GenrePolice procedural
Created byHart Hanson
  • Hart Hanson (seasons 1–9)
  • Stephan Nathan (season 10)
  • Michael Peterson (seasons 11–12)
  • Jonathan Collier (seasons 11–12)
Theme music composerThe Crystal Method
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons12
No. of episodes246 (list of episodes)
Executive producers
Running time43 minutes
Production companies
Original release
ReleaseSeptember 13, 2005 (2005-09-13) –
March 28, 2017 (2017-03-28)
The Finder

Bones is an American police procedural drama television series created by Hart Hanson for Fox. It premiered on September 13, 2005, and concluded on March 28, 2017, airing for 246 episodes over 12 seasons. The show is based on forensic anthropology and forensic archaeology, with each episode focusing on a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) case file concerning the mystery behind human remains brought by FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz) to Temperance "Bones" Brennan (Emily Deschanel), a forensic anthropologist. It also explores the personal lives of the characters. The rest of the main cast includes Michaela Conlin, T. J. Thyne, Eric Millegan, Jonathan Adams, Tamara Taylor, John Francis Daley, and John Boyd.

The series is very loosely based on the life and novels of forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs,[1] who also produced the show. Its title character, Temperance Brennan, is named after the protagonist of Reichs' crime novel series. In the Bones universe, Brennan writes successful mystery novels featuring a fictional forensic anthropologist named Kathy Reichs.

Bones is a joint production by Josephson Entertainment and Far Field Productions in association with 20th Century Fox Television and syndicated by 20th Television.[2] The series is the longest-running one-hour drama series produced by 20th Century Fox Television.[3]


The premise of the show is an alliance between forensic anthropologist Temperance "Bones" Brennan and FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth. Brennan is the central character and team leader of the fictional Jeffersonian Institute Medico-Legal Lab, a federal institution that collaborates with the FBI. This reflects the historical relationship between the FBI and scientists of the Smithsonian Institution. Set in Washington, D.C., the show revolves around solving federal legal cases by examining the human remains of possible murder victims. While the majority of their cases take place in the surrounding Washington metropolitan area, they have been called in to investigate cases in other states and sometimes countries, including Iran and Mexico.

Brennan and her team provide scientific expertise, and Booth provides FBI criminal investigation techniques. In addition to the prospective murder cases featured in each episode, the series explores the backgrounds and relationships of its characters, particularly the romantic tension between Brennan and Booth. An important ongoing dynamic between Brennan and Booth is their disagreement about science and faith. Brennan argues for science, evidence, and atheism. Booth argues for intuition, faith, and God. Their relationship is highlighted by the introduction of Lance Sweets, an FBI psychologist, who not only helps inform the investigations, but also is meant to serve as a mediator for Brennan and Booth.

The series is known for its dark comedic undertones, which serve to lighten the gravity of the show's intense subject matter, human bodies in an advanced state of decay. While many of the cases they investigate are self-contained to singular episodes, and generally deal with murders that are motivated by personal desires, the team does occasionally investigate serial killers – such as the Gravedigger, the Puppeteer, Howard Epps, and Gormogon – and politically charged perpetrators such as Jacob Broadsky.

The series also features the interpersonal relationships of the Jeffersonian staff – including pathologist and coroner Camille Saroyan, forensic artist Angela Montenegro, entomologist Jack Hodgins, and a rotating set of interns who assist Dr. Brennan – and how their cases and victims affect their views and lives.

