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For eight seasons, The Blacklist‘s charismatic criminal informant Raymond Reddington (James Spader) has been at the forefront of the series’ mysteries. Between his long-winded tales about faraway lands and the ever-present secrets surrounding his true identity, Reddington is, has, and will likely continue to be one of the most compelling characters on TV. But what if we’ve all been misdirected? A new theory suggests something so wild, only The Blacklist could pull it off.

‘The Blacklist’ has no shortage of theories

James Spader as Raymond 'Red' Reddington, Megan Boone as Elizabeth Keen sit on a bench outside together, holding hands.
James Spader as Raymond ‘Red’ Reddington, Megan Boone as Elizabeth Keen | Scott Gries/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Whether you’re an avid fan of The Blacklist or not, it’s hard to avoid the constantly circulating spoilers and theories. The Jon Bokenkamp creation began with a 2013 pilot where NBC introduced the world to Reddington’s cunning ways. And, despite still not knowing exactly who Red is, it’s been a thrill ride ever since.

A show with The Blacklist‘s level of success doesn’t come without controversy. The most divisive theory in series history is whether Reddington is actually Elizabeth Keen‘s (Megan Boone) mother, Katerina Rostova, or not. We don’t know if season 9 will piggyback off the theory, as hinted in the season 8 finale “Konets,” or start from scratch.

Other theories in the show’s eight-year run mostly revolve around Reddington’s identity. From an uncle to a twin brother, an imposter, or Katerina, many people have died to keep Reddington’s identity secret. However, what if we’ve been on the wrong trail all along?

The theory that redefines the entirety of ‘The Blacklist’

Any theory explaining why Reddington is willing to die before he reveals his true identity is merely that. Until season 9 confirms or denies any such thing, we’re speculating with the rest of the fans. Still, there’s one possible red herring that’s been with us all along: Liz.

Just as there have been multiple fakeouts through the series, it’s entirely possible that the FBI profiler and new Quantico graduate who began in 2013 was not the real Liz Keen. If we shift the lens of perspective, we could assume the imposter posing as Liz was a plant from the start to expose Reddington; a double-cross of sorts.

While it’s just as far-fetched as other theories out there, we can’t discount it. For the entirety of season 7, we watched as an imposter pretended to be Katerina only to learns he was superspy Tatiana Petrova. Season one also had mole Meera Malik (Parminder Nagra). At this point, anything goes.

How it might play out if proven true


‘The Blacklist’ Producers Give an Update on the Future of the Series

The exit of Boone as Liz means season 9 has to move in a new direction in one way or another. Her death in the season 8 finale put the series on a path to change pace. If Boone won’t return, it’s possible another could be cast in the role — especially if this twist is proven true.

It would also mean Reddington’s reason for turning himself in after 20 years on the run would essentially re-start, giving fresh life to an old story. Much of the mythology doesn’t necessarily point to the “Liz as an imposter” theory as true, but neither does a lot of what’s happened.

It’s wild, we know, but in the world of Reddington, anything goes.

The Blacklist returns Thursday, Oct. 21, to NBC.