The Blacklist is

"A list I've been cultivating for over 20 years."
— Raymond Reddington, The Blacklist, S1E1 "The Pilot"

The first subject on the list that Reddington tells the FBI about, is #52, Ranko Zamani. The next ten are, in the order Reddington hands them over, #145, #84, #161, #85, #152, #47, #109, #16, #106, #101.

If there is any order to the list, why is Reddington going through his list seemingly at random?

Is there any significance to the numbers a person on the list has?

And is there any significance to the order in which Reddington reveals them?

  • @PreferenceBean I'm now halfway through the second season, so I wouldn't know :)
    – SQB
    Feb 18, 2016 at 14:32
  • Meh, I found by halfway through the first season it was already looking pretty tenuous. Feb 18, 2016 at 14:32
  • 1
    @LightnessRacesinOrbit considering who #50 on the list is, yeah it seems to be made up as he goes along.
    – SQB
    Jan 6, 2017 at 12:34
  • Red reveals them in the order that best suits his agenda.
    – TaW
    Jan 27, 2017 at 13:11

3 Answers 3


From an interview with Jon Bokenkamp (Creator/Executive Producer)

I know a few who, in the mythology of the show, will end up in the top 5. But, to be quite candid – Spader said this once – there are as many Blacklisters as there are episodes that NBC will let us do. There’s no hidden algorithm or method to the Blacklist numbering. But, they are sort of weighted. The Stewmaker might be off a bit because that was one of the first few episodes we did and he might be higher if we were doing his episode today. We do think a bit about it and wonder, “where does this guy fit? How would Red rank him?” So that’s how we come up with the numbers.

  • 7
    That quote makes it sound like the numbers indicate roughly how "bad" or "serious" the blacklisters are relative to each other in Red's opinion, which would be a non-zero amount of significance. But +1 for the perfect quote.
    – Ixrec
    Feb 18, 2016 at 13:04
  • Indeed, I have to concur with my previous commenter (except for the +1 statement). If you could change your statement that there isn't any significance to include the actual significance of the numbers being roughly based on the perceived severity of the persons behind them, this would highly improve your answer. Currently it's quite contradictory and ingoring an important part of the quoted interview.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Feb 18, 2016 at 17:14
  • @Napoleon Wilson Good advice. Thx
    – madmada
    Feb 18, 2016 at 17:21

Red is in a quest for becoming a real threat to anyone who put Keen's life in danger and in his path he connected with real bad people, so my guess is that the list is ordered by when in his path he met that person. Take Dembe for example, he is number 10, one of his oldest allies.

  • Strongly agree with you as Ivan Stepanov is number 5 in the list.
    – Eilia
    Aug 25, 2023 at 14:40

I think the more personal the blacklister is higher the number. Keen is like 7 I think and he's like the husband. The more the person knows about Red the higher on the list he is.

The bigger threat the person poses and the more connected he is to Red or anyone close to him the higher he his.

I have a theory that number #1 will be the last episode and the name will be Reddington because only he knows all the secrets that he has and only he knows him better than anybody else. Only he knows everything about the past. You get the point, but at the moment we just don't know.

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