CSI: Crime Scene Investigation

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation intertitle
Genre Police procedural
Format Live action
Created by Anthony E. Zuiker
Starring William Petersen
Marg Helgenberger
Gary Dourdan
George Eads
Jorja Fox
Paul Guilfoyle
Eric Szmanda
Robert David Hall
Louise Lombard
Wallace Langham
Lauren Lee Smith
Laurence Fishburne
Liz Vassey
David Berman
Elisabeth Harnois
Ted Danson
Opening theme "Who Are You" by The Who
Country of origin United States
Language(s) English
No. of seasons 12
No. of episodes 257 (List of episodes)
Running time approx. 39–45 minutes
approx. 60 minutes (2 episodes)
Production company(s) Jerry Bruckheimer Television
Alliance Atlantis (2000–2008)
CBS Productions (2000–2006)
CBS Paramount Network Television (2006–2009)
CBS Television Studios (2009–Present)
Original channel CBS
Picture format 480i (SDTV),
1080i (HDTV)
Audio format Dolby Digital 5.1
Original run October 6, 2000 – present
Related shows CSI: Miami
External links

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (also known as CSI or less commonly, CSI: Las Vegas) is an American crime drama television series, which premiered on CBS on October 6, 2000. The show was created by Anthony E. Zuiker and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. It is filmed primarily at Universal Studios in Universal City, California.

The series follows Las Vegas criminalists (identified as "Crime Scene Investigators" working for the Las Vegas Police Department instead of the actual title of "Crime Scene Analysts" and "Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department")[1] as they use physical evidence to solve grisly murders in this unusually graphic drama, which has inspired a host of other cop-show "procedurals". The series mixes deduction, gritty subject matter and character-driven drama. The network later added spin-offs CSI: Miami and CSI: NY.

CSI has been recognized as the most popular dramatic series internationally by the Festival de Télévision de Monte-Carlo, which has awarded it the "International Television Audience Award (Best Television Drama Series)" three times.[2][3] CSI's worldwide audience was estimated to be over 73.8 million viewers in 2009.[3] In 2011, CSI is the most watched drama series in the world, again.[4]

CSI has been nominated multiple times for industry awards and has won nine awards during its history. The program has spawned several media projects including an exhibit at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry, a series of books, several video games, and two additional TV shows. It has reached milestone episodes, such as the 100th, "Ch-Ch-Changes", the 150th, "Living Legend", which starred Roger Daltrey from The Who, the 200th, "Mascara", airing on April 2, 2009, and the 250th, "Cello and Goodbye", airing May 5, 2011.

Internationally, broadcasts of the show are popular. Show creator Anthony Zuiker said in an interview with CBS Sunday Morning, "The running joke really is that "CSI" airs in every country but six: North Korea, Uzbekistan, Iran, Iraq, and a couple of others I probably can't even name."[5]

For the 2001 season, CBS decided to move CSI, along with the reality series Survivor, to Thursday night, ending NBC's long dominance of these television hours. CBS became the most watched network on American television, with CSI being the most watched program on television for the 2002–2003 TV season,[6] and the most watched scripted show for five consecutive seasons, from the 2002–2003 season through the 2006–2007 season.

The show aired its 250th episode on May 5, 2011. On May 18, 2011, CBS was renewed the series for a twelfth season, moving it to Wednesdays.[7] Ted Danson joined the series, playing the new night-shift team supervisor.[8][9]




CSI: Crime Scene Investigation is produced by Jerry Bruckheimer Television and CBS Productions, which became CBS Paramount Television in the fall of 2006, and CBS Television Studios three years later. Formerly a co-production with the now-defunct Alliance Atlantis Communications, that company's interest in the series is now owned by investment firm GS Capital Partners, an affiliate of Goldman Sachs.[10] CBS acquired AAC's international distribution rights to the program, though the non-US DVD distribution rights did not change (for example, Momentum Pictures continues to own UK DVD rights).

The series has been heavily criticized—almost since its debut—by police and district attorneys, who feel CSI portrays an inaccurate image of how police solve crimes, and by the Parents Television Council, who note the level and gratuitousness of graphic violence, images and sexual content seen on the show. Nevertheless, CSI became the most watched show on American television by 2002. The success of the show encouraged CBS to produce a franchise, starting in May 2002 with the spin-off CSI: Miami and then again in 2004 with CSI: NY. The series is now in syndication and reruns are currently broadcast in the U.S. on the Spike and TV Land cable networks. The show has aired in reruns on the USA Network since January 14, 2011.

