Grace Van Pelt Rigsby is a former CBI Special Agent, along with Teresa Lisbon, Patrick Jane, Kimball Cho and Wayne Rigsby, specializing in computers and hacking. She is married to former fellow CBI Special Agent Wayne Rigsby and has a daughter with him named Maddy. After the dismantling of the CBI, she and Rigsby opened a private business dedicated to the investigation of computer frauds. Following the events of White as the Driven Snow, she and her husband decided to retire from law enforcement.
Born April 4, 1983, Grace is from a small farming town in Iowa, and her father is a football coach. She is a highly devoted Roman Catholic, which caused her to argue with her cousin, who believes she is psychic, over matters of faith.
In season 1 episode 16, "Bloodshot", Jane makes a remark about Grace's character, stating, "... you're deeply repressed and emotionally shut down... because of a trauma in your past that you've never spoken of to anyone... ever... even yourself..." which Grace's facial expression seems to confirm.
In season 2 episode 10, "Throwing Fire", Grace talks a woman out of suicide by describing the impact her sister's own suicide had on her. Later, when questioned by Rigsby, Grace quickly claims "That just came out. I don't have a sister", abruptly looking away and changing the subject – leading the audience to believe she did in fact have a sister or a family member who committed suicide and merely did not wish to discuss the matter.
In the flashback and 100th episode, "Red Dawn", one of the team members is going to be replaced as he does not want to work with Jane. Lisbon says they should look at the new graduates. Rigsby takes Grace's file and tells Cho that he likes her. Cho agrees that she is cute but Rigsby is out of her league.
The Pilot episode is her first day on the job.
Life at Work
While at CBI Van Pelt works with Rigsby and Cho most of the time, but she occasionally works with Jane or Lisbon. She always refers to Lisbon as "Boss" or "the boss", even when Teresa isn't around. Van Pelt is well-liked by the rest of the team; Lisbon even lets her take the lead on one interview, despite the fact that she is still a rookie.
In another episode, Grace is shot (while wearing a kevlar vest) and is taken to the hospital. Just before she gets into the ambulance, Lisbon is visibly upset and tells Grace sweetly: "Don't you do that to me again", indicating her fondness of her. In the opening of season four, Lisbon addresses Grace as her friend while encouraging her to get help.
Jane appears to have a fondness for Grace, much as she does for him; theirs appears to be rather like a sibling relationship, and Jane tends to favor her over Cho and Rigsby. It has been shown that Jane gets enjoyment from messing with Grace. He offers Grace more support than most people, but they tend to clash over spiritual issues such as the after-life. She seems to enjoy working with Cho; she is open with him and considers him a friend, although she doesn't always appreciate his straightforward manner.
She takes her role as an officer very seriously and feels tremendous guilt when things happen under her watch (as seen in Season 3 episode “Blood For Blood” when a man in witness protection dies under her watch). She is also very strong and capable of handling tough situations in the field (as seen in Season 4 episode “My Bloody Valentine” when she and a witness are hunted by a hitman and in the Season 6 episode “White as the Driven Snow” when she is kidnapped).
Throughout season 5 she never goes into the field always being behind a desk doing the research work. (This is because the actress Amanda Righetti was pregnant during filming).
In season 5 episode 14, "Red in Tooth and Claw", Van Pelt asks Lisbon if she can take an intensive computer course in L.A which will require her to be gone for some time. (This is because the actress, Amanda Righetti, goes on maternity leave). Lisbon approaches Bertram, who originally says no to the request, but later changes his mind after Jane helps him win poker and authorizes the course. In episode 18, "Behind the Red Curtain", Grace returns and Rigsby and Lisbon welcome her back with hugs.
In season 6 episode 1, "The Desert Rose", Grace is the first person that Lisbon tells about the 7 suspects believed to be Red John. She does this even after Jane asks her not to tell anyone. Grace then tells Rigsby as he thought she was having an affair, who then tells Cho, as it wouldn't be fair for him to be the only one on the team not to know. This shows how much Lisbon trusts her.
In season 6 episode 9 "My Blue Heaven", after the two-year time jump, she and Rigsby have since left law enforcement and started their own surveillance business.
In episodes 12 and 13 she and the team deal with their phones being bugged and someone coming after and murdering former CBI agents. Grace and Rigsby help out by looking into the bugs on the technical side and coordinating with LaRoche and Ardiles (both of whom are later murdered) to help figure out what is going on.
