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Series: Bones

Max: Are you sleeping with my daughter?
Booth: No...
Max: Why, are you gay?

Bones is a television series which started in 2005 and is still ongoing. Temperance "Bones" Brennan, forensic anthropologist, is the pride of the Jeffersonian Institute's medico-legal lab. She's a brilliant scientist who's traveled all over the world in the course of her work and has even used her experience in the field to write a couple bestselling mystery novels. She's the person the FBI calls when a body turns up that can't be identified by normal procedures.

She's also aggressive, abrasive, and has all the social grace of a snapping turtle.

Fortunately for her (and the members of the public who have to deal with her), she has FBI agent Seeley Booth on her side. A former sniper with a young son and a laid-back loose-cannon personality, Booth is Brennan's partner in crime-solving, mutual irritation, and Unresolved Sexual Tension. With the help of a team of "squints" (Booth's terminology for The Lab Rat, cause they're always squinting at things), the two of them solve murders through a mix of forensics, detective work, and occasional violence.

Bones is easy to dismiss as yet another Forensic Drama, especially considering the laxity of some of the science and the better-than life crime recreation technology, but fans are quick to point out that the show's strength lies in its characters. The cases are little more than a backdrop for their interaction and growth. The writing is sometimes uneven and the episodes are more often either brilliant or horrible rather than mediocre, but the dialogue is clever and frequently peppered with moments of genuine emotion. Their behavior and interests help the audience relate to them as One of Us.

Rounding out the main cast of the lab are conspiracy theorist Jack Hodgins, the "bugs and slime guy"; hip and snarky Angela Montenegro, the facial reconstruction and crime scene recreation artist; and No Social Skills Zack Addy, a grad student even more socially awkward than the title character. Season two added Dr. Camille Saroyan, a pathologist who'd been assigned to take charge of the lab. Tension resulted, naturally, although it's mostly been smoothed over now. Season three added Dr. Lance Sweets, an FBI psychologist tasked with doing therapy sessions between Bones and Booth as well as profiling some of their suspects. The show also stars a rotation of "squinterns", Dr. Brennan's ambitious and quirky doctoral candidates.

An often recurring theme is the nature of intellect versus emotion and at what point you should use which. Most of Brennan's team rely on careful logic, and in some cases are bound entirely to it. Meanwhile Booth brings Brennan along on investigations and has to help put a soft touch to her chainmail glove when dealing with people.

A recurring element is wisecracking Hodgins and stoic Zack/squintern of the week performing some absurd "test" to help solve cases. One particularly memorable one was putting a frozen pig through a wood chipper. It's a Long Story.

Loosely based on the novels and life of Kathy Reichs, a professor of anthropology and a director of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.

Has a character sheet. Not to be confused with the comic book series Bone, the musical group Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, the animation studio BONES, The McCoy, the Snoop Dogg horror film, or actual bones.


Bones provides examples of:

    open/close all folders 

    A 
  • Abusive Parents
    • Booth's father.
    • One of Sweets' foster fathers.
    • Brennan's foster parents.
    • Abernathy's step-father.
  • Accent Relapse: Inverted by intern Arastoo Vaziri who isn't actually "fresh off the boat", but is pretending to be so he won't have to take any grief for his devout Muslim beliefs.
  • Accidental Marriage / Oops I Forgot I Was Married: Angela, so drunk she forgot it (and implied that she didn't think it counted; she had no idea the paperwork had been filed).
  • Action Girl: Brennan
  • Adorkable: Most of the regular male cast: Zack, Hodgins, Sweets, Vincent. Brennan is an uncommon female example. Despite geeky traits, Booth (comic book collector, although that is his only one) and Wendell (though half the time you want to coddle him) are a little too macho to count, and Edison and Arastoo (after being caught faking his accent) seem a bit too smooth. Finn is a genius, but not at all nerdy.
  • Adult Fear: Brennan's anxiety when she couldn't get ahold of Max, who was babysitting Christine.
  • Aerith and Bob: Seeley and Jared Booth. Seeley is a legitimate name, but it sounds a little odd when compared to his brother's.
  • Affably Evil: Max before his forced retirement.
  • Affectionate Parody
  • Agent Scully
    • No matter how often Sweets is useful or just plain right, Brennan always dismisses it as coincidence. This has been sort of wink-and-nudge acknowledged as Brennan not necessarily believing it's a coincidence, but making herself believe she believes it's a coincidence, which is not the same thing. Witness the time she tries to get Sweets to explain, and he blows her off with "You wouldn't believe me anyway." The curiosity clearly eats her alive.
    • Lampshaded (somewhat) by Booth in the first episode, when his way of turning over a new leaf with Brennan is by referring to them as Mulder and Scully.
    • The Booth/Brennan partnership and UST has often been compared to the Mulder/Scully partnership and UST. Quite a few Bones fans were The X-Files fans first. The core formula for both couples is still there; the Mother Nature, Father Science trope is inverted for both. However, since Booth and Brennan are not (thankfully) Expys of Mulder and Scully, the personalities are different and so is the interaction and dynamic between partners. The Booth/Brennan romantic relationships was (presumably) planned from the start, giving a more logical progression to their UST (also adds realism). Unlike Mulder and Scully's romantic relationship, which was not planned from the start and entered into Romantic Plot Tumor territory after awhile.
  • Agents Dating: Booth and Bones will often discuss domestic relationship stuff while doing their respective jobs (they're partners on the field that are a forensic anthropologist and FBI field agent respectively) or they'll talk about the job while cuddling in bed together. Other times their date nights/lunches together will be interrupted by a call from The FBI/forensic team at the same time for the same case they'll be working on.
  • The Alcoholic:
    • Booth's dad and until recently Booth's brother.
    • In season six, Vincent Nigel-Murray is a recovering alcoholic (though his road to recovery is almost entirely Played for Laughs).
  • All Are Equal in Death: In "The Titan on the Tracks", a rich industrialist faked his death, then was beaten severely by his accomplice in order to cover his (the accomplice's) participation. The following takes place in his hospital room:
    Brennan: When can we talk to him?
    Doctor: Any time you want, as long as you don't expect a response. This man has severe brain damage. Off the record, he's not going to wake up. Best case scenario, he spends the rest of his life hooked up to feeding tubes.
    Brennan: This is one of the richest men in the country.
    Doctor: Most of the time, that might mean something. Not now.
  • All Psychology Is Freudian: Played straight by psychologist Sweets who often utilizes Freudian theories and language. However, psychiatrist Gordon Wyatt subverts this stating that "Freud is largely discredited, so to hell with him." Brennan actually feels that Wyatt's psychology makes more sense.
  • Almost Out of Oxygen: Brennan and Hodgins wind up in this situation when the Gravedigger buries them alive. Due to the relatively hard science nature of the program, Dr. Hodgins manages to MacGyver a carbon dioxide scrubber, and gets a text message out.
  • Almighty Janitor: In security guard form, Micah from "The Doctor in the Photo".
  • Always Save the Girl: Whenever Bones is in danger, Booth won't hesitate to jump in to the rescue.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Bones has a lot of trouble with metaphors and social skills. Naturally, Zach is even worse.
  • And Now For Something Completely Different / Elseworld: The fourth season finale, a dream sequence in which a married Booth and Bones run a nightclub staffed by most of the cast.
  • Angst / What Angst: Angela and Hodgins are brimming with sadness after learning they both carry a gene that gives their child a 1/4 chance of being blind, but later Hodgins decides to make the best of it, saying they should take up hobbies that don't require sight (piano for him and sculpture for her).
  • Anticlimax / Anticlimax Boss (hopefully): For all his preparations Pelant didn't expect Booth to show up early and for Bones to let Booth shoot him (she'd previously admitted that Pelant's genius was "beautiful" and wanted him taken alive, possibly becoming a Boxed Crook).
  • Anti-Intellectualism: Hodgins gets chewed out on a regular basis for his impromptu tests — spam and artificial bone to determine exact circumstances of death by incineration make perfect sense to Hodgins and the viewer, but Cam says (paraphrased): "You say SPAM to a jury and they get a laugh and the perp gets an acquittal!" Bones herself gets harangued for being smart while jurors are slack-jawed morons — she nearly loses an otherwise open-and-shut case because the opposing expert is chatty and handsome. "The jury likes Michael better than they like me, apparently that’s a problem. Are they stupid?" Goodman responds that, "Compared to you, yes they are stupid. However, compared to you most of the world is a little stupid." Bones and her "squints" are supposed to be smart enough to catch crooks with microscopic bone fragments, but not smart enough to intimidate Muggles.
  • Arc Number: 447
  • Artistic License - Biology: In one episode Booth gets his sperm analyzed and everyone brags up that he had 28.8 million sperm in 3 mL. Although anything over 1 million sperm per mL is capable of fertilization, the average sperm count for a male in the United States is 120 million in ONE mL. (Or 360/28.8 = 12.5 times Booth's sperm count).
    • In "The Pathos in the Pathogens" involves a virus that is eating away the victim's corpse. By definition, viruses require living cells to reproduce.
  • Artistic License - Chemistry: In "The Twisted Bones in the Melted Truck", the bones in question were "melted" by exposure to a magnesium fire. Magnesium burns at 5000°F plus which would have been more than hot enough to melt the bullet which was found intact within the skeleton (lead melts at 622°F, steel at 2500°F).
  • Artistic Licence Economics: The Cantilever Group, to which Hodgins is the sole heir, is frequently stated to be beyond wealthy, and one of the "them" that Hodgins believes in. Polant hacks the accounts and drains the entire fortune of the Cantilever Group, leaving Hodgins penniless. First, no organization of that size would only have liquid assets. Second, an organization of that size would be "too big to fail" and couldn't simply disappear without massive repercussions and at least one government would have stepped in. Third, banks keep records; Polant's actions would have been reversed inside an hour.
  • As Himself: Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top has appeared several times as himself — Angela's dad!
  • Atonement Detective: Booth was an Army Sniper before joining the FBI. In the Pilot he tells Bones that he wants to catch at least as many murderers as people he killed in the line of duty.
  • Attending Your Own Funeral: Booth at the end of the third season. For some reason, we weren't crying....
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: A murder suspect in season 3 is easily distracted by the shiny table in the interrogation room. In the middle of an interrogation even!

    B 
  • Babies Make Everything Better: Six seasons of UST followed by instant Relationship Upgrade as soon as Bones is pregnant.
  • Back for the Dead: Agent Flynn in the fourth episode of season nine.
  • Background Music: Billy Gibbons gets his very own background riffs in "The Killer in the Crosshairs". Then again, it is Billy Gibbons.
  • Badass Boast: As badass as one can get in a realistic series: "I shave, sir. I have a driver's license. I've won a couple fistfights. I've saved a life. I've lain with a woman. I've been hustled at pool. I've defied my father's wishes. I have broken hearts and I have been heartbroken. So by all the markers of this society, I am a grown man."
  • Badass Bookworm
    • In addition to her scientific prowess, Bones is a skilled and aggressive martial artist.
    • Her father is no slouch either, since he was a science teacher before and after he was a dangerous fugitive.
    • Don't underestimate Arastoo either. He is quite skilled with nunchaku.
  • Badass Grandpa
    • Hank Booth. Has a bit of a secret: He's the one who drove his own son (Booth's dad) away after witnessing him beating Seeley.
    • As of season 6, Billy Gibbons (Angela's dad).
    • As of season 7, Max Brennan as well.
  • Badass Longcoat: Booth dons one from time to time. Bones herself occasionally slips into her own trench coat as well.
  • Bad Bad Acting: Bones, trying to trick Gormogon into thinking they're transporting his artwork. He's clever enough to realize it, and takes advantage of the situation.
  • Beastly Bloodsports: A Victim of the Week is a veterinarian who is trying to shut down a dogfighting ring.
  • Beeping Computers: Whenever the interface of a computer moves or changes.
  • Beta Couple
  • Berserk Button
    • Bones flips out whenever Booth is hurt or threatened. In one episode, she grits her teeth, screams, and guns down a middle-aged stalker who shot Booth. Booth later faked his death so that he could go deep undercover for exactly the first ten minutes of the following episode. When he came back, she was so upset, she hit him. She also smacks the Gravedigger with a metal briefcase.
    • Likewise, Booth for Bones (see the end of "The Woman in the Garden," where Booth threatens a gang leader).
    • Ask Booth any questions about his abusive father and he goes from happy guy to Death Glare in a heartbeat.
    • Booth is related to Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth; the fact that he's also a sniper makes him doubly sensitive about it.
    • It's just one time, but Dr./Chef Gordon Wyatt gets a good one in "The Dwarf in the Dirt." "FRY COOK?!"
  • Best Friend Manual: Angela for Bones.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Booth towards Sweets and, to a lesser extent, all the Squinterns.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Attempted by Hacker in "The Proof in the Pudding". Alas for him:
    Hacker: Ten seconds earlier and I would have been the hero, right?
  • Bi the Way: Angela
  • Birth-Death Juxtaposition: The death of Vincent and the birth of Angela and Hodgins' son an episode afterwards. Plus Brennan seeking comfort with Booth over Vincent's death led to her becoming pregnant
  • Bittersweet Ending: "The Hole in the Heart". The Squints pay tribute to Vincent Nigel-Murray by singing his favorite song as they place his casket in the hearse.
  • Black Comedy: Working around corpses tends to bring that out in people, especially Booth and Hodgins.
  • Bland-Name Product: "Sea Chimps" (= "Sea Monkeys") were used in one of Hodgins's and Zack's experiments.
    • Also Hottie Student Body, a thinly-disguised Girls Gone Wild.
    • And a drain cleaner called "Clog-O."
  • Blatant Lies - Dmitri Vladov is an importer of window cleaner. He has no knowledge of any vodka.
  • Black, White, Asian: Cam, Brennan, and Angela. It fiddles around with the stereotypes, too: Angela is the cool one, Cam is the reserved one, and Brennan is the nerdy one (granted, they're all nerds, but she takes the cake).
  • Body in a Breadbox: Corpses turning up in unlikely places is such a hallmark of the series that most episodes are named for where the body-of-the-week is found.
  • Book Dumb: Booth, contrasting with Brennan's TV Genius; there is evidence that this is more an act of Obfuscating Stupidity on his part, so that the various insufferable geniuses he works with are less threatened by him, but we don't know the degrees in which these tropes are present. Probably he's just picked up a lot more from working with them than he lets on.

