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What CSI: Miami Gets Wrong About Autopsies

A spinoff of the crime procedural "CSI," "CSI: Miami" was nearly as successful as its parent show until it ended in 2012. David Caruso starred in all 10 seasons as the quippy, coolheaded Lieutenant Horatio Caine, the head of Miami's Crime Scene Investigations. CSI is an elite unit of investigators who specialize in using forensic science, autopsies, and direct evidence to put away bad guys and solve the many murders around their city.

However, the "CSI" franchise has been criticized for the general inaccuracy of the science depicted on its shows, and in particular unrealistic forensic science, portraying it as consistently reliable to the extent that it has marred many actual legal cases (via Slate). The "CSI" shows are good at depicting horrific if entertaining crimes, but not always capturing the reality of actually solving them.

One detail on "CSI: Miami" that's especially egregious is related to postmortem examinations, and many other crime shows similarly commit this serious error. Here's what the show frequently gets wrong about autopsies over the course of 10 seasons.

No one can bring clothes from outside into a medical examiner's office

Throughout "CSI: Miami," characters like Caine and Calleigh Duquesne (Emily Procter) casually stride into the office of medical examiner Alexx Woods (Khandi Alexander) and discuss the murders while watching her proceed with the autopsy, usually while wearing clothes they had on in the street. In reality, this is not how it would ever work. According to NCEPOD, wearing outside clothes in an autopsy could contaminate the evidence and would never be done in a real medical examiner's office. Not only that, but the police department would likely be shut down because of the serious health code violation involved.

Even if crime shows tried to be more accurate with the details, they still inflate the importance of forensic autopsies anyway. In an interview with How Stuff Works, former Fulton County Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Eric Kiesel commented that contrary to the role of medical examiners on television, "the autopsy's going to tell you why they died, what killed them — but it won't necessarily tell you why they did it. So, all of the answers aren't going to be there."

"CSI: Miami" is currently streaming on Paramount+.