Cast and characters

Main article: List of Bones characters

Emily Deschanel portrays Temperance "Bones" Brennan
David Boreanaz portrays Seeley Booth
Michaela Conlin portrays Angela Montenegro
T. J. Thyne portrays Jack Hodgins
John Francis Daley portrays Lance Sweets

Main cast

Recurring cast



The concept of Bones was developed during the latter part of the pitching season of 2004 when 20th Century Fox approached series creator Hart Hanson with an idea for a forensics show. Hanson was asked to meet with executive producer Barry Josephson, who had purchased the rights to produce a documentary on the forensic anthropologist and author Kathy Reichs. Although Hanson was reluctant about being involved in making a police procedural, he signed on and wrote the pilot episode after having an intensive meeting with Josephson about the show.[5] As the show is based on the works of Reichs, the writers constantly involve her in the process of producing the episodes' story lines. Although the show's main character is also loosely based on Reichs, producers decided to name her Temperance Brennan, after the character in Reichs' novels;[1] Reichs has stated that she views the show as somewhat of a prequel to her novels, with the TV show's Temperance Brennan as a younger version of the novels' Temperance Brennan.[6]

In order to make Bones a unique crime drama in the midst of the multiple procedural dramas that already populated network television like the Law & Order and CSI franchises, Hanson decided to infuse the show with as much dark humor and character development as possible.[7] Another element conceived for the show was the "Angelatron", a holographic projector that provides a way to replace the flashbacks often used by other procedural shows. In addition to their expositional purposes, the holographic images, which are created by visual effects, brought a unique visual style to the show that the producers were looking for.[8]


David Boreanaz was the first actor to be cast in Bones. Series creator Hart Hanson described the actors who had auditioned for the role of Seeley Booth as "pretty boy waifs"; he immediately responded when the head of the studio, Dana Walden, suggested Boreanaz for the role.[1] Boreanaz was offered the role but was unenthusiastic about getting involved after a difficult meeting with executive producers Barry Josephson and Hart Hanson, even though he thought the script was well written. However, after the producers contacted him again to convince him to accept the role, Boreanaz agreed to sign on and was cast as Seeley Booth.[8]

Emily Deschanel was cast in the role of Temperance Brennan just before production began on the Bones pilot.[1] After Deschanel finished the film Glory Road, the film's producer Jerry Bruckheimer recommended that she audition for Bones.[9] Deschanel impressed Hart Hanson at her audition with her assertiveness. In a tense moment in the audition scene, David Boreanaz stepped closer to Deschanel; and Deschanel held her ground rather than retreating as most of the other actresses did. Hanson remarked that, in such a situation, "90% of actors would take a step back".[10] Deschanel was subsequently cast in the role.

Beginning with season four, Zack Addy (Eric Millegan) was replaced by a succession of lab assistants: Wendell Bray (Michael Grant Terry), Colin Fisher (Joel Moore), Arastoo Vaziri (Pej Vahdat), Vincent Nigel-Murray (Ryan Cartwright), Clark Edison (Eugene Byrd) and Daisy Wick (Carla Gallo). One—Scott Starett (played by Michael Badalucco, formerly of The Practice)—is much older than the typical grad student.[11] Marisa Coughlan guest-starred in a few mid-season episodes as FBI agent Payton Perotta, who was brought to the Jeffersonian as a temporary substitute for Booth when he was incapacitated.[12] Betty White guest starred as Dr. Beth Mayer, a mentor to Brennan, in seasons 11 and 12.[13][14]


Most of Bones is filmed in Los Angeles, California, despite the fact that the show is mainly set in Washington, D.C., where the fictional Jeffersonian Institute is located. The external shots are of the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles and the Wallis Annenberg Building at the University of Southern California.[15] The interiors of the Jeffersonian Institute were specially built on a large sound stage at the 20th Century Fox lot in Century City, Los Angeles.[16] The two-part season four premiere was filmed on location in London and Oxford, England.[17]


The soundtrack album titled Bones: Original Television Soundtrack, produced by Maria Alonte McCoy and Billy Gottlieb, was released in 2008. It contains 13 songs recorded by popular artists for the show.[18]