    Booth is usually presented as more intuitive with a high emotional intelligence which makes sense for someone who has suffered abuse. Several episodes generally present him (and others) acknowledging that within context of the team, his "specialty" is the emotional aspect of such cases. It comes up a lot less though because within context of having to present a legal case and identifying bodies, gut instincts generally don't cut it.
  • Boom, Headshot: The Gravedigger meets her end when a sniper uses a high-caliber rifle to invoke this trope, and we get to see her head explode, on screen, in glorious high def.
  • Brainy Brunette: Bones.
  • Break Out the Museum Piece:
    • Hodgins and Wendell do this (with a healthy dose of MacGyvering) when they are trapped by a blizzard without power, and they have to solve the case quickly because the murderer might be contagious. The clearest example is when Hodgins actually manages to vaporize some of the metal shrapnel and analyze it. Justified because they work IN a museum.
    • Angela had to borrow an Amiga computer "from the third floor" to process a 20 year old floppy disk found with a victim.
    • They had to break out an old Kennedy-era replica rifle for Booth in Proof is in the Pudding so that he can prove that the corpse, presumed to be John F. Kennedy, was not killed by two gunmen. Unfortunately for Booth, while he did replicate the wound, it turns out that the second hole was an entry wound, invalidating the test anyways.
    • In "The Male in the Mail", Hodgens used antique weapons on fake bones to compare striation patterns to the bones of the victim. The closest match came from a guillotine, which led Booth and Brennan to discovering that the killer dismembered the body with an industrial paper-cutter, which left similar striations.
    • One Valentine's Day episode, after Booth was put out with the idea of romance in general after the abrupt end of his relationship with Hannah, Brennan cheered him up by meeting him in the FBI rifle range with a pair of Thompson sub-machine (or "Tommy") guns, in honor of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre.
  • Breather Episode: Broadsky was taken down in the penultimate episode of season 6, with a named character death to boot. The actual finale is a goofy Bowling For Ratings episode where Booth inexplicably goes undercover in a mullet and hick accent, and the victim was so annoying that the people that had to deal with him wanted them to go light on the murderer.
  • Brick Joke
    • The Gravedigger is introduced in season 2. Then they waited until season 4 to bring him actually her back in. And then until season 5 to actually convict her. And finally, in season 6, she meets her graphic, but well-deserved end.
    • The Angela Forever tattoo that Hodgins involuntarily receives in season 4. Finally revealed to Angela in season 5. She does not approve. Followed in season 6 by a Dad tattoo on the other bicep.
    • In "The Princess and the Pear", Fisher winds up sleeping with a suspect. In "The Gamer in the Grease", he mentions he's had nearly 100 conquests and gets another one while waiting in line to see Avatar.
    • After learning of Booth and Bones' mistletoe kiss in "The Santa in the Slush", Sweet's first reaction is "was there tongue?". Two seasons later, in "The Parts in the Sum of the Whole", Sweets learns of Booth and Bones' real first kiss, during their first case before the pilot and is pretty dang shocked. Bones immediately replies "there was tongue contact" before he can even ask the question.
  • British Royal Guards: When Brennan and Booth go to London, they suspect a Buckingham Palace guardsman of killing the Victim of the Week, but it turns out he only beat the guy up for sleeping with his sister. While waiting for the guard to finish his tour Booth taunts him, knowing that he can't react. When Booth discovers the truth about the two, he apologizes to the guard who very subtly acknowledges Booth with his eyes.
  • Broken Aesop: In "The Goop on the Girl", a suicide bomber at a bank appears to detonate his bomb using the signal from an angry left-wing radio show. Booth accuses the host of spreading "poison" throughout the airwaves and causing the attack, even if he was not legally responsible. The episode ends with the radio host giving a long apology on air, lecturing on the dangers of media-stoked rage, and ending his radio show. Nobody told him, however, that the radio show didn't inspire the bombing. The only reason the show's signal set off the bomb was because it was very close to the frequency used by the actual robbers.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer
    • Brennan, Hodgins, Zack and all the interns. To the point where, in stark contrast to the rest, Clark actually seems like this simply for being so very normal.
    • Jude the Science Dude, a children's TV show host, who veers between competent anatomist and goofy Barney the Dinosaur-type.
    • Booth is a milder example. His trademark loud socks and "Cocky" belt buckle would not be acceptable attire for a less competent federal agent.
    • The interns have been working on their various quirks between seasons, but the quirk-180 is just as jarring — for instance, Edison (Mr. Separation-of-work-and-play) suddenly asking if Cam is still dating the gynecologist (she is) and pestering the others for relationship advice on a Valentine's Day episode.
  • The Butler Did It: Deconstructed. The butler says he did it to protect his employers' reputation, but it's implied that he's falsely confessing for that reason. They even vow to provide him with "the finest legal representation". And all law enforcement officers present immediately pull the how-stupid-do-you-think-we-look expression.
  • But Not Too Black / But Not Too Foreign
    • Angela and Camille, the two main characters of color, are both half-white and look very light.
    • Definitely averted for Clark Edison, although he's not a main cast member.
    • Double Subverted with Arastoo. He shows up as a thickly-accented, fresh off the boat, Arabic stereotypical Muslim who observes all of the customs of his faith. It turns out that the accent is fake and he is an urban intellectual who puts on the FOB act to keep people from questioning his devotion to the Muslim faith.

    C 
  • California Doubling: The Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach is "The Aquarium of the Atlantic".
    • Averted in "The Suit on the Set" — shot on location at Fox Studios, although as far as I saw they never explicitly say where they are (they just let the coffee cups do the talking).
    • Despite the name, "The Bones on the Blue Line" doesn't resemble the DC Metro in the slightest (barring an establishing shot of the distinctive DC Metro), and is actually the Earthquake subway set on the Universal Studios Backlot (part of the Universal Studio Tour). The traincars themselves simply don't resemble the DC Metro in the slightest.
  • Call Back: The first time Angela goes into false labor in "The Hole In the Heart," Hodgins freaks out screaming "where the hell are my KEYS!?!?!?!" repeatedly. The following episode, when Angela really goes into labor, after insisting everything is under control, and calm, and as soon as he's off-screen, screams "where the hell are my KEYS!?!?"
    • Bones and Hodgins were kidnapped and buried alive by a serial killer in an early season. Seven years later, she reveals that it was Booth to whom she wrote her "Goodbye, world" note.
      • Specifically, she incorporates the note into her vows when she and Booth finally get married.
  • Camp Gay: Zigzagged with Straight Gay at the couples' retreat, where a gay couple are both rather effeminate but also happily debate what the greatest boxing match of all time was with Booth and an older man.
  • Camp Straight: In "The Bikini in the Soup," the wedding planner's assistant is very effeminate in manner and speech, but winds up being completely straight.
  • Canada, Eh?: The guy who Bones insulted so hard his arm stopped working was Canadian. The entire episode was full of references to Canadian politeness.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Booth and Brennan at different times. And when one of them can, the other one doesn't want to hear it.
  • Captain Ersatz: Bunsen Jude the Science Dude
  • Carpet-Rolled Corpse: Booth guesses that this happened to a skeleton found in an unlikely posture, but Bones shoots down his theory that the body was left rolled up in a rug that had rotted away.
  • Casanova Wannabe: When Dr. Nigel-Murray starts going to Alcoholics Anonymous and has to make apologies to anyone he's harmed, he brings up that he bragged about sleeping with Angela... and Bones... and Saroyan...
  • The Cast Show Off
    • Eric Milligan is trained in musical theater, so the show had Zack sing an amazing rendition of "Love is a Many-Splendored Thing".
    • John Francis Daley's band Dayplayer made an appearance in the season 4 finale.
    • In the season 3 ep. "The Wannabe in the Weeds" Dr. Brennan tells the cast that her mother insisted that Temperance sang "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" better then Cyndi Lauper. Emily Deschanel gets the chance to prove that later in the episode.
  • Catapult Nightmare: The beginning of "The Boy with the Answer".
  • Catch Phrase
    • Brennan's "I don't know what that is/means."
    • Also, whenever she feels it necessary to explain something, she often begins with, "Well, anthropologically speaking..."
    • In one episode, Hodgins and Brennan are kidnapped. When the team realizes, Booth tells Zack he's going to have to be Brennan. Guess what his response was?
    • Hodgins and Zack have "King of the Lab!"
    • Angela is a fan of saying, "Awkward, awkward, very awkward."
    • Brennan always has the same reaction to anyone (mostly Booth) who points out that she shot a man: "He was trying to set me on fire!"
    • Caroline calls everyone "chérie".
    • Jude's "A-mazing!"
  • The Cavalry Arrives Late: In "The Proof In The Pudding" Booth's boss charges in with a full FBI squad saying this is now under FBI jurisdiction... eight seconds after Booth disables the Men In Black holding them hostage.
  • Celebrity Paradox
    • The actor who plays Fisher is also in Avatar. This would not be a problem, except Fisher appeared in "The Gamer in the Grease", which has an Avatar-centric B-plot about him getting free tickets to the movie, and hatching a scheme with two coworkers to keep a place at the front of the line. Ironically enough, he winds up missing the movie completely.
    • The same character also comments on being a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Amusing, given who he works with.
    • Much more subtly, Hodgins mocks Zack for "watching reruns of ''Firefly" in Season 1. Six episodes later, Jayne backstabs them on a case.
    • One of the most memorable moments of the series is Bones performing Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" in Season 3. And, then Cyndi Lauper gains a reoccurring role as a psychic.
  • Character Blog: The Bones iPad app has this in the form of Sweets' journal entries.
  • Character Shilling: For Hannah Burley in the sixth season.
  • Chaste Hero
    • Averted. Bones hooks up with more men than any other female lead not portrayed in a misogynist manner on American television, ever. She once dated two men at the same time, one for sex and the other purely for conversation. They're not amused. She even discusses society's gender roles and sexual hangups from an anthropological perspective that flummoxes her partner Booth.
    • More recent episodes do the same thing such as Bones reasonably justifying the choice of several teenaged girls to have children without the father, skip college, and live together. Booth, being a practicing Catholic, is flummoxed.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Requisite for a detective story.
    • Somewhat inverted once, in that the only time we see Booth securing his gun in his home's hidden safe, it's the only time he might have use for it: there's a wanted killer waiting for him in the living room.
    • Also, it seems, Chekhov's Bank Account. Practically anytime that it's mentioned that Bones is really really rich, by the end of the episode she donates large amounts of money to a good cause. Except in the season 6 premiere, when she pays Wendel a large sum of money so he doesn't have to work for tuition, without the audience being reminded beforehand about her wealth. Also, at the end of the seventh season premiere, Bones is looking for houses for her and Booth to move into and she casually mentions that one, which is obviously a mansion, costs only $3 million, at which point Booth almost chokes on his beer because he wants to pay for half of the house.
    • In the pony-fetish episode, Chekhov's Quippage. Whilst discussing the body du jour, the team serenades a typically unaware Brennan with the theme song to Mister Ed, followed by Brennan's horse research online and her trying the joke where horses sleep in hotels on Booth(who naturally gets it—as he says, he's got a five year old son). Wouldn't you know it, the victim in question does pony play in an inn as "Mister Ed".
    • A literal example is Bones' hand-cannon. The subject of much Freudian dialogue throughout the episode, it comes in handy when Booth has to shoot a serial killer through a metal door.
    Geller: You're carrying the 50-caliber 500. Well, that's five shots. (cocks his shotgun) And by my count... (snaps the shotgun) ...you only got one shot left. That's one dumbass gun to bring to a shootout!
    Booth: One shot.
    (BLAM!)'' One hell of a shot.
  • Chekhov M.I.A.: Bones's parents.
  • Chickification: The title character is a trained marital artist and competent marksman who isn't shy about using either on bad guys when the situation warrants... for the first season or so. Afterwards these skills are rarely seen again and Bones becomes completely helpless when a killer is within 20 feet of her and has to be rescued. The worse example is Pelant, who Bones has the opportunity to stop a few times and she just stands there until he says his piece and gets away.
  • Circling Vultures: Used at least a couple of times - once when the heroes were looking for some remains and saw vultures circling so they knew that that's where the remains were, and once when they were lost in the desert and saw vultures circling over them.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Happens to Booth in one episode. He says he's had worse.
  • Comic Role Play: When the Squints are re-enacting a crime, you can bet it's going to end up as this.
    • Particularly when one of them tries to role play as Booth simply to try and come up with a theory to why a crime was committed when he's not available (they're the science people, he's the people person).
  • Concealment Equals Cover: Not when Booth has a BFG, as one episode's villain learns while trying to use a steel door for cover.
  • Conspicuous CGI: The DC zoomout at the end of "The Girl in the Fridge" looked... unconvincing.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Hodgins.
    • At least one was oddly plausible; he believes that old, rich families secretly rule the world. He is actually a member of one of these families. Another was actually confirmed by a government official when he suggested it as a viable tool, although it turned out to be nowhere as cloak and dagger as he imagined (it came down to looking up information that was available in public records, but the way he described it made it sound like there was a dossier already prepared for every human being the US government knew existed).
    Hodgins: You call it conspiracy theories, I call it the family business.
    • One episode features a team of secret service agents 'commandeering' the lab and the team, requiring them to examine a set of bones. They're firmly told not to speculate about the deceased's identity, but as the evidence mounts it looks more and more like they're examining the remains of President JFK. and if it *is* JFK, then the evidence they uncover all but proves the existence of a second gunman, and a cover-up .)
  • Contamination Situation: The first season's Christmas episode, "The Man in the Fallout Shelter". The entire team is exposed to an infectious body.
  • Conveniently an Orphan: Dr. Brennan, whose loss is used to explain and excuse her (seemingly?) detached approach to humanity.
  • Cool Old Guy: Max Brennan; Billy Gibbons; Hank Booth; Gordon Gordon Wyatt
  • Cop and Scientist
  • Corrupted Data: Given lip service where even though it's stated to be corrupted Angela will regularly reconstruct data and it will be good as new.
  • Courtroom Antics: Caroline has been known to engage in them every now and then.
    David Barron: Objection. Assuming facts not in evidence.
    Caroline Julian: What do you mean? The defendant has every needle disease in the book, except HIV.
    David Barron: Same objection. Plus Miss Julian seems to deeply desire to testify herself.
    Caroline Julian: Yes, I would like to testify, because then I'd know what answers I was getting.
    Judge: Alright, settle down. This is a murder trial, not a night at the Improv.
  • Crime Time Soap: Sudden conversational switches from details from the murder victim to details of personal life is a show standard.
  • Crippling the Competition: In one episode, the Victim of the Week had done this to himself shortly before he was killed: he slammed his right hand with a desk drawer to break it, in order to remove the temptation of going to a music school to study piano.
  • Crushing Handshake: In an episode, Booth meets Cam's step-daughter's new boyfriend. After greeting him enthusiastically, Booth throws in some not-very-veiled threats about treating the girl right, including mentioning that he used to be a sniper, and finishes off with a handshake that leaves the kid wincing and rubbing his hand.
  • Cryptid Episode: There's an episode focused on the chupacabra.
  • Cultural Translation: The original novels were partially — sometimes mostly — set in Montreal or North Carolina. This gets a nods in the pilot, where Brennan tells Booth the nearest forensic anthropologist other than herself is in Montreal.

