Lisbon was raised in Chicago. Her mother was a nurse, and her father a firefighter. Her mother was killed by a drunk driver when she was 12 (Red Badge) . In the episode Red Tide it is implied that she had to take over her mother’s role and care for her family at a young age. After her mother’s death, her father became a drunkard and ended up killing himself. It isn't specified whether he did this accidentally or on purpose. Lisbon said that he “damn near killed me and my brothers too,” leaving both possibilities open. It may have been something like another drunken car accident, or simply neglect. In Red Badge Lisbon mentions that her father used to be violent, as he once beat one of her brothers half to death and didn't remember. Apparently her father suffered blackouts when he drank.
She has three brothers. One of them is named Tommy Lisbon (probably derived from Thomas) and is listed under "Town & Country Electrical" in Lisbon's diary. She seems to be at odds with him because she "forgives him for whatever" and wants him to make up with his brothers (Code Red). She also has another brother named James, who is mentioned by Walter Mashburn in the third season. Her brother Tommy becomes a bounty hunter; Tommy Lisbon, a single parent, and his 14-year-old daughter Annie appear in the fourth season episode "Where in the World is Carmine O'Brien?" Lisbon seems to take a parental role towards Tommy, whom she regards as a bit of a screw-up, and tells Jane "I practically raised that punk and his brothers."
When she was younger and still lived in Chicago Teresa was engaged to a guy named Greg Tayback but she broke up with him. In So Long, and Thanks for All the Red Snapper, they met again and his wife Lauren says that he was heartbroken after their break-up. Lisbon later apologizes to Greg for "running away" from him the way she did.
Tommy regards her as overly controlling, but is pleased when she expresses pride in him at the end of the episode. Annabeth wants to be a cop like her aunt because she thinks Teresa is totally "badass" and gets to beat up bad guys. Teresa's family nickname is "Reese."
Before joining the CBI she was a police detective for the San Francisco Police Department. There, she was assigned to the team of Agent Sam Bosco, whom helped to train her to become the cop she is today. She assisted investigating and bringing down a serial child rapist by the name of William McTier in the San Francisco bay area. That move made her career, and also earned her the nickname "Saint Teresa" in the papers.
Lisbon maintains strictly professional relationships with her subordinates, hardly ever discussing details of her personal life or of anything outside of the task at hand. In spite of Lisbon's preference for following proper procedures, Jane persistently contradicts her plans and at times directly undermines her authority, usually apologizing immediately afterwards. Although she criticizes most of Jane's tricks and revelations in front of him, she also often defends him from suspects (especially those with political pull) or from her very own superiors.
One of the darker conflicts between Lisbon and Jane arises when "Red John," a serial killer who murdered Jane's family, purposely appears within their jurisdiction. Lisbon was forced to draw the line when Jane revealed that he plans to kill Red John when he is found & putting them on opposing sides (Lisbon wants Red John brought to justice, not killed outright). Lisbon even confronts Jane at the end of the first season, telling him, "Can't you see there's people who care about you, who need you?" referring to his tendency toward self-destructive behavior and dangerous plans where getting revenge on Red John is concerned.
Lisbon could at some point become a target for Red John because of her close relationship with Jane. Red John once tested their relationship when he ordered Jane to bring him Lisbon's dead body as a "gift".
Even though Lisbon's often annoyed by Jane's behavior, she trusts him and has his back. In the Season 4 finale (The Crimson Hat) Jane hugs her and tells her "Good luck, Teresa. Love you." before faking her death. She later asks him about it, he claims not to remember what he said. At the end of the episode, Jane reaches for her hand.
As for Season 5 finale (Red John's Rules), Lisbon is the only one, besides Jane, who knows the names of the final seven suspects of being Red John (Bret Stiles, Gale Bertram, Ray Haffner, Reede Smith, Bob Kirkland, Thomas McAllister and Brett Partridge) but in the 1st episode of Season 6, she asks Van Pelt to track down the mobile phones of all seven suspects so she could have an eye on their activities. At the end of the season premiere, she receives an emergency call which leads her to Brett Partridge's locations. Arriving there, she finds him deeply injured, most likely by Red John, following the last two words before he dies ("tiger, tiger"). After Patrick tried to call her several times, finally someone picks up the phone. To his great shock, it's not Lisbon who answers, but his nemesis who tells her that "Teresa can't come to the phone right now" while cleaning his usual murder weapon. The next thing you see is the hand of Red John, drawing a smiley face on Lisbon's face who is currently unconscious. But in the second episode, Teresa returned to the CBI after some days passed from the hospital, after Ray Haffner arrived to talk. Then she told Van Pelt to stop the survey of the suspects because it's too dangerous for the CBI.
