Bones fans are feeling very nostalgic ahead of the show’s series finale. The long-running Fox crime procedural, which is loosely based on the life of forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs, has garnered a devoted fan following over its 12 seasons on Fox, and the main characters, Dr. Temperance “Bones” Brennan (Emily Deschanel) and her husband, Special Agent Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz), have inspired career — and relationship! — goals.
When executive producers Jonathan Collier and Michael Peterson posed seven questions for fans as part of Yahoo TV’s Ask the Fans series, viewers from all over the world answered their call. Now Collier gives us his reaction to the insightful and thoughtful answers posted by Boneheads.
JONATHAN COLLIER AND MICHAEL PETERSON ASK: What are your all-time favorite Bones episodes? Why?
ANALYZING THE ANSWERS: Bones fans are on the same page when it comes to their favorite episodes. Some viewers couldn’t stop at just one or two favorites (one fan said she had 55!), but others were very sure of their must-see hours. Some of the most popular answers were the “Pilot” episode, “The Patriot in Purgatory,” “The Woman in White,” “Aliens in a Spaceship,” “Recluse in the Recliner,” “Man in the Fallout Shelter,” and the milestone 100th and 200th episodes, “The Parts in the Sum of the Whole” and “200th in the 10th.”
Of the Season 2 episode “Aliens in a Spaceship,” viewer Samantha Ann wrote: “It shows how deeply the team’s relationships have grown and how much they care about each other.” Fan Rynogeny cited the Season 8 episode “The Patriot in Purgatory:” “This hits every note for me in terms of the different 9/11 stories (especially Arastoo’s), as well as a homeless veteran portrayed as a hero. I watch it every year on 9/11, and always cry.”
Bones fans love a good love story, so it’s no surprise that Season 9’s “The Woman in White” ranked high among Booth and Brennan shippers. A viewer named Claudia revealed that the couple’s wedding scene is her favorite Bones segment ever: “I’ve never witnessed a wedding so true, genuine, sweet, amazing, beautiful as theirs. Those vows should be printed out on some plaque and hung up in the City Hall for every couple to read!” As for those milestone episodes, Chloe Ross wrote of No. 100: “While the end of this episode breaks me, I love how we got to see Booth and Brennan’s first case (and first kiss!!!!!) and getting to see how much they’ve grown together since then!” Mia Duque, a viewer from the Philippines, praised “The 200th in the 10th,” the Season 10 episode that reimagined the Jeffersonian and FBI teams in 1950s Hollywood, writing: “What a milestone! What an episode. I loved the old Hollywood vibe and the ‘movie’ about a cop and criminal falling in love. I love that almost everyone was in this episode playing a different role.”
“Aliens in a Spaceship”: I think it shows really careful, thoughtful viewing. I’m very impressed. It was a fabulous episode; it happened before I came to the show. We definitely thought about that episode when we were doing the wedding episode, because we did do the wedding one when I was here. And I think it’s one of our finer episodes, there’s no question. It digs deeply into the Hodgins and Brennan relationship — that’s what shows should do at that point in a series. It really does explore character in the way we were able to do on the Bones show so many times.
“The Patriot in Purgatory“: That one we’re really proud of also. The staff helped break it, and it was written by Stephen Nathan, who did such a great job in so many episodes and ran the show for so long, so he’d be thrilled to know that. Boy, they’re spot-on with everything. I mean, that was just a great episode. So emotional, I thought. It was both critical and uncritical: It was a thoughtful episode about government and veterans, about how we deal with a national disaster, without being preachy about it.
“The Woman in White”: That was a great one to work on too, and that was written by Karine Rosenthal. Karine is just one of the finest writers on television. I love the way the case informs but doesn’t drive the wedding story, and it was beautifully directed too.
“The Parts in the Sum of the Whole”: I’m not surprised. That’s a favorite among the writers. That happened also before I got to the show. One of the things I love knowing about that episode, that the fans might not know, is when [creator] Hart [Hanson] was planning the show, he didn’t think they would have had a first case and a first kiss like that. And it was really learning from them as characters and really seeing how the relationship was working. He built the characters so well, and he built the engine of the show so well, that he was able to go deeper and do an episode like that at Episode 100. It speaks to just how fabulously he set everything up.
“The 200th in the 10th”: That was such an interesting one to work on because we knew we wanted to make a departure from the regular show. Stephen Nathan had always wanted to do a throwback episode like that. A big sort of lush, Technicolor-style episode, a caper one kind of like To Catch a Thief. So that was really his vision. He wrote this beautiful script and actually, I have to say David Boreanaz did a terrific job directing it. And seeing how much fun the whole cast had with it too, being able to step out of their characters. We did these little touches with it too, even like bringing back Andrew Leeds, who played Christopher Pelant, our serial killer from the previous three seasons. He was dead at this point of the show’s story arc, but he came back as a waiter in the 200th.