As of the fall of 2008, CSI commands an average cost of $262,600 for a 30-second commercial, according to an Advertising Age survey of media-buying firms.[11]

Concept and development

Original CSI logo, as seen in season 1 title sequence

During the 1990s, Anthony Zuiker caught producer Jerry Bruckheimer's attention after writing his first movie script. Bruckheimer wanted an idea for a television series. Zuiker did not have one, but his wife told him about a Discovery Channel show she liked about forensic detectives who used DNA and other evidence to solve cold cases (The New Detectives).[12] Zuiker, who grew up in Las Vegas, started spending time with real-life LVMPD crime investigators and was convinced that there was a series in the concept. Bruckheimer agreed and arranged a meeting with the head of Touchstone Pictures. The studio's head at the time liked the spec script and presented it to ABC, NBC and Fox executives, who decided to pass. The head of drama development at CBS saw potential in the script, and the network had a pay or play contract with actor William Petersen who said he wanted to do the CSI pilot. The network's executives liked the pilot so much that they decided to include it in their 2000 schedule immediately, airing on Fridays after The Fugitive. Initially it was thought that CSI would benefit from The Fugitive (a remake of the 1960s series), which was expected to be a hit, but by the end of the year 2000 CSI had a much larger audience.[13]

Filming locations

CSI was initially shot at Rye Canyon, a corporate campus owned by Lockheed Martin, situated in the Valencia area of Santa Clarita, California. Other shows such as The Unit and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers have also been shot there.[14]

After the eleventh episode, filming shifted to the Santa Clarita Studios and only second unit photography, such as the shots of the Las Vegas streets, are done on location in Las Vegas, Nevada. Occasionally, when required, the cast will also shoot on location in Las Vegas, although more often the locations will be substituted by California locations. Santa Clarita was originally chosen for its similarity to the outskirts of Las Vegas.[15] Some of the California locations include the Verdugo Hills High School, UCLA's Royce Hall, the Pasadena City Hall and the California State University. While shooting is filmed primarily at Universal Studios in Universal City, California, Santa Clarita's surroundings have proven so versatile that CSI still shoots some of its outdoor scenes there.[16] In the fourth season DVD set, the special features reveal that the episode Suckers was mostly shot in Las Vegas during December 2003, near Christmas, where they filmed a Gothic club scene in a premises for rent, and in January 2004, some scenes were filmed at Caesars Palace.


From the start, CSI's theme song has been "Who Are You", written by Pete Townshend with vocals by lead singer Roger Daltrey of The Who. Daltrey made a special appearance in a season seven episode, "Living Legend", which also contained many musical references such as the words "Who's next" on a dry erase board in the episode's opening sequence. In certain countries, to avoid music licensing fees, a unique theme was used instead.

Throughout the series, music plays an important role; artists like The Wallflowers, John Mayer, and Akon (with Obie Trice) have performed onscreen in the episodes "The Accused Is Entitled", "Built To Kill, Part 1", and "Snitch", respectively. The Wallflowers' "Everybody out of the Water" can be found on the CSI soundtrack CD. Mogwai is often heard during scenes showing forensic tests in progress (see Style, above) as are Radiohead and Cocteau Twins, but several other artists have lent their music to CSI including Rammstein and Linkin Park—used heavily in Lady Heather's story arc. Sigur Rós can be heard playing in the background in the episode "Slaves of Las Vegas", The Turtles in "Grave Danger", and Marilyn Manson in "Suckers". A cover of the Tears for Fears song "Mad World", arranged by Michael Andrews and featuring vocals by Gary Jules, was used in the pilot episode and during three episodes of season six ("Room Service", "Killer", and "Way to Go"). Industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails have also been featured multiple times throughout the three series.


In the city of Las Vegas, Nevada, its reputation for providing instant success for those willing to try their luck draws in the hopeful and the naive. This constant influx of visitors also provides ripe targets for criminals of all varieties, confident they will never be caught. Unfortunately for them, most are proven wrong by the Las Vegas Police Department's night shift Crime Scene Investigations unit led by ex-stripper and single parent Catherine Willows. With almost obsessive dedication towards her quest for the facts, she and her elite team of investigators work various perplexing cases using scientific skills and equipment that are capable of finding valuable clues from the most seemingly unlikely sources. Her team includes second-in-command Nick Stokes, who was Texas-born and -bred; Sara Sidle, who recently returned from a leave of absence; Greg Sanders, a former DNA Tech, and Morgan Brody, daughter of the under-sheriff and new transfer from Los Angeles, California. Assisting them are Jim Brass, an experienced LVPD Captain; Al Robbins and David Phillips, the Chief ME and his assistant; and David Hodges, a trace technician who hates field work.

Over the years, CSI's cast has varied several times; these changes have even influenced the primary cast: the death of Warrick Brown, the loss of team leader Gil Grissom, DNA guru Wendy Simms, Riley Adams, Raymond Langston, and Sofia Curtis, although Curtis has returned as a newly promoted Deputy Chief assisting Langston with what became his final case as a CSI.


