The Blacklist

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The Blacklist
Blacklist Title Card.jpg
Created byJon Bokenkamp
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons9
No. of episodes196 (list of episodes)
Executive producers
ProducerAnthony Sparks
  • Chris Brookshire
  • David Post
  • Orlando Machado Jr
  • Emily Greene
Camera setupSingle-camera
Running time40–45 minutes
Production companies
Original networkNBC
Picture formatHDTV 1080i
Original releaseSeptember 23, 2013 (2013-09-23) –
present (present)
Followed byThe Blacklist: Redemption[b]

The Blacklist is an American crime thriller television series that premiered on NBC on September 23, 2013. The show follows Raymond "Red" Reddington (James Spader), a former U.S. Navy officer turned high-profile criminal who voluntarily surrenders to the FBI after eluding capture for decades. He tells the FBI that he has a list of the most dangerous criminals in the world which he has compiled over the years, and he is willing to inform on their operations in exchange for immunity from prosecution. However, he insists on working exclusively with rookie FBI profiler Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone).

The series also stars Diego Klattenhoff, Ryan Eggold, Amir Arison, Hisham Tawfiq and Harry Lennix. The pilot episode was written by Jon Bokenkamp and directed by Joe Carnahan.[1] Executive producers for the series include Bokenkamp (for the first eight seasons), John Eisendrath, and John Davis for Sony Pictures Television, Universal Television, and Davis Entertainment.

Each season has received positive reviews,[2][3] with many critics praising Spader's performance in particular.[4] On January 26, 2021, the series was renewed for a ninth season which premiered on October 21, 2021.[5][6] On February 22, 2022, the series was renewed for a tenth season.[7]


Raymond "Red" Reddington, an ex-U.S. Naval Intelligence officer who had disappeared twenty years earlier to become one of the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives, surrenders himself to FBI Assistant Director Harold Cooper at the J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington, D.C. Taken to an FBI "black site," Reddington claims he wishes to help the FBI track down and apprehend the criminals and terrorists he spent the last twenty years associating with: individuals that are so dangerous and devious that the United States government is unaware of their very existence.

He offers Cooper his knowledge and assistance on two conditions: immunity from prosecution, and that he wants to work exclusively with Elizabeth Keen, a rookie profiler newly assigned to Cooper. Keen and Cooper are suspicious of Reddington's interest in her, but he will only say that she is "very special". After Cooper tests Reddington's offer in locating and killing Serbian terrorist Ranko Zamani in the first episode, Reddington reveals that this man was only the first on the "blacklist" of global criminals that he has compiled over his criminal career, and states that he and the FBI have a mutual interest in eliminating them. The mysteries of Reddington's and Liz's lives, and his interest in her, are gradually revealed as the series progresses. With a few exceptions, each episode features one of the global criminals, and Reddington assisting the team tracking and apprehending them. In every such episode, the rank and name or alias of the featured criminal on Red's blacklist is displayed at the close of the opening sequence.

Cast and characters[edit]

  • James Spader as Raymond "Red" Reddington: A master criminal turned confidential informant for the FBI, who is later apparently revealed to be Elizabeth Keen's biological father. However, it is revealed during the course of seasons 5 and 6 that he is an impostor who took the place of the real Reddington after he was killed, keeping his bones in a suitcase. The mystery of his identity and his connection to Liz are at the heart of the show.
  • Megan Boone as Elizabeth "Liz" Keen: Born Masha Rostova, Keen is a special agent and profiler with the FBI on Harold Cooper's team (seasons 1–8).[8]
  • Diego Klattenhoff as Donald Ressler: A special agent with the FBI on Cooper's team.
  • Ryan Eggold as Tom Keen: Born Christopher Hargrave, later taking the adoptive name Jacob Phelps, Keen works as a covert operative and is Liz's husband (seasons 1–5).
  • Parminder Nagra as Meera Malik: A field agent with the CIA who worked with Cooper's FBI team (season 1).
  • Harry Lennix as Harold Cooper: The Assistant Director of the FBI Counterterrorism Division who uses Reddington to stop people on his Blacklist.
  • Amir Arison as Aram Mojtabai: A cyber expert with the FBI on Cooper's team. (recurring season 1; main, season 2–9).
  • Mozhan Marnò as Samar Navabi: A Mossad agent who works with Cooper's FBI team (main seasons 2–6; guest, season 9).
  • Hisham Tawfiq as Dembe Zuma: Reddington's bodyguard and confidant, turned FBI agent in season 9 (recurring seasons 1–2; main, season 3–present).
  • Laura Sohn as Alina Park: An FBI field agent who previously worked in Anchorage (recurring season 7; main, season 8–9).[9]


