Kimball Cho is a former member of the CBI team, along with Teresa Lisbon, Patrick Jane, Wayne Rigsby and Grace Van Pelt. Although he is normally a very serious person who always follows cases "by the book" he also has a very dry sense of humor. He mainly acts as the interrogator, because he is very persuasive and an excellent listener. We hardly see his personal life in the first 3 seasons. Yet in season 4, he gets a longer storyline. he dealt with drug addiction and his girlfriend and CI, Summer. Cho joined the FBI after the death of Red John in season 6, and continues to work with Jane and Lisbon when they come to join the team in Texas.
When he was younger, Cho was a member of a gang called the Avon Park Playboys; his nickname in the gang was "the Iceman". After spending some time in juvenile detention, he apparently got on the straight and narrow and joined the U.S. Army where he served in Asia with the 1st Special Forces Group.
Throughout the Series
In episode 12, "Red Rum", they meet a woman who is a Wiccan. Although trying to maintain an air of professionalism, Cho seems a little spooked by the presence of such evil symbols. When they encounter the occult, Cho is nervous and on edge, clearly wishing to be anywhere else. Later, to Cho's chagrin and Patrick's amusement, she shows off a spell on Kimball Cho. Cho still seems upset by the spell placed on him so Patrick tries to allay his fears. At the end of the episode, Jane burns a newspaper in the sink and then places it in a mason jar, similar to what Tamzin used to place the spell on him. He says that Tamzin gave it to him telling Cho to keep it in a safe place. Cho is relieved, smiles, and puts it inside his desk.
In episode 14, "Crimson Casanova", we see a very dapper Kimball Cho strutting through the club at the resort. He seats himself at the bar. Patrick and the rest of the team watch and listen to him from a remote location. Patrick tells him to look for a likely target. Cho orders a drink and takes it to the table of two beautiful women. In his typical, stiff, business-like manner, he introduces himself. The women, Darby and Sarah Beth are a little surprised by his approach but allow him to join them. Fricke and two women enter the club; Haightly follows shortly after. Cho sees Katie working and approaches her. He tells her that because she has worked a double shift, she can clock out. He offers her a drink on the house. She thanks him and leaves.
With Katie is sitting at the bar, Cho begins to implement the second part of their plan. Cho's matter-of-fact approach is working well and she happily accepts his invitation. Cho takes them into a room and begins speaking to the team. Katie is confused so Cho introduces himself to Katie and explains what is happening. She is hurt by the revelation.
In episode 8, "His Red Right Hand", we learn that Bosco's team nicknamed him and Risgby "Bert and Ernie", with Cho being Ernie. We also learn that he knew about this and didn't tell Rigsby and was okay with it because "Ernie's the clever, handsome one."
In episode 14, "Blood In, Blood Out" we learn a lot about Cho's past for the first time. We meet his girlfriend Elise waiting for him so they can go on their date. Right before he's about to leave, he gets a call about a shooting, where the victim called Cho three times in the last few days. Cho abandons Elise and says he wants to go over alone, but Patrick Jane is adamant about going.
They find David Seung a member of Cho's old gang, and someone who he states was like a brother to him was shot. Cho hadn't talked to him in 13 years except for the past few days when he called to ask for help, but Cho didn't call back.
Back at the office, David's grandmother Suanne Seung comes to plead with Cho to do his own investigation on the case. Cho says that Oakland has the case and that he was probably killed by the gang, but she's adamant that he left the gang and got a regular job. So, with a little cajoling from Jane, Van Pelt, and Rigsby, Cho decides to at least check out the case.
They go to Cho's old town where we learn that Cho, as a member of the Playboys, was known as "Iceman", because according to gang member Jon Jon, "if you wanted something done cold, you got Cho" — a reference to his cool and collected character. We also learn that he stole his first car when he was 14.
Back at home, Cho and his girlfriend are about to start making out, when armed gunmen come in the door, pin them to the floor with guns to their backs, and his girlfriend. After the commercial break, the gunmen are gone, and his girlfriend is going to the hospital.
