Everything You Need to Know About “CSI”

  • Aug 2, 2021
  • Daniel Tynski
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Have you heard the news? The venerable “CSI” franchise, which debuted in 2000 and spawned several spinoffs, including “CSI: Miami” and “CSI: New York,” is returning this fall. The show has been on hiatus since the end of season 15 in 2015 but will see a rebirth as “CSI: Vegas,” featuring many of the original cast members. Namely, William Peterson will be back in his role as Gil Grissom, alongside Jorja Fox as Sara Sidle, Wallace Langham as David Hodges, and more familiar faces. 

Guide to “CSI” in 2021

BuddyTV is here with all the insider information you need to prepare for the upcoming revival. In this article, we discuss the basics of the show and provide a recap of all the previous 15 seasons. In addition, we describe each of the main characters, tell you how and when to watch, and run through some FAQs. Keep reading to learn more from this definitive guide on “CSI.” 

“CSI”: The Basics

The CBS network gave the order a little over a year ago for “CSI: Vegas,” a revival of the original “CSI” series that launched the franchise. This groundbreaking series is one of the biggest shows in TV history, ranking in the top 10 most-watched ones and spanning 337 episodes over 15 seasons. The series finale in 2015 included a two-part wrap-up movie, although the spinoffs continued. This fall, the original series is unwrapped for a whole new generation of crime scene enthusiasts.  

Show Premise

“CSI” stands for crime scene investigation. It’s a procedural forensics crime drama that follows a team of investigators working for the Las Vegas Police Department who use physical evidence to solve murders. As the second-largest crime lab in the country, the CSI team deftly solves crimes that other investigators have given up on with careful scientific analysis and occasional logical leaps. 

Set in Las Vegas against a gritty background full of visitors and vagrants, the hopeful and the naive, the team’s obsessive dedication helps them find the truth among the lies through the evidence. 

CSI Cast and Characters

Unsurprisingly, the cast shifted and evolved over 15 seasons, but here’s a list of the most prominent characters, including some of those you can expect to see in the new revival:

  • Gil Grissom: Played by William Petersen, Grissom is the graveyard shift CSI supervisor. A highly respected forensic entomologist (the “bug man”), Grissom was a regular in seasons one through nine but then had guest appearances in seasons 11, 13, and the finale. 
  • Catherine Willows: Played by Marg Helgenberger, Willows is the graveyard shift CSI assistant supervisor whose expertise is in blood spatter analysis. She was a regular in seasons one through 12 and then guest-starred in season 14 and the finale. 
  • Warrick Brown: Played by Gary Dourdan, Brown is a CSI level III audio-video analyst and native of Las Vegas. He was a regular in seasons one through nine.
  • Nick Stokes: Played by George Eads, Stokes began the series as a CSI level III and later as an assistant night supervisor. Finally, he was promoted to director of the SDPD Crime Lab. He was a regular in all 15 seasons. 
  • Sara Sidle: Played by Jorja Fox, Sidle is a CSI level III materials and element analysis expert who’s eventually promoted to director of the Las Vegas Crime Lab, although she later relinquishes this role. She was a regular from seasons one to eight and then 11 through 15, with a few guest star spots in between. 
  • Greg Sanders: Played by Eric Szmanda, Sanders is a CSI level III DNA specialist with a background as a gifted kid who believes in psychic powers and has multiple love interests. He is a regular on the show from seasons three through 15 (although he first appears in season one). 
  • Dr. Albert “Al” Robbins: Played by Robert David Hall, Al is the chief medical examiner and head of the county coroner of the LVPD. Married with three children, Al has prosthetic legs and rarely leaves the crime lab. He first appeared in season one and was a regular from season three and beyond.  
  • Jim Brass: Played by Paul Guilfoyle, Brass is an LVPD homicide detective captain and serves as the legal muscle for the team. He does most of the arresting and interrogating as a regular from seasons one through 14. He also appears in the finale. 
  • Sofia Curtis: Played by Louise Lombard, Curtis is the LVPD’s deputy chief. She first appears in season five, is a regular in season seven, and then guest-stars in seasons eight and 11.  
  • David Hodges: Played by Wallace Langham, Hodges is a trace technician and a loner with an uncanny sense of smell. He first appeared in season three and became a regular in season eight and beyond. 
  • Riley Adams: Played by Lauren Lee Smith, Adams is a CSI level II with a rebellious streak. She was a regular in season nine, although she had other appearances as well.  
  • Dr. Raymond “Ray” Langston: Played by Laurence Fishburne, Ray is a CSI level II who joins the CSI team after a murder investigation and appears in season nine.  
  • Wendy Simms: Played by Liz Vassey, Simms is a DNA technician with a bit of a “too cool” attitude. She appears in various episodes from seasons six through 11. 
  • David “Super Dave” Phillips: Played by David Berman, Phillips is the assistant medical examiner with questionable social skills, who appears in all 15 seasons.
  • D.B. Russell: Played by Ted Danson, Russell is a skilled botanist and a crime scene investigator. He is also the graveyard shift CSI supervisor and director of the Las Vegas Crime Lab from season 12 and beyond.
  • Morgan Brody: Played by Elisabeth Harnois, Brody is a CSI level III with a turbulent past. She’s a regular from season 12 and beyond, although she first appears in season 11.
  • Julie “Finn” Finlay: Played by Elisabeth Shue, Finlay is the graveyard shift CSI assistant supervisor and a blood-spatter specialist. She appears in the episodes beginning in season 12.
  • Henry Andrews: Played by Jon Wellner, Andrews is a DNA and toxicology technician and makes his first appearance in season five, becoming a regular in season 13 and beyond.

