The History Of CSI's 'Puts On Sunglasses' Meme Explained

Whether you've watched every iteration of the franchise or you've been dodging police procedurals like they were bullets for the last two decades, you're probably at least a little familiar with the sunglasses meme from "CSI: Miami." While it's hard to pinpoint exactly when the cold opens for the spinoff series took off as a pop culture staple, viewers will probably know it like clockwork by now. 

For the uninitiated, though, it goes something like this. Horatio Caine (David Caruso) arrives at a "CSI: Miami" crime scene and engages in banter or conjecture with another member of the team before they set him up for a really bad pun/Horatio one-liner, or he just does the full job himself. Like, let's say a TV falls and kills someone. Horatio might quip, "Yeah, it looks like he really tuned in," before placing his shades on. Or if a body floats up the river, someone might say, "Where did he come from?" only for Horatio to quip, "Sometimes these things just come up." 

This is, of course, accompanied by the iconic opening theme song, The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again," starting with the song's well-known "Yeaaaaaahhhhhhhh!" scream from singer Roger Daltrey. The formula eventually became so well-known and widely mocked that it has gone on to become the most noteworthy aspect of "CSI: Miami."

The meme has outlived its source material

The meme is so well known that it's been translated into ASCII, a popular coding format that recreates the moment in its simplest terms. However, if you don't spend that much time online, you may still have encountered it through the other TV shows that have lampooned the "CSI: Miami" opening.

Notably, "Supernatural" did an extended bit about it in Season 5, Episode 8 ("Changing Channels"). As Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) arrive at a crime scene, they drop a series of increasingly awful puns, repeatedly taking off and putting on their shades with each one. What really sells it, though, is that the other investigator on the scene can't help bursting out laughing at each one.

"The Simpsons" also mocked the trope on an episode that features the glorious one-liner, "Maybe he reached out ... and killed someone." Jim Carrey also famously sent up the trope on an episode of "Late Show with David Letterman." Honestly, there are countless examples of people widely mocking the structure that fueled so many episodes of "CSI: Miami," but if you just want hit after hit of the good stuff, you can check out the above compilation of the show's cold opens. It just goes to show that even though "CSI: Miami" often gets things wrong, it gets enough right to ... make a passing grade.