Every so often, a TV show comes on the air that rocks the very core of the small screen: an unexpected success, many times written by first-timers in Hollywood, that spawns a whole genre of shows and a cult following. It happened with family comedies in the Family Ties and Growing Pains era; it happened with dramedy (drama-comedy) series in The West Wing era; and it happened, in 2000, with a groundbreaking and innovative fusion genre show, mystery fiction with an emphasis on science, that took conventional plot line and cast construction – and got rid of it all together. We are of course speaking of CSI, Crime Scene Investigation, the first in an incredibly popular brand of a whole new kind of crime and mystery related shows that created not only a record number of spinoffs, but also defined the way television would create forever since. Anthony E. Zuiker, the show’s creator, amazingly never wrote a script before. He gave screenwriting a go as a young adult, but gave up on it when he felt strict, unbreakable “show laws” arrested his creative vision.
It’s not like there were never mystery and detective TV shows before: it’s just that their archetype felt completely unbreakable and repetitive. In a bad way, to Zuiker. An emphasis on a leading character, normally a man, who individually solves every single crime in a cookie-cutter plot that replayed itself in every single episode. The formulaic adherence to these pre-written rules was “frustrating”, Zuiker had said once, and after abandoning the notion once, decided to take action and write a brand new kind of story instead.
Rather than focusing on a singular, flawless character, peppering the show with elements of TV-dictated romantic tension, and limiting interest to a particular type of storyline, normally the prosecution aftermath of a crime – Zuiker created a show with a wide and varied cast of characters, whose personalities were explored in the most subtle way possible. The show followed the team of experts as they, each with their own specialty, took on a very ignored field of crime-solving on television: the grisly crime scene investigation itself. Now that our TV screens are filled with forensic specialists and bones experts, it’s easy to forget that 17 years ago CSI decided to change the mold – particularly since it bore so many different spinoffs of its own. But after their character changed television forever – what ever happened to the the original Crime Scene Investigation Las Vegas cast after the show went off the air in 2015? Let’s take a look.
Jorja Fox as Sara Sidle
Incredibly sensitive and tough at the same time, Sara Sidle is a wonderful example for how subtly Zuiker wanted his characters explored. The survivor of a troubled childhood, Sidle was rarely able to distance herself from the crimes she was involved in solving, which served as both means to her incredible insight into the act that helped solve the cases, and a haunting experience for her as a person. On the show, she married fellow team member Gil Grissom, but the two ended up separating.
Jorja Fox now
Jorja Fox was also a television veteran when she was cast on CSI, actually a common trait to the cast members. Notably her appearances in ER and on The West Wing made her a household presence, if not name. Following the show and a few other appearances, she decided to pursue her musical career, which she had been passionate about since childhood. She is an avid activist for animal rights and an active member of PETA.
Elisabeth Shue as Julie Finlay
Julie Finlay is a late addition to the CSI team, 12th season addition following the legendary Catherine Wilson’s departure. Big shoes to fill, but Finlay, also a blood spatter specialist, was so precisely good at analytics forensics that the impressed team quickly accepted her a one of their own, nicknaming her Julie’s fiery personality ended up getting her fired, and in the finale it was revealed she had passed away in 2015 after being attacked.
Elisabeth Shue now
Hollywood legend Elisabeth’s Shue most unforgettable role, Sera in Leaving Las Vegas, earned her an academy award nomination and a place of honor amongst Hollywood’s best. In proper Shue tradition, her role on the show earned her some serious award nominations, as well. Shue continues to act mainly in film, appearing in the much-awaited Battle of the Sexes. Her upcoming film, Death Wish, is to be released in late 2018.
Elisabeth Harnois as Morgan Brody
Morgan Brody is a lab technician on the CSI team. She was a recurring guest character in the 11th season, and a regular by the 12th. Her complex relationship with fellow lab tech Greg Sanders gave the show its subtle will-they-won’t-they, back-and-forth romantic aspect viewers longed for, but in a subtle and roundabout way. By the finale and much to the delight of the show’s fans, she was sporting an engagement ring given to her by Sanders.
Elisabeth Harnois now
Elisabeth Harnois was a child actress, and with careful career considerations managed to continue her regular roles in Hollywood without any specific disruption or trauma, even managing to graduate from Wesleyan University with a degree in film studies. Since CSI she has notably appeared on Criminal Minds, which was admittedly inspired by CSI and one of the best cast-focused crime shows that followed it. Harnois has appeared in the show’s spinoff, CSI: Miami, and is currently filming Twisted, due in theaters in 2018.