Broadcast and release


Main article: List of Bones episodes

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
122September 13, 2005 (2005-09-13)May 17, 2006 (2006-05-17)
221August 30, 2006 (2006-08-30)May 16, 2007 (2007-05-16)
315September 25, 2007 (2007-09-25)May 19, 2008 (2008-05-19)
426September 3, 2008 (2008-09-03)May 14, 2009 (2009-05-14)
522September 17, 2009 (2009-09-17)May 20, 2010 (2010-05-20)
623September 23, 2010 (2010-09-23)May 19, 2011 (2011-05-19)
713November 3, 2011 (2011-11-03)May 14, 2012 (2012-05-14)
824September 17, 2012 (2012-09-17)April 29, 2013 (2013-04-29)
924September 16, 2013 (2013-09-16)May 19, 2014 (2014-05-19)
1022September 25, 2014 (2014-09-25)June 11, 2015 (2015-06-11)
1122October 1, 2015 (2015-10-01)July 21, 2016 (2016-07-21)
1212January 3, 2017 (2017-01-03)March 28, 2017 (2017-03-28)

Almost every episode title alliteratively alludes to how the victim is discovered in said episode, like "The Prisoner in the Pipe" and "The Recluse in the Recliner", or to the main plot device of the episode, like "The Blackout in the Blizzard" and "The Verdict in the Story".

American ratings

In 2016, a New York Times study of the 50 TV shows with the most Facebook Likes found that Bones was "most popular in areas scattered around the West Coast, and tends to be less popular in places with large nonwhite populations".[19]

Seasonal rankings (based on average total viewers per episode) of Bones.

Note: Each U.S. network television season starts in late September and ends in late May, which coincides with the completion of May sweeps.
Season Episodes Timeslot (ET) Original airing Rank Viewers
(in millions)
Season premiere Season finale TV season
1 22 Tuesday 8:00 pm (2005)
Wednesday 8:00 pm (2006)
September 13, 2005 May 17, 2006 2005–06 #60[20] 8.90[20]
2 21 Wednesday 8:00 pm August 30, 2006 May 16, 2007 2006–07 #50[21] 9.40[21]
3 15 Tuesday 8:00 pm (2007)
Monday 8:00 pm (2008)
September 25, 2007 May 19, 2008 2007–08 #51[22] 8.90[22]
4 26 Wednesday 8:00 pm (2008)
Thursday 8:00 pm (2009)
September 3, 2008 May 14, 2009 2008–09 #32[23] 10.81[23]
5 22 Thursday 8:00 pm September 17, 2009 May 20, 2010 2009–10 #32[24] 10.02[24]
6 23 Thursday 8:00 pm (2010)
Thursday 9:00 pm (2011)
September 23, 2010 May 19, 2011 2010–11 #29[25] 11.57[25]
7 13 Thursday 9:00 pm (2011)
Monday 8:00 pm (2012)
November 3, 2011 May 14, 2012 2011–12 #48[26] 9.26[26]
8 24 Monday 8:00 pm September 17, 2012 April 29, 2013 2012–13 #42[27] 9.52[27]
9 24 Monday 8:00 pm (September–November 2013; March–May 2014)
Friday 8:00 pm (November 2013 – January 2014)
September 16, 2013 May 19, 2014 2013–14 #40[28] 8.43[28]
10 22 Thursday 8:00 pm September 25, 2014 June 11, 2015 2014–15 #71[29] 7.27[29]
11 22 October 1, 2015 July 21, 2016 2015–16 #71[29] 7.27[29]
12 12 Tuesday 9:00 pm January 3, 2017 March 28, 2017 2016–17 #78[30] 5.54[30]

The series premiere of Bones attracted an average of 10.8 million viewers with 6.7% household share and 11% household rating. Bones finished first among the 18-to-49-year-old demographic and in total viewers in its Tuesday 8:00 pm ET timeslot.[31] New York described the show as "the best drama of the new network season" and a "sexed-up variation of all the CSIs".[32] Regarding the show's procedural structure, Entertainment Weekly notes that Bones has a "pretty standard Crossing Jordan/CSI-style framework" but holds up because of the chemistry between the two lead characters; "that old Sam-and-Diane, Maddie-and-David, Mulder-and-Scully opposites-attract stuff never feels standard when it's done right."[33]