    D 
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory: For the final sniper cat-and-mouse show down with Booth, Broadsky, as trained snipers are taught to do, camped out on the high ground. Unfortunately, he forgot that in their previous encounter Booth shot his rifle out of his left hand, mangling it; therefore he can only rest the gun barrel on his arm and is incapable of gripping the barrel and aiming downwards. This allowes Booth to do the exact same thing to his other hand before he can change cover.
  • Darwinist Desire: Dr. Brennan initially justified her interest in having a child with Booth by claiming he possessed favorable genetic traits that would complement her own, she later decided she wanted to have a baby via IVF and decided that Booth had the best genes for it. Then the plan went by the wayside when Booth was diagnosed with an early-stage brain tumor.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Alluded to when Mr. Fisher the depressed intern gets in trouble for sleeping with a suspect:
    Mr. Fisher: Can I please keep my job if I promise never ever to have sex again with anyone, which, by the way, suits me temperamentally? I happen to be very self-sufficient.
  • Dating Do-Si-Do: Angela and Hodgins dated, then Angela dated Wendell then she dated Hodgins again. Cam dated Booth (twice), who then eventually dated Bones. Cam eventually went on to date Arastoo. Off in their own little corner is Daisy and Sweets who dated for quite a long time, but weren't involved with anyone else.
  • Dead Guy Junior
    • One of the names Angela and Hodgins' baby gets is Vincent, after Vincent Nigel-Murray.
    • Booth names Parker after Corporal Edward Parker, a friend of Booth's from the Army Rangers.
    • Booth and Brennan name their daughter Christine Angela Booth, after her mother.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Everyone, to a certain extent.
    • Bones especially, though. Subverted in that much of the time, Temperance isn't aware she's snarking.
    (head falls off a body hung from a tree, and Bones catches it)
    Bones: I need an evidence bag.
    (rest of the body falls)
    Bones: I'm gonna need a bigger bag.
    • Cam, being the Only Sane Employee at the Jeffersonian, does this. A lot.
    • Also Caroline Julian is made of this trope — everything she says is both deadpan and snarky.
  • Dead Person Conversation: Brennan and her mom in 'The Shot in the Dark'
  • Death in the Clouds: In one episode they're taking a plane to China when a dead body is found, and they have to discover and arrest the murderer before they touch down or else the case becomes "property" of China.
  • Dénouement Episode: The series tends to do this.
    • Season 4 ends in an Alternate Universe episode where Booth and Bones are married and running a bar.
    • The penultimate episode of season 5 features the conviction of recurring villain The Gravedigger. The final episode ties up loose ends as members of the team go their own ways.
    • Season 6's penultimate episode features a main character's death, and the season's Big Bad going down. The finale has the birth of Angela and Hodgin's baby, Booth undercover in a mullet as a bowler, and the revelation that Bones is pregnant.
  • Denser and Wackier: A common comment from season four onwards is that the show begins to dip more towards the comedy part of "dramedy".
  • Diplomatic Impunity: Shows up in two cases. In the first, a diplomat is threatened with being returned home to be prosecuted, in which case she'll be put in prison and killed by other inmates. To avoid this, she waives immunity. Later, Pelant falsifies records to claim Egyptian citizenship, without any mention of him actually having (fake) diplomatic status. Both these examples are also Hollywood Law.
  • Distracted by the Sexy
    • In "The Babe in the Bar," when Vincent Nigel-Murray comes up with an idea to preserve the bubbles of the victim's last breath, Cam in her enthusiasm says "If I didn't have self-control, I could kiss you!" The normally Motor Mouth Nigel-Murray is struck silent for several seconds until Hodgins brings him out of it.
    • Hodgins himself falls victim, when he sees the newsreel Angela dug up to check out Booth's new girlfriend.
    • In "The Male in the Mail", Edison can't stop staring at Bones fidgeting with her pregnancy-sized breasts.
  • Don't Explain the Joke: Brennan does, both with her own jokes and the jokes of others.
  • Double Meaning Title: The sixth season opener, "The Mastodon in the Room", deals with the team getting back together and examining the motivations that had split them up and the problems this had caused. Unlike most episodes however, the case has nothing to do with mastodons. It instead involves the body of a young boy, and as the episode is entering its last few minutes with not even a mention of mastodons you find yourself thinking "Aren't they ignoring the Mastodon in the Room?". Then in one of the final shots, the team returns to their old lab — which in their absence has been turned into an exhibit room for the Jeffersonian — which features an actual mastodon.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: When the very independent and in-control Cam's identity gets stolen and she's arrested for check fraud it takes her a long time to accept help even from Hodgins (who had to deal with Pelant stealing all of his and his family's foundation's money, if not his identity) and techno-wizard Angela.
  • Downer Ending: "The Graft in the Girl". Sure, they caught the murderer, but Amy's still terminal.
    • Howard Epps's introductory episode probably counts as this; sure, the guy on death row got exonerated, just not for the right reasons.
    • The end of Season 7. Brennan has been framed for an assassination by a guy the Squints and Booth are investigating. The guy managed to falsify proofs of both electronic and physical kinds, and the Squints and Caroline have no choice but to report. In the end, Brennan runs away with Christine, and Booth can only see how his girlfriend and daughter leave him.
  • Drinking Game: In-show, not for the show (although there's probably one of those, too) — Hodgins reveals that he and his college buddies had one of these for Bunsen Jude the Science Dude when he starts fanboying over the eponymous Science Dude and the latter calls him out on being "older than my usual audience".
  • Dysfunction Junction: After finding out that Sweets's birth parents were abusive, and his adoptive parents died shortly before he started working with Booth.
    • Lampshaded by Booth: "What are we, the Island of Misfit Toys?"

    E 
  • The Eeyore: Fisher. Naturally, his mom is an overly-sunny optimist.
    Fisher: I got the idea at my summer job.
    Cam: I’m afraid to ask.
    Fisher: Suicide hotline.
    Cam: Were you for or against?

    Fisher: This is weird. Something good is happening.
  • Emotionless Girl: Brennan
  • Enfant Terrible: A particularly brittle, obsessive, bratty little girl on Max's bowling league. You know something's up when Bones declares several times that her child will never be like that!
  • Enhance Button: The show RUNS on it. So much so that when they seemed about to avert it in season 5 in "The Predator in the Pool" they felt the need to justify themselves at length...
    Camille: Why can't you just lighten up the guy's face and, you know, zoom in?
    Angela: Because it was a cell phone camera that was aimed by a child.
    Bones: The plexiglass at this point is a foot thick!
    Angela: And thirty feet of water.
    Bones: At night.
    Camille: I was just asking!
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: An In-Universe example. It had been a Story Arc looking for a new lab intern and the crew were really starting to like Wendell Bray. When the scholarship that qualified him for the position in the first place went bankrupt, they spent an episode trying to find a way to keep him. He was kept on thanks to an anonymous donation. Except they received three times as much money as they needed, meaning everyone was desperate to keep him but didn't want to admit it.
  • Eskimos Aren't Real: Zack expresses surprise that Hodgins believes in pirates, and Hodgins snarks back that they're not Santa.
  • Establishing Shot: The stock footage of a lovely summer garden outside 'The Jeffersonian'.
  • Ethical Slut: Angela really likes sex, and has no reservations about letting people know it.
  • Eureka Moment: Also requisite for a detective story.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Angela's ex-husband Grayson gets some of this from both Sweets and Clark.
  • Everyone Can See It: Bones and Booth. Sweets writes a book about it!
  • Evil Counterpart - Broadsky is this to Booth.
  • Expo Speak Gag
    Brennan: Particles from the cut grass are causing his mast cells to release inflammatory mediators.
    Booth: It's just allergies, Bones.
    Brennan: Yeah, that's what I said.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Zack's second-season makeover.
  • Expy: Mr. Bunsen Jude, The Science Dude
    • 'Branson Rose' aka Richard Branson
  • Eye Scream: Although it's done to a dead body, the scene where they remove fluid from an eye in one episode is still not for the squeamish.

    F 
  • Fanservice: Bones' Wonder Woman costume. Ms. Deschanel's assets are... unusually prominent. Noticeably prominent. Gloriously prominent. Quite a bit of Gainaxing too.
    • Having Emily Deschanel strip David Boreanaz to his boxers and wheel him around on a cart probably qualifies...and includes a funny moment when Dr Saroyan walks in on them:
      Booth: I'm thinking of saints...
    • The Vegas episode in the second season puts Bones in a Little Black Dress, and Booth in a wife beater posing as a boxer.
  • Faking the Dead: Booth. Probably also a case of Like You Would Really Do It.
  • Fauxreigner: Arastoo (see farther down about his accent), because pretending to be fresh off the boat would make his coworkers less likely to bug him about his religion.
  • Famous Last Words: Vincent's. "Please just don't make me go. I don't wanna go. I love... it's been lovely being here with..."
  • Feuding Families: The Mobleys and the Babcocks, from the episode The Feud In The Family, centering around the murder of the patriarch of the latter. At one point, a mountain of books detailing the various legal issues that have developed in the feud, including multiple assaults, murders, thefts, and nuisance lawsuits.
  • Fictional Counterpart: Bones and her team work at a thinly veiled version of the Smithsonian Institution.
  • Filipinos Love Colin Haynes: In-Universe, the episode "Big In the Philippines" is about a country singer who is astoundingly popular in the Philippines despite being virtually unknown in the US (his fans amount to twenty or less here, whereas he's a radio superstar there with legions of fans).
  • Finger in the Mail: The Bishop's kneecaps, Catherine Epps' head....
    • One actual use of this trope occurs in "The Woman in the Car", where the son of a grand jury witness gets kidnapped. Booth gets the kid's pinky finger in the mail.
    • Again in "The Corpse in the Canopy", though it's not a human finger.
  • Fingore: The Ghost Killer rips off one fingernail from each of her victims because when she was a child her father locked her in a stable and she ripped all of her own off trying to escape. When her body is found she's wearing all of her victims' fingernails as her own.
  • Flanderization:
    • Very badly in Brennan's case — in the pilot, and the rest of Season One, to a lesser extent, she seems a little detached from reality and certainly lonely, but she gets sarcasm, irony, and most of the normal human interaction going on around her. Four seasons later, her unawareness of pop culture has morphed into full-on ridiculousness about the most basic bits of metaphor. A woman in "The Mystery in the Meat" is an extremely exaggerated version of Bones (they even have the same hair and clothes). Naturally Bones finds her "delightful" and has no idea who she reminds Booth of.
    • Oddly inverted for the intern-of-the-week crowd: they all started off with a single trait (Muslim, way too over-peppy, constantly spouting useless facts...), but these easy traits all turned into pretty deep characterization down the road.
  • Flowery Elizabethan English: In the episode "The Archaeologist in the Cocoon", the team solves a 25,000 year old murder involving both modern humans and Neanderthal. They are recreating the scene, and Dr. Hodgins is playing the part of a Neanderthal male:
    Hodgins: Hark, I bring thee meat which we thus shall feast upon, and...
    Angela: Hey, honey, it's not Shakespeare.
  • Foot Dragging Divorcee: Angela's husband that she didn't even remember marrying appears and says he has built a house for her. He won't grant her an annulment/divorce so she can marry Hodgins, but by the end of the episode he relents.
  • Forensic Drama
  • Foreshadowing
    • Angela's bisexuality was hinted at as far back as the first few episodes. "You have no idea how open-minded I can be."
    • A person doing interviews to see how suitable the lab guys were to be allowed access to top secret files (or something) asked Zack what he would do if someone used irrefutable logic to get him to do something treasonous. Zack replies he would ask Dr. Brennan first.
    • Just before he gets shot, Vincent says, "I feel like I'm going to be dead soon."
    • Zack is seen to hang on every word that his best friend, Jack Hodgins, says. This makes it all the more heartbreaking when you learn that it was partly because of Hodgins believing in conspiracy theories that Zack was persuaded to become the Gormogon's apprentice.
    • In "The Change in the Game", Bones and Booth spend most of the episode at a bowling tournament and are saddled with a "horrible child" as Bones calls her. In between dealing with the girl, Bones states "you and I would never have a kid like that" several times. Guess what she announces at the end of the episode?
    • In an early season 1 episode, while being going through interviews and background checks for security clearance, Angela is asked by the interviewer when the last time she saw her husband was to which she splutters out "Wow, that took? Didn't seem legal." and "We were in Fiji". Guess who Angela and Hodgins have to track down several years later when they want to tie the knot?
  • The Foster Kid: Brennan; Sweets
  • Frickin' Laser Beams
    • In the episode "The Knight on the Grid", the show warrants a surprising Artistic License - Physics when Zack turns on a laser and we can see the laser tracing out its path.
    • Occurs even earlier (first season) when Hodgins uses two lasers to examine the chemical composition of a bone.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Newest squintern Dr. Wells. He takes being an Insufferable Genius Up to Eleven, to the point not even Bones likes him. Everyone (except for Fisher, go figure) will outright admit they don't like him. He's kept around out of necessity (and being a polymath).
  • Friendly Neighborhood Chinatown: DC's Chinatown shows up on occasion. It's much nicer than the real version, which is often referred to as a China-"block."
  • From The Latin Intro Ducere: The Victim of the Week was a guy who seemed to really be Santa Claus. This gives them another opportunity to bicker Like an Old Married Couple. Booth's remark isn't quite From The Latin Intro Ducere, but Brennan's correction is.
    Brennan: Kriss Kringle. From the North Pole. Lives above a toy store - This is further evidence that our victim is, indeed, the mythic figure known as Santa Claus.
    Booth: Mythic. Coming from the Latin, "Myth", meaning "doesn't actually exist."
    Brennan: No. From the Greek, "Mythos", meaning "word."
  • Full-Name Basis: Gordon Gordon Wyatt. That's not a typo, at one point he posits that his first and middle are the same, and he never says whether he's joking or not.
  • The Fun in Funeral: "The Double Death of the Dearly Departed"
  • Functional Addict: Nigel-Murray, apparently, who would get drunk and brag about sleeping with the lab's ladies to his pals (Cam and Angela are shocked, Bones just finds the idea of them being compatible hilarious). He joined AA and got better before he died.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: In the alternate universe episode at the end of season 4, Nigel-Murray jokes that Zack is the kind of person who would go to jail for a murder he didn't commit. Sort of a retroactive Funny Aneurysm Moment from a watcher's view, but a straight example in-universe.
  • Funny Background Event: Brennan describes scoring a goal in hockey as "making a net." Cam gives her the strangest look.

