Tissue-resident memory T (Trm) cells permanently localize to portals of pathogen entry, where they provide immediate protection against reinfection. To enforce tissue retention, Trm cells up-regulate CD69 and down-regulate molecules associated with tissue egress; however, a Trm-specific transcriptional regulator has not been identified. Here, we show that the transcription factor Hobit is specifically up-regulated in Trm cells and, together with related Blimp1, mediates the development of Trm cells in skin, gut, liver, and kidney in mice. The Hobit-Blimp1 transcriptional module is also required for other populations of tissue-resident lymphocytes, including natural killer T (NKT) cells and liver-resident NK cells, all of which share a common transcriptional program. Our results identify Hobit and Blimp1 as central regulators of this universal program that instructs tissue retention in diverse tissue-resident lymphocyte populations.