The Blacklist (TV series)

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This article is about the NBC television program. For the list of top unfilmed movie scripts, see Black List (survey). For other uses, see Blacklist (disambiguation).
The Blacklist
File:The Blacklist NBC logo.jpg
Created by Jon Bokenkamp
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 3
No. of episodes 67 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)
Producer(s) Anthony Sparks
Location(s) New York
Camera setup Single-camera
Running time 45 minutes
Production company(s)
Original network NBC
Original release September 23, 2013 (2013-09-23) – present (present)
Followed by The Blacklist: Redemption
External links
Official website

The Blacklist is an American crime thriller television series that premiered on NBC on September 23, 2013. Raymond "Red" Reddington (James Spader), a former U.S. Navy officer turned high-profile criminal, 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 that he has compiled over the years and is willing to inform on their operations in exchange for immunity from prosecution. However, he insists on working exclusively with a rookie FBI profiler by the name of Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone). The show also stars Diego Klattenhoff, Ryan Eggold and Harry Lennix. The pilot episode was written by Jon Bokenkamp and directed by Joe Carnahan.[1] Executive producers for the series include Bokenkamp, John Eisendrath, and John Davis for Sony Pictures Television, Universal Television, and Davis Entertainment.

On October 4, 2013, NBC ordered nine more episodes, filling out the series' first season.[2] On December 3, 2013, NBC renewed the show for a 22-episode second season.[3] On May 11, 2014, owing to the show's breakout success, NBC decided to air an episode in the coveted post-Super Bowl timeslot in 2015.[4]

The show has received positive reviews,[5][6] with many critics praising Spader's performance in particular.[7]

On February 5, 2015, NBC renewed the series for a third season which premiered on October 1, 2015.[8][9] On December 5, 2015, Jon Bokenkamp announced that the series had been renewed for a fourth season.[10] A spin-off series, The Blacklist: Redemption was ordered on May 14, 2016.


Raymond "Red" Reddington, a former US 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 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 a terrorist in the first episode, Reddington reveals that this man was only the first on his "blacklist" of global criminals, which 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. Each episode features one of the global criminals, Reddington assisting the team tracking and apprehending them. The rank of the featured criminal on the list is displayed at the start of every episode.

Cast and characters

Main characters

Actor Character Position Seasons
1 2 3
James Spader Raymond "Red" Reddington Confidential informant, FBI Main
Megan Boone Elizabeth "Liz" Keen/Masha Rostova Special consultant, FBI Main
Diego Klattenhoff Donald Ressler Special agent, FBI
Director of the Counterterrorism Division, FBI
Ryan Eggold Tom Keen/Jacob Phelps/Christopher Hargrave Covert operative Main
Parminder Nagra Meera Malik Field agent, CIA Main
Harry Lennix Harold Cooper Director of the Counterterrorism Division, FBI Main
Amir Arison Aram Mojtabai Computer specialist, FBI Recurring Main
Mozhan Marnò Samar Navabi Agent, Mossad Main
Hisham Tawfiq Dembe Zuma Reddington's bodyguard Recurring Main

Recurring characters

Season 1

  • Charles Baker as Grey He served as Raymond Reddington's aide.
  • Deborah S. Craig as Luli Zheng, one of Reddington's bodyguards and his money manager
  • Jane Alexander as Diane Fowler, Head of Criminal Division of the Department of Justice
  • Graeme Malcolm as "The Man with the Apple", a man who was spying on the Keen household
  • Rachel Brosnahan as Jolene Parker/Lucy Brooks, a woman who makes her way into the Keens' life
  • Lance Reddick as Cowboy, a bounty hunter hired by Red to find Jolene
  • Emily Tremaine as Audrey Bidwell, Ressler's former fiancée
  • Susan Blommaert as Mr. "Kate" Kaplan, Reddington's personal cleaner
  • Alan Alda as Alan Fitch, Assistant Director of National Intelligence
  • Peter Stormare as Milos "Berlin" Kirchoff, a former member of the KGB

Season 2

  • Alan Alda as Alan Fitch, Assistant Director of National Intelligence
  • Susan Blommaert as Mr. "Kate" Kaplan, Reddington's personal cleaner
  • Peter Stormare as Milos "Berlin" Kirchoff, a former member of the KGB
  • Mary-Louise Parker as Naomi Hyland/Carla Reddington, Reddington's ex-wife
  • Paul Reubens as Mr. Vargas, Reddington's double agent
  • Hal Ozsan as Ezra, a bodyguard assigned to Elizabeth by Reddington
  • Clark Middleton as Glen Carter, a DMV employee occasionally employed by Reddington to retrieve information
  • Scottie Thompson as Zoe D'Antonio, Berlin's daughter
  • Teddy Coluca as Brimley
  • Ron Perlman as Luther Braxton, a high-profile international thief[11][12]
  • Janel Moloney as Kat Goodson, the Director's assistant and liaison between the NCS and the FBI
  • Reed Birney as Tom Connolly, the US Attorney General and a good friend of Director Cooper
  • Michael Kostroff as Martin Wilcox, the detective investigating Eugene Ames' death
  • Dante Nero as Samuel Aleko, a former informant for Meera Malik
  • David Strathairn as the Director (Peter Kotsiopulos), the mysterious head of the US National Clandestine Service
  • Adriane Lenox as Deputy Attorney General Reven Wright
  • Ralph Brown as Roger Hobbs, a Cabal member who aids Reddington
  • James A. Stephens as Kenneth Jasper, a Cabal member
  • Ned van Zandt as Leonard Caul, an ally of Reddington's and an expert on computer security
  • Michael Massee as Karakurt, an assassin

