Wiki Headlines
It's time for the second TV Tropes Halloween Avatar Contest, theme: cute monsters! Details and voting here.

main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Characters: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation

Dr. Gilbert "Gil" Grissom (William Petersen)

  • Adorkable
  • Alliterative Name
  • Badass Bookworm
  • Berserk Button: Drug dealers, especially those who sell to young people, and scientists who sell their integrity for personal gain.
    • And anyone who tries to hurt Sara. Pity that didn't include him.
    • In-universe, Grissom cites three Berserk buttons
    Grissom: "There's three things I got a real problem with: Guys that hit their wives, sexual assault on children and the scum that deal death to kids."
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: He quotes Shakespeare, loves crossword puzzles, and races cockroaches for fun.
  • Can Not Spit It Out: His feelings for Sara in the first couple of seasons, even being so unsure about a possible commitment to the point where he rejects her initial advances.
  • Cool Old Guy
  • A Father to His Men: His paternal leadership style, especially visible with Greg, Nick and Warrick especially right before Warrick gets killed, and afterwards.
  • Flanderization In regards to his stoicism. In the first season, he was prone to bouts of anger (once slapping a coffee pot out of Ecklie's hand, enraged) and happiness (even—gasp—smiling! With teeth and all!). By Season 3, his character was shaped into being level-headed at all times, even in normal conversation. Justifiable in that he starts to retreat emotionally during his struggle with his hearing loss.
  • Friend to Bugs
  • Game of Nerds: He likes baseball.
  • Intelligence Equals Isolation: Especially in the earlier seasons. Despite his intelligence and expert grasp of human nature, Grissom lead a very isolated life, and rebuffed most opportunities of interaction outside of the workplace. He even turned down Sara's initial dating requests in Season 3.
  • Married to the Job : For most of the series, at least until he married Sara. Catherine used to tell him to take his head out of his microscope once in a while.
  • Nice Hat: Seen sporting a straw sunhat in more than one episode. It was once complimented by a hooker.
    • And that hat belongs to Petersen himself acquired from his own travels.
  • Not That Kind of Doctor
  • Papa Wolf: Pretty much the only way to get him riled up is to either threaten one of his teammates, especially Sara, or do anything to endanger children
  • Platonic Life Partners: With Catherine. They are obviously best friends, but there's also no hint of sexual chemistry between them.
  • Put on a Bus: If he comes back...
    • He did have a cameo in season 12's "The Two Mrs.Grissoms"
  • Quip to Black: Famous for it — used to be the Trope Namer
  • Sarcasm Failure: When he doesn't use the above
  • Science Hero
  • Seeker Archetype
  • Serious Business: Racing cockroaches. One of the first time we see him take some time off and puts Catherine in charge is when he goes to a conference to race his vermin. It doesn't go so well ("Stage fright.")
  • Silver Fox: Despite his nerdiness and aloofness, he still gathers a lot of female admirers (in-universe and out), even when he shies away from the unwanted attention.
  • The Smart Guy
  • The Spock
  • Team Dad: To the boys more than Sara (obviously), but especially to Warrick and Nick.

Catherine Willows (Marg Helgenberger)

