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Who Is Raymond Reddington on The Blacklist? Dive Into the Criminal Mastermind

As the concierge of crime, the man widely know as Red was as mysterious as he was powerful.

By Jessica White

The Blacklist had a chokehold on viewers for a decade thanks to the mind-boggling mystery that was Raymond Reddington, played by the talented James Spader

With every action-packed episode of The Blacklist, Red never failed to deliver a mesmerizing monologue or bring his enemies to justice. His infamous list of criminals held the key to hundreds of thrilling missions, with the calculated Red calling the shots as a government informant. Red was conniving and manipulative — willing to do anything in his power to get what he wanted — while also being shockingly caring.

As one of TV's most notorious antiheroes, Red was ultimately the toughest Blacklister to beat. Read on to relive Red's nail-biting journey on The Blacklist

Who was Red on The Blacklist

Introduced in the pilot episode of The Blacklist, Red instantly made an impression due to being at the top of the FBI's Most Wanted list. Red's past as a criminal genius led him to become an invaluable FBI informant and guiding force behind the Reddington Task Force throughout all 10 seasons of The Blacklist

Known among his friends and foes as "the concierge of crime," Red's appreciation for the finer things in life offered a humorous juxtaposition to his ruthless deeds and criminal leanings. Red excelled at slicing down his enemies, whether via firearms or spoken soliloquy — especially if someone within the select camp of those he loved was in danger. Red's past often led to more questions than answers, but Blacklist fans can't help but continue to marvel at the larger-than-life Reddington

James Spader as Raymond "Red" Reddington

What happened to Red in Season 1 of The Blacklist?

We first met Red in the nail-biting premiere of The Blacklist, when the illusive member of the FBI's Most Wanted turned himself into the authorities. Red agreed to become an informant to help the FBI arrest members of his "blacklist," a horrendous lineup of criminals that Red encountered throughout his illegal work. But there was one catch: Red would only provide the intel if he could work directly with Liz Keen (Megan Boone), a budding profiler at the time. 

Through this agreement, the Reddington Task Force was created, led by Assistant Director Harold Cooper (Harry Lennix). Much of Season 1 focused on Red becoming closer to members of the task force, especially Liz, with whom he seemed to share some deeper connection. Viewers met numerous slippery blacklisters, such as WujingThe Freelancer, and the mysterious Cabal, a group of international criminals who were heavily interested in Red's movements. Viewers also met Milos Kirchoff, a.k.a Berlin, a former Russian KGB officer who caused issues for Red in Season 2. 

Megan Boone as Liz Keen, James Spader as Red Reddington in The Blacklist

What did Red do in Season 2 of The Blacklist?

Red's primary target in Season 2 of The Blacklist was The Cabal, a group a group of criminals introduced in Season 1 who had positions of power throughout government and commerce. The group also controlled The Fulcrum, a digital archive of all their illegal actions as a conglomerate. Red and his task force went after The Fulcrum to put away members of The Cabal, and it led to him coming face to face with many infamous blacklisters.

After The Cabal, Red went head to head against Berlin, and the takedown led to one of Red's best lines in Blacklist history: "Hear that? That's the sound of your checks bouncing." On a darker note, Season 2 also ended with Liz killing Cooper's friend and former Attorney GeneralTom Connolly, a secret member of The Cabal, which forced her and Red to flee from the FBI and the task force.

What happened to Red and Liz in Season 3 of The Blacklist?

Red and Liz began Season 3 of The Blacklist on the run from the authorities and their task force colleagues as they evaded angry members of The Cabal.

As Liz attempted to clear her name, Red went after The Cabal's horrendous representative, Peter Kotsiopulos, a.k.a The Director, who was dead-set on keeping The Cabal running. While all of this madness ensued, Red was suspected of being an informant for the FBI by members of the criminal underworld, and he jumped through some massive hoops to make sure those whispers were silenced.

Raymond "Red" Reddington on The Blacklist Episode 301

What happened in Season 4 of The Blacklist?

Liz became pregnant and gave birth to her daughter, Agnes Keen, in the last half of Season 3 — leading fans to meet a woman under the alias "Mr. Kaplan." Mr. Kaplan used to work with Red and had a special connection to Liz Keen. After Mr. Kaplan became obsessed with hiding Liz's baby from Red, he tried to kill her.

But after Red's murder attempt failed, Mr. Kaplan exposed a trail of murdered victims from Red's illegal past, casting him in a horrific new light to Liz and the task force. Mr. Kaplan ultimately failed to dismantle Red's criminal network, but she revealed the existence of an incriminating suitcase with a secret that would haunt Red well into Season 5. 

What secret about Red was revealed in Season 5 of The Blacklist?

So what secret was Mr. Kaplan attempting to disclose in Season 4 of The Blacklist? Red's actual identity, which came into question after a suitcase of unidentified human bones went missing, causing Red and his longtime bodyguard Dembe Zuma (Hisham Tawfiq) to go after it.

