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The Heather Lisinski Page

Sprague Grayden as Heather Lisinski
Screen capture from Jericho (c) CBS

Heather Lisinski is a character on the U.S. post-apocalyptic television drama Jericho, which aired on CBS from September 2006 to March 2008. The character was created by writer and series co-creator Stephen Chbosky, who penned the Jericho pilot script, and is portrayed by actress Sprague Grayden.

Character biography and background

Heather is a teacher at Jericho Elementary School in the small, rural town of Jericho, Kansas, the setting for the series. The official CBS character biography describes Heather as a "tomboy with a great sense of humor" whose "main interest is science," and that she is a "great mechanic" who "knows how to make almost anything work," except for her "burgeoning relationship" with the lead character in the series, Jake Green (portrayed by Skeet Ulrich).

For more on Heather's background, see Sprague Grayden's remarks on her character (below). Grayden's comments imply that Heather was raised in Jericho, but the producers of the show stated that her character did not grow up there. It was revealed in episode 1.13 that Heather grew up in New Bern, described as "a nearby town," also in Kansas.

In an "Insiders' Commentary" on the Jericho pilot (available on the Jericho Season One DVD set), executive producer Jon Turteltaub states that "there was such a connection between Heather and Jake in the (pilot) show it really let us know we want(ed) Heather to be a part of it, and seeing the work that Sprague was doing and how charming she was, we really had to put her into the series. This character was an afterthought."

Appearances in Season One

1.1 "Pilot: The First Seventeen Hours"

In the pilot episode, Heather is on a field trip with her class when their school bus crashes, in an accident caused by a deer that goes berserk after a nuclear explosion occurs at nearby Denver, Colorado. Her leg is broken in the accident, and the bus driver is left dead or unconscious, leaving them stranded. Heather and her students are eventually rescued by Jake Green, who saves the life of a young girl who has stopped breathing, and drives the bus back to town. This is Heather and Jake's first meeting, and she smiles at him through her pain after their successful rescue.

1.2 "Fallout"

In episode two, Heather helps Jake in a failed attempt to repair a rundown fallout shelter, displaying a talent with mechanical devices. (When Jake asks her if she can strip wires, Heather responds, "Ever since junior high!") She and other residents are eventually forced to take shelter in a local salt mine. When Jake receives a radio distress call from his ex-girlfriend Emily Sullivan, he leaves to rescue her. Heather is shown looking after Jake, concerned. (Jake returns in episode three to assist in evacuating the mine, and is seen looking for Heather until he finds her, asking if she is okay.)

1.3 "Four Horsemen"

In episode three, Heather rations bottled water to her schoolchildren in the mine, and tries to calm a claustrophobic fellow teacher, Scott Rennie. When Rennie unexpectedly dies in the mine, she attempts to uncover the truth, and is shocked to learn that he was allowed to die (of a heart attack) because others feared he was about to create a panic. Later, at the town barbecue, Heather sits alone, stunned by events. Jake brings her a plate of food and sits with her, and she is subsequently seen smiling and conversing with him.

1.4 "The Walls of Jericho"

In episode four, Jake and Heather discover a refugee from the nuclear explosion at Denver, and Heather goes to get help. When she returns, she encounters Jake coming out of the shower (wearing only a towel) and she tries to hold a conversation without looking at him. Heather helps Jake and Stanley to siphon gasoline from the local gas station to fill the generator at the medical clinic. Near the end of the episode, she joins a search party which finds twenty more refugees in the woods at a small lake near Jericho, all dead from radiation poisoning.

1.5 "Federal Response"

In episode five, a downed power line at the library injures Emily, and Heather quickly tends to her, while making sure her schoolchildren are safe. When she realizes one child is missing, and the library has caught on fire, Heather rushes into the burning building and finds the child, but is trapped in the fire along with her. Jake helps to restore water pressure, the fire is doused, and Eric (who had followed Heather and the child into the burning library and become trapped with them) leads the two to safety. Heather is unaware of Jake's role in helping to save their lives.

1.7 "Long Live the Mayor"

In episode seven, Heather is seen at Stanley Richmond's farm looking concerned after watching Jake and Emily conversing. Later, she confesses her feelings about Jake to Emily, who warns her to be careful: "There's a lot of things about Jake you don't know." Heather also warns Jake to be careful before he drives off to negotiate with outlaw Jonah Prowse. When Jake has to leave Jericho to seek medicine for his ailing father in a nearby town, a worried Heather impulsively rushes into his arms and kisses him, asking him to "come back in one piece."

