‘The Blacklist’: Why Did Creator Jon Bokenkamp Leave the Show Ahead of Season 9?

Since The Blacklist Season 8 finale, “Konets,” news broke that series creator Jon Bokenkamp is leaving his brain-child ahead of the season 9 premiere. The exit comes shortly after star Megan Boone’s exit, shocking fans who’ve invested eight years of interest into the hit NBC show. Why did Bokenkamp leave and how will it affect season 9?

Jon Bokenkamp announced his ‘Blacklist’ farewell on Twitter — the day of the season 8 finale

Executive Producer Jon Bokenkamp is seated while discussing 'The Blacklist' on a panel. He's wearing a suit and tie.
Executive Producer Jon Bokenkamp speaks on a panel | Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

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Just as season 8 of The Blacklist came to a close, Bokenkamps announced his decision to step away. The news gave little time to react as fans are still processing Boone’s departure and the finale’s events as a whole.

“These eight years playing Liz Keen have helped me better define the world and myself, as she set out to do the same,” Boone posted on Instagram after the finale.

As for Bokenkamp, his goodbye is a little lengthier.

“Dear Blacklisters: I wanted to write you directly to let you know that I’ve made the difficult decision to leave The Blacklist. I love this show with all of my heart, and it’s been an incredible journey, but after eight years I feel it’s time for me to step out of my comfort zone, try something new, and explore a few of the other characters and stories that have been crawling around in my head,” he wrote on Twitter.

“While I’m excited about this next chapter, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I have mixed emotions about my departure. The Blacklist is a family, and saying goodbye is difficult. I already miss my fellow writers, the brilliant cast and our fearless crew, but more than anything I will miss all of you — the fans.”

He continued adding a special thanks to the fanbase: “You are the lifeblood of our show, and it’s your enthusiasm that leaves me feeling — more than anything — grateful.”

‘Blacklist’ fans didn’t take the news well

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Bokenkamp waited to announce his exit until the day of the season 8 finale — a move some fans find curious.

“Wow…so ruin the biggest episode in the series THEN leave [eye roll emoji],” a fan wrote on Reddit.

Others think there was more happening behind the scenes, as there typically is. The suggestion by many who’ve dedicated eight years of their lives to Raymond “Red” Reddington’s (James Spader) story is that Bokenkamp wanted the series to go one way, but others (or the studio) wanted something else, leaving him no creative capacity to tell the story he planned.

“Maybe his idea of the finale was not the idea that was chose, so like MB he is leaving pissed,” a fan said on the same thread.

“The non-revealing reveal makes all the sense in the world now,” another noted with the reference that Red’s true identity as “Rederina” was merely hinted at — repeatedly — without a full reveal as promised. More than a few mentioned there could’ve been a fear of losing viewers if the show explicitly stated that Red is in fact Katarina Rostova — Elizabeth Keen’s (Megan Boone) mother.

“Either it’s not the direction he wanted the end to go, or it’s not the direction the team that will continue to write want to go, so either the “reveal” was made purposefully non-definitive or this was his parting shot at telling his story,” another said.

And finally, as the consensus in over 100 comments, one viewer said what many reiterated: “It was his parting shot and was made nondefinitive by the team that will continue to write. So basically no Rederina in S9. OR Rederina was not his original idea. In any case, this means there were/are conflicting views regarding this endgame amongst the team members.”

The creator didn’t give an exact reason for leaving other than suggesting it’s his time for something new. Since that’s similar to Boone’s statement, it’s no wonder fans are freaking out. The show put both of them on the map.

With Bokenkamp and Boone out, what’s the future for ‘The Blacklist’ franchise?

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The Blacklist premiered in 2013 with Bokenkamp and Boone present from the start. The former also remained at the helm for the spin-off The Blacklist: Redemption.

“It’s really hard after eight years to find new surprises, and I think these two episodes have some of the biggest surprises we’ve had in eight years,” Bokenkamp recently told Entertainment Weekly about the final two episodes, “Nachalos” and “Konets.”

As the third-longest-running scripted series on NBC, The Blacklist has a lot of pressure to perform in future episodes. The series was renewed for season 9 to which Bokenkamp stated he’ll watch “as a fan.”

“I genuinely believe the series remains full of life, creatively strong, and that bright days lie ahead,” he added in his statement.

Original showrunner John Eisendrath still remains which means there is still hope for the Blacklist story fans want to see. If nothing else, Spader, his eccentric linguistics, and torrid tales of the morrow are still involved. There’s really no better reason to tune in with or without Bokenkamp and Boone.