Where to Stream CSI

“CSI: Vegas” is set to air on the CBS channel at 10 p.m. Eastern Time on Wednesdays beginning Oct. 6, 2021. If you use a cable provider, you can also watch on the CBS website after entering your login information. Those without cable can access the show via various streaming services, including YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV, and fuboTV. If you can’t watch live, the show is available for streaming the next day on Paramount+ (formerly CBS All Access).

Seasons one through 15 can be watched now on Hulu, while seasons one, two, and 15 are available on Paramount+. You can also rent or buy the first 15 seasons on Amazon Prime Video to stream. 

“CSI”: A Breakdown of Each Season

A lot happened in those first 15 seasons, which comprise a total of 337 episodes that are hard to remember to the tiniest detail. Apart from the numerous eventful episodes, it may have been a few years since you watched the finale in 2015. So, we’ve provided a recap of each season to get you back up to speed (or to fill you in if you’re new to the “CSI” world). 

Season One

Leading off with the shooting and ultimate death of CSI Holly Gribbs, the first season follows the team at the Las Vegas Crime Lab as they work to solve strange and often brutal cases. Supervisor Gil Grissom and his second-in-command Catherine Willows lead the team to investigate suicides, burials, a severed leg, a skeleton, and other murders. On the personal front, CSI Brown faces a gambling addiction, CSI Sidle adjusts to her new Las Vegas life, and night shift supervisor Brass gets acquainted with the homicide squad.

Season Two

Season two starts with a trip to Miami to investigate the murder of a police chief. Throughout the season, the Las Vegas CSI team also investigates the murder of the son of a Las Vegas mogul, a university student’s disappearance, a decomposed body in a bag, a scuba diver in the desert, a fetish murder, a spa murder, suicide by train, and more. Warrick is given the opportunity to head the crime lab, Grissom and Willows face a serial killer in court, and Nick Stokes becomes the target of a stalker.

Season Three

At the start of season three, Grissom suffers from hearing loss, while Willows might lose her daughter. The team investigates the death of a poker player, the evisceration of a cheerleader, a jewelry heist, a body covered in fire ants, a drive-by shooting, and various other murders. The team also faces their past while testifying in court, Sara Sidle struggles with psychological trauma from an explosion, and a victim wakes up on the autopsy table. 