SeasonEpisodesOriginally airedRankAverage viewers
First airedLast aired
122September 23, 2013 (2013-09-23)May 12, 2014 (2014-05-12)614.95[10]
222September 22, 2014 (2014-09-22)May 14, 2015 (2015-05-14)1413.76[11]
323October 1, 2015 (2015-10-01)May 19, 2016 (2016-05-19)2211.19[12]
422September 22, 2016 (2016-09-22)May 18, 2017 (2017-05-18)309.25[13]
522September 27, 2017 (2017-09-27)May 16, 2018 (2018-05-16)428.41[14]
622January 3, 2019 (2019-01-03)May 17, 2019 (2019-05-17)576.87[15]
719October 4, 2019 (2019-10-04)May 15, 2020 (2020-05-15)506.88[16]
822November 13, 2020 (2020-11-13)June 23, 2021 (2021-06-23)515.47[17]
922October 21, 2021 (2021-10-21)May 27, 2022 (2022-05-27)504.77[18]



On October 4, 2013, NBC ordered nine additional episodes, filling out the first season.[19] On December 3, 2013, NBC renewed the series for a 22-episode second season.[20] On May 11, 2014, owing to the series' breakout success, NBC decided to air an episode in the coveted post–Super Bowl timeslot in 2015.[21] On December 5, 2015, the series was renewed for a fourth season, which premiered on September 22, 2016.[22][23]

On May 11, 2017, the series was renewed for a fifth season,[24] which premiered on September 27, 2017.[25] The sixth season premiered on January 3, 2019. The seventh season premiered on October 4, 2019. In March 2020, the production for the show was shut down due to COVID-19. The seventh season finale aired on May 15, 2020. The eighth season premiered November 13, 2020.

On June 24, 2021, a day after the airing of the eighth-season finale, Jon Bokenkamp revealed that he will not return for the ninth season.[26] On January 26, 2021, the series was renewed for a ninth season.[5] The ninth season premiered on October 21, 2021.[6] The series was renewed for a tenth season on February 22, 2022. It was announced by series star and executive producer James Spader.[7]


After showing a screening of the pilot at Comic-Con, producers revealed that their inspiration for The Blacklist came from the 2011 capture of Whitey Bulger. The Boston-based organized crime boss had lived as a fugitive since 1994.[27] Recalling the experience in an interview with Collider, executive producer John Eisendrath stated:

So, the idea was, 'Well, what would happen if a man like Whitey Bulger turned himself in and said, "I am here. I have some rules that I want you to follow, but if you follow them I will give you the names of people that I have worked with, during the 20 years that I have been a fugitive."' So, there was a real world influence that affected the shaping of the show that was already being thought about. How can you put someone that you don't trust in the center of a show about trying to find criminals? And here was an example in the real world of just such a person. It was a fortuitous turn of events, where the idea for a show was being considered, and then here comes a real life story that helped give it some shape.[28]

NBC bought the rights to The Blacklist from Sony Pictures Television in August 2012[29] and greenlighted the show in January 2013.[30] During an NBC upfront presentation in May 2013, it was announced that The Blacklist was NBC's highest-testing drama in 10 years.[31]


Eisendrath said that the casting process was difficult.[28] In February 2013, NBC offered Kiefer Sutherland the lead role of Raymond Reddington.[32] He and Bokenkamp called James Spader to see if he would be interested in the role of Reddington;[28] they felt confident in his understanding of the character and cast him three days before filming began.[28]

Megan Boone took a week to prepare for her audition as FBI profiler Elizabeth Keen,[33] and she was called back for multiple auditions.[33] In March 2013, Deadline Hollywood reported that she accepted the role as the female lead in the series.[34]

On March 11, 2013, Ryan Eggold joined the series as Tom Keen. He stayed in the series for five seasons and one spin-off season before leaving in the fifth-season finale. However, in 2021 interview, he spoke about a possible comeback later.