Name Portrayed by Occupation Seasons
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
D.B. Russell Ted Danson CSI Night-Shift Supervisor Main
Catherine Willows Marg Helgenberger CSI Night-Shift Asst. Supervisor Main
Nicholas (Nick) Stokes George Eads CSI Level 3 Main
Sara Sidle Jorja Fox CSI Level 3 Main Guest Recurring Main [17][18]
Greg Sanders Eric Szmanda CSI Level 3 Recurring Main
Dr. Albert (Al) Robbins Robert David Hall Chief Medical Examiner Recurring Main
David Hodges Wallace Langham Trace Technician Recurring Main
David Phillips David Berman Assistant Medical Examiner Recurring Main
Morgan Brody Elisabeth Harnois CSI Level 2 Guest Main
Capt. James (Jim) Brass Paul Guilfoyle LVPD Homicide Detective Captain Main
Sofia Curtis Louise Lombard Deputy Chief Recurring Main Guest Guest
Warrick Brown Gary Dourdan CSI Level 3 Main
Dr. Gilbert (Gil) Grissom William Petersen CSI Night-Shift Supervisor Main Guest
Riley Adams Lauren Lee Smith CSI Level 2 Main
Wendy Simms Liz Vassey DNA Technician Recurring Main Guest
Dr. Raymond (Ray) Langston Laurence Fishburne CSI Level 2 Main

