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Series / Bones

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

Bones is an American forensic comedy-drama series created by Hart Hanson which aired for 12 seasons (2005–17) on Fox.

Dr. Temperance "Bones" Brennan (Emily Deschanel), 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 series of bestselling mystery novels. She's the person the FBI calls when a body (usually, well, bones) 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 (David Boreanaz) 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, because 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 of the week are typically complements for their interactions and growth. The writing and science can sometimes be uneven, but the dialogue is clever and funny, also 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 (TJ Thyne), the "bugs and slime guy"; hip and snarky Angela Montenegro (Michaela Conlin), the facial reconstruction and crime scene recreation artist; and No Social Skills Zack Addy (Eric Millegan), a grad student even more socially awkward than the title character. Season two added Dr. Camille Saroyan (Tamara Taylor), 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 (John Francis Daley), an FBI psychologist tasked with doing therapy sessions between Bones and Booth as well as profiling some of their suspects; and season ten added junior FBI agent James Aubrey (John Boyd). 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, professor of anthropology at University of North Carolina at Charlotte and a former-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, the rapper BONES, or actual bones.

All twelve seasons are available on Disney+.

Bones provides examples of:

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  • Abnormal Ammo: The ice and blood bullet that Brennan was shot with in The Shot in the Dark.
  • Aborted Arc: Gormogon. The 2007 writer’s strike cut it short and forced the ending to be greatly changed.
  • Abusive Parents
    • Booth's father. Booth was abused a lot by him until Pops rescued him and Jared.
    • One of Sweets' foster fathers whipped him with something.
    • Brennan's foster parents locked her in a car trunk for breaking a plate.
    • Abernathy's stepfather. Abernathy wanted to kill him because it was so bad.
    • Aubrey's embezzling father isn't physically abusive (as far as we know) but he's definitely cold-hearted and manipulative, enough to pretend to have a family to support in order to wring money from his own son.
  • Accent Slip-Up: 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 : Angela, so drunk she ''forgot'' it (and implied that she didn't think it counted; she had no idea the paperwork had been filed).
  • The Ace: Booth and Brennan as a team; any random activity their case gets them involved in, one of them will usually reveal themselves to be surprisingly talented at it.
  • Actor Allusion: Towards Avatar, Angel and various other things other people did.
    • The Vegas episode The Woman in the Sand combines Boreanaz's role of Angel (who also spent time in Vegas) with a role Angel himself played as vampire stuck in the fifties, rat-pack style. Booth spikes his hair up, dons greaser clothes and suspenders, faking a Bronx accent outta Guys and Dolls. Plus, there's a mention of Hyperion Hotel on the show (episode "The Girl with the Curl"); the Hyperion Hotel was a major setting for Angel.
    • Booth, like Angel before him, feels that he has to atone for the lives he's taken as a sniper. And they both play detective style roles.
    • Booth is reading a ‘'Green Lantern’’ comic in the bathtub in The Pain In The Heart. Boreanaz did voice work in one of the franchise’s animated series.
    • Joel Moore played a major character in Avatar, and The Gamer in the Grease has Fisher and his nerd pals camping outside for the premiere.
      • Someone says during the camp out that they’re “up against freaks and geeks” which is a reference to Sweets, who’s one of said nerd pals, being played by "Freaks and Geeks" alum John Francis Daley.
    • In the episode The Death of the Queen Bee, Sweets reads up on Ray Buxley, the custodian of Dr. Brennan's old high school, and how he was a suspect in the death of one of her classmates. Sweets then comments that he finds him "Creepy. He's like, "Freddy" creepy...". Oh, and did I mention that Mr. Buxley is played by Robert Englund?
  • Adam Westing: David Faustino in The Radioactive Panthers in the Party.
  • Aerith and Bob: Seeley and Jared Booth. Seeley is a legitimate name, but it sounds a little odd when compared to his brother's.
    • Then there’s Camille and Arastoo as far as the couples go.
  • Affably Evil: Max before his forced retirement. He was a robber and killed several people but he was still likable as a person and the murders were usually to protect his family. He started out courteous and nonviolent as a thief, but when he and his wife hooked up with a much more violent crew, they found themselves in over their heads and ended up on the run from murderers. That's when Max found himself more than capable of murder.
  • Affectionate Nickname:
    • In addition to Bones by just about everyone, Brennan is also called "Sweetie" by Angela.
    • Angela sometimes calls Jack “Hodgie”.
    • Daisy likes to call Sweets "Lancelot" or "Sweet Lancelot".
    • Abernathy and Hodgins call each other "Opie" and "Thurston" respectively.
    • Jessica calls Aubrey “Superman”. She also has a habit of calling Hodgins “Curly”.
    • Dr. Wyatt introducing himself as "Gordon. Gordon Wyatt." leads to Booth referring to him as "Gordon Gordon" and telling others to do the same.
  • Affectionate Parody:
  • Afterlife Antechamber: Arguably what looked like Brennan’s childhood home in The Shot In the Dark if she indeed wasn’t hallucinating as she insisted.
  • 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. He makes this reference again in the final episode, saying they're "better than Mulder and Scully" (Brennan still has no idea who they are).
    • 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. 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).
  • 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.
  • Agony of the Feet: Booth was held captive during his army service and tortured with beatings to the soles of his feet. The scars are still there on the skin and bones both.
  • 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).
  • Alcoholic Parent: Booth’s dad; Booth said he only stopped drinking long enough to hit him or Jared.
  • 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.
  • Almighty Janitor:
    • In security guard form, Micah from The Doctor in the Photo.
    • Hodgins is a variation in that he practically owns the Jeffersonian while working in the lab.
  • 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.
  • Alternate Universe:
    • In the season 4 finale, there is one during Booth's post-surgery dream. Booth and Brennan are the owners of a night club called "The Lab", where a murder is committed. Booth's brother and Cam become detectives in the case, Vincent is the DJ, Arastoo is an investor wanting to buy the club, Max is a corrupt politician, Sweets is the bartender and has a band called Gormogon, Angela is the hostess, Caroline is the club's lawyer, Fisher is the chef, Wendell is the bouncer, Clark is a hip-hop impresario called C-Synch, Daisy is a waitress and Hodgins is a writer.
    • In The 200th in the 10th Brennan is a detective fighting sexism on the force during the 1950s and Booth is a jewel thief framed for murder.
  • Always Gets His Man: Booth says this. Brennan turns it into No Man of Woman Born by saying she’s a woman, not a man.
  • 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, Zack is even worse.
  • Ambition Is Evil: While not evil, Aubrey wants to be more than a mere FBI agent and as such he's hesitant to get involved with "gut-feeling" squintern because she used to be a member of an extremist environmental group, among other unusual aspects of her past. He later realizes what a hypocritical jerkass he was being by judging her on her past since anyone would be suspicious of his past as the son of a multi-million dollar embezzler.
  • Amoral Attorney: Not a direct example as Bones isn't an attorney, but the trope is explored in The Girl in the Fridge; Bones and an Old Flame turned Rival are opposing experts in a murder trial. Bones clinically delivers her conclusions, her ex makes somewhat less professional conclusions while chatting up the jury - and implies that Bones isn't really as smart as she sounds. In between sessions, her ex states that he's merely "playing the game" - he's supposed to argue that the evidence supports the defendant, just as she's for the prosecution. In-universe, Bones' consultant argues for impartiality and sweet-talking the jury, but sees nothing wrong with her ex using inside knowledge (which he got by sleeping with her) to attack her character instead of the evidence (the prosecution objects and the judge sustainsnote , but Brennan's consultant waves it off as a technicality; "He looks like a regular guy who's not allowed to speak the truth because the stupid rules get in the way."). This leads into the same problem as Amoral Attorneys - that scientists aren't supposed to be impartial, but to have agreed in advance as to who is guilty no matter which side they're on.
  • And Starring: Of a sort: all of Verizon fiOS' episodes descriptions from episode two of season 10 onward include "and Special Agent Aubrey" (IE "Booth/Bones/the team and Special Agent Aubrey investigate...").
  • And the Adventure Continues: The series finale implies this, declaring that the lab will be rebuilt with Hodgins ("KING OF THE LAB!!!") becoming interim leader while Cam is away on her honeymoon.
  • 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). When their baby is born he's perfectly healthy.
    • Jessica has been just fine about her "educational cooperative" (not a commune) breaking up due to the head's retirement until the very end of The Geek in the Guck when she reveals she's a complete wreck because that place was her home and everyone was family to her.
      • She's also annoyed that Aubrey doesn't want to get involved with her just in case her past environmental activism messes up his chances for higher office, and she's annoyed that she's annoyed because they aren't even dating (Bones doesn't care so long as her statement that "being upset makes her work harder" is true; Angela is more sympathetic).
  • 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: A Recurring Element is how Bones and some squints are smart enough to catch crooks with microscopic bone fragments, but not smart enough to confuse, embarrass, or intimidate Muggles.
    • Hodgins gets chewed out on a regular basis for his impromptu tests — Using spam and artificial bone to determine exact circumstances of death by incineration make perfect sense to Hodgins, Zack and the viewer, but Cam threatens to fire them on the spot for acting without her permission.
      Booth: Defense lawyer hears "Spam", he makes a joke, and the jury laughs, and everything we get from the Jeffersonian is framed as 'goofy science', you know, from a bunch of squints with no connection to the real world.
    • Bones herself gets harangued for being smart because most people are slack-jawed morons in comparison — she nearly loses an otherwise open-and-shut case in The Girl in the Fridge because the opposing expert is chatty and handsome.
      Bones: The jury likes Michael better than they like me, apparently that's a problem. Are they stupid?
      Goodman: Compared to you, yes they are stupid. However, compared to you most of the world is a little stupid.
  • Anyone Can Die: While there's not Characters Dropping Like Flies, and the major deaths are all very separated, main characters aren't actually safe most of the time.
    • The first season finale has Bones' mother as the victim of the week, despite her actually having been dead for quite some time.
    • In Season 6, during the manhunt for Broadsky, Vincent Nigel-Murray gets shot in the heart and dies.
    • In the Season 10 premiere, Lance Sweets dies.
    • Season 11 premiere has Booth's brother as the victim of the week.
    • Season 12 sees Max Keenan, Brennan's father die.
  • Apologetic Attacker: Agent Kenton apologizes to Brennan before preparing to murder her and frame it on a serial killer Booth is after in Two Bodies in the Lab, saying he'll kill her before inflicting the serial killers signature mutilations. Brennan is understandably non appeased by this and puts up a fight before Booth arrives shortly after he regains the upper hand.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Hodgins is a conspiracy nut but doesn't believe in the supernatural or the afterlife (ironically this comes up during a crossover with Sleepy Hollow; he was also trying very hard to convince himself that whatever he saw on a The Blair Witch Project-esque film in The Headless Witch in the Woods was just a wisp of smoke).
  • Arc Number: 447, which in the Grand Finale is revealed to mean Times of change for Booth and Brennan.
  • Arc Villain: The Gravedigger, Gormogon, Jacob Broadsky, Cristopher Pelant, the Ghost Killer, the Puppeteer, and Kovac.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Bones loves talking about alpha males among humans, even though that's a model for wolf behavior that has long since been deprecated, even by the man who developed it, as it was developed by looking at wolves raised and living in captivity.
    • In The Critic in the Cabernet Booth gets his sperm analyzed and everyone brings 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).
    • The Pathos in the Pathogens involves a virus that is eating away the victim's corpse. By definition, viruses require living cells to reproduce.
    • The Source In The Sludge seems to have confused lampreys, which are parasitic on live prey, with hagfish that scavenge dead carcasses.
  • 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+ 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 License – 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. In The Corpse in the Canopy Pelant 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; Pelant's actions would have been reversed inside an hour.
  • Artistic License – History: Booth being descended from John Wilkes Booth. He could be related and descended from another Booth brother but John Wilkes Booth himself had no known children. Plus, the Booth surname itself died out because only females lived to even have descendants that are alive now.
  • Artistic License – Law: Brennan gets sentenced to six months probation for assault in season 11, and Booth is assigned as her probation officer. Not only does Booth not have the required training to work as a probation officer, but he and Brennan have been married for several years by this point, which would create a massive conflict of interest and therefore no judge in their right mind would assign him to supervise her.
  • Artistic License – Physics:
    • The Science in the Physicist, featuring a murdered physicist who had worked at the Large Hadron Collider, had another physicist say he was glad the Body of the Week was dead because of the LHC black hole scare. Actual physicists had discredited the idea almost as soon as it was brought up because black holes do not work that way.
    • In The Lady on the List, When Sweets is upset that he might be replaced by a computer named VAL, Bones helpfully points out that the computer's objectivity would skirt the pitfalls of Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, thus implying that the main problem with a human profiler is that he can't know both where he is and how fast he's going.
    • In the episode The Knight on the Grid, when Zack turns on a laser 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.
  • Artistic License - Science:
    • The squints routinely eat and drink in the lab, even using their equipment to cook. To say this is a no-no is an understatement. No matter how carefully you clean, you have to assume that every surface is contaminated with highly unsafe materials and eating is the fastest way to get those materials inside your body where you don't want them.
    • They also routinely fail to wear eyewear. Given the reactive chemicals they work with, the unknowns of the remains they're dealing with (meaning unknown materials), and the wildly unconventional experiments Hodgins &co perpetrate, everyone should be wearing ear and eye protection at all times, even absent normal laboratory protocol.
    • Hair. Fibers are a big deal. Everyone should be wearing hairnets and (for the relevant men) beard nets. Beyond that, everyone should be wearing face masks because they're dealing with dangerous materials. Hell, they should probably be wearing gas masks.
    • Side note, they should probably be more careful about condoms. That's not laboratory science, though. That's basic bedroom/volvo stuff.
  • As Himself:
    • Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top has appeared several times as himself — Angela's dad!
      • Which is to say, Billy Gibbons is Angela Montenegro's father in-universe. Real Life Gibbons and Michaela Conlin are unrelated.
    • 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.
    • David Faustino, who took over one victim-of-the-week's glurgey movie and transformed it into an action schlock-fest.
  • As You Know: A fair bit, but notably Played for Laughs in The Source in the Sludge when Daisy, having failed her orals, spends the rest of the episode answering Bones's case-relevant questions as if on an exam.
  • Asshole Victim: A few over the years. The guy on the bowling league in The Change in the Game was disliked by just about everyone else. The Gravedigger is probably the best example, though, when Broadsky killed her. No one was too upset to see a serial killer killed.
  • 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.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: A murder suspect in season 3 is easily distracted by the shiny table in the interrogation room.
  • Away in a Manger: It wasn’t at Christmas but Brennan did give birth in a barn because there was no room at the inn.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: When Brennan finally does get to use the Hand Cannon she picked up in an earlier season... it's way too large to be practically used, and a ricochet injures Booth. The villain of the week even mocks the gun because it only has five shots.