1.8 "Rogue River"

In episode eight, Heather carries food to the Green house. When Jake's father turns critically ill, Heather tries to make ice to cool his fever, and begins to panic when at first she doesn't succeed: "Everyone's counting on me, and it's not working!" Emily tells Heather that she was to be married the next day. Heather reassures her that her fiance, Roger, will return, and Emily encourages her by saying the same about Jake. When Jake returns, Emily credits Heather with saving his father's life.

1.9 "Crossroads"

In episode nine, Heather brings Emily a bouquet on what would have been her wedding day. Wanting to distract Emily, Heather invites her to Bailey's Tavern, where Heather gets "pretty wasted" (according to Jake, who here turns out to be a a daydream of Emily’s). The dialogue indicates that Heather would have been Emily's maid of honor at her wedding, and she is seen in that role during Emily's daydream sequences.

1.13 "Black Jack"

In episode thirteen, Heather accompanies Jake, his father Johnston Green, and Dale Turner to Black Jack Fairgrounds in search of windmill parts, and is propositioned by a middle-aged man who thinks she is a prostitute. Things go awry, and Heather and the others are forced to flee. At the end of the episode, Heather leaves for New Bern with friends from that town to help them build windmills and “turn the lights on for everyone back home.“ This marks Heather's last appearance in the first season until the final episode.

1.22 "Why We Fight"

In episode twenty-two, Heather is found alive at the scene of an auto accident 60 miles from Jericho. She is taken to an Army base (Camp Liberty in Nebraska) and urges the commander, Colonel Hoffman, to break up the impending battle between New Bern and Jericho. He declines, but when he receives word that a "terrorist" is in the area, he intervenes. Although Heather wants to return to Jericho, an Army nurse tells her she will be safer in Cheyenne, Wyoming, out of the conflict zone. She is last seen gazing up at a strange new flag with 21 stars and 13 vertical stripes, unsure of the future and of her fate.

Other Season One episodes

Heather was seen briefly at the end of episode 1.6 (without dialogue), but was not seen at all between episode 1.13 and episode 1.22, although her character was mentioned in several episodes. In episode 1.19, it was revealed that Heather helped Eric to sabotage the machinery in New Bern after finding that the factory was making ammunition intended for an attack on Jericho. Eric tells Jake that Heather is dead, but offers no details or evidence. In episode 1.20, Jake tells Eric they cannot be sure Heather is dead due to all the lies New Bern is spreading. When Jake is questioned by New Bern authorities, he asks them "what happened to Heather Lisinski," which goes unanswered. Heather did not appear in either episode.

The CBS press release for the first-season finale listed Sprague Grayden as a "guest star," and the on-screen cast credits showed her as a "special guest star," billed last. The significance of this is unclear, although combined with her prolonged absence, it implies that Grayden was no longer a regular on the series at the time the finale was filmed. In an online interview, Grayden said that it was a contractual matter and politely declined to comment further.

Appearances in Season Two

2.1 "Reconstruction"

In the first episode of the second season, Heather returns to Jericho, having hitched a ride from Cheyenne with Major Beck's military convoy. After a joyful reunion with Jake, and a run-in with one of the New Bern deputies who made life "very unpleasant" for her and others, Heather is approached by Beck about acting as his liaison, since she has ties to both of the towns under his jurisdiction. Ultimately, she accepts the job.

2.3 "Jennings and Rall"

In Season Two's third episode, Heather makes radio contact with a woman in Fall River, Missouri who confirms that the Hudson River Virus has crossed the Mississippi and killed 220 people in her town. Heather reports this news to Major Beck, who initially seems disinterested, but she later learns that Beck has put himself at risk to deliver vaccine to the town, along with a medical officer to administer the drug. Heather expresses her gratitude to Beck for saving their lives.

2.4 "Oversight"

In the fourth episode of the second season, Heather is clued in to the Cheyenne governnment's lies by Jake and Hawkins, and Jake asks her to retrieve an important paper from Major Beck's office while Beck is absent. Heather is unsure whether to help at first, insisting that "Beck is a good man." Jake asks her, "Do you trust me?" After a pause, Heather says yes. She successfully undertakes the task, but is stopped by one of Beck's aides. When Beck returns, Heather talks her way out of the situation.

2.5 "Termination For Cause"

In Season Two's fifth episode, Heather encounters Russell and Mike from New Bern, who tell her that Constantino has put a bounty on her head, that the two of them were sent to kill her, and that her actions in assisting Beck have made things worse and cost lives in their town. Russell wants Heather to help them find Goetz, but Heather intends to continue helping Beck. Russell warns her that unless he finds Goetz, it will be someone else who comes for Heather next.

