Lie to Me

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Lie to Me
Lie to Me.svg
GenreCrime drama
Police procedural
Created bySamuel Baum
StarringTim Roth
Kelli Williams
Brendan Hines
Monica Raymund
Hayley McFarland
Mekhi Phifer[1][2]
Opening theme"Brand New Day" by Ryan Star
ComposersRobert Duncan
Doug DeAngelis
Peter Nashel
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons3
No. of episodes48 (list of episodes)
Executive producersBrian Grazer
Vahan Moosekian
Daniel Sackheim
Samuel Baum
David Nevins
Elizabeth Craft
Sarah Fain
Alexander Cary
David Graziano
Shawn Ryan
Daniel Voll
Steven Maeda
ProducersAlexander Cary
Jeffrey Downer
Tim Roth
CinematographySidney Sidell
Joseph E. Gallagher
Alan Caso
David Geddes
Florian Ballhaus
EditorsDevon Greene
David Post
Rick Tuber
David C. Cook
David Siegel
Padraic McKinley
Thomas R. Moore
Gib Jaffe
Monty DeGraff
Marta Evry
Thom Noble
Suzy Elmiger
Running time42 minutes
Production companiesImagine Television
Pagoda Pictures
Samuel Baum Productions
MiddKid Productions
20th Century Fox Television
Original networkFox
Original releaseJanuary 21, 2009 (2009-01-21) –
January 31, 2011 (2011-01-31)

Lie to Me (stylized as Lie to me*) is an American crime drama television series. It 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.[3] In May 2009, the show was renewed for a second season consisting of 13 episodes;[4] season two premiered on September 28, 2009.[5] On November 24, 2009, Fox ordered an extra nine episodes for season two, bringing the season order to 22 episodes.[6]

On May 12, 2010, Entertainment Weekly reported that Lie to Me received a 13-episode third season pick-up.[7][8] The third season of Lie to Me was originally set to premiere on November 10, 2010. On September 28, 2010, the date was moved up to October 4, 2010, because of the cancellation of Lone Star.[9] On May 11, 2011, Fox canceled Lie to Me after three seasons.[10]

The show is inspired by the work of Paul Ekman, a specialist on facial expressions and a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine. Ekman has been an advisor to police departments and anti-terrorism groups. He was a scientific consultant in the production of the series.[11] The lead character of Lie to Me, Cal Lightman, is based on Ekman.

Cast and characters[edit]


Tim Roth, who plays the role of lead character Cal Lightman
  • Tim Roth as Dr. Cal Lightman, a brilliant expert in the science of body language, especially 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.[12] Though often confronted by people's skepticism, Lightman uses any technique he deems necessary to reach the truth, however elaborate or confronting. He is divorced and shares custody of his teenage daughter. He cares deeply about his colleague Gillian Foster; and there is a chemistry between them that has yet to develop into anything more although, in the Season 3 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 in Northern Ireland.[13] Lightman also mentioned interrogating militant suspects recalling his release of one suspect resulted in the shootings of 6 and the deaths of 3 in a murder operation the suspect subsequently carried out. He has also admitted to being an MI6 intelligence agent during the Yugoslav Wars (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, and was seen wearing a Claret and Blue scarf in one of the later episodes of Season 2.[14]
  • Kelli Williams as Dr. Gillian Foster, Dr. Lightman's psychologist colleague in The Lightman Group who analyses patterns of voice, language, and behavior.[15] She can be somewhat impulsive but is very professional with the clients and subjects in public. While she occasionally disagrees with some of Lightman's actions, she has an open pact with Lightman: not to let their professional skill interfere with coworkers' personal lives. Her husband's lack of candor often challenges this: 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 cheating on her but was trying to overcome his drug addiction; they promptly divorce. Gillian had adopted a baby (Sophie) who was eventually returned to the birth mother. This character is based on Maureen O’Sullivan, emeritus professor of psychology at the University of San Francisco.
  • Brendan Hines as Eli Loker, an employee of The Lightman Group. Unlike Torres, whom Lightman calls "a natural", Loker acquired his skills in "reading" people through academic education and practice. During Season 1, he also adheres to Radical Honesty and thus rarely lies, even if that makes him appear rude or undiplomatic.[16] 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 makes a rift in any developing relationship between him and Torres.
  • Monica Raymund as Ria Torres, an employee of The Lightman Group and Dr. Lightman's protégé, who was recognized as a "natural" while she was still working as a TSA Agent.[17] Torres was abused as a child,[18] 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 was in juvenile prison and is now enrolled at a private school.
Hayley McFarland, who plays the role of Emily Lightman
  • Hayley McFarland as Emily Lightman, Cal Lightman's teenage daughter. Her parents share custody of her, and, while she does not appreciate her father's ability to "read" her, she does not deny its merit for social screening. She has boyfriends over the series that her father scrutinizes. Though she sometimes gets into trouble and has fake IDs, and, to Lightman's chagrin, has been sexually active, she is generally well behaved and has a loving relationship with her father. (Recurring – Season 1, regular – Seasons 2–3)
  • Mekhi Phifer as Ben Reynolds, an FBI Agent who is assigned to and assists the Lightman Group in their investigations, offering armed assistance, practical insights, and access to FBI resources and connections. Reynolds doesn't always agree with Lightman's ways but stands behind him most of the time. (Recurring – season 1, regular – season 2)


