Exclusive

CSI Shocker: Laurence Fishburne Out!

After two-and-a-half seasons, Laurence Fishburne is leaving CSI.

The Oscar-nominated actor’s contract with the show was up and he opted not to renew it, confirms a source. He’s expected to return to features full-time.

It was a major coup for CBS to land Fishburne as a successor to original star William Petersen, who left the series in December 2008.

For more details on this story, head over to TVLine’s sister site Deadline.com.

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91 Comments
  1. D says:

    THANK YOU!!! THANK YOU!!!
    I can start watching CSI again!!!

    • Slappy san says:

      You didn’t watch an ensemble because of one guy? What did Fish ever do to you?

      • D says:

        The show has more characters and they were always focusing on him forgeting about the rest of them! I watched till the end of the 10th season and I didn’t like the way it ended, so I didn’t watch the 11th season!
        Any problems? Why can’t I dislike someone? I love the original cast Grissom, Catherine, Warrick, Nick, Sara. I miss the original cast.

      • Eurydice says:

        I think the problem was that it wasn’t as much an ensemble anymore, and there seemed to be so much focus on Ray’s emotional issues. Of course, all of the characters have had scene-chewing story lines, but they’ve been earned and spread out over the life of the series. Ray seemed to have 10 years worth of emo in just this past season.

        • Taylor Geary says:

          Seriously? You’re arguing about one of the worst scripted shows on television! I doesn’t matter who’s on the screen, everyone just watches it for the murders.

          • Eurydice says:

            Seriously, I’m not arguing about anything. And I think you’ve got it backwards. When a script sucks, it’s the popularity of the characters that can pull it through. If people watched CSI only for the murders, they wouldn’t be watching it anymore.

          • CM says:

            Top 10 shows in terms of total viewers for this season:

            1.American Idol Performance Show: 25.864 million
            2.American Idol Results Show: 23.798 million
            3.Dancing with the Stars Performance Show: 21.927 million
            4.NBC Sunday Night Football: 21.025 million
            5.NCIS: 19.377 million
            6.Dancing with the Stars Results Show: 18.612 million
            7.NCIS: Los Angeles: 16.467 million
            8.The Mentalist: 15.328 million
            9.Criminal Minds: 14.026 million
            10.CSI: 13.626 million

            CSI is the 5th most watched scripted show! SEE? Go back to your cave!

          • Bruce_F says:

            @CM

            Don’t make the all-too-common mistake of confusing popularity with quality. Cable TV’s most watched program is Jersey Shore. Should we give the show a Peabody award?

          • jared says:

            and if you compare the bleak 13 million this season compared to the 20-22 that CSI had in its prime, you’d see too that the show lost steam

          • hru says:

            not so I love this show! As do 13 million others in the country

          • sam says:

            I’m sad to see this happening. I liked him better than Grissom.

        • Debbie says:

          I agree they were concentrating more on Fishburne, than the rest of the character. I do wish they would bring back Grisson -

    • Eva says:

      I never thought the character of Ray worked, and when he murdered the murderer at the end of the season I was hoping he’d be out – so this is good news. Laurence Fishburne is a good actor, Ray was not a good character.

    • Deena says:

      Oooooooh, so with you there! His character was weak and uninteresting! CSI is baaaaaack!

    • robinepowell says:

      That’s very reason my mom stopped watching. She’s not a fan of the actor, so maybe she’ll start watching again.

    • Sunni says:

      You were alright when Grissom was on CSI and everything was about him….You didn’t have a problem with that…wow…

      You know what CSI probably doesn’t want you back, it seems they didn’t miss your viewership, they were still going strong and solid without YOU….

      • D says:

        DUH!!! Of course they don’t need me. I’m not from the US, me watching or not watching did nothing for the ratings there. And where I live the ratings and viewers for international shows are not counted. I only watch it for fun and since Grissom left CSI was all but good.

    • Lena says:

      I agree with you D…I stopped watching because of his character. I will gladly welcome the show back this New Season.

    • QueenNana says:

      YES!!!!!!

      Frankly one of the things I liked most about CSI was that it was an ensemble. Fishburne was given star status and the show became about him. Perhaps now they’ll get back to the ensemble and the show most of us loved.

    • Gerri says:

      I really hope they bring back Wendy and get the Wendy/Hodges thing going again – it makes CSI a joy to watch with the sexual tension. I wont miss Laurence. I miss Wendy.

    • re says:

      are you kidding me? Laurence Fishbourne is the BEST thing to ever happen to CSI. He was amazing!! As soon as he started on the show, it was worth watching instead of the never ending Grisham and his girlfriend crapola that was boring and tiring. Ted Danson is also amazing, so I’ll continue to watch, but Fishbourne will be missed for sure!!