    G 
  • Gamer Girl: One of the suspects in "The Gamer in the Grease" is a world-class gaming expert. She takes advantage of this trope to get lucrative endorsements.
  • Geeky Turn-On: Hodgins and Angela, frequently. Notable incidents include him naming a rose smelling fungus after her (long story), proposing to her with glowing sea food (longer story), and the following:
    Angela: Okay, what I did was modify my mass recognition program — patent pending — to scan the photographic reconstruction of the crime scene, to find areas of comparatively less chaos.
    Hodgins: Awesome.
    Cam: (surprised) You understand what she's saying?
    Hodgins: Not in the least, but I am so turned on by her brain. I'd like to see her brain totally naked.
    • "The Gamer in the Grease" has a suspect who is a female gamer. She takes advantage of the fact that by being a Gamer Girl she has a great deal of popularity with the predominantly male gamer community.
  • Genre-Busting: It's a drama-comedy all about decaying bodies, murder investigations and romance.
  • Genre Savvy: In "The Hole in the Heart" (6x22), Brennan tells Angela she and Booth slept together. Angela, a longtime friend of the literal-minded Brennan, assumes, incorrectly, that it was non-sexual.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar
    • In "The Maggots in the Meathead", Sweets is translating text messages in text-speak. He gets to one that reads "4Q" and decides it doesn't need to be translated out loud.
    • In "The Secret in the Soil" Sweets gives Booth and Brennan a psychological questionnaire. We don't get to hear the actual question, but one of Booth's answers is "About 15-20 times a day. But I'm starting to think that I really misunderstood the question..."
  • Girls Need Role Models: Could Dr. Temperance Brennan be a better role model for girls? An ass-kicking anthropologist with liberal views about sex, religion and morality, who wears jewelery, skirts and high heels while beating the shit out of bad guys and whose best girlfriends are a similarly ass-kicking African-American coroner whose race is practically never mentioned and once had a comfortably relaxed affair, and is still best friends with, the man Brennan is now in love with, and a free-spirited Eurasian artist who believes in love while still being a Lovable Sex Maniac. And for that rare creature, the female teenage Aspie, the fact that a woman with ridiculously obvious social problems can not only be accepted as a friend, lover and boss, but does so on national television, is enormously comforting, however unrealistic.
    • This show is feminist to the core. Brennan's views are often consistent with liberal third-wave feminism, even though she is never identified as such (probably to avoid the unpleasant associations with Straw Feminist images). The show's commitment to diversity plays into the same ideology. The writers seem committed to making the show as a whole as thoroughly feminist as possible.
      • The show's Bondage Is Bad stance is much more second-wave feminism, as viewing BDSM as an acceptable lifestyle choice is a key part of third-wave.
  • Going Commando: Booth admits to sometimes doing this when he doesn't have clean underwear, while at a Radical Honesty meeting. Try to look at him the same way again, I dare you.
  • Gone Horribly Right: In "The Secret in the Proposal" A CIA Honey Trap is very good at being attractive enough to seduce her target but innocent enough that no one suspects her real job — too good: her handler gets assaulted by her mother (who thinks her daughter's an escort and the handler's her john) and killed by her boss (who's in love with her and thinks the handler seduced her into being a prostitute).
  • Good People Have Good Sex: The team. Even Catholic Booth.
  • GPS Evidence: And Jack Hodgins has the GPS.
  • Gretzky Has the Ball: Any time Bones has to talk about sports.
  • Groin Attack
    • How Max evens the playing field after he challenges the younger, stronger and more capable Booth to a fight.
    • Booth himself in "The Proof in the Pudding".
    Booth: Good, old, American classic.
    • Brennan, when presented with a fleeing suspect, threatens one unambiguously. The suspect stopped and Booth collared him, but you just know Brennan would have done it.
    Booth: (repeating it afterward) "Stop, or I'll kick you in the testicles!"
    Brennan: Well, it worked.
  • Gross-Up Close-Up
    • The bodies are often found badly decomposed and covered with maggots.
    • The fifth season episode "The Gamer in the Grease" takes it a step further with an extended shot of half-liquidated flesh sliding off of a corpse's bones. Complete with sound effects.

    H 
  • Had to Come to Prison to Be a Crook: Serial Killer Howard Epps, possibly. He could be a Manipulative Bastard all along, or maybe he learned it while on death row. When we first meet Epps, he's claiming to be innocent and trying to get exonerated, but it ends up he just reveals he's killed even more people than previously thought, so they have to keep him alive while they process the new bodies. When he returns in season 2, Epps is even more manipulative and playing serial killer games, leading the team on a merry chase with body parts as clues.
  • Hand Cannon: One episode has Brennan getting the most powerful production handgun in the world. In a later episode, she trades guns with Booth, confessing, "my gun is too big for me," and putting an interesting spin on the very Freudian conversation she'd had with him earlier.
  • Happily Adopted: Sweets in his backstory.
  • Happily Married: The adorable older couple at the couples' retreat who turn out to be serial house robbers and that week's murderers. They're not sorry because the victim tried to hit the wife while they were stealing his car, so she KO'd him with her blackjack and he crushed him between the car and a tree. They also think (or appear to think) they won't be separated in prison due to their age; Booth doesn't have the heart to tell them otherwise. Booth and Bones like them so much they say they would KO and crush to death anyone who'd harm the other. Aww!
    • Also Hodgens and Angela, and as of the latest episode Booth and Bones.
  • Hard On Soft Science
    • Brennan rather hypocritically mocks psychology. Which makes it darkly ironic when she persuades Zack to give up the Gormogon using applied psychology. Very ironic, considering that Brennan is an anthropologist, and psychology is a considerably "harder", more lab/experiment-based social science than anthropology.
    Brennan: (aside) She's a therapist, isn't she? She talks like a therapist!
    Therapist: (later interview, out loud) Oh my god. She's an anthropologist, isn't she? She talks like an anthropologist!
    • Also ironically, one of Brennan's childhood idols is Wonder Woman, a superheroine designed by a psychologist.
  • Hates Small Talk: Squintern Edison is constantly frustrated by the amount of time the main characters spend discussing their personal lives and dramas, so much so that "can we talk about the job, please" is his Catch Phrase.
  • The Heart: Angela, at least according to Hodgins. Except rather than personal vendettas, it's the minutiae of the body they're studying that she raises their eyes from. Further driven home by the fact that in "The Man in the Cell", Angela receives a human heart in the mail after the publication of a newspaper article in which Hodgins calls her "the heart of the operation".
  • Hello, Nurse!: Booth says to Brennan, "There isn't a guy in this country who wouldn't want to have sex with you, including half the gay men."
  • Heroic BSOD
    • Booth nearly has one in "Proof in the Pudding", when it's implied that there were two assassins involved in JFK's death and there was a government cover-up to hide this. Given the number of people he's killed for his country, he sees it as a huge betrayal.
  • Hero of Another Story: Occasionally Booth and Brennan will run into another odd pair of team of crime fighters that they will have to work with in order to solve the mystery of the week including a crossover with another (short-lived) crime show about an eccentric and talented "Finder" and his hard-line Law Enforcement Handler. There is also "The Yanks In The UK" where they team up with (in Booth's words) "The British Version of me and you!" (A top-line forensic anthropologist who consults with Scotland Yard and his Detective Partner).
  • Hidden Depths: all of the main characters have them. For example, Arastoo (the Iranian squintern) writes poetry in Farsi.
  • Hollywood Nerd: Brennan; Hodgins; Zack; Sweets
  • Hollywood Hacking: A crazy gifted hacker manages to create a virus for a custom-built system he's never interacted with, or even seen, by making a very detailed carving in bone, knowing that the bone is going to be scanned in later, because everyone knows image files are routinely executed like commands.
    • Mechanically feasible, but highly improbable. There have been many viruses that take advantage of how an image/file is opened by an application to sneak code in. So if the hacker knew what software Angela was using AND said software had a security hole, he could theoretically have pulled it off. Insanely improbable, but fundamentally feasible. Which is, sadly, better than about 99% of Hollywood Hacking examples.
  • Hollywood Law: Diplomatic immunity is badly abused in two cases. In the first, a diplomat is threatened with being returned home to be prosecuted, in which case she'll be put in prison and killed by other inmates. To avoid this, she waives immunity. Too bad for her, immunity belongs to the state, not the individual, so she can't actually waive her own immunity. Later, Pelant falsifies records to claim Egyptian citizenship, without any mention of him actually having (fake) diplomatic status. Somehow, all Egyptian tourists are diplomats now.
  • Hollywood Psych
    • This seems to be Bones' view on psychology, completely not trusting it and calling it a "soft science". This would not be too bad if not for the fact that she prefers hard sciences like her own anthropology, a science not considered particularly "hard".
    • She dismisses any implied relation from what "is" to what "could be", so her use of anthropology is limited to what has been proven as fact.
    • Pointedly subverted in "The Devil in the Details", which takes place mostly in a mental ward.
    Dr. Adam Copeland: (to Bones) I've listened to you take shots at my profession. And that's okay. I'm a big boy, and tolerant man. I want you to think about something. I spend every working hour of everyday trying to help people who are living in hell. That's an honorable way to spend a life. Perhaps more honorable than figuring out what happened to dead people who are already beyond pain and suffering.
    • When Stephen Fry is on the show, his character seems to have a bit of disdain for psychology himself, calling it on its ability to oversimplify and objectify a person's state of mind while arbitrarily projecting solutions that rely on the person's ability to understand and implement them. Then again, he was probably just using fast word play and large vocabulary to turn Brennan to his way of thought.
  • Hollywood Silencer: Averted in an "The Bond in the Boot," where a very obviously silenced pistol was still pretty loud.
  • Honor Before Reason:
    • In one episode the team find evidence a South American official with Diplomatic Immunity was involved with a murder. Getting through the red tape would be nearly impossible, and Cam suggested manipulating evidence to implicate the son, trying to get the official to confess and waive immunity. Booth listened but quickly rejected the proposal on the grounds that trying to cheat around DI would cause international problems, even though such manipulation is used all the time in local law enforcement. They got her to waive immunity based on what the political situation would be back home-if they did try to go through the normal channels, she would be killed by her enemies. As mentioned above, this is Hollywood Law though.
    • In another episode, they are taken hostage by The Men in Black, ordering the squints to ID a body's cause of death and explicitly NOT to look into the body's identity. Their quest for the whole truth nearly leads to Booth being fired for helping out
  • Hot Librarian: When Bones is doing an investigation on a flight to Shanghai, she has to borrow hornrim glasses from an elderly passenger. Booth walks in on her with her hair up in a bun wearing the glasses and requests she shake her hair out of the bun and say, "Mr. Booth, do you know what the penalty is for an overdue book?" She doesn't get it.
  • Hot Scientist: A significant portion of the cast. Bones, Cam, Arastoo, Wendall, and Clark are all brilliant scientists and complimented on their looks at some point or another.
  • Hot Scoop: Hannah, the journalist Booth begins dating in season six.
  • How We Got Here: The episode "Aliens in a Spaceship" and "The Parts in the Sum of the Whole".
  • Hunk: Booth
  • The Hunter Becomes The Hunted: What happened to the Ghost Killer: Her first victim was pinned on an innocent teacher and her rich family covered it up and got him sent to jail. He spent the next 20 years planning his revenge and finally killed her (and the judge who helped the family) when he was paroled.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: In season 7, Genny Shaw accomplishes a lot in a very short time.

