[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.

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

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Source: Deadline