Throughout the episode, we see the lengths that Cho will go to in order to protect, or avenge, those he cares about. He has a violent streak towards the members from his past. Specifically seen when he shot the gang leader KS in the shoulder because he was planning for the Playboys to conduct a home invasion in which Cho did not wish to take part. We also see how much Cho trusts Jane when he has him pretend to kill somebody in order to get the real killer to confess.
At the end of the episode, Cho kisses his sleeping girlfriend, then goes out to see David's grandmother. He tells her that David actually did change his ways and that he feels guilty that when David asked for his help, he never returned his call. Stating that he feels he might have been able to prevent David's death. Just the same, Mrs. Seung forgives Cho for his misstep, while relieved to learn she was right and that David wasn't killed because he was back in a gang.
In episode 11, "Bloodsport", Cho is forced into an uncomfortable position when he finds out that Rigsby while lying to a parole officer to give his father an alibi, has named him as a person that could corroborate the alibi. Cho is angered and states that in his nearly a decade of service in law enforcement, he has never lied to a fellow officer. Though unhappy about it, when LaRoche questions him, he sides with Rigsby and lies. He eventually forgives Rigsby.
In episode 22, "Rhapsody in Red", he meets a young pickpocket with a similar background to himself when he was young. The pickpocket steals Cho's car and is later caught and held at CBI headquarters until foster care can take him. Cho ends up helping the kid prove his father, who had been arrested for robbing a store, is innocent. At the end of the episode, father and son are reunited, and Cho laughs as Rigsby reacts to having had his wallet stolen.
In episode 6, "Where in the World is Carmine O'Brien?", Cho accidentally injures his back after landing on the hood of a car while chasing a suspect. In the consecutive episodes, Kimball begins taking pain killer pills addictively.
In episode 8, Pink Tops, Cho meets Summer Edgecombe as a prostitute for the first time. They have a spark and an immediate connection is made with Summer admitting that she finds him attractive. Cho gets the idea to use her in a sting operation to catch a suspect and is successful. At the end of the episode, Cho goes back to Summer yet again. He says he wants her to be a confidential informant and she agrees.
In episode 14, At First Blush, Summer once again helps with a sting but goes too far and makes Cho angry. At the end of the episode, she is waiting for Cho by the elevator when he gets back to the office. They have a spat; she wants her job back – she gave up everything else for it but Cho tells her it’s impossible. She takes too many risks and gets off on the danger. She challenges that – telling him that she thinks he fired her because he’s worried and afraid to admit that he likes her. Cho actually does admit to liking her and she slaps him before she realizes that he really admitted to it. They end up kissing passionately in the elevator.
In episode 18, "Ruddy Cheeks" Cho is late for work because Summer turned off his alarm deciding he needed to sleep. Later, after taking another pain killer, he falls asleep on a stakeout almost causing Rigsby to get shot. He goes to tell Lisbon but ends up deciding not to, instead just apologizing for being late. He then goes to the bathroom and flushes the pills down the toilet.
His relationship with Summer is strained in episode 22, "So Long, and Thanks for All the Red Snapper", after Summer's reckless behavior nearly gets her killed by a suspect during a sting. After she steals drugs from one of her contacts, a drug dealer, he beats her. Cho seeks out the dealer and beats him. After a heated argument with Cho about her use of drugs, where he accidentally hurts her, she takes his advice to leave the state and start over, thus ending their relationship.
In episode 9, "Black Cherry", Cho is at the CBI gang division, trying to find out more about a victim from Agent Wade. While in her office, Cho spots a corner shot assault rifle and finds out that a new rapid response team is being put together. At the end of the episode, Agent Wade comes by to see Cho and asks him to work part-time with the CBI’s rapid response team. Cho agrees.
