It's Official: 'CSI' to End Run With TV Movie

CSI S15 Finale Still - S 2015
Robert Voets/CBS

CSI S15 Finale Still - S 2015

It's official: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation has been canceled.

CBS on Wednesday confirmed that the flagship series in its billion-dollar franchise will conclude its run after 15 seasons with a two-hour TV movie. William Petersen, the drama's original leading man, will return and reprise his nine-season, Emmy and Golden Globe-nominated role as Gil Grissom along with Marg Helgenberger. The movie will air Sept. 27. Meanwhile, CSI star Ted Danson will segue to CSI: Cyber as a series regular.

"It's easy to forget this was one of the strongest, longest-running dramas in TV history and really important to the network," CBS scheduling head Kelly Kahl told reporters, noting that the series was one of the shows that helped the network reverse its fortunes. "I'm really happy we can send it off in the right way." 

The TV movie was one of two prevailing CSI wrap-up plans that surfaced heading into the upfronts, with a short-order episodic run also briefly on the table.

In its 15th season, CSI was moved from Wednesday to Sunday, where it saw its ratings tumble double-digits year-over-year. The CBS Television Studios drama, which last season saw co-showrunner Carol Mendelsohn exit, lost its crown as the most-watched TV show in the world last year after network and studio sibling NCIS took up that mantle. (CSI ranked as the most-watched drama series in the world five times.)

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In a perhaps telling sign of its future, CBS reduced CSI's episode count from 22 episodes to 18 to make way for midseason fare including CSI: Cyber, its third spinoff series. It marked the first time the flagship series — a massive revenue earner for the studio — produced less than a full season. The decision to conclude the flagship series leaves only Patricia Arquette starrer CSI: Cyber as the franchise's lone remainder.

While season 15 ended with little fanfare — and with a cliffhanger as Elisabeth Shue's Julie appeared to be coming out of a coma — creator Anthony Zuiker told THR that he wouldn't be satisfied if season 15 were it. "I think CSI should go as long as it wants to go. I feel like we have such amazing talent with [stars] Ted Danson and Elisabeth Shue that it hopefully goes for a long, long time."

CSI has seen its fair share of cast departures over the years. George Eads exited at the end of season 15, while leading man Danson has already signed on to co-star in season two of FX anthology Fargo. His commitment to Fargo comes as his contract with CSI has expired, meaning Danson would need a new deal to return.

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The flagship series had outlived two of its three spinoffs, CSI: Miami and CSI: NY, with the former twice ranking as the most popular drama in the world. By concluding with a movie, CBS will give CSI a proper send-off — which was not the case with CSI: Miami and CSI: NY or NBC's Law & Order.

The news to wrap up CSI comes as CBS has successfully launched two other procedural franchises. Last season, the network added a third show in the NCIS family as NCIS: New Orleans joining NCIS: Los Angeles, with all three returning next season. Meanwhile, CBS last week officially greenlit the third spinoff in the Criminal Minds family as Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders joins the flagship series after 2011's Suspect Behavior was canceled after one 13-episode season.

Keep up with what's new, renewed and canceled with THR's handy Scorecard.

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