YMMV / CSI

  • Acceptable Targets: Any relatively harmless modern subculture that seems scary or dangerous to the general public or the target audience.
    • Gamers and gaming in "Hitting for the Cycle". For the love of all that is holy...
    • Subverted in, of all places, the episode that dealt with actual circus freaks. The freaks are the most sympathetic characters in the episode, are not portrayed as pathetic or as people to be looked down on, and the killer turns out to be by far the most "normal" out of all the suspects.
    • In at least three different instances, sex offenders were "outed" to their neighbors (and thus had their lives ruined by the CSIs) despite fact that in all three cases, the people involved had a) served their jail time and were now leading clean, unoffensive lives b) were only tangentally involved in the cases, if even that, and c) police investigators aren't supposed to give out information on suspects to the general public anyway regardless of what that information is, as doing so until a conviction occurs is a serious civil rights violation.
  • And You Thought It Would Fail: ABC turned the series down with the excuse of it being, "Too confusing for the average viewer". Of course, it became a smash hit for CBS and the start of the Forensic Drama genre. note 
  • Anvilicious: The episode centered around Internet bullying, though possibly a case where this needs to be brought to the public eye but it does get a bit egregious when Nick basically tries to say anyone who ever looked at the mocking videos, even if they did nothing about it or thought it was in bad taste, deserved to be put to the court system.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Sara is either one of the most compelling and woobieish characters on the show, or just plain crass and annoying.
    • Ray Langston...either he was a great character or Creator's Pet and really overused and given too much to do for a CSI 1.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: Sqweegel, a serial murderer out to avenge unpunished crimes... while wearing a rubber gimp suit, walking in a four-limbed hunch, and practically spitting his lines out. Despite hints he would return after escaping the cops he was never spoken of again.
  • Complete Monster:
    • Mandy and Cameron Klinefeld from season 4's "Assume Nothing" put the "unholy" back in Unholy Matrimony. A married couple united by a shared sexual fetish for rape and murder, the pair operate by abducting other husbands and wives, sexually torturing the women while making the men watch, with the ultimate goal of forcing them to Mercy Kill the women they love. They promise the husbands they can go free if they do this, but they're lying.
    • Season 12 Arc Villain Laura Gabriel is a ruthless arms smuggler and Big Bad Friend to Catherine Willows. Playing a meek and submissive wife to her sleazy private military firm head husband Mark, she uses this false personality to deflect blame off her and onto him as she funnels his company's weapons to The Mafia and The Cartels. When the investigation starts getting too close to the truth, she hires employees of the company to murder her own lawyer and all of his staff; following this, she kills the assassins and burns their bodies beyond recognition in order to fake her own death and that of her right-hand man. She intended for an enraged Catherine to summarily execute her husband, and placed a contract on Catherine herself to clean up the last remaining loose end, not caring for her old friend in the slightest.
  • Creator's Pet: Ray Langston. Many fans either dislike him or thinks he's So Okay, It's Average, yet in his run he had three season finales, the 200th episode and two season long serial killer arcs dedicated to him and his problems.
  • Critical Research Failure: "Fur and Loathing" makes some gross exaggerations, misinterpretations and otherwise wrong turns in the Furry Fandom. May be due to this series coming from Viacom, the same people behind MTV's Sex2K series.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: Being that the show is set in "Sin City," the victims and killers are frequently just as evil as the other. For example, the secondary crime in the very first episode featured a man who killed his slovenly, drug-addicted cousin who'd been mooching off him for three years. Can you truly say anyone's in the right in a situation like that?
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Greg and Hodges in earlier seasons; when they were promoted to main characters the other lab rats got the same treatment, with Archie and Mandy in particular being well loved by the fans.
  • Esoteric Happy Ending: "Ch-ch-ch-changes," the 100th episode, becomes this once the viewer remembers that the villains had an adorable little daughter who knew nothing of her parents' misdeeds and is now completely alone in the world, since even her nanny (who was also her surrogate mom since her mother is transgender and can't have children) was arrested for helping the couple cover up their crimes.
  • The Firefly Effect: Character example. Sofia Curtis, played by Louise Lombard. She was hardly developed, and only really had one episode focus on her (the episode "A Bullet Runs Through It"), but it seems the writers got bored with her. This resulted in Louise Lombard quitting the series, and moving back to England.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • An episode about a very troubled person shooting up the LVPD (three dead including the gunman, a teenager; additionally the person who manipulated him into shooting was arrested, at least a dozen wounded) aired the same day a very troubled person shoots up an army base (four dead including the gunman, over a dozen wounded).