Main characters

  • D.B. Russell (Ted Danson) replaced Catherine Willows as Night-Shift Supervisor. Russell previously worked as a CSI in Washington state. He is married and has a son named Charlie Russell (Brandon Jones).
  • Catherine Willows (Marg Helgenberger) is the Asst. Night-Shift Supervisor of the Las Vegas CSI unit. Born in Las Vegas, Catherine Willows was raised by her single mother, a cocktail waitress and showgirl. Catherine failed to excel to her full potential in school, despite her intelligence and sharp mind. Catherine left school and began work as an exotic dancer to support her boyfriend's career. She became interested in crime-solving when a regular at the dance club encouraged her to return to school. She graduated from West Las Vegas University with a degree in Medical Science. Catherine joined the CSI team as a lab technician and worked her way up to supervisor under Gil Grissom. Catherine has one daughter, Lindsey Willows (Kay Panabaker), and had a stormy relationship with late ex-husband Eddie Willows (Timothy Carhart); he was murdered in the episode "Lady Heather's Box". Her relationship with her father, Sam Braun (Scott Wilson), also occasionally created conflicts in cases. In the episode "Built to Kill," Braun is shot and dies in Catherine's arms.
  • Nicholas (Nick) Stokes (George Eads) is a Level 3 CSI. On leaving Texas A&M University, Nick joined the police department and took a job with the Dallas Crime Lab, specializing in hair and fiber analysis. Finally, he joined the Las Vegas Crime Lab. Nick has been portrayed as an emotional person: He has been held at gunpoint, become emotional with certain cases, thought of committing suicide, and has been stalked. In the Season 10 finale, Nick was shot but survived and killed his attacker.
  • Sara Sidle (Jorja Fox) is a Materials and Element Analyst. She majored in physics at Harvard University and previously worked for the San Francisco coroner and crime lab. She replaces Holly Gribbs after helping investigate Holly's death. She is devoted to her job and will go to almost any lengths to make sure that justice is served. She finds dealing with child-abuse cases difficult because she was abused. Despite the age difference, Sara quietly pursues Grissom; and they become engaged in "The Case of the Cross-Dressing Carp". A few episodes later, in, "Goodbye and Good Luck", Sara leaves the team following a difficult case. She makes guest appearances in Season 9; and Grissom joins her in the Costa Rican jungle in Episode 10, "One to Go". In Season 10, Sara returns to the crime lab as a CSI and it is revealed in "Family Affair" that Grissom and Sara are now married.
  • Greg Sanders (Eric Szmanda) was educated in a private school for gifted students and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University. After a stint with the San Francisco Police Department, Greg joined the Las Vegas Crime Lab as a DNA technician and was soon yearning to find a place beyond the lab conducting fieldwork with the CSI team. Greg also wrote a book about the history of Las Vegas, and often becomes intrigued with cases that date back to "old Las Vegas" when it was run by the mob. Greg entered field training in the episode "Who Shot Sherlock?", and he became a full-fledged CSI. Greg is promoted to CSI Level 3 in the episode "19 Down". On the episode "A Kiss Before Frying", Greg is smitten with a mysterious woman, who describes herself as a fourth grade science teacher, during a tour of the crime lab.
  • Dr. Albert (Al) Robbins (Robert David Hall) is the head county coroner of the LVPD. Robbins's first appearance was in the episode, "Who Are You?", and he became a series regular in Season 3. He is married and has three children. Robbins was close friends with series lead character Gil Grissom. Since Grissom's departure, Robbins was developing a similar sort of friendship with new CSI, Ray Langston, and he is also close friends with David Phillips, the assistant coroner. He has prosthetic legs, and it has been implied that he lost them in an accident while trying to dig up a floor at a crime scene; this disability is drawn from the actor playing Robbins, who lost his legs in a road traffic accident.
  • David Hodges (Wallace Langham) is a lab technician with a B.A. from Williams College; he previously worked in the Los Angeles County crime lab, where his superiors felt he had an attitude problem. Hodges's appearances provide some comic relief, though most of the team finds him obnoxious and irritating. Hodges's first appearance was in the episode, "Recipe for Murder", and he became a regular cast member in the episode, "Dead Doll". He once got all the other lab techs to collaborate to try to solve The Miniature Killer case, and they discovered a key clue. In the episode "You Kill Me", Hodges invented a board game and enlisted the help of his colleagues to help him. It is also noted that Hodges has an uncanny sense of smell, and is able to identify many key chemical compounds by their scent alone.
  • David Phillips (David Berman) (nicknamed "Super Dave") is the assistant coroner to Chief Medical Examiner Al Robbins. He received his self-styled nickname after saving the life of a victim during an autopsy. Though early in the series, his co-workers tease him about his supposed lack of social experience.
  • Morgan Brody (Elisabeth Harnois) is a former member of Los Angeles Police Department Scientific Investigation Division, and joins the Las Vegas PD CSI unit in Season 12. She is the daughter of the Under-Sheriff Conrad Ecklie
  • Captain James (Jim) Brass (Paul Guilfoyle) of the Homicide Division works with the CSI team. Brass had Grissom's job; but, after CSI Holly Gribbs was murdered on her first day, he was replaced by Grissom. Brass was then made a homicide detective. He usually serves as the legal muscle for the CSI team and is the one who does most of the arresting and interrogating of suspects. Brass has never been accused of being a "soft cop" and has shown regard for the rules throughout the years. Brass does not like it when the CSIs try to take dangerous matters into their own hands. In the episode "Who and What", after FBI Supervisory Special Agent Jack Malone slams a suspect's head on the table, Brass rushes in and pulls him off, saying: "in Las Vegas, we play by the rules." In the episode "You Kill Me", a lab tech creates a fictional story in which Brass uses his night stick on a suspect and another tech comments that Captain Brass is not the type of cop. His estranged daughter Ellie Rebecca Brass (Nicki Aycox) is a drug addict and prostitute in Los Angeles. It was discovered in the episode, "Ellie", that he is not Ellie's biological father; but she does not know. In "Bang Bang", Brass was shot twice by Willy Cutler (Currie Graham). At the end of "Built To Kill, Part 1", Brass is seen in a tattoo parlor, having the date of his shooting (May 11, 2006) tattooed just below the bullet scar.
  • Sofia Curtis (Louise Lombard) (53 episodes, 2004–2011) is a CSI who became part of Grissom's team after the mid–Season 5 split, decided by Conrad Ecklie. She soon considers resignation, upset at the fact that she has been demoted from Acting Day-Shift Supervisor. In Season 6, Sofia makes a career shift from CSI to Detective. Actress Louise Lombard made her last appearance in the episode "Dead Doll", as a special guest star. She returned in the Season 11 episode "Father of the Bride", by which time she had been promoted to Deputy Chief; she helped the CSIs hunt for escaped serial killer Nate Haskell (Bill Irwin).
  • Warrick Brown (Gary Dourdan) (182 episodes, 2000–2008) is an Audio-Video Analyst. As a native of Las Vegas with a major in Chemistry from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, a major facet of Warrick's character is that he is a recovering gambling addict, his recovery hindered by the fact that he works in Las Vegas. New CSI Holly Gribbs is killed at a scene in Season 1, Episode 1, while Warrick was out gambling; and he was nearly fired. Grissom's friendship and support has helped him a great deal in overcoming his addiction, but his compulsion is one of the reasons used by Conrad Ecklie to investigate and then split up the team in Season 5. Warrick is married in Season 6 and divorced by Season 8. The actor and the network could not agree on a contract for Season 9, and the character was killed off in the season premiere.
  • Dr. Gilbert (Gil) Grissom (William Petersen) (194 episodes, 2000–2011) is the CSI Unit Night Shift Supervisor and a highly respected forensic entomologist with a degree in Biology from University of California, Los Angeles. He is proficient in American Sign Language (AmEsLan) because his mother (Phyllis Frelich) is deaf. He became a CSI in about 1985 and became supervisor for the Las Vegas CSI unit night shift in Season 1, Episode 2. Grissom is regarded as a well-educated methodical scientist but somewhat unusual in his approach toward his work and his social life, as well as a bit of a quirky introvert. In the series, some of his comments and actions can be seen to dumbfound his co-workers and superiors. He is portrayed as being a father figure to his team. It is revealed in the episode, "Way To Go", that he has been in a relationship with fellow CSI, Sara Sidle. He proposes to her in "The Case of the Cross-Dressing Carp". In Season 9, Grissom announced his retirement and in his final scene as a series regular in "One to Go", he is shown meeting his fiancée, Sara Sidle, in the rain forest of Costa Rica. It is revealed in "Family Affair" that Grissom and Sara are now married. The Grissom character is loosely based on real life criminalist Daniel Holstein.[19] Actor William Petersen was originally reported to have renewed his contract for the entire Season 9, but the Associated Press reported that Petersen was leaving the show as a regular in Episode 10 to pursue more stage-acting opportunities. He will return for guest spots during the show's run, as needed.[20]
  • Riley Adams (Lauren Lee Smith) (22 episodes, 2008–09) is a former St. Louis police officer. She makes her debut in "Art Imitates Life" as a CSI Level 2 a few weeks after the death of Warrick Brown. Adams was a non-conformist who joined law enforcement to rebel against her parents, who are psychiatrists. The character was on the show for only one season; Executive Producer Naren Shankar said that the decision to let Smith and her character go was "an issue of how we were feeling the ensemble was working".[21] In the season 10 opener, Catherine finds a report from Riley, written before her departure, criticizing Catherine's leadership skills.
  • Wendy Simms (Liz Vassey) (78 episodes, 2005–2010) worked in San Francisco, California, before moving to Las Vegas to take the DNA tech position in "Secrets and Flies". In the episode "Lab Rats", she helps David Hodges investigate the case of The Miniature Killer. The two characters have an ongoing rivalry which obscures a strong mutual attraction. Hodges complains that Simms tries to take over everything and that she thinks she's "too cool" for the lab. Simms insults Hodges by calling him "freakboy" and "loser" but appreciates his investigative thoroughness. Hodges feels the mutual attraction to her as well but fears the effect on his work that a relationship would produce, since he finds her distracting enough as it is. Wendy decided to join a CSI team in Portland and work in the field. She said goodbye to the team, including Hodges. Actress Liz Vassey made her final appearance in "Pool Shark".
  • Dr. Raymond (Ray) Langston (Laurence Fishburne) (61 episodes, 2008–2011) comes into contact with the CSI team in the course of a murder investigation and joins the Las Vegas Crime Lab as a Level-1 CSI. Langston is a medical doctor who used to work in a hospital. A co-worker murdered 27 patients, and all the evidence showed up before him, but he never put the evidence together. Ray had trouble for the most part of his first season. His first day on the job was most troubling for him, he was held hostage in the aftermath of a shootout in a neighborhood, one of Ray's former students was murdered, and Ray once had to shoot and kill a murderer in self defense. Ray was promoted to CSI Level 2 in the Season 10 opener and it was explained that he spent his time off taking every class and seminar he could to really become the CSI that Gil Grissom saw in him. Ray also revealed that he was raised in Korea and that his father was a veteran of the Korean War, who frequently got into brawls. Also, Ray traveled to Miami and New York, involving a case that crosses over into all the three CSI shows for the first time. In the Season 10 cliffhanger, the Dick-and-Jane Killer stabbed Ray, but it is revealed in the Season 11 premiere that Ray survives. On June 8, 2011, it was reported that Laurence Fishburne will not return to CSI for Season 12, with his character quitting after killing the Dick-and-Jane Killer.[22] He moves away to help console his ex-wife after she had been kidnapped, raped, and tortured by the Dick-and-Jane Killer.