  • Action Girl: She can stand up for herself when she needs to.
  • Deadpan Snarker
  • Faking the Dead: With D.B. to escape the bad guys before her departure
  • Fiery Redhead
  • Heroic Bastard: It's established early on that she was raised by a single mother, but it's only later that she learns her father is Sam Braun, who leaves her a chunk of his casino after he dies.
  • Mama Bear: Messing with her daughter? Big mistake. The same applies to her team members
  • Ms. Fanservice: She used to be a stripper, way back in the day (and not an Old Shame for her, even when a DA tries to use it against her in court). She's had a couple of Toplessness from the Back scenes and an interrogation where she unbuttoned her blouse every time her suspect gave her an answer.
  • Official Couple: With Vartaan. For a while, anyway.
  • Platonic Life Partners: With Grissom.
  • Put on a Bus: Season 12. She's with the FBI now.
  • Redheaded Hero
  • Revenge Before Reason: Her automatic hatred towards registered sex offenders and anyone she even suspects of being a child abuser.
    • The long version: Catherine has several times had a very strong reaction to cases where a little girl is the victim of their case, to the point where she will allow her own emotions to cloud her judgement. It is hinted this is because she is the mother of a young girl. Her emotions have caused her to severely jump the gun when it comes to a suspect and showing no hesitation to add her own verbal disgust and disbelief towards a suspect when they tells her their side of the story. Sara even once lampshaded this by snarking that it was "fun" to hear Catherine's theories rather than process the actual evidence. Ironically, every time she has let her emotions take control of a case like this, who her hatred is focused towards has always turned out to be a mere victim of "being at the wrong place at wrong time", shown by the evidence they were in no way involved with the case, but by the time that is revealed she often has completely ruined said guy's life.
    • Brutal case and point being Leo Finley from "A Thousand Days on Earth". She believed he was a child molester because of his name on the Sexual Predator Watch List though he was only there because of an incident where he got high on hallucinogenics and walked out naked in front of a bus full of children. After the man's fiance found out about his past (through Catherine vindictively outing him) and that he was using an assumed name, she kicked him out of the house and then got him fired by telling his boss. The man walked up to Catherine in the parking lot after this, threatening to shoot himself in the head on her front lawn one day, even calling her a "blonde Nazi bitch" when she insists she was just doing her job.
  • Scare 'Em Straight: In response to Lindsey's reckless hitchhiking, her mom drags her into the morgue to view a dead hitchhiker (to Dr. Robbins' disapproval).
  • Ship Tease: With Warrick, up until his marriage. She even referred to the event as the "end of a fantasy".
  • Single Mom Stripper: Retired.
  • Team Mom
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Old-school casino owner Sam Braun, who is shifty to say the least.

Nick Stokes (George Eads)

Warrick Brown (Gary Dourdan)

Sara Sidle (Jorja Fox)

  • Alliterative Name
  • Berserk Button: Domestic violence, especially spouses murdering each other.
  • Broken Bird
  • Commuting on a Bus: As of season 10, she's on the line...she's listed as a series regular, but only appears in a certain number of episodes per season.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Her mother killed her father, who was abusive to both her and her mother. She ended up in foster care.
    • Not to mention the stuff that's happened to her since.
  • Freudian Excuse
  • Hint Dropping: Tries this as a tactic while trying to court Grissom. She once told Hodges (who was fretting about a possible grey hair) that she finds grey hair rather sexy, while standing next to Grissom. Eventually, she point-blank asks him out, which he refuses. After a couple of more years, he eventually comes around to Glad You Thought of It.
  • Hot For Supervisor
  • The Lancer
  • The Maiden Name Debate: She still uses "Sidle" now that she is married to Grissom. Now that she is separated from him as of Season 13, the question is now moot.
  • Married to the Job: At least until she married Grissom. Now separated.
  • May-December Romance: With Grissom; the actors are 16 years apart in real life. Not that it matters to Sara, who as mentioned above, has a thing for silver foxes.
  • Put on a Bus: She's taken a round trip, having come back to assist the team when they're short-staffed in the most recent season.
  • Relationship Reveal: with Grissom
  • Second Episode Introduction: Comes in to help the team per request of (who else?) Grissom in the second episode following the death of the Na´ve Newcomer and stays on board.
  • UST: For YEARS with Grissom before Season 6 ended with the above trope.

Greg Sanders (Eric Szmanda)

Dr. Raymond Langston (Laurence Fishburne)

  • Bowties Are Cool: Averted. Langston begins wearing bowties for practicality after his necktie was contaminated at his first crime scene and he had to cut it as evidence.
  • Crazy-Prepared
  • Enemy Within
  • Extreme Melee Revenge: Does this to Haskell in "In A Dark, Dark House."
  • Freudian Excuse: Played with. His father was apparently violent, and Raymond worries that he may become that way himself. He also has a gene that has been associated with violent behaviour. On the other hand, when faced with Serial Killer Nate Haskell, who has the same gene and his own abusive father, he testifies in open court against his attempt to use this card, and afterwards Haskell admits to him that he decided in his youth he'd blame it on those things if he were ever caught.
  • I Am Not My Father
  • Not That Kind of Doctor: Inverted, he is that kind of doctor (or rather, he used to be).
  • The Professor
  • Put on a Bus
  • Token Minority

Riley Adams (Lauren Lee Smith)

D.B. Russell (Ted Danson)