  • Jennifer Beals as Zoe Landau, Cal Lightman's ex-wife and Emily's mother, occupied as an Assistant Attorney General. While engaged to another man, she also engaged in a tryst with Lightman, after he helped her in a case. (Seasons 1 & 2)
  • 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. Throughout the series it was heavily hinted that he was having an extramarital affair until it was revealed that 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)
  • Melissa George as Clara Musso. She was Zoe Landau's first big client, so Lightman helped her find out who really killed her husband and prove her innocence. She later inherited her husband's company, and showed interest in Lightman's work on deception detection, in that she paid him to teach her some techniques, and then invested in his firm. (Season 2)
  • Monique Gabriela Curnen as Detective Sharon Wallowski, a police officer who assists Lightman. She also engages in a romantic relationship with Cal Lightman, but ends it once Lightman finds out the truth about her past as a dirty cop. (Guest Season 2, Season 3)
  • 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)


Season Episodes Originally aired
First aired Last aired
1 13 January 21, 2009 May 13, 2009
2 22 September 28, 2009 September 13, 2010
3 13 October 4, 2010 January 31, 2011


Season one 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 parallels an anecdote in Paul Ekman's 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").


Samuel Baum was the original showrunner and head writer on Lie to Me. Brian Grazer, David Nevins, and Steven Maeda were executive producers. Katherine Pope, former president of NBC Universal's TV studio, signed on as a consulting producer, working on the final four episodes of the first season.[19] Shawn Ryan, creator of The Shield and The Unit, took over as show runner for the second season.[20][21]

Lightman Group offices use the Walter E. Washington Convention Center at 801 Mt Vernon Place NW, Washington DC 20001.

The show's theme song, Brand New Day, was performed by Ryan Star.


Critical reception[edit]

The show received mostly positive reviews from television critics. It gained a score of 64 on Metacritic from 24 reviews.[22] 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."[23] 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."[24]


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 episode three, "A Perfect Score", which attracted 12.99 million. The second season premiered on September 28, 2009, to 7.73 million viewers.[25] The season two finale had 4.94 million viewers in the U.S. on September 13, 2010.[26] The third season, which had its premiere moved forward to October 4, 2010, was viewed by 5.87 million people in the U.S.[27] The series' official cancellation was announced by Fox on May 10, 2011.[28]

Seasonal ratings[edit]