There were twenty-three episodes in the first season, including the two part pilot episode written by Anthony Zuiker, the series' creator. There were twenty-three episodes each of the three following (Seasons two to four). There were twenty-five episodes in Season five and twenty-four in Seasons six and seven. There were only 17 episodes in Season 8, due to the WGA strike, 24 in Season 9, 23 in Season 10 and only 22 in Season 11. The total number of aired episodes to date is 257.

The 2004–2005 season finale, directed by Quentin Tarantino and titled "Grave Danger", was watched by over 35 million viewers on May 19, 2005, twice that of the nearest competition.[23]


  • "Cross Jurisdictions": In the episode that introduced the cast of CSI: Miami, Catherine and Warrick head to Florida, where they team with Miami's top CSI Horatio Caine (David Caruso) to investigate the murder of Las Vegas's former chief of detectives, Duke Rittle, and the kidnapping of his wife and daughter, following a wild party.
  • "The Lost Girls": Ray searches for a missing girl being held hostage by human traffickers. He believes the victim may now be part of a Las Vegas prostitution ring. The story began on CSI: Miami and continued on CSI: NY.
  • On October 14, 2010, "Sqweegel" aired, crossing over Sqweegel from Dark Origins (from the Level 26 series, written by CSI creator Anthony Zuiker) with CSI.

Public reaction

On September 27, 2007, after CSI's season eight premiered, a miniature model of character Gil Grissom's office (which he was seen building during season seven) was put up on eBay. The auction ended October 7, with the prop being sold for $15,600; CBS donated the proceeds to the National CASA Association.[24]

A grassroots campaign started on August 2007, upon rumors of Jorja Fox leaving the show,[25] organized by the online forum Your Tax Dollars At Work. Many of its nineteen thousand members donated to the cause, collecting over $8,000 for gifts and stunts targeted at CBS executives and CSI's producers and writers. Some of the stunts included a wedding cake delivery to Carol Mendelsohn, 192 chocolate-covered insects with the message "CSI Without Sara Bugs Us." to Naren Shankar and a plane flying several times over the Universal Studios of Los Angeles with a "Follow the evidence keep Jorja Fox on CSI" banner.[26][27] Other protests included mailing the show's producers a dollar, so as to save Fox's contract "one dollar at a time". By October 16, 2007, according to the site's tally, more than 20,000 letters with money or flyers had been mailed to the Universal Studios and to CBS headquarters in New York from forty-nine different countries since the campaign started on September 29, 2007.[28][29][30] Fox and Mendelsohn chose to donate the money to CASA, a national association that supports and promotes court-appointed advocates for abused or neglected children.[31]

