Laurence Fishburne Leaving ‘CSI’ Before Season 12

Published 4 years ago by , Updated August 13th, 2013 at 10:59 am,

[UPDATE: Find out who is replacing Laurence Fishburne on CSI.]

After two and half seasons on CBS’ procedural staple CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Laurence Fishburne has decided not to return to the flailing series as it begins its twelfth season this fall.

Initially contracted for a single season, Fishburne’s departure does not come as a big surprise, as the famed actor purposefully requested that his contract renewals with CSI be limited to a single season at a time. While this contractual element was most likely implemented for the purpose of allowing Fishburne to pursue other endeavors, it is not known whether another role was the reason for him leaving – but the downfall of the once popular CSI certainly didn’t help.

Ever since series mainstay William Petersen left the series in 2008, CSI has had trouble maintaining the large audience that it once garnered. With CSI season 11 drastically declining in the ratings, CBS made the decision to move the series from its long-time Thursday night timeslot for season 12 and replace it with the upcoming Jonah Nolan series Person of Interest.

No statements have been released from Fishburne or CBS, but Deadline is reporting that a producer on the series wasn’t too surprised to hear the news of Fishburne leaving: “Nobody expected him to be on the show for 7 years, it’s Laurence Fishburne.”

It’s been a long, tough road for CSI in recent years. While the announcement of William Petersen leaving CSI could be referred to as the series’ proverbial tipping point, things only grew more troubling as the series attempted to continue without him. With many of the CSI’s familiar cast making their exit, either freely or by force (death of a character), CSI quickly became a shell of the series that fans once clamored for.

csi cast Laurence Fishburne Leaving CSI Before Season 12

In its current form, only three of the series’ original cast members are still a part of the show – Paul Guifoyle (Captain Jim Brass), Jorja Fox (Sara Sidle) and George Eads (Nick Stokes). While Fishburne’s character on the series, Dr. Raymond Langston, ended last season being accused of murder, it is currently not known if Fishburne will be returning in some form to conclude his character’s story-arc.

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation season 12 will air Wednesdays @10pm on CBS

Follow Anthony on Twitter @anthonyocasio

Source: Deadline

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  1. Laurence Fishburne is a talented actor but he’s not a television actor, if that makes sense. The “downfall” could be contributed to a rather dull two and a half years with his character and the revolving door of cast members. The last season finale ended with an interesting opportunity to explore the progression of who his character would become (as well as Paul Guifoyle’s Capt. Brass) and was the one constant in the evolution of Dr. Ray. Sounds as though we’ll never see how it might have played out, yet I have to wonder if this will afford CBS the opportunity to bring William Petersen back for a final season of the series. (It can’t go on forever, right?)

    • I would add, though, that the relationship between Dr. Ray and Doc Robbins made for some enjoyable moments and their friendship was credible. The same held true of his relationship with Nick.

  2. A move to Wednesdays won’t be that bad, CSI will be right after Criminal Minds which is doing very well, plus CSI: NY did great in the spot for years

    Didn’t like Ray, I don’t mind Fish, but the writers went completley NUTS but making him know EVERYTHING overnight when he came aboard as a new CSI

    And CBS don’t bring in another actor, make George the lead, he’s well earned it and fans can easily embrace him, also put the rest of the cast more front and center, most have been there since day one or came in sometime during season 1, Catherine needs a good exit storyline since Marg wants to leave, Greg is always getting shoved to the side, also show the lab rats more!

    Since CSI will need another CSI bring back: Wendy, Sofia, or Riley

    • Yes ms I agree man geroge eads lead he’s awesome :)

      • I’ve often thought the series might end with him being promoted to lead CSI. (Unless Grissom returns.)

  3. There are FOUR of the series original cast members still on CSI, not three. You left out Marg Helgenberger (Catherine Willows). And actually, you could easily say six, since both Eric Szmanda (Greg Sanders) and Robert David Hall (Dr. Al Robbins) have been with the show since the first season.

    On topic, I was disappointed with the season finale, in particular with how the team handled Ray’s guilt or innocence. The team under Grissom would worked the case better. It was sad to see everyone except Sara going out of their way to prove Ray’s innocence, even when it was obvious that he probably wasn’t innocent.

