Sad Details About The Cast Of CSI

The legendary team of crime scene investigators at the Vegas Crime Lab investigated crime scenes for an impressive 336 episodes of the original run of "CSI" on CBS. The show was a massive hit, launching a constellation of spinoffs, some even more successful than the original. "CSI" also aired a television movie and a currently-running revival series, "CSI: Vegas," which reunites old favorites with new cast members, solving new and ever-more-complex crimes with ever-more-specific science. In short, it's a winning formula, one that fans and critics are happy to go along with for as long as it lasts.

While on the air, the characters of "CSI" have dealt with just about everything life can throw at a group of medical professionals tasked with digging into the worst of humanity. There have been shootings, fires, evil magicians, and even vampires, according to Everything Action; of course, there are also more murders than one could hope to count. Though their characters are capable of handling just about anything the world (and the writers) could cook up to cause them trouble, off-screen, the cast of "CSI" have dealt with a number of tragic situations themselves. Read on for some sad details about the cast of "CSI."

William Petersen had a near death experience

William Petersen played perhaps the most recognizable morgue employee on "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," the alliteratively-named Gil Grissom. He starred on "CSI" from the show's first episode in 2000 up through 2009, when he decided to step away. "It's 'CSI' — they pay me a lot of money, and I don't have to work very hard anymore. I've got it all figured out. And I just realized, God, as an artist, I'm going to atrophy," he explained to CNN. Still, though, Grissom returned when "CSI" did — rebranded now as "CSI: Vegas" — and Petersen told Outsider that returning to the character that made him famous was as natural as could be. "It's like riding a bicycle, you know?" he reflected.

Back in 2004, Petersen told Playboy (via Insight State) about a frightening incident early in his career that nearly sent him to the morgue himself, after an on-set accident left him bleeding and blacked-out. "I could hear the doctors working on me, saying that they had lost my vital signs," he recalled. "I was on the 'All That Jazz' escalator with a long tunnel and a lot of white light. Then I specifically remember a dominant male voice saying, 'It's not your time. Get off the escalator." The experience, Petersen says, reassured him that there is life after death, though he said most people he's told about the near-death experience didn't believe him.

Ted Danson's first wife had a stroke

Ted Danson joined the cast of "CSI" in its twelfth season; he ended up playing new team leader D.B. Russell for three seasons before jumping ship to "CSI: Cyber" when the flagship show ended. This meant that Danson led the cast during the show's 300th episode, and he told The Killing Times that the show was still on the air and was still successful because it was still as good as it was when it began. "It's a really tight ship and it's really well done and people still are enjoying it all around the world," he reflected, "so I am really, really, really proud to be part of this show."

Before he was a crime scene investigator, Danson was a "Cheers" vet who came from a troubled tabloid past. When his first wife, Casey Coates, gave birth to their first child, she experienced a stroke that resulted in the left side of her body being paralyzed. Danson left acting for a while to care for her, telling People, "It was horrifying. But after you get over the shock, you roll up your sleeves and work at getting things better." Though he supported her for a while, Danson ultimately had a highly-publicized affair with actor and comedian Whoopi Goldberg, ending his marriage to Coates. "We're adjusting to the fact that we aren't the same people we were before this happened,," Danson admitted to People.

Robert David Hall is a double amputee

Robert David Hall played Dr. Al Robbins for an astounding 328 episodes of "CSI," starting off as a recurring character before becoming a regular. Speaking with the CSI Files fansite, Hall joked that although his coroner character loves his job, he kept it at the whim of "CSI's" writers and producers. "The actor, RDH, loves going to work and enjoys the cast, crew, and staff so much, he hopes we go twenty seasons," he clarified. That was not to be the case, but the actor did bring Doc Robbins back for "CSI: Immortality," the TV movie that closed out the series.

Like his character, Hall is a double amputee in real life, and he uses prosthetic legs. He lost his legs in a car accident involving a semi truck that jumped a highway median, crushing the actor. "I knew I was injured, but I didn't know quite where I was," he recalled in an interview with Ability Magazine. "I figured something really horrible had happened, and then my gas tank exploded."