  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Almost as much, if not more, than Grissom.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Sometimes, at least.
  • Cool Old Guy
  • Do Not Call Me Paul: See below for why.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Diebenkorn Russell.
  • Faking the Dead: Does it with Catherine to escape the posse of hitmen after them.
    • Also in his premiere as well as he is posing as a dead body for "investigative purposes".
  • I Have Your Granddaughter: McKeen's people do this to him in the Season 12 finale.
  • Happily Married: The only CSI to be this from the beginning, although things get strained later on when his granddaughter is kidnapped (There's Grissom and Sara, but that came later)
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Not to Langston, but rather Grissom.
  • Team Dad: Picking up where Grissom left off, but in a different kind of way since D.B. is a literal father as well. He's especially this trope for Greg and Morgan, the two youngest CSIs. (Morgan's actual father, Ecklie, practically states this trope directly in CSI Down.)
  • True Companions: He regards the CSI team as this. They're a little weirded out by it.
  • Unfortunate Name: Diebenkorn.

Morgan Brody (Elisabeth Harnois)

  • Heroic BSOD: She's showing some signs of this following her abduction and shooting in season 14.
  • Hot Scientist:
    Greg: That's Ecklie's daughter?
  • Ms. Fanservice: Wears more makeup than the other team members and her clip in the titles involves her running in a tight white T-shirt.
  • Parental Abandonment: Ecklie left when she was 14. She uses the surname of her stepfather.
  • Ship Tease: Several moments with Greg and, believe it or not, Hodges, whom she pretends to date to impress his mother.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: A Type II with Greg and Sara is shaping up.
    • Absolutely has this with Hodges. They bicker frequently, but clearly care about each other. Morgan actually flat-out refers to him as her best friend, and even once agreed to pretend to date him in order to get his mother off his back. (And now that her father is dating his mother, well, both the bickering and the caring have gotten more interesting.)
  • "Well Done, Daughter" Girl: Seems to have a bit of this with her father Ecklie.

Julie 'Finn' Finlay (Elizabeth Shue)

  • Berserk Button: Corporate crime, and especially powerful people who get away with crimes due to connections.
  • Do Not Call Me Paul: D.B. is the only person who'll call her 'Jules' and she doesn't like it. She prefers Finn.
    • Interestingly, D.B.'s wife also calls her 'Jules', and she doesn't even react.
  • Last Name Basis: Sort of.
  • Sleeves Are for Wimps: The most likely of the current female team to not wear sleeves.

Dr. Albert "Al" Robbins (Robert David Hall)

David Phillips (David Berman)

David Hodges (Wallace Langham)

Wendy Simms (Liz Vassey)

Mandy Webster (Sheeri Rappaport)

Archie Johnson (Archie Kao)

Henry Andrews (Jon Wellner)

Bobby Dawson (Gerald McCullouch)

Ronnie Litra (Eric Stonestreet)

Captain Jim Brass (Paul Guilfoyle)

  • All of the Other Reindeer: A Bullet Runs Through It, where the other cops shun him at the dead officer's funeral.
  • Berserk Button: Bad fathers, likely because he wishes he could've been a better one.
  • Cool Old Guy
  • Deadpan Snarker: On Vegas' staggeringly-high murder rate: "We're very competitive!"
  • Dirty Cop : Originally a big subversion of this, stating how he refused to be bought or get dirty, but now drifting into that territory as of the end of season 11. He covered for Ray when Ray killed Nate Haskell, and was reluctant to help catch a killer who was killing other killers.
  • Et Tu, Officers?: In the episode, "A Bullet Runs Through It", he felt this way when one by one, all of the other officers walk away from him at the dead officer's funeral.
  • Jerkass In Season 1.
  • Mr. Exposition: He's the man who gives both the team and the audience information on the latest victim of the week.
  • Outranking Your Job: Spends a lot of time personally investigating crime scenes and chasing down suspects for a police captain.
  • Parental Issues: He still loves his daughter despite knowing that she's not his. Her... not so much, to the point that when Brass is shot he gives power of attorney to Grissom rather than to her.
  • Semper Fi: Vietnam Marine vet.
  • Twitter: He tweets.
  • Your Cheating Heart: He and his ex-wife mutually cheated on each other before their divorce, and he knows that his daughter isn't actually his.

