Lie to Me
Genre DramaCrimePolice proceduralComedy-drama
Created by Samuel Baum
Starring Tim RothKelli WilliamsBrendan HinesMonica RaymundHayley McFarlandMekhi Phifer[1]
Opening theme Brand New Day by Ryan Star
Country of origin United States
Language(s) English
No. of seasons 3
No. of episodes 48 (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Brian GrazerDavid Nevins Samuel BaumAll SeasonsShawn RyanSeason 2Elizabeth Craft Sarah FainSeason 2
Producer(s) Samuel BaumSeasons 1–2 Tim RothSeason 3
Running time 42 minutes
Production company(s) Imagine Entertainment20th Century Fox Television
Original channel Fox
Original run January 21, 2009 (2009-01-21) – January 31, 2011 (2011-01-31)
Status Canceled


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Lie to Me

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Lie to Me is an American television series that originally ran on the Fox network from January 21, 2009 to January 31, 2011. In the show, Dr. Cal Lightman (Tim Roth) and his colleagues in The Lightman Group accept assignments from third parties (commonly local and federal law enforcement), and assist in investigations, reaching the truth through applied psychology: interpreting microexpressions, through the Facial Action Coding System, and body language.In May 2009, the show was renewed for a second season consisting of 13 episodes; Season 2 premiered on September 28, 2009. On November 24, 2009, Fox ordered an extra nine episodes for season 2, bringing the season order to 22 episodes.On May 12, 2010, Entertainment Weekly reported that Lie to Me received a 13-episode third season pick-up. The third season of Lie to Me was originally to premiere on November 10, 2010. On September 28, 2010, the premiere date was moved to October 4, 2010, because of the cancellation of Lone Star.Lie to Me was canceled by Fox on May 10, 2011.

Characters and casting

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  • Tim Roth as Dr. Cal Lightman, a psychologist with an expertise in body language and predominantly microexpressions and founder of The Lightman Group, a private company that operates as an independent contractor to assist investigations of local and federal law enforcement through applied psychology. Though often confronted by people's skepticism, Lightman uses any psychological technique he deems necessary to reach the truth, however elaborate or confronting. He is divorced, and has shared custody of his teenage daughter. He cares deeply about Gillian Foster, and there is a chemistry between them that has yet to develop into anything more, although in the third season finale he confesses (to his daughter) that he loves her. His mother committed suicide while he was still young, an event that led him to discovering and researching microexpressions. There is evidence he was involved with British Intelligence. Lightman also mentioned interrogating IRA members, going as far as admitting he was fooled by a suspect's facial expressions that caused the murder of three people in a pub shortly after the interrogation. He has also admitted to being an MI6 intelligence agent during the Yugoslavia Wars in 1994 in an attempt to gain the trust of an intelligence agent that he was interrogating. Lightman is a West Ham United supporter as he mentions himself in Season 2. He can also be seen wearing a blue and claret scarf in one of the later episodes of Season 2. The character is based on Dr. Paul Ekman, a notable psychologist and expert on body language and facial expressions at University of California, San Francisco.

  • Kelli Williams as Dr. Gillian Foster, Dr. Lightman's colleague and co-worker in The Lightman Group. Her husband's lack of candor often challenges her open pact with Lightman: not to let their professional skill interfere with coworkers' personal lives. So, when Cal believes her husband, Alec, is cheating on her, he simply ignores what he is seeing, much to Torres's dismay. It is later revealed that he was not, in fact, cheating on her, but was trying to overcome his drug addiction. Gillian had adopted a baby (Sophie) who was eventually returned to the birth mother. This character is based on Dr. Maureen O’Sullivan, emeritus professor of psychology at the University of San Francisco.

  • Brendan Hines as Eli Loker, initially an employee of The Lightman Group. Loker is academically educated and acquired his skills in "reading" people through practice. During season 1, he also adheres to Radical Honesty, and thus rarely lies, even if that makes him appear rude or undiplomatic. Lightman demoted him to an unpaid intern after, despite Foster's warnings, he divulged sensitive information to the SEC while working on a case. However, he is later promoted to vice president, which puts a rift in any developing relationship between him and Torres (the two had slept together once).

  • Monica Raymund as Ria Torres, an employee of The Lightman Group, and a protegé of Dr. Lightman's, who was recognized as a "natural" while she was still working as a TSA agent. Torres was abused as a child, a common pattern among naturals. Though talented and loyal, she lacks academic training and sometimes lets her emotions cloud her judgment. She has a half sister who is in juvenile prison.