  • Babies Make Everything Better: Six seasons of UST followed by instant Relationship Upgrade as soon as Bones is pregnant. Daisy and Sweets were together for a long time (longer than Booth and Brennan were officially coupled) but broke up in Season 9. In the Season 10 premiere it's revealed they kept hooking up and Daisy is now pregnant with Sweet's son and it appears they're going to stick together for good. And then someone involved with a government conspiracy kills Sweets...
  • The Baby of the Bunch: Sweets, due to his young age compared to the rest. Booth especially regards him as an annoying kid early on and keeps saying he’s a 12 year old. He was dubbed “baby duck” in one episode.
  • Back for the Dead: The Gravedigger in season 6's The Bullet in The Brain, and Agent Flynn in season 9's The Sense in the Sacrifice.
  • Background Music: Billy Gibbons gets his very own background riffs in The Killer in the Crosshairs. Then again, it is Billy Gibbons.
  • Badass Boast: In The Verdict in the Story we get one as badass as one can get in a realistic series, and from Clark Edison no less!: "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 Longcoat: Booth dons one from time to time. Bones herself occasionally slips into her own trench coat as well.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": In The Knight on the Grid: 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.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Pretty much every Pelant episode (except the one where he's shot dead, of course) ends like this. Even the one where Booth puts a bullet in his face ends on the note that Pelant is still out there, and the team can do nothing but wait for him to attack again.
  • Bad Liar: Brennan. Booth doesn’t take Aldo’s suggestion of getting lost in a cave and telling her the truth about Pelant’s threat because he fears she won’t be able to keep the truth hidden.
    • Aubrey also has his moments, such as when he tries to tell Brennan that Booth is at an important meeting, but she figures out almost instantly that Booth is really having an eye exam.
  • Bait-and-Switch Gunshot: Sweets’ death. Booth and Brennan assume he was shot when Aubrey says shots were fired, but the shots were Sweets wounding his attacker. Sadly, they still did injure him with blunt stomach trauma and he still dies from internal bleeding.
  • Balkan Bastard: Kovac and his dad. His dad was a Balkan warlord Booth killed as a sniper and he wants revenge no matter who he has to brutally torture to find Booth.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Played for Laughs in The Rocker in the Rinse Cycle. Cam is looking for a gynecologist for her teenage daughter and discusses some options with Brennan at the crime scene. Booth asks them to change the subject. Then what Booth assumes is an eyeball tumbles onto the ground at his feet.
    Cam: That's not an eye.
    Booth: Then what is it?
    Cam: Well, put it this way, our victim was male.
    [Beat as Booth comprehends the implication]
    Brennan: *cheerfully* Would you like us to go back to talking about lady parts?
  • Beard of Sorrow: Booth gets one during his prison stint between seasons 9 and 10.
  • Beastly Bloodsports: The Victim of the Week in The Finger in the Nest is a veterinarian who was trying to shut down a dogfighting ring.
  • Beautiful Condemned Building: When Booth and Brennan are looking for a house, Booth gets a great price on one that was heavily damaged in an FBI raid. He nervously shows it to Brennan, who declares that she can see the "bones" of the house and recognize its potential.
  • Becoming the Mask: Whenever she and Booth go undercover, Brennan gets way into character.
  • Beeping Computers: Whenever the interface of a computer moves or changes.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Aubrey and Jessica, what with them being uncertain if they're just meeting for a congratulatory drink or an actual date, deciding to deliberately style themselves after Booth and Bones, and being sassy about it the whole time. They hook up but break up in the series finale. It's implied in the series finale that Aubrey hooks up with "quirky glasses-girl" Karen.
  • "Be Quiet!" Nudge:
    • In The Tough Man in the Tender Chicken, when Brennan has had a fight with Angela, she says she usually doesn't have problems with people. Sweets starts questioning that, but then Booth quickly kicks him under the table to shut him up.
    • In The Dentist in the Ditch, Brennan tries to do the same thing when she and Booth are having drinks with Booth's brother and his girlfriend and Booth takes issue with something about their relationship. However, she accidentally kicks Jared instead.
  • Berserk Button
    • Bones flips out whenever Booth is hurt or threatened. In The Wannabe in the Weeds, 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.
    • Ditto with asking about his army experiences, especially the torture or his sniper activities. And definitely don’t say he’s anything like Cold Sniper Broadsky.
    • 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.
    Wyatt: FRY COOK?!
    • Aubrey has a special bone to pick with financial fraudsters, seeing as his father was one himself.
    • She may not get violent over it, but even if true DO NOT refer to Dr. Brennan as average in anything especially her intelligence or she will become very indignant about it and even vindictive trying to prove you wrong. Even direct evidence that it's true won't get her off your back most of the time. This also extends to anyone referring to her daughter Christine in such a way, especially teachers.
    • Arastoo got rather ticked off by an intern who kept assuming all Muslims are terrorists and gave a pretty epic What the Hell, Hero? when he’d had enough. He’s also fiercely defensive of his girlfriend and eventual wife, Cam. Hurt or annoy her and he WILL get in your face.
    • Hodgins is prone to anger management issues in general, but he will completely lose it if Angela or Michael Vincent are threatened or hurt. The others had a lot of trouble getting him to act rational and think clearly in The Corpse in the Canopy. And he was very upset in the finale when Angela was hurt and Booth was risking things further in desperation over Brennan’s injuries.
    • Hurt Max Keenan’s family and prepare to die horribly. He’s actually a likeable guy for a criminal, but he will very easily kill to protect his family. Even if he has to do it with his bare hands.
  • Best Friend Manual: Angela for Bones. She often gives others tips on interacting with Brennan
    • Booth inverts it by explaining things in the world to Brennan.
  • Beta Couple
    • Angela and Hodgins until season 4, where it seems like Writer on Board was trying to avoid Shipping Bed Death by throwing in a Toilet Seat Divorce.
    • Sweets and Daisy later on until they broke up in Season 9 (he didn't realize that when he asked her to move in with him it was as good as a marriage proposal to her; at least he gave her the apartment), then revealed to have hooked back up in the premiere of Season 10, and then Sweets was killed at the end of the episode.
    • Aubrey and Jessica in later seasons.
  • Big Brother Instinct:
    • Booth towards Sweets and, to a lesser extent, all the Squinterns. They’re his people and he gets angry when they’re messed with. Sweets is a cross between this and seeing Booth and Brennan as surrogate parents due to his childhood being bad.
    • Christine to her baby brother Hank. She was once found to have taken the box of Jared’s remains to climb on so she can get in Hank’s crib and comfort him.
  • 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?
  • Big Eater: Aubrey. He usually either has something in his mouth or he’s looking for something to put in it, and he's seen chomping down on a food item in every version of the opening titles he's in.
    • He averts this in The Tutor in the Tussle in anticipation of confronting his father. Booth lampshades this after the second time Aubrey declines an offering of food.
  • 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.
    • We learn that Daisy is hugely pregnant with Sweets' son not long before Sweets is killed in the first episode of Season 10. She gives birth later in season 10.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • The Graft in the Girl. The team has busted an illegal tissue harvesting ring that's selling cancerous tissue samples, but Deputy Director Cullen's daughter Amy is still going to die of terminal bone cancer.
    • 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.
    • They later pay a very similar tribute to Sweets with the same song, also his favorite, as they scatter his ashes in The Lance to the Heart.
  • Black Comedy: Working around corpses tends to bring that out in people, especially Booth and Hodgins.
    • How the corpses are found practically always falls into this. Episodes often start with someone trying to have fun or going about their business and stumbling onto a body in a darkly amusing way.
  • Blackmail: Season 9 has a ring that goes back to J. Edgar Hoover himself. Brennan blackmails a corrupt Judge to get Booth freed when he’s framed by people in the blackmail ring and wrongly accused of murder, landing him in prison. She says she’s never blackmailed anyone but thinks she has everything.
  • 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."
    • Aubrey has a “Forensics for Knuckleheads” book in his office. It’s a thinly disguised copy of the “For Dummies” books of which “Forensics for Dummies” is a real title.
    • “Busted by Bill”, a fake version of Cheaters.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: Booth does this to Broadsky to foil an assassination attempt when he can’t get a clear shot at Broadsky himself. Broadsky’s hand breaks and that realization proves useful in the final takedown.
  • 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).
  • Blood from the Mouth: Sweets is bleeding from the mouth when Booth and Brennan find him as he’s dying.
  • 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 Victim 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.
  • Born in the Wrong Century: It's often acknowledged that Max would be considered a hero in the old west.
  • Bottle Episode: Several examples, most of which involved being trapped in the lab. The most notable is probably season 6's The Blackout in the Blizzard, which finds Wendell, Angela, Cam and Hodgins stuck in the lab while Booth and Bones are stuck in an elevator with seats from old Veterans Stadium (with Sweets helping them from outside the elevator). As with many bottle episodes, there is lots of character development, including Bones and Booth agreeing to try a relationship at a future date.
  • Bouquet Toss:
    • Brennan at Booth’s mom’s wedding. She insists she won’t be the next to marry but she actually is.
    • Cam’s wedding has one as well.
  • Bowling for Ratings: The Change In the Game where a mangled body was found in a bowling alley pin setting machine.
  • Brainy Brunette: Bones; Angela and Cam aren't slouches in the brains department either. They’re all intelligent dark haired women.
  • Break Out the Museum Piece:
    • Hodgins and Wendell do this in The Blackout in the Blizzard (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 the Victim of the Week in "The Boy in the Time Capsule".
    • They had to break out an old Kennedy-era replica rifle for Booth in The Proof 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, Hodgins 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.
    • In The Next in the Last Hodgins uses an early mass-spectrometer from the Manhattan Project exhibit to analyze a pizza just because he's moving to Paris and thinks it'll be his only chance to use it (he and Angela change their minds about moving).
  • Breaking the Cycle of Bad Parenting: Booth. His father was abusive and often drunk but Booth is shown to be loving and playful with Christine and Hank.
  • Break-Up/Make-Up Scenario:
    • Hodgins and Angela break up in season 4 and then get back together and marry a season and a half later
    • Sweets and Daisy twice. First it’s Sweets not wanting to wait a year while she goes to Maluku with Brennan and then they get back together before splitting after planning to move in together and Sweets panicking when he thinks Daisy thinks they’ll marry soon. Then they reunite again only for him to die.
    • Cam and Arastoo. Arastoo breaks up wanting to get a job after getting his doctorate, but he can’t fight his feelings and comes back to Cam a few episodes later. They marry in the series’ end.
  • 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 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.
  • Broken Pedestal:
    • Broadsky was Booth’s mentor who became a Cold Sniper and went on a killing spree, including his Mistaken Identity shooting of Vincent Nigel-Murray.
    • Michael Stires in The Girl in the Fridge was one of Brennan’s anthropology mentors and ended up being a jerk who worked for the other side of the case.
  • Brutal Honesty: The Pinocchio in the Planter centers on a murder connected to a group which practices radical honesty, a whole philosophy based on this trope. Cue a lot of blunt comments and answers to the investigators.
  • 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.
    • Bunsen 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.
  • Buried Alive: The Gravedigger’s method of operation was burying her victims alive, including Brennan and Hodgins and later, Booth.
    • Also the first victim discovered in The Mummy in the Maze.
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • Zack. After the season 3 finale, he made 3 more appearances and was never seen again after the 100th episode. ...Until the Season 11 finale, that is. In the final season he's exonerated.
    • Sully. He appears for four episodes in Season 2, then goes off sailing, claiming he'll return. It took him 10 years to do so.
    • Dr. Gordon Wyatt. Once he became a chef and Sweets took over as the team's resident shrink, he got onto the bus. He returned to examine Sweets's old files to try and exonerate Zack.
  • Bus Crash: Jared Booth and Aldo Clemens show up as murder victims after some time absent from the show.
  • Busman's Holiday: Bones is bad at vacations. She doesn't actually take vacations. She goes somewhere else to do her job for free, hip deep in genocide victims. The one time we see her actually try to take a typical vacation is early in the ninth season, during her and Booth's honeymoon. She's so bored she takes a trip to the local morgue and finds a case.
  • The Butler Did It: Deconstructed in The Woman in the Garden. 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: Angela and Camille, the two main characters of color, are both half-white and look very light.
  • But Not Too Foreign: 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.
  • But Now I Must Go: Max was like this when his story started, showing up and then leaving before he could be arrested.

