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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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
- Actually Pretty Funny: How he views Reddington after he starts to work with him.
- Celebrity Resemblance: Deliberately or not, his appearance and voice evoke Barack Obama.
- Da Chief: To the task force as a whole.
- Genre Savvy: Cooper might not be on Reddington's level, but the minute Liz submitted a ballistic report that was supposed to be classified, he asked for a profile on her and had her flagged subsequently.
- Good Is Not Nice: While it was a Sadistic Choice (either risking Reddington's death or someone else's), his utter callousness towards Garrick murdering of one of Reddington's associates in cold blood can be quite jarring. He may have reasonably considered that Garrick might have simply killed everyone once he got what he wanted; in the event, Garrick did not, but by that time the FBI backup were about to appear, so its possible Garrick was planning to Kill 'em All originally but simply no longer had the time to do that. We later learrn that Cooper has no problem beating the shit out of a terrorist to get him to confess to mass murder. He gets a pass mostly because he rightly believed the man really was guilty (and in fact, he was).
- Mysterious Past: Reddington suggests that the two had a common history together. The two are on a first name basis as well. Since both men were in the Navy, they likely met there.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: How Reddington sees him.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: The most level-headed of the FBI agents.
- Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist: He was this to Reddington before they started working on the same side (more or less).
- Yanks with Tanks: According to the official website of the show, Cooper was an officer in the U.S. Navy for 7 years before he joined the FBI in 1995.
"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.
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.
- 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.
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..."