The strength he gained from his tragedy helped him face the pressures of the entertainment industry head-on. He recalled a conversation in an interview with AARP where someone told him about being afraid of a certain casting director who they thought was tough. "I've always thought, "I was burned over 60 percent of my body and lost two legs. How bad can a casting director be compared to that?" he said.

Elisabeth Shue watched her brother die

Elisabeth Shue played Julie Finlay on "CSI" for four seasons of the iconic show between 2012 and 2015, the Assistant Night Shift Supervisor in the Las Vegas Crime Lab. "I'm very grateful to be working," she told The Columbus Dispatch the year she joined the show. "I'm always grateful. And the older you get, you get more grateful and appreciative." Shue first got famous in the 80s, starring in films like the "Back to the Future" sequels, "The Karate Kid," and "Adventures in Babysitting."

The actor experienced a tragedy in the late 80s, when her older brother Will died in a shocking accident resulting from a fall from a tire swing. According to "Healing: Advice for Recovering Your Inner Strength and Spirit from the World," Elisabeth witnessed her brother's death, and for a long time she struggled to deal with the loss. "What happened to Will taught me that human beings are fragile," she reflected. "His death taught me not to be afraid anymore of who I was." She also recalled attending therapy to help her deal with the situation, which she now considers "the first huge step [I took] in my life."

Elisabeth and her surviving brother, Andrew, turned their pain into art with the release of 2007 film "Gracie," which was based on their lives and their relationship with their brother, per The Houston Chronicle.

Laurence Fishburne and Gina Torres got divorced

Laurence Fishburne is one of the biggest stars to ever join the cast of "CSI." After playing Morpheus in "The Matrix" and before his role as Pops on "Black-ish," Fishburne recurred on "CSI" for 61 episodes between 2008 and 2011. His role as Raymond Langston, a CSI at the Vegas Crime Lab, was actually Fisburne's first long-term experience on television, which he told Deadline was a good chance to expand his knowledge of entertainment. "It was also an opportunity for me to learn, as a producer, the television business a little better, because I was certainly unfamiliar with the workings of television from the business side," he reflected, adding that his production company got "Black-ish" off the ground when he left the crime drama.

In his personal life, Fishburne and his wife Gina Torres were together for many years, seeming like one of Hollywood's most stable couples for fourteen years, even starring together on "Hannibal." However, they tragically split in 2017, although Torres insisted that the breakdown of their marriage was as good-natured as could be. "There are no bad guys here," she told Us Weekly by way of confirming the impending divorce. "Only a love story with a different ending than either one of us had expected." Fisburne officially filed for divorce several months later (via Us Weekly), and everything was finalized the following year, according to Radar

Marg Helgenberger's mother has breast cancer

Marg Helgenberger is one of the most recognizable actors on "CSI," having led the show for its first twelve seasons as Catherine Willows before stepping back. "I instinctively felt it was time to end that chapter of my career," she told The Hollywood Reporter at the time. "I'm 53 now, and I feel like I'm still young enough to switch it up." She did, however, continue to appear sporadically throughout the rest of the show's original run, and according to Deadline, she will bring Catherine back on the rebooted "CSI: Vegas" in 2022. 

Off-screen, the actor has been a fierce advocate for breast cancer awareness since learning that her mother was sick; the star turned to advocacy as a way to heal. "To this day, I remember exactly how I felt when she told me," Helgenberger recalled to NBC News, adding, "and how her strength and determination to beat this disease was incredibly empowering." Her mother's diagnosis affected everyone in the Helgenberger clan; the "CSI" star told SurvivorNet that she watched her father break down over the news. "He was obviously just distraught and terrified that he was going to lose the love of his life and the mother of his children... It was brutal," she said.

However, her mother has survived several decades with the news. "Sometimes those diagnoses were death sentences," Helgenberger allows. "Nowadays, the survival rate is so much higher."