George Eads as Nick Stokes
Making hearts flutter around the nation with his emotional and caring nature, Nick Stokes is a former crime scene investigator, a former member of the Dallas police force before he moved to LA, where she show takes place. Stokes was an assistant night supervisor under the immortal Catherine Willows, but was later demoted and relocated to San Diego. With a knack for comforting survivors and families, he was a beloved character on the team.
George Eads now
As charismatic as he is on the show, George Eads is even more charming in real life. After his big break on CSI, he stuck with the show throughout its entire run, but left right before the finale to pursue another definitive TV role – Jack Dalton in MacGyver. Amazingly enough, Eads is 50 years old. He has a daughter from his now ex-wife, actress Monika Casey, and was named one of TV Guide’s most beautiful stars of 2009.
Liz Vassey as Wendy Simms
One of CSI’s notable features is its vast cast that took on various forms throughout the years, with actors leaving the show and joining the show, somehow making it richer rather than creating empty plot lines. One very popular addition was Liz Vassey as Wendy Simms, a DNA technician, and one of the kindest and sweetest characters the show has seen. She left the lab on the 11th season to become a crime scene investigator in Portland, and to be closer to her sister.
Liz Vassey now
Before appearing in CSI, Liz Vassey was fairly well known for her role in the soap opera All My Children in the late 80s and early 90s. Vassey is married to camera operator David Emmerichs, and owns her own company along with fellow actress Bauer (of True Blood fame) that creates quirky slogans for women’s T-Shirts. Vassey has admitted she is more interested in writing than in acting, and has successfully sold several TV pilots.
Louise Lombard as Sofia Curtis
Responsible for some pretty heart-wrenching moments in the series, Sofia is a ballistic specialist homicide detective who join the show during its fifth season as a day supervisor (she later got demoted after some intense office politics). These prompt the detective to consider leaving, but Sofia is convinced by Grissom to stay, and she agrees, later on departing the show on season 7, following an incident where she was convinced she was responsible for the death of an officer.
Louise Lombard now
London-born Lombard started acting at 8 years old, and has stage, television, and film experience by the mass. She has participated in other crime shows such as NCIS and appeared on Star-Crossed and Grimm. Her character was well loved amongst fans, and her acting was praised by critics while she was on the show. Lombard has not been active – or at the very least has not been credited – in Hollywood since the show’s finale in 2015.
Lauren Lee Smith as Riley Adams
Riley Adams is a stubborn and strong-willed former police officer from St Louis, Missouri, who joins the CSI team on the show’s 9th season. Somewhat of a nonconformist, her initial reason to join the force is to rebel against her psychiatrist parents. A strong emphasis on the show is given to her strained relationship with Catherine Willows, particularly after Grissom’s’ departure, and she leaves the team eventually due to their strong disagreements.
Lauren Lee Smith now
A Canada native, Lauren Lee Smith was already a working actress when she landed the role of Riley in CSI. Starting off as a model, she slowly shifted her interests into acting, and has played numerous roles in both television and film, including The Twilight Zone, Helen, Christy: the Movie (and its television sequel), and Dragon Boys. She was recently cast in the lead role in the upcoming CBS drama Frankie Drake mysteries. Smith resides in LA.
Juliette Goglia as Hannah West
The young Hannah West appears on the show in a desperate attempt to stop her brother, Marlon, from being sentenced over a murder he is accused of, over taking the blame for him on the stand. The jury finds neither guilty. The pair returns in season eight, when the team believes Hannah had a hand in murdering Marlon’s girlfriend due to her obsession for him, though she was only 14-years-old at the time.
Juliette Goglia now
Another child actor (well, a child when she guest starred on CSI, as well), Juliette’s subtle performance was commanded by critics and resonated with viewers – presumably why she returned to the show. Despite her young age, Goglia has a huge amount of film and TV credit and work experience – she guest starred, on television, in Ugly Betty and in Desperate Housewives, among other shows. In film, she had roles in Inside Out and in Easy A. She is a recent graduate of USC.
Ted Danson as D.B Russell
D.B Russell is the Graveyard Shift SCI Supervisor and the Director of the LA Crime lab between season 12 and 15. Russell, a botanist, is a veteran crime investigator and somewhat of a funny guy, providing some comedic relief in the intense show. He is however extremely savvy and uses his rich experience to solve crimes in often unorthodox methods. He cares deeply about the staff in the lab. Sara Sidle takes over as director after he departures.
