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CSI (franchise)

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CSI novels

CSI Magazine

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CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Anthony E. Zuiker CSI: Miami, CSI: NY and CSI: Cyber Anthony E. Zuiker Carol Mendelsohn Ann Donahue

Original work
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation

Television series
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation CSI: Miami CSI: NY CSI: Cyber

CSI is a media franchise of American television programs created by Anthony E. Zuiker. The first three CSI series follow the work of forensic scientists as they unveil the circumstances behind mysterious deaths, while the fourth series, CSI: Cyber, emphasizes behavioral psychology and how it can be applied to cyber forensics.


CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, began on October 6, 2000, and ran for fifteen full seasons. Starring William Petersen, Ted Danson, Marg Helgenberger, Elisabeth Shue, and Laurence Fishburne, the series concluded its run with a two-hour finale entitled Immortality on September 27, 2015. The series original lead characters, Gil Grissom and Catherine Willows, were based upon LVMPD Crime Scene Analysts Daniel Holstein and Yolanda McClary. CSI's first spin-off and the second series within the franchise is CSI: Miami, which ran for ten seasons between 2002 and 2012 and was canceled on May 13, 2012. Miami stars David Caruso, Kim Delaney, and Emily Procter, with its lead character, Horatio Caine, based upon LAPD bomb squad technician Detective John Haynes.

In 2004, CSI: Miami spun off CSI: NY, the third series in the franchise and the only indirect spin-off of CSI. It was canceled after nine seasons on May 10, 2013. The series starred Gary Sinise, Melina Kanakaredes, and Sela Ward. In 2014, CSI spun off CSI: Cyber, its second direct spin-off and the fourth series in the franchise. Cyber premiered in 2015, and starred Patricia Arquette and franchise alum Ted Danson – the only actor to appear as a series regular in more than one CSI series. The lead character, Avery Ryan, was inspired by cyber-psychologist Mary Aiken who is attached to the series as a producer. The final active series, CSI: Cyber, was canceled on May 12, 2016.

A total of 797 episodes of the CSI franchise have aired.


The CSI franchise is available in 200 territories with an audience of two billion people. Various spin-offs have been developed to cater for the market including novels, comic books, and computer games.

The franchise has had a large cultural impact. It has spawned what has been called the "CSI effect," in which juries often have unreasonable expectations of real-life forensics because of what they have seen on CSI. Equally, the new-found popularity of forensics dramas on television has led to an increase in applications for courses dealing with forensic science or archaeological science—in the United Kingdom applications are up by 30%. The franchise is so influential that fellow CBS show How I Met Your Mother advertised itself as "not a Crime Scene Investigation show". In some ways the franchise may also fill a cultural need:

"We started in 2000 and it was a success, but our ratings really shot up after the September 11 attacks," Zuiker says in a documentary about the CSI phenomenon to be aired at Christmas [2007]. "People were rushing to us for their comfort food. There was a sense of justice in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation – it helped to know that there were people like our characters out there helping to solve crimes. And, of course, 9/11 was the world's largest crime scene."

However, the "CSI effect" also has a negative side, as criminals are frequently covering up evidence that could be used to trace them using techniques learned by watching CSI and other shows in the same genre.


CSI:Miami and CSI:Cyber spun off from CSI, and CSI:NY spun off from CSI:Miami, all via backdoor-pilot episodes.

Las Vegas

The Las Vegas team are scientists foremost and follow the evidence.

The crimes the Las Vegas CSI team face (other than the standard murder and rape) include casino robberies, bodies buried in the Nevada desert, and murders during different conventions at casinos.

Crime lab
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Crime Lab is a modern crime lab and shares a lot (but not a building) with the LVPD Police Department. It reports to the sheriff's office. In early episodes of season one the lab is frequently referred to as the number-two crime lab in the United States, solving cases believed unsolvable. The lab consists of specialist laboratories, a Supervisor's office, an Assistant Supervisor's office, a locker room, a break-room, and stairs leading to a second floor, believed to house the offices of the Day-shift and Swing-shift supervisors.

  • Directors: D.B. Russell (12.01–16.02), Sara Sidle (16.02)
  • Supervisors: Jim Brass (1.01), Gil Grissom (1.02–9.10), Sofia Curtis (5.07–5.08), Catherine Willows (5.09–5.25, 9.11–11.22), D.B. Russell (12.01–16.02)
  • Assistant Supervisors: Gil Grissom (1.01), Catherine Willows (1.02–5.08, 6.01–9.10, 12.01–12.12), Sofia Curtis (5.09–5.25), Nick Stokes (10.01–11.22), Julie Finlay (12.14–15.18)
  • Miami

    The Miami team are detectives foremost and mainly use theories to solve crimes.

    The crimes the Miami CSI team face (other than the standard murder and rape) include drug running, murdered Cuban refugees, bodies found washed up on the beach and dumped in the everglades and murders involving the rich and famous who have secrets to hide.

    Crime lab
    First stationed out of a broom-closet next to the MDPD's bull-pen, CSI Miami was eventually given its own building prior to the start of the first season. Originally dark and technical the building housed Horatio's office, Megan's office, specialist labs, and a locker room. During the fourth season a government grant meant that slanted glass walls, multiple modern labs, an interrogation room, and a new locker room were all constructed. Horatio's office has not been seen since the lab's reconstruction although a state-of-the-art ballistics suite was added, acting as Calleigh's office. The lab has reinforced windows and shutters to protect against hurricanes and tsunamis.

  • Director & Supervisor: Horatio Caine (Backdoor pilot–10.19)
  • Assistant Supervisors: Megan Donner (1.01–1.10), Calleigh Duquesne (1.11–10.19)
  • New York

    The New York team are equally scientists and detectives and frequently use criminal profiling (as well as evidence and theories) to solve cases.

    The crimes the New York CSI team face (other than the standard murder and rape) include mob activity, gang violence, and ethnic, cultural, and ability differences.

    Crime lab
    During the first season the NYPD CSI lab was in an old underground building with rustic brick walls. The lab housed Mac's office, a locker room, the autopsy suite, and specialist forensic laboratories. As of the second season the lab is on the 35th floor of a high-rise building in Manhattan. Equipped with glass walls and state-of-the-art equipment this lab consists of Mac's office, specialist laboratories, an observation walkway, a break-room and kitchen, a locker room, an office belonging to the Assistant Supervisor and Lindsay, and an office belonging to Danny and Hawkes. Part of this second lab was blown up in the season three finale, "Snow Day", but was restored by the beginning of season four.

  • Director & Supervisor: Mac Taylor (Backdoor pilot–9.17)
  • Assistant Supervisors: Stella Bonasera (Backdoor pilot–6.23), Jo Danville (7.01–9.17)
  • Washington, D.C.

    The Cyber team focuses on the technical aspect of crimes, with NextGen forensics providing it with a real-world crime scene investigative counterpart.

    The FBI Cyber Crime Division investigates cyber-based terrorism, internet-related murders, espionage, computer intrusions, major cyber-fraud, cyber-theft, hacking, sex offenses, blackmail, and any other crime deemed to be cyber-related within the FBI's jurisdiction.

    — Cyber Crime Division
    The FBI Cyber Crime Division operates out of Washington, D.C. and is housed in the Cyber Threat Operations Center. The CTOC consists of Ryan's office, Russell's office, a communications bullpen housing the desks of Krumitz, Nelson, and Ramirez, a cyber lab, a glass walkway, and a 'tear-down room'. Due to their nomadic nature the team are often seen interviewing suspects at various FBI field offices and police departments.

  • Directors: Director Marcus Silver, Asst. Deputy Director Simon Sifter (1.01–1.13), Deputy Director Colin Vickner (1.01–2.04), Deputy Director Avery Ryan (2.06–2.18)
  • Special Agent in Charge: Avery Ryan (Backdoor pilot–2.05)
  • — Next Generation Cyber Forensics Division
    The Next Generation Cyber Forensics Division is a lab-based facility within the Cyber Crime Division used for the processing of evidence in cyber-related cases.

  • Director: D.B. Russell (2.01–2.18)
  • Theme songs

    The opening themes for all four series are remixes of songs performed by The Who.