In April 2013, Harry Lennix and Diego Klattenhoff were cast as Harold Cooper and Donald Ressler, respectively. On July 25, 2013, Parminder Nagra joined the series as Meera Malik, but was the first in the series to depart; she left after one season.

Amir Arison and Hisham Tawfiq were cast as Aram Mojtabai and Dembe Zuma first as guest characters, as they were originally supposed to appear in one episode. Both of them had to take part only in the third episode of season 1. But, for their good acting abilities, their contracts began to extend, making them serve as recurring characters for the first season. Arison has been promoted to main cast in the second season, while Tawfiq was promoted a season later.[35][36] After the finale of season 9, Arison departed the series, but return appearances were left possible. [37]

Mozhan Marnò joined the cast as Samar Navabi, a new special agent, following the renewal for a second season and the departure of Nagra. She left in the middle of the sixth season. In March 2019, Laura Sohn has been cast for a recurring role as agent Alina Park for a seventh season to fulfil the place left by Marnò. On May 7, 2020, she was promoted to series regular. She departed after the series' ninth season.[37]

In June 2021, it was revealed that Megan Boone would not be returning for the ninth season of the series.[38]

Filming locations and technique[edit]

Despite being set in Washington, D.C., the series is mainly filmed in Montreal, Quebec and surrounding suburbs, and the same Manhattan studio where Law & Order was filmed for 20 years.[39] Producer Richard Heus said they chose to film specific Washington, D.C., locations for the series, including the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the National Mall, because they were "iconic American locations."[40]

The series is filmed in 4K using Sony PMW-F55 cameras that are adapted to use Panavision lenses.[41] It is edited using Avid Media Composer, and editor Christopher Brookshire says the show has "a very distinctive look and pace."[42] An average of three cameras are used at one time, but as many as six cameras are sometimes recording.[43]

Notable guest appearances[edit]

The show boasts a host of notable actors in key guest appearances, including among others Isabella Rossellini, Justin Kirk, Robert Sean Leonard, Ron Perlman, Dianne Wiest, Nathan Lane, Al Roker, Jennifer Ehle, Joely Richardson, Linus Roache, Leslie Jones, Mark Ivanir, John Waters, John Glover, Brent Spiner, Huey Lewis and Campbell Scott, as well as in recurring roles, among them Brian Dennehy, Alan Alda, Mary-Louise Parker, Famke Janssen, David Strathairn, Paul Reubens, Rachel Brosnahan, Christine Lahti, Christopher Lambert and Diany Rodriguez.[44][45][46][47][48][49][50][51]


The series is broadcast simultaneously on Global in Canada.[52][53] In New Zealand, the show premiered on TV3 on February 2, 2014.[54] The second season premiered on September 23.[55] In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the show premiered on Sky Witness (formerly Sky Living) on October 4, 2013.[56] The second season premiered on October 3, 2014.[57] But has since been moved to Sky One. Netflix has streaming rights to seasons 1–9 in the United States, Canada, Australia, Latin America, Finland, India, Israel, Pakistan, Switzerland, Germany, Greece, Sweden, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Russia, Norway and Poland.[58][failed verification]


Critical response[edit]