  • 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 the Gravedigger in season 2. 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.
    • When Zack told Sweets in Season 4 that he had not actually killed the lobbyist, but would have done so if Gormogon had told him to, Sweets told him: "People have no idea if they're capable of ending a life until they're put in that situation." Eight seasons later, near the end of The Hope in the Horror, Zack is attacked by the Puppeteer, who was his own doctor at the asylum and had framed him for the murders. Zack is incapable of killing him, even in self-defense.
    • Zack says to Sweets in The Perfect Pieces in the Purple Pond that he's stronger that he looks. This comes into play in the S12 premiere when he defends himself against the Puppeteer.
    • Way back in the Season 1 episode The Soldier on the Grave, Booth told Brennan about how in his sniper days he shot a Bosnian warlord at his son's birthday party. Eleven seasons and over 200 episodes later, that child is back for revenge against Booth.
    • In season 2, Brennan and Booth rocked out to Foreigner's "Hot Blooded" and later in season 12, when the song played on the radio, Booth referred to it as "their song".
    • In The Proof in the Pudding, Booth shot out the Jeffersonian's glass door to get inside. In The Day in the Life, Booth is unable to get out of the lab (which has a ticking bomb) because the glass was made bulletproof after the previous incident.
    • The series finale’s last scene is a shout out to the pilot’s last scene in the way Booth and Brennan are shown walking off together.
    • In The Baby in the Bough, Brennan entertains Andy, the baby, with a finger wiggling “dancing phalanges” game. In season 7, We see her do the same thing with her own daughter, Christine.
  • Camp Gay: Zigzagged with Straight Gay in The Cheat in the 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?:
    • Dr. Douglas Filmore, who Bones insulted so hard his arm stopped working, is Canadian. The entire episode he first appears in full of references to Canadian politeness.
    • Booth and Aubrey go to Canada in The Grief and the Girl.
  • 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 in "The Verdict in the Story", but Bones shoots down his theory that the body was left rolled up in a rug that had rotted away.
  • Carrying the Antidote: The killer in The Pathos In The Pathogens. It’s surmised that the killer would have it in case he was infected himself, so they need to find him before Arastoo succumbs to the virus.
  • 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 Cam...
    • Dr. Fuentes, who flirts with the lab women and has a karate move laid on him by Brennan when he won’t stop flirting and give her due respect.
  • 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 Wannabe in the Weeds Dr. Brennan tells the cast that her mother insisted that Temperance sang "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" better than Cyndi Lauper. Emily Deschanel gets the chance to prove that later in the episode.
  • Catapult Nightmare: The beginning of The Boy with the Answer has Brennan waking up from a Gravedigger nightmare this way.
  • Catchphrase
    • 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..."
    • There's also her going "Oh! I get it, it's funny because..."
    • In "Aliens in the Spaceship", 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 "chér" or "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
    • Played with as Temperance Brennan, who is based on the main character in a series of books by Kathy Reichs, herself writes a series of books about a forensic scientist named Kathy Reichs.
    • Joel Moore, 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 subplot about him getting free tickets to the movie, and hatching a scheme with Hodgins and Sweets 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 two seasons later, Cyndi Lauper gains a reoccurring role as Angela's psychic friend Avalon. Who, at Bones and Booth's wedding, sings "At Last" which was covered by Cyndi Lauper.
  • Cerebus Call-Back: "I don't know what that means", one of Brennan's recurring lines since the pilot, gets this treatment in the Grand Finale. Brennan says "I don't know what that means" when confronted with bone evidence because she has a serious contusion that compromises her ability to work thanks to Mark Kovac's bombing.
    • Inverted with "King of the Lab", also in the finale: While Cam's away from the Jeffersonian for a few months, Hodgins will be in charge. So he'll literally be the king of the lab!
  • Character Blog: The Bones iPad app has this in the form of Sweets' journal entries.
  • Character Shilling: For Hannah Burley in the sixth season...there’s a lot of talk about how perfect she is but she turns out not to be good for Booth and turns down his proposal. She also wanted to say she was friends with Brennan but it never really showed that much.
  • Characterization Marches On: Bones. At first, she comes off as cold and heartless, but as the series goes on, more "layers" to her are opened up. She is actually a warm and caring person but has learned how to compartmentalize those feelings, as Sweets pointed out numerous times.
  • 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. When they inevitably meet when one arrives to pick up Brennan early, 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 teenage 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 Wendell 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 Death in the Saddle, 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 is named Ed Milner and does pony play in an inn as "Mister Ed".
    • A literal example is Bones' hand-cannon. The subject of much Freudian dialogue throughout the series, 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) 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's Gunman: Though he wasn’t seen onscreen in season 1, Kovac probably counts. Booth told Brennan about killing a warlord at the guy’s son’s birthday party, and the boy is a man and the season’s villain in season 12.
  • Chekhov M.I.A.: Bones's parents. They’re missing in season one, then her mom’s remains are identified in the season finale, and her dad soon becomes a major character.
  • 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 worst example is with Pelant, who Bones has the opportunity to stop a few times and she just stands there until he says his piece and gets away. However, it's implied that she's been consciously adopting a more feminine role in response to Booth's presence. In the season 6 premiere, she's shown beating up a group of armed men with a shovel. When she tells Booth about it later, he expresses surprise.
    Booth: You beat up armed guerillas?
    Bones: I had to. You weren't there to save me.
  • Christmas Episode: Three, The Man in the Fallout Shelter, The Santa in the Slush, and The Goop on the Girl.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Possibly as a side effect of being a Long Runner, numerous Bones characters have disappeared from the face of the Earth:
  • 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.
  • Circus Episode: In Double Trouble in the Panhandle, the remains of a set of conjoined twins are found on an oil field. When they find out the twins worked at a circus, Bones and Booth go undercover to find the culprit.
  • Coitus Interruptus: Sweets and Daisy get walked in on at least twice.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Happens to Booth in one episode. He says he's had worse. It’s revealed that one of the worst things was the soles of his feet being tortured when he was captured as an Army Ranger, and it was very severe.
    • Done to people connected to Booth's assassinating a Serbian war criminal, even tenuous ones like a little old lady whose only connection was being Booth's former squadmate's frequent customer, who was only tortured to torture the guy.
  • Cold Sniper: Broadsky, the anti-Booth. He had no trouble killing a bunch of people to get his message across.
  • 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).
  • Comically Missing the Point: Being incredibly literal minded, both Brennan and Zack frequently fail to understand other people when they're joking or speaking metaphorically.
  • Concealment Equals Cover: Not when Booth has a BFG, as one episode's villain learns while trying to use a steel door for cover.
  • The Conspiracy: Booth gets mixed up in one led by a corrupt judge that sends 3 Delta Force agents to attack him and Brennan, destroying their home, and then framed him for murdering the agents, sending him to prison. It also resulted in Sweets’ death before it was over.
  • 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.
    • The Proof in the Pudding 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 John F. Kennedy. 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.
    • The Pathos In The Pathogen has a contaminated body brought in and Arastoo is infected and nearly killed by a virus carrying needle hidden in it.
  • Continuity Nod: Oh so many of them, especially in later seasons. It'd be really tough to list them all. Just know there are many episodes that to get the fullest experience, you need to get the nods.
    • Continuity Cavalcade: "The End in the End" is the best example; fitting for a finale. Among the things and events brought up or seen one way or another are: a photo of Hodgins and Zack from season 1, the plaque in memory of Vincent Nigel-Murray, Sweets's book on Booth and Brennan (finally published!), a photo of Max with Brennan at her wedding, many mentions of the B&B moments over the years, and a few of Brennan's memories of her interns.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Often but The Mummy in the Maze takes the cake with two huge ones. First, the bodies of both of the killers victims, killed a year apart, being found separately, in different locations by random innocent bystanders within 24 hours of each other. Second, the same suspect, who knew both victims, having been near where both bodies were dumped but not being guilty, although the second one could be justified by the killer having made a conscious attempt to frame him by dumping bodies in places he visited.
  • Conveniently an Orphan: Dr. Brennan, whose loss is used to explain and excuse her (seemingly?) detached approach to humanity.
  • Convulsive Seizures: Arastoo when he’a dying from a virus in The Pathos In The Pathogen. He’s given an anti-serum but it fails to work and increases his heart rate until he seized.
  • Cool Old Guy:
    • Max Brennan - Retired and often seems kind of harmless but threaten his family and you’ll be sorry.
    • Billy Gibbons - Tests Hodgins’ character pretty thoroughly before accepting him, including two instances of knocking him out and tattooing him.
    • Hank Booth - Ex-soldier who wasn’t afraid to stand up to his abusive son to save his grandkids.
    • Gordon Wyatt- Psychiatrist-turned-chef who has a funny way with words during Booth’s therapy sessions and is secretly a heavy metal fan and ex-rockstar.
  • Cop Killer: A couple
    • The corrupt judge who had his guys beat Sweets to death. Federal agent killer, but still counts.
    • The kids who leave a bomb in a body that kills four cops, badly tears up Aubrey and ultimately paralyzes Hodgins. They mostly wanted thrills but it went far worse than they wanted.
  • Cop Killer Manhunt: After Sweets is killed in The Conspiracy in the Corpse, everyone is determined to take down the guy who did it, with Booth nearly going rogue to do it himself.
    • Also the aftermath of four cops dying in “The Doom In The Boom”.
  • Cop and Scientist: Booth and Brennan, respectively.
  • Cops Need the Vigilante: The show is particularly terrible about this. Agent Booth will tell Dr. Brennan to step in in the middle of an interrogation if a suspect lawyers up. She dives in and steals evidence right in front of him. The entire team colludes to hide that one of their own tampered with evidence in an investigation he should have recused himself from. They should have the worst record of any team ever for case closure, yet somehow they manage a high solve rate.
  • 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.
  • Cramming the Coffin: The "same grave" variant is used in The Twist in the Plot, though it was already occupied when the murderer hid the second body there.
  • 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 The Plain in the Prodigy, 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.
  • Crossover:
  • Crushing Handshake: In The Plain in the Prodigy, Booth meets Cam's 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: "The Truth in the Myth" focused on the Chupacabra.
  • Cultural Translation: The original novels were partially — sometimes mostly — set in Montreal or North Carolina, wheras the show is set in Washington D.C. This gets a nods in the pilot, where Brennan tells Booth the nearest forensic anthropologist other than herself is in Montreal.

  • Dad the Veteran: Booth’s abusive father and Booth himself. Edwin Booth was damaged by his war experience and it’s indicated it drove him to alcohol and abusing the kids. Booth was an Army Ranger and saw way more war than he wants to remember.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: For the final sniper cat-and-mouse showdown 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 allows 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. They end up having sex, with Bones accidentally getting pregnant and having a daughter. Later they also have a second child after getting married.
  • 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 and married him. Cam dated Booth (twice), who then eventually dated Bones and married her. Cam eventually went on to date, break up with, date again and marry Arastoo. Off in their own little corner is Daisy and Sweets who dated for quite a long time, then Sweets dated Jessica who would later date Aubrey. Sweets reunited with Daisy shortly before he died.
  • 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.
    • Inadvertent one: Sweets is killed in the same episode that revealed Daisy is pregnant with his son whom she has already named Lance. Ends up subverted in the end, as Sweets’ wish to name the baby Seeley wins out. Lance is his middle name though.
    • Booth and Brennan's son's name is Hank, after Booth's grandpa
  • Dead Person Conversation:
    • Brennan and her mom in The Shot in the Dark. It’s ambiguous if she was seeing a ghost or hallucinating.
    • Ditto Booth seeing his dead army buddy in The Hero In The Hold.
  • 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.
  • Death in the Clouds: In The Passenger in the Oven, 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.
  • Demoted to Extra: Even though Mark Kovac is the Big Bad of both season 12 and it's two-part finale, he only appears briefly in that finale, has no dialogue, and dies somewhat unceremoniously in a shootout after his more notable role in the first episode he appeared onscreen.
  • Dénouement Episode: The series tends to do this.
    • The penultimate episode of Season 4 reveals Booth has a brain tumor. The actual last episode is in an Alternate Universe dream where Booth and Bones are married and running a bar, and ends with Booth waking up having post-surgery amnesia.
    • The penultimate episode of Season 5 features the trial and 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 has Vincent Nigel-Murray killed by a Cold Sniper, and Booth and Brennan sleeping together. 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 with Booth's child.
  • Denser and Wackier: A common comment from season four onward is that the show begins to dip more towards the comedy part of "dramedy".
  • Department of Redundancy Department: The bratty girl in the Bowling for Ratings episode. She was going to be “world champion of the world” by 2026.
  • Detective Mole:
    • Agent Kenton in Two Bodies in the Lab. He’s actually the killer and nearly kills Brennan.
    • The tech expert who helps Angela in The Brother in the Basement. He’s going through a suspect’s computer and phone to distract everyone from realizing he killed Booth’s brother.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Pelant, for one, when he gets in the way of Booth and Brennan’s wedding plans, steals Hodgins’ money and frames Brennan.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Angela getting herself arrested for refusing to testify at Max's trial. Yes, she was "protecting" her friendship with Brennan, but it's the team's job to testify what they know whether they like it or not, and she's got her BFF's permission to testify anyways. Not to mention that her testimony (identification of the body) would've caused relatively small damage to the defense (unlike Zack's or Booth's, who testified about the murder weapon and opportunity, respectively), so ultimately she got herself locked up over barely anything.
  • Diplomatic Impunity: Shows up in two cases. In The Girl in Suite 2103, 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 to show she does know what they mean and finds them humorous.
  • 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.
    • Hodgins himself oh so much as he struggles to adjust to being a paraplegic in season 11. He shuts out everyone including his wife and Took a Level in Jerkass until he tries for a divorce and Angela finally talks sense into him.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Booth and Cam did this to each other a few times. Cam prefers Cam and Booth his last name. “Don’t call me Camille!” “Don’t call me Seeley!”
  • Double-Meaning Title: A couple:
    • 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.
    • The show title itself, "Bones":
      • 1) While the show discusses and utilizes many different types of forensics (forensic psychology, engineering, pathology, entomology, etc.), its primary focus is forensic anthropology, which studies the "bones" of the victims.
      • 2) The main character is a female anthropologist with the In-Series Nickname "Bones", given to her by the male lead/Deuteragonist who is her partner and later lover/boyfriend/baby daddy, and later still, her husband.
    • The Lance to the Heart is referring both to the shock of Sweets’ death and his first name being Lance and the others deeply caring for him. It also refers to the broken rib that pierced his aorta and killed him, a literal lance to the heart.
    • The Pain in the Heart refers both to Booth’s gunshot wound and the emotional pain Brennan had when she thought he died.
    • The Change in the Game refers to the team changes in the bowling game, the change in the pin settings on the lane, and Brennan’s reveal that changed things for the whole series since she and Booth were now a couple.
  • 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 his life extended, 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.
    • The beginning of Season 10. Booth is released from prison and the crew is on their way to getting to the bottom of the conspiracy that landed him in there when Sweets is killed trying to stop one of the conspirators... not long after the audience learned he had not only reunited with Daisy but she is also pregnant with his son. We learn he is really, truly dead when Cam does his autopsy with everyone present, including Daisy.
  • Do You Want to Copulate?: In The New Tricks in the Old Dogs an old man in a nursing home asked one of the women if she "wanted to pork". She didn't. He admits this line hasn't been too successful.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: In the season 11 finale, Brennan has dreams about burnt remains coming to life, and at one point dreams of a Wendell with a cigarrette behind his ear and with burned hands telling her "If you knew what I knew, you'd be so proud of me". Dream Wendell's line and burned hands are both nods to Zack in the season 3 finale The Pain in the Heart. Guess who shows up at the end of the episode.
  • 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".
  • Driving a Desk: Several times during the Hitchcock-inspired The 200th in the 10th.
  • 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?"

