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Characters: The Blacklist: Main
Characters present in The Blacklist.

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WARNING: Only spoilers from the current season (Season 2) are whited out.


Raymond "Red" Reddington

"We never really know anyone, do we?"
Played by: James Spader

"You know the problem with drawing lines in the sand? With a breath of air, they disappear. You may not like me. You may not understand how or why I do what I do. But I'm here because you want answers to questions you haven't even thought of yet."

A world-class master criminal on the FBI's Most Wanted list, Reddington surrendered to the FBI after decades of giving them the slip (including at least one assassination attempt). He first offers to help them catch Ranko Zamani, then to catch the rest of the names on his blacklist. However, he will only help them if he is allowed to speak to Elizabeth Keen.
  • Affably Evil: While he's a manipulative criminal mastermind, he's exceedingly charming. He's polite, witty, urbane and greets everyone with a handshake and a smile.
  • At Least I Admit It: This appears to be at least part of his objection to the activities of Floriana Campos. Apart from the human trafficking, it's the fact that she pretends to be helping trafficked girls while she secretly enslaves them for her cartel. Reddington may be a criminal, but at least he's upfront about his criminality. Though, it was probably the utterly two-faced nature of that hypocrisy that offends him more than the fact that they simply pretended to not be a criminal.
  • Anti-Villain: Reddington is a Type III, as he knows no bounds to achieve his goals, but his goals are noble. It's lampshaded by Cooper at the end of "The Cyprus Agency," who remarks about how vile and amoral Reddington is, but without his help, the FBI wouldn't have saved all the women and children the Cyprus Agency was taking advantage of.
  • Badass: Despite favoring a cerebral approach to dealing with his enemies or letting the FBI do the heavy lifting, Red can take care of himself when the chips are down. He's surprisingly strong and fast for his build and as he demonstrates to great effect during the first part of "Anslo Garrick", he's extremely competent with firearms rapidly eliminating multiple mercenaries trying to capture him while conducting a successful tactical retreat with a wounded Agent Ressler in tow. In contrast, the heavily armored FBI SWAT units guarding the perimeter were efficiently decimated by said mercenaries and the leading members of the FBI taskforce were taken hostage. Reddington once again proves how dangerous he is in combat when during the Season 1 Finale, he equips himself with suppressed pistol and meticulously kills off the security detail of what he believes to be his intended target.
  • Bald of Evil: Granted, he's not totally evil, nor totally bald.
  • Benevolent Boss: Red treats his employees very well, to the point of genuinely being friends with them.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: Whatever Reddington does, he does because he believes it's right. However, his moral compass doesn't line up with anyone else's.
  • Card-Carrying Villain In the pilot episode, Liz asks Reddington if he can be trusted. His response?
    Reddington: (chuckling) Of course not. I'm a criminal.
    • In "The Stewmaker", Liz calls him a "monster". He simply answers "Yes."
  • The Chessmaster: The very premise of this series is how he manipulates the FBI and everyone else to fulfil his mysterious hidden agenda. Several episodes have him playing both heroes and villains as pawns so he can get something out of it, and he usually succeeds.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Constantly. Some of them lead to hilarity.
    Liz: Wujing is a myth.
    Reddington: That's what they said about Deep Throat. And the G-spot.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: He had a family, but it's implied that they're dead. He cared for Luli Zheng as well. He has a wife and daughter, but hasn't spoken to either of them since being identified as a criminal twenty years ago - they've since been given new identities and moved on with their lives.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Reddington despises human trafficking.
    • Reddington makes a point of adhering to his promises (which is why he doesn't make very many), partly for his reputation and partly because it's good business.
  • Expy: From the bald head to the high taste (and even the glass prison), Reddington just screams Hannibal Lecter. Except he's not a serial killer or a cannibal.
  • Face-Heel Turn: Reddington was a decorated intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy before becoming a world-class master criminal.
  • The Fixer: For the criminal world. They don't call him the "Concierge of Crime" for nothing.
  • Lonely at the Top: For all his success as a criminal, it's pretty clear Reddington has no one to care about him, not even any real friends, and he deeply misses his family.
  • Manipulative Bastard: He manipulates everyone (and by everyone, we mean everyone) to achieve his goals.
  • Man of Wealth and Taste: How Reddington portrays himself; he's wealthy enough to be a regular guest at a very expensive Washington, D.C. hotel, for one.