The first season of The Blacklist received strong reviews from television critics. On Metacritic, the first season has a score of 74 out of 100, based on 31 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews."[59] The consensus reads, "James Spader is riveting as a criminal-turned-informant, and his presence goes a long way toward making this twisty but occasionally implausible crime procedural compelling."[60] The second season received a rating of 80%, based on 15 reviews, with an average score of 7.77/10. The consensus reads, "Though The Blacklist flirts with narrative overload, it's held together by James Spader's scenery-eating performance and wildly entertaining action."[61] The third season received a rating of 93%, based on 14 reviews, with an average score of 7.41/10. The consensus reads, "The Blacklist is back in top form with fresh dangers that put Red on the ropes while giving James Spader room to shine."[62] The fourth season received a rating of 88%, based on eight reviews, with an average score of 7/10. The consensus is "Propelled by the sheer force of James Spader's performance (and a pretty killer soundtrack), The Blacklist's fourth season ups the ante and then some."[63] The fifth season received a rating of 100%, based on five reviews, with an average score of 8.5/10.[64] The sixth season also received a rating of 100%, based on five reviews, but with an average score of 9.3/10.[65] The seventh season has not received enough ratings to calculate a score,[66] as well as the eighth season.[67]

David Wiegand of the San Francisco Chronicle said about the pilot, "You think you know this situation and how it will turn out, but there are surprising, yet entirely credible, twists throughout Monday's episode."[2] Robert Bianco of USA Today said, "The Blacklist is a solid weekly crime show built around a genuine TV star. That's the kind of series the networks have to be able to pull off to survive. And with Spader in command, odds are NBC will."[68] Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter praised both Spader's performance and the procedural elements of the show, writing "there's an overarching element to the premise as well that makes it intriguing without making it overly complicated."[69]


Viewership and ratings per season of The Blacklist
Season Timeslot (ET) Episodes First aired Last aired TV season Viewership
Avg. viewers
Date Viewers
Date Viewers
1 Monday 10:00 p.m. 22 September 23, 2013 (2013-09-23) 12.58[70] May 12, 2014 (2014-05-12) 10.44[71] 2013–14 6 14.95[10]
2 Monday 10:00 p.m. (1–8)
Sunday 10:38 p.m. (9)
Thursday 9:00 p.m. (10–22)
22 September 22, 2014 (2014-09-22) 12.34[72] May 14, 2015 (2015-05-14) 7.49[73] 2014–15 14 13.76[11]
3 Thursday 9:00 p.m. 23 October 1, 2015 (2015-10-01) 7.76[74] May 19, 2016 (2016-05-19) 6.88[75] 2015–16 22 11.19[12]
4 Thursday 10:00 p.m. 22 September 22, 2016 (2016-09-22) 6.40[76] May 18, 2017 (2017-05-18) 4.92[77] 2016–17 30 9.25[13]
5 Wednesday 8:00 p.m. 22 September 27, 2017 (2017-09-27) 6.39[78] May 16, 2018 (2018-05-16) 5.18[79] 2017–18 42 8.41[14]
6 Friday 9:00 p.m. (1–19)
Friday 8:00 p.m. (20–22)
22 January 3, 2019 (2019-01-03) 4.15[80] May 17, 2019 (2019-05-17) 4.46[81] 2018–19 57 6.87[15]
7 Friday 8:00 p.m. 19 October 4, 2019 (2019-10-04) 4.05[82] May 15, 2020 (2020-05-15) 4.13[83] 2019–20 50 6.88[16]
8 Friday 8:00 p.m. (1–20)
Wednesday 10:00 p.m. (21–22)
22 November 13, 2020 (2020-11-13) 3.72[84] June 23, 2021 (2021-06-23) 2.24[85] 2020–21 51 5.47[17]
9 Thursday 8:00 p.m. (1–9)
Friday 8:00 p.m. (10–22)
22 October 21, 2021 (2021-10-21) 3.11[86] May 27, 2022 (2022-05-27) 2.82[87] 2021–22 TBD TBD