Ted Danson now
Another Hollywood legend, we’ve all gotten used to watching Ted Danson since his Cheers days, unto his successful Becker in the self-titled TV series. In film, he dazzled as Captain Hamill in Saving Private Ryan. A former romantic partner of Whoopi Goldberg’s, the 69-year-old star is married to actress Mary Steenburgen and the father of two daughters. He’s friends with Larry David, and, like many other stars, played himself in David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Romy Rosemont as Jacqui Franco
CSI creator Anthony E. Zuiker notably tried throughout the show to avoid adding “genius” type characters to the cast, in an attempt to keep the feel of the group working together, each in their specialty, to solve crimes. Franco, however, is a charming exception. A gifted fingerprint recognition technician, she is dubbed a flat-out genius on the show, and was part of the cast until season 5. Franco’s work and her obsessive devotion to it take over her life, though she displays some quirky traits.
Romy Rosemont now
53-year-old Northwestern graduate Romy Rosemont is often joked about (fondly!) as appearing in every TV hit there is: she appeared on Grey’s Anatomy, Shark, Boston Legal, Prison Break, Private Practice, Glee, and others. She was already a working actress with her addition to the cast of CSI, appearing most notably on the show Fringe. She has been married to fellow actor Stephen Root since 2008, and they often appear on screen together. She also appeared in a few episodes of The Fosters.
Aisha Tyler as Mia Dickerson
Mia Dickerson was a lab technician on CSI, and was known to win the hearts of not only adoring audiences but also pretty much every single male character on the show. Mia is known for her obsessive need for organization, which is a blessing and a curse – it lands her some incredibly tricky solutions, but the obsession was sensitively (to the delight of many critics) explored as actual Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, as Mia was also a germaphobe.
Aisha Tyler now
Aisha Tyler is a comedian who caught her big break in CSI and in Friends. She had a regular role in Ghost Whisperer following the departure of Jennifer Love Hewitt, and had a guest role in many films, including The Santa Clause films and the comedy Balls of Fury. Tyler slowly rose to the top, touring the country with stand up shows. She is currently the host of the successful reboot of improv comedy Whose Line is it Anyway, and was a host on the successful show The Talk.
Sheeri Rappaport as Mandy Webster
A leading fingerprint analysis specialist, Mandy Webster appeared on the show off and on starting from season 1 and on to season 12. Seemingly mainly an instrument for a bit of comical relief on the incredibly tense show, she is known for her talkative nature, her extreme description of her boyfriends, and her continuous mocking of her fellow team members. The character was a favorite among viewers, but her disappearance after season 12 was never explained.
Sheeri Rappaport now
After a long struggle to land an agent – a mission known to be almost impossible in Hollywood – Rappaport managed to climb up the ladder of success. She, like many of her colleagues from the show, has guest-starred on many TV shows, such as Xena: Warrior Princess, NYPD Blue (another police show), The Drew Carey Show, and others, which has made her a familiar face on the small screen. Just like her character, Rappaport seemed to have disappeared from the Hollywood scene, also without explanation.
Eric Szmanda as Greg Sanders
Greg Sanders was a member of the SCI staff from season 3 onward, a DNA specialist who was another one of the “gifted” character Zuiker tried to avoid. A graduate of Stanford, Sanders join the Las Vegan Police Force after shortly working for the San Francisco Police, and in a lovely addition to the show, he is a believer in psychic powers and the supernatural. Sanders is portrayed as a morally compassed character who is willing to always do what is right – at any cost.
Eric Szmanda now
Szmanda, who was born in Wisconsin, has extensive drama training, as he attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Pasadena, California, for four years. He began an internship with music company BMG while at school, and then moved to Chicago to invest his time fully in the music business. He later returned to his original passion, action. He is an avid supporter of the U.S Campaign for Burma and speaks on behalf of the campaign around the world, even traveling to Thailand to tour the Burmese refugee camps.
Chandra West as Holly Gribbs
One of the few original characters which were included in the pilot episode, Holly’s storyline seemed promising: her mother, who had always wanted her daughter to be a crime scene investigator, got her the job, and she was shaping to be a successful officer. In reality, the character was an instrument to demonstrate one of Zuiker’s basic ideas for the show – the fragility of life, and the dangers of the job. She is mentioned on the show repeatedly.
Chandra West now
A small blow to her ego, Chandra West took being written off the show after the pilot episode in stride, and continued her Hollywood work and presence. She has guest starred in films and TV shows, among which are NYPD Blue, The Gates, and Played; she seems to have a knack for law-enforcement in her acting (Chicago P.D). She also starred as Julie Stevens in the made-for-television film Seduced by a Stranger.