    • While Marg Helgenberger will be in season 12, she will only appear in select episodes. Also, Greg Sanders and Al Robbins were also only in select episodes in the first two seasons. It was not until the third season that both became part of the main cast.

      • Catherine does seem to have lost her footing. Her character was more interesting when she was playing off of Grissom, Warrick or even Sam Braun. It was almost a marriage of balance with her acting as Grissom’s right hand. She never had that same dynamic with Dr. Ray.

    • I have to agree with the way the plot was handled and how Sara was a bit of an outsider (nothing new) with her perspective. It seemed out of character but it was a bold move to have Brass act in the way he did. Especially since he has the Jersey reputation of having turned in a bunch of crooked cops prior to relocating to Vegas.

  4. Omg finally I never liked his character on the show from the start! Not that I don’t like him at all! He’s a good movie actor and yes Jason I agree with what you said the about the fact that he’s a good actor but not a tv actor! Your right!

    I miss Gil I hope that they bring him back in place of Ray! I love the crew that have been a part of the show since it started! Catherine Willows, Nick Stokes, Greg Sanders, Sara Sidle (even though for a season and half almost 2) but they were also saying that Catherine was leaving this season is that true? Does any one know if she is or not?

  5. Although Greg didn’t become a title cast member until series 3 he is actually credited with 249 episodes which is only 2 less than Nick, Catherine and Jim Brass. I would love to see Nick become the lead and some of the lab rats have been out in the field of late so would be great to see them more!!

  6. we all thought it, im just saying it… bring back grissom, pay the dude more

    • here, here.
      and Melinda Clarke.

      • Here here for Melinda Clarke, She is hot as hell, and does the job for me 😉

        However she is in Nikita now, And if that returns she will be like the head of the government organization that was shown after the take down of Division.

    • You say this as if Peterson was written out of the show but he decided to leave. So it would be his decision to return full time and “paying him more” I don’t think was a factor considering he hasn’t been doing much acting since his departure.

      I would love it if he did decide to return though because he was the backbone of the show and Fishburne really didn’t replace him.

      • grissom grissom grissom. please bring him back whatever it takes.

  7. @chad


    She did not have much of an appearrance this last season, love to see her and Sara interact more, love to see Heather have scenes with the rest of the cast too!!

    • maybe I’m nuts, but why not have Lady Heather run the show?

      might be hard with Melinda working on the Nikita set.

      • c’mon, just to see Heather and Brass questioning someone.

        *p.s. I hate it when I get a good thought after I post something.

  8. I have watched CSI- the original series since the beginning and
    William Peterson was one of the reasons why. Laurence Fishbourne
    got better while playing the role, but could never give the same
    as Peterson, maybe he will return? Not likely right.

  9. It can be a good role for Joe Flanigan

  10. I know WP just wrapped up filming a movie-Detachment, the he’s supposed to do a mini series and possibly another movie with Steve Carrell, so I don’t know about his schedule

    Lady H running the show LOL now there’s something I’d like to see

  11. Good!

  12. Have watched every episode here in the uk, afraid if Marg goes no more watch

  13. I love CSI – I’ve loved it since the first pilot episode I watched all those years ago. Admittedly, I was only ever fanatical about the original CSI and not the spin-offs (New York and Miami). I watched a couple of episodes of CSI New York mainly because of Gary Sinise (a fine actor and director) but I never felt the same “comfort level” from the New York team that Grissom’s team invoked. Then I decided to try CSI Miami which took time to “grow” on me – the stories are great but I needed more time to get to know the team than I needed with the Vegas crew.

    Back to CSI Las Vegas; when Warrick Brown died I was gutted. It took me a whole season to get over it! I just couldn’t believe this character was gone. When I heard rumours about Grissom leaving I remember thinking that I’ll have no reason to watch CSI anymore! But, there are of course so many other great characters that I love to watch – Doc Robbins, Jim Brass, Nick Stokes, Davey Hodges and Bobby the ballistics guy, to name but a few… so naturally I kept watching (and buying the DVDs).