    I 
  • Identification From Dental Records: used frequently, since they deal with corpses in advanced states of decay and/or dismemberment.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Usually described as "The X in the Y", with X being a one-word description of the victim, and Y being the place in which they're found. X and Y are usually alliterative too. Exceptions to this pattern are often highly meaningful.
  • If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...:
    • Inverted. Booth says this to Brennan's brother Russ.
    • Booth also does this to the boyfriend of Cam's foster daughter, introducing himself as a cool uncle... who happens to be a sniper.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Hodgins's family is actually one of the most powerful families in the world and owns the Jeffersonian. He deliberately downplays it because he wants to be treated on his own terms.
  • I Knew There Was Something About You: Zach was a brilliant but vulnerable genius, who goes absolutely crazy, crushing his friends.
    Cam: "I knew the day I met that boy that he would cause me pain."
  • I'm a Humanitarian: The Gormogon.
  • Improbably Predictable: Booth reveals that he knows Brennan's computer password, because he knows how she thinks. He also knows what she changes the password to — twice.
  • In Name Only: The TV series takes nothing from the novel series aside from the main protagonist's name, profession, and tendency for not suffering fools gladly. Most of the inspiration for the series comes from the life and work of Kathy Reichs, the novelist. While both series can stand on their own considerable merits, the two are so different that they might as well be two completely independent franchises.
    • One episode (in which three men swap targets in a murder pact and use Brennan's work as a template in order to further confuse the issue) has Angela encouraging her friend by reminding her that Kathy Reichs always solves her cases. It's implied that Brennan's literary work is about some version of Ms. Reichs.
    • The novel character is a worldly and rather jaded divorced (not to Booth, who does not exist in the novels) single-mother, former alcoholic professor in her late-forties. A bit taciturn but capable of normal social interaction. And she is nicknamed Tempe, not Bones. Reichs and Deschanel theorize that Novel!Brennan is a older version of TV!Brennan, but it's not canonical.
  • In-Series Nickname: Bones, Bren, and Tempe for Brennan, and King of the Lab for Hodgins (and occasionally, Zack).
  • Insistent Terminology: Ska-luh!
  • Inspector Javert: FBI Special Agent Hayes Flynn, who was tasked with hunting down Bones when she was accused of murder.
  • Insufferable Genius: Many.
  • Insult of Endearment
    • Hodgins dismissivly calls new intern Finn Abernathy "Opie", after the character in The Andy Griffith Show. Abernathy counters by calling Hodgins "Thurston." By the end of the episode they've gained respect for each other, but still use the same nicknames.
    • Also used with 'Mister' Nigel-Murray, introduced as Brennan's way of subtly mocking him for having not received his doctorate yet. By later in the series, even after he has proved himself, it is used as a fond nickname.
    • Played With by Booth and Bones herself. Booth originally used the name as a term of endearment and respect for Brennan but after their first falling out he continued to call her it out of a desire to annoy her and always got a "Don't call me Bones!" in response. Later on she came to like the nickname again and he became the only person allowed to call her that.
  • Intentional Engrish for Funny ("Blind Idiot" Translation in-universe): The instructions to the "baby walker" that Angela buys for her baby in season seven's "The Prince in the Plastic".
  • Interdisciplinary Sleuth: Brennan, Hodgins, and Angela all qualify in their own way.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: A fourth season episode of opens with the squints watching Booth playing hockey and beating the crap out of some guys on the ice (he's the team's enforcer). Cam says she likes it... a little too much. Then she has a Did I Say That Out Loud moment.
  • Internal Homage: Compare these scenes from “The Parts in the Sum of the Whole” and “The Boy With the Answer”same taxi even!
  • Introduction by Hookup: Brennan has a one night stand with her former college professor who has just come to town. The next day she discovers that he's the forensic anthropologist that the defense has hired for a trial she's testifying at.
  • Intro-Only Point of View
  • Invincible Villain: Christopher Pelant has been built into one of these. He can get anywhere, hack anything, kill anyone, and get away scot-free without breaking a sweat. And, as Hodgins finds out first-hand, he enjoys the idea of being killed, even if only for the effect it would have on the protagonists.
  • Irony: The replacement bowler on Max's team (paraphrased): "I'm not superstitious like Victim-of-the-Week, I believe in God!" Amazingly, Bones doesn't say a word (she's undercover, barely, but it must have been a strain).
  • It Amused Me: Caroline Julian's reasoning for making Bones kiss Booth in a Christmas Episode, though chances are it's more Shipper on Deck.
  • It Has Been an Honor: Hodgins to Brennan before they attempt to blow up the windshield of the van they are trapped in.
  • I Was Young and Needed the Money: Cam's role in "The Invasion of the Mother Suckers".

    J-L 
  • Jerk Ass: A recent stand-out is the person who stole Cam's identity, ruined her financially, and was clearly only sorry about getting caught (or wanted to show they weren't afraid after Cam punched them in the face while handcuffed) She was an old college friend who was jealous of Cam's "easy life," and the fact that they were close only made it easier for her to hide her purchases among Cam's for a year. On the plus side (for the thief), their attitude was so horrible that Cam decided not to add "aggressive ID theft" and three years to their sentence just so she wouldn't have to deal with them anymore.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: The sheriff who puts Hodgins and Angela in jail after they mess around with their Prius' auto-driving feature showers them with confetti when they get married in the cell. Awww.
  • John F. Kennedy: Brennen's team suspects, but can't ever be sure, that the skeleton the Secret Service conscripted them to analyze with state-of-the-art forensic methods was him.
  • John Wayne: Bones is an admitted fan of the Duke. In one episode she even does a poor impersonation of him while reciting a line attributed to him: "Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway."
  • Joisey: Bones pretends to be a Jersey girl when she and Booth go undercover at a couples' retreat.
  • Joker Immunity: Whenever the team even manages to get close to thwarting Pelant, he always has a contrived way out of the situation to turn up and torment them all again. Booth even manages to shoot him in the head, complete with epic blood spatter, and he still escapes, although this time he finally suffers lasting injuries, including a ruined right eye. All this seems to do, however, is make him more vicious and untouchable. Subverted in a big way in Season 9: Booth kills Pelant with a single shot to the throat.
  • Jury and Witness Tampering: In one episode, a man who is about to testify against a big military contractor ends up with his wife dead and son kidnapped in order to keep him from testifying.
  • Keeping Secrets Sucks: Booth had to turn down Bones' marriage proposal because Pelant threatened to kill five random people if he stopped being Booth's #1 priority, and because Bones is a poor actress and Pelant is nigh-omniscient he can't take the risk of telling her. Booth knows this is making Bones miserable but he also knows trading five innocent people for her happiness would be much worse. Fortunately after speaking to Booth's ex-confessor/bartender Bones realizes his "cold feet" is making him just as unhappy and they'll work it out somehow (but next time it's his turn to propose).
  • The Kindnapper: One episode involves a kidnapped child, who it turns out has been kidnapped by his father, who thinks his ex-wife is an unfit mother. The father changes the child's name and hair color to hide him at his cousin's house.
  • Knife-Throwing Act: Booth and Bones went undercover as a knife-throwing act.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: In "The Graft in the Girl", a woman who dropped out of medical school is stealing corpses from a funeral home and selling them through a fake medical supply house for bone grafts. One of these corpses, who died of mesothelioma, infected at least five people with a deadly disease. The suspect isn't going to trial, though. She didn't last long enough in med school to know that bone dust is toxic, so she gave herself a fatal disease.
  • Last Name Basis: Most characters. Some standouts:
    • Even away from the job Booth is just Booth, almost nobody calls him Seeley. Inverted with his brother who is always called "Jared" and is actually at one point called "a fake Booth".
    • Max and Russ are the only people who call Bones "Temperance". Booth calls her "Bones" (the only one she allows to), Angela calls her "Sweetie" and everyone else calls her Brennan with or without the "Doctor".
    • Bones herself refers to everyone but Angela by their last name.
    • Colin Fisher is never called by his first name. In a scene where Wendell is speaking to Cam about the other interns, he refers to them as Daisy, Vincent (who almost everyone else calls Mister Nigel-Murray), Arastoo and Fisher.
    • Hodgins; even his own wife rarely calls him Jack.
    • In fact, Angela is the only character that no one refers to by their last name. Only Dr Goodman regularly referred to by last name.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In the episode the Family in the Feud the conflict of the Hatfield and McCoys is referred to as "a story," whereas "there's nothing made up about the Mobley's and Babcocks," when in fact it's the exact opposite.
  • Left the Background Music On: In "The X in the File," Bones and Booth are talking about the possibility of alien visitation, when the X-Files theme starts up in the background. Turns out it's the ringtone of an abandoned cellphone.
  • Let Me Get This Straight: From the episode The Santa In The Slush.
    Angela:"Wait. The evidence actually adds up to an old, fat man with a white beard, in a custom-made Santa suit who smoked a clay pipe and got kicked in the ass by a reindeer?"
  • Limited Wardrobe: Booth's trademark black suit and belt buckle, with occasional variations in the shirt, socks, and tie. When he's off the job, he usually wears a brown leather jacket, which he sometimes wears to crime scenes. Brennan tends to wear big, dangly earrings and necklaces.
    Dr. Gordon Wyatt: ... Bilious socks and your ostentatious ties, and your provocative belt buckles. [...] Oh, it's a modern-day codpiece. It forces the eye to the groin.
  • Literal-Minded: Brennan, more so than anyone who isn't an android should be.
  • Living Lie Detector: Sweets
    Perotta: Booth was right, you're like a portable polygraph.
    Sweets: He didn't mean that in a good way, did he?
  • Locking MacGyver in the Store Cupboard: When Brennan and Hodgins are buried alive by the Grave Digger, their cell (Brennan's car) contains all of the materials a person needs to perform surgery, manufacture oxygen, power a cell phone, and hack a detonator — assuming one has three PhDs.
  • Lonely Funeral: Brennan and Booth decide to avert this by showing up with the whole team at the funeral of their latest corpse of the week, a loner who had nobody in the world but his mother.
  • Lovable Sex Maniac: Angela
  • Lower-Class Lout: One episode explores the "Guido" culture, and Brennan herself said she followed the TV "documentary" on them.

    M 
  • MacGyvering: Practically Dr. Hodgins's main role. He usually ropes whichever squintern there is into helping him. Cam frequently disapproves. Special mention goes to Wendell Bray, who managed to take X-rays with scotch tape supplying the needed (static) electricity during a blizzard, and used a potato battery to power a cellphone.
  • Magical Computer: Lampshaded in the pilot. But still played straight most of the time. Angela's computer (and Angela herself) can do almost anything with her combination computer-hologram projector. Such as recreating detailed hieroglyphics... from the stains of an object inside a several thousand year old mummy or being able to reconstruct an accurate corpse from a body that had been crushed with a car crusher... enough to be able to identify markings on the bones.
    • Parodied in episode 100 "The Parts in the Sum of the Whole", a flashback to the first collaboration between Booth and Bones, where Angela, new to the Jeffersonian, reenacts the murder with a flip book animation of stick figures. Caroline Julian says it won't convince a jury unless it's a computer simulation.
    • Angela has a minor in computer science to explain her tech-savvy.
  • Malaproper: Bones, after getting out of her "I don't know what that means" phase, and moving onto guessing.
    Bones: Serious as a gas attack.
    Booth: Heart attack, Bones.
  • Marijuana Is LSD: Averted.
    Bones: Marijuana doesn't make you a killer.
    Booth: But it does make you stupid.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Angela's input on relationships and sex are a major part of Brennan's success as an author.
  • Maternally Challenged: Brennan, naturally. "Just because I have breasts does not mean I have magical powers over infants." She does grow attached to the kid by the end of the episode, though.
    Bones: Phalanges! Dancing phalanges!
    • She eventually decides it would be "selfish" of her not to procreate and chooses Booth to be her sperm donor; this is put on hold due to Booth's brain tumor.
    • Back on, now that Bones is pregnant.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Was Brennan drugged or bespelled in New Orleans? And did Booth really see a ghost, or was it just a hallucination?
  • Merchant Prince: In the two-part episode "Yanks in the UK", a powerful American businessman in London uses his political influence to get Booth and Brennan (who are in town for a conference) seconded to Scotland Yard to investigate the death of his daughter, despite the fact that the FBI has no jurisdiction in the UK. Things get more complicated when the businessman becomes a suspect in a second murder.
  • Misplaced Accent: In-universe; Vaziri fakes a Jordanian accent despite being Iranian.
  • Moment Killer: That bloody clown in the season 5 premiere.
  • Mommy Issues: They put pressure on escaped serial killer Epps by locking up his (abusive) mother.
  • Monster Clown: "The Mummy in the Maze"
  • Mood Dissonance: Or it would be if we didn't know her so well — Bones behaves at a body farm the way other people would at Disneyland.
  • Mood Whiplash: Constantly. This is a lighthearted sweet comedic show about serial killers, mutilated corpses, cannibals, murder, and death. There's an episode where the team finds a body in a river. The bones have been removed, meaning they can't get a facial likeness from the skin of the head. So two of the characters rig a way to inflate the eyeless, boneless, water-rotted face like a balloon to give it the rounded shape of a human head. This scene is played for laughs.
  • Monster Fangirl: Howard Epps gets married to one while he's in prison. Then he escapes and kills her.
  • Moral Guardians: Booth is extremely conservative many times, and becomes annoyingly overbearing when defending his beliefs. For example, when trying to convince Brennan to have their baby in a hospital (a Catholic one, as noted by Bones) while she wants to give birth at home because hospitals tend to be infested with germs and bacteria, and then proceeds to show how the ENTIRE PLACE is covered in dried up bodily substances such as blood, spinal fluid, etc. He then tries employing Sweets into scaring her to his choice, and gets chewed out over it. Moments like this make some people want to slap Booth upside the head.
  • Motive Decay: In the early episodes, the scientists at the Jeffersonian spend most of their time on historical and archaeological work, and only put up with the FBI commandeering their services in order to justify their federal funding. By the middle of the first season, they're a dedicated crime lab. More Characterization Marches On, since at least one episode actually addresses this: they find the FBI cases are much more exciting, challenging, and rewarding. They still do the other work, it's just that they're not as enthusiastic about it anymore.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Angela's husband, finally seen in the season 4 opener. If he was one of the main cast, he'd be a Marty Stu. There may even be slashy implications in there, what with two separate male cast members volunteering to take him to the airport.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Wendell and Hodgins frantically attaching wires while Angela yells, in the background, "Guys! The phone!" and rock music ramps up the mood... the fact is that Hodges and Wendell are frantically hooking up potatoes for a very, very big battery.
  • Murder by Mistake: One Victim of the Week was killed just for being the intended target's identical twin.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: The second season opens with a new person in charge of the team at the Jeffersonian, A Token Twofer in Dr. Saroyan who, after an episode with some small conflict between her and Brennan, defends everyone on the team at the Jeffersonian by way of strong arming a federal prosecutor into taking a case to trial.
    Saroyan: Yeah, it's scary, the whole country will be watching the trial and you don't want to go to trial with less than a sure thing, but you put my people on the stand and that's a sure thing.
    Everyone: Not Zack.
    • Bones doesn't think much of Sweets's choice of career.
      Bones: We're all scientists here. Well, not you. Where's your evidence?