  2. Tori says:

    #goodbyecsi

  3. Andy says:

    Makes sense. The Nate Haskell storyline had come to a conclusion, and all we would have been left with would be Ray’s emo “Ohnoes I’m genetically predisposed to go nutso murderous.” And frankly, that was getting tiresome.

    • Steph says:

      Definitely agree. I think Ray might have done a little better if Haskell wasn’t constantly there the entire time. Now that Haskell’s dead, it’s been too long to give Ray another Haskell-less direction.

    • Eurydice says:

      I know. I found myself thinking “Either go all nutso murderer or just shut up about it.”

  4. sarah says:

    Maybe he can send his wife in his place. I could do with some full-time Gina Torres.

  5. Bmo says:

    I’m telling it’s the end of top shows; csi is done(shark jumped), house(cuddy leaving) , law and order(stabler is gone), Greys(Patrick Dempsey not coming back) desperate housewives(running out of stories), this is going to be an interesting summer

    • Anna says:

      Actually Patrick Dempsey will be back one Grey’s this fall. His contracts (along with Ellen Pompeo’s) goes through season 8. It will be the 2012-2013 season that he is not coming back. We still have one more season with McDreamy.

      • bmo says:

        My bad, that’s what i meant. This next year 2011-12 will be the last year for those shows to continue. If they go past this next year, it’ll get ugly. i forgot the office as well.

    • Darmeen says:

      I know that term is way overused, and it is not accurate.

      Happy Days continued for 5 full seasons after the shark jumping epi, and it received some of its highest rated episodes, and most beloved episodes after the shark jump.

      Sure, things changed after the shark jump episode, but change isn’t always bad, as is evident by the continued life of the show.

      but…don’t worry, I use the same phrase about stuff all the time, with the same exact thought behind it as used in the post by @bmo.

  6. steve says:

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! The show can become about the team again not the Laurence Fishburne Show. I hope they bring in somebody well neough known but not a massive movie star type name to where they have to build the show around this said person.

  7. Josh says:

    Goodbye CSI…..Hello Cowboy Curtis!!!! LOL

  8. Jackie says:

    Good! He made csi very hard to watch the last couple of seasons.

  9. Eurydice says:

    Whoa, that is a shocker. But I have to say that I never felt that he wss comfortable on the show – he always seemed a beat ahead or behind.

  10. steve says:

    I see people saying Goodbye CSI if anything i think this will rejuvenate the show as i no many peopler hated how much focus was put on LF myself included.

    • hru says:

      I AGREE this will rejuvenate the show and hopefully they will use the excellent cast they have had in place for many years and maybe bring Wendy back too.

  11. Alex says:

    Lots of casting shakeup news today, wow!

  12. reng says:

    I liked him. No, he wasn’t Grissom, but he brought a different kind of sensitivity to the role. I will miss him.

  13. darklady65 says:

    blegh good riddance ever since William Petersen left the show has sucked balls and sorry but Fishburne’s character majorly sucked so bye bye

  14. Edwag says:

    Hey, CSI, Chris Meloni is available.

    • maddie says:

      LOL! That would be interesting… But I think CSI shouldn’t try to replace anyone just yet. I mean, Nick will surely be the boss after Catherine’s out, right? And then there’s still Greg and Sara… Things are gonna change, I don’t think they should have a replacement so soon. But maybe a newbie CSI? Lauren Lee Smith wasn’t that bad (not that I want her back, but a newbie is better than someone like Langston). I just hope Hodges won’t be a field CSI. He’s great in the lab.

      • Ashley says:

        They could always bring Wendy back too…

      • Laura says:

        Isn’t Ecklie’s on screen daughter supposed to come back? Didn’t they introduce her when Fishburne was in LA during the storyline last year?

        I liked LF’s character but I knew he wouldn’t stick around long. Bring back Billy Petersen and keep George Eads on the show so I have someone to drool over. :)

  15. Graciela says:

    Thank you. Thanks you. Thank you. The best news ever. My happiness would be complete if billy petersen would return in some capacity.

  16. Leslie says:

    I’ve found CSI rather hard to watch with him. He just doesn’t possess the same gravitas Billy Peterson had. With Fishbourne, vets were often relegated to the background. George Eads hasn’t had a real storyline in years, nor has Eric Szmanda, and there has been far too little of Jorja Fox. The last two seasons have almost seemed forced, as if to push Fishbourne as the savior of CSI or something. Other shows have survived and even thrived after their lead left (calling Criminal Minds), but CSI hasn’t. Perhaps with finding new cast members and a new timeslot will change things.