    • Lampshaded at the start of the second episode with the use of The Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil." That said, in the same episode, Liz pegs him as being as comfortable in a Taliban cave as a swanky hotel.
  • Mercy Kill / He Knows Too Much: To Liz's dying adoptive father (and one of Reddington's old friends). He wanted to die quicker and he was going to reveal a secret regarding Reddington's role in Liz's adoption.
  • Nerves of Steel: Considerably. During "Anslo Garrick Part 1", he may have initially panicked as the attack on the Post Office commenced but when Agent Ressler is hit, he calmly outfits himself with some weapons and conducts an almost orderly tactical retreat with the wounded agent to the bullet proof holding cell. However,It breaks when Luli and Dembe are threatened with death.
  • Nice Hat: Never seen without one when he has to go outside.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Almost unfailingly polite to the most of the working- and middle-class people he interacts with.
  • Noble Demon: Episode 9, from start to finish, shows that Reddington is this.
  • Noodle Incident: The "incident" in Cairo that was discussed in "The Courier" which led to the death of several of Reddington's assets.
    • This becomes a habit with him. Random examples: a rival (female) intelligence broker tried to strangle him in Paris after they spent a night together, and Blacklister Madeline Pratt feels he betrayed her by abandoning a job they were planning to carry out in Florence. His history with Anslo Garrick seems to compromise more than one murderous Noodle Incident.
  • Papa Wolf: As demonstrated by actions towards the end of "The Stewmaker." Harm Liz, and he will get you for it. And for good reason, as he either is, or is very close to, her biological father.
  • Pet the Dog: In "The Courier," Reddington reveals that he bought the house of a struggling writer and let him live there for free after his mother died.
    • Reddington is usually a sarcastic and unhelpful jerkass to everyone, but when Luli, Dembe and Elizabeth's lives are threatened in "Anslo Garrick," he cracks pretty quickly.
    • Reddington promises to take care of Grey's family before he executes Grey for betraying him.
    • Reddington also provides the needed funds for Julian Assangenote  in order to afford defense lawyers.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: What he occupies himself with during "The Good Samaritan Killer." No slick suits, charm or suaveness. Just him, a gun and a desire for revenge.
  • Scary Shiny Glasses: In the second episode, when they bring him out of the boat and he looks up, his sunglasses light up with a pure white glow that then flickers in one lens.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Oh, yes.
  • Sinister Shades: He seems very fond of them, wearing them so often inside.
  • Stepford Snarker: He nearly always acts mocking, but it's noticeable the sarcasm is a facade for something, be it manipulation, sadness, guilt, anger or whatever. Lampshaded by Anslo Garrick.
  • The Syndicate: He runs one, even when working with the FBI and can call on resources such as well armed mercenary units in situations where he needs to get around Keen and the others stonewalling him or refusing to play ball.
  • Tranquil Fury: His reaction upon coming face-to-face with the Stewmaker. Also his demeanor during "The Good Samaritan Killer." Red is awfully (outwardly) calm while killing several people.
  • Troll: Reddington proceeds to mock the FBI agents for taking the wrong photos in analyzing evidence after the general's daughter gets abducted by Serbian-speaking mercenaries.
    • In Montreal, he's already communicated with his contact. He then gets up and walks out of the restaurant, causing Ressler to panic and storm the restaurant, convinced that he's escaped. Instead, Reddington goes to the surveillance van.
  • True Companions: With Luli and Dembe.
  • Villain Protagonist: As episode 2 shows, he might be a protagonist, but he's still a villain. He ordered an assassination on Floriana Campos and played the FBI and the Freelancer against each other.
    • Take note of his Roaring Rampage of Revenge in "The Good Samaritan Killer." While he's no less affable, every single person who had a direct involvement in his kidnapping—the man running the surveillance outpost, the paramedic who removed his chip, the doctor who provided the interrogation drugs, and Grey, who betrayed him—ends up dead by his hands.
  • Waistcoat of Style: He's rocking one throughout the pilot and much of the series.
  • Weapon of Choice: In the second half of Season 1, Red begins to carry a Colt M 1911 A 1 and a Smith & Wesson Model 36 snub nose revolver. In the Season Finale, he switches to a suppressed Heckler and Koch P30 which he uses to massacre a sizable number of Berlin's men.
    • As of Season 2, he's settled on a Browning Hi-Power as his sidearm.
  • Wicked Cultured: Reddington is a very classy criminal, fluent in many languages, knowledgeable about art and culture, and very intelligent.
  • Yanks with Tanks: Reddington is a former U.S. Navy intelligence officer, and was being groomed for Admiral before he become a master criminal.