  • Early-Bird Cameo: Clark Edison appears as a potential Zack replacement in the season 3 premiere. Zack returns and Clark leaves before later becoming one of the rotating interns after Zack leaves the show.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • Early on, Hodgins handles and analyzes the bones themselves, which he doesn't do later
    • Booth is in the lab itself much more. Once Sweets (and later Aubrey) comes around, Booth spends most of his time with Sweets, Aubrey (or less often) Bones while Bones toils away in the lab.
    • The lab doesn't always work with Booth and the FBI and sometimes, handles the interpersonal stuff themselves.
  • Easy Amnesia: Brennan recovers from her amnesia in the finale awfully quickly.
  • 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.
  • Egging: It’s mentioned that Booth and Brennan got it one Halloween when they ran out of candy.
  • Elseworld:
    • The fourth season finale, a dream sequence in which a married Booth and Bones run a nightclub staffed by most of the cast.
    • The 200th episode, in which Brennan is a police detective in the 1950s, while Booth is a jewel thief.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Angela is actually Pookie Noodlin Pearly Gates. It’s no wonder she changed it to Angela.
  • Emotionless Girl:
    • Brennan. She does occasionally show emotion but she is often detached and doesn’t show emotion much.
    • At one point Brennan meets an emotionless food scientist who works alone (there was her boss but he was the Victim of the Week).
  • Encouraged Regifting: Season One's Christmas episode sees the gang trapped in the Jeffersonian by a quarantine. Everyone is stressed by the situation, especially Booth, who was supposed to get his son a Christmas present. The gang try to make the best of things and hold a pretty decent Christmas, including a Secret Santa where Zack gives Booth a robot he was working on earlier, explaining that "I thought you could give it to your son." This earns him a handshake from a delighted Booth.
  • 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... And then they go ahead and do exactly that anyway.
    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 Dark Horse: 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'.
  • Estranged Soap Family: Brennan's brother Russ hasn't made any appearances since season 3 (and wasn't mentioned in most of the following nine seasons) to the point where he almost reached Chuck Cunningham Syndrome, missing multiple important events: the birth of his niece and later, nephew; his sister returning after being a fugitive for several months; Brennan and Booth's wedding; and most strikingly, his father's funeral.
  • 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.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: In the final episode, serial killer Kovac is shot by Booth while driving and the vehicle runs off a nearby ridge and promptly explodes on hitting the ground. Justified though as there are oil barrels where it lands that likely contained some kind of explosive.
  • Everyone Can See It: Bones and Booth. Sweets writes a book about it!
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: A constant on the show with many a killer failing to realize how people will react to his crimes.
    • In a few cases, someone who commited a murder decades ago will be honestly amazed people "still care about it."
    • Pelant offers Hodgins a seemingly Sadistic Choice: Shut down a server that is slowly draining away his millions or let it run to prevent a drone to strike a school in the Middle East. Pelant assumes Hodgins will either shut the server down right away or waste time trying to save his cash and his choice will ruin his relationship with the team. It never occurs to Pelant that Hodgins (who's always hated being rich) will gladly sacrifice his cash to save innocent lives.
  • Evil Counterpart:
    • Fans have come to consider the Gravedigger the anti-Brennan, as both are brilliant people who have difficulty connecting to others, save for the fact that the Gravedigger didn't care.
    • Broadsky is this to Booth. Broadsky is a sniper who is possibly the only one anywhere near as good as Booth and he wants to kill whereas Booth helps people (Broadsky claimed he just wanted to punish the guilty, but in the course of his appearances he killed more innocents than criminals).
    • Pelant can be considered this to Angela in that she’s a computer whiz who helps catch killers and he’s a super smart hacker who uses technology to harm others and help himself.
    • Glen Durant is this to Caroline Julian; where Caroline abides by the letter of the law and is owed favours from various government officials, Durant used blackmail to manipulate government officials to maintain his "Shadow Government".
    • Philip Aubrey, father to FBI agent James Aubrey, can be considered this to Max Brennan; they both abandoned their families due to their criminal pasts, but Max did it to protect his children while Philip just wanted to be rich.
  • The Exile: Arastoo and Rodolfo both fled their home countries in fear of being killed if they stayed. Arastoo thought there was an edict for his death, but it actually wasn’t ever made public.
  • Exiled to the Couch: Booth says in The Movie in the Making that he has “healthy debates” with Brennan that sometimes get so “healthy” that he has to sleep on the couch.
  • 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 is very similar to the real life Bill Nye The Science Guy show, down to the similar name.
    • 'Branson Rose' aka Richard Branson-similar name and is a billionaire adventurer.
  • Eyepiece Prank: Hodgins does it to Vincent Nigel-Murray to get revenge for Vincent claiming he slept with Angela.
  • Eye Scream: Although it's done to a dead body, the scene where they remove fluid from an eye in The Double Death of the Dearly Departed is still not for the squeamish.

  • The Face: Since Brennan has No Social Skills, Booth often has to play this role in investigation whenever they talk to witnesses or people involved in the case.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Vera Waterhouse is genuinely innocent of any crime in her first appearance Yanks in the U.K. Part 1, and helps with the investigation, but ends up murdering Ian Wexler, apparently as an unpremeditated crime of passion, between that episode and Yanks in the U.K. Part 2.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Behavioral analyst Karen Delfs falls for Jeannine Kovac's act hook line and sinker in all of the three episodes Jeannine appears in, which proves costly for the main characters.
  • Fanservice: Multiple:
    • Bones' Wonder Woman costume in Mummy in the Maze is a stylized homage to the Lynda Carter version. She even tries the twirl.
    • Having Brennan strip Booth to his boxers and wheel him around on a cart in The Goop on the Girl probably qualifies... and includes a funny moment when Dr. Saroyan walks in on them:
      Booth: I'm thinking of saints...
    • The Woman in the Sand puts Bones in a Little Black Dress, and Booth in a wife-beater posing as a boxer.
  • Fake First Kiss:
    • In The Santa In the Slush, where Brennan and Booth were coerced into kissing under the mistletoe by Caroline.
    • In The End in the Beginning, an Alternate Reality Episode where Booth and Brennan were married nightclub owners. Both scenes appeared in the trailers for those episodes. In reality, they don't get together until the end of season 6.
    • There's a questionable third instance in The Sum in the Parts of the Whole, where Brennan and Booth kiss in a flashback. However, due to an actual kiss that also occurs in that episode, the status quo does change going forward.
  • Faking the Dead: Booth. He was shot by Pam Nunan and he took advantage of it to fake his death and funeral to draw out a long-time adversary of his.
  • 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.
  • Fed to Pigs:
    • Brennan’s mom, after being killed with a stun device. It turned Brennan into a vegetarian.
    • The chess player in The Master in the Slop. Hodgins’ filter machine ends up malfunctioning and spewing it all over Dr. Filmore.
  • Feuding Families: The Mobley's and the Babcocks, from the episode The Feud In The Family, centering around the murder of the Mobley patriarch. At one point, there is 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.
  • Finale Season: In February 2016, FOX executies and the showrunners came to an agreement to end the show with a shortened 12-episode farewell season. In response, the showrunners wrote a Season 11 finale that brought back Zack Addy for a serial killer arc and served as a launch pad for the last season's main theme: tying up loose ends.
  • Find the Cure!: Arastoo is infected with a Synthetic Plague in The Pathos In The Pathogens and catching the killer of the originally infected victim is tantamount to getting the anti-serum to save him.
  • Finger in the Mail:
    • A Bishop's kneecaps in The Knight on the Grid.
    • 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 on the Canopy, though it turns out to be an ape's 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.
    • 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.
  • Flesh and Bombs: “The Doom in the Boom”. Four officers die, Aubrey is critically injured, and Hodgins left paralyzed by a body with a bomb inside it. The killers were young guys looking for notoriety. Caroline made sure they didn’t get it.
  • Flexibility Equals Sex Ability: In The Body in the Bag, Sweets and Booth have to watch a woman's sex tape to look for clues about a murder and Sweets comments on how flexible she is, earning him an odd look from Booth
  • 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.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Booth is the responsible sibling despite a few slips into gambling addiction along the way. Jared kept getting in trouble and Booth would try to help. Jared was an alcoholic and had repeated money issues and his issues cost him his life.
  • 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.
    Angela: "You have no idea how open-minded I can be."
    • In The Woman in the Car, Agent Pickering, who was conducting 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 Sound In the Silence Booth and Bones talk about what to get Angela and Jack for the baby. Booth makes a comment about Brennan’s hormones going haywire and “boom, Mama Bones”. This was just two episodes before her pregnancy reveal.
    • 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 The Woman in the Car, 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?
    • In The Movie in the Making, The film crew is documenting the relationship between the Jeffersonian and the FBI, and throughout the film, all of their past members such as Vincent Nigel-Murray, Lance Sweets, and Zack Addy are mentioned. The Last of These Is Not Like the Others. Guess who returns in the season finale?
    • In The Price for the Past, Aldo Clemens's body is found with colorful balloons tied to it. This is brushed off by the team early on as a way to ensure the body would be found quickly. It makes sense, until you realize that the culprit is the now-grown-up son of a Bosnian warlord who saw his father shot by a sniper (Booth) at his birthday party.
    • Brennan deals with Dr. Goodman's "retirement" (she simply didn't find anthropology fun anymore) and one of her interns' problem with finding a thesis subject (Brennan was so enthusiastic about her chosen field she did four of them and that's just the ones that got published) and realizes how much she loves her job and couldn't imagine living without it. In the series finale she loses her "technical memory" and everything related to bones and anthropology becomes gibberish to her. Fortunately it was temporary.
    • Season 8 heavily foreshadows Booth and Brennan’s season 9 wedding. One episode has them talk to a jeweler about a case and the guy thinks they want engagement rings. A couple episodes later, Brennan catches the bouquet at Booth’s mom’s wedding. Tradition says the bouquet catcher will get married next, and despite Pelant’s meddling, it did happen.
    • In The Radioactive Panthers in the Party, Betty White’s character Dr. Mayer asks Brennan to think about her work and how she would feel if it were all taken away. The next two episodes are the series finale where Brennan suffers a head injury that temporarily does just that.
    • Sweets dresses as a Star Trek Red Shirt in “The Princess and the Pear” in season 4. Six seasons later in season 10, he’s the first and only opening credits character to die.
  • Formula-Breaking Episode:
    • "The Ghost in the Machine", which puts the viewer in the POV of the victim's skull.
    • "The Movie in the Making", which has the investigation filmed by a camera crew, with sidelines commentary of the cast members.
  • The Foster Kid: Brennan and Sweets.
  • Framed Clue: Subverted in "The Man in the Mansion", when Hodgins is taking samples from a crime scene and when nobody is looking opens up a frame and removes a picture that showed him and the victim together before anyone noticed. The picture is NOT a clue related to the case, but would have revealed Hodgins past connection to the victim (childhood friends until he stole Hodgin's fiancee) and stopped him from helping to solve his old friend's murder.
  • Frame-Up:
    • The victim in The Lost in the Found attempted to frame her three bullies for her suicide using items she stole from them; they don't attempt much of a cover-up because she drugged them so deeply they didn't even think they did anything the night of the "murder".
    • Booth in the season 9 finale/season 10 opener. He ends up in prison due to it.
  • Freudian Excuse: They put pressure on escaped serial killer Epps by locking up his (abusive) mother.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Dr. Oliver 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 Sniper: Booth is a nice guy, even wanting to atone for the people he had to kill.
  • Friendly Neighborhood Chinatown: D.C.'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": One Victim of the Week was a guy who seemed to be the genuine Santa Claus. This gives Booth and Brennan 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: Kris 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".
  • Frying Pan of Doom: Booth hits a suspect with one when they’re running through a restaurant kitchen, using whatever is on hand as weapons.
  • Full-Name Basis: Gordon Gordon Wyatt. That's not a typo, at one point he posits that his first and middle names are the same, and he never says whether he's joking or not.
  • Furniture Assembly Gag: Angela tries to assemble a baby walker in "The Prince in the Plastic". The instructions are a "Blind Idiot" Translation and she can't make sense of the diagrams, preventing her from getting it together.
  • 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.
  • Funny Background Event: Brennan describes scoring a goal in hockey as "making a net." Cam gives her the strangest look.
  • Furnace Body Disposal: * The aptly named episode "The Intern in the Incinerator" has this, just like the title says. An intern at the lab was killed and ended up discovered in the lab's incinerator.

  • The Gambling Addict: Booth. He struggles all along and relapses in season 10 and Brennan kicks him out while he works to get "sober" again.
  • 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.
  • Geek Physiques: Sweets and Zack are both skinny and kind of scrawny. Hodgins is a subversion. He looks skinny but is actually very well toned when his shirt comes off.
  • 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.
  • Genius Cripple: Hodgins after his season 11 injury.
  • Genre-Busting: It's a drama-comedy all about decaying bodies, murder investigations and romance.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: 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 U.S. (his American fans amount to twenty or less, whereas he's a radio superstar in the Philippines)
  • Give Geeks a Chance: Hodgins, the nerdy guy, and Angela.
  • Give Away the Bride: Angela’s dad gives her away during the first wedding attempt. Later, Brennan plays with it. She lets Max walk her down the aisle to Booth, then says to everyone that it’s not one man giving a woman to another man like property.
  • Giver of Lame Names: Angela's father. She goes by Angela Pearly Gates Montenegro, but her given name is Pookie Noodlin. When she's pregnant, her father tries to convince Hodgins to name the child Staccato Mambo, which he defends as being gender-neutral. Staccato does wind up as the kid's middle name, but it's Michael Staccato Vincent, and after the episode where he's born, he's consistently referred to as "Michael Vincent."
  • Glad You Thought of It: Invoked. When some characters wonder how Dr. Sweets will tell Daisy Wick she's being fired, Booth suggests he'll make her think she's leaving on her own.
  • 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).
  • Grand Finale: The final episode ("The End in the End") features a Continuity Cavalcade as well as several major changes for the characters. Notably, We see the aftermath of the bombing of the Jeffersonian, including Booth trying to be a hero, Brennan temporarily losing her ability for complex thoughts, the five most recurring interns chipping in to solve the case, the season's antagonist eventually hunted down and killed, the revelation that Cam and Arastoo are leaving for 6 months because they are going to adopt 3 kids from Mississippi, and a resolution to the 447 mystery. Oh and while Cam is gone, Hodgins will finally actually be "King of the Lab". Almost everything is wrapped up, though the series ultimately ends on a And the Adventure Continues note, as the Jeffersonian will be rebuilt.
  • Grandma's Recipe: One episode of Bones has a B-plot where one of the lab assistants (Hodgins) uses up the last of the hot sauce from the company fridge, ignoring the note from another assistant, Finn, not to eat it. Turns out it was the very last bottle of hot sauce Finn's grandmother ever made, and seemingly irreplaceable. This being a forensic show, Hodgins manages to determine precisely what was in the hot sauce via testing and replicate it to make it up to Finn.
  • Gratuitous German:
    Brennan: I need you to do a search for Der Schlächterkelch.
    Angela: Okay, I love that you think I would know how to spell that.
  • 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.