Sofia Curtis (Louise Lombard)

Conrad Ecklie (Marc Vann)

  • A Day in the Limelight: The B-plot of one episode featured Ecklie handling the investigation himself when the main characters were unavailable.
  • Ambition Is Evil: The real reason he was such an ass to Grissom and the team was because he thought that Grissom had the same ambitions he did. Once he realized that Grissom and the team wouldn't keep him from fulfilling his goals, he eased off considerably.
    • His behavior in the season 14 episode "Consumed," though, suggests that running for sheriff may cause him to relapse.
  • Big Bad: Arguably, of season five. He never does anything illegal, but his antagonistic actions drive the overarching plot of that season.
  • Character Development: A fairly significant example of this. He's almost a completely different person now than he was in season 1. He makes a pretty seamless transition from Jerkass to Jerk with a Heart of Gold. After 13 seasons he's still can be a bit nasty at times, but he has the respect of the team and the department as a whole, and he's absolutely a Reasonable Authority Figure now. (He's aware of it, too: when he talks to Morgan about being offered the sheriff position, he admits that part of the reason he isn't sure about it is because he's afraid he'll revert to the manipulative asshole he used to be.)
  • Da Chief: He starts out as the day shift supervisor, then becomes director of the lab, and is later promoted to undersheriff of the entire department.
    • Come mid-Season 13 he's the new sheriff. He almost didn't take it at first, because he was worried that he'd revert to the Jerkass he used to be.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Supplies a rather nasty and completely out-of-nowhere one in "Fracked". (Though, granted, it's fairly clear that there's not much he can do.)
  • Heroic BSOD: This is debatably the cause of his considering leaving his job in season 13. He doesn't show any signs of being tired of his job until the corruption of the department and his shooting.
  • Jerkass: Definitely one pre-Season 6.
    • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Developed into one, and a Reasonable Authority Figure, pretty nicely afterwards. His statement that he would've helped Grissom and Sara avoid any conflicts because of their relationship certainly sounded genuine, and he's been mostly a lot nicer to the team while still keeping his prickly attitude. Come the later seasons, and he's been even better with Morgan around.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: He's extremely ambitious, and saw Grissom as competition. At different points, he would try and undermine the team's work.
  • Rank Up: To Undersheriff and eventually Sheriff.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: When Nick was Buried Alive, Ecklie pulled some strings to gather the ransom his kidnapper, and relations between him and the night shift have mostly thawed since then. Ecklie came into his own as Asst. Director, where his talent for juggling the top brass and news media have proven to be an asset to the team.
    • Now he's the new sheriff, and he seems to have kept his reasonableness. The only time so far that he's really pushed back against the team is when he's faced with having to give permission for his own daughter to be used as bait for a serial killer. A perfect example of his reasonable attitude is when Finn and Nick clash with a fire investigator at an arson scene. The investigator calls in Ecklie with "concerns" about their methods, and before passing any judgements, Ecklie hears Nick and Finn out and even takes his jacket off and helps them dig through a burnt-out building to prove their theory.
  • The Rival: To Grissom, who deplores Ecklie's careerism.
  • Smug Snake: Pre-"Grave Danger." He took utmost pleasure in seeing Grissom's team humiliated, and even worked to get Nick convicted of murder once purely out of spite.
  • Taking the Bullet: For his daughter when he gets gunned down in Homecoming. It's possible that they had been aiming intentionally for him, but given that he shot McKeen's son, it seems likely that Morgan was the target.
  • Parental Abandonment: He left when Morgan was 14.

Jeffrey McKeen (Conor O'Farrell)

Heather Kessler (Melinda Clarke)

