Lie to Me Wiki

{{Infobox character

|name = Cal Lightman |image = Image:Lightman_1.jpg |imagewidth = 250 |caption = Dr. Cal Lightman |portrayed by = Tim Roth |first seen = Pilot |last seen = N/A |family = Louise Mason (mother) Emily Lightman (daughter)
Zoe Landau (ex-wife) |affiliation = The Lightman Group |age = 47 (as of Funhouse) |gender = Male |hair color = brown and gray |eye color = light blue

Dr. Cal Lightman is a fictional clinical psychologist who is an acclaimed "world's leading deception expert", and the main character of Lie to Me. He founded the Lightman Group with Gillian Foster and says that he can "tell if you're lying, but not why." He is divorced from Zoe Landau and shares custody of their daughter Emily.

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Personal life[]

Born and raised in England, Cal grew up under the care of an alcoholic father and a mother suffering from invisible ailments: mental issues. He also had an older sister whos name remains unnamed. Lightman cares greatly for his friend and colleague, Gillian Foster. Lightman and Gillian meet prior to the creation of The Lightman Group when Gillian provides therapy sessions for Lightman. They have a strong sense of trust for each other which is displayed throughout the series. There is an obvious chemistry between them, which is more obvious on his side which has led to moments of jealousy. They also have a rule about staying out of each other's personal lives, no matter what they see or hear.

When Lightman was a child, his mother was in a mental hospital for an unknown disorder. After convincing Doctors of the hospital that she was well enough for a weekend pass to see her children and husband, she commited suicide. In the video of the session with the doctors her facial expressions appeared happy but obviously she was not. Lightman studied the video, trying to see what the doctor missed and this is what led to the discovery of microexpressions. In a few episodes it shows Lightman rewatching the video, and has been noted that he has watched it hundreds and hundreds of time. Torres believes he still feels guilty for his mother's death.

Lightman has had problems with crime in the past, including illicit gambling and robbery, which he did with Terry Marsh, his longtime friend with whom he has a rocky and distant relationship. Terry's family took Lightman in after his mother committed suicide. One time when he and Terry were on the run from the police as kids, Terry acted as a decoy for Lightman, saying to him, "You're supposed to use that brain of yours for something," and then criticizing himself for his way of life. Terry ended up serving three years in prison.

Lightman continues to refuse to completely obey laws. He maintains close ties with FBI Agent Ben Reynolds for a long time, as well as Detective Sharon Wallowski. He regularly uses loopholes in laws as well as minor infractions to help him with his investigations.

In an early episode, he states that he drives a Prius. In later episodes, however, he and his daughter are shown driving a 1973 BMW 3.0 CS [E9].


Gillian Foster[]

He is always shown to be caring and friendly towards Gillian Foster. In Moral Waiver Ria Torres catches Gillian's husband Alec in a lie and asks Cal why he hasn't told her as he obviously can tell that he is hiding something. He tells her to stay out of it as it doesn't concern her. In Love Always Alec is shown to be erratic and irritated when the Lightman Group doesn't let anyone leave from a wedding because of a murder attempt. Cal tells him to stop lying about where he wants to go to. In The Best Policy after overhearing a phone call between the Fosters, Cal goes to Alec's work just to see him getting into a car with a blonde woman. This obviously disturbs him, but he remains quiet about it and he doesn't say anything to Gillian. Later, in Undercover Gillian tells Cal that Alec has started doing cocaine again. The reason he was meeting with the other woman was that she was his sponsor. She realizes that Cal knew about the other woman, but was not telling her about it. He explains that he didn't want her to get hurt. In the season finale Sacrifice, Gillian tells him that her and Alec have seperated.

In The Core of It it is revealed that Gillian and Alec got a divorce. At first she acts like she is devastated but by the end of the episode she tells him that she hasn't been this happy for a long time and tells him to stop making her feel bad. After this, their relationship starts to deepen even more. In Control Factor Cal is shown to be jealous at an old business partner after he sends roses to Gillian. In Honey Lightman is taken hostage by a man who is accused of murdering his wife. In the end they manage to free him, but it troubles him deeply. After going on a date with a woman he met earlier he tells her that he shouldn't be here and goes to visit Gillian. He asks if he can spend that night in her spare bedroom and she agrees. They hug and he gives her a kiss on the cheek.

In the series finale, Killer App, Cal's daughter asked him if he loved Gillian - really loved her. He paused as if to buy some time before responding 'yes I do love her '. She then asked him why he never told her. The series ends with Cal responding 'I don't know'.


Characters of the Lie to Me Series
Main Characters
Dr. Cal LightmanDr. Gillian FosterEli LokerRia TorresEmily LightmanBen Reynolds
Recurring Characters
Zoe LandauKarl DupreeAlec Foster