  17. CSIfan says:

    YES YES YES!!!!! Woohooo! Sorry to the 10 fans of Ray Langston!

  18. Steve says:

    I’m actually glad he’s leaving, as I disliked how his character (a rookie CSI) was suddenly better at the job than the rest of the characters (all much more seasoned investigators). After a few months on the job, Ray was doling out advice and reminding everyone to “follow the evidence” instead of the other way around – it was as if the producers were forced to dial down the IQs of Catherine, Nick, Sara, and Greg in order to give the big crime-solving scenes to their star, and for me, it just made the show’s level of implausibility grow to “CSI:Miami” proportions.

    • Max says:

      You are so right. But if Grisom doesnt come back I dont think the producers learned their lesson, they’ll bring another big shot actor to be the man…

      • Steve says:

        That’s fine with me if they bring in another big name – just have the star play a character who is the new head of the department and/or a really experienced CSI. That way, it would make sense if he/she gets the big scenes and the grand monologues and is smarter than everyone else. As the rookie in the department, it just didn’t make sense for Ray to be smarter than the rest of his co-workers, or for his co-workers to follow his lead all the time, but the writers continually set up those types of scenarios because LF was the star of the show.

        • Justin says:

          Catherine Willows is already the head of the CSI, and she’s doing a great job at it! Replacing her would be an EPIC FAIL!

  19. JohnDoe says:

    Can’t say I’m upset about this. Although Fish is a great actor, they just never developed his character well enough, and he shouldn’t be blamed. But without Petersen coming back, I think I may be done with CSI. I’m certainly not watching for Mrs. Giant-gap-in-her-teeth or Mrs. Plastic-Surgery-Face.

  20. tahina says:

    I’m neither surprised or upset! Mr Fishbourne really never clicked on the show.

  21. Kevin says:

    Now that Fishburne gone, I really don’t know how long CSI will last now that CBS is moving the series to Wednesdays at 10 p.m. this Fall. CBS and Les Moonves continues to run out of ideas here.

  22. Em says:

    Well, it was a new an different experience having him on the show, but I can’t say I’m sad to see him go. This opens up a door for something or someone else, so I’m interested in seeing how they’ll cope. I’ll still be watching, 12 years strong!

  23. Kira says:

    People still watch CSI?

  24. Andrada says:

    This actually made my day! I was starting to give up on the show, but hopefully now with Fishburne gone, it will get better. He was getting WAY to much screentime for someone who joined the cast just 2 and a half years ago. It was basically a show about Ray!

  25. Dominique says:

    omg THANK YOU!!
    I have nothing against Laurence Fushburne, he’s one hell of an actor, and I’ve got nothing against Ray either. I do have problems with the fact that every major storyline has been about him since he came to CSI. He even got the 200th freakin episode to be all about him, his past etc, while that specific episode was only his 5th on the show.

    Hopefully CSI will starts focussing more on the rest of the characters now. I hated seeing Nick and Greg barely get any screentime at all.

  26. V says:

    I totally agree. Didn’t like his character or how the show was all about him. I will come back now he is leaving. And 1 person can make a difference in the show and who watches.

  27. Ben says:

    Nothing against Fishburne as an actor, but I’m glad his stupid forced down the throat of everyone character is finally he’s gone. It might make CSI more enjoyable again and leaving more screen time for other characters and storylines.

  28. Kevin says:

    I’m actually happy about Fish leaving the show. I think the biggest mistake they made was bringing him in as a level 1 CSI. Like Liev Schreiber’s character, they should have brought the Ray character in as at least Catherine’s number 2. Instead, they basically rehashed the “new CSI adjusting to the job” storyline that they first did with Greg, which was infinitely more interesting.

    Also, like most of you, I found it harder to watch the show when the focus was mostly on the Ray Langston character. To me, he just didn’t have the chemistry with the rest of the cast, Marg’s Catherine in particular. Not to bring up Liev’s character again, but he had an instant connection and chemistry with Marg albeit for the six or or episodes he was there.

    What worries me now is that Jorga’s not back full time, Marg won’t be full time, and now Lawrence is gone. It may be time for a little bit of a shake up with CSI, and they can use their move to Wednesday’s as a way to get that fresh start. Not sure who they will get to be the figurehead of the series now, but they’ll need someone good as well as an even better character for them to play.

  29. kirads09 says:

    I hope this will bring back Grissom! Please please please!
    Or perhaps they could figure out a clever resurrection of Liev Schreiber’s character? The handful of episodes he was in were excellent!

    I love Fishburne as an actor, but something about him on CSI just didn’t work.

