Laurence Fishburne exits 'CSI'

CSI-Fishburne

Image Credit: Sonja Flemming/CBS

Another key member of the Las Vegas investigative team is stepping out from behind the yellow tape. EW has confirmed that Laurence Fishburne, who joined the show more than two years ago in an attempt to fill the void left by William Petersen, will not return to CSI this fall.

Fishburne’s contract, like many of his co-stars, expired after the season 11 finale in May. In an interview with EW,  the film actor indicated that he wanted to return for another year as Dr. Raymond Langston. ”I’m having a great time,” he says, while acknowledging that it was a challenge replacing Petersen’s Grissom. ”I was cognizant of the fact that Grissom was a much-beloved character. I made it my business to sit down and watch almost every episode of CSI from season 1 until I came on. It was about understanding the world and becoming as immersed in the show as possible. I love it.”

Despite his high-profile status as a film actor, Fishburne’s presence wasn’t enough to keep CSI’s ratings strong in the wake of Peterson’s departure. The show finished the season with a 3.3 rating among adults 18-49. It was ranked No. 30.

The contract for CSI’s other high-profile star, Marg Helgenberger, also expired in May but she is expected to return to the drama next season — albeit in an abbreviated way. She told People earlier this year she’s planning to do only ”a few episodes” next season. Executive Producer Carol Mendelsohn told EW that the season 11 finale was a cliffhanger in more ways than one. ”Most of our actors are negotiating for next season, so at the moment we don’t know. It must be a test for the writers of CSI. We always start planning for next season without knowing for sure.”

CSI is expected to bring on a new actor to replace Fishburne.

For more:

Who should replace Laurence Fishburne on CSI?

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Comments (287 total) Add your comment
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  • grace

    Even if they could convince Peterson to come back, it is more than time to stick a fork in CSI:Vegas (and NY and Miami) With all the soft focus on Marg we arent going to see much of her anyway. She was never the strong center of the show to begin with so keeping her as the focus with no strong male lead should spell the end.

    Didnt Marg say she wasnt coming back for all eps?

    • loli

      they messed up when billy petersen left by bringing in someone new at the top instead of promoting from within and adding a new lab tech or csi level 1 that we could get used to. Grissom is irreplaceable.

      • Lee Bartholomew

        I wouldn’t be surprised if Gil came back for a bit. Everyone knows full well the ratings would skyrocket. I never felt Ray replaced Gil. Nick Stokes became the lead actor of the show when Gil left. But overall it’s become more and more story and less CSI. Jorja really needs to stay. I almost assume Wendy would come back because hint hint Hodges just left his mothers home. But relying so much on this Hannibal wannabe really skewered this season. Just horrid.

      • @loli

        Agreed Grissom is irreplacable, but they did in fact promote Willows to the top, and Langston did come in as a level 1… I was hoping that they would bring Liz Vassey’s character into the field, instead of being a love interest for Hodges, but instead they wrote her out – boo. Jorja’s character is familiar, but imo the cahracter wasn’t too pivotal to the show (save a for a couple eps) and it always didn’t feel right for her to be there when her husband is always somewhere else in the world.

      • A

        Actually, that’s what they did do. Katherine became the boss and Langston became a CSI-1, promoted to CSI-2 in a couple of episodes but never beyond that. The problem is that they pulled an awesome actor to replace Peterson but then made him the equivalent of a minor player. I love Fishbourne, but Langston’s character was horrible and for Fishbourne’s sake, I’m glad he’s not coming back.

      • Sam Fisher

        Fishbourne came in as a CSI 1, well he first came in as a doctor learning to be a CSI 1. One of the things that turned me off to the show was that he’s got no experience and all the others are deferring to him? Even Catherine the supervisor? Stupid. It was when Fishbourne is in the hospital after getting stabbed and they are checking with him on the phone about the bomb making materials (including the bomb tech with Nick???) that they totally lost me as a viewer. Not to mention Sara is newly married but never with Gill? He’s in Europe? And she hardly mentions him? Ridiculous. They could have Gill in Vegas and not on the show, the idea that Gill leaves everything there to be with her and then isn’t? Totally absurd. Not knowing who is back is a test for the writers? If you’re going to expand the lives of characters beyond the case, how about the test being a believable situation for once??

      • jalola

        Billy’s not coming back except maybe for a cameo. He’s signed on to do a play in Chicago next Spring, right when the finale for CSI season 12 will be getting filmed.

        My hope is that they go with a young actor as a new recruit and not a long-time actor who comes in as the head of shift. It would be disrespectful to the long-time actors not to let their characters lead.

    • The Answer

      Jorja is awful. Seriously, she has the largest face I have ever seen and she is a horrendous actress to boot. Helgenberg had some terrible work done on her face; staring at her lips must be what its like to be waterboarded.

