CSI: Vegas Canceled After Season 3 At CBS

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

csi: vegas

The original CSI: Crime Scene Investigation forever changed the television landscape, ushering in an era of forensic procedural television that looks like it will never end. The show launched a bevy of spinoffs featuring different forensics teams in different places, but after the original CSI ended in 2015, some fans wanted the franchise to return to where it all started. Those fans got their wish with the launch of CSI: Vegas in 2021, but CBS has now canceled this popular spinoff.

Fan-Favorite Characters Wasn’t Enough To Save CSI: Vegas

As a nostalgia project, CSI: Vegas was always something of a mixed bag. Fans of the original CSI were thrilled to see fan-favorite actors William Petersen and Jorja Fox return for the first season, but it was clear they were mostly here to pass the torch to a new generation of forensic investigators. Those actors departed after season one, with another CSI veteran, Marg Helgenberger, returning for season two (throughout the show, we also got guest appearances from former CSI stars Wallace Langham, Paul Guilfoyle, and Eric Szmanda).

Low Viewership

CSI: Vegas made it for three seasons before being canceled, and that cancellation certainly leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of many fans. Three seasons might sound respectable enough for a revival show in the streaming era, but the original CSI was airing new eps for a staggering 15 years. Compared to that, CSI: Vegas is just one drop in a very large ocean of forensics television.

You don’t have to have the investigative skills of Gil Grissom to figure out why CBS canceled CSI: Vegas. Fans were hopeful for the show because its season three audience (so far) has been up eight percent from season two. But television is a numbers game, and out of the whopping 14 dramas the network has unleashed this season, the only one that this CSI spinoff is outperforming is NCIS: Sydney, a show that just debuted in November 2023.

CBS Tried Saving CSI: Vegas

Angry CSI: Las Vegas fans might think that CBS should have done more to keep this spinoff alive considering how the original CSI arguably built the network into what it is today. The truth, though, is that CBS already tried to give it a boost by moving the show from its usual Thursday night time slot to Sunday, where it ran right before Tracker (one of the most popular dramas on television right now). This likely played a part in that eight percent bump from season two, but that wasn’t enough to save the show for the simple reason that most of the other dramas are performing better than expected.

The Spinoff Problem

The fact that competing dramas are performing so well made the audience boost for CSI: Vegas look paltry by comparison, causing execs to pull the plug on this plucky spinoff. There is some dark irony at play here: the original CSI was so popular that it led to several spinoffs, effectively teaching CBS how profitable it could be to endlessly expand their most popular shows with new series. Now, CSI: Vegas got canceled because it can’t keep up with the popularity of other successful spinoffs ranging from Young Sheldon to three concurrently airing FBI shows.

CSI: Vegas Will Be Missed

The CBS suits may tell us it all makes perfect financial sense, but the fandom will certainly miss CSI: Vegas. In addition to having engaging stories in its own right, the show felt like a fun, nostalgic throwback to the early days of forensic procedural television. If fans want to see characters like Gil Grissom and Catherine Willows on TV again, we can just hope they pop up in one of the Big Bang Theory spinoffs investigating the aftermath of Sheldon finally snapping.