Season Four

Stokes leaks information to a news reporter, and Willows investigates a body in a bathtub at the start of season four. Investigations this season include a disappearing gun, the death of a baby during a heatwave, a man dressed as a raccoon versus a big rig, a car bombing, and a roller-coaster derailment. In addition, the team is tasked with re-investigating a rape and murder. Grissom travels to Jackpot, Nevada, and the team participates in a CSI relay and other investigative teams from across the country.

Season Five

The Crime Lab undergoes some personnel changes in season five, sending Greg Sanders from the lab into the field.  This season’s investigations include the discovery of an “alien” corpse just outside of Area 51, a body washed up after a storm, the kidnapping of a teen, a death at fumigation, a swingers party, the return of the Blue Paint Killer, and more. 

When new evidence appears while Grissom is on the witness stand, sheriff Conrad Ecklie decides to separate Grissom and Willows’ team. Willows, Stokes, and Warrick Brown investigate a case of brain death, a body in a car, a severed head containing a snake, the death of a bear, and sports betting murder. The team is ultimately reunited when Ecklie and Grissom set aside their differences after one of their own is kidnapped.

Season Six

Jim Brass gets caught in a shootout that kills an officer and enrages a Latino community, and later on, he becomes critically injured in a hostage standoff in season six. Grissom and Willows join forces to investigate the death of a movie star, a corpse at a suburban home, a mass cult suicide, and an apparent suicide. Stokes battles with PTSD, tracks down a missing kid, and hunts the head of a civil war reenactor. 

Season Seven

Grissom and Sidle develop an intimate relationship in season seven, and a new CSI, Michael Keppler, joins the team. Investigations include a chainsaw massacre, a death at a church, a kidnapping, a series of killings accompanied by miniature figurines, the death of identical twins, and the return of a mob boss. Willows loses her father, Sanders is assaulted, and the team finds a murder suspect trapped in concrete. The season ends on a cliffhanger with Sidle being kidnapped.

Season Eight

After the team finds and rescues Sidle, she later ends up leaving Las Vegas. The team investigates the death of a go-kart racer, a demonic possession, the death of an intersex person, and the murder of a slasher film actress. FBI agents from New York investigate a kidnapping, Willows struggles with the disturbing death of a 3-year-old, and the death of a TV star sends Brass and Grissom to Hollywood. 

Season Nine

Warrick Brown is shot and killed outside a diner at the start of season nine, and later, Grissom leaves the team while new CSI Riley Adams joins. The team investigates the death of a woman, a Halloween robbery, an S&M-related murder, an arson-homicide, the murder of an FBI agent, a toothpaste-related death, and a Mexican wrestling-related death. In addition, Stokes investigates the happenings of a seedy motel over the course of a year, David Hodges and Wendy Simms attend a sci-fi convention, and Grissom attends the trial of the Miniature Killer.

Season 10

Season 10 sees Willows’ leadership skills brought into question and the brief return of Sara Sidle. Investigations include the death of a porn producer, a botched robbery, a cop killed by another cop, the murder of a football coach, a revenge plot, a bowling tournament death, and human trafficking. Dr. Raymond Langston also investigates a series of murders committed by the elusive Dr. Jekyll with the help of another serial killer.

Season 11

After a stabbing, Langston fights for his life at the start of season 11. Investigations include a decapitation, a knife attack, a hoarder, an animatronic T-Rex attack, a human shredding, a fracking death, a murder where the only witnesses are a cat and a parrot, a body in a bin, and the death of another FBI agent. Further, Sanders attempts to seduce a burlesque dancer, Sidle faces her mother-in-law, Langston’s wife comes to Las Vegas, Stokes is forced to shoot and kill, and Sofia Curtis makes a return.