Criticism for violent and sexual themes

CSI has often been criticized for the level and explicitness of graphic violence, images, and sexual content. The CSI series and its spin-off shows have been accused of pushing the boundary of what is considered acceptable viewing for primetime network television.[32] The series had numerous episodes on sexual fetishism and other forms of sexual pleasure (see especially the recurring character of Lady Heather, a professional dominatrix). CSI has been ranked as among the worst prime-time shows for family viewing by the Parents Television Council nearly every season since its second,[33][34][35][36] being ranked the worst show for family prime-time viewing after the 2002–2003[37] and 2005–2006[38] seasons. The PTC has also targeted certain CSI episodes for its weekly "Worst TV Show of the Week" feature.[39][40][41][42][43][44] In addition, the episode "King Baby" aired in February 2005, which the PTC named the most offensive TV show of the week,[44] also led the PTC to start a campaign to file complaints with the FCC with the episode;[45] to date, nearly 13,000 PTC members complained to the Federal Communications Commission about the episode.[46] The PTC has also asked Clorox to pull their advertisements from CSI and CSI: Miami because of the graphically violent content on those programs.[47]

Law enforcement reaction

Another criticism of the show is the depiction of police procedure, which some[48] consider to be decidedly lacking in realism.[49] For instance, the show's characters not only investigate crime scenes ("process", as their real-world counterparts do), but they also conduct raids, engage in suspect pursuit and arrest, interrogate suspects, and solve cases, which falls under the responsibility of uniformed officers and detectives, not CSI personnel. Although some detectives are also registered CSIs, this is exceedingly rare in actual life. It is considered an inappropriate and improbable practice to allow CSI personnel to be involved in detective work as it would compromise the impartiality of scientific evidence and would be impracticably time-consuming. CSI shares this characteristic with similar British drama series, Silent Witness.

The cities of North Las Vegas and Henderson, and other surrounding townships and counties, will not allow Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department or companies contracted for work under them to come into their jurisdictions, unless the crime occurred on a border of the cities and/or townships. Furthermore, CSIs contracted to LVMPD do not operate in neighboring counties, such as Nye County, or Pahrump, due to division of jurisdictions.

Some police and district attorneys have criticized the show for giving members of the public an inaccurate perception of how police solve crimes. Victims and their families are coming to expect instant answers from showcased techniques such as DNA analysis and fingerprinting, when in actual forensic processing often takes days or weeks, with no guarantee of revealing a 'smoking gun' for the prosecution's case. District attorneys state that the conviction rate in cases with little physical evidence has decreased, largely due to the influence of CSI on jury members.[50]

However, not all law-enforcement agencies have been as critical; many CSIs have responded positively to the show's influence and enjoy their new reputation. In the UK, Scene of Crime Officers (SOCO) now commonly refer to themselves as CSIs. Some constabularies, such as Norfolk, have even gone so far as to change the name of the unit to Crime Scene Investigation.[51] Also, recruitment and training programs have seen a massive increase in applicants, with a far wider range of people now interested in something previously regarded as a scientific backwater.[52]


Like NBC's Law & Order franchise, CBS went on to produce their own franchise starting with the spin-off CSI: Miami, set in Miami, Florida and CSI: NY, set in New York City. A number of comic books, video games and novels based on the series have been made. The series was found to be in the same "universe" as fellow CBS police-drama Without a Trace during a crossover episodes airing in early November 2007. It is also within the same universe with Cold Case because of the series' crossover with CSI: NY. William Petersen confirmed that a CSI movie is in the works that will star Gil Grissom.[53]

CSI effect

The "CSI effect" is a reference to the phenomenon of popular television shows such as the CSI franchise, Law & Order, Silent Witness, Crossing Jordan and Waking the Dead raising crime victims' and jury members' real-world expectations of forensic science, especially crime scene investigation and DNA testing.[54] This is said to have changed the way many trials are presented today, in that prosecutors are pressured to deliver more forensic evidence in court.[55] However, the evidence given in support of the supposed effect is mainly anecdotes from law enforcement personnel and prosecutors. Little empirical examination of the effect has been done to date, and the one study published to date suggests the phenomenon may be a urban myth.[56]

CSI: The Experience

In 2006, The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History developed a traveling museum exhibit called "CSI: The Experience". On May 25, 2007, Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry was the first museum to host the exhibit, and the exhibit's opening featured stars from the TV series.[57] There is also a supporting Web site designed for the benefit of people who cannot visit the exhibit at CSI: The Experience Web Adventure, designed by Rice University's Center for Technology in Teaching & Learning and Left Brain Media.[58]


American ratings

Seasonal rankings (based on average total viewers per episode) of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation on CBS.