Year Association Category Nominee Result
2014 Golden Globe Awards[88] Best Actor – Television Series Drama James Spader Nominated
People's Choice Awards[89] Favorite New Television Drama The Blacklist Nominated
Entertainment Weekly
Season Finale Awards[90]
Best Non-Romantic Cliffhanger "Berlin (No. 8) Conclusion" Nominated
Funniest Moment in a Drama Nominated
Weakest/Most Divisive Twist Nominated
Best Final Shot Nominated
Most Likely to Earn Someone an Emmy Nomination Nominated
Biggest Regret That I Didn't See It, I Just Heard or Read About It Nominated
Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Stunt Coordination for a Drama Series, Miniseries, or Movie The Blacklist Won
ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards Top TV Series The Blacklist (Dave Porter) Won
Saturn Award Best Network Television Series Release The Blacklist Nominated
Best Actor in a Television Series James Spader Nominated
2015 Golden Globe Awards[91] Best Actor -Television Series Drama James Spader Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series Alan Alda Nominated
2016 Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Stunt Coordination for a Drama Series, Limited Series or Movie The Blacklist Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Television Series Stunt Cast [c] Nominated
2017 People's Choice Awards Favorite TV Crime Drama The Blacklist Nominated
Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Stunt Coordination for a Drama Series, Limited Series or Movie Nominated
2018 Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards[92] Outstanding Stunt Coordination For A Drama Series, Limited Series Or Movie The Blacklist Nominated
2019 Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards[92] Outstanding Stunt Coordination For A Drama Series, Limited Series Or Movie The Blacklist Nominated
2020 Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards[92] Outstanding Stunt Coordination For A Drama Series, Limited Series Or Movie The Blacklist Nominated

Other media[edit]


Titan Books released an official comic book series based on the series, written by Nicole Phillips and drawn by Beni Lobel. The series' crew is working in the project as well.

Editor David Leach told The Hollywood Reporter that the comic is "a true extension of the television series" giving "new dimensions of the characters that have captured the audiences worldwide". The series will open with a six-issue story arc, which will be "a journey deep into the dark world of international espionage, conspiracies and intrigue on a global scale".

Issue #1 was launched July 22, 2015, in both comic book and digital stores.[93]


The mobile game The Blacklist: Conspiracy was released on June 23, 2016, by Gameloft for Android, iOS, and Windows devices.[94] As a member of the task force, the player can interact with Reddington, Cooper and other members, and interrogate potential suspects and witnesses. The game mainly consists of searching for missing items in different environments, as well as mini games to further the investigations. Players can also make decisions that alter the route of the story.[95]


In March 2016, NBC began developing a spin-off series created by Bokenkamp and Eisendrath, who would also serve as executive producers with Davis and Fox. The project was set to star Famke Janssen as Susan "Scottie" Hargrave (formerly Halsted) and Eggold, in his role as Tom Keen, as well as Edi Gathegi reprising his role as Matias Solomon. Tawny Cypress was cast as Nez Rowan, a character already recurring during the third season.[96] Hargrave first appeared on The Blacklist episode "Susan Hargrave", with "Alexander Kirk" serving as a backdoor pilot for the potential series. That episode was written by Bokenkamp and Eisendrath and directed by Michael Dinner.[97] On May 14, 2016, a pilot for the series, The Blacklist: Redemption, was ordered.[98] The series was canceled after one season.[99] Eggold continued his role on the fifth season of The Blacklist, but left after ten episodes.[100]


  1. ^ James S. Levine only composed the musical score for the first 3 episodes of Season 1.
  2. ^ The spin-off followed after the fourth season and was preceded by the fifth season.
  3. ^ The stunt cast included Airon Armstrong, Kevin Ball, Chris Barnes, Nitasha Bhambree, Michael C. Brennan, Bryce Burke, Jared Burke, Kachina Dechert, Neimah Djourabchi, Paul Drechsler-Martell, Stefanie Flores, Edward Gabree, Christopher Jon Gombos, Tony Guida, Gene Harrison, Greg Harvey, Chad Hessler, Cort Hessler, Donald John Hewitt, Scott Kelly, Pete Klein, Drew Leary, Luke Lesko, Roberto Lopez, Terence Lorino, Stephen Mann, Michael Matera, Chazz Menendez, Luis Moco, Declan Mulvey, James Newman, Josiah Nolan, Christopher Parker, Ashley Pynn, Jodi Michelle Pynn, Bob Roseman, Akos Schenek, Hannah Scott, Derrick Simmons, Brian Smyj, Matt Triplett, Thad Turner, and Aaron Vexler.


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External links[edit]

Preceded by
New Girl
Super Bowl lead-out program
The Blacklist
Succeeded by
Late Show with Stephen Colbert