    • "The Accused Is Entitled," which had an Expy of Johnny Depp being accused of murdering two women he had a one-night stand with and the cast being exasperated by the fact that his being a wealthy celebrity enables him to hire the best lawyers, scientists, etc. to help get him off. More than a decade later the real Depp would be accused of wife-beating, which along with other contemporary scandals related to Bill Cosby and Woody Allen among others has prompted serious discussion on the propensity of celebrities to get away with crimes.
    • The Final Boss of the series, in "Immortality", is a man who uses drugs to force his victims to commit suicide bombings along the Strip for him, sending Vegas into a state of panic. Two years later, the real Strip would see the deadliest mass murder in U.S. history, with nearly sixty people dead including the gunman - TEN TIMES more than the amount of people killed in the episode.
      • Even earlier than that, the Season 15 episode "Girls Gone Wilder" depicts a mass shooting inside a Strip hotel, which leaves nearly a dozen people dead. The last scene before the opening credits (the gunman, wielding an AR-15, watching over a crowd of people on a higher perch, prepared to take his first shot) makes this all the more uncomfortable.
    • In the Season 7 episode "Fannysmackin," caucasian Greg kills a teenage African-American gang member to stop him from beating a (also white) man to death, which sparks a subplot running through the next several episodes where the department is sued for wrongful death by the boy's family, and it's strongly implied that the family believes race to have been a motive in the killing. Greg is ultimately cleared, but fast forward to The New '10s and police departments all over the country have been dogged by accusations of racially-motivated killings of minority suspects, with the departments covering for the perpetrators, and suddenly he doesn't look so sympathetic.
  • Ho Yay: Nick and Greg. In fact, such a pairing has a large following, especially due to the subtext that occurs in their interactions.
  • Internet Backdraft: Never mention the episode "Fur and Loathing" to any member of the Furry Fandom.
  • Just Here for Godzilla: Many people tuned in to see the season 11 episode "Targets of Obsession" just to watch Justin Bieber's character get shot to death.
  • Magnificent Bastard:
    • The show's first-ever Arc Villain, Paul Millander, eludes the team at every turn, successfully impersonates a judge, and when finally cornered and caught simply decides to kill himself rather than let Grissom beat him.
    • The killing couple in the Black Comedy episode "Two and a Half Deaths" cover their tracks so expertly that they give an extremely detailed confession right to Grissom's face and still walk due to lack of evidence.
    • The blue paint killer ends his inaugural episode with the team still having no idea who the hell he is thanks to hiding his tracks so well, and Grissom bitterly musing that he may have come up against someone just plain smarter than him. Then in his return he plays Grissom at every turn, and the killings only end because that's what he wanted.
  • Memetic Mutation: Grissom literally Growing the Beard. It's arguably second to Chuck Norris.
  • Misaimed Marketing: The kids' science sets, even though the age range is tweens and teens, probably counts. Also the Club CSI chapter books.
  • Padding: The video games REALLY make you work to match fingerprints, DNA, and chemical samples.
  • Retroactive Recognition: A lot of secondary guest stars eventually found fame after their appearance on CSI. Rainn Wilson and John Krasinski both had guest spots before their own hit show, with Wilson having a memorable bit in one of the more popular episodes ("The Strip Strangler") as a possible suspect. And CSI NY 's Carmine Giovinazzo was a guest star on here before becoming a regular on the spinoff series. But, Word of God says the guest appearance wasn't an influence in casting him. A.J. Buckley, also from CSI NY, appeared on this show before becoming a regular on the spinoff.
    • Norm was the killer (sort of) in "Dog Eat Dog." The best example, however, is Eric Stonestreet as Ronnie Litra, the lab's questioned documents expert, who disappeared without explanation around the middle of Season 4... and is now quite famous as Cameron Tucker.
  • The Scrappy: Kevin, "Hitting for the Cycle". How on earth did he get hired? He bites the dust at the end of the episode.
  • Seasonal Rot: The first few seasons received much more acclaim than the later ones. To be fair its hard to avoid going stale when you have to keep making episodes for 15 years and the show is locked into a rather strict formula. One could make a case with show growing stale as early as Seasons 6/7, but it was likely Grissom's departure in Season 9 that really accelerated things.
  • Uncanny Valley: Somewhat discussed in "Lab Rats". See its quote under All Psychology Is Freudian on the main page.
  • The Woobie: All of the main cast have their moments, but Nick, Greg and arguably Sara get hit with it the most.
    • Heather in the Grand Finale. Having already lost her daughter to a crazed Neo-Nazi, she loses her little granddaughter to a random accident, shuts down both her therapy practice and her fetish club out of grief, is framed for multiple murders by a crazed stalker, and finally, at the very end, lets the man she loves go. One legitimately worries that she has nothing left in her life at all, especially since she's attempted suicide before.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/YMMV/CSI