    N 
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast
    • Subverted with Bones herself.
    • The Gormogon, Arthur Graves and the Master.
    • The Gravedigger.
  • Nausea Dissonance: This comes up all the time. The Jeffersonian crew are all unfazed by decaying corpses and the like, while other characters get squicked to varying degrees, including having to vomit.
    • Surprisingly, even Bones is not immune to this. When Angela plays a scenario of a girl with a belly-button ring shimmying in a narrow space, in the part where the girl's belly-button ring gets ripped off, Bones immediately looks away from the computer screen and takes a few deep breaths. Angela calls her out on this.
    Angela: What?
    Brennan: That just... makes me feel sick.
    Angela: You pick dead bodies out of mass graves, and yanking out a belly-button ring makes you sick?
    Booth: Hey, I've shot a lot of people in my time; I gotta admit, that whole belly-button thing makes me nauseous too.
    Brennan: Thank you.
  • Near Death Experience: Brennan in 'The Shot in the Dark'
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Sweets pops into the Jeffersonian to discuss the Gormogon in "The Knight on the Grid." The team is somewhat disturbed by how enthusiastic he is. We later find out that in his youth he was a fan of both Black and Death Metal and still has the clothes — or lack thereof — to go incognito at a concert.
  • No Badge? No Problem!:
    • Bones frequently helps interview witnesses and conduct interrogations, despite being a forensic anthropologist with no law enforcement training. In the pilot she even went to arrest the murderer by herself, kneecapping him in the process. (The show admitted this was technically assault with a deadly weapon and she was chewed out for that and general foolhardiness, but no charges were filed.)
    • A Body of the Week was a data analyst for the CIA. When his superiors refuse to investigate a possible diamond smuggling operation he discovers, he investigates it himself despite having no field experience, training, or authority.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
  • No Man of Woman Born: When Bones and Booth discuss whether they could catch each other if one of them committed a murder, Booth boasts "I always get my man," and Bones replies smugly, "I am a woman."
  • Non-Idle Rich: Hodgins, as well as Bones, who makes enough from her books to discuss the merits of having a Cayman Islands account.
  • Nonuniform Uniform
    • Booth wears a standard FBI suit-and-tie get-up, but varies it with strange socks and a ludicrous belt-buckle.
    • Angela decorated the collars of her lab coat, though it's the same lab coat all the time.
  • Noodle Incident
    • In the episode "The Man in the Fallout Shelter," Brennan mentions a Fourth of July fiasco when Hodgins and Zack tried to spike the eggnog.
    • An agent from the State Department asks Bones about an incident involving a South American drug lord:
    Bones: (makes call) Yes, you said to call if anyone asked about, you know, him.
    Agent: (stunned after taking the phone) ... They're checking my credentials... I am to wait here until somebody comes to destroy my notes.
    • Booth: That time you dropped a dead monkey down the elevator shaft.
    • In "The Bones on the Blue Line": a sexual position described on page 187 in one of Brennan's books.
    • The newly-personable Edison refusing to talk about what he did while working for the NSA. Naturally this drives conspiracy-buff Hodges nuts.
    • The case we never see solved: a skeleton curved all the way around into a backwards circle. This is before Brennan is pulled off the case for her father's trial.
    • Dr. Nigel-Murray's hedonistic trip during the one-year break using the money he won on Jeopardy!.
    • We never really find out Angela's birth name, only that it was so bad she had to change it.
    • The reason for Wendell being in juvenile hall for a weekend is never elaborated on.
  • No Social Skills: Zack, and Brennan to a lesser extent. As Angela puts it when they attempt to fist-bump (and immediately start deconstructing the entire concept): "It's so cute when you try to behave like earthlings." What's strange about this is that from what we see of Zack's family, it's normal. Like, mind-numbingly normal. His descriptions of them fit the stereotype of the average American family to a T. If anything, this seems to have exacerbated his strangeness.
  • Not So Different: Broadsky invokes this when comparing himself and Booth, as does Bones when comparing the two. Booth vigorously rejects the notion but has trouble with the fact that Bones sees them as similar.
  • Nude Nature Dance: In one episode, when a self-proclaimed witch is found dead, Brennan and Booth decide to check out a local group of Wiccans. They show up at a ceremony in the woods just as the (all-female) group begins to disrobe and start dancing.

    O 
  • Obfuscating Stupidity
    • Booth does this continuously; notice he is more prone to having great ideas and Eureka Moments in times of greater urgency.
    • In "The Bones That Foam," Angela had apparently figured out the ruse — that Booth was smarter than he let on, citing it almost by name.
    • Max Brennan is a natural at this.
  • Odd Couple: Booth and Bones' outlooks on very nearly everything are polar opposites. Certain other characters have noted that they really shouldn't work as well together as they do because of it. Dr. Sweets drafts a book centering on exactly that during season 4 (Opposites Attract: Yin and Yang in the Workplace), but seems to eventually change his viewpoint after discussing it with retiring psychologist Gordon Gordon Wyatt.
    Sweets: Ok, now I'm hearing a caveat.
    Gordon Gordon: It's a small one. It's just... that Brennan and Booth aren't in any way opposites.
    Sweets: Wow! Small? What is that, British understatement?
  • Odd Friendship: Angela and Brennan have opposite views on most things, yet are great friends.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Six seasons of Unresolved Sexual Tension climaxing off-screen? REALLY? Then there are not one, but two time skips jumping ahead to five months into the relationship.
  • Oh Crap: Broadsky, the evil sniper, the Dark Booth, killing people not on orders, but as "the hand of God". Part of his games is that he steals other snipers' identities for his work, including Booth's to buy the land he's hiding on. When Booth tracks him down and they confront each other across the gate leading onto Broadsky's land, they make it clear that Booth is constrained by the law, and entering without a warrant would make any arrest worthless.
    Booth: I don't need a warrant. [hops the fence] This land belongs to Seely Booth.
    Broadsky: beat [runs]
  • Older than They Look: Daisy's actress, Carla Gallo, is actually a year older than Emily Deschanel and ten years older than John Francis Daley (Sweets). Sweets himself falls victim to this. In his first appearance, he's 22, but looks like Sam Weir if he grew a foot taller.
  • Old Shame: In-universe with Cam's role in an amateur schlock movie as '70s bloodsucking vampire with a Funny Afro, from "The Suit on the Set".
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Mostly averted. The squint squad is a team of highly-focused specialists, and many episodes will have someone rattle off some fairly dense bio-babble that needs to be translated, even for the other scientists.
    • Zack, on the other hand, seems to be a whiz at math, chemistry and physics, besides his doctorate in forensic anthropology. Early on, Zack is revealed to be working on an engineering degree as well as anthropology.
    • Hodgins is also revealed to have three doctorates — explaining why he can do bugs, plants and material science (don't say 'dirt' around him) It's best not to look too closely at how long it would take to get the background/experience the team has, and their relative youth.
    • Also Vincent, who can spout random useless facts on a wealth of topics. And yes, there are people who can actually do this. He won a large sum on Jeopardy! doing this, and promptly spent all of it.
  • One of Our Own: When Bones and Hodgins, and later Booth, are kidnapped. Saroyan, Hodgins and intern-of-the-episode Wendell take offense when a substitute agent calls the team (minus Booth) "her people," with Hodgins and Wendell quickly correcting her that they're "Booth's people."
  • Only Sane Woman / Only Sane Employee
    • Camille Saroyan.
    • Angela often served this function before Cam signed up. After, she apparently felt more free to be nuts.
    • Recurring intern-of-the week Clark Edison tends to act like this whenever he shows up. Ironically, his straight-laced nature compared to the other interns makes him come across as equally quirky.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Done in-character. Arastoo (the Muslim squintern-of-the-episode) slips his around Cam, then decides to not even bother with the accent any more when it's revealed that he was faking it all along — he thought his religion would not be accepted if he did not have a heavy accent like he was a recent immigrant.
  • Opposites Attract: Lampshaded when Sweets writes a book with this title about Bones and Booth.
  • Origins Episode: Episode 100 gives us the story of how Booth and Bones first met, their real first case and why they were at odds in the premiere episode.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different
    • When Booth is trapped on a ship set to explode, he's reunited with Corporal Teddy Parker, the dead guy he named his son after. Teddy is 100% tangible and picks up stuff, helps Booth open doors, Booth physically picks him up... but disappears just as Booth gets rescued. Later, Brennan (who sees him later, but doesn't know the guy's identity) points out that some of the stuff Booth did to get out really did require two people. An odd episode to be sure. In-universe, Booth was drugged (though this is not confirmed by anyone other than himself) and it's later established that he has a hallucination-causing brain tumor but still, you can read it as you like.
    • An earlier episode involves college students filming a Blair Witch knock-off in the woods when one character was apparently "possessed" by the ghost they were looking for and goes on a killing spree. Although the real course of events is solved, it turns out the camera actually caught the ghost on tape. Angela and Hodgins decide that it's an optical illusion, and try to convince themselves of it very hard.
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: In season four's "The Crank in the Shaft", an office worker uses his phone to take a picture of Cam (Booth thinks he's taking a picture of the body):
    Office guy: I'm not taking a picture of the body! I'm taking one of her... she's the most beautiful woman I've ever seen in the elevator.

    P-Q 
  • Papa Wolf
    • Max Keenan does NOT take it well if you threaten Brennan or her brother Russ, as seen in the episode "Judas on a Pole". The rest of the time, however, he comes across as more bumbling than menacing. This is intentional.
    Brennan: I don't want you to kill people for me, just buy me a sweater like a regular dad!
    • Also Angela's dad.
    • Booth is on record as saying that if "God Himself" told him to sacrifice his son, "That's not gonna happen." Considering that he's a devout Catholic...
    • The killer in "The Sin in the Sisterhood". The victim was in a polygamous marriage with three sisters, and cheated on them with yet another woman, so their protective father killed him.
    • The father of two of The Gravedigger's victims was approached by a sniper with an offer that he'd kill her for two million dollars. He gladly paid the money to have the murderer of his sons killed.
  • Paranormal Episode: The Gravedigger trapped Booth in an old submarine and he saw his late friend, Parker. Brennan seemed to see him too at one point.
  • Parental Abandonment: Brennan's parents disappeared when she was fifteen.
  • Parental Substitute: Mostly in backstory, and related to Abusive Parents. Booth and Sweets are both abused by their parents... but rescued and raised with great love and care by substitute parents, Booth's grandfather in his case, an older couple who adopted him for Sweets.
  • The Password Is Always Swordfish: Brennan's authorization password was "daffodil". When Booth lampshaded this trope by telling her her own password, she changed it. He immediately guessed the new password. Twice.
  • The Patient Has Left the Building: Booth in the episode "Two Bodies in the Lab". He insists on leaving the hospital to go save Brennan.
  • Peek-A-Boo Corpse: Once an Episode, on balance.
  • Playful Hacker/The Cracker: The "hacktivist" who claims he's only trying to expose government corruption. His methods are a little unorthodox: he explodes an innocent girl with a tiny bomb on a stick, rearranges her spine into a riddle, soaks it with donated FBI agent blood, sneaks it into a museum(?), puts the rest of her in an FBI file room, etches a computer virus into her bones to short out the Angelator, and explodes a reporter who was on his side because he was on the verge of revealing him. He's been studying Bones & Co. for a very long time and is doing these things to challenge them personally. And he does all this while under house arrest with no computer access.
  • Plot Armor: Pelant once had a suit of it so thick that not even the typically-fatal Boom, Headshot slowed him down, though it cracked enough to leave him with scars and a ruined eye. Early in season 9, however, the armor completely shatters.
  • Polymath: Brennan, Zach and Hodgins hold about eight doctorates between them.
  • Poorly Disguised Pilot: "The Finder" for The Finder.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: Very enjoyable, if admittedly quite divergent from the novels.
  • The Pratfall: A disturbing-but-still-funny version. Booth is in a hurry to find a missing head. He slips on a muddy riverbank, and slides on his rear into the water, then triumphantly holds up the head.
  • Precision F-Strike
    • In "The Man with the Bone," upon discovering that a skeleton has disappeared:
    Brennan: Where the hell are my bones?!
    • And in "The Baby in the Bough:
    Brennan: There was a baby in that car! You son of a bitch!
  • Preclimax Climax: The circumstances of Booth and Bones finally hooking up. Booth was planning on finally confronting Broadsky the next day.
  • Pregnant Badass: Brennan.
  • Product Placement
    • The B-plot of "The Gamer in the Grease" is a big ad for Avatar. Apparently Bones takes place in an alternate universe where said film is as hotly anticipated as a new Star Wars flick, with people camping out to see it and painting their faces blue. And where Joel Moore has a doppleganger. Or just isn't in Avatar.
    • Toyota has a lot of scripted references, some quite obvious.
    • The Sienna, which Angela describes as having plenty of room and says how much she loves the backup camera.
    • The Prius, when Hodgins swerves and the Prius beeps at him, prompting Angela to say "Look! The Prius helps you stay in your lane!"
      • Unusually, this has a lasting effect, as Hodgins and Angela end up in jail after being arrested for erratic driving, and they both have bench warrants. While in jail, Hodgins and Angela reconnect and get married while still in jail.
    • Two season six episodes in a row ("The Shallow in the Deep" and "The Babe in the Bar") feature some almost comically blatant product placement for Windows Phone 7, which fills up the entire screen for several seconds as Brennan is using it.
    • Season Six has another incredibly jarring Prius advert, this time without any plot significance at all. The same scene devolves into Big Lipped Alligator Moment territory as it ends with Booth and Bones giggling like six-year-olds while calling a dead man names like "bonehead" and "asshat."
    • Booth always drives a black Toyota SUV on FBI business, which is improbable given that in the real world US Government vehicles are invariably domestic.
    • Bones using a Windows phone to send pictures to Hodgins' giant screen with the Windows logo and namedropping Skydrive three times in the episode with the severed feet.
    • "The Pinnochio in the Planter" has an extremely off-putting scene: Bones, Booth and Sweets are in a car, talking about the case of the week, they stop abruptly to marvel at the fact that the car can park itself; Booth makes a lame joke and then end scene.
  • Pulled From Your Day Off
    • In one episode Brennan is temporarily shacking up with Booth's FBI colleague Sully when a call comes in, but the body has no bones: "Dr. Saroyan said, "no bones". So, you know what that means? I'm back on vacation. No bones, no 'Bones'. Uh... I was the second bones." She heads back to the boat Sully has rented, but when a small bone is discovered Booth takes the opportunity to interrupt Brennan again.
    • In order to convince Brennan that the staff has the crime of the week covered they get the various interns to come in & pretend for 10 minutes to work. After she's convinced & leaves, they pack themselves up to go, but Dr. Edison (who is covering for Brennan on her wedding day, though he is getting paid) guilts them into staying and helping for free.
      "Am I the only one here who cares about this [dead] woman?"
  • Put on a Bus
    • Dr. Goodman between seasons one and two.
    • Sully (a boat, in fact)
    • Hacker
    • Zach. For a while he was Commuting on a Bus, but he hasn't been seen in years.
  • Putting the Band Back Together: The whole purpose of the sixth season opener: Brennan and Daisy went to the Molucca Islands, Booth's in Afghanistan, Hodgins and Angela are in Paris, Cam's still in DC, Sweets is on sabbatical, and the interns have either taken new positions at other places, lost the funding for their scholarship, won the lottery, or in a clinic. But the core team returns (with Caroline's urging) to help save Cam's job.
  • Quintessential British Gentleman: The Duke's family in the fourth season opener. Quite posh.

