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WARNING: Only spoilers from the current season (Season 6) are whited out.

    Red 

Raymond "Red" Reddington

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/reddington_raymond.jpg
"The FBI works for me now."
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. "Rassvet" suggests that he's ex-Russian Embassy employee Ilya Koslov, who masqueraded as him in order to ensure the safety of Liz and Katarina.


  • 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. He will treat you with respect and a kind word. But cross him or hurt anyone he cares about, there is no hole deep enough that he won't find you.
    • Following the collapse of his empire, he moves into a low-key hotel and has charmed every guests there with none the wiser that he was notorious criminal. This include games he'd plays with children and the young couple who invite him to party with and from all accounts genuinely enjoy they're company.
  • 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 Baritone: He has an incredibly smooth, deep voice that is sheer pleasure to listen to, and he is easily the most dangerous character in the show (if you get on the wrong side of him, anyway).
  • Badass Grandpa: He's quite old, and probably one of the most dangerous men in the world. He's also Elizabeth's biological father, which makes him Agnes' grandfather.
  • 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.
  • Berserk Button: He will mask it under the cover of Tranquil Fury but even Red has a few pet peeves which can get him pissed off.
    • Try to betray his trust or kill him and he will get you. Several participants in the operation during Anslo Garrick learned that the hard way and received .45 ACP slugs for their trouble. As for the double agent they used, Red smothered the man to death himself (although in that case, the man's last request was to make it look like an accident and Red obliged, depositing the corpse into a lake to make it seem like he drowned). Most recently, one of his managers tried to turn on him and ended up on the wrong end of a silenced Walther PPK for his trouble.
    • Don't try to harm anyone he likes or cares about. The Stewmaker is a prime example, Red deposited the man into his own chemical bath after he brutalized Liz.
    • A minor one but while a Father to His Men, Red expects his employees to live up to his standards and deliver results. He gets annoyed at the tracker he's using in one episode and snaps at him regarding the state of the DMV office he's based in
    • Raymond loathes human trafficking with a passion after seeing what it did to his subordinate Dembe, and won't bat an eyelid in killing anyone who happens to be involved in the trade as Floriana Campos found out to her cost.
      • Though it manifests in Tranquil Fury Floriana Campo pushes a lot of them; in order the things that pisses him off are a.) the fact that she hides her criminality by pretending to aid the people whose lives she ruins (preying on the innocent while dressed in the wings of a savior) b.) human trafficking (to the point he turned down a lucrative deal) c.) murdering her own husband to cover her tracks.
    • He also hates hypocrites, such as, for example, the leaders of The Front.
  • Bully Hunter: A key to his psyche is that he hates anyone and everyone who abuses those weaker than them to get ahead. After all, he built his empire on the backs of people much more powerful than he was, which makes his targets weak and cowardly in comparison.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: Whatever Reddington does, he does because he believes it's right. Many people even agree that his goals are just. However, his moral compass is more of a moral "Wheel of Fortune" when it comes to the means of achieving those goals. Sometimes he'll smooth-talk a terrorist like a lover. Sometimes he'll poison a philanthropist.
  • Brought Down to Normal: After Kaplan's death and the subsequent crumbling of his criminal empire, Reddington is left broke and with little power for the first few episodes of Season 5.
  • 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."
  • Consummate Liar: He tells pretty much everyone he's lying to them. And he still gets most people to act as if he's speaking Gospel.
  • 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.
  • Consummate Professional: Always calm, cool and collected; When you contract the "Concierge of Crime" to do a job, It Gets Done.
  • Cultured Badass: A world-class criminal broker who can kick your ass, in the right mood.
  • Dead All Along: The season 5 finale reveals that this man is an imposter and the bones inside the duffel bag belong to the real Raymond Reddington.
  • 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.
  • Doctor Whomage: The Doctor Who fandom has noticed that Red shares quite a few similarities between the First and the Sixth Doctor.
  • 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, after all he saw what it did to his bodyguard Dembe.
    • 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.
      • In addition to hating human trafficking he also hates people who a.) pretend to be helping the people whose lives they ruin and b.) murder their spouses. Floriana Campo learns this the hard way.
    • Reddington has expressed a fondness for wild, endangered animals and even mentioned killing a poacher about to kill a wild elephant to save it.
  • 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.
    • In terms of his role as the "Concierge of Crime," he better evokes a more badass, modern-day Professor Moriarty.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Reddington was a decorated intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy before becoming a world-class master criminal.
