Donald Ressler had a lot of ups and downs in The Blacklist, making fans feel bad for him in some scenes, and hate him in others.
While the television show The Blacklist focuses heavily on criminal Raymond Reddington (James Spader) and his relationship with Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone), there are a fair number of supporting characters who receive a decent amount of development. One of the supporting characters with the most screen time is Agent Donald Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff).
When Ressler is first introduced, he seems like the stereotypical “good ol’ boy” cop. He seems very focused on right and wrong, fighting for justice above all, and following procedure. Over time, Ressler becomes more nuanced. At times, one can’t help but feel bad for Ressler. Other times, it’s easy to hate him. Here are five times we felt bad for Ressler and five times we hated him!
Hated: Killed Laurel Hitchen
Laurel Hitchen was one of the main antagonists in The Blacklist. She was a politician with a great amount of power to control the task force who also happened to be a member of the Cabal. These led to many confrontations between Laurel and the task force.
While fans weren’t necessarily upset to see her go, Ressler being the one to do it combined with his actions following her death were extremely annoying. Though her death was an accident, Ressler decides to cover up her murder. Though he is concealing this wrongdoing, Ressler continues to act like a righteous jerk, condemning others for their wrongdoings. The hypocrisy is infuriating.
Felt Bad: Blackmailed By Prescott
After murdering Laurel Hitchen, Ressler calls Mitchell Hatley, aka Henry Prescott, to help him clean up the scene. After learning that Ressler is an FBI agent, Prescott decides to use this to his advantage.
He begins blackmailing Ressler, forcing him to assist him with unlawful tasks, threatening to reveal his secret if he doesn’t assist him. This creates a lot of emotional turmoil and internal debate for Ressler, and despite his arrogant attitude, it is hard to see him struggle like this.
Hated: Treatment Of Reddington
At the beginning of the show, Reddington and Ressler already have a rich history. Ressler had spent years trying to track down and capture Reddington, even almost killing him at one point.
When Reddington surrenders himself to the FBI and agrees to help them catch some famous criminals, Ressler does not want to participate. Even though Reddington is assisting them in catching some extremely dangerous criminals, he continues to hold disdain for him and treats him terribly.
Felt Bad: Struggles With Addiction
Following an injury, Ressler begins to take pain medication. He becomes addicted to this medication and begins to abuse pills even after his injury heals. After a pharmacist won’t refill his prescription, he goes as far as to break his own thumb to obtain pills.
This addiction almost results in Ressler’s death as it interferes with his ability to properly do this job. This depiction of addiction shows the struggle that many addicts deal with, and it is heartbreaking to watch Ressler suffer.
Hated: Fight With Tom
When Liz admits to Ressler that she has been holding Tom for questioning, he first tells her to turn him in. When she convinces him that is not the best play, Ressler agrees to help her question Tom about Berlin.
Upon arriving at the scene, Tom makes a passive-aggressive comment about Ressler being Liz’s boyfriend. This angers Ressler, and being the hot-head he is, he begins to fight with Tom. This was just stupid, and Ressler really should be able to control himself better.
Felt Bad: Memories Scrambled
When the task force chases the criminal Dr. Bogdan Krilov, a man with the ability to alter the memories of his patients, things become very complicated. During this investigation, both Liz and Ressler’s memories are revealed to be compromised.
Due to Ressler’s scrambled memories, he almost kills Laurel Hitchen – breaking into her house and pointing a gun at her. He stops before harming her, but this memory scrambling had an extremely negative effect on Ressler.
Hated: Rude To Liz
Ressler and Liz have grown to become close friends. But this wasn’t always their relationship. In fact, when Ressler first met Liz he was unwilling to trust her simply because Reddington had requested her. He was dismissive of Liz’s theories and was constantly questioning her on why Reddington asked for her.
He also secretly puts a flag on all of Liz’s requests and reports her to Cooper, saying that she is not trained enough to be in the field after she lowers her gun at a suspect’s demand. His criticism is harsh and unfair, considering Liz hasn’t done anything wrong and has no idea why Reddington insisted on working with her.
Felt Bad: Almost Dies
Reddington and Ressler’s relationship is changed forever when Anslo Garrick invades the task force’s black site. As he is transporting Reddington into the box during the raid, he is shot by a mercenary. This injury should have been fatal, but Reddington saves his life, evening giving him a blood transfusion in the box.
Hated: Torturing People
Ressler doesn’t play by the rules while interrogating suspects. While demonizing others who don’t follow the rules and procedures, Ressler is quick to torture blacklisters for information.
Some examples of this include pressing on the courier’s arm, sticking a pen-knife blade into Kirk’s henchman, withholding medical assistance, and shooting a guy in a makeshift hospital. It seems like it’s time for Ressler to get off his high horse and admit that he is just as willing to break the rules as those he criticizes.
Felt Bad: Audrey Dies
The most upsetting moment of Ressler’s life is the death of Audrey. Audrey had been engaged to Ressler, but they separated When he was injured, they called her as his emergency contact, and she showed up at the hospital
The couple had just reconciled when Ressler becomes the target of a blacklister named Tanida. During an attempt to transport Audrey somewhere safe, one of Tanida’s henchmen shoots her in the stomach. She dies in his arms, with Ressler mourning the loss of the person he truly loves while processing the fact that her death is due to her involvement with him.