Megan Boone as Elizabeth Keen on The Blacklist
Credit: Getty Images

There’s no question that Megan Boone’s exit from The Blacklist transformed the trajectory of NBC’s popular crime series. But why did Elizabeth Keen leave The Blacklist and who’s decision was it to kill Boone’s character? We’ve got all the answers, below.

The Blacklist, NBC’s long-running crime thriller, follows the story of Raymond ‘Red’ Reddington (James Spader), a former US Naval Intelligence officer who becomes a high-profile criminal. After escaping capture for decades, Reddington surrenders to the FBI and gives them the “Blacklist,” a compilation of the most dangerous criminals in the world. He collaborates with FBI special agent Elizabeth Keen, played by Boone, to help catch the criminals in exchange for immunity from prosecution. As one of the original cast members of the show, Boone played Keen for eight seasons before her exit in 2021.

In an interview with the Daily Actor in September 2013, Keen opened up about how she first got involved in The Blacklist and why she was drawn to play Elizabeth. “Once I got ahold of The Blacklist and I read it, I was immediately kind of drawn to the character Elizabeth Keen and I worked really hard on it for about a week before I met with Eisendrath and Bokenkamp and Joe Carnahan, who directed it,” she said. “The audition process actually drew me closer and closer and closer to the piece. By the time they decided to cast me, I was already really sort of in this world and it was an amazing collaboration at that point because I felt so involved, and then read with Diego Klattenhoff and Ryan Eggold and then they brought in James Spader.”

The Blacklist debuted in September 2012 and it’s currently in Season 10. NBC revealed in February 2023 that Season 10 would be the show’s final season after a decade on the air, according to our sister publication, Deadline. The show had to undergo a major transition after Boone and the show’s creator, Jon Bokenkamp, departed. “After 10 years, hundreds of Blacklist cases and more than 200 episodes produced, we’re honored to reach our conclusion,” Executive Producer John Eisendrath said in a statement to our sister site. “It’s been incredibly fun to create the strange, devious and delightful Blacklisters to challenge Raymond Reddington and our FBI Task Force each week.”

Considering the series success during Poone’s involvement, why did Elizabeth Keen leave The Blacklist? Keep reading to find out.

Why did Elizabeth Keen leave The Blacklist?

Megan Boone and James Spader on The Blacklist Season 1

Why did Elizabeth Keen leave The Blacklist? Actress Megan Boone left The Blacklist to peruse other opportunities — and the decision was a “mutual” one between her and the show, Deadline reported in June 2021. The publication also said that Boone’s leave was decided ahead of the Season 9 renewal, which allowed writers of the show to carefully plan her character’s storyline in Season 8 around that.

After her final episode aired in June 2021, the actress reflected on her final moments on screen with an emotional Instagram post. She posted a (now-deleted) photo of her character alongside Spader, who’s played her costar for eight years. “This experience, for me, has been an entire life inside of my own life,” Boone wrote in the caption, according to Deadline. “These eight years playing Liz Keen have helped me better define the world and myself, as she set out to do the same. Liz sought incorruptible familial bonds and collided with powerful forces to reveal the boundaries where a cruel, indifferent world ended and she began.” She also thanked her cast and crew and The Blacklist’s guest stars. “What a list. What a dream. Thank you all,” she said. Bodenkamp also bid farewell to his lead star. He wrote on Twitter: “You have been an incredible collaborator, a tireless partner, and I couldn’t be more proud of what we’ve built together.”

Shortly after confirming her eight-season run, Boone launched her production company, Weird Sister, and signed a first-look deal with Sony Pictures Television. Under the agreement, Bone would develop and produce new series projects for the indie TV studio, Deadline reported. “I am beyond excited to have a home at SPTV where I can branch out and continue to work with this incredible team,” Boone said at the time. “They have been instrumental in my career, and fundamentally believe in my vision for Weird Sister… I’m thrilled for this new chapter.

How was Elizabeth Keen written off The Blacklist?

Megan Boone and James Spader on The Blacklist

How was Elizabeth Keen written off The Blacklist? To account for Boone’s planned exit at the end of Season 8, writers transformed Liz from an FBI agent to a dangerous criminal (and it’s later revealed that she was No. 1 on the Blacklist). She went against her former mentor after she watched Reddington kill her mother. (The show hinted that Red was actually Liz’s biological mother, Katarina Rostova, who had facial reconstruction surgery to become Reddington.)

In the Season 8 finale, “Konets,” Red asks Liz to kill him and spare him from his terminal illness so that she’ll look “untouchable” to the rest of the blacklist. He tries to convince her by saying he’ll give her a letter from her mother. But when Liz can’t shoot Red, she’s shot in the back by one of Neville’s loyalists while meeting with Red. She fell into Red’s arms, bled out and died, wrapping up her character’s arc for good.

John Eisendrath told Entertainment Weekly in October 2021 that her death had a huge impact on other characters. “Liz’s death has had a profound effect on our characters is inevitable but where they’ve landed in her absence is surprising and wide-ranging,” he said, adding that even with Liz’s absence “the criminal world has just kept ticking along, which at a certain point becomes impossible for our heroes to ignore.”

The Blacklist airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on NBC.

For more on primetime shows, check out our photo gallery on the best nighttime soaps ranked