      • billy

        Moron

      • AMY

        Agree completely! I never understood why there was such a love for Jorja. She’s a horrible acress! And Marg, well she definately isn’t the greatest actress either, and her lips are pretty bad..

      • Aaron

        100% agreement about Jorja Fox. HORRIBLE actress. Couldn’t stand her on “ER” either. Not only is she unattractive and can’t act, why does she end every sentence and question with a whiny tone? Fill your diastema (tooth gap), please!!

      • AnnaSophia

        Is there an ignore button around here somewhere? … Anyways, ignoring idiotic comments …

      • BP

        I hate Jorja as well. She is horrible and i almost stopped watching my favorite show when they brought her back last season. GET HER OFF MY TV.

      • Anne

        Totally agree.

      • Bob

        Agree 100% I think she is a terrible actress and no looks to boot!! If Gil (Peterson) doesn’t come back they should write her off to be with him wherever he is supposed to be now!!

      • jo

        She’s the main reason I left in the first place. All she did was whine about one thing or another. These networks keep shows on after jumping the shark while kicking bright new ones to curb. But, that’s what the people want I guess.

      • AnnaSophia

        jo, Really? she made you stop watching the show altogether? Wow, JF sure has some magic power… Anyways, moronic count increases….

      • Shinea

        Anna – you need to chill! Just because others don’t like what you do doesn’t make them morons, on the other hand, someone who gets so upset about a make believe character on TV just might fit that description.

      • TR

        Absolutely agree. She’s so bad that when she left the show no one would give her another job. She was lucky that CSI would take her back and so we the viewers suffer.She adds nothing to the show

    • Dustin Ingle

      Stopped watching this show after CSI Brown got killed.

      • Nick

        I had a hard time watching the show after CSI Brown was killed. The show is not the same!!

      • D

        It was hard to watch, but I forgave them because the actor appeared to be very troubled. I miss the original core though

      • Cheryl

        That was so sad I cried n then the funeral!! Him n nick were the best when Grissom left!!! Oooooo…..

      • ree

        Me too! I loved him. I cried my eyes out when they killed him off it was so sad.

    • Justin

      There is nothing wrong with CSI: NY. In fact, its the best CSI on now. I agree with you on Miami, though, since I stopped watching it years ago.

      • KPW

        CSI: NY is the best of the three right now. Sela Ward was a great addition and they had a solid season.

      • Bryan

        CSI Miami is fun because of invincible David Caruso. If you can suspend your disbelief that this guy is employed, out of jail, and *alive* then it’s great fun. So grab your sunglasses and shout out a great big YEAAHHHHHH.

      • majamababe

        Agree. Really like Sela Ward’s character.

      • MaryJane

        I agree, I think that CSI NY is the best of the 3, but I also still like MIAMI, despite all of the Caruso jokes. I like that invincible character that he plays, he’s been getting those bad guys in some rather, intriguing ways. And I must admit for NY, I was pretty pissed last year when Sela Ward was brought in to replace Melina K., but I find that I have actually enjoyed her character. Unfortunately, though, I think that CSI original, has long since outlived its usefulness, the actor I like on the show anymore is Eades, the rest of the show is ho-hum.

    • Lucy

      could not get into it after Peterson left

      • Pat

        I couldn’t either, Lucy. Have not watched CSI since Peterson left. Not one episode.

    • evoc

      I agree fully. Fishburne was a welcome change to that tired format. He provided a new feel for that show. It failed because producers kept the same over-used characters. They should have eliminated the characters of Catherine and Sara Seidel, and brought in new people, allowed the show to take on a softer, less glib tone, which doesn’t work with these aging characters, and make it a smarter show, punctuated with humor that doesn’t dip into self-conscious hip references to appeal to a broader scope of viewers.

  • Chris

    RAYMOND Lansgston.

  • AnnaSophia

    It’s “Ray” Langston…. I guess I’m not surprised at the news.

  • Ryan

    Somebody’s mixing his character up with the guy from Da Vinci Code lol

  • Demond

    I always thought he was too good of an actor to be on t.v.This is also how I felt about Robert Downey Jr. on Ally McBeal those years ago.

    • PrincessBride

      I was always grateful to get a weekly Robert Downey Jr fix in any medium!

  • tomm

    George Eads should be the male lead now, he’s 45!

    • Cheryl

      Ur kidding?? I just love him!!!

    • MaryJane

      Eades is the only actor even worth watching on this show anymore. Unfortunately though, the show is a tired replica of its old self.

      • Dee

        Unfortunately I agree. Never really held my attention after Will Peterson left.Bleh. However, very much will give it another try as I’ve always loved this show.So,let’s see what Danson can bring!