Note: U.S. network television seasons generally start in late September and end in late May, which coincides with the completion of the May sweeps.
Season Episodes Timeslot (EDT) Original Airing Rank Viewers
(in millions)
Season Premiere Season Finale TV Season
1 23 Friday 9:00 pm/8c (2000)
Thursday 9:00 pm/8c (2001)
October 6, 2000 (2000-10-06) May 17, 2001 (2001-05-17) 2000–2001 #10 17.8[59]
2 23 Thursday 9:00 pm/8c September 27, 2001 (2001-09-27) May 16, 2002 (2002-05-16) 2001–2002 #2 23.7[60]
3 23 September 26, 2002 (2002-09-26) May 15, 2003 2002–2003 #1 26.12[61]
4 23 September 25, 2003 (2003-09-25) May 20, 2004 2003–2004 #2 25.27[62]
5 25 September 23, 2004 (2004-09-23) May 19, 2005 2004–2005 #2 26.26[63]
6 24 September 22, 2005 (2005-09-22) May 18, 2006 2005–2006 #3 24.86[64]
7 24 September 21, 2006 (2006-09-21) May 17, 2007 2006–2007 #4 20.34[65]
8 17 September 27, 2007 (2007-09-27) May 15, 2008 2007–2008 #9 16.62[66]
9 24 October 9, 2008 (2008-10-09) May 14, 2009 2008–2009 #4 18.52[67]
10 23 September 24, 2009 (2009-09-24) May 20, 2010 2009–2010 #12 14.92[68]
11 22 September 23, 2010 (2010-09-23) May 12, 2011 2010–2011 #12 13.52[69]
12 TBA Wednesday 10:00 pm/9c September 21, 2011 Spring 2012 2011–2012 TBA TBA

DVR ratings

The show ranked number three in DVR playback (3.07 million viewers), according to Nielsen prime DVR lift data from September 22 to November 23, 2008.[70]

Awards and nominations


  • Top TV Series – 2006
ASC Award
  • Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Episodic TV Series – 2006
  • Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Episodic TV Series – 2005
  • Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Series – 2010[71]
  • Outstanding Cinematography for a Television Series – 2010[72]
  • Outstanding Sound Mixing For A Comedy Or Drama Series – 2007
  • Outstanding Cinematography For A Single-camera Series – 2006
  • Outstanding Sound Editing For A Series – 2003
  • Outstanding Makeup For A Series (Non-Prosthetic) – 2002
Saturn Award
  • Best Network Television Series – 2004
Screen Actors Guild Award
  • Outstanding Ensemble in a Drama Series – 2004
Teen Choice Awards


  • Outstanding Music Composition For A Series (Original Dramatic Score) – 2007
  • Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup For A Series, Miniseries Or Special – 2007
  • Outstanding Makeup For A Series (non-prosthetic) – 2007
  • Outstanding Cinematography For A Single-Camera Series – 2007
  • Outstanding Single-camera Sound Mixing For A Series – 2006
  • Outstanding Sound Editing For A Series – 2006
  • Outstanding Directing For A Drama Series – 2005: Quentin Tarantino
  • Outstanding Makeup For A Series (non-prosthetic) – 2005
  • Outstanding Single-camera Sound Mixing For A Series – 2005
  • Outstanding Sound Editing For A Series – 2005
  • Outstanding Cinematography For A Single-Camera Series – 2004
  • Outstanding Drama Series – 2004
  • Outstanding Makeup For A Series (Non-Prosthetic) – 2004
  • Outstanding Single-Camera Sound Mixing For A Series – 2004
  • Outstanding Drama Series – 2003
  • Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series – 2003: Marg Helgenberger
  • Outstanding Makeup For A Series (Non-Prosthetic) – 2003
  • Outstanding Makeup For A Series (Prosthetic) – 2003
  • Outstanding Single-Camera Sound Mixing For A Series – 2003
  • Outstanding Cinematography For A Single-Camera Series – 2002
  • Outstanding Drama Series – 2002
  • Outstanding Makeup For A Series (Prosthetic) – 2002
  • Outstanding Single-Camera Sound Mixing For A Series – 2002
  • Outstanding Sound Editing For A Series – 2002
  • Outstanding Art Direction For A Single-Camera Series – 2001
  • Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series – 2001: Marg Helgenberger
  • Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing For A Series – 2001
  • Outstanding Sound Editing For A Series – 2001

The series has also been nominated for multiple Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild Award, Writers Guild of America Award, Directors Guild of America Award, and Producers Guild of America Award

DVD releases

Region 1 DVD releases

# DVD Name Episodes Release Date
1 The Complete First Season 23 March 25, 2003 (2003-03-25)
2 The Complete Second Season September 2, 2003 (2003-09-02)
3 The Complete Third Season March 30, 2004 (2004-03-30)
4 The Complete Fourth Season October 12, 2004 (2004-10-12)
5 The Complete Fifth Season 25 November 29, 2005 (2005-11-29)
6 The Complete Sixth Season 24 November 14, 2006 (2006-11-14)
7 The Complete Seventh Season November 20, 2007 (2007-11-20)
8 The Complete Eighth Season 17 October 14, 2008 (2008-10-14)
9 The Complete Ninth Season 24 September 1, 2009 (2009-09-01)
10 The Complete Tenth Season 23 September 28, 2010 (2010-09-28)
11 The Complete Eleventh Season 22 September 27, 2011 (2011-09-27)

The US box sets are released by CBS DVD (distributed by Paramount), while the Canadian box sets are distributed by Alliance Atlantis. The first season DVD release differs from all subsequent seasons in that it is available only in 1.33:1 or 4:3 full frame, rather than the subsequent aspect ratio of 1.78:1 or 16:9 widescreen, which is the HDTV standard aspect ratio.

