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Time To Investigate Which 'CSI' Series Are The Best

List RulesVote up the best shows in the CSI television franchise.

The first CSI series, named simply CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, premiered on October 6, 2000, bringing modern forensics to the classic procedural drama. Since then, there have been some great CSI series – expanding quickly into an incredibly interconnected franchise that spanned 16 years and almost 50 characters (and four songs by The Who).

CSI: Las Vegas was often criticized for sensationalism, both in the subjects it covered and that it did not provide viewers with a realistic idea of how the criminal forensic process worked. Even so, it received multiple Golden Globe and Emmy nominations, winning several for its effects and cinematography.

Only four series made up the CSI television franchise, but they were accompanied by numerous books, comics, and video games. Running from 2000-2015, the first CSI series ran the longest, ending with 337 episodes. CSI: Cyber, which premiered in 2015, only ran for two seasons, ending six months after the original series aired its last episode. The characters at the different CSI labs often worked together, and the franchise aired 12 crossover episodes within the franchise and four crossovers with other series, including Without A Trace and Mythbusters.

In this list, we're going to look at all the CSI shows and find out once and for all which are the best in the CSI TV universe. We won’t get fooled again about which CSI series are the best, so vote up the best CSI TV shows ever made.

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  • Photo: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation / CBS

    Main Characters: Gil Grissom, Catherine Willows, Warrick Brown, Nick Stokes, Jim Brass, Sara Sidle, Greg Sanders, Al Robbins, Sofia Curtis, David Hodges, Riley Adams, Raymond Langston, Wendy Simms, David Phillips ,D.B. Russell, Morgan Brody, Julie Finlay, Henry Andrews.

    Theme Song: "Who Are You" by The Who

    What Made This Show Unique in the Franchise: Acting first as scientists, the Las Vegas CSI team was always up on the latest innovation in forensic science. Working nights, their cases often involved casinos, the mob, and bodies buried in the desert.

    CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (CBS, 2000) is an American crime drama television series created by Anthony E. Zuiker. The series follows Las Vegas CSIs working for the Las Vegas Police Department as they use physical evidence to solve cases, which has inspired a host of other cop-show "procedurals". The series mixes deduction, gritty subject matter, and character-driven drama.  ...more
    • Actors: Ted Danson, Elisabeth Shue, George Eads, Jorja Fox, Eric Szmanda
    • Premiered: October 6, 2000

    #87 of 259 The Best TV Shows Streaming On Hulu#36 of 102 The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time#131 of 149 The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots

  • Photo: CSI: NY / CBS
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    Main Characters: Mac Taylor, Stella Bonasera, Danny Messer, Aiden Burn, Sheldon Hawkes, Don Flack, Lindsay Monroe, Sid Hammerback, Adam Ross, Jo Danville.

    Theme Song: "Baba O'Riley" by The Who

    What Made This Show Unique in the Franchise: Working equally as scientists and detectives, the New York CSI team often faced cases involving the Italian Mafia, street gang violence, and social unrest.

    The third permutation of the "CSI" franchise sets up shop in the Big Apple, where taciturn detective Mac Taylor and his new partner, Jo Danville, lead a crime-solving team. Taylor, a retired Marine who believes evidence holds the truth that people may try to cover up, finds balance in Jo's empathy-driven investigative style. Their team includes spirited investigators like Danny Messer and wife Lindsay Monroe Messer, former coroner Sheldon Hawkes, and edgy detective Don Flack.  ...more
    • Actors: Gary Sinise, Sela Ward, Carmine Giovinazzo, Hill Harper, Eddie Cahill
    • Premiered: September 22, 2004

    #247 of 321 The Best TV Shows Of The Past 20 Years#364 of 508 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time#171 of 394 TV Shows That Only Smart People Appreciate

  • Photo: CSI: Miami / CBS

    Main Characters: Horatio Caine, Calleigh Duquesne, Eric Delko, Alexx Woods, Tim Speedle, Megan Donner, Yelina Salas, Ryan Wolfe, Frank Tripp, Natalia Boa Vista, Tara Price, Jesse Cardoza, Walter Simmons

    Theme Song: "Won't Get Fooled Again" by The Who

    What Made This Show Unique in the Franchise: Detectives foremost, the Miami CSI team often found themselves dealing with Cuban refugees, alligators, and a unique brand of the rich and famous found only in Miami.

    A Florida team of forensics investigators uses cutting-edge scientific methods and old-fashioned police work to solve crimes. Horatio Caine, a former homicide detective, heads a group of investigators who work crimes amid the steamy tropical surroundings and cultural crossroads of Miami.  ...more
    • Actors: David Caruso, Emily Procter, Adam Rodriguez, Jonathan Togo, Rex Linn
    • Premiered: September 23, 2002

    #40 of 54 The Best TV Shows That Lasted 10+ Seasons#156 of 401 The Best TV Shows To Rewatch#381 of 632 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch

  • Photo: CSI: Vegas

    Main Characters: Gil Grissom, Sara Sidle, David Hodges, Maxin Roby,, Josh Folsom, Hugo Ramirez, Allie Rajan, Jim Brass.

    Theme Song: "Who Are You" by The Who

    What Made This Show Unique in the Franchise: As a limited series, CSI: Vegas takes the franchise back to its roots, reuniting old faces with new blood and building a story in a more modern era.

    CSI: Vegas (CBS, 2021) is an American crime television limited series that is a sequel epilogue of the series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and the fifth series in the CSI franchise. Facing an existential threat that could bring down the entire crime lab and release thousands of convicted killers back onto the neon-lit streets of Las Vegas, a brilliant new team of investigators led by Maxine Roby must enlist the help of old friends Gil Grissom, Sara Sidle and David Hodges.  ...more
    • Actors: William Petersen, Jorja Fox, Paula Newsome, Matt Lauria, Mandeep Dhillon
    • Premiered: October 6, 2021

    #60 of 89 The Best CBS Shows of All Time#45 of 47 The Best CBS Dramas of All Time#188 of 435 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time