Following the broadcast of the series' third episode, Fox ordered a full season of Bones.[34] The network renewed it for a second season after a strong performance in ratings in the timeslot following American Idol and on its own without the American Idol's lead-in audience.[35] Overall, the first season of Bones ranked 60th in viewership among prime-time shows and 53rd among the 18 to 49 year old demographic, with a seasonal average of 8.9 million viewers.[20]

The second-season premiere attracted 8.61 million viewers in its Wednesday 8:00 pm timeslot, finishing second among the 18 to 49 years old demographic and first in total viewership with 6.7% household rating and 11% household share.[36] As a lead-in for American Idol, the second-season finale of Bones obtained 10.88 million viewers with 3.5% household rating and 11% household share. It tied first in viewership among the 18 to 49 years old demographic with The Price Is Right Million Dollar Spectacular on CBS.[37] In the 2006–07 television season, Bones improved its ranking to 50th place in viewership among prime-time shows with 9.4 million viewers and was ranked 51st among the 18 to 49 year old demographic. The show improved its ranking during its third season, placing 51st overall. However, its overall viewership was down from the previous season, averaging 8.9 million, the same as in the first season. Viewership began to steadily increase with its fourth season.

The ninth-season premiere attracted 7.8 million viewers and a 2.3 rating in the key 18–49 demographic during its Monday 8:00 pm timeslot. Its final Monday airing resulted in a 2.0 rating and 7.36 million viewers. Bones was subsequently moved to Fridays at 8:00 pm November 15, 2013, where ratings dropped 40 percent to a 1.2 and 5.85 million viewers in its initial airing in that timeslot.[38]

Broadcast history

Bones premiered September 13, 2005, on the Fox network and was broadcast weekly in the Tuesday 8:00 pm ET timeslot before it moved to the Wednesday 8:00 pm ET timeslot in 2006. The first season finished May 17, 2006, with a total of 22 episodes.

The second season premiered on the Fox network August 30, 2006, and retained its Wednesday 8:00 pm ET timeslot. The second-season finale aired May 16, 2007, ending its second season with 21 episodes. One episode, "Player Under Pressure", was left unaired, which was originally scheduled to be broadcast as the second season's 19th episode but was pulled by the Fox network in the United States after the Virginia Tech massacre. The plot involved the discovery of the human remains of a college athlete[39] and eventually aired April 21, 2008, as a part of the third season.

The third season premiered September 25, 2007, in its original premiere timeslot, Tuesday 8:00 pm ET. The show went on hiatus on November 27, 2007, because of the 2007–08 Writers Guild of America strike and returned on April 14, 2008, in the Monday 8:00 pm ET timeslot.[40] The shortened third season finished May 19, 2008, with a total of 15 episodes.

The fourth season premiered September 3, 2008, on the Fox network in the Wednesday 8:00 pm ET timeslot with a two-hour episode that was filmed on location in London and Oxford, England.[41] Originally scheduled to return from hiatus January 15, 2009, Bones instead resumed one week later because of preemption by President Bush's farewell address. As a result, two new episodes, "Double Trouble in the Panhandle" and "Fire in the Ice", were aired back-to-back January 22, 2009, airing in a new timeslot, Thursday 8:00 pm ET. The fourth-season finale aired May 14, 2009 with a total of 26 episodes.

The fifth season premiered September 17, 2009, on the Fox network and retained its Thursday 8:00 pm ET timeslot. It consisted of 22 episodes and ended May 20, 2010.