    Then when Dr Langston came on board my interest in the show grew all over again. I thought Langston was a great asset to the show and the role was played very well by Laurence Fishburne. While season 11 ended a little strangely – Jim by-the-book-Brass removing evidence from a crime scene is dangerously out of character – but I think all is not lost. There are many clever ways to write around that, as well as Langston’s apparent guilt, if the show is to remain objective.

    I didn’t see Langston as a replacement for Grissom (who can replace Grissom?!) but I saw him as a definite equal so hopefuly he’ll stay a while – it takes more than two seasons to get settled into a show with so many long-established characters. I think there could be lot more to Doctor Ray if the character were given the chance.

    (Oh yeah, and what ever happened about Squeegel… is he still on the rampage or did I miss an episode?)

    The only way I would fault CSI is its use of repeat-actors (playing different characters) – this has happened a couple of times and it sort of takes away from the authenticity of the show.

    I look forward to Season 12, though it might be a while before it’s available here in Ireland.

  14. This may be one of the last seasons with ratings dropping and what not, so a new character may not be viable as the lead. Likely to be promotion from within with a new character or two taking on smaller roles. I would also love Grissom back, just not the same without him.

  15. una de las virtudes de Grissom era La sed por usar medios para analizar los eventos en el laboratorio, sino tenia los conocimientos los buscaba se informaba…en esta nueva temporada que se reviva esas ganas de siguir aprendiendo y no ser un sabe lo todo…

  16. Isn’t Marg Helgenberger an original cast memeber? I didn’t think the show was that bad… I mean It might also have to do with the fact that there are only so many scenarios in which a person can be killed and investigated. I think there are a billion investigative shows out there, and I still love the original.

  17. I would personally love to see more of Greg Sanders because, I agree, he has been pushed off to the side for far too long. Even better, since it would seem that Sqweegal is returning to the show indefinitely it would be great if Greg was the cenrte of that creep. Greg in danger – haven’t seen that in a while. Give the show some more excitement at last.

    P.S. I also completely agree; someone find William Peterson and beg him to return. That man was LEGEND and nothing can save the show but him!!!

  18. I would personally love to see more of Greg Sanders because, I agree, he has been pushed off to the side for far too long. Even better, since it would seem that Sqweegal is returning to the show indefinitely it would be great if Greg was the cenrte of that creep. Greg in danger – haven’t seen that in a while. Give the show some more excitement at last.

    P.S. I also completely agree; someone find William Peterson and beg him to return. That man was LEGEND and nothing can save the show but him!!!

  19. Whether it’s Petersen or Fishburne (CSI) like all other drama series has ran it’s course we have enjoyed the show to the max.Characters grow out of their roles.We can see that with so many actors leaving shows.So let’s give them a shout for making our weeknights interesting and hope to see them in other series.Thanks (CBS) For such wonderful series you all have brought us!!!!!!!

  20. Thank you (CBS) such shows you all have brought us.

  21. Well, now the 12th season cast has been announced. I don’t know if I will watch. I have been loyal to the show, even during its weaker moments.

    But the stars in the cast are all white now. With Ted Danson in the lead, there is no color. I am a person of color and I am weary of shows, especially those with ensemble casts, that have no representation of all kinds of human beings in starring roles.

    I am so disappointed that it is business as usual in the 21st century–limited diversity. That’s why I watch BONES. Quirky, to be sure. However, it celebrates all kinds of diversity and I love it for that reason, even when the stories get a bit gooey.

    I’ll watch the first one of the new season and decide if it is worth my time.

    • I agree with you. It is sad to see the limited amount of color they had on the show, leave. I don’t understand Hollywood. They still live in a bubble and for some strange reason, can’t see what the real world looks like when it comes to ‘real life’! I have watched CSI since the first season, tried the spin-offs – can’t say I took to them as much as I did the original, but the changes in characters…the killing of Gary Dourdan because of his misfortune…didn’t even allow dude to go to rehab!! LOL! Just wanted to “ditto” your comment. America REALLY is a rainbow…even the white people – they just don’t know it! (If you get a chance, check out the movie “Skin” – came out in 2008)

    • your comment is so stupid! if any show had to show all kind of diversity we would have 1 muslim, 1 fat guy, 1 asian, 1 indian, 1 black, 1 disabled dude, 1 midget in every show which doesntmake any sense……

      • An your comment is asinine, their are hundreds if not thousands of shows, sitcoms, drama that have an ALL WHITE cast in them. Most companies that develop and product this trash for television don’t and won’t consider an African American to play the part. They better wake up, in a few years they will NOT be the majority but the minority. I too agree with Cecile, and I have watched the new episode with Ted Danson, and I can’t get excited about. So I will look forward to watching the season premiere of CSI Miami on Sunday. Hopefully that will help with the lost of losing my FAVORITE show, the Original CSI !