In episode 14, “Grey Water”, an unknown masked intruder shoots at Rigsby while he is holding Maddy, but before he can do anything, Grace shoots back and the intruder leaves their home. They then join the team at the FBI office in Austin where they are hired as consultants in the case. At the end of the episode, Rigsby calls Grace to let her know he went out for a beer and will be home late. We then see an unknown masked intruder in Grace's hotel room approaching the sleeping Grace.
Episode 15, “White as the Driven Snow”, is the last appearance that Grace and Rigsby make as main characters. In this episode, Richard Haibach is revealed, along with his sister, as the criminal masterminds who have been bugging the team and who killed LaRoche and Ardiles. They kidnap Grace as the team fight to find and save her. After the traumatizing event, which included Rigsby surviving two gunshot wounds to the chest, they decide to retire to civilian life.
Throughout Season One, Grace and Rigsby were mutually attracted and had a friendship which was often flirtatious, but still platonic. In the Pilot, Jane comments that Rigsby is attracted to her and wants to ask her to his hotel room, leading to an awkward moment between them in the elevator, yet nothing happens.
In episode 9, "Flame Red", while drugged, Rigsby admits that he is in love with her, to which she is rightly freaked out by. She says that she loves her job and does not want to risk it, but Rigsby doesn’t hear this as he passed out.
In episode 16, "Bloodshot", Grace is taken advantage of. A man from another department shows interest in her, and she even kisses him. Later, though, when he attacks Rigsby, he is revealed to be the killer of the week. Grace runs to find Rigsby and make sure he is okay. She embraces him and they almost share a kiss but are interrupted.
In episode 18, "Russet Potatoes", Rigsby is hypnotized and Jane tells him to close his eyes and think about what he most wants to be doing right now. Jane tells him to open his eyes and do it. Rigsby laughs. Grace starts to walk away, but Rigsby grabs her and kisses her deeply. She lets him. She then demands Rigsby be unhypnotized. Then he says he has to leave and won't listen to anyone who tells him to stay, except for Grace.
For the first couple of episodes, Rigsby is still shown to show an attraction to Grace but is too scared to do anything. Throughout the season they develop a relationship.
In episode 5, "Red Scare" while investigating the house of the victim, Rigsby goes to say something to Grace but changes his mind so starts to walk away but he stops her. He says, “I love you. I’ve loved you from the first moment I met you. Screw the rules. Screw the CBI. I need you. Unless you stop me, I’m going to kiss you now.” Just as they are about to kiss, a trap door opens and Jane sticks his head.
Later, Rigsby begins to bring up his profession of love but Grace tells him it’s just not the right time. However, at the end of the episode, she and Rigsby are gathering eating utensils for post case pizza until she stops, grabs Rigsby’s arm, and draws him into an office. When the door closes, she pulls him into her arms and kisses him. They kiss several times and she tells him that she’s going to head out to go home, he needs to wait 5 minutes and then meet her at her car. She kisses him once more and they both head into the office to have post-case pizza.
In the next episode, "Black Gold and Red Blood", Grace and Rigsby seem to be dating and greet each other happily at a crime scene; however, Rigsby reveals to her that he thinks that Jane may know about their relationship.
Later, in episode 7, "Red Bulls", she and Rigsby argue about him not wearing a bulletproof vest to canvass an apartment building. Grace is then shot multiple times in the chest while questioning a young woman but survives with a bulletproof vest on. While she is loaded onto an ambulance, Rigsby states he loves her. She slaps Rigsby, telling him he should wear a bulletproof vest next time.
Because colleagues dating within the same unit is against the rules at CBI, she and Rigsby worked very hard to keep their relationship a secret, but without much success. Jane was quickly aware of their status, having noticed both of them smelling like the same bath soap when they arrived at a crime scene. Cho also seemed to know of their relationship, and Lisbon was trying very hard not to notice that they were dating.
In episode 12, Bleeding Heart, she and Rigsby decided to go public, revealing their relationship to the whole team. Cho said that he'd known all along and that their relationship was more or less an open secret at CBI -- "Half the building knows," Cho said. Jane added, "The only person who didn't know is glaring at you right now," referring to Lisbon.
In spite of Rigsby's and Van Pelt's open, unequivocal admission, Lisbon remained in willful denial. She flatly declared that their relationship couldn't be happening because it was against the rules. Lisbon initially says she will take action and report their relationship to the head of the CBI.
