According to Deadline, Laurence Fishburne left “CSI” because he was epxected to return to acting in movies full-time again. It was also reported that due to his star power, none of the show’s producers ever expected Fishburne to have a long tenure on the series, and when he opted to leave, it was of little surprise. The decision for Fishburne to exit could have also been amicable on the part of the show’s producers and CBS. Despite his iconic roles like Morpheus in “The Matrix” and the initial buzz he might have brought to “CSI” when it was first announced that he was joining the series, Fishburne’s time didn’t increase ratings. Via Entertainment Weekly, the ratings for “CSI” continued to drop in the wake of Petersen’s departure.
While Fishburne continued his film career with big appearances in “Man of Steel” and the “John Wick” sequels, it didn’t stop the actor from returning to television. Following “CSI,” Fishburne had success with series like “Hannibal” and “Black-ish.” Per Next TV, the actor gave insight into his desire to still act in television while speaking at the 2021 SCAD aTVFest. He compared the experience to how artists choose to work with different tools and methods.
“It’s just a different medium,” he said. “I’m an artist, and like any artist, they work in pencil, and they work in watercolor, or they can work in oil. It’s just a different medium. It’s all acting. It’s all like painting or drawing or sketching.”