JONATHAN COLLIER AND MICHAEL PETERSON ASK: Have you ever worked in a professional capacity with your spouse or a loved one before? Was it challenging?
ANALYZING THE ANSWERS: While Booth and Brennan made it work, a lot of Bones fans said they’d never want to work with a spouse or significant other (as Nina Hall put it, “No! We’d be divorced!”). Others who have done it detailed the challenges. A fan named Alie wrote: “The one time I worked with a spouse, we both hated our jobs in retail. So there was no competing or issues. However, it was hard being close to him without any affection, physical or otherwise.” Kia Beaudry wrote: “My boyfriend and I worked together at a physically demanding job for over half a year. … but I was always fighting to be better and prove myself in a job that was harder for myself than it was for him and eventually ended up showing up my boyfriend and the other guys at work.”
COLLIER RESPONDS: I think [those answers] are probably all real. I don’t think any of those answers are Booth and Brennan’s experience. My guess is the hardest part is not working with a spouse, but working with someone you’re in love with and can’t be with. And that’s what drove the series for so long.
JONATHAN COLLIER AND MICHAEL PETERSON ASK: Has Bones inspired any of our viewers to go into the field of forensic anthropology or study science more broadly? We’d love to hear about what you do and if/how Bones influenced that decision!
ANALYZING THE ANSWERS: It’s clear that a lot of young people watch Bones. Many viewers answered this question by saying they were inspired by Booth, Brennan, and Lance Sweets (played by John Francis Daley) to go into law enforcement, forensic anthropology, or psychology. Fan Shelby McKenzie wrote: “Bones inspired me to apply for a university position in anthropology and human anatomy that will lead into forensic anthropology.” Braden Haynes wrote: “Bones has really sparked an interest in the science and criminal justice fields for me, and the moment I saw the work in the show I knew that’s what I wanted to do. … Right now I plan to study to become a forensic pathologist!” A fan named Holy wrote: “I’m actually a freshman in high school, and Bones has totally sparked an interest in science for me. Through watching Bones, it showed me that science is a great field to get into, even for a woman, and I can work hard in it and succeed.” And Camila wrote: “I’m 15, and I want to be a forensic anthropologist because of Brennan.”
COLLIER RESPONDS: I couldn’t be prouder to hear that. I think I looked up a statistic at one point, and — forgive me if I’m wrong here, this will just be an approximation — I believe that the number of forensic anthropologists in the country has doubled since this show debuted. And it used to be the field was something like 35 percent women and 65 percent men, and now a majority of them are women. Anecdotally, I’ve seen so many cases. … I have two girls, so it’s very important to me that girls are getting into the sciences, that women have the same chances in the workplace as men. It’s great to hear so many of my daughters’ friends say, “I love Bones. I want to go to school and become a forensic anthropologist.” And even if they’re not going to become a forensic anthropologist in the long term, they’re going to school, they’re studying science, they’re learning all of these wonderful skills, and they’re being inspired to do this by our show. I just jumped onboard for the ride with that, obviously, because I came in at Season 7, so that really is kudos to Hart and the writers and creative team that was here before, and to Kathy Reichs, but to Emily most of all. Because it’s really, really, really important to Emily that she inspired girls like this.
JONATHAN COLLIER AND MICHAEL PETERSON ASK: Have you ever been so grossed out by the bodies on our show that you’ve had to look away from the TV? We hope not for too long!
ANALYZING THE ANSWERS: Bones viewers clearly have strong stomachs — a lot of them watch the show while eating dinner and say they aren’t grossed out by the bodies. “’Grossed-out’ is not the right word,” wrote Alexia Larkin. “AMAZED! They always find the way to make them look real and I LOVE THAT.” Still, a couple of key corpses were called out (while a few other viewers revealed that bugs crawling on the dead bodies are sometimes worse than the gory remains). “A few times, I’ve actually gagged,” wrote Rynogeny. “Soupy bodies are the worst. Despite this, I’ve often eaten dinner while watching the show. One thing you learn quickly: the worst moments are likely in the first scene or two.” An Australian viewer named Lawrence wrote: “The one with the book publisher [“The Bodies in the Book”] where one of the victims was eaten by ants. That made me shiver!” Fan Jennifer Lester wrote: “’The Gamer in the Grease,’ when they pulled the body out of the grease receptacle and the skin slipped off and the organs spilled out. Couldn’t eat red meat for weeks afterward.” And Gerardo A. wrote: “The Gravedigger’s head blowing up like a firecracker in ‘The Bullet in the Brain’ was hard to look at. Anything else I can manage.“
COLLIER RESPONDS: For me, it’s not been the ones where it’s the body itself. It’s been the circumstances of the body. The body in the septic tank — I just couldn’t look at that one. I found it disgusting. But first of all, the bodies are all fabulous. Chris and Kevin Yagher, the brothers who make our bodies, couldn’t be better at their jobs. They’re so professional, and they’re probably as good as it gets in the world. And the bodies are always accurate. What happens to them is maybe a once in a thousandth occurrence, but it’s always accurate within the context, the actual state of the body. And the notion is that the gorier they are and the weirder they are, the easier they are to look at. It’s harder to see someone with a simple wound that kills them — that really is more upsetting and direct than what we do with our bodies.