  30. Jeff in NC says:

    Whether it was Fishurne’s decision or the writers to have him “act” exactly like Grissom is unknown to me. However, I felt his character was too “know-it-all” for a new CSI and, yes, they did shift all the focus to him. His character/performance was just very annoying! Have enjoyed the show since season one, but every time I would watch, since he joined the ensemble, I would say, “I can’t stand Ray!!!” I for one am thrilled his character is going. I remember reading that they had lost viewers when he joined the cast and I realized why in short order.

    And to James, your comments are the most disgusting and racist I have had the displeasure to read. It is a sad little person, with a sad little mind, that is filled with such contempt and self-hatred that they need to make such horrid comments. This IS NOT the forum for that! You should be ashamed of yourself.

  31. kidwolf in TX says:

    Can’t say I’m surprised to hear it. Big name actors tend not to last on TV. I’m a huge fan of CSI and fear this may be the last hurrah, after all rumors of Catherine leaving at the end of next season makes it hard to believe the show could survive with a dwindling cast of originals. What they need to do is bring Grissom back, just in case Season 12 is CSI’s swan song.

  32. Marc says:

    This could explain why the penultimate episode had a cliffhanger feel to it while the finale felt more like first-episode-of-the-season follow-up to the cliffhanger, with Haskel dead and the ep focusing on the investigation of what happened.

  33. mes says:

    I haven’t been this happy about CSI in a LONG time

    Liked LF, didn’t like his character at ALL

    CBS don’t bring in some big star, bring back Liz Vassey (Wendy) and make George Eads (Nick) the lead

  34. sladewilson says:

    It cracks me up everytime I hear viewers/fans say they want a specific character to return to a show when it was that actor who left – not the character being taken off canvas by the producers. William Petersen wanted out. He’s not coming back. I’m a huge Grissom fan but you can’t put blame on Fish for his absence nor the direction the writers and producers went with his character. I actually liked this season but I didn’t see where they could take Ray after this. I was hoping at the end he would confess and do time or resign and go join his ex-wife. Now those look more like possibilites.

    I agree that Chris Meloni would make a great addition, providing the writers and producers remember it’s an ensemble show. Don’t put the weight on Meloni or whoever joins.

  35. mes says:

    Instead of another star

    BRING BACK WENDY!!!!

  36. Rose says:

    I like the character as he was originally written: dark, brilliant, and a specialist in serial killer psychopathology. If they’d added THAT to the mix it could have been an interesting ride.

  37. JGG says:

    I find it funny how people constantly say ‘they should bring Grissom back’, or ‘the show will die if they don’t bring back Grissom’. You people do realise that *they* don’t have any influence on whether William Peterson would be interested in rejoining the cast, right? Remember… he left himself because he was done with the show…

  38. Mayra says:

    YEEEEEEEEEEEEES! Good neeews!

  39. ash13 says:

    Ray sucked super bad. Ted is pretty okay so im hooked back in. No actor could replace gil grissom.

  40. Erin says:

    Not funny or clever. Trolling fail.

  41. jrs says:

    Sweet! that’s the reason I stopped watching the show.

  42. DL says:

    Moderator, staffer, whoever, can you please erase James’s comment? It doesn’t belong on these boards, for obvious reasons.

  43. Pt says:

    James, I feel sorry 4 u. There are plenty of great African-American actors but your closed hillbilly mind will never see them. Laurence us a great actor just never seemed right 4 CSI

  44. Justin says:

    This just in – James is a world-class hater. They’re are plenty of good black actors, including Fishburne. His character of Langston, though, wasn’t a good one. It’s not his fault. You should expand your freaking parameters for black actors sometime.

  45. Friend says:

    TVLines comment rules:
    Comments on TVLine.com are monitored. So don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse, and be gone with your offers of discount leather goods. Talk smart about TV!

    The racist hateful comments by James should have been deleted immediately. Not only is he racist, he’s illiterate: it’s could HAVE, not could OF.

  46. Dave says:

    James is entitled to his opinion just like everyone else. I am in no way defending his opinion though. I whole heartedly disagree with him. Denzel Washington is another fantastic black actor. My point is everyone has their own opinions and has a right to their opinions. It’s like the old saying goes. Opinions are like @$$holes, everyone has one. Just ignore him if you don’t like his. By you coming on here and asking for it to be removed or making a big deal about it just gives him the attention he so badly is searching for.

  47. James Firkins says:

    Look, the dude on Community, Ice-T, Hill Harper, Mike Dorn, LaVar Burton, Avery Brooks, Jessie L. Martin, all great actors. The ones today suck. Rappers (sans Ice-T) should NOT act, they suck, classical african american actors are good, the more recent ones suck.