Sara Sidle may be out, but Catherine Willows is in.
On Friday, Feb. 11, CBS announced that Marg Helgenberger is joining Paula Newsome, Matt Lauria and Mandeep Dhillon in season two of CSI: Vegas. The network shared the news by posting a photo of Helgenberger in character to the show's Instagram, writing, "I have something to tell you. Catherine Willows will be joining us for Season Two of #CSIVegas."
Helgenberger is equally excited about her return, telling E! News, "CSI: The Gift That Keeps On Giving. So excited to be joining forces with the talented team at CSI: Vegas. This is gonna be fun!"
This is huge news for fans of the CSI franchise, as Helgenberger played a dedicated crime scene investigator between 2000 and 2012 for 12 seasons on the original CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Helgenberger has returned to the franchise on a couple occasions, including an appearance in CSI's 300th episode and the two-hour series finale.
Rumors of Helgenberger's return began circulating last week following Jorja Fox's unexpected announcement that she was departing the sequel series. Fox, who starred as Sara Sidle off and on throughout CSI's original 15 season run, said in January that she had "decided not to 'Sidle up'" for another season as her on-screen husband William Petersen also exited the show.
"For me CSI has always been a love story," she explained. "The story that people can find love in the darkest of places and times. And the story that love, even in the darkest of places and times, can expand and grow roots and endure. I personally just can't split Sara and Grissom up again."
Though Fox's departure was surprising, Petersen's was not, as the actor had only signed on for one season of CSI: Vegas. Not to mention, the actor was hospitalized in August after feeling unwell on set.
And it seems that showrunner Jason Tracey always had plans to bring back other CSI alums. "I have a big open door to the folks that have meant so much to the franchise," he told Parade in December. "I'll be making new invitations to other returning folks. But we're excited to tell new stories and we've got a tremendous, great new cast that I think is really invested in digging in and furthering these characters. We'll have a mix, I think, a blend of returning and new going forward."
Season two of CSI: Vegas will air during the 2022-2023 season.