Season 3

  • Edi Gathegi as Matias Solomon, a Cabal operative sent to hunt down Reddington
  • Adriane Lenox as Deputy Attorney General Reven Wright
  • Paul Reubens as Mr. Vargas, Reddington's double agent
  • Clark Middleton as Glen Carter, a DMV employee occasionally employed by Reddington
  • David Strathairn as Peter Kotsiopulos, the Director of the US National Clandestine Service
  • Susan Blommaert as Mr. "Kate" Kaplan, Reddington's personal cleaner
  • Christine Lahti as Laurel Hitchin, the President's national security advisor
  • Fisher Stevens as Marvin Gerard, Reddington's lawyer
  • Ned van Zandt as Leonard Caul, an ally of Reddington's and an expert on computer security
  • Peter Vack as Asher Sutton, a socialite whom Tom Keen exploits to track Karakurt
  • Conor Leslie as Gwen Hollander, Asher Sutton's girlfriend
  • Andrew Divoff as Karakurt, an assassin
  • Tony Plana as Mr. Diaz, the Foreign Minister of Venezuela
  • Deidre Lovejoy as Cynthia Panabaker, the White House Counsel
  • Tawny Cypress as Nez Rowan, a mercenary
  • Famke Janssen as Susan Scott "Scottie" Hargrave


Season Episodes Originally aired Nielsen ratings
First aired Last aired Rank Viewers
1 22 September 23, 2013 (2013-09-23) May 12, 2014 (2014-05-12) 6 14.95[13]
2 22 September 22, 2014 (2014-09-22) May 14, 2015 (2015-05-14) 14 13.76[14]
3 23 October 1, 2015 (2015-10-01) May 19, 2016 (2016-05-19) 22 11.19[15]

Production and development


After showing a screening of the pilot at Comic-Con, producers revealed that their inspiration for The Blacklist came from the capture of Whitey Bulger.[16] Recalling the experience in an interview with, executive producer John Eisendrath stated:

NBC bought the rights to The Blacklist from Sony Pictures Television in August 2012[18] and greenlighted the show in January 2013.[19] During an NBC upfront presentation in May 2013, it was announced that The Blacklist was NBC's highest-testing drama in 10 years.[20]


Eisendrath said the casting process was difficult.[17] In February 2013, NBC offered Kiefer Sutherland the lead role of Raymond Reddington.[21] After considering other actors for the role, Eisendrath and Bokenkamp called James Spader to see if he would be interested in it.[17] Feeling confident in Spader's understanding of the character, they cast him three days before filming began.[17]

Megan Boone took a week to prepare for her audition as FBI profiler Elizabeth Keen.[22] Feeling like her initial audition was one of the better auditions of her career, Boone later was called back for multiple auditions.[22] In March 2013, reported that Boone accepted the role as the female lead in the series.[23]

Filming locations and technique

Despite being set in Washington, D.C., the series is mainly filmed in the same Manhattan studio where Law & Order was filmed for 20 years.[24] Producer Richard Heus said they chose to film specific Washington, D.C. locations for the series because they were "iconic American locations".[25] These locations included the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the National Mall.[25]

The series is filmed in 4K using Sony PMW-F55 cameras that are adapted to use Panavision lenses.[26] It is edited using Avid Media Composer, which editor Christopher Brookshire says keeps the show's "very distinctive look and pace".[27] An average of three cameras are used at one time, but as many as six cameras are sometimes rolling.[28]


Critical response

The first season of The Blacklist received strong reviews from television critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the show has a rating of 82%, based on 45 reviews, with an average rating of 7/10. The site's 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".[29] On Metacritic, the series has a score of 74 out of 100, based on 31 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[30]

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".[5] 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".[31] Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter praised both Spader's performance and the procedural elements of the show, writing "there's an over-arching element to the premise as well that makes it intriguing without making it overly complicated."[32]


U.S. television ratings for The Blacklist
Season Timeslot (ET) Episodes Premiere Finale TV Season Rank Viewers
(in millions)
Live + DVR
(in millions)
Date Viewers
Date Viewers
Monday 10:00 p.m.
September 23, 2013 (2013-09-23)
May 12, 2014 (2014-05-12)
10.44[34] 2013–14 #6[35] 14.95[35] 16.90[36]
Monday 10:00 p.m.
Thursday 9:00 p.m.
September 22, 2014
May 14, 2015
7.49[38] 2014–15 #14[39] 13.76[39] 15.10[40]
Thursday 9:00 p.m.
October 1, 2015
May 19, 2016
6.88[42] 2015–16 #22[15] 11.19[15] TBA
Thursday 10:00 p.m.
Fall 2016


Awards and nominations for The Blacklist
Year Association Category Nominee Result
2014 Golden Globe Awards[43] Best Actor – Television Series Drama James Spader Nominated
People's Choice Awards[44] Favorite New Television Drama The Blacklist Nominated
Entertainment Weekly
Season Finale Awards[45]
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[46] Best Actor -Television Series Drama James Spader Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series Alan Alda Nominated


The series is broadcast simultaneously on Global in Canada.[47][48] In New Zealand, the show premiered on TV3 on February 2, 2014.[49] The second season premiered on September 23.[50] In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the show premiered on Sky Living on October 4, 2013.[51] The second season premiered on October 3, 2014.[52] Netflix has streaming rights to the first and second seasons in the United States, Australia and Latin America.

Other media


Titan Books will start releasing an official comic book based on the series, being written by Nicole Phillips and drawn by Beni Lobel. The series' crew is working in the project too.

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.[53]


In March 2016, NBC has begun developing a spin-off series created by Bokenkamp and Eisendrath, who would also executive produce with Davis and Fox. The project would 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 has been cast as Nez Rowan, a character already recurring during the third season.[54] 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.[55] On May 14, 2016, a pilot for the series, The Blacklist: Redemption, was ordered.[56]


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External links