In episode 13, "Redline", Lisbon changes her mind about taking action. She decides to allow them to hide the relationship and deny that she knew anything about it. She tells them both that they shouldn't stare at each other, hold hands, or kiss on the job. Surprisingly, the two take it surprisingly well and accept the restrictions without complaint. Unknown to Lisbon, this trial has stretched their relationship thin, and Rigsby and Grace are at risk of breaking up.
In episode 18, "Aingavite Baa", the new head of the CBI, Madeleine Hightower, discovers Grace’s relationship with Rigsby and informs Lisbon about it, although Lisbon pretends that she didn't know. However, Madeleine quickly put Lisbon on notice that she knew of the relationship; she knew that Lisbon knew; and if Lisbon didn't do something about it, she would. Soon after that, Hightower called Rigsby, Van Pelt, and Lisbon to her office and laid down the law: she orders Rigsby and Van Pelt to either end their relationship or one of them would have to leave the CBI or transfer to another office. Rigsby elected to put in for a transfer to the San Francisco office while Van Pelt stayed in her job at the main office in Sacramento. Grace, however, broke up with Rigsby because she didn't want him to leave the unit. She also reasoned that if he had taken the transfer to preserve their relationship, he would have ended up resenting her and the relationship would have ended anyway. Rigsby pleads with her to talk it through but she says she knows herself and walks away, leaving him heartbroken. She is later seen walking into the elevator at the office, crying and sobbing.
In episode 3, "The Blood On His Hands", she and Rigsby have a brief talk about their relationship. She tells him she lied, and it bothers her that he’s seeing someone. Before this conversation can progress further, Rigsby notes that they’re being tailed. So, she pulls an awesome stunt but ends up with them getting rammed, by people who turn out to be the FBI. The driver of the vehicle is Special Agent-in-Charge, Craig O'Laughlin, who was tailing them because the FBI has been on Visualize for years with tax fraud and racketeering and worse. She and O’Laughlin then have a moment, where they recognize each other’s surnames as big college football names. You can practically see the hearts in Grace’s eyes.
Grace begins to date O'laughlin much to Rigsby's displeasure. She is very happy every time she answers the phone and is seen to go out for lunch with him multiple times. Since Grace is so happy, her and Rigsby have been able to re-establish a professional working relationship.
In episode 14, "Blood for Blood", Grace and O'laughlin go out for dinner and he cheers her up by getting her chocolate cake, her favorite. At the end of the episode, she tells Rigsby that he proposed to her and she accepted; they are now engaged.
In episode 21, "Like a Redheaded Stepchild," Grace hands out wedding invitations at the beginning of the episode to the entire team, including Rigsby. At the end of the episode, he refuses the invitation, stating he still loves her and cannot watch her marry another man. However, he helps them get the area they want for their wedding.
In the series finale "Strawberries and Cream", there are 5 names of people believed to be the accomplice of Red John with O'Laughlin being one of them. Grace vehemently denies that he can be the mole. She even tells O’laughlin that he was a suspect after another agent became the main suspect, allowing Red John to find out their plan. O'laughlin then comes with her to Hightower's hideout and shoots the guards while Jane figures out that O'laughlin is the true accomplice of Red John. O'laughlin then comes into the house with his gun raised to kill Grace, Lisbon and Hightower. Grace is shocked by his actions and more so when O'Laughlin makes it clear he never truly loved her. He is shot dead by Grace and Hightower after he shoots and wounds Lisbon. Van Pelt cries over his body as O'Laughlin completes his dying act of ripping off the necklace he gave her.
In episode 2 it is revealed that she was attending therapy, however, it was never touched on again. Throughout the season, her fellow agents all express concern for her, but she insists she's fine. She does, however, seem over the edge.
In episode 5, "Blood and Sand", she loses her temper twice and attacks two separate suspects. Lisbon confronts her about getting complaints of excessive force and asks her if she is okay. She denies anything is going on.
In episode 12, "My Bloody Valentine", the necklace O'Laughlin gave Grace is returned to her. The necklace makes her anxious to the point that Lisbon asks if she wants her to take it away. Throughout the episode Van Pelt begins to hallucinate that O'Laughlin is there, talking to her. She knows he is not real and wonders what he wants. O'Laughlin himself doesn't really know as he is just part of her imagination. Additionally, Rigsby is very worried about her disappearance throughout the whole episode and gives her a big hug when she is found safe. At the end of the episode, she is at her desk admiring the necklace. She asks Jane if he talks to his wife. He says that he does. She then asks him if he sees her. Jane figures out that Van Pelt has been seeing O'Laughlin, even though she is unsure of what he wanted. After Jane gives her some advice about moving on, Van Pelt strings the necklace on some flowers on her desk.