  • Absurdly Youthful Mother: In appearance, anyway; this is her in her first appearance, at which point she already has a college-age daughter. See Playing Gertrude below.
  • Brains and Bondage: A licensed therapist... who also happens to run an S&M club.
  • Dominatrix
  • Driven to Suicide: Sort of. In one episode, she hires a guy to kill her because she lost custody of her granddaughter. She lives, though.
  • Drop-In Character: Cases have a weird way of tracing back to her.
  • Ethical Slut: As befits her profession as a Dominatrix.
  • Good People Have Good Sex: In a series that conforms to this trope to an almost unfortunate degree, she remains the one notable aversion. Her practices still make her dark and troubled, however.
  • The Maiden Name Debate: Strangely enough, she apparently took her husband's name.
  • Mama Bear: Do not mess with her daughter.
  • Of Corsets Sexy: Wearing one when we first meet her.
  • Playing Gertrude: Melinda Clarke was 32 when she first played the role of a character who, given her daughter's age, was probably intended to be in her early forties. Melinda wasn't even 40 by the time Heather became a grandmother in the show.
  • The Vamp: Used for good! In her third appearance, she sleeps with Leon Sneller, the guy who killed her daughter to get evidence from him to give the team.
  • Whip It Good: Used horrifyingly in "Pirates of the Third Reich" when she captures Sneller, ties him to her car, and proceeds to try to whip him to death. Grissom talks her out of it.

Sam Braun (Scott Wilson)

  • Big Screwed-Up Family: One son is a murderer, the other a heartless casino shark, and Sam himself might possibly be both. At least there's Catherine.
  • Cain and Abel: One of his sons killed the other out of jealousy.
  • Catherine, I Am Your Father: We'd been informed he was an ex-boyfriend of her mother in prior episodes, so there was some foreshadowing.
  • Corrupt Casino Head
  • Dirty Old Man: Definitely seems to prefer his women a full generation younger than him.
  • Disappeared Dad
  • The Don: Gives off this impression, but nothing's ever proven beyond this.
  • Drop-In Character: It's apparently a small Vegas after all, because like Heather, his name comes up in a frankly absurd amount of cases. The difference, of course, being that while Heather usually takes the role of key witness, Sam being who he is is often the prime suspect.
  • Karma Houdini/Not Proven: He was a suspect in a murder from decades ago, and Catherine wholeheartedly believes it was him, but there was another suspect whom all the evidence seemed to point to and Sam is never charged.
  • Kick the Dog: Organizing the bank robbery that gets Detective Lockwood killed. Kept from being a full-on Moral Event Horizon-crossing by the fact that Sam didn't intend anyone to die and the Ax-Crazy head robber went off the rails, but the fact that he was willing to put innocent people and lovable supporting cast members in a life-threatening situation purely for his own benefit is a pretty huge dick move.
  • Morality Pet: Catherine. He also expresses genuine affection for Catherine's mother and Lindsay, but is never seen interacting with them on-screen.
  • Pet the Dog: Hates himself for favoring his older son, leading to the jealous younger one killing him.
  • Red Herring: No matter how good him motive or opportunity might've been, he is always this.
  • Sleazy and Hedonistic Old Folks
  • Vigilante Execution: the domestic partner of a man Braun had financially ruined.

Paul Millander (Matt O'Toole)

  • Chekhov's Gun: The rubber hands he made in his shop, the hand impression his father made for him, and the ID his son made for Grissom all turn out to be crucial to the case.
  • The Chessmaster: Far smarter than the entire team put together.
  • Dark Is Evil: Before going on the run he was the owner of a shop that sold seriously grisly Halloween props.
  • Evil Counterpart: To Grissom.
  • Freudian Excuse: He (or rather, "she" at the time) watched as his father was murdered and the death made to look like a suicide in his own home, and then his testimony was thrown out at the trial and the killers went free.
  • Hanging Judge: In his Secret Identity
  • The Heavy: For much of seasons 1 and 2.
  • Karma Houdini: Of a sort; he commits suicide, in the same way he killed his victims no less, to deny Grissom the satisfaction of sending him to jail.
  • Mommy Issues: His mother ostracized him after his operation. He repays her with a knife to the gut.
  • That One Case: For Grissom.
  • Pet the Dog: Revealed posthumously; he honestly loved his adopted son.
  • Secret Identity: As a judge, complete with a family who know nothing of his murderous ways.
  • Serial Killer: The series's first, and the setter of the standard for season-long arcs focusing on serial killers.
  • Series Continuity Error: A major plot point in his last episode is that he and his father have the same name... except that the elder Millander's name was given as "John" in a prior episode.
  • Transsexual: He felt the reason his father's killers went free after his testimony was thrown out was that he was a girl and therefore "weak," so he decided to become a man, though it was implied he had gender identity issues going further back than this.

Crossing LinesCharacters/Live-Action TVCSI: Miami

TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy