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CSI franchise
Creator Anthony E. Zuiker
Original work CSI
Print publications
Novels Novels
Comics Comics series
Films and television
Films A feature film is in the works for the original CSI.[1]
Television series CSI
CSI: Miami
CSI: Trilogy
Video games CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
CSI: Dark Motives
CSI: 3 Dimensions of Murder
CSI: Hard Evidence
CSI: Miami
Exhibition CSI: The Experience
Partwork CSI Magazine
Toys CSI: Forensics Lab
CSI: DNA Laboratory
CSI: Forensic Facial

CSI is a media franchise of American television programs created by Anthony E. Zuiker and originally broadcast on CBS, all of which deal with forensic scientists as they unveil the circumstances behind mysterious and unusual deaths and crimes committed. So far 540 episodes of the CSI franchise have aired.



As the shows are shown in 200 countries with an audience of 2 billion people,[2] 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%.[3] 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. "People were rushing to us for their comfort food. There was a sense of justice in CSI – 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."[2]

However the "CSI effect" has a negative side, as criminals are frequently covering up evidence that could be used to trace them.[4]


There are now three series, the second and third launched with a crossover/pilot episode.


CSI universe

The following shows exist within the CSI universe:


Crossovers are possible between CSI series, as well as with other programs within the same creative stable.

Between series

The baton is passed to the new CSI series via a crossover/pilot and cases have overlapped and personnel have been shared. Such episodes include:

  • "Cross Jurisdictions", an episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and the pilot of CSI: Miami.
  • "MIA/NYC NonStop", an episode of CSI: Miami and the pilot of CSI: NY.
  • A two-part story started in CSI: Miami ("Felony Flight", aired November 7, 2005) and concluded in CSI: NY ("Manhattan Manhunt", aired November 9, 2005).
  • The CSI Crossover Trilogy linked all three CSI shows for the very first time in a three part story. The seventh episodes of the 2009-2010 season had continuing stories with Laurence Fishburne as Dr. Raymond Langston in all three. The episodes were the CSI: Miami episode "Bone Voyage" broadcast on November 9, the CSI: NY episode "Hammer Down" broadcast on November 11 and the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation episode "The Lost Girls" broadcast on November 12.
Other shows

There are a family of police procedural programs on CBS (some produced by Jerry Bruckheimer) which could be crossed over with CSI or set in the same fictional universe. Currently the crossovers include:

  • Without a Trace and CSI (both are also produced by Jerry Bruckheimer) had a crossover episode, "Who and What", airing on November 9, 2007. The first hour used CSI's timeslot and the second part, "Where and Why", aired during Without a Trace.

CSI and Two and a Half Men exchanged writers. In the first episode, "Fish in a Drawer," featured a forensic investigation into a murder on Two and a Half Men and the CSI episode, "Two and a Half Deaths", featured the murder of a sitcom star. Writers from each show worked on the episode of the other show.[6]

Title songs

The title songs for all three series are performed by The Who:

Crime labs

  • The Las Vegas Lab has a very dark feel to it, and although the sets have changed, the lab is virtually the same as CSI's pilot episode. It is headed up by CSI Supervisor Catherine Willows with help from Nick Stokes; Gil Grissom was the previous head. The director of the crime lab is Undersheriff Conrad Ecklie; as of halfway through season 9, the lab reports directly to the Sheriff's office. The series covers the night shift of the Las Vegas lab.
  • The Miami-Dade crime lab is the most modern of them all, with slanted walls and state of the art technology. The CSI: Miami crime lab originally resembled the Las Vegas crime lab, but its technology and style has always surpassed the others. The lab was redesigned after it was rewarded with a federal grant at the beginning of the fourth season to what it is today. The crime lab is located in a two story Miami-Dade Police Department, which is located near downtown Miami. The lab is headed up by Senior MDPD Lieutenant/CSI Supervisor Horatio Caine, along with Assistant CSI Supervisor Calleigh Duquesne. The series covers the day shift of the Miami-Dade crime lab.
  • CSI: NY is the only show to have had two labs, the first an old building in which rustic brick contrasts against new, flat paneled walls and top of the range lab equipment. The second lab is a 35th floor office building, with glass walls and state of the art equipment. The second lab was blown up in the season 3 finale, Snow Day, but has since been restored. Both labs are run by CSI Supervisor: Detectives Mac Taylor, with Assistant CSI Supervisor: Detective Stella Bonasera. The series covers the day and night shifts of the New York lab.

