The “Imposter Theory” Revisited – Is Red Really Red?

An updated comprehensive list of evidence that supports the “Imposter Theory”


James Spader as Raymond Reddington on The Blacklist, NBC

  • “He’s not who you think he is.” – Tom
  • “He’s not who you think he is.” Naomi Highland / Karla Reddington
  • Impostor Red hints he’s had plastic surgery while paying a visit to Dr. Andrew Dice Clay.
  • Impostor Red tells a story about being a lifeguard when he was younger. He was doing CPR and the person threw up in his mouth. He states he has “never been in a pool since“. He was in the Navy but doesn’t like to swim?
  • “It must be good to be home, sir.” – Mr. Grey The FBI is home to Raymond Reddington?
  • “It’s a manipulation.” –Naomi Highland
  • In the pilot, Ressler gives a detailed description of the real Red’s criminal history. Ressler claims the real Red is only loyal to the highest bidder, among other things. This does not match the Red we’ve seen in the first 2 seasons. Remember this? “Loyalty above all else.” Red has expressed excessive amounts of loyalty throughout the series.
  • “Your father is alive.” –Tom
  • Impostor Red has dodged questions about his time in the Navy.
  • Impostor Red has stated many times that it would put Liz in great danger if she were to know the identity of her biological father. If Liz discovers the identity of her real father, it could compromise the impostor Red’s mission and every bit of leverage he has gained against the cabal. It is possible impostor Reddington has been so immersed in his mission that he lost his sense of true identity long ago.
  • Naomi Highland never directly refers to impostor Red as her husband. She speaks about Raymond Reddington as if he is not in the room.
  • “You’re crazier than I thought.” Karla Reddington
  • What could be so crazy? How about assuming the identity of another man?
  • Naomi Highland implies she made a deal with impostor Red. A deal to never expose him as an impostor and keep Liz a secret.
  • “Everything about me is a lie.” – Impostor Red
  • Naomi Highland is in the Witness Protection Program. If impostor Red was a former FBI agent, he could have secured her place in the program.
  • Let’s just assume this theory is what the writers have in mind. Is it possible that some of the things we see Red do, certain people he interacts with, or certain memories ( Ex. Ballet, Jennifer Reddington) have absolutely nothing to do with the Lizzie storyline? Have we been collecting all the clues and wasting time trying to connect these things to Liz? If this is the case, have the writers been throwing out reveals that will end up not relating to the main story arc.
  • Karla Reddington “feels more like an estranged sister” to Red over the years, as he told Lizzie. She’s not his wife. She went along with the impostor plan to keep her daughter safe.
  • Red says to Karla that she’s changed but she says: “not as much as you” and touches his face, sort of implying that something about him visually is off.
  • Lord Baltimore: A twin sister takes on the personality of her dead twin sister. They call her “Lord Baltimore”. Lizzie lived in Baltimore at some point, which is something that Red remarks about in the pilot.
  • Red knew about the music box. In order to know how Lizzie was put to bed as a child, Red had to be very close to her parents. Either a very close friend or a very close relative.
  • An associate of Red’s says, “Didn’t you go to the Naval Academy?” It proves that Red’s stories aren’t exactly “true”. Except they are true because they’re the stories of the impostor Red and not the real Red.
  • Red has experience assisting others in their request to be altered into someone else. He makes a lot of money by providing resources for people to change their identities and the life of another person. He’s good at it because Red is something of an expert where that’s concerned.
  • What did could Red have whispered in Alexander Kirk’s ear and escape death? “I’m not the real Reddington.”
  • People with dual identities is a continuing theme for The Blacklist. Examples: Campbell Scott’s character in The Cyprus Agency, Isabella Rossellini’s villainess hiding behind apparent philanthropy, the suburban housewife who prints Red fake money out of her garage, Diane Fowler and her ties to the cabal and to some extent, Lizzie, who hides elements of her history from the FBI.
  • The Painting! The painting shows Lizzie standing in front of a tombstone with Reddington’s name on it.The painting received by Raymond Reddington on The Blacklist.
  • Dembe’s backstory. Dembe is a survivor. His family was slaughtered right before his eyes. Dembe has managed to be his own man and retain his own identity. His right-hand man is the kind of man Red wishes he could be.
  • In episode 11 of season 3, Gregory Devry, we are introduced to a man claiming to be the “real” Raymond Reddington. The plot was very predictable and it was all a plan devised by Red for a friend who was terminally ill with cancer and wanted to end his pain. There was no real impostor but rather a fraud, setting up a fraud, to be a fraud.
  • In season one, Liz asks Red, “Are you my father?” Red replies “no”.
  • If we stick to the rule that Red never lies to Liz and he is the real Reddington, the answer should have been yes. Why would “yes” be a lie? He even pauses in thought before answering the question. If he is the real Reddington…answering “no” would be a lie.
  • Most would assume the impostor theory is dead in the water after season 3, episode 11, Gregory Devry. NOT SO FAST! The impostor theory is still in play. Nothing occurred in this episode that could accurately explain or debunk a single piece of evidence that supports the theory. However, it did present very compelling evidence that does support the theory. In fact, the episode contained more evidence that supports the theory and almost none that could debunk it.
  • In the same episode, the task force has a discussion that includes some very interesting dialogue.
  • LIZ: “He doesn’t even look like him.”
    RESSLER: “Well, in the five years I hunted Reddington, we had one photo of him. It only had a passing resemblance to the man we’ve been working with.”
    COOPER: “He disappeared 25 years ago. Could’ve had surgery. Truth is nobody really knows what he might look like today.