RELATED: The Scariest Villains Across All Seasons of The Blacklist

During their wild goose chase, Red met Ian Garvey, a U. S. Marshall and drug kingpin, who threatened Red's relationships with his hidden knowledge of the suitcase's contents. In the end, the skeleton was revealed to belong to the real Raymond Reddington, a man who had been dead for 30 years.

In the jaw-dropping season finale, fans realized the quick-witted man in the fedora that had been taking down blacklisters for years had actually stolen the real Raymond Reddington's identity many years ago.

Raymond "Red" Reddington on The Blacklist Episode 501

What happened to Red in Season 6 of The Blacklist?

Season 6 picked up where Season 5 left off, with the shocking discovery that Reddington was an imposter who assumed the identity of the actual Raymond Reddington. Liz became fixated on learning more about Red's mysterious past and his connection to her and the skeleton.

RELATED: The Blacklist Just Filmed Its 200th Episode 

Meanwhile, Red spent significant time in federal prison during Season 6 while maintaining his puppeteer status from behind bars. In the series finale, Red was kidnapped by a former Russian agent, Katarina Rostova, who also happened to be Liz Keen's mother.

What happened to Red in Season 7 of The Blacklist?

Red found himself in the clutches of Katarina — who was being hunted down by Neville Townsend and needed information about the people who framed her — at the start of The Blacklist Season 7. Meanwhile, Red's health began to take a turn for the worse, leading him to reconsider his plans for the future.

RELATED: Relive Red's Most Glorious Takedowns From The Blacklist

Katarina introduced herself to Liz and encouraged distance between her and Red, which forced Liz to choose who she trusted more. With so much damage done to their relationship throughout the years, Liz chose Katarina, and by the season finale, Red's life was in danger.

Raymond "Red" Reddington in a hospital bed on The Blacklist Episode 701

What happened between Liz and Red in Season 8 of The Blacklist?

Reddington was fully on the run from Liz and Katarina at the beginning of The Blacklist Season 8, leading him to eventually kill Katarina. Destroyed by the development, Liz went on a revenge tour against Red, abandoning her post at the FBI and the task force to use her own methods against him.

Liz chose to work with Townsend, but the alliance led to her ultimate downfall. After Red attempted to hand off his criminal empire and the responsibility of the blacklist to Liz, she was shot and killed before she could assassinate Red. Season 8 ended with Red traumatized by the murder as he laid her head on his fedora before fleeing the scene.

What did Red do in Season 9 of The Blacklist?

Red's instincts for revenge were taken to new heights in Season 9. Picking up two years after Liz's death, Red decided to investigate the people responsible for Liz's assassination, leading him to discover that his lawyer and longtime confidante, Marvin Gerard, was the culprit. After Marvin learned that Liz would become the next head of the Red's vast criminal enterprise, he retaliated by eliminating her completely.

However, after Red learned Marvin had a role in Liz's murder, Marvin became haunted by the revenge he knew would later come, eventually driving him to die by suicide. But as his final low blow, Marvin paid Season 1 blacklister Wujing a visit in prison to disclose Red's role as an FBI informant. The season ended with Wujing escaping custody and making a few calls, which spelled trouble for Red. With Red's most dangerous secret in the hands of his worst enemies, all eyes were on the concierge of crime to see how he'd handle the blacklister's revenge.

Raymond Red Reddington on the blacklist

What happened in the final season of The Blacklist?

Season 10 kicked off with Red in a constant state of movement as he dodged vengeful blacklisters from his past who had learned of his informant status, including Wujing, The Freelancer, Robert Vesco, and Dr. Laken Perillos, to name a few. After Red killed Wujing, the other blacklisters slowly faded into the shadows as Red ended up on top yet again.

RELATED: James Spader Reveals What He Thinks About The Blacklist's Finale: "We Commit to It"

Red had to make several sacrifices to terminate Wujing's crusade, many of which were illegal and implicated the task force as accomplices to a murder. Realizing his criminal lifestyle jeopardized those he cared for most, Red began meticulously deconstructing his criminal empire with the help of the Reddington Task Force.

RELATED: Check Out the Criminal-Busting Cast of The Blacklist Season 10 

He did so by making the agents believe they were taking down new blacklisters so that he could keep them in the dark to maintain their innocence. Meanwhile, the particularly stubborn Congressman Arthur Hudson made it his job to expose the task force's vast archive of illegal transgressions Red had encouraged over the years. After an intense shootout with the Congressman, Reddington's health took a drastic decline. In the end, Reddington was the final blacklister on the task force's list as he fled the country and the task force he'd helped create.

RELATED: How Does The Blacklist End?

Red went to Spain, encouraging his task force colleagues to catch him if they could. Longtime Reddington tracer Donald Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff) set off to find Red, but once he finally pinpointed his whereabouts, it was too late. Red's health had worsened, and while on a serene walk through the countryside, he was killed by an enraged bull grazing nearby. 

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