Series Overviews

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.

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation

Season Timeslot (EDT) Season Premiere Season Finale TV Season Rank Viewers
(in millions)
1 Friday 9:00 pm/8c (from October 6, 2000 – January 12, 2001)
Thursday 9:00 pm/8c (from February 1, 2001)
October 6, 2000 (2000-10-06) May 17, 2001 (2001-05-17) 2000–2001 #10 17.80[7]
2 Thursday 9:00 pm/8c September 27, 2001 (2001-09-27) May 16, 2002 (2002-05-16) 2001–2002 #2 23.69[8]
3 Thursday 9:00 pm/8c September 26, 2002 (2002-09-26) May 15, 2003 2002–2003 #1 26.20[9]
4 Thursday 9:00 pm/8c September 25, 2003 (2003-09-25) May 20, 2004 2003–2004 #1 25.27[10]
5 Thursday 9:00 pm/8c September 23, 2004 (2004-09-23) May 19, 2005 2004–2005 #2 26.26[11]
6 Thursday 9:00 pm/8c September 22, 2005 (2005-09-22) May 18, 2006 2005–2006 #3 24.86[12]
7 Thursday 9:00 pm/8c September 21, 2006 (2006-09-21) May 17, 2007 2006–2007 #5 20.00[13]
8 Thursday 9:00 pm/8c September 27, 2007 (2007-09-27) May 15, 2008 2007–2008 #9 16.62[14]
9 Thursday 9:00 pm/8c October 9, 2008 (2008-10-09) May 14, 2009 2008–2009 #4 19.03[15]
10 Thursday 9:00 pm/8c September 24, 2009 (2009-09-24) Spring 2010 2009–2010 #7 15.74 (to date)

CSI: Miami

Season Episodes Timeslot (ET) Original Airing Rank Viewers
(in millions)
Season Premiere Season Finale TV Season
1st 24 Monday 10:00pm/9c September 23, 2002 May 19, 2003 2002–2003 #12 16.57[16]
2nd 24 Monday 10:00pm/9c September 22, 2003 May 24, 2004 2003–2004 #9 18.06[17]
3rd 24 Monday 10:00pm/9c September 20, 2004 May 23, 2005 2004–2005 #7 19.00[18]
4th 25 Monday 10:00pm/9c September 19, 2005 May 22, 2006 2005–2006 #9 18.12[19]
5th 24 Monday 10:00pm/9c September 18, 2006 May 14, 2007 2006–2007 #10 17.10[20]
6th 21 Monday 10:00pm/9c September 24, 2007 May 19, 2008 2007–2008 #12 16.45[21]
7th 25 Monday 10:00pm/9c September 22, 2008 May 18, 2009 2008–2009 #13 14.22[22]
8th 24 Monday 10:00pm/9c September 21, 2009 May, 2010 2009–2010 #20 13.63 (to date)


Season Season Premiere Season Finale TV Season Rank Viewers
(in millions)
18–49 Rating/Share
1 September 22, 2004 May 18, 2005 2004–2005 #21 13.6 13/13 (#23)
2 September 28, 2005 May 17, 2006 2005–2006 #22 14.2 12/12 (#23)
3 September 20, 2006 May 16, 2007 2006–2007 #28 13.9 11/11 (#25)
4 September 26, 2007 May 21, 2008 2007–2008 #23 12.6 TBA
5 September 24, 2008 May 14, 2009 2008–2009 #16 13.03[23] TBA
6 September 23, 2009 Spring 2010 2009–2010 #18 13.31(to date) (TBA)



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


The CSI franchise has spawned a number of computer games, with four based around the Las Vegas team and a fifth set in Miami.

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 based on both the original CSI series and CSI: Miami have seen release, all published by Canadian game manufacturer Specialty Board Games, Inc.


The website mentioned in the episode "Bloodline", Series 5 episode 9, is a "secret" website containing extra footage from the show.


Chicago’s Museum of Science & Industry opened an exhibit in CSI's honor on May 25, 2007 called: "CSI: The Experience".[24] There is also a game on the website where you are trained in forensic biology, weapons and tool mark analyses, toxicology and the autopsy.