Evidence from The Blacklist Season 4 finale, “Mr. Kaplan: Conclusion”

The Blacklist

  • “We will finally know if whether or not Raymond Reddington is your father.” – COOPER
  • Indeed we did find out that Raymond Reddington is Liz/Masha’s father. On the surface, that is very satisfying…dig a little deeper…I scream “not so fast!”
  • The Shirt: Cooper goes to some ancient evidence box and gets a sample of “Raymond Reddington’s” blood.
  • It proves to be a match to Liz. The evidence that held the DNA was collected long before the impostor stepped into Raymond Reddington’s shoes. The blood on the shirt is that of the REAL Raymond Reddington. Raymond Reddington is her father but the impostor Red is not.
  • Impostor Red Can’t Deny DNA Test Results: Liz is standing before him with DNA tests results in hand. She believes she is hugging is her father, Raymond Reddington. How could Red deny those results and keep up the lie that he is not the real Raymond Reddington? He can’t. Every single thing he has done in the name of protecting Liz would be exposed. He would be exposed. He could be forced to give up his true identity and could no longer pursue his mission as Raymond Reddington to protect Liz.
  • “The only way I can stop the threats from rising is to rise up as a greater threat than all of them.” -RED (Requiem)
  • Dembe’s Questions: Liz confronts Red with the results and he confirms nor denies anything. In the following scene, Dembe asks, “Did you deny it?” Red replies no. This exchange suggests there was a reason to deny it but his hands were tied.
  • Dembe goes on to say, “So Liz thinks that was Kaplan’s secret?” Red replies, “yes
  • Kaplan’s Secret: What secret did Kaplan have that was bigger than “Red is your father”?
  • Perhaps a suitcase full of the real Reddington’s bones that prove the Red we know is an impostor. They imply it is Katarina but it is not.
  • Tom Collects Suitcase For Liz: Kaplan gave instructions to Tom on how to retrieve the suitcase and he will deliver its contents to Liz in season 5. Liz most likely will believe that they are her mother’s bones until it is proven otherwise. It will prove to be the bones of the real Raymond Reddington.

For more on the “Imposter Theory” you can review other articles here and here.

The bottom line for the season 4 finale: If you watched that episode and you believe Raymond Reddington is Liz’s father…you’re correct. If you believe Raymond Reddington is not her father…you’re correct. Just depends on which Raymond Reddington you’re talking about.


  1. I Am Totally Convinced that Red, is Liz’s Mom – Katerina – Will the Real Red Come out Of The Suitcase?

  2. We Will – It would sure answer a lot of questions, including the DNA!

  3. Rosanne Krisanda

    I am so mad that I missed this episode. Is there any way to see.

  4. Barbara turner

    I. He paused before saying no, because he didn’t’ want Liz to know. No, he wasn’t her father as in he didn’t raise her, and was never there. He told Sam that you will always be her father. He may be her biological dad, so with his thinking he didn’t lie.
    2. Dembe asked him did he deny it, then he said, so she thinks that is the reason you gave yourself up. I think that is what Dembe meant.
    3. They have pictures of Red when he was young. And they are really Red.
    4. I think if he had got a lot of plastic surgery, he would have gotten his back fixed.
    i don’t really care if he’s her father or not. I do know that a Red loves Liz for whatever reason.

    • I’m Sticking with the theory that Red is Katerina & it’s Red in the Suitcase! Right or Wrong…

    • I refer you back to the episode “Gregory Devry”. In that episode, Ressler states they only have 1 photo of Reddington that only slightly resembles the man he has been hunting for 5 years. Cooper says he could have had corrective surgery and we have no idea what he should look like today. Also, there is no DNA sample for Reddington on file.

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