  • Father to His Men: Red goes out of his way when it comes to his subordinates and they reciprocate this loyalty in kind.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Often engages in playful banter even as he's torturing or murdering.
  • Fiction 500: He spends more on his schemes than the US spends on waging the War on Terror. And every one of those schemes nets him exponentially more money than he spends.
  • The Fixer: For the criminal world. They don't call him the "Concierge of Crime" for nothing.
  • Heroic BSoD/Villainous Breakdown: Elisabeth's death leaves him in great shock. He stays for several days in an opium den and begins to have hallucinations with Elizabeth's mother.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Reddington not only invokes this, he takes it to the villainous extreme. His wife has moved on, and he accepts this. But when he discovers that the man she's now with has a mistress on the side? He takes him aside very politely, and tells him in no uncertain words that if he does not dump the excess baggage and dedicate his life to making the woman happy, he will kill him where he stands.
    You make her happy. That is the only reason you are still here.
  • Large Ham: Oh yes. Particularly when he is in full bore Affably Evil or Faux Affably Evil. Spader has incredible talent, and he's also clearly having a great time playing Red.
  • Lonely at the Top: For all his success as a criminal, it's pretty clear Reddington has no one to care about him, and only a handful of real friends(Dembe, "Mr." Kaplan), and he deeply misses his family.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: A DNA test at the finale of Season 4 reveals that Reddington is actually Liz's biological father. Subverted in the Season 5 finale when it is revealed that he is an imposter and the real Reddington has been dead for over 20 years.
  • 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.
  • Massive Multiplayer Scam: As befitting The Chessmaster, Reddington uses these to ensnare his foes. The first time he uses this trick, he dupes a traitorous subordinate into revealing himself. He does it again with Jasper, getting him to believe that Samar was on his side. Samar subsequently manipulates him into giving away important Cabal information.
  • 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.
    • He does it again to one of his friends, Mr Gregory Devry, who was Secretly Dying of a cancer.
  • 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.
  • N.G.O. Superpower: He's basically a Byronic Heroic James Bond villain.
  • Nice Hat: Never seen without one when he has to go outside.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Almost unfailingly polite to most of the working- and middle-class people he interacts with.
  • Noble Demon: Perhaps his key character trait; he's one of the richest and most powerful criminals in the world, a Consummate Liar, and a stone-cold killer. He also has an unrelenting and burning hatred for anyone who uses their power to abuse those weaker than them.
  • 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.
    • Red brings up at least one Noodle Incident per episode, sometimes many more
  • Overprotective Dad: Plays this role for Liz, particularly towards Tom.
  • Papa Wolf:
    • As demonstrated by actions towards the end of "The Stewmaker." Harm Liz, and he will get you for it. According to the season 4 finale, he is in fact her biological father.
    • This applies to any of his associates as well. He makes it very clear that if someone he is working with harms anyone that works for him, he will not stopped until everything you have built is completely destroyed, then he will kill you.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: It's when he has to deal with other criminals, who generally are worse than him, that he's at his cruelest. He's not above inflicting a Karmic Death to those he finds particularly repulsive.
  • 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.
    • A major one in regards to Dembe saving him from Dying Alone on a street in Kenya, paying for his medical bills and financing his education.
    • Because of her connection to the Fulcrum, Red needs Elizabeth, but it's clear that he has a specific fondness towards her even besides that.
    • Red secured the WITSEC list in "The Harem" since he wanted to make sure Mr. Kaplan's sister was safe from anyone who wants to get her.
  • Popcultural Osmosis Failure: While Reddington is Wicked Cultured, modern pop-culture and technology is completely lost on him not having the foggiest idea what Star Wars is about. Liz at one point refers to him as a "walking anachronism" and Lampshades the irony that he doesn't know what a Jedi Mind Trick is despite being a certified master at it
  • 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.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: If it's a two-handed weapon, chances are it's a shotgun.
  • 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.
    • In the climax of "Mombasa Cartel" Red has a chat with the main villain about how screwed up Dembe's early years were (the man had indirectly caused them when his subordinates sold Dembe to sex traffickers). And while affable, the undercurrent of pure outrage at what happened to his subordinate just bubbles below the surface.
  • Troll: Reddington clearly delights in constantly playing small scale mind-games with his FBI captors and making fun of their intelligence (or rather what he sees as a lack thereof) every chance he gets.
    • 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 M1911A1 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.
    • As a fan of Shotguns Are Just Better,he's used a Remington 870 MCS and 887 Nitro Mag, and a Mossberg 500 Cruiser throughout the series.
  • Wicked Cultured: Reddington is a very classy criminal, fluent in many languages, knowledgeable about art and culture, and very intelligent.
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    Liz 

