Plenty of comedy has been mined from the fact that network television is now mostly a wasteland of procedurals in which women are gruesomely murdered, but that trend’s origin show is coming to an end. CSI first premiered in 2000, where it quickly became a smash hit for CBS, offering a science-geared alternative to the litany of doctor and lawyer shows that dominated TV at the time. It has since spawned multiple spinoffs, and while CSI: Miami and CSI: NY are long gone, it appears that the mothership show is poised to join them.
The writing has been on the wall for some time as ratings have waned, and current star Ted Danson (side note: Yes, Ted Danson is the star of CSI right now) reached the end of his contract with the 15th season, which aired its finale in April. CBS just launched a new spinoff, the Patricia Arquette-fronted CSI: Cyber, but its ratings have only been so-so.
Per Deadline, CBS is considering a few different options with regards to how to end CSI. One would be to renew the show for a limited final season run, which could be as short as six episodes. The actors (Elizabeth Shue is on this show now too, apparently) are reportedly willing to return for a send-off, but it’s uncertain if CBS will move forward with this idea or simply retroactively consider the Season 15 finale the series finale, with no closure for fans.
Law & Order faced a similar fate a few years ago, as it was gearing up to surpass Gunsmoke as the longest-running drama series in the history of television before NBC shockingly cancelled it a couple months after its season finale. Fans old and current were none-too-pleased, so it’s possible CBS may want to avoid a similar ire and just greenlight a couple episodes to wrap things up.
I haven’t watched CSI for a long, long time, but it’s impossible to deny the series’ impact on the television landscape. It kicked off a trend that is still incredibly strong, and it’s been a key part of CBS’ success all these years. I can’t say I’ll miss it since I have no emotional attachment to the show anymore, but I do think it’s worth acknowledging that the series was groundbreaking for the television landscape–for better or worse.
Whatever happens, expect to hear final word soon as the networks will unveil their fall schedules at the upfronts in the next few weeks.