If I was doing the Gravedigger one now, I would have pulled back on that. I don’t mind it when the bodies get gruesome, but when you’re in the moment of an act of violence, I wouldn’t mind pulling back a little bit. I wasn’t here at the time. I hate to criticize my predecessors who gave me this wonderful show, but … that one I was surprised.
JONATHAN COLLIER AND MICHAEL PETERSON ASK: Have you ever solved a personal problem using scientific evidence or clues?
ANALYZING THE ANSWERS: Many Bones fans agree that science is part of their daily lives. Others have used techniques from the show in real situations. Viewer Barbara Sue Weaver wrote: “Life is filled with science in its everyday. From baking in the kitchen to cleaning the laundry.” Mia D. wrote: “Growing up, I’d like to think that I’ve internalized the use of the scientific method and clues like it has become second nature to me.” And Bonnie Rexeus shared that she used a technique that she saw on Bones to retrieve a coin from a drain on the side of the road. “I actually got a standing ovation from the people waiting at the bus stop,” she wrote.
COLLIER RESPONDS: The science is actually accurate on the show. The speed at which things happen is accelerated, there’s no question, but the science is accurate, and I think people have actually become aware of health issues in their own lives because of it, they’ve understood their own bodies better. … We’ve actually had a direct effect on people’s lives in a very positive way.
JONATHAN COLLIER AND MICHAEL PETERSON ASK: Have Aubrey’s scenes ever made you hungry? Writing them has definitely made us hungry before.
ANALYZING THE ANSWERS: A few fans find it easy to resist — “Nope,” wrote Claudia, a fan from Europe. “It’s sometimes too much of a plethora of things for me to get hungry. The combinations may be more gross than most bodies on Bones.” But many viewers said Special Agent James Aubrey’s (John Boyd) passion for doughnuts (and everything else!) makes their stomach growl. Valleria93 said: “The pizza scene, yes! I had to have a pizza for lunch the next day!” Irma Palacios admits, “Aubrey has made me pause the show and go get something to eat at 3 in the morning.” Lauryn wrote: “I always want nachos, burgers, fries, and onion rings after I watch him eat. I wish I could have cupcakes and tea with John Boyd!” And Rynogeny said: “Donuts rule, so Aubrey is my hero. I’d like to know how he doesn’t weigh 600 pounds, though.”
COLLIER RESPONDS: OK, well, here’s the weird thing: John Boyd actually can eat like that and not weigh 600 pounds. One thing that’s scientifically accurate! He doesn’t make me hungry because I don’t eat at that volume. John eats the food. Sometimes he says, “Give us a break; I had a big lunch today,” and we try to pull back on eating. But he’ll do anything. He’s the most wonderful actor to work with; he’s game for anything. And still a beanpole.
JONATHAN COLLIER AND MICHAEL PETERSON ASK: What will you miss the most about Bones when it goes off the air? We will miss interacting with our incredible and loyal fans — the Boneheads.
ANALYZING THE ANSWERS: Time to get misty-eyed! Many fans said they will miss the “family” feeling of Bones and the fact that the cast and crew have such a strong bond both on- and offscreen. Others are already holding out hope for a Bones movie or special someday. “I’ll miss everything!” Alexia Larkin wrote. “The times they make me laugh and cry, the incredible cast, the relationships, the partnership, the scientific things, the bodies, the live tweet, the fandom, the talks with other Boneheads after each episode, e v e r y t h i n g.” Elise Kiefer wrote: “Everyone is like family to me. I’ll miss these people and their interactions with each other. The show demonstrated everything in life including love, friendship, humor, dedication, mystery/intrigue. … Show is irreplaceable. I am hoping for future movie specials of Bones. I’d pay to watch them!”
COLLIER RESPONDS: I can’t speak to other shows, but I can say [our actors] have a very special chemistry and relationship. I mean Emily and David; there’s so many shows where the two co-stars hate each other by Season 3, let alone Season 12. And they had such respect for each other, such pleasure in each other’s company, right up until the last minute of filming. And that’s really, really special, and it sets the tone from the top down. And [the producers] that ran the show for so many years and Stephen Nathan, they had respect for everyone. And that also informs it.
Given the history of TV and what’s happening now and the fact that this is really in the collective conscience of America, I would never rule it out [the possibility of a Bones revival]. There are absolutely no plans for it in the works, but I would certainly not rule it out. … I feel like there were stories left to tell.
Bones airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on Fox.