Following the scandal of The Blake Association, Gale Bertram's crimes and Red John's connection, CBI is dismantled and Lisbon is temporarily arrested along with her team, while Jane kills the serial killer.
After a few months, however, she became the police chief in Cannon River, a small town in Washington state. (My Blue Heaven)
She quits her job as a police chief to work with Jane for the FBI. (Green Thumb).
Relationship with Patrick JaneEdit
Lisbon first met Jane when he came to the CBI to get information about the serial killer Red John. Though showing compassion for him and his loss, she was at first annoyed by his behavior, but seems to accept the fact he joined the team, after Minelli offered him a job.
Lisbon cares deeply about Jane and even though he constantly gets her in trouble because of his reckless and questionable behaviour, they formed a close friendship and she developed strong feelings for him. She rarely ever shows her affection towards him, though it's likely that he's aware of her feelings for him. When Jane disappeared for six months in the season 4 finale, she was clearly upset and when she found out about Jane's affair with Red John's accomplice Lorelei Martins, she also seemed to be jealous and hurt. Jane once told her he loved her which she questioned him about and looked terrified while doing so, and Jane claimed to not remember what he'd said.
They seem to be closer in season 5, though Lisbon is constantly conflicted between her feelings for Jane and her fear he could go too far to get information from Lorelei.
In the season 5 finale, Red John's Rules, Lisbon and Jane's budding relationship is again brought to the forefront. This time, Lisbon is the one being questioned about her feelings. Lisbon and Jane visit Sean Barlow, a 'psychic', in which he asks to see what Lisbon is hiding just by reading it on her face after asking her where she was the night before last (as she had asked him) and tells Lisbon that she was 'lying in bed and thinking about Patrick'. He suggests that Lisbon is 'a little in love with' Jane, to which Lisbon does not deny, but simply turns her head in embarrassment. Sean Barlow then proceeds to tell her that Jane is 'secretive and controlling', and suggests that this is a hard thing for her to accept, which she still doesn't deny. Trying to save Lisbon from her blush-worthy admission from Barlow, Jane deflects the conversation back, but it is too late. We saw the truth all over her face.
In Fire and Brimstone Jane hugs Lisbon and tells her how much she means to him, but then abandons her on the beach to go and confront the Red John suspects. In the episode Red John (episode), Lisbon assists him in his efforts to get away and have the opportunity to kill Red John. In My Blue Heaven, set two years later, it is revealed that the fugitive Jane has been writing letters to Lisbon during his absence. Lisbon keeps the letters he has sent her in a special box and sometimes re-reads them. When they are reunited later in the episode, she is delighted to see him again.
In Green Thumb, Lisbon tells Jane that he hasn't been a part of her life for two years and that he can't just make decisions for her. (He told the FBI that he would only work with them if Lisbon got offered a job as well)
However, at the end of the episode, she agrees to work with him again and even bought him a pair of socks. This marks the beginning of a new life for Jane and Lisbon.
- Lisbon keeps three guns in her car, and at least one in her house.
- She keeps a hammer in her desk.
- She has a picture of a dog on her desk, though she never mentioned owning one.
- She is shown to be a pretty good poker player, but not as good as Jane, which she challenges and they end the episode playing for gummy animals (where she accidently deals him a pair of aces).
- She used to drink a Tequila shot with Sam Bosco after each solved case. We find out in Season 2 that she keeps a rather large bottle of tequila in her desk at the CBI. This may mean that, despite Bosco's death, she cannot bring herself to end the tradition.
- In Season 2, she is seen dancing to Spice Girls at her house.
- Lisbon and Bosco share the dark secret that he killed, rather then arrested, someone, but she let him off the hook.
- She likes Red Delicious and Golden Delicious apples.
- She ran track in high school.
- She played an instrument in high school although it is not specified which one. Patrick Jane guesses it was the clarinet and she does not correct him. In Red, White and Blue, Jane states she played a clarinet in high school and again she doesn't correct him.
- In "Rose-Colored Glasses", she revealed that she loves the song More Than Words by Extreme, which she then dances to with Jane.
- Her brother Tommy calls her "Reese", short for Teresa.
- She was mad to find out that her brother Tommy was a bounty hunter. She didn't like Jane teaching Annie how to pickpocket either.
- Lisbon is very attached to her team but often expresses an aversion towards anything that makes her emotional with the team. She was actually to be the bridesmaid for Van Pelt in her wedding.
- Lisbon drives a Ford Mustang, as shown in "Blood Money" (2x19). In "Scarlett Ribbons" (04x01), she drives a Chevy Volt.
- She is the only character, along with Kimball Cho and the protagonist Patrick Jane, who has appeared in every single episode of the series so far.