How a Documentary Inspired ‘CSI’ Creation

by Amanda Glover

Many popular television shows and movies have likely gained inspiration from something. So, what was the documentary that inspired CSI: Crime Scene Investigation?

“CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” is by far one of the most popular procedural forensics crime drama television series. Between 2000-2015, the series won six Emmy awards. Between 2003-2006, “CSI” earned four People’s Choice Awards. The series also gained recognition after numerous different award nominations and wins.

The show rotated around a group of criminal investigators. The team works together to solve cases using forensic research and impressive police work. Toss in some fascinating characters, unique plot lines, and you’ve got yourself a successful CBS television show!

Although the series is a work of fiction, the cases worked on and solved were once influenced by true cases and stories. Viewers are likely able to view true crime as a way to tell the victim’s stories since their stories were taken from them.

Since true crime documentaries can be viewed the same way, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn CSI: Crime Scene Investigation was inspired by a true-crime documentary.

The show’s creator, Anthony E. Zuiker is an author, television producer, and writer. After the showrunner watched a documentary series called, “The New Detectives,” he came up with the inspiration for a new forensic crime drama.

This crime drams became, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. The show even ended up having a huge impact on real-life investigations.

‘The New Detectives’ Documentary Inspired CSI

The New Detectives” was a long-running documentary. The series told true crime stories about how forensic sciences helped the police solve crimes. The television series ran from 1996-2005. It originally premiered in the UK, before showing reruns on the Discovery Channel in the U.S.

Similar to true crime documentaries shown in the U.S. today, the show uses actor reenactments to make the stories come to life. Detectives and forensic scientists who worked the cases sat down to discuss them.

This series was not widely known in the United States. But, the show has likely helped inspire several similar television series. Popular American drama series, Criminal Minds, focuses on trying to understand the mind of a criminal rather than forensic science. American crime drama, ‘Law & Order: ‘SVU,’ spends more time focusing on the victim’s lives rather than their deaths.

If different television series have similar genres, it’s not unlikely for them to feed ideas off each other.