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Is Dembe Really Leaving The Blacklist?

Throughout its nine-season run on NBC, there has been one relationship that fans of "The Blacklist" have always rooted for — the friendship between Raymond "Red" Reddington (played by James Spader) and his loyal bodyguard, Dembe (Hisham Tawfiq). No matter what questionable acts Red has done, Dembe has always shown up for his friend and boss, who had rescued Dembe as a 14-year-old boy from a brothel. A rift forms between the two in Season 6 when Red mistakenly believes Dembe has betrayed him. Despite this tough spot, the longtime friends eventually found their way back to each other.

Following Red's two-year absence after Liz's (Megan Boone) death in Season 8, Dembe joins the FBI (via TV Line). Upon his return and learning of Dembe's new career, Red replaced his most trusted colleague with two new bodyguards, leaving many viewers to fear for Dembe's future on the show. In the most recent episode of "The Blacklist" Season 9, a hit placed on Dembe is diverted by Red. However, the final scenes of the episode once again test the strength of the characters' relationship, and viewers are left to wonder about Dembe's future on "The Blacklist."

There's no indication Hisham Tawfiq is leaving

Early in "The Blacklist," Red instructs Dembe not to open a box he previously gifted his friend until after their working relationship is done. In the November 18 episode "Benjamin T. Okara (No. 183)" (via IMDb), Red notices the unopened box, prompting Dembe to say, "I almost opened it after Brasilia." After Red exits the room, a teary Dembe opens the box, leaving viewers to wonder what's inside (via Entertainment Weekly). Fans of "The Blacklist" are also left in suspense about Dembe's future on the show because the box represents the end of a major chapter of his life.

Actor Hisham Tawfiq is one of the original cast members of "The Blacklist," and it's unlikely his character, Dembe, will be written out of the NBC mid-season. But, it's worth noting there have been no official announcements issued by the show's producers one way or the other. "The Blacklist" suffered a blow at the end of Season 8 when one of its main stars, Megan Boone, exited the show, which led to the death of Liz Keen. Dembe is the closest person to Red, in addition to Liz, that is still in his life, making him an invaluable player on the show now. 

Audience reactions to this tense Red-Dembe storyline haven't been positive. Tawfiq, who often live tweets when new episodes air, wrote on Twitter, "The box is opened!" after the final scene of Thursday's episode. Fans responded with comments showing their displeasure. One viewer's tweet reply stated, "I'm sorry, still very unhappy with this storyline. Used to be a huge fan. This is just too out if [sic] character for Dembe and Red after their history and what they've been through." Fingers crossed things improve for these characters as Season 9 continues.