Season Episodes Original airing Rank Viewers
(in millions)
Notes Network
Season premiere Season finale TV season
1 13 January 21, 2009 (2009-01-21) May 13, 2009 (2009-05-13) 2008–2009 #29[29] 11.06[29] Fox
2 22 September 28, 2009 (2009-09-28) September 13, 2010 (2010-09-13) 2009–2010 #57[30] 7.39[30] [Note 1]
3 13 October 4, 2010 (2010-10-04) January 31, 2011 (2011-01-31) 2010–2011 #78 6.71[32]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Primetime Emmy Awards[edit]

People's Choice Awards[edit]

Lie to me was nominated for two awards at the 37th People's Choice Awards and won both of them.[33]

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

International broadcasting[edit]

The series was broadcast on Global in Canada, Network Ten in Australia, M-Net in South Africa, and also airs in Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Hungary and Belgium.[34][35] Lie to Me aired on Sky1 in the UK and Ireland,[36] starting on May 14, 2009. On July 20, 2009, Fox aired the premiere in Latin America.[37] 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.

Country Television Network
Albania Digi +
Argentina Fox
Egypt OSN First
Armenia Kentron TV
Australia Network Ten, W
Austria ATV
Belgium 2BE, RTL-TVI
Brazil Fox, Rede Globo, Rede Record
Bulgaria bTV Cinema
Canada Global, V
Chile Fox, MEGA
Colombia Fox, Caracol Televisión
Costa Rica Fox
Croatia HRT2, Doma TV
Cuba Multivisión
Czech Republic TV Prima
Denmark TV2
Dominican Republic Fox
El Salvador
Estonia TV3
Finland MTV3
France M6, Paris Première, W9
Georgia Rustavi 2
Germany VOX
Haiti Canal Bleu
Honduras Fox
Hungary RTL Klub, Cool TV
Iceland Stöð 2
India STAR World
Indonesia Fox, Rajawali Televisi
Iran Namava
Ireland RTÉ Two
Israel yes stars Action HD
Italy Fox, Rete 4, Top Crime
Japan Fox, TV Tokyo
Kazakhstan KazTRK
Latvia TV3, TV3+, TV6, Fox Life
Lithuania TV3
Malaysia NTV7, Fox
Mauritius MBCDigital12 (Cine12)
México Fox
Moldova Jurnal TV
The Netherlands RTL 5
New Zealand TV3 (New Zealand)
Norway TV2
Panama Fox, TV Max
Paraguay Fox
Philippines Fox, Jack TV
Poland Canal+ Poland, FOX Life, TVP Seriale, TVP2
Portugal FOX (Portugal), TVI
Romania Pro TV
Russia Channel One (Russia), TV3
Serbia TV Avala, FOX
Singapore Fox
Slovakia TV JOJ
Slovenia TV3
South Africa M-Net
South Korea Fox
Spain Antena3, Cuatro
Sweden TV4
Switzerland RSI La 1, 3+, TSR 1
Taiwan PTS
Thailand True Series, Fox Thailand
Turkey Foxlife, Fox Crime, TV2
Ukraine 1+1
United Kingdom Sky1, Pick TV, Universal Channel, Alibi
Uruguay Monte Carlo TV
Venezuela Fox
Vietnam VTV6

Home media[edit]

As of March 2020, all episodes are available on the streaming service Hulu.

Season one and two have been released on DVD in Regions 1, 2 and 4. However, while season one was also released on Blu-ray in North America[38] there has been no announcement about releasing the second season on Blu-ray.[39] The first and second season DVDs sets include deleted scenes and behind-the-scenes featurettes.[40][41] The second season also includes "Dr. Ekman's Blog" and a gag reel.[41] The third and final season was released on October 4, 2011.[42]