Off-network syndication of Bones began the week of January 28, 2008, on TNT.[42]

March 29, 2012, announcing the renewal for an eighth season, Kevin Reilly, Fox's Chairman of Entertainment, said, "Over the past seven seasons, Hart Hanson, Stephen Nathan and the incredible Bones cast and crew have redefined the traditional crime procedural with an irreverent and adventurous sensibility, and I'm really happy to have this distinctive fan-favorite on our schedule for another season."[43]

Online distribution

20th Century Fox Television released free episodes of Bones and several other primetime series online for viewing on Netflix, Hulu, and MySpace, which was owned by the same parent company, News Corporation, that owned 20th Century Fox Television (now a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company). This began October 3, 2006, but access is restricted to United States residents only.[44] Bones was available on their official website via Fox On Demand. In Canada, recent episodes were made available on the Global TV website. In the U.S. and Canada, the series was available on Netflix until 2017. All twelve seasons are also available on Amazon Prime.[45]

Spin-off series

Main article: The Finder (American TV series)

In October 2010, it was revealed that Fox was developing a potential spin-off series that would be built around a new recurring character that would be introduced in the sixth season. The potential spin-off series would also be created by Bones creator/executive producer Hart Hanson, and be based on The Locator series of two books written by Richard Greener. The character of Walter is described as an eccentric but amusing recluse in high demand for his ability to find anything. He is skeptical of everything—he experienced brain damage while overseas, which explains his constant paranoia and his being notorious for asking offensive, seemingly irrelevant questions to get to the truth.[46] Production on the episode was scheduled to begin in December 2010, but was delayed to early 2011 due to creative differences.

Creator Hart Hanson posted on Twitter (humorously) regarding the notes he got from the network, "I received studio notes on the Bones spin-off idea. They want it to be better. Unreasonable taskmasters. Impossible dreamers. Neo-platonists."[47] During Fox's TCA press tour, executive producer Stephen Nathan revealed production on the episode featuring The Finder began in February 2011, with the episode airing in April.

In the episode, Booth and Brennan travel to Key West, Florida, where the spin-off is said to take place. Nathan went on to say regarding the casting of character

You want to find people you want to see every single week do one unique character. That's why when you have Hugh Laurie, who is essentially playing a very unlikable character, you love to see him. And that is a rare, rare quality to find. And the finder won't be an unlikable character, but because it is a unique character, it's difficult to find just the right person.[48]

Geoff Stults was cast as the lead character with Michael Clarke Duncan and Saffron Burrows cast as the other two lead characters.[49][50][51] The three characters were introduced in episode 19 of the sixth season.

The Finder was picked up for the 2011–12 season May 10, 2011, with an order of 13 episodes.[52] The series was canceled May 9, 2012, and aired its final episode two days later.[53]


Critical response

Reviews for the pilot episode were mixed, and it holds a Metacritic score of 55 out of 100, based on 29 critical reviews.[54] Subsequent episodes have received generally positive reviews.[55][56][57]

USA Today comments that, compared to other crime shows, the show "is built on a more traditional and solid foundation: the strength of its characters", and "what sets Tuesday's Bones premiere apart from the procedural pack are stars Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz, as the season's most appealing new crime fighters."[58] On the other hand, Media Life Magazine said that while Bones has "an amazingly clever notion, brilliant even", its "execution doesn't match the conception" and, based on its first episode, the show "fails to evolve into a gripping series. In fact, it quickly becomes so derivative of so much else on television—especially, strangely, X-Files—that one might even call it bone-headed."[59]


Bones has received two Emmy nominations, for Outstanding Art Direction for a Single Camera Series for "The Hero in the Hold" at the 61st Primetime Emmy Awards and for Outstanding Special Visual Effects in a Supporting Role for "The Twist in the Twister" at the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards.[60]

Emily Deschanel was nominated for a 2006 Satellite Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama.

The series has also won two Genesis Awards for the episodes "The Woman in Limbo" and "The Tough Man in the Tender Chicken" for raising awareness on the issues of pig slaughtering and industrial chicken farms, while the episode "The Finger in the Nest" received a nomination.

