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The Best Female Investigator On CSI, According To Fans

Saying that the police procedural genre is oversaturated would be a vast understatement. Year after year, TV networks and streaming services churn out dozens of episodes of series, many of which get canceled after only a few seasons. In the sea of crime shows, only a couple have made enough of a name for themselves to withstand the test of time and generate a few spin-offs. One such show is "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation." Over the course of its 15-season-long run, it became a true staple of American TV, avidly watched by millions of viewers in the U.S. and around the world, even becoming the most-watched series in the entire world at one point (via HuffPost).  

Alongside "Law & Order: SVU," which started airing around the same time, the forensics-focused crime show was one of the few TV series to regularly feature strong women lead characters in the early 2000s. A few months ago, one "CSI" fan posted a poll on Reddit, which was meant to answer the age-old question: who was the best female crime scene investigator on the show? 

Catherine Willows won the vote by a long shot

To those who've been watching "CSI" and its spin-offs, the voting results will not be surprising, to say the least. Catherine Willows (Marg Helgenberger), who was one of the series' leads since Season 1, came out on top of the poll with 134 votes. Despite five other characters being included in the poll, only one of them came close to Willows It was Sara Sidle (Jorja Fox), another mainstay of the series, who, unlike Willows who was written out in Season 12, remained on "CSI" until the very final episode. She got 91 votes, which is impressive, but still quite a ways off from Willows' overwhelming majority. The other detectives in the poll failed to break the 10-vote mark. 

The comment section was a bit more divided than the poll itself, though. The top comment from u/Thatsmelv was supportive of Willow, saying that "she is and will always be the face of 'CSI' when I think about it." However, much of the rest of the comments viewed Sidle in a more favorable light, with u/ThisOldMeme claiming that "her flaws and passion for the job made her more real as a character," while u/Unusual_Blacksmith13 outright calling Willows "hypocritical."

Regardless of where you stand on the issue, Catherine Willows is undeniably one of the most iconic characters in all of crime drama, and it's clear that Marg Helgenberger grew very attached to Willows throughout the years. During a recent panel talk, she spoke about her relationship with the role, why she quit the show in Season 12, and gave her reasons for returning to "CSI: Vegas." She said that she needed a break from Willows, saying, "I played the role for so long. It felt like it had become a part of my identity (...) I wanted to make sure there was a reason Catherine would come back to the job" (via Deadline). Thankfully, the "CSI: Vegas" showrunner Jason Tracey managed to convince Helgenberger, and she reprised her role in the "CSI" spin-off at the start of Season 2.