‘CSI: NY’: Here’s Why Melina Kanakaredes Left the Show

by Kati Michelle

Look, it’s never easy saying goodbye to a favorite cast member. And like your messiest breakup, it becomes even more difficult when you feel like there’s no closure. Well, that’s what a lot of fans struggled with when they saw “CSI: NY” meet its end. The show came as the third project within the “CSI” universe following the OG “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” and “CSI: Miami.” Though the Big Apple series got nixed in 2013, it left a serious impression on fans through its nine-season run of nearly 200 episodes.

Melina Kanakaredes joined the spin-off in its early days as Detective Stella Bonasera, partner to the determined leader of the NYPD Crime Lab, Mac Taylor, played by Gary Sinise. However, she left just shy of entering the seventh season, getting replaced by former FBI criminalist, Jo Danville, played by Sela Ward. If you’ve been plagued by the question of “why” since then, we’ve got your scoop.

Melina Kanakaredes’ Exit From ‘CSI: NY’ Shows Off Another Classic Case of an Expiring Contract and an Actor Wanting to Branch Out

That’s right. No drama here, folks! According to The Hollywood Reporter, Melina’s contract expired after she finished six seasons. This means that the star upheld her end of the contract and got to make the decision to leave herself. Unlike other situations where an actor’s exit comes as a “creative decision” from the writers, Kanakaredes allegedly kept full control of her exit. It might be sad for the fans, but, ultimately, that’s just the nature of Hollywood. The star simply wanted to spread her wings and take on different projects (like The Resident recently).

Well, maybe. Following her exit, Forbes also published a piece that alleged something slightly more sinister. They reportedly found evidence that Kanakeredes’ exit might have something to do with finances as well. They put her earnings at approximately $50,000 less per episode than her Gary Sinise co-star. Because her contract expired at the end of six seasons, this means there may have been discussions about different stipulations for a new contract. If Kanakeredes and CBS couldn’t agree on the new terms, it would make sense why she walked.

So, CBS wrote her Stella character completely out of the show by moving her to New Orleans and introducing Sela Ward’s Jo Danville character.

No Bad Blood Here

At the end of the day, it seems Kanakeredes and the network were able to remain civil. No bad blood here! She even offered a statement saying she “made some amazing and lifelong friendships during my six seasons on ‘CSI: NY’ and…will treasure them forever!”

In response, the studio penned that Kanakeredes “will forever remain a friend to the network and studio.”