Elizabeth "Liz" Keen

Played by: Megan Boone

A rookie FBI agent, having just graduated from Quantico a month ago (apart from several years working for the Bureau in other capacities). She's been trying to start a family with her husband (through adoption).
  • Action Girl: After one episode as a psychological profiler (see The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything), Liz took this role. Although noticeably a rookie in the early entries, she leveled up rapidly to badass by "Anslo Garrick."
  • Beware the Nice Ones: She's usually very soft-spoken and polite. But as "Berlin" shows us when she poisons and blackmails Vogel, you do not want to be on her bad side - she can be just as dangerous as Reddington if you piss her off.
  • Brainy Brunette: She's an FBI profiler, after all.
  • Career Versus Family: In the first episode, Liz and her husband are attempting to adopt a child when Reddington enters her life. Though considering that Zamani almost kills her husband, who is then later exposed as some sort of world-class criminal (assuming he's not being framed), those plans are apparently on hold...and later end up permanently so when she discovers that he really is dodgy.
  • Great Detective: She's certainly a very skilled investigator.
  • Every Scar Has A Story: Liz has a burn scar on her hand that she initially presents as the result of a childhood accident. However, we later find out that the scar was given to her by her father. The scar's shape later appears on the box her husband had hidden under the floorboards.
  • Hyper Awareness: She very often notes things that are basically invisible to everyone else.
  • Idiot Ball: Grabs this quite frequently. Two major examples would be the time when Frederick Barnes was able to make her give up her gun, violating protocol and letting the man get away and When she lets her emotions get the better of her when she has her husband dead to rights, with her attempt to do a Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique blowing up in her face when he breaks free and goes for her gun.
  • Important Haircut: Gets on at the start of the second season.
  • Mathematician's Answer: On the question of whether she doesn't have a criminal record because she wasn't a career criminal, or because she just hadn't been caught, she answers "Yes."
  • Meaningful Name: Keen means "eager/enthusiastic, interested, intelligent, insightful." All terms that apply to our agent.
  • Morality Pet: To Reddington. Based on the conversation she had with Tom, he claims this too.
  • Mysterious Past: She claims her foster father Sam was a criminal, which shocks her employers because that never came up when she was being recruited (it could have been a serious obstacle). It seems like Sam didn't have a record simply because he was never caught...and it seems that Liz might also not have a record for precisely the same reason with hints that Sam passed on some skills to her and that she spent some time as a Con Artist before joining law enforcement.
  • New Meat: She's not completely new to the Bureau, but she is barely a month out of Quantico after she spent three months stationed in New York with the FBI's Mobile Emergency Psych Department.
  • Parental Abandonment: She was raised by a foster father. She only has fuzzy memories of her real parents, but she has started to suspect that her real dad might be Reddington.
  • The Profiler: Part of her formal skill set. She trained and was about to become an official FBI profiler, but after Reddington dragged her into his game, she's now more of an Action Girl. Her profiling skills still come up occasionally, though.
  • Properly Paranoid: Thanks to the events of "Berlin", Liz is paranoid to the point that she changes residences and keeps her Glock 19 in case someone wants to off her.
  • Sherlock Scan: Once per Episode to trace a criminal down.
  • The Unfettered: In Season 2, Liz is willing to intimidate or hurt criminal/terrorist suspects just to get the needed answers.


Donald Ressler

Played by: Diego Klattenhoff

A veteran FBI agent who was in charge of the Reddington case. He is now included in a secret task force alongside Liz to follow through Reddington's blacklist.
  • Badass: He's a bit of a jerkass, but he's a very skilled field agent.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Being a FBI agent and all.
  • Determinator: A bit unpleasant but the man does not give up in the face of the master-criminals he goes up against on the show.
  • Fiery Redhead / Heroic Redhead
  • Honor Before Reason: Ressler is constantly being needled by Reddington, and is constantly chafed by having to work with a criminal he chased for years. But in "Anslo Garrick," Red encourages him to just go, saying Ressler would probably be glad to see him die. Ressler replies, "You're an FBI informant. That means you're under my protection.", putting his personal feelings for Red aside.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He's arrogant and condescending, but he'll also try his best to save everyone, even the people he bickers with (such as Reddington himself).
  • Lawman Gone Bad: He's posed as one twice so far. In "The Stewmaker," he pretends to be a double agent who's actually Reddington's inside man at the FBI. At the beginning of "Anslo Garrick," he plays a similar role, this time at the State Department.
  • Made of Iron: It became a running gag to have him suffer a preposterous amount of physical damage and then shrug it off with a minor thought. At least until "Anslo Garrick," where a merc shoots him in the leg with a shotgun. He would have bled to death if Reddington hadn't performed emergency treatment, and even then, he needed surgery in a proper hospital.
  • Number Two for Brains: Seems to be his relationship with both Cooper and Reddington.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Ressler is a tough, competent FBI agent who's brave and pretty smart. It's just that, unfortunately, he's nowhere near Reddington's intellectual league.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Goes on one after Mako Tanida kills his lover.
  • Sanity Slippage: Has gotten darker and a less restrained after Tanida kills his lover mid-first season and Malik dies in the first season finale.
  • The Resenter: As the series began, he openly distrusted Reddington, and whenever they work together, it's Teeth-Clenched Teamwork.
  • The Unfettered: Becomes this near the end of the first season.