In episode 10, "Panama Red", Cho and the rapid response team bust a counterfeiting ring, during which Cho runs into his ex-girlfriend, Summer Edgecombe, who is evidently pregnant. As she was at the site of the ring, Summer was arrested. He finds out that the baby is not his, but rather, she is in town getting married to the baby's father. Summer tells him she had nothing to do with the counterfeiting ring and got cleaned up as she asked him to. She pleads for him to help her. When Cho then asks Wade to release Summer, as he believes she was not involved in the counterfeiting ring, Wade refuses. Cho then goes behind her back to bring in the gang leader and negotiates no charges for Summer with the D.A. Wade is visibly upset. When Cho attempts to apologize and says it will not happen again, Wade says that it definitely won't. She obviously does not want Cho on her team, similarly, Cho is not prepared to work for such an autocrat. This leads to Cho leaving the Rapid Response Team entirely. Summer then comes by the CBI Headquarters right after their wedding where she and Cho have a sweet goodbye.
At the end of episode 14, "Red in Tooth and Claw" when Grace leaves on the computer retreat, he mentions that Rigsby is still in love with Grace. He tells him that she is over him and has been for years. He encourages him to go on dating sites and starts to berate him again the way he did in season 1.
In episode 3, "Wedding in Red", he is one of the witnesses to Grace and Rigsby's wedding.
In episode 5, "The Red Tattoo", a woman at the gymnasium of the victim starts to chat up Cho seemingly interested in her but he shuts her down. Later, the woman came to CBI asking for Cho and Van Pelt directed her to his desk until Cho came back and he agreed to go out for coffee with the woman. After hearing from Van Pelt that the girl sat in Cho's chair, Jane goes to Cho's desk and pulls out a bug planted by the woman. He asks Van Pelt where they went for coffee and when he gets there, reveals the bug to Cho who threatens to arrest the woman and then she reveals she is a journalist named Kira Tinsley hired by Visualize.
In episode 9, "My Blue Heaven", after the two-year time jump, it is revealed that he joined the F.B.I five months prior after finishing training at Quantico. (As training itself is 5 months it is unknown what he did for the first year after the death of Red John). He mentions that he does not think Jane and the F.B.I will get along as they don't understand how he operates. He also refuses a hug from Jane, but from his facial expressions, it is clear that he missed him and his eccentric ways and is glad to work with him again.
He works alongside Supervising Agent Dennis Abbott, Agent Kim Fischer, and Agent Jason Wylie. He seems to have the closest relationship with Wiley once he joins, often amused by his youth. This is especially seen when Cho tries to explain why people would call Wiley "Coyote" as in "Wiley E. Coyote". He often goes to him for help and knows he will not ask questions when it comes to doing things for Jane.
In episode 13, "Black Helicopters", Jane shows Kim that he knows what everyone wants by giving members of the F.B.I team something that they secretly desired/loved from their childhood. Jane gives Cho some Mexican jumping beans.
In episode 17, "Silver Wings of Time", Fischer asks him if Lisbon ever dated on the job at CBI. He responds that he doesn't know and he never asked. Fischer then brings up how she never would have pictured Lisbon and Pike together and if he ever wonders what Jane thinks about it. Cho responds "never" and when she asks why he says "my brain would explode". This is the first time we hear his viewpoint of Jane and Lisbon's relationship. (We heard in "Grey Water" that Rigsby and Van Pelt always thought they would get together).
In episode 21, "Black Hearts", Lisbon tells him that she got a job offer at the D.C. office. He tells her it would be a great move. He also tells her that on his first day he almost quit because of Rigsby, but he saw the way she worked and knew he had to stay. He tells her he wouldn't be where he is today without her and whatever decision she makes it's been an honor. He lets her give him a real hug, but then tells her they're ordering Chinese for lunch; a classic Cho thing to do.
In the season finale, episode 22 "Blue Bird", Cho and Abbott are there to witness Lisbon throw water in Jane's face as she realizes that Jane set up the letter from the killer to have more time with her to try and convince her to stay. When Jane goes to talk to her, Cho asks Abbott why she was so mad since he's pulled way worse stunts than this. Abbott looks at him confused and asks "you really don't know?" before pouring him a glass of wine. In a later scene, Cho continues about his confusion: "I don't see it, they're like brother and sister. There's no way." Before they can continue talking, Jane interrupts needing their assistance as the killer has him at gunpoint. They go and save him, and he is again confused when Jane runs out to rush to the airport to declare his love to Lisbon.
