How The Blacklist Paid Tribute To Brian Dennehy After Actor's Death

the blacklist brian dennehy nbc

The Blacklist actor Brian Dennehy passed away due to natural causes on April 15, just days before a new episode of the NBC drama was set to air. Fortunately, The Blacklist found a way to honor both the actor and the character who contributed so much to the mythology of the notoriously twisty series. NBC tweaked its schedule so that Friday, April 17 would air not one but two episodes, and one showcased Dennehy's character.

On The Blacklist, Brian Dennehy played Dominic Wilkinson in a recurring capacity. Dominic was the father of Katarina Rostova and therefore grandfather of Elizabeth Keene. The regularly-scheduled episode aired in the 8 p.m. ET slot as usual, but rather than NBC airing the usual two-hour block of Dateline NBC from 9-11 p.m. ET, a rerun of a Dominic-heavy Season 6 episode aired at 9 p.m. instead.

The re-aired episode originally released as the 19th installment of Season 6 on April 26, 2019. Called "Rassvet," the episode was a Blacklist game-changer that moved away from the regular blacklister case of the week format to take place almost entirely in the past, with a focus on Dominic's backstory and relationship with his daughter.

The Dominic-heavy episode of The Blacklist getting another airing doesn't mean Brian Dennehy will be absent from the show moving forward. Despite Dennehey's death, Blacklist creator Jon Bokenkamp already confirmed that fans will see Dennehy as Dominic in the season finale due to existing footage that was previously filmed.

The Blacklist will actually end one episode short of the original order for Season 7 due to a production shutdown before the planned finale could be filmed. With Episode 19, which will air on May 15, serving as the finale, Dominic will indeed appear in the final episode of Season 7. It should be interesting to see how The Blacklist fits him in and if his story will be given an ending.

This isn't the first case of a show needing to wrap up a character arc after the actor tragically passed away. NCIS: Los Angeles reduced Miguel Ferrer's workload as Owen Granger when he became ill, and revealed Granger's death later in a tear-jerker of an episode. Riverdale actor Luke Perry died in early 2019, and the show found a way to include Fred Andrews in episodes thanks to existing footage and say goodbye to Fred later.

However The Blacklist says goodbye to Dominic, hopefully it will leave fans satisfied. The show already honored Brian Dennehy with the April 17 re-airing, so it seems likely Dominic will be respected no matter how his departure is handled. Fans have several more episodes of The Blacklist left before its premature finale featuring Brian Dennehy.

Many other shows, including some of the biggest on NBC, already aired their early finales this season, so The Blacklist is outlasting many other primetime hits in the 2019-2020 TV season. The Blacklist has also been renewed for Season 8, so Dominic's legacy can continue to impact Liz and Co. in the 2020-2021 TV season. For now, new episodes of The Blacklist air NBC Fridays at 8 p.m. ET.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).