Pamela Gidley as Teri Miller
Teri Miller can be described as the original bones, as it were – a forensics anthropology specialist, she introduced the idea of bone recognition to the show. She was a regular member of CSI during its first three seasons. During the show’s initial phases, its first five seasons, that differed from its next season in order and character introduction as the showrunners and writers became more experienced, she went out on a date with lead investigator Gil Grissom. Her character later on married another.
Pamela Gidley now
Gidley was known for her roles in Strange Luck and, more notably, in The Pretender, before she even joined the cast of CSI. Following her departure from the show, however, she’s had little work credit in the industry, really only notably taking on the role of Barbara Goldman in the TV drama, Skin. Her most recent credit is a 2014 one, for the movie Twin Peaks: The Missing Pieces, but there was no acting involved on Gidley’s part, as only deleted scenes she had appeared in were used.
Brigid Brannagh as Melissa Marlo / Tammy Felton
One of the first intensely powerful storylines of the series was Melissa Marlo’s story during season one. She had been kidnapped by her babysitter, Mara, and changed her name to Tammy. In a critically acclaimed episode, she appears as the daughter of a man who have been murdered, but the team realizes she is in fact Melissa using one fingerprint sample. Melissa finds her birth parents and they bail her out, but later on, in season two, she is involved in a robbery and gets killed.
Brigid Brannagh now
Brigid Brannagh is a familiar face on crime shows: she has guest starred on 24, Cold Case, NCIS, Criminal Minds, and Murder in the First. Her definitive role came from another source, though: she portrayed Vanessa Dumphy in Over There and Pamela Moran in Army Wives, and the two roles gained her more attention in the industry. The 47 year old’s most recent credit is the television show Runaways, that is meant to air in 2018, though no official statement has been made.
Jessie Collins as Natalie David
Jessie Collins received immense critical acclaim for her portrayal of the main antagonist in series 7, serial killer Natalie Davis, who was nicknamed The Miniature Killer. She taunted the crew by sending miniature models of the strange crime scene from every murder she committed, including the blood of her victims, making the models completely identical to the crime scene left. She’d sometimes leave the prepared model at the scene, meaning she had prepared it prior to committing the murder. She was eventually caught after murdering at least five victims.
Jessie Collins now
Texas native Jessie Collins has guest starred on many TV shows, such as Law & Order: Criminal Intent, The Nine, Rubicon – where she had a regular part as Maggie Young – The Good Wife, and House. In film, she’s appeared in the hit Zero Dark Thirty and Free State of Jones, where she played Annie. Collins sometimes goes by her middle name, Ava, and is one of four sisters, one of which is a model, the other a singer, and the youngest a theater actress.
Marg Helgenberger as Catherine Willows
A definitive CSI character “as [Zuiker] wanted them to be, Willows was never one to leave work at the office, willingly tilting the system to her favor if it meant a crime could be solved. Willows had specific knowledge of ballistics and physics, which she often applied to cases. This along with her willingness to cut deals with prisoners meant the job was always getting done. Willows left the crew, causing profound sorrow to the show’s fans, but will forever be an original CSI member and an audience favorite.
Marg Helgenberger now
Marg Helgenberger is a TV veteran. For each person, she has a different monolith role: for some it is her work on the groundbreaking China Beach, for some it was her unforgettable film role in Erin Brockovich, and for other it was her guest appearances in shows like Intelligence and King of the Hill. Either way, it doesn’t seem like Helgenberger is going anywhere. She has a son, Hugh, and is active in charities promoting breast cancer awareness. Helgenberger made a whopping $375,000 an episode while on CSI.
David Caruso as Horatio Caine
Perhaps the most noted and familiar face in the entire CSI franchise, Horatio Caine is a former bomb squad officer, a day shift supervisor at the lab and the head of the Miami-Dade Crime lab. A forensic analyst whose wife was brutally murdered, Caine presents a rough exterior, and keeps a serious demeanor, but shows a deep connection with children and a sensitive side when revisiting moments with his wife. The character is responsible for a popular internet meme.
David Caruso now
A prolific actor with numerous credits in Hollywood under his name, David Caruso maybe most notably played John Kelly and NYPD Blue and the lead role of Michael Hayes in the TV show of the same name. His first big break came when he nailed the role of Caine in CSI: Miami, though some rumors had him a bit ill-behaved and spoiled. At 61 years old, he is the father of three, and has not had any major TV or film projects listed since the CSI: Miami finale.