In episode 1, “Nothing But Blue Skies...” Lisbon greets Cho happily at a crime scene. He asks straightforwardly if she is still moving to Washington and if she is still marrying Pike; to both of which she answers ’no’. This is the first time Cho has actively shown an interest in Lisbon’s personal life. Jane then comes up in a similarly happy mood and hugs Cho, which he begrudgingly accepts. He does this, however, with a smile.
In episode 3, “Orange-Blossom Ice Cream”, fresh-out-of-the-academy Michelle Vega is eager to please her superiors, which includes Cho. Wanting to go with him to a meet with a suspect, she lies to Cho and tells him that Abbott approved her joining him. Despite the fact that she does well, Cho finds out that she lied about Abbott‘s approval. This does not sit well with Cho as he does not like dishonesty.
Throughout the next episode, “Black Market”, Vega is desperate to make things right with him. Throughout the episode, however, he is cold and dismissive (and not in his usual ‘I still care about you’ way). He later tells her that it‘s not about the lie it’s about trust. At the end of the episode, she asks him to do a trus fall with her, to which he refuses. Instead, he invites her to go to the shooting range with him.
These two episodes really showcase Cho’s growth as both a leader, a team member, and figuring out the balance between the two.
In episode 9, "Copper Bullet", Cho reminds Lisbon of how much he trusts Jane and the lengths he is willing to go for his schemes; especially when it is to help a teammate (in this case Abbott). When Lisbon states they are crossing lines, Cho says: "Well Jane had me pretend to kill a guy once. Are we going further than that?" (referencing season 2 episode, "Blood In, Blood Out"). Later, when Vega states that she doesn't want to be left out of the plan to help Abbott, Cho reveals that he feels responsible for her. He eventually concedes and also reminds her not to call him "Sir". At the end of the episode, Abbott tells Cho that when he leaves for Washington, Cho will be promoted to Supervisory Special Agent. We see him happily laugh and chuckle (perhaps for the first time ever).
In episode 10, "Nothing Gold Can Stay", Abbott lets him run the case as he will be in charge soon enough. While canvassing, Vega asks him if he is excited to take over, to which he responds: "I don't really think about it that way." She then asks: "isn't this something you've wanted your entire career?". He then admits that, yes he is excited; and he jokes saying the first new rule he's implementing is that rookies are seen not heard. His relationship with Vega as friends and mentors is progressing and is fun to watch.
While at one of the canvass locations for the case, he and Vega get into a gunfight with the suspects and Vega is shot. Cho holds her, calls her Michelle and tells her to keep breathing as they wait for help. We cut to Jane and Lisbon rushing through the hospital where we then see Cho standing over her hospital bed. He pulls back the curtain and we see her dead body; Vega didn't survive. (She is the first and only main character in the series to die). Cho chooses to be the one to call her next of kin to inform her of her death. While in Abbott's office, right before he calls her aunt, he takes a breath and begins to cry. (This is only the second time we see him cry or show pure sadness in the series; the first was due to the events in "Blood In, Blood Out".) When the suspects later take a hostage, there is a standdown, and Cho is anxious to breach looking for revenge. They eventually do breach and Cho is able to be the one to kill the man who shot Vega. The last scene of the episode is Vega's funeral with Cho as one of the front pallbearers; he also presents the flag to Vega's aunt.
Throughout the next episode, "Byzantium", Cho is on edge. He gets rough with someone they just went to talk to and arrests him without cause. This is very unlike Cho who is usually very by the book as had been seen throughout the series.