Bones was nominated for two awards at the 37th People's Choice Awards, for Favorite TV Crime Drama and Emily Deschanel for Favorite TV Crime Fighter.[61] The series received three nominations at the 38th People's Choice Awards, for Favorite TV Crime Drama, David Boreanaz for Favorite TV Drama Actor and Emily Deschanel for Favorite TV Drama Actress.[62] The series received two nominations at the 42nd People's Choice Awards, for Favorite TV Crime Drama and Emily Deschanel for Favorite TV Crime Drama Actress.[63]

Bones was nominated for a 2014 Prism Award for Best Drama Episode – Substance Abuse for the episode "The Friend in Need" and John Francis Daley for Best Performance in a Drama Series Episode.[64]

Other media

A spin-off series consisting of 26 two-minute episodes, called Bones: Skeleton Crew, was produced by Fox and launched through a partnership with Sprint Nextel in conjunction with MasterCard's sponsorship. It was released to Sprint TV subscribers in November 2006 and released on the official website of Bones on December 4, 2006. The episodes do not feature the show's main cast; its plot revolves around three Jeffersonian Institute lab technicians who use their skills to solve a mystery.[65] The series has since been fully lost and cannot be found.

Aside from the television broadcast of Bones, its characters and concepts have also been produced in print, on the Internet and in short videos for mobile phones. Currently, there are two print books related to the series, one a novel and the other an official guide.

Fox initially made extensive use of the internet to promote Bones. Prior to the broadcast of the second-season episode "The Glowing Bones in the Old Stone House", profiles of the characters involved in the episode were put up on their own MySpace web page. The blog entries of the characters were created to give insight into the potential suspects to be featured in the episode. In the episode, Brennan and her team uses clues from these web pages, which the viewers can also access.[67]

Bonus content was posted by Fox on Bones' official site during the third season, which include short videos featuring Booth and Brennan waiting to see Dr. Sweets for couple's therapy.

The eleventh season episode "The Resurrection in the Remains" contains a crossover with fellow Fox TV series Sleepy Hollow which concludes in Sleepy Hollow's third season episode "Dead Men Tell No Tales".[68][69]

In the final season of Lucifer, the titular character's future daughter Rory Morningstar tells her father about a show called More Bones, a spin-off of the series from her time.[70]

Home media

The first three seasons, the ninth, tenth, eleventh and twelfth season were released on DVD format only, while seasons four through eight were also released on Blu-ray Disc format.

Season Episodes Release dates
Region 1 Region 2 Region 4 Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
Season 1 22 22 22 November 28, 2006[71] October 30, 2006[72] January 11, 2007[73]
Season 2 21 21 21 September 11, 2007[74] October 15, 2007[75] December 3, 2008[76]
Season 3 15 19 15 November 18, 2008[77] November 17, 2008[78] March 4, 2009[79]
Season 4 26 22 26 October 6, 2009[80] October 26, 2009[81] October 27, 2009[82]
Season 5 22 22 22 October 5, 2010[83] October 18, 2010[84] October 27, 2010[85]
Season 6 23 23 23 October 11, 2011[86] October 17, 2011[87] November 9, 2011[88]
Season 7 13 13 13 October 9, 2012[89] October 1, 2012[90] November 7, 2012[91]
Season 8 24 24 24 October 8, 2013[92] September 30, 2013[93] November 20, 2013[94]
Season 9 24 24 24 September 16, 2014[95] September 15, 2014[96] November 26, 2014[97]
Season 10 22 22 22 September 29, 2015[98] October 12, 2015[99] November 11, 2015[100]
Season 11 22 22 22 January 3, 2017 November 7, 2016[101] December 7, 2016[102]
Season 12 12 12 12 June 13, 2017[103] June 19, 2017[104] June 14, 2017[105]
The Complete Series 246 246 246 June 13, 2017[103] October 2, 2017[106] June 21, 2017[107]


In a ruling made public in 2019, 21st Century Fox was found guilty of using Hollywood accounting practices to defraud the producers and stars of the series and was ordered to pay $179 million in missing profits.[108]


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