  • Hayley McFarland as Emily Lightman, Cal Lightman's teenage daughter. She is under shared custody between her parents, and though she does not appreciate her father's ability to "read" her, she does not deny its merit for social screening. She has had a few boyfriends over the series that her father frequently scrutinizes. Though she sometimes gets into trouble and has fake IDs and much to Lightman's chagrin has been sexually active with at least one or more of her past boyfriends, she is generally very well-behaved and has a loving relationship with her father. She notices the dynamic between Gillian and Lightman. (Recurring Season 1, Regular Season 2-)

  • Mekhi Phifer as Ben Reynolds, an FBI agent who is assigned to and assists the Lightman Group in their investigations, offering armed assistance and practical insights. Reynolds doesn't always agree with Lightman's ways, but stands behind them the majority of the time. (Recurring Season 1, Regular Season 2)

  • Jennifer Beals as Zoe Landau, Cal Lightman's ex-wife. She is an Assistant Attorney General and though currently engaged to another man, she also engaged in a tryst with Lightman, after he helped her in a case. (Seasons 1 & 2)

  • Monique Gabriela Curnen as Detective Wallowski. She is a police officer who assists Lightman. (Seasons 2 & 3)

  • Tim Guinee as Alec Foster, Gillian Foster's ex-husband. He works at the United States Department of State and is a recovering cocaine addict where throughout the series it was heavily hinted that he was having an extramarital affair until it revealed the woman was his CA sponsor. He and Gillian divorced. (Season 1)

  • Sean Patrick Thomas as Special Agent Karl Dupree. Dupree initially assisted the Lightman group on a case involving a controversial South Korean ambassador, who is presumed to be an assassination target at his son's state wedding. Torres and Dupree are romantically involved later in season one. He also defends Torres against Loker when he divulged sensitive information to the SEC while working on a case. (Season 1)

  • Brandon Jones as Liam, Emily Lightman's boyfriend, a high school jock who is not intimidated by Cal Lightman. Emily breaks up with him because he does not believe in sex before marriage. (Season 3)


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Based on the real-life scientific discoveries of Paul Ekman, the series follows Lightman and his team of deception experts as they assist law enforcement and government agencies to expose the truth behind the lies.

The season opens with Cal and Gillian hiring a new associate: TSA officer Ria Torres, who scored extraordinarily high on Cal's deception-detection diagnostic, and is in turn labeled a "natural" at deception detection. Her innate talent in the field clashes with Cal's academic approach, and he often shows off by rapidly analyzing her every facial expression. She counters by reading Lightman and, when he least expects it, peppers conversations with quotes from his books.

It was gradually revealed that Dr. Lightman was driven to study micro-expressions as a result of guilt over his mother's suicide. She claimed to have been fine in order to obtain a weekend pass from a psychiatric ward, when she was actually experiencing agony (which mostly parallels Paul Ekman's anecdote in his book "Telling Lies").

For a small number of the early episodes, Lightman would team up with Torres to work on a case, while Foster and Loker would team up on a separate case. Occasionally, their work would intertwine, or Foster and/or Lightman would provide assistance on each other's cases. As the first season progressed, the cases became more involved, and all four of the main characters would work together on one case for each episode.

In addition to detecting deception in subjects they interview, Lightman and his team also use various interviewing and interrogation tactics to elicit useful information. Rather than by force, they use careful lines of questioning, provocative statements, theatrics and healthy doses of deception on their own part. In the show's pilot episode, Lightman is speaking to a man who is refusing to speak at all, and is able to discern vital information by talking to him and gauging his reaction to each statement. This approach is also taken in several other episodes (e.g., "Do No Harm").

Principal crew

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Samuel Baum (Showrunner/Head Writer), Brian Grazer, David Nevins, Steven Maeda. Katherine Pope, former president of NBC Universal’s TV studio, has signed on as a consulting producer. Pope worked on the final four episodes of the first season.Shawn Ryan, creator of The Shield and The Unit, took over as show runner for the second season.