Season DVD release date Blu-ray release date
Region A Region B
Region 1 Region 2 Region 4 United States Canada United Kingdom Australia
1 August 25, 2009 (2009-08-25)[38] September 14, 2009 (2009-09-14)[43] October 28, 2009 (2009-10-28)[44] August 25, 2009 (2009-08-25)[38] December 5, 2012[45]
2 November 9, 2010 (2010-11-09)[41] January 3, 2011 (2011-01-03)[46] December 1, 2010
3 October 4, 2011[42] November 2, 2011[47] Cancelled

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The season 2 ranking and average viewers only covers the first 10 of 22 episodes in season 2. Episodes 11 through 22 of season 2 were broadcast beginning on June 7, 2010.[31]


  1. ^ "Lie to Me – Characters". Fox Broadcasting Company. Archived from the original on May 5, 2009. Retrieved July 23, 2009.
  2. ^ "Cast & Characters". Paul Ekman Group. Archived from the original on February 18, 2019. Retrieved February 18, 2019.
  3. ^ "Lie to Me". Fox. Archived from the original on November 20, 2008. Retrieved November 16, 2008.
  4. ^ "Fall TV: Fox Renews Lie to Me, Sets Sights on Human Target and Sons of Tucson". Retrieved May 12, 2009.
  5. ^ Shows, Fox
  6. ^ "Lie to Me gets full season pick up", TV by the Numbers, November 24, 2009, archived from the original on March 4, 2010, retrieved November 25, 2009.
  7. ^ "Report: 'Lie to Me', 'Human Target' renewed by Fox", TV by the Numbers, May 12, 2010, archived from the original on May 16, 2010, retrieved May 12, 2010.
  8. ^ "It is official: Fox cancels Lone Star", Deadline Hollywood, September 28, 2010.
  9. ^ "Season three of Lie to Me to premiere Monday, October 4, on Fox" (Press release). Fox Flash. September 28, 2010. Archived from the original on October 30, 2010. Retrieved September 29, 2010.
  10. ^ Ausiello, Michael (May 10, 2011). "Fox Cancels Human Target, Lie To Me, Chicago Code, Two Others". TV Line. Retrieved May 10, 2011.
  11. ^ "Lie to Me – Paul Ekman analyzes the real science". May 6, 2009. Archived from the original on May 6, 2009. Retrieved April 20, 2013.
  12. ^ "Dr. Cal Lightman – Tim Roth". Fox. Archived from the original on May 5, 2009. Retrieved May 14, 2009.
  13. ^ Lie to Me: lack of candor, Hulu.
  14. ^ Lie to Me, USFCA, archived from the original on June 16, 2009.
  15. ^ "Lie to Me Cast Biographies". TV3 (New Zealand). Retrieved January 10, 2015.
  16. ^ "Eli Loker – Brendan Hines". Fox. Archived from the original on April 19, 2009. Retrieved May 14, 2009.
  17. ^ "Ria Torres – Monica Raymund". Archived from the original on April 21, 2009. Retrieved May 14, 2009.
  18. ^ "Unchained". Lie to Me. Season 1. Episode 5.
  19. ^ Littleton, Cynthia (February 7, 2009). "Pope joins Fox's 'Lie to Me'". Variety. Retrieved May 14, 2009.
  20. ^ Ausiello, Michael (May 12, 2009). "Scoop: Fox renews 'Lie to Me,' installs 'Shield' creator as new showrunner". Archived from the original on May 15, 2009. Retrieved May 14, 2009.
  21. ^ Sepinwall, Alan (September 28, 2009). "Lie to Me improves with help from 'Shield' creator Shawn Ryan – Sepinwall on TV". The Star-Ledger. Newark. Retrieved November 15, 2009.
  22. ^ "Lie to Me reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved July 23, 2009.
  23. ^ Tucker, Ken (January 14, 2009). "TV review – Lie to Me (2009)". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved July 23, 2009.
  24. ^ Shales, Tom (January 19, 2009). "'Lie to Me' handles famous psychologist's truth nicely". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 23, 2009.
  25. ^ Calabria, Rosario T. (October 5, 2009). "Broadcast TV Ratings for Monday, October 5, 2009".