  • 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.
  • Hammerspace: Near the denouement of "The Mummy in the Maze" Brennan draws her massive revolver despite only wearing her very fitted Wonder Woman (1975) costume, (sans cape) and not carrying a purse or handbag of any sort. Immediately lampshaded by Booth:
    Booth: Okay, where did you even find a place to carry that?
We never find out, but from the motion, its not Victoria's Secret Compartment.
  • 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.
  • Handcuffed Briefcase: One Victim of the Week is a diamond merchant who was transporting diamonds in a briefcase handcuffed to his hand. His murderer cut the hand off in order to get the briefcase.
  • Happily Adopted:
    • Sweets in his backstory-an older couple rescued him from abusive foster parents and he was quite close to them.
    • Cam's daughter Michelle. There was friction a time or two but they had a decent relationship.
  • 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!
    • Hodgins and Angela, and as of the latest episodes Booth and Bones. Unfortunately not Booth's brother Jared and his wife Padme (he was trying to hook back up with her before he was killed) nor, as far as can be seen, Cam and Aristoo (he proposed then broke up with Cam after Brennan essentially fired him for not being as good at her as closing cases and knew that while Cam would follow him anywhere he didn't want her to hate him for making her leave her job and her friends). After a lot of delays they finally get married in the penultimate episode of the final season and appear very happy.
  • 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.
    • Interestingly after Sweets dies she's the one who brings up psychological aspects of the cases because that's what Sweets would do.
  • Hates Everyone Equally: Hodgins is told by Sweets that he has misanthropic tendencies after he breaks up with Angela and has to deal with his issues with what Zack did. He assumes he’s headed for endless medication and therapy but Sweets assures him he’ll learn to cope. It does improve, then comes back big time when he’s left paralyzed in season 11, at least til Angela talks some sense into him.
  • Hate Sink: In season 11, the team investigates the murder of a meninist who led a group called "Man Now" that wanted changes in laws, believing that white men are an oppressed group. The entire group is a long hate sink, one of the first things Booth and Bones hear when they go to a meeting is a man saying that they want to abolish rape shield laws, stating that "if a woman dresses as a slut, she might as well walk with a sign written rape me". Booth even states wanting to punch the guy, something that Bones eventually does when he tells Booth to put a muzzle on Bones and calls her a loud bitch.
  • Hates Small Talk: Bones is an expert at shooting down any conversation that isn't related to the case during the first examination in the Jeffersonian; she's also terrible at subtle hints that her coworkers give ("I work better when I'm upset." "Well you're doing good work.").
    • 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 Catchphrase.
  • Head-Turning Beauty: 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."
  • 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".
  • 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).
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners:
    • Brennan and Angela
    • Hodgins and Zack until the latter's departure from the show. Later, he becomes especially close to many of the interns (Wendell, Finn, and Arastoo in particular).
    • In later seasons after Zack leaves and is replaced by rotating interns, and Cam and Sweets have fully adjusted as members of the team, there is instead a true companionship between the entire team, although Bones and Angela retain their special life-partners status.
  • Hidden Depths: All of the main characters have them. For example, Arastoo (the Iranian squintern) writes poetry in Farsi.
  • Hide Your Pregnancy: The various pregnancies that occurred during the show were explained quite easily by pregnancies occurring in the show. The 12th season, however, saw Emily Deschanel get pregnant and it wasn't as announced as the other pregnancies.
  • Hollywood Atheist: Dr. Temperance Brennan fits the stereotype of not just declaring her (anti-religious) atheism but going so far as picking fights over it with her Catholic partner Booth. Her views seemed to veer into scientism too.
  • Hollywood Hacking: Pelant, 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.
    • In multiple episodes, Booth and/or Rebecca say he has no parental rights to Parker because they weren’t married when Parker was conceived or born. Paternity might be assumed for married couples, but that doesn’t mean it’s no existent for unmarried fathers. Booth could have asserted paternity and thus his rights to shared legal custody and visitation/shared physical custody with some paperwork, or at worst court proceedings.
  • 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 "The Bond in the Boot," where a very obviously silenced pistol was still pretty loud.
  • Honor Before Reason:
    • In "The Girl in Suite 2103" 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.
  • Hope Spot: Brennan's dad hid a hospital visit; turns out they "only" got a pacemaker. Unfortunately the pacemaker's GPS allowed trained assassins to track him and the grandkids to an FBI safehouse. Fortunately they survive the encounter; unfortunately he dies in the hospital after the attack proved too much for his heart (he was able to say goodbye, in a way, to Brennan).
  • How We Got Here: The episode "Aliens in a Spaceship" and "The Parts in the Sum of the Whole".
  • Hunk: Booth, probably the hottest guy in the group.
  • 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 and does it well.

  • I Can Still Fight!: Booth leaves the hospital after he’s injured by a bomb to save a kidnapped Brennan.
  • I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!: Angela opens her shirt and flashes her bra to an airport clerk who’s ignoring her attempts to get information on Brennan’s flight in the Pilot episode.
  • I Have to Go Iron My Dog: Subverted, when Bones, slightly flustered, sounds like she's making an excuse to leave, but is actually telling the stark truth.
    Bones: I... have to go... do scientific things... to catch a serial killer.
  • I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: Boreanaz and TJ Thyne worked together on the fifth season of Angel, with Thyne as a lawyer at Wolfram & Hart. We also get Adam Baldwin as a guest star in the first season, who played Marcus Hamilton, a sort of supernatural juggernaut who also worked for Wolfram & Hart.
  • Identical Stranger: The victim in "The Doctor in the Photo" is found to be of similar height, weight, and demeanor to Bones. Bones begins to hallucinate that the victim is her.
  • 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 boyfriends-the first guy and later intern Finn-of Cam's foster daughter, introducing himself as a cool uncle... who happens to be a sniper.
    • Angela’s dad tells Hodgins he has cars, guitars and guns and that if Hodgins treats Angela right he’ll only see the business end of the cars and guitars.
    • Max to Booth at Booth and Brennan’s wedding. And Booth knows he means it.
  • Illegal Gambling Den: In one episode, one victim uncovered a dog-fighting ring. He was killed because the operator found out he was gathering evidence against them.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: Averted with Booth. He shows excellent trigger discipline, even checking a rifle he brought to a scene himself that has no magazine.
  • 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."
  • The "I Love You" Stigma: When Booth talks to the ghost of an old army friend he tells him he loved his girlfriend Claire but couldn't tell her cause he felt they were too young, his last request is that Booth tell her and his finding her at his grave is one of the signs he wasn't a hallucination.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: The Gormogon.
    • Happens by accident in "The Tiger In The Tale", when a car is stuck in the mud where a body is buried, and the man trying to dislodge it gets spattered by human remains sprayed by its tires. A tooth is flung into his open mouth and he swallows it by reflex.
    • The Victim of the Week was also consumed unknowingly in the opening scenes of The Mystery in the Meat, having been cooked
and packaged into cans of beef stew that was subsequently fed to students at a high school cafeteria.
  • Impoverished Patrician: A bizarre zig-zag around this trope was performed around Dr Hodgins. He was originally an undistinguished, if brillant, senior squint. Then he turned out to be grotesquely rich (in fact, his family more or less owned the entire Jeffersonian Institute). Years later he lost his entire fortune in an absurdly unrealistic way that didn't withstand a single minute of reflection, but was repeatedly emphasized as being irreversible and permanent. After that the writers came up with one hare-brained scheme after another to explain him getting rich again. Particularly puzzling because none of these status changes had any appreciable impact on his standing in life whatsoever.
  • 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.
  • Informed Attractiveness: Brennan. Characters regularly refer to her as being beautiful. Naturally, Booth's attractiveness in a hunky way is mentioned quite often as well. So is Angela’s attractiveness.
  • Informed Ability: Brennan often says that she is extremely intelligent and has very high IQ. In practice, she is far from that. Sure, she is very knowledgeable but she finds it difficult to make connections when they are not obvious, something Booth or Hodgins do naturally. This is especially jarring in social situations, because Brennan sometimes compares the situations she witnesses to anthropological trivia, yet sometimes she seems completely lost even though such event should be simple to any anthropologist, even on a purely analytical level.
  • 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.
    • 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, especially given the big deviations by the show’s end.
  • In Prison with the Rogues: Booth when he’s framed for murder in season 9. The members of The Conspiracy seemed to hope he’d die from being attacked, and Brennan resorted to blackmail in fear for his life.
  • In-Series Nickname:
    • Bones, Bren, and Tempe for Brennan.
    • King of the Lab for Hodgins (and occasionally, Zack).
    • Cam has called Jack Hodgepodge and Zack Zackaroni (he always has Mac and cheese for lunch).
    • Daisy calls Sweets Sweet Lancelot as a play on his first and last names
    • Jessica calls Aubrey Superman.
    • Angela likes to call Booth "Studly" on occasion and she sometimes calls Jack "Hodgie".
  • Insistent Terminology:
    • Ska-luh! It’s a Norwegian word for skull, and Brennan is insistent on it being pronounced correctly.
    • Jessica was part of an educational "collective", not a "commune"
    • It’s “soil”, not “dirt” to Hodgins.
    • Gordon Gordon is a chef. Do not call him a cook.
  • Inside Job: In one episode the Victim of the Week had been trying to talk his girlfriend, who works at a currency exchange, to leave the back door unlocked so he and an accomplice could rob the place when nobody was there, but she refused.
  • Inspector Javert: FBI Special Agent Hayes Flynn, who was tasked with hunting down Bones when she was accused of murder.
  • Instant Illness: A Synthetic Plague has Arastoo close to death in a couple of hours in “The Pathos In The Pathogen”.
  • Instant Sedation: Arastoo in “Pathos in The Pathogen” again. He needs a procedure to help him fight the illness and when Cam injects sedative into his IV beforehand, he’s out in seconds. Possibly justified since it was directly into his bloodstream.
  • Insufferable Genius: Many. Brennan, Zack and Oliver Wells all tend to be very smart but not always all that nice. Wells in particular thinks he's better than everyone and Brennan is known to talk down to people who aren’t as smart as her.
  • Insult of Endearment
    • Hodgins dismissively 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: 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 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!
  • Interrupted Intimacy: In "The Shallow in the Deep", Booth and Brennan accidentally walk in on Sweets and Daisy having sex in Sweets' office. The couple promptly has a Naked Freak-Out and resort to Hand-or-Object Underwear, while a surprisingly nonchalant Booth still tries to get Sweets to sign his ready-for-duty form, much to Sweets annoyance.
  • 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-episodes often open with random people finding a body and then the main characters come in.
  • 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. Turns out to be quite vincible, and the heroes don't even care to watch his last ominous recording because now he's dead, end of story.
  • Invisible Writing: In the Season 7 finale a man in a mental institution leaves a secret message written on the walls in his own saliva. It works like invisible ink; it only shows up under special light.
  • 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.
  • It Never Gets Any Easier: Even though the team is made up of a coroner, murder investigators, and forensic anthropologists, every so often this comes into play, either by a person's death being exceedingly disturbing, or the circumstances being tragic.
    • "The Goop in the Girl": The victim was an innocent bystander who was forced into robbing a bank while strapped to a bomb, which got detonated by sheer coincidence. Before figuring it out, Angela joked that "I won't let Santa ruin Christmas". Afterwards...
      You don't think that sometimes we forget those bones out there are people?
    • "The Ghost in the Machine" shows how the entire team's affected by the remains of a young 14-year old.
  • It's Personal
    • Does this somewhat frequently. When someone threatens either Booth or Bones, or their kids,it becomes quite personal for the other.
    • Brennan wanting justice for her murdered mother in season 1.
    • The Gravedigger and Harold Epps are the most guilty of invoking this. The Gravedigger kidnapped Bones and Hodgins in one episode and Booth in another. Epps poisoned Cam, tried to blow up Zack, and used Booth's son as a clue, all in the same episode. Making it personal was pretty much his M.O.
    • And then there was Pelant, who snuck a dead body above Angela and Hodgins' bed while they were knocked out from carbon monoxide poisoning, among other things. After a while his M.O. was literally making things personal.
    • Season 10’s Beginning, when Booth is railroaded and framed and winds up in prison. Then no sooner is he freed than Sweets is fatally injured and dies in his arms. Booth and Brennan definitely want these guys stopped.
    • Later there’s Kovac, whose storyline has a double dose. He attacks Booth and Brennan because Booth killed Kovac’s war criminal father during his sniper days. It then turns personal for Brennan and Booth when Kovac’s attack kills Brennan’s father and later blows up the entire lab.
  • I Was Young and Needed the Money: Cam's role in "The Invasion of the Mother Suckers".

  • Jerkass: 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.
    • Not to mention that while the show tries to excuse some of it with Brennan simply being clueless her incredible hypocrisy suggests she might just be an awful person. Among other things: Other people have to provide a high standard of evidence but she expects people to accept her own leaps of logic without question, she goes out of her way to be condescending even on topics she knows little about, she actively spites other skilled people (including her own interns at times) out of apparent jealousy, and on many occasions she takes offense at people not observing social norms she herself discounts when its convenient. Unfortunately Status Quo Is God so episodes where she learns to get past these behaviors are forgotten the moment the credits roll.
    • Oliver Wells is probably worse even than Brennan is as he seems to view literally everyone as his intellectual inferior.
    • Amusingly one of the only people who doesn't find Wells to be insufferably arrogant is . . . Brennan herself.
    • On the other hand, he does not find it difficult to accept that he made a mistake and he does not take conflicts personally. So, he is definitely more an Insufferable Genius rather than Jerkass, in comparison to Brennan.
  • 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.
  • Joisey:
    • Bones pretends to be a Jersey girl when she and Booth go undercover at a couples' retreat.
    • Her anthropological fascination with the Jersey Shore series comes in handy when a case of the week takes place there.
  • 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.
  • Jump Scare: Cam jumps visibly when Hodgins rolls up behind her to tell her something. His wheelchair doesn’t make much noise rolling over the lab floor so she’s startled when he suddenly starts talking behind her.
  • 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.
  • Karma Houdini: At the start of the eleventh season, a newly retired Agent Booth gets involved in a multimillion dollar heist in order to protect his brother from the latter's gambling debts. There are several murders at the scene and later deaths, and Booth ends up in the hospital (again. With a bullet wound. Again.) The episode ends with both Booth and Brennan realizing that they are simply not built for retirement. For Brennan, this isn't really a problem, but Booth ends up back in his old job at the FBI without any questions asked about his role in a series of felonies.
  • 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).
  • Killed Off for Real:
    • The Gravedigger, head-shotted by Booth's ex-sniper teammate
    • Vincent Nigel-Murray, shot in the heart by Booth's same ex-teammate
    • Pelant, shot by Booth
    • Sweets is killed at the beginning of Season 10. Unlike Booth's fake death this is for real because Cam does their autopsy in front of all their friends.
    • Booth's brother, and pretty thoroughly at the beginning of Season 11: Shot through a third story window and his body incinerated. Because the brothers have similar injuries from similar life experiences his body was mistaken for Booth's.
    • Brennan's dad, peacefully(!) of heart failure after saving his grandkids by killing two assassins. This was after setting up a hope-spot: a mysterious hospital bracelet he's hiding from Brennan which turns out to be from a secret pacemaker operation; unfortunately the pacemaker's GPS allows the killers to track him to an FBI safehouse.
  • The Killer Becomes the Killed: Heather Taffet, the serial killer known as the Gravedigger, is Jacob Broadsky’s first victim.
  • 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.
  • Knockout Ambush: How Zach kidnapped Bones, as she'd have mopped the floor with him in a fair fight, even without the handicap of his mangled hands.