Titan Magazines publishes CSI Magazine (which started in mid-November, 2007). It contains a mix of features and interviews looking into the world of CSI and the people who help create it.[25] It is currently available in the UK[26] and US.[27]


Various novelizations have appeared based on the series. Authors include Max Allan Collins (CSI), Donn Cortez (CSI: Miami) and Stuart M. Kaminsky (CSI: NY).


A CSI partwork, CSI: The DVD Collection,[28] was produced by Ge Fabbri[29], which was a fortnightly serialization of the series on DVD with an accompanying magazine which looked at the cast, characters, episodes featured on the DVD and general forensic techniques.


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, have released a statement specifically aimed at the toys:[30]

In an e-mail to supporters on Tuesday, PTC said this kind of content is 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 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." Urging its members to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, PTC said CBS parent company Viacom needs to hear from parents who are concerned about the "graphic scenes of blood, violence, and sex" in their product. They are also asking their supporters to contact Target and Toys 'R' Us.

Amusement park attraction

"CSI: Live" has been performed at Six Flags Magic Mountain near Los Angeles, with investigators trying to determine who committed a murder at a magic show, with audience members considered suspects. The show will be performed this year at Freestyle Music Park in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.[31]


Because of the popularity of the CSI franchise in the United Kingdom, Five 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 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 ITV 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.


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b CSI: The cop show that conquered the world The Independent, April 22, 2007
  3. ^ Want a career in forensics? Here's some hard evidence, The Guardian, March 29, 2007
  4. ^
  5. ^ "CSI: NY" Cold Reveal (2007)
  6. ^ ""Two & A Half Men" & "CSI" Make TV History". Show Writers Teamed Up, Swapped Scripts To Create Crossover Episodes (Showbuzz). 2008-04-05. Retrieved 2008-04-31. 
  7. ^ "CBS Wins Season". E!Online. 2001-05-25. Archived from the original on 2004-12-10. 
  8. ^ "CSI Replaces ER As Season Champ". IMDB. amazon. Retrieved 2006-09-16. 
  9. ^ Joal Ryan. "TV Season Wraps; 'CSI' Rules". E! Online. Retrieved 2006-09-16. 
  10. ^ "Viewership numbers of primetime programs during the 2003-04 television season". Archived from the original on 2007-02-08.  Retrieved on 2007-11-06.
  11. ^ "Viewership numbers of primetime programs during the 2004-05 television season". Archived from the original on 2007-03-10.  Retrieved on 2007-11-06.
  12. ^ "Viewership numbers of primetime programs during the 2005-06 television season". Archived from the original on 2007-03-10.  Retrieved on 2007-11-06.
  13. ^ "2006–07 Primetime Wrap". The Hollywood Reporter. 2007-05-25. Retrieved 2008-06-30. 
  14. ^ "Season Program Rankings from 09/24/07 through 05/25/08". ABC Medianet. May 28, 2008. Retrieved 2009-07-03. 
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ [1] The Hollywood Reporter
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ "CSI Stars Spend a Night at the Museum". Retrieved 2007-05-24. 
  25. ^ The Official 'CSI' Magazine Hits Newsstands, CSI Files, October 30, 2007.
  26. ^ CSI Magazine (UK)
  27. ^ CSI Magazine (UK)
  28. ^ CSI: The DVD Collection main page
  29. ^ GE Fabbri page on CSI: The DVD Collection
  30. ^ "Pro-Family Group Outraged Over CSI "Toy"". Men's News Daily. Retrieved 2006-10-14. 
  31. ^ Cherney, Mike (May 15, 2009). "Freestyle Music Park Unveils Last 2 Shows". The Sun News. Retrieved 2009-05-15. 

Further reading

As well as fictional books based on the franchise there have also been a number of guides published:

  • "CSI" Companion (by Mike Flaherty and Corinne Marrinan, 302 pages, Pocket Books, September 2004, ISBN 0743467418)
  • Ultimate "CSI": Crime Scene Investigation (by Corinne Marrinan and Steve Parker, 144 pages, Dorling Kindersley, October 2006, ISBN 1405316721)
  • Investigating "CSI" (by Donn Cortez, 240 pages, Smart Pop series, BenBella Books, December 2006, ISBN 1932100938)
  • Reading "CSI": Television Under the Microscope (by Allen Michael, 304 pages, I.B. Tauris, June 2007, ISBN 1845114280)
  • CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (by Steven Cohan, BFI TV Classics, 144 pages, BFI Publishing, November 2008, ISBN 1844572552)


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