Elizabeth "Liz" Keen née Milhoan aka Masha Rostova

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/keen_elizabeth.jpg
"Why involve me? I'm nobody. It's my first day. Nothing special about me."
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."
  • Anti-Hero: Starting to become one after the death of Tom. After Navarro dies of an injury, Liz disposes of his body using The Stewmaker's MO.
    • In "The Capricorn Killer", Liz's therapist is revealed to be the mastermind behind several murders, and sought out Liz as her patient in order to recruit her. Liz later lets her go and covers her involvement in the murders, and in return she agrees to join Liz's own personal network of shady allies.
  • Batman Gambit: In "Thrushes", she leaks the rendezvous point with Kirk on purpose so that Reddington's mercenaries can close in on him on his actual meeting place.
  • 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.
  • But Not Too Foreign: She's a Russian-American.
  • 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.
  • Character Death: Dies after giving birth while wounded. Subverted; she faked her death.
  • The Dragon: Liz also kinda-sorta takes on this role as as second Dragon to Reddington in season 3.
  • Faking the Dead: So far, she's done this twice that we've seen.
  • 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.
  • Expy: Liz is blatantly the Clarice Starling to Reddington's Hannibal.
  • Faux Action Girl: Borders on this quite a lot. Many of the blacklisters have gotten the better of her at times, requiring either Ressler or Reddington to get her out of a jam. As of Season 2, she's gotten better about fending for herself and using her profiling skills to either buy herself time or get the villain to make a mistake.
  • Frameup/Scapegoat: What happened to her courtesy of the Alliance/Cabal at the end of season 2. She is forced to go on the run, dying her hair blonde. It isn't until Season 4 when she gets a pardon from the President of the United States that she is reinstated as an FBI agent.
  • Friend to All Children: She's very good with kids and is notably less merciful when a Blacklister uses children in their operations.
  • Great Detective: She's certainly a very skilled investigator.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Destroys her professional life in the Season 2 finale by murdering the Attorney General in order to prevent him acting on his threat to have the entire Task Force framed and jailed on false criminal charges.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: In the first parts of Season 3, she's branded as a rogue FBI agent. Though she was "cleared" thanks to Red's intervention, some people don't agree that she's not a double agent working for the FSB.
  • 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 (though this is arguably a case of Honor Before Reason as she did save Barnes' hostage's life) 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 one 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.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Frequently found wearing tight, somewhat low-cut, short-sleeved T-shirts under her jacket.
  • 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. A DNA test at the end of Season 4 confirms this. Before this, Alexander Kirk claims to be her real father, though a blood test proved it to be false. He was the husband of her mother though.
  • 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. She even oversaw the lockup of Tom in a secret location.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Megan Boone's pregnancy was written into the series.
  • Rogue Agent: At the end of season 2, law enforcement/intelligence agencies branded her after she assassinated Tom Connolly.
  • 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.

