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The Subtle Detail In CSI That Makes It Completely Unrealistic

When CBS crime hit "CSI" concluded with the feature-length episode "Immortality" in 2015, the show wrapped up an astonishing run of fifteen seasons and 337 episodes. The Jerry Bruckheimer-produced drama went through three Las Vegas Crime Lab directors, including Gil Grissom (William Petersen), Dr. Raymond Langston (Laurence Fishburne), and D.B. Russell (Ted Danson), but the basic concept remained the same: a team of crime scene investigators using physical evidence to solve murders. The group often encountered downright horrific and violent situations but always put their technology and skills into closing the grueling cases.

"CSI" has also been heavily criticized by actual law enforcement and forensic scientists, however, for glamorizing their jobs and inaccurately depicting crime scenes and working conditions, according to Rasmussen University. But there's one glaring error in particular that appears in almost every episode and is especially egregious if you're a professional in criminal justice. Fans of the series might not have picked up on it, but those in the industry definitely have.

Forensic testing doesn't yield fast results

On "CSI," the technology and forensics used were often technically accurate, but they repeatedly cheated on how long specific tests would take to reveal evidence. "CSI" had to put a case into a forty-minute timeframe for an episode, so tests that would take days or weeks to come back in reality only took a few seconds on the show.

In an interview with Rasmussen University's criminal justice blog, Brian McKenna, a former CSI investigator, commented that "I roll my eyes about the speed at which crime scene investigators [on TV] get results back from the lab. It takes a very long time to process a lot of the evidence obtained, especially Hollywood's most popular kind of evidence — DNA."

According to Slate, forensic science itself has often been critiqued as biased and unreliable, even if many jurors now trust it thanks to shows like "CSI." It'll be interesting to see if the upcoming sequel series, "CSI: Vegas," featuring a returning William Petersen, will incorporate criticisms of the field into the show.

You can currently watch all fifteen seasons of "CSI" on Hulu.