  26. ^ Gorman, Bill (September 14, 2010). "TV Ratings Monday: 90210, Gossip Girl Premieres Down Sharply; Lie to Me Summer Finale Falls". TV by the Numbers. Archived from the original on September 17, 2010. Retrieved September 15, 2010.
  27. ^ Seidman, Robert (October 5, 2010). "Monday Finals: Castle, Lie to Me, 90210 Adjusted Down; How I Met Your Mother, Mike & Molly, Adjusted Up". TV by the Numbers. Archived from the original on October 7, 2010. Retrieved October 5, 2010.
  28. ^ Ausiello, Michael (May 10, 2011). "Fox Cancels Human Target, Lie To Me, Chicago Code, Two Others". TVLine. Retrieved May 11, 2011.
  29. ^ a b "Season Rankings from 09/22/08 through 08/23/09" (Press release). ABC Medianet. May 27, 2009. Archived from the original on September 25, 2012. Retrieved January 25, 2011.
  30. ^ a b Gorman, Bill (June 16, 2010). "Final 2009–10 Broadcast Primetime Show Average Viewership". TV by the Numbers. Archived from the original on June 19, 2010.
  31. ^ Levin, Gary (May 14, 2010). "Networks freshen up summer with scripted series". USA Today. Retrieved January 25, 2011.
  32. ^ "2010–11 Season Broadcast Primetime Show Viewership Averages". TV By The Numbers by Archived from the original on June 25, 2011.
  33. ^ "People's Choice Awards 2011 Nominees". Procter & Gamble. Archived from the original on November 15, 2012. Retrieved January 25, 2011.
  34. ^ Knox, David (November 10, 2008). "TEN cooks up Big Brother replacement". Retrieved November 16, 2008.
  35. ^ "Tim Roth series honest about lying". JAM! Television. Retrieved December 18, 2008.
  36. ^ Wilkes, Neil (January 22, 2009). "Sky1 acquires 'Lie To Me'". Digital Spy.
  37. ^ Tim Roth, un detector de mentiras, humano, (in Spanish). La Nación. Retrieved on July 20, 2009.
  38. ^ a b c Lambert, David (May 27, 2009). "Lie to Me – Did Amazon Lie To Me? CORRECT Date, plus Details/Extras/Box for DVD & Blu-ray 3-disc Blu-ray and 4-disc DVD both due on August 25th (two weeks later than Amazon's current date)". Archived from the original on November 13, 2011. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  39. ^ Lambert, David (July 14, 2010). "Lie to Me – Honestly, Fox Has Announced a DVD Release for Season 2!". Archived from the original on August 19, 2010. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  40. ^ Lambert, David (June 24, 2009). "Lie to Me – Fox's Official Press Release for Season 1 on Blu-ray Disc & DVD". Archived from the original on January 5, 2010. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  41. ^ a b c Lambert, David (August 18, 2010). "Lie to Me - Fox's Official Season 2 Press Release Includes the Finalized DVD Street Date As mentioned in our previous report, the date was not in October: look for this on November 9th". Archived from the original on August 22, 2010. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  42. ^ a b Lambert, David (August 10, 2011). "Lie to Me – The 3rd and Final Season of the Show is Announced for DVD". TV Shows on DVD. Archived from the original on September 15, 2011. Retrieved August 10, 2011.
  43. ^ "Lie To Me – Season 1 (DVD) (2009)". Amazon. UK. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  44. ^ "Lie To Me – Season 1 DVD". Archived from the original on July 29, 2012. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  45. ^ Lie To Me - Season 1 (Blu-ray) on JB Hi-Fi Online JB Hi-Fi. Retrieved March 25, 2014.
  46. ^ "Lie To Me – Season 2 (DVD) (2010)". Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  47. ^ "Lie To Me – Season 3 (DVD)". JB HI-FI. Retrieved October 10, 2011.

External links[edit]