William Petersen has decided to hang up his lab coat down at CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, marking the end of eight years of Gil Grissom's contribution to criminal forensics.
According to the BBC, Petersen's final episode will air early next year during the show's 10th series, after which he will simply "make guest appearances". He'll be replaced by a new male character, and executive producer Naren Shankar insisted: "Whoever comes in and joins the team after Grissom is going to be a different guy. But the nature of the show and what fans get out of it, that's not going to change."
In the run-up to Grissom's departure, CSI will see the return of several characters to bid him farewell, including Sara Sidle (played by Jorja Fox), Lady Heather and the Miniature Killer. The storyline leading to the final curtain will, Shankar said, see him "thinking about the next phase of his life". ®
Petersen did take time out from CSI's 2006-7 series, and it survived his absence. Whether the makers will be able to find a permanent replacement capable of solving a murder using nothing more than a microscopic speck of dust from the assassin's boots inhaled by a passing rattlesnake and spotted by Grissom up the reptile's nasal passage in a digitally-enhanced photograph of the murder scene remains to be seen.