Season 1, Episode 1
Air date January 21, 2009
Written by Samuel Baum
Directed by Robert Schwentke
Episode guide
"Moral Waiver"

Lie to Me's Pilot originally aired in the U.S on January 21, 2009 on the FOX network.


Spoiler warning!
This article or section contains detailed plot information.

The series begins with Dr. Lightman interviewing a white power skinhead to find out the location of a bomb while anxious FBI agents wait. Through interpreting the skinhead's microexpressions, he is able to determine the correct location of the bomb. He later gives a lecture to the FBI agents about the universality of microexpressions amongst cultures, race, economic status, and other social factors using photo comparison. During the lecture, he throws a mug at a wall to demonstrate that an authentic expression of surprise lasts less than a second.

Dr. Lightman's firm, The Lightman Group, is contacted by the mayor of Arlignton Virginia, where The Lightman Group is located, to investigate the murder of a local high school teacher, Ms. McCartney, by a student. James Cole (Jake Thomas), the suspected student, has been interviewed extensively by law enforcement based on circumstantial evidence. After Dr. Lightman and Dr. Foster interview James, they are able to determine that he lied about having been to the teacher's house before, but is likely telling the truth, though he expressed shame, about the murder and was saddened by her death.

Dr. Lightman and Dr. Foster visit the high school in question. They speak to the principal who is concerned by the religious conservatism of James' family and to students with varying responses to James. Based on her expressions, one student stood out during the interviews, Jacquelin Mathis. They learn that Jacquelin had visited the school's nurse three times in the past two weeks. They also note that the principal seemed unusually nervous about the student interviews.

While at an airport, Dr. Lightman carries a briefcase and acts suspiciously anxious. A TSA agent asks him to step out of line, and Dr. Lightman proceeds to act surprised and frustrated. He moves to check his briefcase rather than be searched triggering the TSA agent to force him to open his briefcase revealing a suspicious amount of cash. Dr. Lightman then informs the agent, Ria Torres, that they wish to hire her for the group because she has "natural" skills at interpreting microexpressions.

The group is also hired by the Democratic National Committee to investigate a sex scandal involving a congressman who was newly appointed to the chair of the Ethics Committee. Dr. Foster interviews the accused congressman, Zeb Weil, to investigate the sex scandal. After the interview, they believe he lied about visiting the Centurion escort club. They also find that James expressed the same sexual shame as Mr. Weil during his interview.

Dr. Lightman and Dr. Foster visit James' parents, Mr. and Mrs. Cole, to question them. They find James' photography and discover his parents are hiding facts about James that may be relevant to the case. At the office, they also find out that Mr. Cole is regarded as an extremist at his church. It is also revealed that Jacquelin is pregnant.

They revisit Mr. and Mrs. Cole with this enlightenment and are able to procure photographs James took of Ms. McCartney. When they question James again, he admits to photographing and spying on Ms. McCartney. He also admits to being at her house after the murder and masturbating to the sight of her. When he realized she was dead, he couldn't notify the authorities because the police had arrived.

Dr. Foster's husband arrives at the office to meet her. Ria Torres, the newly hired former TSA agent, discovers he is lying about being kept late at work while Dr. Lightman says nothing to Dr. Foster.

Torres goes to interview Melissa, the congressman's call girl. It seems Melissa genuinely enjoyed the company of the congressman and it was unlikely their relationship was sexual. Torres and Dr. Foster find out that Melissa was Congressman Weil's daughter. Weil didn't want Melissa to know, as he was afraid that Melissa would be labeled the whore daughter of a Congressman, and is willing to resign in order to protect the secret.

Meanwhile, James is under suicide watch and Dr. Lightman finds a clue in one of his photographs. Prior to her death, Ms. McCartney had an argument with someone in a car. They ask the principal if he recognizes the car, and he immediately shows that he does but says he doesn't. The group finds out it was Jacquelin's car and she admits to having the argument, but says she did not kill Ms. McCartney. She also admits to having an affair with the principal; she is carrying his baby. During the interview, she is told that James committed suicide, and she reveals that the principal killed Ms. McCartney.

It is revealed that James never committed suicide, and Dr. Lightman had set that up to pressure Jacquelin into revealing the truth. James is reunited with his family.

Main CastEdit


Tim Roth as Dr. Cal Lightman
Kelli Williams as Dr. Gillian Foster
Brendan Hines as Eli Loker
Monica Raymund as Ria Torres
Hayley McFarland as Emily Lightman

Featured MusicEdit

Episodes of Season 1
Season 2Season 3
PilotMoral WaiverA Perfect ScoreLove AlwaysUnchainedDo No HarmThe Best PolicyDepraved HeartLife Is PricelessThe Better HalfUndercoverBlindedSacrifice