The Blacklist (TV series)

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
Created by Jon Bokenkamp
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 4
No. of episodes 75 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)
Producer(s) Anthony Sparks
Location(s) New York City
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 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 October 4, 2013, NBC ordered nine more episodes, filling out the series' first season.[2] On December 3, 2013, NBC renewed the series for a 22-episode second season.[3] 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.[4] On December 5, 2015, the series was renewed for a fourth season, which premiered on September 22, 2016.[5][6] A spin-off series, The Blacklist: Redemption was ordered on May 14, 2016.

The series has received positive reviews,[7][8] with many critics praising Spader's performance in particular.[9]


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, 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. The only exception to this rule is the sixty-third episode of the series, titled "Cape May."

Cast and characters

Main characters

Recurring characters

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3


SeasonEpisodesOriginally airedNielsen ratings
First airedLast airedRankAverage viewers
122September 23, 2013 (2013-09-23)May 12, 2014 (2014-05-12)614.95[12]
222September 22, 2014 (2014-09-22)May 14, 2015 (2015-05-14)1413.76[13]
323October 1, 2015 (2015-10-01)May 19, 2016 (2016-05-19)2211.19[14]
4TBASeptember 22, 2016 (2016-09-22)TBAN/AN/A

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.[15] Recalling the experience in an interview with, 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.[16]

NBC bought the rights to The Blacklist from Sony Pictures Television in August 2012[17] and greenlighted the show in January 2013.[18] During an NBC upfront presentation in May 2013, it was announced that The Blacklist was NBC's highest-testing drama in 10 years.[19]


Eisendrath said the casting process was difficult.[16] In February 2013, NBC offered Kiefer Sutherland the lead role of Raymond Reddington.[20] After considering other actors for the role, Eisendrath and Bokenkamp called James Spader to see if he would be interested in it.[16] Feeling confident in Spader's understanding of the character, they cast him three days before filming began.[16]

Megan Boone took a week to prepare for her audition as FBI profiler Elizabeth Keen.[21] Feeling like her initial audition was one of the better auditions of her career, Boone later was called back for multiple auditions.[21] In March 2013, reported that Boone accepted the role as the female lead in the series.[22]

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.[23] Producer Richard Heus said they chose to film specific Washington, D.C. locations for the series because they were "iconic American locations".[24] These locations included the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the National Mall.[24]

The series is filmed in 4K using Sony PMW-F55 cameras that are adapted to use Panavision lenses.[25] It is edited using Avid Media Composer, which editor Christopher Brookshire says keeps the show's "very distinctive look and pace".[26] An average of three cameras are used at one time, but as many as six cameras are sometimes rolling.[27]


Critical response

The first season of The Blacklist received strong reviews from television critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the first season has a rating of 82%, based on 45 reviews, with an average rating of 7/10. 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".[28] The third season received a rating of 91%, based on 11 reviews, with an average rating of 7.4/10. 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."[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".[7] 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
May 12, 2014
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[43] 11.19[43] TBA
Thursday 10:00 p.m.
September 22, 2016
6.40[44] TBD 2016–17 TBA TBA TBA


Awards and nominations for The Blacklist
Year Association Category Nominee Result
2014 Golden Globe Awards[45] Best Actor – Television Series Drama James Spader Nominated
People's Choice Awards[46] Favorite New Television Drama The Blacklist Nominated
Entertainment Weekly
Season Finale Awards[47]
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[48] 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, Miniseries, or Movie The Blacklist Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Television Series 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, Aaron Vexler Nominated
2017 People's Choice Awards Favorite TV Crime Drama The Blacklist Pending


The series is broadcast simultaneously on Global in Canada.[49][50] In New Zealand, the show premiered on TV3 on February 2, 2014.[51] The second season premiered on September 23.[52] In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the show premiered on Sky Living on October 4, 2013.[53] The second season premiered on October 3, 2014.[54] Netflix has streaming rights to the first and second seasons in the United States, Australia, Latin America, Switzerland and Sweden.

Other media


Titan Books will start releasing an official graphic novel based on the series, being 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.[55]


A mobile game by Gameloft based on the series, The Blacklist: Conspiracy, was released on June 23, 2016, for Android, iOS and Windows devices.


In March 2016, NBC 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.[56] 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.[57] On May 14, 2016, a pilot for the series, The Blacklist: Redemption, was ordered.[58]


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  56. ‘The Blacklist’ Spinoff: Tawny Cypress Cast | Deadline
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External links

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