2.6 "Sedition"

In the sixth episode of the second season, Heather watches as Jake is arrested and taken away for interrogation. She immediately reports this to Eric and the other Rangers, who are in hiding. When Major Beck declares Jericho in "open insurrection" and cuts off all power, water, and food supplies, Heather confronts him, saying she can't tell the difference between him and Constantino. Heather also tells Beck she doesn't know if she can continue defending his actions.

2.7 "Patriots and Tyrants"

In the second-season finale, Beck confronts Heather about her actions in his office (in episode 2.4). Heather admits taking the information, but confronts Beck in return, calling him a coward because he knows the Cheyenne government is corrupt and he refuses to open his eyes. Beck has Heather arrested, and a lieutenant takes her away. Later, after telling his men he will no longer accept orders from Cheyenne, Beck has Heather released, tells her "You were right about everything," and thanks her for not giving up on him. When we last see Heather, she is smiling as Beck's men pledge their allegiance to him instead of Cheyenne.

Much to his surprise, the webmaster received a nod from the producers in the final episode (details coming soon; currently, the link is not functional).

Note:
CBS cancelled Jericho on March 21, 2008, stating that episode 2.7 would be the last (no subsequent episodes had been filmed) and that an alternate ending intended to bring closure to the storyline would be used. The final episode of the series aired on March 25, 2008.

Family and relationships

Heather appears to be single, as she wears no ring and is clearly interested in Jake as a potential boyfriend. She and Jake exchange smiles and glances after his rescue of the school bus, indicating the beginning of a romantic attraction between them. In episode 1.4, Jake offered to walk Heather home, but the two were sidetracked by events. In episode 1.7, as Jake was about to depart on a dangerous trip, Heather gave him an unexpected, passionate kiss -- their first romantic contact.

In later episodes, the Jake/Heather relationship was downplayed, and at the end of episode 1.13 Heather told Jake, "You know why things didn't work out between us? I'm not dangerous … I was never going to be hazardous to you. That's how you tick." Although Jake disagreed, and despite obvious feelings between them, Heather left for New Bern. The two had an emotional reunion in episode 2.1.

Emily and Heather are depicted as good friends, despite Emily's previous relationship with Jake, Jake's continued feelings for Emily, and Heather's obvious interest in Jake. In episode 1.9, it was revealed that Heather would have been Emily's maid of honor at her wedding, and she plans activities to entertain her on what would have been her wedding day. A deleted scene from episode 1.6 indicates that Heather has known Emily for two years, but this has not been confirmed as canonical.

Heather admitted in episode 1.2 that she was unpopular in her teenage years. Her parents and siblings, if any, were not seen in the series. Several scenes suggested that Heather had no close family in Jericho, most notably her comment in episode 1.13 that "Mr. Carmichael has a family." Carmichael had intended to join Jake on a dangerous trip to Black Jack Fairgrounds, but Heather volunteered in his place, implying by her remark that she had no family.

Sprague Grayden on her character

According to an online interview with Sprague Grayden, "Heather represents the innocence of the town itself, and I think we will see her grow up a bit...she's so quiet...so strong, and yet really sheltered. We're going through her first traumatic experience." In early interviews, Grayden said that Heather was the "minister's daughter," and that she was happy to be playing a character her own age. This indicates that Heather was 26 years old, Grayden's age at the beginning of the series.

On an online talk show, executive producer Carol Barbee stated that the pacing of the show had not permitted them to use Heather's original backstory as the minister's daughter, and that it was eventually abandoned. According to a sign which stood on the Jericho set, Heather’s father was to have been the Rev. Matthew Lisinski.

Of Heather's relationship with Jake Green, Grayden said, "She has a crush on Jake, she didn't have a lot of friends in the town growing up." About the possibility of a love triangle between Jake, Heather, and Jake's former flame Emily, Grayden said, "I can say that definitely happens," as indeed it did in the first season.

Grayden also revealed that Jake and Heather shared a "secret connection," even though the two characters had not met prior to the first episode of the series. The exact nature of this connection was never revealed, although it may have been their mutual history with Emily, which did not become apparent until the middle of the first season.

Of the fans' response to her role on Jericho, Grayden said, "I've never, ever seen a reaction to a character I've played like the reaction to Heather. It feels amazing, but I'm so indebted, and have such respect, and (I'm) humbled, and...it's really an awesome trip to be on."

Pictures on this page not otherwise credited are promotional photos or screen captures and are copyrighted by CBS Paramount Television, all rights reserved.

Page last updated:
August 21, 2016