  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: In the final episode Brennan gets caught in an explosion and loses her "technical memory": she has no idea what anything related to bones means and becomes distressed at the thought of living without her knowledge (it returns when Booth injures his hand and she remembers how to fix it).
  • 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, even still calling Booth by his last name after they marry.
    • 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:
    • Brennan writes novels that are in-universe versions of the novels the series is based on. In the pilot, and several times after, her co-workers recognize themselves in the characters. Brennan vehemently denies that the characters are based on herself and her friends — and that is true, seeing as it's the other way around.
    • 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.
  • Literally Shattered Lives: "The Science in the Physicist" is notable for deconstructing this a bit; the corpse was flash frozen in liquid nitrogen but shattered by vibrating it in an earthquake simulator. The actual results of simply dropping it are demonstrated when Angela is hit in the head by a bouncing turkey.
  • 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?
    • Booth, mostly in interrogations. He has an innate talent for reading people and even gets rattled once when he misses a lie. He worries his health problems are impairing him.
  • 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.
  • Lodged Blade Removal: There's an episode where Brennan does this when she gets stabbed in the arm. And it may be a case of Too Dumb to Live because as a forensic anthropologist she ought to have enough anatomical knowledge to know better.
  • 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.
  • Long-Lost Relative: Hodgins finds he has a brother named Jeffery who lives in a mental hospital in “The Heiress In The Hill”.
  • Lovable Sex Maniac: Angela
  • Lower-Class Lout: One episode explores the "Guido" culture, and Brennan herself said she followed the TV "documentary" on them.

  • 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.
  • Magic Plastic Surgery: Max has it and even his own daughter doesn’t recognize him until he slips up talking about the past in “Judas On a Pole”.
  • 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.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": In the Season 11 Finale, when the team believes that Zach Addy has become a serial killer.
  • A Master Makes Their Own Tools: In season 6 the Big Bad of the Half-Arc Season is an expert sniper who makes his own bullets.
  • 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.
  • Maternity Crisis:
    • Brennan goes into labor while investigating a prison connection to a murder case. And she’s in the prison at the time.
    • Angela goes into labor in the lab during an earlier case.
    • Daisy rounds out the trio, going into labor in the lab in season 10.
  • 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?
    • Was Booth’s friend Teddy a hallucination from Booth’s brain tumor or a ghost?
    • Was Brennan hallucinating like she insisted or really seeing her mom?
    • Is Buddy just Christine’s imaginary friend or is she really having talks with Sweets’ ghost?
  • Meaningful Funeral: Sweet's wake/funeral in the second episode of season 10 will be (according to Word of God) going to be very moving but also rather quirky.
  • Meaningful Gift: In The Man in the Fallout Shelter, the gang are trapped in the Jeffersonian by a Contamination Situation that could keep them in over Christmas. They decide to make the best of it and hold their own Christmas with improvised decorations and presents, but Booth is still annoyed that he didn't get to go Christmas shopping for his son. When they open presents, he finds that Zach has given his the robot he was working on earlier, explaining that, "I thought, if we get out on time, you could give it to your son." He does, and Tyler loves it.
  • Meet the In-Laws:
    • Cam meets Arastoo’s parents in season 9. He’s scared because they’re rather old school and she’s not the kind of woman they imagined him marrying. He gets angry and storms out with Cam when he fears they’re rejecting her but in the end of the episode, they stop in to say they do accept her.
    • Hodgins meeting Angela’s dad counts. He’s rather scary to Hodgins every time he shows up
  • 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.
  • Mind Screw: Hodgins tells Angela to record Sleepy Hollow. It can't be another adaptation, because the real story was never written in-universe, according to Sleepy Hollow's showrunners. And yet later, there's a crossover, Abbie and Ichabod are showing up at the Jeffersonian as real people.
  • Mini-Golf Episode: The episode "The Putter in the Rough" focuses on a murdered "superstar mini-golfer."
  • Misplaced Accent: In-universe; Vaziri fakes a Jordanian accent despite being Iranian.
  • Missing Mom: The one main character parent we never either see or hear anything at all about is Angela’s mom.
  • Mistaken from Behind: An episode has a terrorist with a dioxin bomb about to blow up a peace conference. At one point Booth nabs who he thinks is the guy, but he turns around and it's someone else.
  • Moment Killer: That bloody clown in the season 5 premiere.
  • 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.
  • Moral Myopia: Dr Brennan and the squints have no problem talking down to people they feel are less intelligent than them, correcting people’s mistakes or refusing to dumb themselves down. However they don’t like Oliver Wells because he does the same thing to them. What makes matters worse is that he only started doing this after a one episode Flanderization. During his initial appearance he was incredibly charming and witty and only Dr. Brennan didn't like him.
  • 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.
  • Motor Mouth: Daisy and Karen. Never shutting up was Daisy’s quirk among all the intern quirks and Karen was a Sweets replacement in seasons 11 and 12 who never shut up when she was in a scene.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Angela's husband, finally seen in the season 4 opener. There may even be slashy implications in there, what with two separate male cast members volunteering to take him to the airport.
    • Booth. 'nuff said.
  • 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 Hodgins 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.
  • Murder by Remote Control Vehicle: Pelant tries to use a drone to kill a school full of girls in “The Corpse on the Canopy” but is stopped.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: The second season opens with a new person in charge of the team at the Jeffersonian, A Twofer Token Minority 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?

  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast
    • Subverted with Bones herself.
    • The Gormogon, Arthur Graves and the Master.
    • The Gravedigger.
  • Name-Tron: The Angelatron, which replaced the Angelator after the first few seasons. It’s Angela’s Computer invention that is used for simulations and reconstructions.
  • 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'
  • Neck Snap: Booth kills one of the Delta Force guys this way when they storm the house and attack him and Brennan.
  • Nerdy Nasalness: When agent Booth dresses as a lab tech for Halloween, and purposely starts talking in a nasal voice. Nobody in the lab actually talks like that, he just thought it made him sound less like the aging jock he actually is.
  • Never Suicide: Played straight in several episodes have either Booth not believing it was suicide or Brennan finding some evidence that suggests murder even if suicide would have made sense. This is Inverted in "The Lost in the Found": No one considers suicide, least of all Brennan because she overcame her troubled, lonely childhood while the victim didn't (there's also the fact that the victim numbed herself so she could wrench her non-dominant arm out of its socket and stab herself multiple times with a pair of scissors).
  • New Baby Episode: This show has three birth subplots:
    • "The Change in the Game"-Angela goes into labor and tries to continue helping with the current case while she is giving birth.
    • "The Prisoner in the Pipe"-Brennan helps Booth investigate a murder with a connection inside a prison and goes into labor. She can't get to the hospital and Christine is born in a shed by a hotel as part of a pseudo-Away in a Manger plot
    • "The Puzzler in the Pit"-Daisy gives birth to Sweets's son after his death.
  • Newscaster Cameo: The final episode has David Boreanaz’s weatherman dad Dave Roberts makes a cameo on one of the Hoover building’s TVs where broadcasts of the lab explosion are being shown.
  • 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 Bisexuals: In one episode the Victim of the Week was a gay doctor who at one point in the episode they found out was having an affair with a female co-worker. This plot point was quickly dropped and for the rest of the episode he was treated as 100% gay.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
  • No Doubt the Years Have Changed Me: Brennan took a while to recognize her father when he first reappeared. Justified in that he also had some plastic surgery done to hide his identity, being a wanted felon.
  • 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."
  • 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."
    • Zack's been shown to be extremely blunt to the point of rudeness with people he doesn't know well. 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.
    • Brennan misses nearly every pop-culture reference made in her presence, it is rather unbelievable for a successful writer of fiction novels to be so unfamiliar with it in general. Though there's a reason for the last bit. Brennan plots out the forensic aspect of the novels, then Angela comes over, has a glass of wine, and fills in the interpersonal bits.
  • No Sympathy for Grudgeholders: One sub-arc was about Cam getting her identity stolen. She wound up living on a minimal income and faced the possibility that she'd never repair her credit. When they found the woman who'd done it, she turned out to be an old "friend" of Cam's who was jealous of her life and never shows the slightest hint of remorse. Cam is given the option of adding years to the woman's sentence by proving that the harm was done maliciously (targeting her, rather than just taking a convenient identity). Arastoo (who is dating her at this point) acts as if this would somehow make her the bigger monster and send her down a road of hatred and bitterness. She ultimately decides not to pursue the additional charges.
  • Not Really a Birth Scene: In "The Dude in the Dam", Hodgins is host to a larvae in his neck, which eventually needs to come out... screaming, controlled breathing, and all. Earlier in the episode, Wendell even asked if he needed to boil some water. The whole thing played out like a pregnancy.
  • No Warrant? No Problem!: Sometimes used, where Booth will say "Did you hear that?" to Brennan before breaking down the door. Other times he'll mix it up, telling Brennan "if anyone asks, we found the door open."
  • Non-Idle Rich:
    • Hodgins, as well as Bones, who makes enough from her books to discuss the merits of having a Cayman Islands account.
    • "The Male in the Mail" also features a lottery winner who, despite his fifteen million-dollar windfall, contuse to work as the manager at a shipping an packaging center, saying it gives him purpose.
  • 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 Hodgins 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. It does get more closure in season 12, though.
    • Dr. Nigel-Murray's hedonistic trip during the one-year break using the money he won on Jeopardy!.
    • The reason for Wendell being in juvenile hall for a weekend is never elaborated on.
    • Ken Nakamura states in season 4 that his friendship with Booth is based on mutual respect – that, and "a situation incited by a gallon of sake, a police boat and Uraga Harbor at dawn".
  • "Not So Different" Remark: 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.
  • The Nothing After Death: In the crossover episode with Sleepy Hollow the victim promised her religious boyfriend he would see the afterlife like she did when she had her heart stopped; he saw nothing which broke his faith and her artery after he freaked out and beat her to death with a skull. More generally, in the same episode, Cam and Bones assert that they don't believe in the afterlife.
  • Not That Kind of Doctor: Dr. Temperance 'Bones' Brennan is an anthropologist, and she is quick to correct anyone who refers to her as anything but Dr. Brennan. In one episode, when Brennan is introduced as Doctor Brennan to a physician, he immediately asks "M.D.?", to which she replies "Ph.D". The physician then makes a snide remark about academics, which is rather galling considering an academic doctorate is often harder, and almost always requires more time to obtain than a medical one.
  • Not That Kind of Partner: Often but not always averted - everyone seems to think Booth and Brennan are a couple but they always say "we're not a couple, [he/she]'s my partner," and the corretee almost always knows what they mean.
  • Nude Nature Dance: In "The Witch in the Wardrobe", 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. Scenery Censor and Toplessness from the Back shots are used to hide the actual naughty bits.

  • 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. He seems like a fairly harmless old guy and few people know just how dangerous he can be when his family is threatened, and most aren’t aware of his criminal past.
  • 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?
    • At least four in the crossover with Sleepy Hollow: in addition to Booth/Bones and Angela/Hogins there's the goth victim and her religious boyfriend; Bones encourages Ichabod Crane to take his relationship with his partner to the next level because it had such a positive effect for her and Booth.
  • Odd Friendship: Angela and Brennan have opposite views on most things, yet are great friends.
  • Official Couple Ordeal Syndrome:
    • Booth and Brennan, full stop, between Pelant, the conspiracy that sent Booth to prison, Booth’s gambling relapse, the arc with Jared dying and Booth going missing, and Kovac hunting Booth.
    • Jack and Angela to a lesser extent. A lot of roadblocks to marriage in the early seasons, followed by the struggle with whether their child will be blind, Pelant taking Hodgins’ money, and Hodgins becoming paralyzed.
  • 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.
  • Off the Wagon: Booth's gambling addiction is triggered by very bad experiences. Ironically what causes him to apparently fall off the wagon wasn't the recent horrible experiences of having his house destroyed, getting shot, forcing Bones and Christine to go into hiding, having Sweets die in his arms, and spending months in prison but the happy news that he's going to be a father again (very happy experiences can be triggers too). Sadly everyone thinks he's fine (they all saw him turn down a big bet to arrest a suspect on camera).
  • 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 Seeley Booth.
    Broadsky: Beat [runs]
    • The killer in “The Pathos In The Pathogens” when Brennan jabs him with a syringe she says is full of distilled virus.
  • Old, New, Borrowed and Blue: Angela gives Brennan a hair pin that counts as Old, Borrowed and Blue.
  • 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.
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten:
    • Agent Booth once, in a moment of personal stress, drew his weapon and fired two rounds into a robotic clown-head atop an ice cream truck. Several seasons later, after he'd completed counseling, got reinstated and received commendations for his work, it still gets brought up by folks from other government agencies when they want an excuse not to trust him with sensitive documents.
    • Bones shooting an unarmed man. He was trying to set her on fire.
  • One of Our Own:
    • Hodgins was a murder suspect three times over the years.
    • Brennan when she was framed by Pelant for murder.
    • Booth was framed and spent 3 months in prison.
    • Zack and his aiding of Gormogon.
    • Cam was accused of fraud before she proved it was identity theft.
  • Only Sane Employee:
    • It's FBI Agent Seely Booth's job to work with the No Social Skills "squints." Angela often served as the Only Sane Man of the crew who could reliably communicate with Booth. Later, Cam is hired to oversee them all and take the role from Angela, who then apparently felt free to act more quirky.
    • Clark Edison, one of the interns, also falls into this category. He prefers a professional environment, often expressing annoyance when the topic of conversation switches from investigation to the episode's side-plot. Which makes it all the funnier on the rare occasion that he joins in, and the others think that his reaction is 'too much'.
  • 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.
  • 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
    • And "The Death of the Queen Bee" is mostly Shout Outs to horror movies, complete with Scare Chords every few minutes.
  • Out Sick:
    • A variation when Hodgins can't investigate with them because a wheel on his wheelchair fell off during sex.
    • In one episode, Booth is sidelined because his back is injured.
  • 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.
  • Over-the-Top Christmas Decorations: The victim of "The Santa in the Slush" is a Santa who lived the part 24/7, including having decorations all over his apartment. For a brief moment they consider the possibility that the guy really was Santa.

