled in medical school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He adopted the title of Doctor and changed his name to Julius No, symbolic of his rejection of his father, whose given name was Julius. As in the film, No fits himself with metal manual prostheses, but the book describes them as simple pincers. In physical appearance Dr. No is tall and very thin. He is described as being at least 6 inches taller than Bond, who is six feet tall, meaning that he's probably around 6 ft 6 inches (198 cm) in height. His head is said to be shaped like a "reverse oil drop" due to his round head pointed chin and the yellowish tinge of his skin. In the novel he wears a gunmetal coloured kimono, due to his inability to hold a bell he uses a walkie-talkie which he carries around his neck. He also wears one of the first ever pair of contact lenses and has had a lip slice cosmetic surgery and wears stocked shoes in order to make himself taller, all of these factors were employed by No to conceal his identity from the Tongs.
With the million dollars from the Tong, he purchases rare stamps in order to preserve his money against inflation; he later purchases the island of Crab Key, off the coast of Jamaica, where he restarts a defunct guano business as a cover for his criminal operations. He employs Jamaican and Cuban labourers on good wages for the guano works, brutally supervised by Jamaican "Chigroes" (a portmanteau of 'Chinese' + 'Negroes', referring to their mixed ancestry). No one who comes to the island is allowed to leave.
No, with aid from the Soviets, sabotages the nearby tests of American missiles by jamming their signals and making them land and explode on a different target than that planned. This forces the Americans to spend time and money redesigning their missiles. He also recovers missiles from the ocean and turns them over to the Russians.
Bond does not actually learn of No's plot until he and Quarrel — with Honey Rider, who would trespass to find exclusive shells — had infiltrated Crab Key and been captured. Bond had gone there after Commander Strangways had disappeared, murdered by No's henchmen. Bond eventually kills No by suffocating him in a mound of guano.Miss Taro
Other various "Chigroes"
The Three Blind Mice
Dr. No is a brilliant scientist with an implied Napoleon complex, and an example of the mad scientist trope. He is a self-described "unwanted child of a German missionary and a Chinese girl of a good family". He later "became treasurer of the most powerful criminal society in China"; in this case, the Tongs. He then "escaped to America with $10,000,000" of Tong gold bullion. He specialized in radiation, which cost him both of his hands; his hands were replaced with crude bionic metal ones. No's hands have great strength (he can crush a metal figurine with them) but are lacking in manual dexterity which leads to his demise.
He offered his skills and expertise to the Americans and Soviets, but was rejected. To get revenge, No joined the criminal organization SPECTRE and relocated to his island in Crab Key in Jamaica.
When Bond is sent to investigate the murder of two British agents and any possible connection with recent rocket disasters, No orders several attempts on 007's life. He is particularly displeased with henchman Professor Dent's failure. He gives Dent a venomous spider which is released in Bond's room. Bond kills it, and shoots Dent.
No fails in his own attempts to kill Bond; first by locking him in a ventilation shaft and then by beating him with his metal hands.
No captures Bond and Honey Rider when they trespass on his island, and they are put through a decontamination shower since No's henchmen detected radiation on them. During dinner, he offers Bond a position in his organization, but Bond refuses. Bond escapes through a ventilation shaft, and disguises himself with a radiation suit. Bond enters the control centre where No and his assistants are preparing to disrupt the launch of an American rocket. Bond sabotages No's pool-type nuclear reactor, allowing the American missile to launch successfully while No and most of his henchmen do not notice. The two men fight while everyone else flees the imminent explosion. They both fall onto a small platform that slowly descends into the boiling coolant of the overheating reactor. Bond manages to climb out, but No cannot get a grip on the metal framework and is poached to death. Bond frees Honey from where she has been chained in a room filling with water, and escapes before the reactor explodes.Miss Taro
Freelance, the Photographer
The Three "Blind" Mice
Many Chinese People who wear very nice radiation suits
Dr. No made several appearances in the cartoon series James Bond Jr.. His skin, however, was rendered bright green similar to the Mandarin in Iron Man.
Julius No also appeared in the video game GoldenEye: Rogue Agent voiced by Carlos Alazraqui. Despite his death in both the book and film, he appears alongside fellow enemies Ernst Stavro Blofeld, Auric Goldfinger, Francisco Scaramanga and Xenia Onatopp. In the game, Xenia Onatopp works for No and he seems to possess a considerable army of well-equipped henchmen as well as numerous tanks and helicopter gunships that resemble V-22 Ospreys. He also seems to have soldiers placed on countless rooftops and buildings in Hong Kong. He is electrocuted by his own reactor in a fight with the rogue 00 agent "Goldeneye".
Julius No is also a multiplayer character in the video game 007: From Russia with Love and is a playable multiplayer character in the 2010 video game GoldenEye 007 for the Wii.
The character of Dr. No makes a brief appearance in a 2012 Heineken beer commercial to promote the release of the twenty-third Bond film, Skyfall.
In Myths for the Modern Age: Philip José Farmer's Wold Newton Universe (Win Scott Eckert, ed., MonkeyBrain Books, 2005), Win Scott Eckert contributes "Who's Going to Take Over the World When I'm Gone?" wherein he posits that No's mother was an agent of Fu Manchu named Madame de Medici, who was in turn the daughter of Fu Xi, from Sax Rohmer's novel The Golden Scorpion. Likewise in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier, No is stated as being a distant relative of Fu Manchu. Later in the book, it is revealed that Bond's mission to stop Dr. No was a fraud, an alibi for Bond to kill a British leader for the Americans — "There was No Doctor."
In the alternate history novel Dracula Cha Cha Cha, Dr. No (along with Mr. Big) is mentioned as being vampire elders killed and drained by the Diogenes Club agent Hamish Bond.