    Crossovers are possible between CSI series as well as with other programs within the same creative stable. Between the series the baton is passed to the new CSI series via a crossover/pilot where cases are overlapped and personnel are shared. Many actors have appeared in two of the series. Four actors have appeared in three: David Caruso, Laurence Fishburne, and Gary Sinise all appeared in CSI, CSI: Miami, and CSI: NY, while Ted Danson appeared as a guest star on CSI: NY and a series regular on both CSI and CSI: Cyber, making him the first actor to be a main character in more than one CSI series. Crossovers have also, on occasion, taken place between a CSI series and a series outside the franchise.

    UK TV movies

    In the UK, Channel 5 edited together related episodes to make one whole feature. These include:

    Also Channel 5 will sometimes group episodes with similar themes together such as psychopaths ("CSI: Psycho Season"), home invasion murders and cop killings ("CSI: Cops in Crisis"), domestic murders between couples ("CSI: Murder and Matrimony"), and even episodes with guest celebrities ("CSI: Celeb").


    There have been a number of comic books based on all three series published by IDW Publishing. Writers include Jeff Mariotte and Max Allan Collins.


    The CSI franchise has spawned 11 computer games published by Ubisoft across the three shows.

    Gameloft has also published a series of mobile games based on the CSI series including CSI: The Mobile Game (Vegas) and CSI: Miami.

    In addition, several board games and puzzles based on all three series have seen release, all published by Canadian game manufacturer Specialty Board Games, Inc. In 2011, the CSI Board Game was released by another Canadian company, GDC–GameDevCo Ltd. It is the first game to include all three CSI shows.

    A pinball game machine called CSI: Crime Scene Investigation was released in 2008.


    Chicago's Museum of Science & Industry opened an exhibit in CSI's honor on May 25, 2007 called: "CSI: The Experience". In October 2011 it was at Discovery Times Square in New York City. There is also a game on the website where you are trained in forensic biology, weapons and tool mark analyses, toxicology and the autopsy.


    Various novelizations have appeared based on the series. Authors include Max Allan Collins (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation), Donn Cortez (CSI: Miami), Stuart M. Kaminsky (CSI: NY), and Keith R.A. DeCandido (CSI: NY).


    Titan Magazines published 11 issues of CSI Magazine starting in November 2007. They contained a mixture of features and interviews looking into the world of the three CSIs and the people who help create it. They were available in the UK and US.


    A range of toys have been developed. These include:

  • "CSI: Forensics Lab"
  • "CSI: DNA Laboratory"
  • "CSI: Forensic Facial"
  • However, they have been the source of some controversy. The Parents Television Council, who have complained about CSI in general, in 2004 released a statement specifically aimed at the toys. The PTC e-mailed letters to their supporters, telling them the content of the games were entirely inappropriate for children to be exposed to "because the CSI franchise often displays graphic images, including close-ups of corpses with gunshot wounds and other bloody injuries." The letter went on to say "The PTC doesn't think the recreation of blood, guts and gore should be under a child's Christmas tree this year," PTC concluded. "This so-called 'toy' is a blatant attempt to market CSI and its adult-oriented content directly to children."

    In urging members to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, PTC said CBS parent company Viacom needed to hear from parents who are concerned about the "graphic scenes of blood, violence, and sex" in their product. They also asked their supporters to contact Target and Toys "R" Us.

    World record

    Producers announced intentions to break the Guinness World Record for largest ever TV simulcast drama on March 4, 2015, with the episode "Kitty" airing in 150 countries in addition to digital streaming. They succeeded in breaking the record by airing CSI: Cyber's backdoor pilot in 171 countries.


    Because of the popularity of the CSI franchise in the United Kingdom, Channel 5 created two documentaries about CSI. The first one called The Real CSI follows real crime scene investigators as they work on crime scene. The second documentary, True CSI, features true tales of how forensic science has helped solve some of the world's best known crimes. True CSI had actors re-enacting the crime as well as interviews with people involved in the solving of the crimes themselves. Cases featured included the Sam Sheppard case.

    In early 2007, British channel ITV1 broadcast a special of its flagship documentary Tonight with Trevor McDonald discussing the ramifications of the "CSI effect", highlighting the effect not only of the franchise but of several other British and American TV police procedurals.

    The popularity of the series has also spawned forensic based reality television/documentary programs, including A&E's The First 48 and truTV's North Mission Road.

    In April 2012, PBS' Frontline aired a documentary called "The Real CSI" investigating the limitations of the CSI techniques in forensic science.


    CSI (franchise) Wikipedia

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