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CSI: Crime Scene Investigation

TV review by
Sierra Filucci, Common Sense Media
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation TV Poster Image
Science prevails in mature, long-running crime procedural.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 18 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 44 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

While every episode of the show is about law enforcement officials using science and creativity to solve crimes and stop criminals, the series' relentlessly dark, violent tone overshadows positive take-aways. Repeated focus on violence against women.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Although the main characters are strong and smart, they're also flawed -- as well as not very deeply developed. Female characters are just as integral (and important) to the drama as men.


Very bloody and gruesome. Lots of graphic inside-the-body shots. Many dead bodies. Occasional episodes feature the CSI crew in peril.


Varies from episode to episode; some installments have focused on sadomasochism, infantilism, etc. Some romance between characters, though very little explicit sexual content.


Occasional swearing -- "ass," "bitch," etc.


Product placement occurs subtly, mostly with cars and technology.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Relatively minor alcohol use by main characters. Drugs often play a role in crimes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this popular crime show features strong doses of graphic violence, as well as lots of blood, drug content, and sexual situations. Although the series' focus is on solving crimes and seeking justice, the violence is sometimes gratuitous, including a notable emphasis on murdered women. Character development is much less important than depicting the crimes; as a consequence, the show lacks a certain emotional resonance. Plots focusing on unusual lifestyles are treated with respect.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byLianab April 19, 2012
Adult Written bykoujokakyuu January 9, 2012

Excellent Procedural with Adult Themes

All the other reviews will tell you how tawdry things can be in Las Vegas. It is a crime-solving procedural, so things are often violent and sensationalized. Th... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byluke3854 November 8, 2009


I love this show, but for younger kids no. Really is Crime scene investigation so theres going to be drugs death ect.
Teen, 14 years old Written bytoplax23 January 3, 2010

great crime show, middle school and up

I love this show! this is definitely a top crime show. but every episode does have violence that maybe iffy for kids 11-. there can be some sexual content but i... Continue reading

What's the story?

Set against the flashy backdrop of Las Vegas, CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION follows a smart, good-looking crime lab crew as they use science and technology to solve the city's most gruesome crimes. Most episodes begin shortly before a victim is found dead, giving viewers a hint of what happened before the crime lab gets involved. Then the steel-stomached investigators arrive: Brainy, bug-obsessed Gil Grissom (William Petersen) is the original head of the team; former exotic dancer and single mother Catherine Willows (Marg Helgenberger) began the series as a supervisor and took over as boss when Grissom retired; and Warrick Brown (Gary Dourdan), Nick Stokes (George Eads), and Sara Sidle (Jorja Fox), Greg Sanders (Eric Szmanda) round out the rest of the cast. Rubber gloves, cotton swabs, fingerprint lifters, and keen senses play key roles in the initial evidence collection. Back at the lab, the crew tries to reconstruct the crime scene, testing theories against the evidence until the truth is revealed.

Is it any good?

Regularly staking out the top spot in the Nielsen ratings, CSI has had a broader affect on the real world. Universities across the country have seen an increase in enrollment in forensic science programs, and lawyers are finding that jurors are more familiar with DNA evidence and other forensic processes. This documented phenomenon is called "the CSI effect." People love the show because of its voyeuristic appeal; plus, no matter how bizarre the crime, the CSI team can always solve it, offering a satisfying conclusion each week.

The show's success has resulted in two CBS offshoots to date (as well as numerous imitators on other networks): CSI: Miami and CSI: NY. While both of these shows have strong followings, neither rises to the level of the original in casting, characterization, or complexity.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why the show repeatedly focuses on abuse against vulnerable people. Is this a reflection of reality?

  • How do kids feel when they see gory images, even in the context of scientific discovery?

  • What fascinates kids about the methods the investigators use to solve the crimes? Do you think the show's use of technology is realistic?

TV details

For kids who love thrills

Our editors recommend

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