  • Panicky Expectant Father: Hodgins spends most of “The Change In The Game” going “is it time?” in a panicky voice every time Angela comes to talk to him in the lab. When Angela’s water actually breaks, he’s slow to get that it happened and starts off calmly. But as soon as Angela yells at him to get the car, he runs off yelling “where the hell are my keys??”
  • 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. He is Billy Gibbons after all.
    • 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. There was also that episode that riffed on The Blair Witch Project.
  • Parental Abandonment:
    • Brennan's parents disappeared when she was fifteen.
    • Aubrey’s dad left him and his mom when he was a teenager.
    • Booth’s mom left home to get away from his abusive dad and didn’t take the kids with her, leaving Booth very resentful over the years.
  • 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.
  • Passing the Torch: The Season 10 finale had Booth and Brennan leaving Washington DC for the much safer environments of Kansas and Bones anointing Daisy, Edison, and Wendell (and possibly Arastoo) as her successors at the Jeffersonian.
  • 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.
  • Performer Guise: Booth & Brennan go undercover at a circus as a knife-throwing act — Booth learned knife throwing in the Rangers, Brennan is his Lovely Assistant.
  • Person as Verb: Wendell tells Hodgins “I’m about to Brennanize you” before launching into science talk in “The Change In The Game”.
  • Physical Therapy Plot: Hodgins references his physical therapy being challenging after he's paralyzed. He doesn't walk again, but the workouts to build his upper body strength enable him to hang onto a ledge long enough to be pulled up when he starts to fall after his rope malfunctions. He also begins to have muscle spasms in his legs, though he later loses all feeling in his legs.
  • Playful Hacker: 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.
    • Intern Oliver Wells is also said to be a polymath and it’s the only reason they put up with him being such a Jerkass.
  • Poorly-Disguised Pilot: "The Finder" for The Finder. It was the launch pad for the attempted spinoff before its own pilot aired and Booth and Brennan were barely in it at all.
  • Post-Coital Collapse: In "The Maggots in the Meathead", we cut to Booth and Hannah collapsing on the bed right after finishing having sex, with both panting loudly and each wrapped up in their own Modesty Bedsheet.
  • The Power of Lust: "The Dwarf in the Dirt" has Agent Booth facing his marksmanship test. He is advised to bring Dr. Brennan along as he won't miss his shots with her by his side. He does bring her, and he doesn't miss.
  • 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!
    • When Angela goes into labor:
    Hodgins: Where the hell are my KEYS??
  • Preclimax Climax: The circumstances of Booth and Bones finally hooking up. Booth was planning on finally confronting Broadsky the next day.
  • Pregnancy Scare: Cam panics when she finds a positive pregnancy test in the lab's bathroom, thinking that maybe her teenage daughter had used it. She interrogates Brennan—not guilty—and realizes that it was Angela's. Who got a false positive, naturally.
  • Pregnancy Test Plot: As said above, Cam finds a positive test in the lab bathroom and thinks it’s her daughter Michelle’s. It’s actually Angela’s false positive.
  • Pregnant Badass: Brennan. She still stands up for herself and even goes into a prison riot while pregnant.
  • Previously Overlooked Paramour: Booth and Brennan. Brennan in particular would deny that she should be with Booth every time it came up in the first few seasons. And both spent the early part of the show feeling they were too different to be compatible. Booth had a girlfriend for part of season 6 and Brennan eventually broke down fearing she’d missed her chance. Fortunately they did end up together later in the same season.
  • Prison Episode: a couple.
    • Pregnant Brennan goes into a prison riot in one season 7 episode
    • The season 10 premiere has Booth in prison after a Frame-Up until Brennan resorts to blackmail to free him.
  • 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.
    • "The Promise in the Palace" had a scene which shoehorned in dialogue which would have felt forced in an actual car advert.
    Booth: I think that we can agree that I’m the driver in this family.
    Brennan: Usually, yes, but this car is too technologically advanced for you.
    Booth: Bones, I know how to fly a helicopter, all right? And besides, this car is as user-friendly as it gets.
    Brennan: I have to admit it is easy to drive and when the car’s not moving Christine enjoys playing with the reclining rear seats.
  • Professionals Do It on Desks: Sweets And Daisy liked to do this.
    Sweets: We have to stop having sex on my desk.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Tamara Taylor (Cam Saroyan) in season 2, John Francis Daley (Lance Sweets) in season 3, and John Boyd (James Aubrey) in season 10 in the episode after Sweets' death.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Dr. Temperance "Bones" Brennan has been flanderized into this in later episodes. Where before the characters would call her out when her Jerkass tendencies crossed the line, then they would make excuses for her, now they are telling people they should be honored to be insulted by her. It has reached the point where you can tell the villain or at the very least antagonist of the episode by who she insults.
    • She told one intern she would have no problem with his death while they were pantomiming a car crash, and in a later episode, committed an international crime by smuggling medicine into Cuba for that same intern, acting like nothing she did was wrong at all. To be clear, she stole a box full of medicines and the cash bribes for the Cuban customs officials from her superior's office, gave them to a CIA contact of her FBI agent husband, and thinks she won't suffer any consequences. By law, EVERY case she's ever handled, both at home and abroad, can be called into question now, but nothing will happen because she's the main character.
  • Pulled from Your Day Off
    • In "The Boneless Bride in the River" 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:
    • Agent Payton Perotta, who shows up for three consecutive Season 4 episodes before disappearing.
    • Brennan's brother, Russ, is a recurring character in the first three seasons, but disappears completely after that, only being mentioned once or twice within the next couple of seasons. He didn't even show up to his sister's wedding to Booth, despite being on good terms with her!
    • Likewise, Booth's brother Jared, who was introduced in Season 4, was recurring in Seasons 4 and 5, and then never showed up again after that. He also didn't show up to the wedding. He finally showed up in the Season 11 premiere as the Victim of the Week.
    • Andrew Hacker, who was recurring in Season 5. He was on the phone with Booth (off-screen) once in Season 6, but other than that, hasn't been mentioned again.
    • At first it seemed Angela and Hodgins were going to move to Paris but they changed their minds. On the other hand a "last minute" decision in the season finale has Booth and Bones moving to Kansas.
  • Putting the Band Back Together: The whole purpose of the sixth season opener: Brennan and Daisy went to the Maluku 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.
    • Also the season 11 opener, after Booth and Brennan retire and Jack and Angela try again to move.
  • Quiet Cry for Help: Cam thinks an email from Arastoo might be this (paraphrasing: "'I'd like a shower and fresh clothes' means he's been thrown in jail!"); Edison, who's also Arastoo's friend, assures her that's unlikely and because he (Edison) is a Bad Liar he's not hiding anything or pretending so she won't worry. Then again Arastoo's emailing her from Iran and a future episode description says he was kidnapped but not when. Subverted — Arastoo was fine until he was kidnapped which was some time after he emailed Cam, plus he was on the phone with her as it happened.
  • Quintessential British Gentleman: The Duke's family in the fourth season opener. Quite posh.

  • 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 first half of the 7th season. It also meant she and Booth started living together and enter a committed relationship.
    • 10th Season: Carla Gallo was pregnant in real life and John Francis Daley was getting ready to write and direct his own projects, so it seemed like a good time to give Daisy a baby and kill off Sweets. Emily Deschanel's second pregnancy was also written into the season.
    • David Boreanaz had some medical issues during the summer of 2015, and had to take a few weeks off of filming the show. As a response to this, the showrunners wrote the two-part Season 11 premiere, in which Booth goes missing. Boreanaz recovered and returned to shoot the scenes he missed later.
    • Zack had to be written out of the show because Eric Milligan was struggling with his mental health at the time. It was also partly due to budget issues.
  • Recovered Addict: Seeley Booth is a recovered gambling addict. It rarely comes up except when their investigations take them to a casino or similar place. At least until season 10, when it’s a major plot point.
  • Red Right Hand: Pelant becomes Two-Faced after surviving a bullet from Booth.
  • Rejected Marriage Proposal:
    • Rebecca rejected Booth in his backstory, after she became pregnant with Parker
    • Angela rejects Jack a few times before finally saying yes in season 2.
    • Booth is forced to reject Brennan's propsal by Pelant, and can't even explain things to her until Pelant is dead.
    • Hannah rejected Booth in season 6, and many fans were happy to see her go.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Bones and Booth in season 7. Sweets and Daisy at the beginning of season 10, and then he died. Jack and Angela in season 6. Cam and Arastoo get one, then they break up, then they get back together and marry.
    • Relationship Revolving Door: Sweets and Daisy, who can’t stay apart after either break up. They break up and reunite twice before he dies.
  • Remember the New 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.
  • Replaced with Replica: Part of the plot of "The Man With The Bone" involves bones being stolen from the lab and replaced with fake ones. Naturally, Brennan isn't fooled.
  • Required Spinoff Crossover: Sweets and Hodgins both appeared in episodes of The Finder
  • Retired Badass: Max. He doesn’t work much after leaving his temporary gig at the Jeffersonian but he still managed to kill several attackers with his bare hands to save his grandkids.
  • Revenge: Zigzagged in the final season Booth killed a war criminal decades ago and now his grown son (and daughter, as it turns out) want revenge so they torture Booth's old squadmates for fun and information. Brennan supports going after the killers to avenge Booth's friends, then the killers go after Booth's family, killing Brennan's father in the process and now it's Booth and Brennan who are out for revenge.
    • Booth wants it in season 10 after he’s framed and Sweets is killed. He breaks out a sniper rifle and Brennan has to talk him into solving the case the lawful way.
  • Revenge by Proxy: Kovac wanted to get revenge for Booth killing his father during his sniper days by killing Booth’s family.
  • Revenge Is Not Justice: When the woman who stole Cam's identity was caught, she had to decide whether to press additional charges. Arastoo gave her a speech about revenge possibly making her a monster and she ultimately didn?t approve the additional charges.
  • 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 on 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
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Kovac’s attack on the safe house in retaliation for Booth killing his father during his sniper career.
  • Rock–Paper–Scissors: Zack and Hodgins play to determine who has to deal with a bag of unsavory evidence.
  • Rogue Juror: Subverted in "The Fury in the Jury" where Brennan's the rogue: she convinces the rest of the jury the defendant has not been conclusively proven guilty by the prosecutions case, 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. She was close to leaving with him
    • Hannah for Booth. He even proposed and was turned down.
    • Angela has had a few: her ex-husband, an ex-girlfriend who wound up back in her life because of a case, and Wendell, before she got back with and married Hodgins.
  • 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 
    • As are their other undercover personas, Tony and Roxie.
    • Booth threatening to shoot someone when that person annoys him. And Caroline actually encouraging him to shoot people on multiple occasions.
    • In "The Nazi in the Honeymoon", people (nearly) immediately recognize Booth as the real Agent Andy from Bones' books.
    • Hodgins walking in on people kissing, flirting, or having otherwise personal relationship moments, and clearly enjoying the interruption.
    • Aubrey constantly eating as well as asking other people for their food.
    • Season 3 has one with Booth not saying Gormogon right. He’d either get it wrong or say something else, such as the times he said “Gorgonzola”.
    • The other interns saying Arastoo wasn’t really invited to Booth and Brennan’s wedding and that he’s really a plus one due to dating Cam in “The Woman in White”.
    • Jack wanting to be King of The Lab. He competed with Zack for it early on, and it occasionally came up even after Zack left. Arastoo said Jack also called himself King of the Parking Lot, King of the Break room and King of Egypt (referring to his trysts with Angela in Cleopatra’s bed.) in the finale, he is officially King of the Lab while Cam is on sabbatical.
    • Jack and Angela sneaking off for sex in Cleopatra’s bed.
    • People frequently get covered in evidence, usually disgusted by it. Especially Booth.
    • Booth and Brennan going to talk to a victim's friends or family, and Brennan tactlessly blurting out that someone close to them is dead, usually with Booth's eyerolling comment to the effect that that lost them a tactical advantage. (If someone already knew, they would not be able to slip up and reveal it now; on the other hand, he gets a good look at their reactions.)