In episode 16, "His Thoughts Were Red Thoughts", Grace is pissed because her landlord refuses to fix her hot water. Bret Stiles becomes one of the suspects and while questioning him, he starts trying to get into her head. He’s good and almost pulls it off, but she catches him, telling him he’s good but not as good as Jane. Still, he teaches her a little trick, a valid one, about how to dispel her anger. Throughout the episode, he tries to get her into his fold and seems to have had an impact on her, though not able to quite get her.
Grace is shown to still be close to Rigsby, hugging him when his father dies.
In episode 14, "Red in Tooth and Claw" she leaves to go to a computer-intensive course in L.A. Grace is upset when Bertram originally denies her request but is very pleased when he eventually allows her to go. Throughout her leave, Rigsby is shown to still have very strong feelings for her.
In episode 19, "Red Letter Day", Rigsby buys her a welcome back Orchid. Lisbon, Jane, and Cho all comment on him buying it for her, guessing it without him saying anything. Rigsby tells Cho the ball is now in her court. At the end of the episode, Rigsby is about to tell her how he feels when someone she met at the conference shows up to take her out on a date.
In episode 20, "Red Velvet Cupcakes", Rigsby admits to feeling weird since she's been back and that he thought about her while she was gone. During the episode, she and Rigsby pose as a couple with relationship issues for a radio show. On the show, they actually talk about their real issues and she admits that she likes who he is now and that he is a dad. And he admits that he feels the same way about her that he's always felt since the day he met her. At the end of the episode, she shows up at Rigsby's place and starts kissing him. Their relationship has continued since. In the season finale Rigsby tells Cho that they are not just having sex, but they are in love.
In episode 3, "Wedding in Red", she and Rigsby wake up and we get to see Grace having a good relationship with Benjamin. They discuss the fact that the policy of dating within the office has changed and they are now allowed to date publicly. Grace also mentions that this means office couples could even get married. Throughout the episode, Rigsby realizes that she wants to get married and determines whether or not he wants to marry her. Grace later admits in an interview that she holds onto the wedding dress she bought for her wedding to O'laughlin in order to hold onto hope; which Rigsby overhears. To create a distraction in order to catch the killer, Rigsby proposes while talking about hope and Grace happily says yes. The last scene of the episode is their wedding; Grace wears the dress, Lisbon and Cho witness, and Jane looks on from behind a door, crying.
In episode 4, “Red Listed”, Rigsby admits to Cho that he and Grace haven’t had sex in 3 days (since the wedding). Stating that they passed out the first night, and then they have had Ben with them for the past two days while Sarah is away. At the end of the episode, she dresses up in lingerie and a trench coat to surprise Rigsby at the office. She tells him she got a babysitter and the honeymoon suite at a hotel for the night. She also reassures him that she hasn’t lost sexual interest in him (as Cho made him fear she had). As they rush off to the elevator and start making out, the janitor interrupts them. Awkward!
- According to a character list from the Pilot script, Grace was originally named "Melody Van Pelt".
- In Red Dawn, on Van Pelt's file it was stated that she was born on April 4, 1983. This is the same date of birth as the actress, Amanda Righetti, who portrays Grace Van Pelt.
- In the season 2 episode "Red Scare" we learn that Grace likes to volunteer at a soup kitchen in her free time
- In the season 4 episode, Ruby Slippers, we learn she was a fan of the Hanson Brothers when she was a teenager.
- In the season 6 episode, Red Listed, Rigby tells Cho that Grace brushes her teeth for the full two minutes just like the dentist says to
- In the season 6 episode "Grey Water", Rigsby reveals that he and Grace always thought Jane and Lisbon would get together.
- She has a friend called Rachel who she goes to the gym with (deleted scene from "Red Listed").
- She seems to have a bit of a pattern concerning boyfriends, having at least twice dated men that later tried to kill her (Dan Hollenbeck in Bloodshot and Craig O'Laughlin in Season 3). From a psychological point of view, this would tend to be in agreement with Patrick Jane's statement about her being a victim of trauma (namely abuse, possibly by someone close to her who first gained her trust) as she seems to be subconsciously repeating that pattern. (Of course, this is all conjectures unless Bruno Heller or Amanda Righetti confirm it, but it is nonetheless an interesting tidbit of information.)