    Ressler 

Donald Ressler

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/ressler_donald.jpg
"My job isn’t to trust my gut. My job is to uphold the law."
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 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.
  • 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.
    • In Season 3, at a Presidential Commission hearing, Ressler states that he believes Liz is innocent, and that he will catch her because that is his job.
  • 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.
    • Then he got an addiction to his pain meds.
  • 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.
  • The Resenter: As the series began, he openly distrusted Reddington, and whenever they work together, it's Teeth-Clenched Teamwork.
  • 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.
  • Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist: Becomes this in Season 3, leading the Task Force to hunt Liz and Red, even though he believes that Liz is innocent, because that's his job, and he believes he can clear Liz's name by working through the system.
  • The Unfettered: Becomes this near the end of the first season, though it's strongly tempered with his By-the-Book Cop tendencies.

    Tom 

Tom Keen AKA Jacob Phelps and Christopher Hargrave

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/phelps_jacob.jpg
"You think I murdered a KGB defector. Like I'm Bond. Tom Bond and just between Social Studies and recess I go around assassinating people."
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.
  • Character Death: Dies in episode 8 of season 5 by Ian Garvey.
  • Consummate Liar: He's able to lie and play his role so well, Liz truly believed he's just a normal school teacher. He's not. He's an operative of an organization that seems to be opposed to Reddington.
  • Double Reverse Quadruple Agent: Episode 8 reveals he has links to Reddington
  • Embarrassing Tattoo: After dropping his role as a Tattooed Crook, he still spots the markings for a few episodes after that. Until Liz comments that she isn't really into that type, and the next episode they're gone (also qualifies as Artistic License – Biology because there's no way in hell you'd get rid of tattoos that quickly).
  • 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, it's "Mako Tanida" that shows just how evil he is when he brutally murders both Jolene and the Cowboy 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.
  • Hazy Feel Turn: He can't possibly be called a good guy, but by the end of season 2 it seems like he's throwing his lot in with Liz for better or worse.
  • Honey Trap: But of course.
  • Honor Before Reason: When he was told that Liz could be arrested for killing the harbormaster, Tom risks being arrested in America in order to testify that he was the culprit for his death.
  • 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.
    • This trope is very much confirmed in season 2. Reddington eventually admits he placed Tom in Liz's life to watch out for her - but that was all. Tom/Jacob fell in love with her of his own accord - much to Red's chagrin.
  • 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 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. He survived his gunshot wound in "Mombasa Cartel".
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: His murder of the pristinely innocent harbormaster not only goes unpunished, but also largely uncommented on - he's unwaveringly team Liz, and that's enough.
  • Tattooed Crook: Poses as one later on and gets some neo-Nazi tattoos for that role.
  • Unholy Matrimony: According to Reddington, "Tom" was in a relationship with corporate terrorist Gina Zanetakos, a.k.a. Blacklister #152, and served as her partner-in-crime. Both he and Zanetakos deny knowing each other.
  • Weapon of Choice: A SIG-Sauer P232. His wife gets control of it long enough to put two rounds through his chest.
  • Wham Line: Not said by him, but to him.
    Jolene: Elizabeth Keen is not your wife; she is your target.
    • He says another to Reddington in "The Decembrist":
      You know, for what it's worth, I spent four months on that ship chained up. And I never told her about us. Not one word.
    • Another said to him in "Tom Keen":
      Judge Renner: You're in love with her [Liz].

    Cooper 

Harold Cooper

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/cooper_harold.jpg
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.
  • A Father to His Men: As seen in several episodes, most notably "Luther Braxton-Conclusion" where he decks the assistant director of the CIA to save his agents from death by bombing and "T. Earl King V" where he straight up threatens to kill a man to rescue Liz. While there were some cases of him acting as this in Season 1, it is far more prevalent in Season 2, where he is not only concerned with his subordinates' lives but their general wellbeing. This may have been initially motivated by the fact that he believed he was dying.
  • 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 it's possible Garrick was planning to Kill 'Em All originally but simply no longer had the time to do that. We later learn 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). Nevertheless he admits after the execution that they should have gotten the confession legally.
  • 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.
    • Confirmed in "Mr. Kaplan" when he mentions that he worked with the Pentagon in the 1990s when Reddington was doing counter-intelligence work.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: How Reddington sees him.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The most level-headed of the FBI agents.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: After Liz shot the Attorney General, Cooper was demoted to a cubicle in nowhere doing busy work. He takes advantage of this to hunt for Karakut off-book.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Almost becomes one in "Berlin: Conclusion." However, he lives and now walks with the use of a cane.
  • Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist: He was this to Reddington before they started working on the same side (more or less).
  • Your Days Are Numbered: In Season 2, it's revealed he has a previously un-diagnosed brain tumor. He was originally planning to retire, but Reddington convinced him to come back and do some good while he was still able. It turns out that he was being gaslit by Tom Connolly and the Cabal, and there's nothing wrong with him.

