Many of the main characters on The Blacklist are highly intelligent. But they can’t all be the smartest person in the room. Here’s how they rank.
In the television show The Blacklist, elusive criminal Raymond Reddington surrenders himself to the FBI in hopes of prompting the creation of a task force called “The Blacklist.” He is successful in this pursuit and begins working with a team of highly qualified FBI agents. Together, they track down some of the world’s most unconventional and vicious criminals.
As the characters are mostly highly trained agents or innovative and treacherous criminals, many of the individuals portrayed on the show are highly intelligent. They constantly engage in a battle of wits, doing their best to outplay each other. Considering all of their skills and knowledge, let’s rank the main characters from The Blacklist by their intelligence.
Spoiler Alert: Information from the season finale of The Blacklist is present in this article.
Ressler is an established agent but often struggles to see the whole picture. He is a black and white thinker, seeing things as right or wrong. This mindset causes trouble for Ressler as he often underestimates the criminals he is pursuing.
Ressler is very reactive and often charges into battle without stopping to think. He is easy to manipulate and those around him know this. Unable to come up with in-depth plans on his own, he relies on the help of others to clean up his messes.
Elizabeth is a talented profiler and field agent. She tries to be cunning and begins to craft plans, but they never go as she hopes. This is evidenced through her plan to torture information out of Tom, her plan to go into hiding with her family, and her plan to send Reddington to jail to find the truth about his past.
Liz is easily manipulated. She relies on her instincts instead of data. Her emotions often cloud her judgment and pull her in many different directions. This has led to frustrating situations for the fans as they find themselves screaming at Liz for missing obvious clues.
Dembe is a highly spiritual individual. He is a reflective and existential thinker who has outstanding intra-personal intelligence. Dembe is also tactical. He regularly gets Reddington out of dangerous situations or tracks down leads by crafting elaborate plans and quickly interpreting information in high-paced situations.
Dembe is a reasonable man and is the only one who is able to get through to Reddington, encouraging him to reconsider his positions without upsetting him. This calm and quiet individual is often overlooked, but underestimating Dembe’s intelligence is a grave mistake.
Aram is the stereotypical tech nerd one can expect to find on crime shows. Aram studied at MIT and worked for the National Security Agency prior to joining the FBI.
Aram is a masterful hacker and technician, often tasked with finding information for the task force. Reddington is able to manipulate Aram into performing side jobs for him as Aram is terrified of Reddington. Without Aram’s ability to comb through data and lead tactical missions involving technology, the task force would not be nearly as successful.
Cooper is not easy to fool and is great at reading others. He regularly questions his associates about their motivations and choices. Cooper is aware that Reddington provides the task force with cases that benefit him personally and attempts to counteract Reddington’s interference by making his own plans. Cooper was able to outsmart both Elizabeth and Reddington by tricking Liz into thinking she was transporting cargo, knowing that Reddington would manipulate Liz into sharing this crucial information with him.
Samar is both a Mossad and FBI agent with a wide range of skills. Firstly, she speaks 7 languages, Arabic, English, Farsi, French, German, Hebrew, and Spanish. The ability to effectively communicate in all of these languages is an astounding feat on its own, but her skills do not end there. Samar is highly logical. She is able to quickly interpret data, drawing connections, and noticing patterns. She has excellent spatial awareness and bodily-kinesthetic intelligence which helps her to be tactical in the field. She also has an amazing memory, which helps her piece key details together.
Samar is able to reflect, processing her own emotions, and effectively communicating her feelings. She is also able to put her emotions aside in challenging situations in order to make logical decisions under intense circumstances. When Samar is injured and begins to lose control of her memory and logical thinking skills, she makes the decision to go into hiding alone so she is remembered at her best. She predicts that Aram will protest this decision and cleverly plans to leave without telling him, leaving a one-time phone number to call as she knows he will insist on speaking with her. In this moment, Samar once again proves her intelligence by accurately predicting the reactions of others and crafting a flawless plan while acknowledging her own feelings but ultimately deciding to make the most logical decision.
Tom Keen is a highly cunning character. He is able to deceive Liz for years, posing as her husband and a teacher. Even when Liz is tipped off by Reddington and finds direct evidence supporting Red’s story, Tom is able to continue to deceive her.
He is great at reading others which allows him to quickly escape dangerous situations. His list of skills seems to be neverending and he is the one who eventually discovers the truth about the bones.
Reddington is a fountain of bizarre facts. Though it may seem as though he is mindlessly spurting nonsense at times, this is actually a strategy he uses to lower people’s defenses and manipulate them.
Reddington successfully runs a criminal empire, managing a number of assets. He has a great memory and is always 2 steps ahead of everyone. Reddington’s ability to navigate complex situations and use his intelligence to manipulate the FBI is truly incredible.
There is so much mystery surrounding Katarina. This in and of itself proves Katarina is able to manipulate information and the perspectives of others to accomplish her goals. She is able to keep herself hidden for years.
She tricks Liz, entering her life under false pretenses, and then convinces Liz to trust her. She has outsmarted Reddington on multiple occasions. Katarina makes long term plans and is willing to take risks if they will ultimately result in her desired outcome. In the finale of season 7, Katarina allows her asset to provide intel on her to Reddington as she decides it is more beneficial to secretly have Liz on her side.
When Reddington can’t accomplish something on his own, he calls in Mr. Kaplan. Kate is an expert with logistics, crafting cunning plans, and cleaning up Reddington and Liz’s messes.
She also has a ton of medical knowledge. Kaplan is a skilled tracker and bounty hunter. She is one of the few people who managed to outsmart Reddington for an extended period of time.