In the series finale, "White Orchids", Cho is now officially in charge of the team. Wiley comes to tell him he wants to transfer as he is not sure he is cut out for fieldwork. Cho knocks some sense into him and tells him as he's rebuilding his team, he wants people around him that he trusts; and that includes him. When Jane and Lisbon announce that they are getting married he is very happy for them and even tells Wiley that he saw it coming. This is a big change from the end of last season, where he didn't even see them as liking each other romantically. At their wedding, Cho gives Jane and Lisbon big hugs and smiles widely. He is also seen with Grace and Rigsby dancing and taking photos, reuniting. Cho ends the series very happily; as leader of the team, with friends around him, and a smile on his face.
He is a very serious and stoic by the book person, most likely from his army days. He is very willing to follow Jane's investigations and follows Lisbon, almost unwilling to follow anyone except Lisbon or Jane. He is always chosen to be the agent in charge when Lisbon has to leave. He is also very good at dealing with Jane's collateral damage and is a first-class interrogator, as he lays down all the facts and then the possible scenarios that could have played out in a sympathetic way.
Cho is well respected by the CBI team, showing concern and the desire to help when Jane is going through difficulties. At most times, Cho seems to be the calmest and most clearheaded of the agents but is shown to have a fierce temper if someone he cares for is threatened. He is usually the agent that makes the arrest, reads suspects their rights, and acts as the team’s main interrogator, often partnering Wayne Rigsby when attempting to chase down suspects. Due to his former gang affiliations and military background, he is street-savvy and also highly proficient in and has extensive knowledge of firearms. He is usually tasked with the more physical nature of the job, such as chasing down suspects and making the arrest.
He is good friends with Rigsby and his deadpan sense of humor and calm demeanor both complements and contrasts Rigsby's happy-go-lucky nature. Fellow CBI agent Sam Bosco even nicknamed Rigsby and Cho "Bert and Ernie" respectively after the eponymous Sesame Street characters. Rigsby has sometimes been the recipient of Cho's deadpan, as shown when Cho mocked him for lacking the courage to ask Van Pelt out in season 2 and also tells him that he had known about the Bert and Ernie nickname but chose not to tell him. They often bet on Jane's abilities and the secret behind his "parlor tricks".
- He seems to speak Korean as heard in Blood In, Blood Out.
- According to Van Pelt, Cho hates pineapple (The Thin Red Line).
- As seen in the episode His Red Right Hand, he avoids drinking most alcohol; in this episode, everyone has a drink in memory of their colleagues who have died but while Cho raises the glass, he doesn't drink from it but drinks water instead. In Red Scare, Cho sniffs the wine offered at the end of the episode but then sets his glass down on the table.
- Cho seems to enjoy reading as he is seen reading books in a variety of episodes.
- He used to work for a Narcotics division. (Devil's Cherry)
- According to a character list from the Pilot script, Cho was originally named "Kendall Cho", came "from twenty generations of farmers" and had a family.
- He has unexpected skills as a ladies' man which he displays in the episode Crimson Casanova.
- He is a bit superstitious as we see in the episode Red Rum.
- He is the only character, along with Teresa Lisbon and the protagonist Patrick Jane, who appeared in every single episode of the series.
- As a teen, Cho was involved in a gang called the Avon Park Playboys, in which he committed one or more crimes. He joined a gang after he tore his ACL playing baseball. He was called Iceman, likely a reference to his stoic and deadpan personality, implies that he has always been like this since childhood.
- He appears to be thoughtless and Insensible to human emotions. The only time that he shows real emotions (aside from a small smile) is in Nothing Gold Can Stay when Michelle Vega dies close to him, crying in secret.
- He is barely seen smiling but at the end of Rhapsody in Red he is seen laughing after Rigsby's wallet is stolen.
- Cho liked Mexican jumping beans as a child ("Black Helicopters").
- Cho has become Lisbon's superior at least twice in the series. The first time was when he was temporarily put in charge of her CBI team by J.J LaRoche during Bloodstream, while the second time was when Dennis Abbott gave Cho his position to lead the FBI team at the end of Copper Bullet.
- He is the last person to see the romance between Jane and Lisbon stating that he always thought it was more brother-sister in "Blue Bird." Even Abbott and Fischer (who only met them months prior) saw it before he did.
- He once crashed a car after stealing it as a teenage delinquent.