    R 
  • Raised Catholic: Booth. He's hardly an altar boy (Well, he was a literal altar boy, just not the figurative one...), but being Catholic is a central part of who he is.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: When questioning a drug dealer about one of his "clients", a murdered teenage gymnast, he's horrified at the implication:
    "I never touched her, I'm not evil!"
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Emily Deschanel's pregnancy was written into the 7th season. It also means she and Booth start living together and enter a committed relationship.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Bones and Booth in season 7.
  • Remember The Dead Guy: "Double Death for the Dearly Departed" opens with a wake for a co-workers at the Jeffersonian, who apparently was very close with most of the cast. Except Brennan.
  • Retired Badass: Max
  • Reverse Cerebus Syndrome: From season four onwards, the show noticeably takes a more comedic tone.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: A meta-example. Viewers believed that the apprentice to the Gormogon shown in the last second of "The Knight in the Grid" was Zach, and that Zach was the Gormogon's apprentice. Turns out it wasn't Zach, but Zach would become the apprentice very soon.
  • Ripped from the Headlines
  • Rock-Paper-Scissors: Zack and Hodgins play to determine who has to deal with a bag of unsavory evidence.
  • Rogue Juror: Subverted in an episode where Brennan's the rogue: she convinces the rest of the jury the defendant is not guilty, but then discovers he not only murdered his wife, but his best friend as well (a witness in the case), and she must then prove him guilty of this new murder along with the rest of the team.
  • Romantic False Lead
    • Sully for Bones before he was Put on a Bus.
    • Hannah for Booth.
    • Angela has had a few: her ex-husband, an ex-girlfriend who wound up back in her life because of a case, and Wendell.
  • Running Gag
    • Brennan, and occasionally Zack, asking Booth for a gun. Which means that any time they do get a gun, it's made by Chekhov Arms. Brennan eventually just got a permit and bought her own gun.
    • Also, Brennan hates psychology. And pie.
    • "I don't know what that means."
    • Vincent's constant churning out of random facts, which usually have little or no relevance to the case at hand.
    • Zack or the intern-of-the-week getting used as a medium to play out the way the murder went.
    • Bones rarely praising her interns for their hard work. When Edison, who's African-American, implies she's a literal slave driver ("What'cha like me to do next, massa?"), it goes over her head. Bones herself thinks she's just being "kind," in a way: since no one can measure up to the high standards she sets for herself, she doesn't bother.
    • Age jokes about Sweets.
    • Smurfs are frequently mentioned.
    • "Buck and Wanda" is starting to get there.note 
    • Booth threatening to shoot someone when that person annoys him. And Caroline actually encouraging him to shoot people on multiple occasions.

    S 
  • Sadistic Choice: In the episode "The Corpse in the Canopy", Christopher Pelant hacks into a UAV Drone and targets a school for girls in the Middle East while simultaneously hacking into Hodgins' bank account. The only way to save his money was to shut down the system, but if they shut down the system the Drone will destroy the school and kill the young girls and teachers there. Hodgins doesn't hesitate on the choice.
    • In many ways, it is subverted to show that Pelant truly does not understand the team. What was meant to be a Sadistic Choice is actually a very simple, but painful, one for Hodgins who, while happily rich, isn't particularly attached to said money.
    • The Sadistic Choice is becoming Pelant's favorite tactic against Booth's team. After Brennan proposed to Booth in the Season 8 finale, "The Secret In the Siege", he railroaded their happiness, forcing Booth to break it off with Brennan or else he would kill five innocent strangers. At the end of the Season 9 premiere, Brennan assured Booth that she has absolute faith in him (a major step for her given her mistrust of the concept of faith over the years) and will stand by him no matter what, saying only that the next time it will be Booth's turn to propose to her. Which he did at the end of "The Sense in The Sacrifice", after he finally killed Pelant.
  • The Scourge of God: Broadsky, season six's villainous sniper. Booth has to remind people the guy is just a crazy murderer with a severely skewed moral compass.
  • Screaming Birth
    • Angela in "The Change in the Game".
    • Brennan
  • Secret Test of Character
    • What Sweets thinks is happening to the team in "Proof in the Pudding".
    • What Cam's daughter thinks is happening when Cam got her into Columbia University behind her back using a spruced-up version of her college essay. She declares that she's not going to cheat and will earn her way into Columbia — because she wants to be as upright and honest as Cam.
  • Self-Parody - "Bone of Contention".
  • Seemingly Senseless Sacrifice - "The Sense in the Sacrifice" The agent who was seriously wounded in the attempt to catch Pelant helps the team by setting up a fake Pelant-style body dump only to become the body himself after being caught by Pelant. It's not a complete loss, however, when it ultimately leads to Pelant's death.
  • Serial-Killer Killer: The sniper who goes after evildoers such as embezzlers and The Gravedigger. Booth loathes being compared to him, which Bones does constantly.
  • Sesame Street Cred: In-universe example with Bones.
  • Sex Is Interesting: Angela, though it is consistent with the character's general portrayal.
  • Sex With The Ex: Bones and Booth have both indulged in this with past flames, Bones with her old boyfriend (and thesis supervisor!) when he came into town, Booth has had a couple of "one time only" sleepovers with his ex-girlfriend, the mother of his son.
  • Shaggy Dog Story: In "The Bones on the Blue Line," Sweets meets a young man on the Metro who gets an email saying that, after eight years of chemo, he's finally cured and is going to begin living his life to the fullest. Then there's a flash flood and he's killed instantly in front of Sweets' eyes.
  • Share the Male Pain: When a severed testicle is recovered from a corpse high-powered washing machine, there's a Running Gag about the men in the lab feeling the deceased man's pain. Especially Booth.
  • Shipper on Deck: Brennan & Booth...
    • In the hundredth episode, Sweets is a very adamant Bones/Booth shipper.
    • Cam, and Clark seemed to have joined in on the Booth/Brennan shipping in season six.
    • Angela has been on that ship from the Pilot.
    • Brennan's father Max is definitely a shipper by season six, asking Angela if Brennan and Booth were together, declaring his daughter much prettier and smarter than Hannah Burley, and then buying his daughter a conch shell toothbrush-holder with two holes. Just check the quote at the top of the page; he was disappointed they weren't sleeping together.
    • Booth's grandfather, Hank.
  • Ship Tease: Every single episode, more or less, but especially the Christmas episode where Booth and Brennan kiss. And that only came about because Caroline was feeling "puckish".
  • Shirtless Scene
    • Booth gets one in the '09 Christmas episode ("The Goop on the Girl"). Booth gets caught in the blast of a suicide bomber and his clothes become covered in DNA evidence. So naturally, Brennan strips him to his undies. Merry Christmas, indeed. Also serves as a setup for Not What It Looks Like.
    Booth: Yeah, sure. Poke fun at the naked guy....
    • They certainly do love to give Christmas presents: in the 2005 Christmas episode, Hodgins had to hit the showers after a biological accident and for about half the episode appeared in a towel and nothing else.
    • Another for Hodgins in the Season 1 gag reel, where he apparently did a scene in boxers and nothing else. With Angela.
  • Shout-Out: A woman named Harriet dies in a chocolate bar. Turns out she's a corporate spy. Harriet the Spy.
    • Sweets' new roommates are named Janet and Chrissy.
    • Investigating the deaths of two conjoined twins that were members of a traveling circus, Booth and Bones went undercover as a Russian knife-throwing act, Boris and Natasha.
    • The victim-of-the-week in "The Lady on the List" is the anti-Walter White: He's a teacher with terminal cancer which isn't what killed him who enlists a former student to help him with a money-making plan to provide for his family (plus a bucket list), but instead of meth he sells inspirational videos and everyone loves him, including title lady, whose life he ruined (he caught her stealing but didn't realize that with her previous felonies she'd get her kids taken away) and who will get a portion of the money, much to the displeasure of his partner who did all the shooting and editing without pay. The Heisenberg uncertainty principle is also mentioned, and a profiling algorithm called VAL deduces he had a lot of hidden rage (he didn't but his partner did).
  • The Show Goes Hollywood: In "The Suit on the Set", Bones and Booth visit the set of the film of one of Bones' novels, where they discover an actual dead body.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Bones hits a guy with a bedpan rather than hear his psycho-rant about why it's OK to eat people.
    Brennan: Nobody wants to hear that rambling psycho-speech!
  • Sleep Cute: Bones and Booth, cuddling in bed, have made it to the opening credits as of the seventh season.
  • Sliding Scale of Silliness Versus Seriousness: The show has always balanced humor and drama, but the DVD box art has grown progressively sillier over time. Season 1 has Bones and Booth posing against a white background. By season 3, they're playing poker with a cigar-smoking skeleton.
  • Smart Ball: How can a show completely populated with geniuses hand one of them a Smart Ball?
    • When you have Raised by Wolves Bones be the one who can navigate Japanese manners with politeness and sensitivity. This is the person who often can't even figure out how to compliment someone in the looser and less formal American society without making it an offhand (or sometimes just outright) insult.
    • Also as noted in "The Maggots in the Meathead", she can quite readily pick up and understand cultures and social groups to the point of appreciating various similarities and differences. Mostly, it's just her tendency to be fairly literal in her own culture that makes her seem socially stunted.
  • Smart People Know Latin: In the third episode, Booth, Bones, and Zack go to a very upscale private school with a Pretentious Latin Motto - Omnia Mea Meacum Porto. Catholic Booth doesn't get a word of it, snarking that it must mean, "Normal People Stay Out." Bones and Zack translate it without pause - "I carry with me all my things." In unison.
  • Sniper Duel: Season 6 is essentially a year-long duel of Friendly Sniper Atoner Booth versus his Cold Sniper Mentor Broadsky:
    • Booth foils one of Broadsky's assassination attempts by shooting his rifle, as he couldn't get a clear shot at Broadsky himself.
    • Their final hide and go seek sniper showdown is not only of their skills but their philosophies. Booth has pursued Broadsky to his base of operations, where Broadsky is not only intimately familiar with the territory but armed with a customized precision rifle that insanely outperforms Booth's FBI-approved mass-production longarm. But Booth has Bones and the squints, who figure out that as a result of the previous encounter, Broadsky's right hand is broken, therefore he can only rest the gun barrel on his arm and is incapable of gripping the barrel and aiming downwards. This allowes Booth to do the exact same thing to his other hand before he can change cover, taking Broadsky alive.
  • Something Completely Different / Out-of-Genre Experience
    • Bones is usually a drama with some hints of comedy. But a 4th season episode "The Double Death of the Dearly Departed" is a pure comedy. It's filled with out-of-character actions that in any other episode would be considered utterly ridiculous. Such as Brennan and Booth stealing a body because they can't get a warrant to examine it, as Hodgins distracts the funeral guests. However due to Rule of Funny this episode actually works and currently has an average rating of 9.2 out of 10 at TV.com.
    • And "The Death of the Queen Bee" is mostly Shout Outs to horror movies, complete with Scare Chords every few minutes.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: The only way Sweets knows how to talk.
  • Speaks In Shoutouts: Brennan's cousin, who speaks by quoting Benjamin Franklin, and a street performer dressed as William Shakespeare.
  • Special Guest
    • Stephen Fry is a recurring character.
    • A more regular example is Family Guy's Stewie Griffin. No, not Seth MacFarlane, Stewart Gilligan Griffin appeared in cartoon form on a television, as part of Booth's anxiety-induced fantasy while donating sperm. And again in the usual episode-ending interrogation sequence, except without the TV. When he starts talking to "Stewie", Bones takes him to the hospital. Booth has a brain tumor. Surprise! It's worth noting that Stewie was one of the few pop-culture references Bones actually "got" instantly.
    • Also, Cesar Millan showed up in one episode, in an obvious plug for his own show. Several scenes were devoted to showcasing his dog-taming skills as the main characters oohed and aahed.
  • The Spock: Brennan, who also sometimes is a Straw Vulcan as well. In addition, Zack.
  • Spock Speak / Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Brennan, almost to the point of Cringe Comedy.
  • Spontaneous Human Combustion: In the episode "The Foot in the Foreclosure", they find ashes of a pair of lovers; Booth suspects SHC, but Brennan says it's just an urban legend.
  • Stab The Salad: Played for laughs several times in "The Death of the Queen Bee" with Mr. Buxley, the creepy janitor at Bones' high school — played by Freddy Krueger, no less.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Berimbau
  • Stalker Without A Crush: The season four episode "Man in the Outhouse" has Noel Liftin, a stalker who was previously on the show as a Stalker with a Crush; Boothe pays him $50 to "stalk" one of their suspects and get more information. He proves to be frighteningly good at it.
  • Standard Cop Backstory: Brennan, Booth, and Sweets were all victims of child abuse. Brennan and Sweets spent time in the foster care system, and Brennan and Booth both have a dead parent and a string of failed romances.
  • Standard Female Grab Area: Booth pulls Brennan out of a room by her upper arm on the first case they work.
    • Booth also grabs Sweets at the end of the third season to drag him into Bones's office.
  • Stealth Pun: When, during an interrogation, Gordon Gordon Wyatt gets thoroughly irritated at being called a fry cook. At that point, he's a chef. Played by Stephen Fry.
  • Stepford Smiler: When Brennan turns out to be the most normal alumnus from her high school, you can sure bet there's some.
  • Straight Gay: To the max in "The Dentist in the Ditch." The victim played amateur full contact football, his entire team is gay and his ex is a bow hunter.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Wait, why is the ship exploding that spectacularly? Oh, because it's cool. Also several of Zack and Hodgins experiments.
  • Strictly Professional Relationship: Dr. Temperance "Bones" Brennan and her partner FBI Agent Booth, though everyone can see that they should be together. People actually ask them why they aren't having sex.
  • Stylistic Suck - The movie version of Brennan's book; "The Bone of Contention" from "The Suit on the Set". Even the actress and director and scriptwriter shown on screen are living jokes.