    • erick

      Eads is wooden Fishburn is great actor

      • Pam

        agree Eads is not a good actor like Fishburn Fishburn was to good for CSI

  • Isla

    did anybody ever really warm up to him after grissom left? I don’t remembeer hearing much positive stuff about him. Probably for the best.

    • Fridge

      I never really did. I didn’t mind him guest starring, but once he was on full time I quit watching the show. I used to love CSI, but without Grissom it just didn’t have the same punch.

  • Juglish

    Good, now maybe he can get back to acting.

  • Kevin

    Don’t know how long CSI will last since the crime drama is moving to Wednesdays at 10 p.m. this Fall. CBS execs better keep their heads straight.

    • billy

      You are an idiot. Cbs knows the shows time is about up..thus the move…do you have your head stuck up your ass?

      • groo

        Calm down. It’s a TV show.

  • Ben

    Replacing a replacement? Just end the freaking show already. CSI stopped being relevant years ago.

    • billy

      As you ceased being relevant when you were born

      • Hannah

        Carol, is that you?

    • D

      Ever hear of Doctor Who?

  • Jessica

    Am glad hes leaving.The should just make Grissom come back for the final season and then just wrap it up.

  • John

    Poor guy everybody hates his his character in CSI and his daughter is a porn actress! These 2 years have not been good to him.

    • Kris

      I don’t think it’s so much that people “hate” his character as it is the fact that they developed the character in the wrong manner. The writing is terribly weak.

      • Sweet2th

        I agree. Fishburn can only be as good as the writing.

  • Balance

    How about Charlie Sheen? Definitely will spike up the ratings if nothing else.

    • The Answer

      Of course, bring in the drug addicted WHITE guy. Why not Todd Bridges??? That would double any ratings that another white addict would deliver but you all just can’t handle seeing another black man on TV.

      • billy

        Smoking to much crack dude?

      • Tyrone

        Laurence Fishburne is black?
        I didn’t realize that.

      • Nick

        You need to stop with the racial comments. We are talking about a TV show not the color of the actors or what they do on there personal time!

      • wander’n

        Racism or reverse racism is no answer. Black,white,yellow or brown, good acting (and writing) is what makes these shows work. Everybody wins with this formula.

        Change is Inevitable
        Growth is Optional

      • Sweet2th

        Thank you.

      • Dee

        Oh for gawd’s sake! Realllly? Aside from a most likely small percentage of the population that are general uneducated imbeciles most white people I know including myself don’t give TWO HOOTS IN HELL what color you are! They just don’t care! I’m sooo tired of hearing this! SERIOUSLY! I say if someone obviously is not educated enough to understand what melanin is then why give their stupidity any credit by paying any more attention to them than you would a 5 year olds opinion on the Middle East?! OMG,think of somthing new ,please.

    • Monster

      Why not hire Charlie Sheen as a Crack doctor with a character likt Dr. House. That would surely be so funny.

  • Miss Talk

    He was too good of an actor to be on CSI to begin with.
    He probably has a lot of movie scripts waiting on the table – maybe that movie about slavery Tarantino is working on. Anywho, I wish him well.

    • The Answer

      Of course, black man should get out of the lab coat and go do another slavery movie…bet that would make you happy.

      • billy

        Be better if he stopped smoking crack and killing people and got a job

      • Nick

        You are sad!!!

      • Jose

        It would make me happy.
        Laurence Fishbourne with Samuel L. Jackson in a Terantino movie? Hell yeah!

      • Sweet2th

        I think Miss Talk meant well but boy did she miss the mark with that comment. A slavery movie, really? Are they still making those things. Black people are trying to get away from the chains they don’t want to be rreminded on them. I guess it is just for those enslaving white people to watch so that they can feel more powerful.

      • Ana

        There’s nothing wrong with making a slavery movie. It’s part of American history. Pretending won’t make it disappear or heal any wounds. My problem is that there doesn’t seem to be much else on the horizon for black actors besides gawd-awful Tyler Perry movies.

      • Dee

        Actually I really liked LF’s character,and I loved his physical toughness-very refreshing and manly. But ,I think it would’ve made more sense to bring him in as as special crime consultant or something similiar instead of CSI 1. That was just unrealistic that a doctor of his calibur would become an entry level CSI. That didn’t work for me.Just like I quit watching House when they started making his character do things that were just way too “out there”!

  • The Answer

    Racism!! Now all you white people will finally watch again since LF got da boot. Sheeet.

    • ohpleeze

      Please. Cry racism some more, shall we? Everyone loves Larry, just not on CSI.

    • billy

      And hopefully your stupid ass will get shot in crack town

    • 3 Billy Goats Gruff

      Don’t feed the trolls, folks.

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