    • Let’s remember that LF left the show. And let’s give TD a chance b4 we stp watchin. Sometimes u have 2 replace ppl with the best man 4 the job. I personally don’t like it when a blk actor/actress is replaced by another. It tends 2 have this “token” feel about it. I love my ppl dearly and would love 2 see more ppl that look like me on TV but….we gotta remember who’s game we’re playin. I’ll miss LF. William, I donno wats going on with u, but CSI needs u bck!

      • First of all I watched CSI from the first season. Your first and most deadly mistake was to change the original cast. You got rid of Jorga Fox then brought her back. William Peterson leaving was a no, no. I saw creative ways to make it work and have him do appearances ever so often but that was not considered. Then to kill off Gary Dourdan was unbelievable. Here’s what you could have done. Let William Peterson leave the team because Jorga became pregnant, but did not want to marry Peterson. Let him come in occasionally showing us his vulnerable side, everyone has one. Bring dourdan out of hiding once his attempted killer was put in jail. That would have given Dourdan time for rehab. In the meantime let Marge Helgenburger start receiving money, cars and not report how she is able to afford the house in the hills. Etc, do you see how you could have began to save the show. It’s too late now, I’ve lost interest, I’ve Moved on.

    • I notice when seem to be void of color but it’s moot now. It’s not like they haven’t had actors of color they have. I won’t penalize them because they replaced LF with TD. They replaced William P. with L.Fishburn. It’s too tit for tat. I like them replacing good actor for good actor. Ted D. was good on Damages I think he might be good. I am still vested in this show been watching it for at least 8 years. Cried when Gary was killed, was sad when William Peterson character left. Still love the remaining characters.Tired of boring reality tv, i want CSi back with good writers, interesting stories and good actors.

  22. Not sure if anyone else mentioned this already, but Marg Helgenberger is also an original cast member meaning there are still 4 original characters on the show.

    • You are almost right but there are only three original cast members. Jorja Fox did not join until episode two. Brass, Stokes, and Willows are the only cast members from Day One.

  23. Just realizing this. THIS IS THE BEST CSI SHOW ON TELEVISION! I hate how the smartest of t.v., is getting the least ratings . . . talking about dumbing-down America.

    Anyway . . . will miss Laurence – miss William Peterson – but the talent on this show is REALLY GOOD.

    I think this is a mistake for Laurence . . . it gave him great exposure and an interesting character, and some much needed diversity on prime t.v., but . . . whatever.


  24. they should def. have a person of color among the cast! i don’t think i will be tuning in, it’s really not holding my attention as it once did anyway, i prefer CSI: Miami, at least they do have latinos, and an african american as part of the main cast!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Pleaase it is CSI:I’m no fan of Ted but he’s ok but he can never be LF and I dont like it but I will be watching it I love my CSI’s all of them and so from now on I will be watching even if they make bone head moves I love’em and I will be in front of my TV.

  25. Quit looking for things to cry about “people of color”, Waaaahhh wahhhh waaahhhh. We have a person of color running this country into the ground right now, and 80 percent of the country isnt very happy with him. How many of that 80 percent you think are “people of color”? We have enough problems right now without crybabies like you wining about exposing their skin color to the public. GROW UP!

    • I’m glad 2 know that there r ppl like u still around 2 keep ppl like me on my toes. U really showed ur “color”

    • Mike, this shouldn’t have been a rant about Obama -yes his numbers are down but they were down when he was running for president and Bush is the president that ran the country into the ground and that topic could go on forever. Stop with the knee jerk reactions to every situation – NOW back to CSI. The actors are great and there used to be great chemistry but let’s not forget this is a great show because they used to tell such great stories. The writing changed within the last few years but I have not given up on this show. Sure I notice when seem to be void of color but it’s moot now. It’s not like they haven’t had actors of color they have. I won’t penalize them because they replaced LF with TD. They replaced William P. with L.Fishburn. It’s too tit for tat. I like them replacing good actor for good actor. Ted D. was good on Damages I think he might be good. I am still vested in this show been watching it for at least 8 years. Cried when Gary was killed, was sad when William Peterson character left. Still love the remaining characters.Tired of boring reality tv, i want CSi back with good writers, interesting stories and good actors.