    T 
  • Take a Third Option: One earlier episode had Zack and Hodgins fighting over who signed for a hot delivery girl's packages. Angela is there to see which one the girl chooses when both men are there. She chooses Angela. Who says that's "sweet", and fans herself.
  • Take Five: In an early episode, Booth tells the Jeffersonian technicians that he needs the room for a few minutes, to a room full of blank faces. Hodgins ends up explaining to them that Booth wants them to leave so he can talk with Bones in private.
  • Take That
    • Many, most of which seem to be pointed at Sweets and Psychology as a whole. In the (admittedly odd and written by an "Unreliable Narrator") season finale, Sweets' surrogate declares that psychologists are glorified bartenders. Unknown if this is used for comedic effect, because they do like riling up Sweets.
    • Sweets gets one on Brennan in a season 4 episode, when he is able to pick out a murderer from a crowd of college students. She is "amazed" he was able to do that, and questions him on what he saw. Sweets doesn't answer her, simply saying "You're not gonna believe me anyway," and walks out of the room.
    Brennan: How did you do it?
    Sweets: You're not gonna believe me anyway... You're just gonna say I guessed. So have it your way. I guessed.

    • What actually happened was when Booth fired the weapon used to kill the Victim of the Week in front of the suspects, Sweets picked the one who involuntarily winced, which Brennan probably didn't notice.
    • From "The Salt in the Wounds": "Of course, you aren't a medical doctor, either." Bones had been asking for it. Nullified when it turns out the chiropractor's the killer, but still very sweet.
    • "The Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood": "What are you supposed to do, preach abstinence? It doesn't work in Alaska, why would it work in Verbena Court?"
  • Tar and Feathers
  • Tarot Troubles: With Special Guest Cyndi Lauper as the fortuneteller.
  • Taxonomic Term Confusion: For Valentine's Day, Hodgins splices rose DNA into a slime mold, creating a sweet-smelling variety he claims will be called Angelicus montenegro. Just adding a bit of extra DNA doesn't change its genus or species, nor does it qualify as a "hybrid" as Hodgins claims. A true hybrid of two species would be called "[Species 1's name] x [Species 2's name]"; at best, Hodgins can add Angela's name to his creation's strain, not its species.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: Brennan carried on affairs with a professor and her thesis adviser in college.
  • Techno Babble: Most of the scientists.
    • Played rather darkly in "The Girl in the Fridge" where Bones is testifying in court, and her Spock Speak is hindering her testimony, making her appear unsympathetic to the jury. Until the prosecutor, with a little help from Booth, brings up her childhood, which disturbs her enough to start speaking in Layman's Terms.
    • Invoked by Booth in "The Proof in the Pudding" where part of his plan involves Bones burying the Secret Service agent holding the team in lockdown under technical jargon so he will let them perform a questionable experiment. Bones doesn't disappoint.
  • That Came Out Wrong:
    • Pointed out in-show in "The Man in the Outhouse" when Booth and Bones were discussing her sexual relationship with a Deep-Sea welder.
    Bones: He can hold his breath for 3 minutes down there!
    (beat)
    Booth: ... underwater?
    • The conversation about how Bones' gun is bigger than Booth's.
  • Therapy Is For The Weak: Definitely. They resist Sweets' much needed therapy sessions for over a season. Even now, they would cheerfully leap out a window before admitting they're actually coming to Sweets for therapy, rather than profiling and the like. Finally, Sweets gets so fed up with Booth's weak excuses that he threatens to jump out of the car if Booth doesn't admit that he actually wants advice from Sweets. Even then, Booths adds afterward that he didn't really need Sweets' help, he was just making him feel better about himself.
    Sweets: "I'm jumping! I'M JUMPING!"
  • They Do
    • Hodgins and Angela.
    • Later, Bones and Booth. Angela's thrilled.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Analyzed carefully in the show. Booth is a former sniper and while he acknowledges the acceptability in dealing with enemy soldiers and criminals, he doesn't take it lightly. When Brennan had to kill someone to protect Booth, she is also noticeably troubled by it, but only the first time. She kills the stalker who shot Booth (who took the bullet for her) with a throat shot and was shown having no problems at all with the killing and declares how she's killed and it wasn't that hard in the 2-parter in England when trying to talk Scotland Yard into giving her a gun like they did Booth.
  • A Threesome Is Hot: A guy at the bar tries to get Brennan and Hannah into one at the end of "The Body in the Bag" — they tell him to get lost.
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Angela is noticeably taller than Hodgins. Commented on in "The Man in the Cell." But it's O.K., because apparently "short guys have better leverage."
  • TV Genius: Brennan; Zack
  • Trailers Always Lie and/or Trailers Always Spoil
    • A trailer spoiled that Hodgins and Angela kiss while being trapped in jail. It didn't let on that they then got married when the judge showed up to free them.
    • The trailer for "The Hole in the Heart" cuts to black at end but features a voice-over by Brennan. This gave away that not only was she safe but that whoever did get shot was going to be with her. Which made it extremely obvious Nigel-Murray was going to die when he appeared in the scene with Brennan and Booth.
  • Translation Train Wreck: In-universe with the English instructions of the toy Angela is trying to assemble in "The Prince in the Plastic".
  • Trapped In Villainy: In an episode the Perp/Victim of the Week was strapped into a bomb vest and forced to rob a bank or else the bomb would be set off.
  • True Companions
    Angela: So you think that we should feel like big giant losers that we're not spending Christmas with family?
    Hodgins: There's more than one kind of family.
    • Sweets was always a bit on the outside, being kind of a kid and showing up later in the series. He joins the team not only providing insights into Booth and Bones, but participating in suspect interrogations. By the eight season he's often Booth's proxy in the field, and Bones has start accepting his psychological insights (soft science!) as valid and willingly goes to him for help. How much do the two accept him? Bones calls him Christine's Uncle Sweets, and Booth considers him the only one capable of going after Pelant if Booth himself goes down.
  • Turn in Your Badge: Season 2 episode "Judas on a Pole" offers the most classic example of this, but also toyed with a few times throughout the show, when Booth gets decommissioned or confined to desk duty for needlessly discharging his weapon.
  • Twenty One Gun Salute: Booth takes part in a volley at the funeral for Booth himself, which was staged in order to catch a perp who said that Booth would never see him again except at his (Booth's) funeral. Since Booth had gotten shot by a Stalker with a Crush at the end of the previous episode the FBI decided to use it.
  • Twerp Sweating: Booth intimidates Cam's daughter's boyfriend in "The Plain in the Prodigy".
  • Two Halves Make A Plot: One episode's Victim of the Week is a man that Cam used to live with. She wants to adopt his now teenage daughter, who was about 10 when Cam left. At the time Cam gave her half of a hugging kitties salt-and-pepper shaker set, keeping the other half and saying that whenever the girl looked at it and thought of Cam, Cam would be looking at hers and thinking of her. In the present day the girl claims not to remember Cam, but when Cam pulls out her half the girl runs upstairs to bring out hers too.
  • Two-Timer Date: Brennan

    U-Z 
  • Ungrateful Bastard: The mother of a young boy who killed his mother's assassin boyfriend (both in a violent gang) because he threatened to kill her if she didn't become more obedient. When she learned the truth (in the interrogation room, in front of Booth) she attacked him and declared she can make another kid.
  • Unrequited Love Switcheroo: Arguably what happened between Seasons Five & Six between Bones & Booth.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Word of God says it's the whole point. The writing and long looks show this, but some fans don't feel the chemistry part. It is lampshaded by every guest character, ever. As of "The Doctor in the Photo", she's openly lamenting the fact they never got together. It's pretty sad. After they're trapped in an elevator for a day they make a promise that when Bones is no longer scared and Booth is no longer angry they'll give their relationship another try. As of "The Hole in the Heart", it's heavily implied that They Do.
  • Unusual Euphemism: In "The Double Death of the Dearly Departed", Booth makes Brennan say "translated" instead of "murdered". Oddly, in Shakespeare's time this would have worked as a metaphor.
  • Vigilante Man: The sniper who shot The Gravedigger as she was going into court. Booth loathes being compared to him, which Bones does constantly ("He kills bad people, just like you do!").
  • Villainous Crush: Pelant towards Bones in his last(?) episode, because he read Sweets' report and learned that Bones can learn to like (Sweets) or even love (Booth) people she initially disliked, and unlike Booth and Sweets she does like him for his genius; she also said she likes his mind enough that she'd prefer him alive. Unfortunately for Pelant she doesn't like him that much and lets Booth kill him.
  • We All Live in America: In the episode "Mayhem on a Cross", Norwegian police are depicted as wearing what appears to be riot gear and guns, violently kicking in the door spurring a fight between policemen and musicians and concert goers. In reality, Norwegian police are typically unarmed and many policemen may only arm themselves in extreme situations, such as when approaching a suspect they know to be armed.
  • Wham Episode
    • The season six finale, "The Change in the Game" ends with Brennan telling Booth she's pregnant with his baby.
    • The previous episode, "The Hole in the Heart," was no slouch either, as the season's main villain kills Mr. Nigel-Murray and Booth finally manages to take him down.
    • The season three finale where we learn that Zack was the Gormogon's most recent apprentice.
  • Wham Line: From the Season 6 finale:
    Brennan: I'm pregnant. You're the father.
  • What the Fu Are You Doing?: Hodgins in "The Devil in the Details". Arastoo shows him how it's done.
  • What the Hell, Hero?
    • Booth gets a minor one directed at him when he runs a background check on Jared's latest girlfriend. Sweets, Brennan, and Jared all call him out on it.
    • He pulls one again when he ducks out on Angela and Hodgins' announcement of her pregnancy to have sex with his girlfriend.
    • Everybody calls Cam out on cheating to get her adoptive daughter, Michelle, into Columbia University. Perhaps the most biting comes when she asks Sweets for help on how to tell Michelle about it.
      Sweets: I can't help you.
      Cam: Why not? Some professional code of conduct?
      Sweets: No. My own personal code of conduct. Maybe you should consider putting together one of your own.
  • Whodunnit to Me
    • In "The Graft in the Girl" the team tries to solve a murder where the victim is still alive.
    • Plus, there's when Bones and Hodgins are buried alive in "Aliens in a Spaceship" and have to figure out and tell the others where they are.
    • "The Ghost in the Machine" plays with this. The victim is dead and doesn't play any tangible part in solving his murder, but all of the characters treat him as if his spirit is still with his body and the entire episode is seen "through the victim's eyes", with the victim's skull always immediately Behind the Black.
  • Who Shot JFK?: "The Proof In The Pudding" is built around (possibly) answering this question.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Bones and Booth. They did in season six.
  • William Telling: When Bones and Booth were undercover at the circus doing a Knife-Throwing Act, she made him throw a knife at an oversized prop apple on top of her head. She sprang it on him all of a sudden during the show.
  • Window Love: Everyone, when they're trapped in quarantine during a Christmas Episode.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Repeatedly invoked by Bones in the seventh episode of season seven. She's in a prison and knows the prisoners wouldn't hurt a pregnant woman. Up to Eleven when she walks calmly through the middle of a prison riot, where the prisoners don't just get out of her way, but actively block some people who might get close to her.
  • Writing Around Trademarks: "The Gamer in the Grease" featured an arcade game called "Punky Pong".
  • You Keep Using That Word: In "The Twist in the Twister", Sweets takes issue with Booth's choice of words.
    Sweets: Like with any subculture, storm chasing attracts a variety of distinct personality types.
    Booth: Adrenaline junkies.
    Sweets: Yeah, they're the ones most likely to put their lives and the lives of others in danger. There's a name for them. They're called—
    Booth: Insane.
    Sweets: You know, that’s a real word and people just throw it around.
    • Inverted in Aliens in a Spaceship. Bones gets highly annoyed to have her trust, based on personal experience, that Booth will save her and Hodgins from their current predicament called 'faith'. Hodgins laughingly points out that she just gave the dictionary definition of 'faith', apparently only knowing about the religious usage.
  • You Look Familiar: One actor played at least two minor roles on the show—first as a patient of Sweets, whose session Booth interrupts, interested in having a sex change; and again as a patient of Sweets who's interrupted, this time as someone who may have multiple personalities.
    • Are we sure its not the same patient?
      • I think it is the same patient, maybe all the interrupted sessions create more mental issues <grin>
      • It's a wonder that guy is still an FBI agent.
    • Actor Larry Poindexter, who played Senator Bethlehem in the pilot, also played the victim of the week's ex-husband and one of the suspects, Dr. Bradley Perkins, in S8's The Doll in the Derby.

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alternative title(s): Bones
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