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The Blacklist (TV series)

Jon Bokenkamp


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The Blacklist
Blacklist Title Card.jpg
Created by Jon Bokenkamp
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 6
No. of episodes 117 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)
Producer(s) Anthony Sparks
Production location(s) New York City
Camera setup Single-camera
Running time 45 minutes
Production company(s)
Original network NBC
Picture format 576i SDTV

1080i HDTV

4K UHDTV (2016–)

Original release September 23, 2013 –


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 series 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 May 12, 2018, the series was renewed for a sixth season,[2] which premiered on January 3, 2019.[3]

The series has received positive reviews,[4][5] with many critics praising Spader’s performance in particular.[6]



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 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 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, and Reddington assisting the team tracking and apprehending them.

The rank and name or alias of the featured criminal on the list is displayed at the start of every episode. Three episodes in the series, “Cape May”, “Requiem” and “Ruin”, do not follow this format.

Cast and characters[edit]

Main article: List of The Blacklist characters

  • James Spader as Raymond “Red” Reddington: A master criminal turned confidential informant for the FBI, later revealed to be Elizabeth Keen’s biological father. However, in the end of season 5 Keen asserts he is an impostor who had the real Reddington killed and kept his bones in a suitcase.
  • Megan Boone as Elizabeth “Liz” Keen: Born Masha Rostova, Keen is a special agent with the FBI on Harold Cooper’s team, and Tom Keen’s wife.
  • Diego Klattenhoff as Donald Ressler: A special agent with the FBI on Cooper’s team, who also became the Acting Assistant Director of the FBI Counterterrorism Division.
  • 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 computer specialist with the FBI on Cooper’s team (main, season 2–present; recurring, season 1).
  • Mozhan Marnò as Samar Navabi: A Mossad agent who works with Cooper’s FBI team (season 2–present).
  • Hisham Tawfiq as Dembe Zuma: Reddington’s bodyguard and confidante (main, season 3–present; recurring, seasons 1–2).


Main article: List of The Blacklist episodes

Season Episodes Originally aired Nielsen ratings
First aired Last aired Rank Average viewers


1 22 September 23, 2013 May 12, 2014 6 14.95[7]
2 22 September 22, 2014 May 14, 2015 14 13.76[8]
3 23 October 1, 2015 May 19, 2016 22 11.19[9]
4 22 September 22, 2016 May 18, 2017 30 9.25[10]
5 22 September 27, 2017 May 16, 2018 42 8.41[11]
6 22[12] January 3, 2019 TBA TBA TBA



On October 4, 2013, NBC ordered nine additional episodes, filling out the series’ first season.[13] On December 3, 2013, NBC renewed the series for a 22-episode second season.[14] 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.[15] On December 5, 2015, the series was renewed for a fourth season, which premiered on September 22, 2016.[16][17] A spin-off series, The Blacklist: Redemption, premiered on February 23, 2017. On May 11, 2017, the series was renewed for a fifth season,[18] while the spin-off was canceled the following day.[19] The fifth season premiered on September 27, 2017.[20]


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.[21] 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.[22]

NBC bought the rights to The Blacklist from Sony Pictures Television in August 2012[23] and greenlighted the show in January 2013.[24] During an NBC upfront presentation in May 2013, it was announced that The Blacklist was NBC’s highest-testing drama in 10 years.[25]


Eisendrath said the casting process was difficult.[22] In February 2013, NBC offered Kiefer Sutherland the lead role of Raymond Reddington.[26] After considering other actors for the role, Eisendrath and Bokenkamp called James Spader to see if he would be interested in it.[22] Feeling confident in Spader’s understanding of the character, they cast him three days before filming began.[22]

Megan Boone took a week to prepare for her audition as FBI profiler Elizabeth Keen.[27] Feeling like her initial audition was one of the better auditions of her career, Boone later was called back for multiple auditions.[27] In March 2013, Deadline Hollywood reported that Boone accepted the role as the female lead in the series.[28]

Filming locations and technique[edit]

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.[29]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”.[30]

The series is filmed in 4K using Sony PMW-F55 cameras that are adapted to use Panavision lenses.[31] It is edited using Avid Media Composer, and editor Christopher Brookshire says the show has “a very distinctive look and pace”.[32] An average of three cameras are used at one time, but as many as six cameras are sometimes rolling.[33]


The series is broadcast simultaneously on Global in Canada.[34][35] In New Zealand, the show premiered on TV3 on February 2, 2014.[36] The second season premiered on September 23.[37] In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the show premiered on Sky Living on October 4, 2013.[38] The second season premiered on October 3, 2014.[39]Netflix has streaming rights to seasons 1–5 in the United States, Canada, Australia, Latin America, Finland, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, The Netherlands, New Zealand.[citation needed]

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