Season 12

After a demotion, Willows and Stokes now work under D.B. Russell. This season, the team is joined by CSIs Morgan Brody and Julie Finlay, and Willows and Stokes ultimately leave. Investigations include the murder of a family, drowning in chocolate, a death at a mob museum, a cold-case killing, the zippering of a body, a sadistic slaying, the theft of a house, a blackout, a murder at an Alice-in-Wonderland wedding, and a race truck explosion. In addition, Russell faces family problems, Brody’s helicopter gets hijacked, Dr. Albert Robbins’ wife is investigated, Ecklie is gunned down, and the Crime Lab is placed under the supervision of an outside agency.

Season 13

Sidle convinces Stokes to return this season. Investigations include a shootout at a diner, the murder of a runaway sex slave, a body in a piano, the death of a police dog handler, the discovery of a mass grave, a plane crash, a news anchor killed on live TV, the murder of a tennis star, the murder of a singer, a cheating scandal at a poker tournament, a body near a forest reserve, the murder of a ghost hunter, and a body in a mud bath. On the more personal side of the characters, a body is found on Warrick Brown’s grave, Ellie Brass’s past is revealed, Sidle becomes a homicide suspect, and the life of an investigator is on the line during an investigation into a series of Dante’s Inferno killings.

Season 14

Picking up where season 13 left off, D.B. Russell and Julie Finlay hunt for a kidnapped Morgan Brody. Investigations include a casino heist, a nightclub fire, a murdered cooking show contestant, a cold case, the death of a homeless man, a body in a human hamster ball, a stabbing at a hotel, the murder of Santa, a petty crime on a plane, a car crash, a murder in Mexico, and the death of a teen. In addition, Greg Sanders is accused of framing someone, Russell is taken hostage, and Jim Brass’s daughter attempts suicide. 

Season 15

Finlay finds a bomb planted in her car this season, and Sidle and Sanders end up quarantined after encountering a scene contaminated with a pathogen. As the team hunts down the Gig Harbor Killer, they also investigate a fatal shooting at a marijuana store, a chemistry experiment gone wrong, a death at a rehab, a murder in an alley, a murder at a jail, a victim who died twice, and a victim covered in shards of glass. Meanwhile, Brody, Sidle, and Finlay end up in the middle of a shootout at a forensics conference, Russell explores the psychology of killers, and the team reopens an old investigation.

Series Finale

The finale consists of a two-part movie titled “Immortality” in which a casino explosion brings Catherine Willows and Gil Grissom back to Las Vegas to investigate. Many other past and current stars make an appearance as the team attempts to solve the case.

“CSI” FAQs

Both new and returning fans may have a lot of questions about the series. Here, we attempt to answer some of the most popular CSI questions. 

What Does “CSI” Stand For?

“CSI” is an abbreviation for crime scene investigation (or investigator).

Who Made the Theme Songs for “CSI”?

All four “CSI” series use remixes of songs performed by The Who, with the original “CSI” using “Who Are You.” 

What Are the Four Series of “CSI”?

The four series are the original “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” “CSI: Miami,” “CSI: NY,” and “CSI: Cyber.” 

What Happened to Julie “Finn” Finlay on “CSI”?

Finlay is attacked at the end of season 15. During the series finale “Immortality,” D.B. Russell is seen placing a plaque in a box commemorating her, indicating that she never recovered from the attack and ultimately died. 

Why Did Kim Delaney Leave “CSI” Miami”?

Kim Delaney left after just 10 episodes, reportedly due to a lack of chemistry between her and David Caruso. 

When Do New Seasons of “CSI” Usually Start?

All four of the “CSI” series are no longer in production, but old seasons can be viewed as reruns on CBS or various streaming services. The upcoming rebirth of the original, “CSI: Vegas,” is set to premiere on Oct. 6, 2021. 

Get All the Latest Updates on “CSI” From BuddyTV

Check in with BuddyTV for all the news and updates about the upcoming “CSI: Vegas” series. BuddyTV is your leading source for anything and everything about your favorite TV shows.

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