Tom Keen

Played by: Ryan Eggold

Liz's husband, a grade school teacher who at first appears to be warm, loving and sensitive. However, he's been hiding something from his wife; he has an Emergency Stash of guns, money and passports secreted inside their house, and he's somehow involved with the murder of a Russian defector in Boston. Or is it all a Frame-Up? With Reddington's help—or, perhaps, in spite of it—Liz searches for the truth...
  • Adorkable: His general demeanour is this, and the glasses just drive the point home. It's all an act, of course.
  • Ambiguously Evil: He may or may not be a ruthless international assassin. Reddington insists that he is, but no evidence has yet to emerge that can't be explained as a set up. Turns out Reddington was right. Although after being discovered by Liz, he claims to her that he's one of the good guys.
  • Badass: At the end of the day, whatever else he may be, he was brutally tortured in the pilot but recovered without serious mental trauma. That's pretty badass. In "Mako Tanida", he earns numerous villainous badass by showing that he had memorized the layout of the Post Office and by taking out both Jolene and the Cowboy (granted, the latter was tied up, but even that was because Tom captured him). His big-ass gun implies that he is also a sniper. In "The Pavlovich Brothers" Liz has him dead to rights and breaks his thumb. He responds by breaking out of his handcuffs, beating her in a fistfight, getting hold of her gun and turning the tables on her.
  • Consummate Liar: He's able to lie and play his role so well, Liz truly believes he's just a normal school teacher. He's not. He's an operative of an organisation that seems to be opposed to Reddington.
  • Evil All Along: "The Judge" confirms that he was hired to spy on Liz and implicitly that he really is the assassin Red claimed him to be; however, its Mako Tanida that shows just how evil he is when he brutally murders the Cowboy and Jolene Parker in cold blood.
  • Frameup: This is his excuse, and all evidence points in this direction. Until "The Judge," when it turns out he really is a villain.
  • In Touch with His Feminine Side / Nice Guy: He's patient and understanding, especially when Liz's job keeps them separated (at least until he realizes that she's found his stash). This may or may not be part of his cover. It looks like it is.
  • In Love with the Mark: Possibly. He claims that he only loves her because "that's my job.", but his employers seem worried.
  • Living a Double Life: At least, that's how it looks. When the FBI questions Tom, he claims he's innocent and that somebody is setting him up. He isn't innocent.
  • Nerd Glasses: But he might not need them if they're only part of his disguise. He takes them off before he kills Jolene and the man in the Cowboy.
  • Never Found the Body: Tom is shot by Liz in the first season finale. However, by the time the police arrive, the body has disappeared.
  • Unholy Matrimony: According to Reddington, "Tom" was in a relationship with corporate terrorist Gina Zanetakos, a.k.a. Blacklister number 152, and served as her partner-in-crime. Both he and Zanetakos deny knowing each other.
  • Weapon of Choice: A SIG-Sauer P232.
  • Wham Line: Not said by him, but to him.
    Jolene: Elizabeth Keen is not your wife; she is your target.


Harold Cooper

Played by: Harry Lennix

The FBI's Assistant Director for Counterterrorism, he's the man responsible for leading the FBI's taskforce for hunting down the criminals and terrorists in Reddington's blacklist.


Meera Malik

"Obviously good-cop/bad-cop isn't working here. So let's try bad-cop/worse-cop."
Played by: Parminder Nagra