    Malik 

Meera Malik

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/malik_meera_8930.jpg
"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.
  • 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.
  • Character Death: Her throat is slit in "Berlin: Conclusion".
  • 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.
  • Sacrificial Lion: She is pretty prominent throughout the first season, but she is killed after she gets her throat slashed in "Berlin: Conclusion."
  • 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.
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    Aram 

Aram Mojtabai

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/mojtabai_aram.jpg
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.
  • Big Damn Kiss: With Samar, in the season 4 finale. At long last.
  • Birds of a Feather: Seems to think this regarding Samar (as depicted under the But Not Too Foreign entry below), but disregards that beyond their cultural background, their overall personalities (mild-mannered Non-Action Guy vs. tough-as-nails Action Girl) aren't really that much alike and she (initially at least) seems to be more attracted to more hands-on types like Levi or Ressler.
  • 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; though it's likely that he's just covering all bases here (his name basically gives it away that he's of Iranian descent, like her, but he isn't hostile towards Jews, also like her).
  • Deadpan Snarker: Often after achieving something.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Certainly qualifies as this when it comes to Samar.
  • Fake Guest Star: Like Dembe, he has appeared in almost every episode after the pilot. He usually gets more to do as well. Season 2 promotes him officially to main cast.
  • 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 and doesn't have a mean bone in his body. Unlike, say, Ressler's subtle Good Is Not Nice tendencies (though these refer more to his demeanor than to his moral compass), he actually is that mild-mannered and well-meaning.
  • Non-Action Guy: And actually very scared of gunfights, especially when Anslo raids the black ops compound.
  • The Smart Guy: His function in the task force.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Goes through this over the course of Season 5 to the point where he is able to actively to stand his ground against Ian Garvey's threats to him at one point.
  • Villain Respect: Despite one being an international criminal and the other an FBI agent, Red has shown repeated confidence in Aram's computer and hacking skills. Aram in turn is usually more nervous around Reddington than afraid, not to mention being the only character who calls him "Mr. Reddington."

    Dembe 

Dembe Zuma

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/zuma_dembe.jpg
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.