      • Lee, I am always excited about a new season. There is way too much “reality” tv as you said. The core cast is great, the writing may need improving as stated but I still love the show. It’s always been a favorite. I love when William Peterson guest stars. I wish he would come back. Even if it was only for a couple of shows. Maybe a 2-3 episode plot line. Here’s hoping with fingers crossed for a great season!

  26. I was going to also mention that Marg Helgenberger was also an original cast member. How could you forget her?! I too am a diehard CSI fan. Loved it from the beginning. Some seasons, not as much as others. I was a little leery when LF joined but it turned out great. I seriously don’t know about Ted Danson though. I’ll admit I have him categorized as a comedian in my mind and can’t truly see him doing this kind of drama. As far as the colors of the cast, what I focus on is the science and the interpersonal relationships and background stories. I guess we’ll see what happens. Here’s hoping for a wonderful surprise.

    • Lori,
      I noticed that too that they left out Marg H, she was a cast original. I am also a diehard diehard fan, so is my mom. The last few seasons were just ok for me. CSI used to belong to THursday but I think besides the actors changed i think the writing changed drastically. Ted D. was on a season of Damages with Glenn Close and he was great.I cannot wait for the new season and they better bring us a good show.

      • Well Lori, they didn’t! The show was terrible. The show writers have completely lost the uniqueness of the CSI story line. To much cockamamie stuff being injected since William P. left. It’s better that it ends and leave we the die hards with the illusion of what once was.

        • I have my DVR set to record so I haven’t watched it yet. It’s so sad to see the bad reviews coming in. I’ll probably be watching it tonight. At least I can fast forward through the commercials.. and the show if it’s that bad!

  27. It is nice when there is a “rainbow” cast, but that is not necessary if the show is a good show. An all Black or all White cast or mixed cast will be equally appreciated if the plot line is worth watching. CSI not only lost William Peterson, they also lost their writing focus. There are A LOT OF CHARACTERs on CSI now and it is hard to keep track of all the subplots that add nothing to the show. CSI basically had five main characters and an occasional appearance by a lab, law enforcement, or incidental character. Now there are a whole slew of people and I believe that viewers are tired of trying to keep up with all the cast members. William Peterson was, and Lawrence Fishburne should have been, the focal character of the show. The remaining characters were much needed supporting roles. That is the way it was when LF came on the show. But things changed really quickly. Now there are nearly twelve frequent characters on the show and that number of people screw up the focus of the plot. Perhaps someone was trying to appeal to the iGeneration, well it didn’t work. So yes CSI is dying, maybe because managing parties forgot that Sidle (Fox) is married to Grissom (Peterson) does she ever go home to the man she left in the jungle? Suggestion to save this show, the writers, producers, diretors, etc, must reduce the cast to a more managable size; say like five main characters. One supervisor, Grissom type, and two-two member CSI field investigation teams. And of course the occassional lab, cop and incidental characters. Concentrate on the story and not expanding the cast list.

  28. Great comeback to Lee@Mike and Insightful & Informative comment to Just Me. I highly agree with both of you!

  29. @justme I agree with your comments. None of us are the writers but clearly as arm chair writers we could all come up with some better plots than last season.
    Pr1nc3$$ 2 hours ago
    Great comeback to Lee@Mike and Insightful & Informative comment to Just Me. I highly agree with both of you! —

    Not sure what you are talking about. I missed the great come back, am looking don’t see it.
    All I was simply saying is politics didn’t belong in this blog. I truly think that LF while a great actor didn’t get to show his best work on this show. He was limited by the writing and his character. The writers could’ve done more. I still have high hopes for this show, been my favorite for years. TD was very good in Damages with Glenn Close so I think he could be great for this show.