|The Mentalist character|
Robin Tunney as Teresa Lisbon
|Created by||Bruno Heller|
|Portrayed by||Robin Tunney|
|Nickname(s)||Lisbon, Boss, Reese (Tommy), Woman, Grumpy, Angry Little Princess (Jane), Saint Teresa, Mother Teresa. Pepper (Sam the carnie) Little Miss Fierce|
Sheriffformer Senior Agent for the California Bureau of Investigation
Sheriffformer Senior Special Agent
|Family||Un-named mother (deceased)
Un-named father (deceased)
Thomas "Tommy" Lisbon (Brother #1)
James Lisbon (Brother #2)
Unnamed brother (Brother #3)
Annabeth Lisbon (niece)
|Significant other(s)||Greg Tayback (former fiancé)
Agent Sam Bosco (unrequited love; deceased)
Walter Mashburn (one-night-stand lover)
Patrick Jane (admitted love towards her, pending)
Gabe Mancini (showed interest)
|Nationality||USA Irish/Portuguese Descent|
Teresa Lisbon is a fictional character on the CBS crime drama The Mentalist, portrayed by Robin Tunney. Lisbon is a former senior agent and leader of the "Serious Crimes Unit" for the California Bureau of Investigation (CBI). She is currently a sheriff for small town in Washington.
In the episode "Red Badge", it is revealed, whilst talking with her psychiatrist, that Lisbon's mother was killed by a drunk driver when she was twelve and in the episode "Red Tide" it was implied that the young Teresa then had to take over her mother's role and care for the family. Later in "Red Badge" it is mentioned that Lisbon was formerly an inspector (detective) for the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD), and at the time worked for then-SFPD Lieutenant Sam Bosco. She also accidentally admits that after her mother's death, her father was sometimes abusive towards her and her three younger brothers, and that he would suffer blackouts from his alcoholism. Her father eventually committed suicide.
In the episode "Code Red", it is revealed one of Lisbon's brothers is named Tommy, and in the episode "Red Hot", it is revealed that another brother is named James. In the same episode, her mother is said to have been a nurse and her father a fireman. In the episode "Ring Around the Rosie", she states she was raised in Chicago.
In the episode "Where in the World Is Carmine O'Brien" her brother Tommy is introduced, who apparently has gone through a succession of unsuccessful jobs and has become a bounty hunter, allowing his daughter Annabeth ("Annie") to tag along. The sibling relationship seems loving but strained, with Lisbon acting as almost a surrogate mother figure.
In the episode "So Long, and Thanks for All the Red Snapper" Lisbon is briefly reacquainted with a former fiancé.
In the episode "The Desert Rose", Lisbon is captured by Red John.
Lisbon and the CBI's consultant Patrick Jane have a very intense working relationship which has, over the course of the show's seasons, developed into a personal relationship as well. Lisbon also had a close and potentially romantic relationship with the late Samuel Bosco, who it was eventually revealed was in love with her. In season 2, the millionaire Walter Mashburn persistently makes passes at Lisbon, though he is rebuffed. Later, in season 3, Mashburn reappears, and at the end of the episode it is revealed that Lisbon slept with Mashburn. Mashburn, who then leaves for Europe, has not reappeared as of season 5.
Lisbon is well-liked by the rest of her team: Grace Van Pelt, Wayne Rigsby, and Kimball Cho, portrayed by Amanda Righetti, Owain Yeoman and Tim Kang respectively. Her old boss Virgil Minelli also had an amiable relationship with her, and appeared to tolerate her occasional inability to rein in Jane's unorthodox behavior. In the season 2 episode "The Red Box", Madeleine Hightower joins the CBI, replacing Minelli as Chief of the CBI. Lisbon's relationship with Hightower is much more adversarial than with Minelli. Hightower makes Lisbon responsible for Jane's behavior, threatening to sanction Lisbon for Jane's missteps. The threat that Hightower made becomes reality for Lisbon in the episode "Blood Money" when Hightower suspends Lisbon for five days for not controlling Jane and his behavior, despite Jane's effort to stop this.
Lisbon tolerates Jane's misbehavior, although she is often antagonized by his actions and has to apologize for him to both her CBI superiors and others Jane is allowed to interact with in his capacity as consultant. She sometimes takes high stakes on her career by supporting Jane. The two often engage in light flirting and teasing of one another, with Lisbon sometimes being visibly affected by Jane's charm. She and Jane have shared personal and deep moments, however, this can be interpreted romantically or just in the context of being best friends. She is seen giving Jane multiple chances and is shown, even if she is unhappy with him, to help him.
Bruno Heller, creator of The Mentalist, has stated:
Some people see that as a very sort of intense but cryptic romantic relationship. Other people see it purely as brother and sister. And I think we leave it to time and the audience to play that out and the chemistry of the actors.
Lisbon is smart, witty, sarcastic, no-nonsense, sometimes impatient, and occasionally playful and mischievous, particularly if Jane is involved. She is also courageous, willing to put herself in danger, and is willing to keep an open mind but can often be abrasive. She finds herself bending rules, often for the sake of Jane, and, although their relationship is mostly professional, Jane and Lisbon connect in a strange way. She is shown to be a devout Catholic in the first part of "Strawberries and Cream", reciting the Hail Mary whilst wearing a bomb vest. Also, during the episode "The Crimson Hat", she goes to a Catholic church to pray (probably for Jane, as he was six months away from CBI and refusing to talk to everybody, even Lisbon). She has been shown to be driven, highlighted by her pursuit of Tommy Volker.
Heller has said of Lisbon's character: "[She] is often underestimated [but] essential to balance the series. She embodies the normality, she is down-to-earth. She is nice, while having her flaws. She is torn between her role of boss, who has to straighten out Jane's behavior, and her admiration, her affection, even her love for him." 
- "Carnelian, Inc.". The Mentalist. Season 1. Episode 17. 2009-03-24.
- "Pilot". The Mentalist. Season 1. Episode 1. 2008-09-23.
- "Red Tide". The Mentalist. Season 1. Episode 3. 2008-10-14.