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Critical reception
The show received mostly positive reviews from television critics. It gained a score of 64 on Metacritic from 24 reviews.Entertainment Weekly's Ken Tucker awarded Lie to Me a B- rating and wrote "Lie to Me is derivative yet well crafted, predictable yet ever-so-slightly novel… it's no wonder that Fox thinks it's got itself a potential hit". However, he also commented "if this review were a face, Dr. Lightman would say it had a forced smile: hopeful, but dubious, about Lie's chances." Tom Shales, writing for the Washington Post, said "Lie to Me seems an unusually meaty, thoughtful and thought-provoking crime drama – another police procedural, yes, but one with a dramatic and mesmerizing difference… easily one of the season's best new shows."

In the United States the viewing figures declined as the series progressed. The Pilot was seen by 12.37 million, however by the final episode of the first season it was down to 8.46 million. The most viewed episode was the third episode, "A Perfect Score", which attracted 12.99 million. The second season premiered on September 28, 2009 to 7.73 million viewers. The season two finale had 4.94 million viewers in the U.S. on September 13, 2010. The third season, which had its premiere moved forward to October 4, 2010, was viewed by 5.87 million people in the U.S. The series' official cancellation was announced by Fox on May 10, 2011.

SeasonEpisodesOriginal airingRankViewers
(in millions)
Season premiereSeason finaleTV Season
113January 21, 2009 (2009-01-21)May 13, 2009 (2009-05-13)2008–2009#2911.06Fox
222September 28, 2009 (2009-09-28)September 13, 2010 (2010-09-13)2009–2010#577.39
313October 4, 2010 (2010-10-04)January 31, 2011 (2011-01-31)2010–2011#726.71

Awards and nominations
  • 2009 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Main Title Design (nominee)

Lie to me was nominated for two awards at the 37th People's Choice Awards and won both of them.

  • 2011 Favorite TV Crime Drama (WON)
  • 2011 Favorite TV Crime Fighter (Tim Roth, WON)

International broadcasting

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The series is broadcast on Global in Canada, Network Ten in Australia, M-Net in South Africa, and also airs in Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Hungary and Belgium.Lie to Me aired on Sky1 in the UK and Ireland, starting on May 14, 2009. On July 20, 2009, Fox aired the premiere in Latin America.RTL 5 in The Netherlands has been broadcasting it since November 6, 2009. The series debuted in Italy on September 7, 2009 on the Fox Satellite channel. The series has aired in India since September 2010.

CountryTelevision Network
AlbaniaDigi +
Arab WorldFox
ArmeniaKentron TV
AustraliaNetwork Ten, W
Belgium2BE, RTL-TVI
BrazilFox, Rede Globo
BulgariabTV Cinema
CanadaGlobal, V
Costa RicaFox
Czech RepublicTV Prima
Dominican RepublicFox
EcuadorFox Broadcasting Company
GeorgiaRustavi 2
HungaryRTL Klub, Cool TV
IcelandStöð 2
IndiaSTAR World
Israelyes stars Action HD
ItalyFox, Rete 4
Malaysiantv7 Fox
MéxicoAzteca 7 Fox
 The NetherlandsRTL 5
New ZealandTV3 (New Zealand)
PhilippinesFox, Jack TV
PolandCanal+ Poland, FOX Life, TVP Seriale
PortugalFOX (Portugal), TVI
RussiaChannel One (Russia)
SerbiaTV Avala
SingaporeStarhub Channel 505 - Fox Channel
SlovakiaTV JOJ
SloveniaTV 3
South AfricaM-Net
South KoreaFox Korea
SwitzerlandRSI, 3+, TSR 1
ThailandTrue Series (Thailand), Fox Thailand
United Arab EmiratesFox Series
United KingdomSky1
UruguayCanal 4

Home release

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Season one and two have been released on DVD in Regions 1, 2 and 4. But, while season one was also released on Blu-ray in North America there has been no announcement about releasing the second season on Blu-ray. The first and second season DVDs sets include deleted scenes and behind-the-scenes featurettes. The second season also includes "Dr. Ekman's Blog" and a gag reel.

SeasonDVD release dateBlu-ray release date
Region ARegion B
Region 1Region 2Region 4United StatesCanadaUnited KingdomAustralia
1August 25, 2009 (2009-08-25)September 14, 2009 (2009-09-14)October 28, 2009 (2009-10-28)August 25, 2009 (2009-08-25)N/AN/A
2November 9, 2010 (2010-11-09)January 3, 2011 (2011-01-03)December 1, 2010N/AN/AN/AN/A

See also

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  • Lie detection
  • Microexpression
  • Paul Ekman
  • Wizards Project
  • Facial Action Coding System


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