A CIA agent who's part of Reddington's security detail after being activated from retirement, though she tends to spend more time working with Ressler and the other FBI agents than Dembe or Luli. Prior to her retirement, Meera was stationed overseas for most of her professional career and has worked with the DOJ in 2006 in a multilateral operation energy and non-proliferation.
  • Action Girl: Very handy with a shotgun.
  • Badass Implicitly the most badass agent on the team, given her references both to torturing terrorists and mocking an interrogator for not torturing her.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: She's very quiet and cooperative, but she can deliver a world of pain when the situation requires.
  • Brainy Brunette: She seems to be the most worldly and experienced member of the team when it comes to dealing with international criminals and terrorists. She is consistently portrayed as highly intelligent in general.
  • British Accents: Speaks with an East Midlands accent, since her actress was raised in Leicester.
  • Character Death: Gets her throat cut in "Berlin: Conclusion."
  • CIA: Prior to the start of the series, Meera has spent most of her career stationed in India (which also includes northern India and eastern Pakistan in the Punjab region) and in Brazil under NOC.
  • CIA Evil, FBI Good: She's The Unfettered compared to the FBI agents, including her willingness to inflict Cold-Blooded Torture on suspects.
  • Hidden Depths: She reveals in the "Pavlovich Brothers" that she can cook.
  • The Mole: Seemingly so in "The Alchemist." Averted ultimately in "The Cyprus Agency."
  • Nerves of Steel: During Anslo's raid in the compound, she is the most calm out of the entire team. She reacts pretty much stone-cold to having a gun pointed at her or death threats of any kind, as well.
  • The Stoic: The woman does not display many emotions.
  • Torture Technician: Disturbingly so. In "The Good Samaritan Killer," she actually turns the tables on her FBI interrogator, contemptuously telling her that if she's the mole, a simple chat isn't going to out her.


Aram Mojtabai

Played by: Amir Arison

A FBI agent working in the task force, he's in charge of technical matters such as surveillance, hacking, understanding computer codes and electronics. He has also seen little action in the field since he works behind the scenes.
  • Ascended Extra: Initially, he was just a tech guy who got a few lines in a couple of episodes. Then "Anslo Garrick" happened and he had to take a level in Badass and help fight some mercenaries.
  • But Not Too Foreign: In his conversation with Samar, he claims that his American family has some Jewish and Muslim lineage. Of course, he may be just trying to impress her.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Often after achieving something.
  • Fake Guest Star: Like Dembe, he has appeared in almost every episode after the pilot. He usually gets more to do as well.
  • Frame-Up: What Fitch's party tries to do with Aram as a decoy in the aftermath of the black ops compound raid. Luckily, Reddington saw through this and saved him before the FBI can falsely arrest him for being a double agent.
  • Heroic BSOD: Does this after he killed the mercenary who held Liz at gunpoint. This is due to his position in the task force, which doesn't require him to be out in the field and the fact that he told Liz that he only used a pistol during target practice. He only snapped out of it after Liz told him to get a hold of himself.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Of the whole FBI task force, he seems to actually be the one (except for Liz) who has some positive impact on the missions, i.e. he does something that Reddington does not have to help with. Especially comparing to Ressler who usually just gets heroically beaten up.
  • Nice Guy: He does seem to be one of most easy-going of the group.
  • Non-Action Guy: And actually very scared of gunfights, especially when Anslo raids the black ops compound.
  • NSA: Prior to joining the FBI, Aram worked with the NSA for 14 years.
  • The Smart Guy: His function in the task force.



Played By: Hisham Tawfiq

Reddington's bodyguard and long-time friend. An ex-guerrilla fighter with the Sudan People's Liberation Army prior to being recruited to work with Reddington.
  • The Brute: A huge behemoth of a man.
  • The Comically Serious: Much comedy can be mined from his dead serious personality. Such as munching on ice cream while surrounded by weed.
  • The Driver: For Reddington.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Unlike Luli, he remains calm when Garrick puts a gun to his head and calmly says a prayer with Reddington. Luckily, he survives.
  • Fake Guest Star: He first appears in episode 2 and, while he doesn't get too many lines or much screen time, he has been in pretty much every single episode since that.
  • Made a Slave: Considering the mark spotted on his back, he was a slave for the Everhart Cartel at some point.
  • One Name Only: Dembe's full name.
    Cooper: Just...Dembe. Like Prince or Madonna.
  • The Quiet One: Rarely utters a word to outsiders. He speaks more freely with Reddington.
  • Scary Black Man: Terrifyingly so.
  • The Stoic: His only expression is grimacing. He does smile when he greets Reddington, though.
  • Villainous Friendship: Is genuinely friendly with Reddington, and comforts him just before he's about to be executed.


Samar Navadi

Played By: Mozhan MarnÚ

A Mossad agent recruited into the FBI's task force.
  • Badass Israeli: By default due to being a Mossad agent, but she also shows her capability with weapons when she holds off several enemies while Liz and Ressler escape.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Aram is immediately smitten with the beautiful Mossad agent, stammering, "Wow, you're tall..."
    Characters/The BlacklistThe Blacklist: Reddington's Associates

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