The first season is also the only DVD release of the series not to feature Dolby Digital 5.1 surround audio, instead offering Dolby Digital stereo sound.

The Blu-ray disc release of Season One is 7.1 DTS sound and 1:78:1 widescreen.

Region 2/4 DVD releases

Regions 2 and 4 DVD releases have followed a pattern whereby each season is progressively released in two parts (each of 11 or 12 episodes [with the exception of Season 8, in which part 1 contained 8 episodes and the Without a Trace crossover and part 2 contained the remaining 9 episodes] with special features split up) before finally being sold as a single box set. After having been almost 12 months behind region 2 releases after the first four series, region 4 releases are speeding up, with distributors simply releasing season five as a complete box set.

Region 2

DVD Name Release Dates
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Season 1 March 1, 2010*
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Season 2 March 1, 2010*
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Season 3 March 1, 2010*
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Seasons 1–3 August 23, 2004
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Season 4 March 1, 2010*
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Seasons 1–4 December 12, 2005
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Season 5 March 1, 2010*
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Seasons 1–5 October 2, 2006
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Grave Danger – Tarantino Episodes October 10, 2005
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Season 6 March 1, 2010*
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Season 7 March 1, 2010*
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Season 8 March 1, 2010*
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Seasons 1–8 October 26, 2009
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Season 9 March 1, 2010
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Season 10 February 7, 2011
  • * = Re released in slimline full season packaging, Seasons 1–8 were released in 2 parts between 2003 and 2009.

Region 4

DVD Name Release dates
Full season Part 1 Part 2
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Season 1 November 27, 2003 October 21, 2002 April 9, 2003
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Season 2 October 28, 2004 October 27, 2003 March 30, 2004
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Season 3 October 4, 2005 March 18, 2005 September 13, 2005
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Season 4 November 8, 2006 May 12, 2006 August 17, 2006
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Season 5 January 24, 2007 Released Released
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Grave Danger – Tarantino Episodes June 6, 2007
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Season 6 December 5, 2007 Released Released
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Season 7 December 3, 2008 Released Released
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Season 8 July 15, 2009 Released Released
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Season 9 June 2, 2010 Released Released
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Season 10 August 3, 2011 Released Released

Blu-ray releases

CBS Home Entertainment (distributed by Paramount) released the first season on High Definition Blu-ray disc on May 12, 2009.[73] Unlike its DVD counterpart CSI: Crime Scene Investigation#Region 1 DVD releases, this release is in its original 16:9 widescreen format and feature 7.1 surround sound. Features on the Season 1 BR set are also in High Def.

Season 9 was released on September 1, 2009. Like the Season 1 Blu-ray release, it features a 16:9 widescreen transfer with DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround sound. Extras include commentaries, featurettes and BD-Live functionality.[74]

Other releases

CSI has also been released as a series of mobile games. In Fall 2007, CBS teamed up with game developer Gameloft to bring CSI to mobile phones. The first of the series to be published was CSI: Miami. The game features actual cast members such as Horatio Caine, Alexx Woods and Calleigh Duquesne who are trying to solve a murder in South Beach with the player's assistance.[75] The game is also available for download on various iPod devices.[76]

In spring 2008, Gameloft and CBS released "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation – The Mobile Game" which is based on the original series in Las Vegas, NV. This game introduces the unique ability to receive calls during the game to provide tips and clues about crime scenes and evidence. As for the storyline, the game developers collaborated with Anthony E. Zuiker (the series creator) to ensure that the plot and dialogue were aligned with the show's style.[77]


  • True Stories of CSI: The Real Crimes Behind the Best Episodes of the Popular TV Show (published 08/09) – Katherine Ramsland follows the evidence and revisits some of the most absorbing episodes of the phenomenally popular C.S.I. television franchise, and explores the real-life crimes that inspired them. She also looks into the authenticity of the forensic investigations recreated for the dramatizations, and the painstaking real-life forensic process employed in every one of the actual cases—from notorious mass-murderer Richard Speck, through the massacre of Buddhist monks in an Arizona Temple, to a baffling case of apparent spontaneous combustion.

Comic Books

  • In 2003, comic book publisher IDW Publishing began releasing a series of one-shots & miniseries based on all 3 CSI series, with the majority being based on the original Vegas-based series.
  • In September 2009, Tokyopop released a manga version of CSI written by Sekou Hamilton and drawn by Steven Cummings. It centers around five teenagers working at the Las Vegas Crime Lab as interns as they try to solve a murder case of a student at their high school, which leads to a shocking discovery. Grissom and Catherine are seen now and then, as well as some of the other CSI characters.

Video games

Online sales

Country Store Available Season
Philippines Philippines iTunes Store 1-11 (after episode airs on TV)
United States United States Amazon Unbox 6, 7 and 8
United States United States Xbox Live 6 and 7 (approximately one week after airing—no longer offered)
United Kingdom United Kingdom Demand Five 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 (immediately after airing)
Germany Germany RTLnow 6, 7, 8 and 9 (one week before airing)

International broadcast

See also


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