George Eads ruined his CSI legacy

George Eads played Nick Stokes, a forensic investigator, for an impressive fifteen years. He was one of the breakout stars of "CSI," so popular, in fact, that TV Guide Magazine named him one of "TV's sexiest stars." He told the outlet that his character's love of weaponry had a lot to do with his sex appeal, explaining, "I put on the vest and the gun, and I become this guy with a lot of swagger." He also said he enjoyed the attention he got from the show, joking, "It makes me want to be sexier."

As "CSI" was nearing its end, though, Eads was involved in what Deadline called an "on-set altercation" with a member of production. Though specific details are scarce, the fight led to him being suspended from the show. It wasn't renewed, and his character wasn't included in "CSI: Immortality," tarnishing the Nick Stokes' legacy. In fact, according to TVLine, he was invited to return, but he decided not to participate in the wrap-up film. When the show returned in 2021 as the rebooted "CSI: Vegas," Nick Stokes was again nowhere to be found, 

Gary Dourdan filed for bankruptcy

Gary Dourdan's "CSI" character Warrick Brown was part of the crew at the Vegas Crime Lab for the show's first eight seasons, and Dourdan seemed an affable presence on set when fansite "CSI Files" got to tour filming locations, even posing for a photo at the craft services table. However, according to TV Guide, failed contract negotiations led to the end of Dourdan's time on the show, and Warrick was killed off in the Season 8 finale. 

Though you might think eight seasons on a highly-successful network show would be enough to set an actor up for life, it seems that Dourdan tragically had not been saving his money. Within a few years of departing "CSI," after a string of legal troubles, the actor filed for bankruptcy, per TMZ. According to documents filed in court, Dourdan claimed that his disposable income added up to a mere $321 a month after all of his bills were paid. According to a Page Six report, the actor apparently blamed his lack of funds on his character's death, meaning that he couldn't return to the show to recoup the fame and wealth that had come with the part for his first few years on television.

Thankfully, per IMDb, he seems to have turned his career around; Dourdan had recurring roles throughout the 2010s on shows like "Being Mary Jane" and, more recently, "First Wives Club."

Jorja Fox signed a gag order she regrets

Jorja Fox played Sara Sidle on and off throughout the run of "CSI," having left the show for a few years in the middle of its run before returning to finish out the show. She also reprised the character on the show's reboot, joining "CSI: Vegas" in 2021. "Sara obviously is my favorite character that I've ever played. I would never, ever tire of being Sara," she told Parade about returning to the show. She noted another thing that drew her back to the world of the Vegas Crime Lab, realizing, "the science has evolved in so many exciting ways."

Off-screen, Fox seems to have encountered some trouble in her past, though she can't explain what. In an interview about what she described as the "worst moment" of her long career, Fox revealed to the Chicago Tribune that she once signed a non-disclosure agreement that prevents her from talking about something she was involved in. "I didn't receive any compensation for it," she noted, adding, "I just happened to be privy to information that sort of challenged or maybe brought into question an accepted narrative and an accepted truth. And I was someone who would have been able to speak against that narrative." Instead, she signed the "gag order," though she now wishes she hadn't done so. "it wasn't a good decision. I felt that my legs had been cut out from under me," she recalled.

Wallace Langham assaulted a reporter

Wallace Langham joined "CSI" in 2003 as David Hodges, a new addition to the Vegas Crime Lab. He started as a simple guest star, but the character was such a hit that he became a series regular. Speaking with fansite CSI Files, Langham said that he had actually never seen the show before he was added to the cast, and he credited co-star William Petersen for helping him get his bearings. "I had no idea it would last for ten years the way it's gone. It's been a gift the whole way," he reflected.

Before he signed on to "CSI," Langham was best known as a cast member on "Veronica's Closet." He played Josh Blair, a closeted gay man, but it seems that in real life, Langham was far less accepting than his character. In 1999, he was charged with assaulting a tabloid reporter, accused of hurling homophobic insults at him as well as physically attacking him. His spokeswoman denied the allegations, insisting (via New York Post), "This incident was the furthest thing from a hate crime." According to the Associated Press, Langham's victim went to the hospital after the altercation, where he was treated for an injured jaw.

Still, Langham (and David Hodges) returned when "CSI" did; the actor appeared in four episodes of "CSI: Vegas" in 2021, according to IMDb.