Image via NBC

‘The Blacklist’ ending, explained

It didn't go down the way we expected. Here's what happened on the series finale of the popular NBC drama.

The Blacklist has entranced audiences for years. It was an immediate hit thanks to the eye-catching premise — a criminal agrees to work with the FBI to give up his connections — and the charismatic performance by James Spader as said criminal, Raymond “Red” Reddington.

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So what happened in the finale? Did Red pay for his crimes? Did he get away? Most importantly: Did The Blacklist give fans a satisfying conclusion?

How did The Blacklist finale start?

Red is talking to a woman on "The Blacklist".
Image via NBC

The finale was a two-parter, and the first part “Raymond Reddington, Pt. 1,” set up the cat-and-mouse game between Red and the FBI task force he’s spent a decade working with. There was some initial uncertainty as to whether the members of the task force even wanted to bring Red in, given how much he’s helped them and how they’ve each come to develop a bizarre sense of loyalty to him.

The thing is, Red has to be brought down. Harold Cooper (Harry Lennix) lays down the law (“I want us to find him because that’s who we are”) and we’re off to the races.

It doesn’t yield positive results. Dembe (Hisham Tawfiq) gets caught leaking information to Red about the location of Congressman Hudson (Toby Leonard Moore), and before the Task Force can do anything about it, Red springs into action. He orchestrates a car accident that leaves Dembe and Hudson so disoriented that the latter loses sight of where he is and shoots Dembe in the neck.

Red reacts without a moment’s hesitation, shooting Hudson in the head, killing him, and then dragging Dembe off to get medical attention. The legendary criminal makes sure Dembe survives by giving him a blood transfusion.

How did The Blacklist end?

Red is standing in a field in "The Blacklist".
Image via NBC

The hunt continues in the second part of the finale, titled “Raymond Reddington: Good Night.” Red travels to Spain and is shown coughing up blood into a tissue (likely a reference to the character’s mystery illness, which has come and gone throughout the show). It’s here that the finale slows down and gives Red some time to reflect on everything that’s happened.

He buys some groceries and calls his daughter on the phone. The next morning, he goes to the Miura cattle ranch in Andalusia, where he walks around and takes in the sights. He realizes, upon turning around, however, that a bull is standing a few yards away.

The bull is clearly prepping for an attack, but Red doesn’t seem concerned. He doesn’t even move. The show cuts to Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff) arriving in Spain via helicopter, and she sees Red’s mangled body lying in the grass. He was run over by the bull and gored to death. “I’ve got him,” Ressler says to the rest of the Task Force. She finally does. The saga of Red has come to an end, and so has The Blacklist.

Does the ending of The Blacklist work?

Red is wearing a hat and looking at something off camera in "The Blacklist".
Image via NBC

Not really. It’s definitely unexpected. We don’t think anybody would have guessed that Red would have been taken down by some angry bull in Andalusia. At the same time, we were deprived of a final exchange between Red and his Task Force peers, or a sendoff to the Task Force that felt definitive, rather than the ambiguous mess that the abrupt fade to black leaves behind. 

Fans did not take well to the finale, with many turning to social media to express their frustration. It was labeled as one of the “worst TV show endings of all time”, a clear indicator that viewers were not impressed with the way the show was sent off.

It’s unfortunate that such a popular show had to have such a disappointing ending.


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Author
Danilo Castro
Danilo Castro is an entertainment writer based in San Diego. He's contributed to publications like Screen Rant, PopMatters and FanSided. When he's not covering the latest film news, he's the managing editor for Noir City Magazine.