William Petersen, CSI

Monty Brinton/CBS

Apparently it's all gotten to be too much for Crime Scene Investigator Gil Grissom. Or, it will.

Calling it an actual signoff rather than yet another sabbatical, EW.com reports that William Petersen will be leaving CSI sometime midseason.

"Billy is leaving," series executive producer Carol Mendelsohn said. "But he will remain throughout the run of the series an executive producer. And he will, whenever CBS asks, come back. I don't think you've seen the last of Gil Grissom."

"My biggest problem with leaving the show at any point isn't leaving Grissom," said Petersen, whose previous leave of absence came when he took five weeks off to do theater in Rhode Island. "I'm an actor, it's time to do other things. "[The hard part will be saying goodbye] to the cast and crew. [So] I'm going to stay as involved as I'm allowed to be throughout the remainder of this show. Until they turn off all the lights."

Petersen's exit will mark the latest blow to the procedural's original main lineup, which lost Jorja Fox and Gary Dourdan last season—although both will be making appearances in coming episodes (one more posthumous than the other).

"We do have a plan," Mendelsohn added, assuring fans that there will be blood—both new blood and the regular DNA-filled, splattering kind—to make Petersen's pending departure less painful.

In addition to Dourdan's brief appearance in September's season premiere, Fox will have a multiepisode arc brimming with romantic possibility, The L Word's Lauren Lee Smith and as-yet-unnamed manly type will be joining the team as new CSIs, the Miniature Killer will show her face again, and The Exorcist helmer William Friedkin will direct the series' 200th episode this spring.

"Billy will definitely be on the set for Mr. Friedkin's episode," Mendelsohn told EW.com, "whether it's behind the camera or in front of the camera is TBD."

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