  • Badass Grandpa: Skilled combatant, and has a young grandchild.
  • Best Served Cold: Averted. After 29 years he has the chance to kill the man ultimately responsible for the deaths of Dembe's family and Dembe's childhood as a sex slave. He forgives the man. Red doesn't.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Averted. It was Luli who was killed onscreen by Garrick before he turned his gun to Dembe.
  • 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 Dragon: Dembe to Reddington.
  • The Driver: For Reddington when he needs a drive around.
  • Determinator: Shot in the gut and left to die manages to track down Red and Lizzy hours later and gun down their kidnappers despite suffering internal damage. And this is after enduring Cold-Blooded Torture at the hands of Matthias Solomon.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: He didn't like the fact that Red was willing to off Mr. Kaplan.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: "The Apothecary" suggests that he may be the culprit who administered the poison to Reddington. Although "Dembe Zuma" confirms that he went off the grid to hunt down the culprit himself.
  • 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.
  • Forgiveness: He forgives the type of people who are responsible for the hellish circumstances he lived in, Reddington does not.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • He has an university degree in English Literature and is fluent in multiple languages.
    • "Gaia (No. 81)" - although we don't see him go bowling, he apparently knows how to, given that he critiqued Glen.
      Dembe: Your release point is off.
      Glen: Well, the ladies love to talk to me, so it doesn't really matter.
      Dembe: Keep your elbows in. (Red gives him a WTF expression)
  • I Owe You My Life: Dembe considers this to Reddington since he funded his university education and hospital bills after he was saved in Kenya.
  • Like a Son to Me: Red sees him this way, remembering every wrong done to Dembe before Red took him in. When he he's captured in Season 3, Red spares no expense to find him.
    "Dembe is more than an associate to me."
  • Made a Slave: Considering the mark spotted on his back, he was a slave for the Everhart Cartel at some point.
  • Made of Iron: Takes a gut shot and left to bleed out and die, manages to power through the pain and show up hours later to save Red and Liz from Solomon.
  • Omniglot: According to Reddington, Dembe is fluent in multiple languages thanks to his university education.
  • One Name Only: Dembe's full name.
    Cooper: Just...Dembe. Like Prince or Madonna.
    • In "Mombasa Cartel", it is revealed that his last name is Zuma.
  • The Quiet One: Rarely utters a word to outsiders. He speaks more freely with Reddington.
  • Scary Black Man: Terrifyingly so.
  • Sex Slave: After his family were murdered in Sierra Leona, he was sold as a child sex slave. He was 14 when Reddington rescued him in downtonwn Kenya.
  • The Stoic: His only expression is grimacing. He does smile when he greets Reddington, though.
  • Undying Loyalty: He may not always agree with Red, but he always sticks by him.
  • Villainous Friendship: Is genuinely friendly with Reddington, and comforts him just before he's about to be executed. Luckily this does not happen.

    Samar 

Samar Navabi

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/navabi_samar.jpg
Played By: Mozhan Marnò

A Mossad agent recruited into the FBI's task force.


  • Action Girl: Another one in the task force with Liz.
  • Badass Israeli: By default due to being a Mossad agent, but she also shows her capability with weapons when she holds off several Polish BOA operators while Liz and Ressler escape.
  • Big Damn Kiss: With Aram, in the season 4 finale. At long last.
  • But Not Too Foreign: An Israeli of Iranian heritage.
  • Cultural Rebel: A born Iranian who turned her back on the Islamic Republic and not only joined Israel (in itself already an extreme move), but even became a Mossad agent. Also, her stance regarding gender issues.
  • Depending on the Writer: Her relationship with Aram, particularly in season 4; where she constantly seems to flip-flop between whether she thinks he's the nicest guy and best friend ever or whether she feels slighted by him over some perceived shortcoming of his. This goes well beyond the random-but-consistent Love Hate Relationship Lizzy has with Red, but is rather arbitrary instead. For example her being appreciative of his willingness to bridge the wage gap between them out of his own pocket without telling her, but then getting into his face because he suggested her as a candidate for an FBI program - again without telling her - because he didn't do it soon enough.
  • Double Agent/The Mole: Appears to be one for Mossad, the task force and to the NCS Director. Subverted since she's a double agent for Mossad/The task force and for Reddington.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous: Is in command of a kidon team in Virginia, which was responsible for nabbing Reddington.
  • Good Is Not Soft
  • Heroic BSoD: Suffers a massive one when she finds out her brother is alive and is leading a Terrorist Organization that supports the regime that killed their parents.
  • Honey Trap: Uses this in a Mossad operation in Dubai to take out an Iranian scientist.
  • Put on a Bus: She is forced to go on the run after Mossad marks her for death after considering her a liability due to her progressing vascular dementia.
  • Ship Tease: She has one with Aram.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: She becomes one with Malik after her death in the season 1 finale.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Aram is immediately smitten with the beautiful Mossad agent, stammering, "Wow, you're tall..."
  • The Unfair Sex: After Aram was suffering from a case of Unrequited Love for 2 seasons, she suddenly changes her mind on that particular matter... only to find out that he (equally suddenly) has a girlfriend. She doesn't take it too well and plans on requesting a transfer from the taskforce (also for other reasons, though), naming "you never know where you stand with people here" as a reason.
  • Torture Technician: Her main specialty in Mossad outside of her agent duties. She uses this to torture a POI in "Quon Zhang".
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