Fifteen years of pretending to analyze improbable splatters of bodily fluids probably takes its toll on an actor’s soul. And thus the sad news that the longest-tenured cast member of the original CSI, George Eads, will not be returning to the show after this season. There’s been no confirmation that the warhorse of crime procedurals will be picked up for another season, and CBS has already cut the order for this season down to 18 episodes. But the news that Eads’ character, Detective Nick Stokes, will be leaving the show is yet another in a revolving door of detectives and field scientists that have populated the super fancy Las Vegas crime lab for the last decade and a half.
Eads hasn’t always had a smooth relationship with his employers at CBS: In 2013, he took a brief leave from the show after having a heated argument with a writer about the direction of his character. And in 2004, Eads and co-star Jorja Fox were fired from the show in a contract dispute, but were rehired two weeks later without missing any of that season’s episodes. After the departures of original cast members William Petersen, Gary Dourdan, Marg Helgenberger, and Paul Guilfoyle over the past six seasons, Eads and Eric Szmanda were left as the only cast members who’d been with the show since its debut in 2000. Co-showrunner Carol Mendelsohn, who’s also been on board since the beginning of the series, announced earlier this year that she’s also leaving at the end of the season.
Neither Eads nor CBS has issued official comment on the report, but TV Guide says the character’s departure will be related to the ongoing investigation into the Gig Harbor Killer, leaving fans of Nick Stokes to worry that the poor scientist-detective will end up mutilated so badly, even the crack criminalists of Las Vegas won’t be able to identify him. The guy already survived Quentin Tarantino trying to bury him alive: are they really going to let him suffer the indignity of being finished off by a killer named for a body of water in Washington that isn’t the Green River? Since this is CSI, the answer is probably “yes,”and it will surely also be extremely messy.