  • 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.
  • Scenery Censor: In “The Finder”, Walter talks to Brennan while on the toilet with his boxers down. The only reason we don’t see his naughty bits is a strategically placed sink between him and the camera.
  • Science Cocktail: Hodgins mixes the drinks at Cam’s wedding reception in beakers. There’s even something that explodes, resulting in him waving at the smoke and saying “my bad...”
  • The Schizophrenia Conspiracy: Hodgins’ brother Jeffrey has a schizoaffective disorder that makes him paranoid.
  • 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: Lots of yelling in all three main character birth scenes.
    • Angela in "The Change in the Game".
    • Brennan has Booth stop at a hotel because she can’t make it to the hospital and she yells that she’ll give birth on the lawn if they can’t find her a space.
    • Daisy after being taken in by a New Age guru after Sweets' death. After putting up with the candles and crystals she declares she wants science and medicine STAT!
    • Hodgins plays with it screaming a lot when his botfly emerges from his neck
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Angela finds Hodgins' missing money — all four billion of it — and Hodgins doesn't want it back because it's been tainted by Pelant, not to mention the hacker who originally found it was murdered over it and displayed Pelant-style so who knows who else could be after it. He tells Angela to give it to "a hundred charities" instead.
  • Season Finale: Let's just say the writers and producers really like making big/special finales, often with a Cliffhanger.
    • Season 1: Brennan finds her mother's remains and receives a message from her long-missing dad.
    • Season 2: Angela and Hodgins leave Booth and Brennan at the altar.
    • Season 3: Zack Addy is revealed to be the Gormogon's apprentice.
    • Seasons 4, 5 & 6: See Dénouement Episode above.
    • Season 7: Brennan goes on the run after Pelant frames her for murder.
    • Season 8: Pelant forces Booth to reject Brennan's marriage proposal.
    • Season 9: Booth is shot by three corrupt Delta Force agents, and is arrested for their killing.
    • Season 10: Booth and Brennan decide to leave their jobs, but not before investigating a possible Pelant copycat. Also see Series Fauxnale below.
    • Season 11: Zack Addy returns while the team investigates the mysterious Puppeteer killer.
  • Secret-Keeper: In Murder In the Middle East the victims cousin, a local cop, seems a bit too brusque and secretive while cooperating with Booth. While he turns out to be innocent of the murder, it turns out that he was aware that his cousin was a political activist who violated Islamic Law (something he'd let him get away with either out of family loyalty or due to secretly sharing his views) and has been trying to keep his more conservative uncle from finding this out.
  • Secret Relationship: Cam and Arastoo for a while. We don’t know when they became a couple, but probably late season 7 or early season 8. Cam is very private and doesn’t want anyone to know while wanting to tell all at the same time. Hodgins finds out accidentally and then Angela when she and Jack see them kiss. They keep it a secret from anyone else for a few episodes longer.
  • 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.
    • What Angela’s dad tells Hodgins after they break in to steal back Angela’s dad’s car. He was testing Hodgins to see if he was worthy of marrying Angela.
  • 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.
  • Self-Made Man: Franklin Curtis, a.k.a. the victim of the episode "The Secret In The Soil", started a chain of organic products supermarkets.
  • Self-Parody - "Bone of Contention" is a movie based on Brennan’s book that also serves as the show parodying itself..
  • Self-Surgery: Christopher Pelant is shown sewing up his own face after Booth shoots him. Crosses with No One Should Survive That!.
  • Serial-Killer Killer: The sniper Jacob Broadsky who goes after evildoers such as embezzlers and The Gravedigger. Booth loathes being compared to him, which Bones does constantly. Broadsky's claims and beliefs are undermined by the fact that he often kills innocent people because they were in some sense impeding his own efforts.
  • Series Fauxnale: The Season 10 finale was written as a possible series ender. The show was still on the bubble at the time of its writing, so the producers made the episode in a way that it could be a finale, while also not making it too hard to come back from if they got renewed at the last minute (which they did).
  • "Sesame Street" Cred: In-Universe example with Bones. She was on the Bunsen Jude kids’ science show.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Brennan and Zack both use big words all the time.
  • Sex Equals Death: The three part arc of the season 9 finale and first two season 10 episodes opens with Sweets and Daisy having sex after things were kind of cool between them for a while. Guess what happens to Sweets in part two of the arc? Yup, dead.
  • Sex for Solace: Booth and Brennan's first time together is the night a colleague is murdered. Brennan's staying in Booth's apartment for safety's sake, and during the night, overcome with grief, Brennan comes to Booth's bed. He puts his arms around her as she cries, and you can guess the rest.
  • Sex God:
    • Brennan boasts about being very good in bed several times (mostly to Booth) and we get enough glimpses at her love life and the casual way she talks about sex, it's clear she's not just boasting.
    • Angela is also portrayed as a Sex Goddess. Almost every episode has a moment where her sexual expertise comes up in a conversation. She even gives the rest of the team sexual advice and once boasted to Zack to "reap the benefits of my sexual wisdom".
    • Ian Wexler from "Yanks in the U.K." is a womanizer that Really Gets Around and is famous around campus due to be extremely good in bed. Appropriately, he's supposed to be a British Distaff Counterpart of Brennan, and had a similar UST relationship with Booth's British Distaff Counterpart, Inspector Cate Pritchard, who also compliments his sexual prowess.
    Pritchard: See, I rather saw it as climbing Everest. Of course, it's been done before but the experience is still breathtaking.
  • Sex Is Interesting: Angela, though it is consistent with the character's general portrayal, especially with her relationship with Roxy and her later decision to be temporarily celibate are introduced. She's able to avoid many of the pitfalls of this trope because she's an Ethical Slut who embraces an alternative lifestyle as opposed to just being into sex for the heck of it.
  • 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. He also had sex with Cam a few times after her arrival and having dated her before.
    • Angela and Hodgins after their post-season 2 breakup.
    • Sweets and Daisy couldn’t stay away from each other even when they weren’t dating. The first time led to them getting back together and she got pregnant from this during the second breakup. They married just before his tragic death.
  • Sexy Surfacing Shot:
    • In "The Pain in the Heart", Booth is taking a relaxing soak in a bathtub after faking his death when Brennan suddenly busts in on him and is upset because she didn't know he was faking his death. During the ensuing argument he stands up, not noticing he's fully exposing himself to her. When she points it out, he slowly sinks back in the bathtub in shame.
    Brennan: Just so you know, I find your lack of puritan modesty very refreshing.
    • In "The Jewel in the Crown", Aubrey arrives to question a suspect only to find her swimming at a pool, and she exits with by slowly climbing out of the water with plenty of Male Gaze.
  • "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 found in a high-powered washing machine in "The Rocker in the Rinse Cycle", there's a Running Gag about the men in the lab feeling the deceased man's pain. Especially Booth.
  • Sherlock Can Read: In one episode, Hodgins identifies the clothes a victim was wearing as having come from a church thrift store. Cam and Zack are dumbfounded that he is able to do that until he rips out a label from the clothing and shows it to them.
  • Shipper on Deck:
    • Almost everyone in the cast eventually becomes one for Brennan & Booth:
      • Angela has been on that ship from the Pilot, though most of the time, she is fairly subtle about it.
      • Sweets, on the other hand, is not subtle. He often becomes frustrated in their sessions over their thick-headedness, and has on more than one occasion yelled at them to just admit their mutual love and get together. He even ends up being the one who prompts Booth (with more exasperated yelling) into admitting his feelings to Bones. Sweets even has written a peer-reviewed paper on the subject.
      • Cam, and Clark seemed to have joined in on the Booth/Brennan shipping in season six.
      • 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 said a few times that he thought they should be together.
    • Angela also said that Abbie and Ichabod should totally get romantic with each other during 'The Resurrection in the Remains', the Sleepy Hollow Crossover.
  • 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
    • A post-sex scene provides the audience with nice shots of Booth's abs and rear when he's in his underwear before he (unfortunately) dresses himself.
    • 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. By the time she's done Booth is being wheeled around on a cart. Also serves as a setup for Not What It Looks Like.
    Angela: Uh, are we doing experiments on Booth? Because if so I’d like to help.
    Booth: Make fun of the naked guy. Knock yourself out.
    • In "The Man in the Fallout Shelter", Hodgins had to hit the showers after a biological accident and for about half the episode appeared in a Modesty 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.
    • Sweets in "Mayhem On a Cross". Mostly because his shirt is needed to stop someone’s bleeding. It turns out to give him some new depth as Booth and Brennan see the scars on his back. Oddly, said scars are missing when he gets caught in the bathtub while staying with Booth and Brennan in his second shirtless scene in season 8.
  • Shoot Out the Lock: Booth did this a few times. One ricocheted and hit him in the leg unexpectedly. Eventually, the lab's doors were outfitted with bulletproof locks.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The idiosyncratic episode naming is in the style of the titles of Agatha Christie novels (i.e. "The X in the Y").
    • 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).
    • In "The New Tricks in the Old Dogs", Jack Hodgins describes his maternal Grandfather as the most selfish billionaire after Montgomery Burns
    • “The Gamer in the Grease” has Sweets waiting with a couple of interns for movie tickets. A comment is made “We’re up against Freaks and Geeks. John Francis Daley was a regular on "Freaks and Geeks" before playing Sweets here.
  • 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!
    • Pelant had one last message about how he planned far enough ahead to transcend death but Bones shuts it off — he's dead, they're alive, end of (his) story.
  • Sibling Team: The final Big Bads turn out to be the children of a war criminal who Booth assassinated who were posing as husband and wife. The "wife" would have gotten away with it if she hadn't molded explosives with her bare hands.
  • Sickeningly Sweethearts:
    • Sweets and Daisy quite often. She calls him Lancelot and there are a few instances of sappy talking between them. Cam once says she thinks she’s going to yak.
    • She also threatens Hodgins and Angela with a bucket of cold water in another episode. They did get kissy in several early episodes and had the Running Gag with Cleopatra’s bed but matured a little as time wore on.
  • Sleep Cute: Bones and Booth, cuddling in bed, have made it to the opening credits as of the seventh season.
  • Sleeping with the Boss: Arastoo is still an intern when he starts dating Cam in season 8. By the time they marry, he’s got his doctorate and they worry less about being called out for it.
  • Sleuth Dates Cop: Booth and Bones have this dynamic with the latter as The Protagonist sleuth. She is his partner on cases that require her expertise. They had Unresolved Sexual Tension for a long time but they eventually resolve it.
  • Sliding Scale of Continuity: Somewhere between Level 3 and 4. The majority of episodes feature crimes and subplots that are concluded within the same episode, but there are occasional serialized episodes that share the same storyline. There are also many episodes that have a stand-alone crime, but the "B-story" is a continuation of an already-started subplot (like Booth's gambling relapse in Season 10). Also, there's a day-night difference between a Season 1-3 episode and a Season 7-9 episode, as the show has changed the status quo several times over the years, and callbacks are more frequent later on.
  • Sliding Scale of Plot Versus Characters: While the show usually balances crime solving and character development quite well, there are some episodes with a bigger focus on the story (basically any serial killer episode), and some episodes more about the characters' interactions (like the wedding in Season 9 and the finale).
  • Sliding Scale of Silliness vs. Seriousness: The show has always balanced humor and drama, though around Season 4, non-serialized episodes began becoming Denser and Wackier.
  • Slipping into Stink: In one episode, Booth slips, falls down a hill, and lands against the decomposing severed human head that was missing from the crime scene they were at.
  • Slow Light: When Zack shows Booth & Brennan a mirror setup that the Gormagon used to watch the vault, he set off a laser beam that worked its way very slowly around the room.
  • 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.
  • Smart People Play Chess: Sweets has two doctorates and is a whiz at the game.
  • Sniper Duel: The second half of Season 6 is essentially a 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, a Container Maze 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 allows Booth to do the exact same thing to his other hand before he can change cover, taking Broadsky alive.
  • Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome: Christine Brennan seems to gain a couple of years between seasons 9 and 10. The crew was having difficulty with the toddler twins playing her before and wanted to cast a slightly older child who was easier to work with. Sunnie Pelant was at least 4 or 5 when she debuted as Christine in the season 10 premiere.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: Daisy gives birth to Sweets’ son a couple of months after Sweets’ death.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: The only way Sweets knows how to talk.
  • Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace: Done at Jack and Angela’s first wedding. As it turns out, Angela was already married.
    • Booth and Brennan’s wedding plays with it. Aldo starts the line, then replaces the “speak now” part with “keep it to yourself.”
  • 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.
    • Betty White appeared in Season 11 as an experienced forensic anthropologist, and returned for episode 10 of season 12.
  • The Spock: Brennan, who also sometimes is a Straw Vulcan as well. In addition, Zack. They’re both hyper rational people.
  • Spock Speak: Brennan, almost to the point of Cringe Comedy. They both tend to say things with big, long scientific words all the time.
  • 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: Birimbau kept track of Angela over the years because he hoped she’d come back to him.
  • 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; Booth pays him $50 to "stalk" one of their suspects and get more information. He proves to be frighteningly good at it.
  • Stamp of Rejection: One early episode begins with Bones requesting to be issued a sidearm. Booth sits down and patiently walks her through the process and then stamps it with "Denied" right then and there.
  • 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.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Both Brennan and Angela are tall Head Turning Beauties. Brennan stands at 5'8"/173 cm while Angela is 5'9"/175 cm. Very noticeable when Angela stands next to Hodgins, her husband who's shorter than her.
  • Status Quo Is God: A form of it with the Sleepy Hollow crossover. It was written in a way that the Bones characters could go to Sleepy Hollow and manage not to see a bunch of things that would change everything they ever believed and permanently alter them and the show as a whole. Brennan wondered why Crane's writing matched a document hundreds of years old, but seemed to accept his explanation of inherited handwriting similarities. Over on the Sleepy Hollow half of the crossover, they didn't see all the supernatural stuff happening (like Pandora raising a dead body) and came back to Bones pretty much unchanged.
  • 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. Could also be a nod to comedian Peter Cook, whom Stephen Fry had worked with several times and was good friends with.
  • 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:
  • 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. Changes over the course of the show since they do get married.
  • 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.
    • Clark's attempt at mystery writing in "The Carrot in the Kudzu". We only hear a little of it, such as a hilariously redundant description of a dead body and an accidental rephrasing of the line "Old MacDonald had a farm", but Hodgins, Angela and Camille all say it's terrible. Shockingly, he manages to get it published.
    • Cam's student film where she starred as a vampire.
  • Sub-Par Supremacist: In "The Purging of the Pundit," the Victim of the Week is a right-wing radio presenter. As a shouty, money-grubbing hypocrite he's a solid example himself, as is his producer. But they're only in it for the money, while one of the suspects is a true believer: a white supremacist with a history of assaulting minorities who was building a fertiliser bomb when Booth arrested him. He's also a high-school dropout who seems to think that saying "I do not recognise your authority!" means he can't be arrested.
  • Swiss-Cheese Security: Security at the Jeffersonian varies up and down as needed by the plot. Sometimes it's incredibly difficult to get anything in or out. Other times random people show up in high security areas with no warning.
  • Synthetic Plague: The modified virus that killed the victim and infected Arastoo in “The Pathos in The Pathogen”.

  • 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: Well. Corn syrup and paper feathers. Booth and Brennan get it from a group of protestors outside a chicken processing plant in “The Tough Man in the Tender Chicken”.
  • Tarot Troubles: With Special Guest Cyndi Lauper as the fortuneteller.
  • A Taste of the Lash: Poor Sweets as a kid, by his own foster parents. He still has scars from it on his back.
  • 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 had a relationship with her teacher in college. He defended it by saying she was a very advanced student. Zack seemed rather interested in the idea, commenting "I'm an advanced student" rather indignantly.
    • Brennan while wondering about why the victim was into younger men casually asked her intern whether he would date a woman much older than him. The intern reacted with shock and thought she was flirting with him.
    • University teacher Ian Wexler from "Yanks in the U.K." is The Casanova and is said to have slept around with several of the female students.
  • 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.
  • 10-Minute Retirement: Booth and Brennan return for season 11 and take back their old jobs, though not without a lot of trauma: Booth's brother dies, Booth is severely injured, and Brennan is horrified to discover that under Aristoo's leadership the Jeffersonian's unsolved cases have piled up.
  • Thanatos Gambit: Pelant may have had one but Bones doesn't care. He knew about the Ghost Killer and may have tried to use his death to get the team trying to stop her.
  • 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!
    Booth: ... underwater?
    • The conversation about how Bones' gun is bigger than Booth's.
    • In another episode, Dr. Gordon Gordon Wyatt announces his plans to retire from psychiatry and become a chef:
      "So now I'll be putting good things into people instead of taking bad things out, which I admit sounds dreadfully Freudian, but Sigmund's been largely discredited anyway, so to hell with him."
    • Sweets tells Booth’s trainee that “I don’t measure my manhood the same way you do” then says this, mostly because said trainee is female.
  • Therapy Is for the Weak: Definitely. They resist Sweets' much-needed therapy sessions for over a season. Even later, 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 in season 5, after their first attempt was called off and they broke up for a time.
    • Later, Bones and Booth in season 9. Angela's thrilled.
    • Sweets and Daisy, sadly it was right before his death
    • Cam and Arastoo married in the series finale.
  • 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."
  • Toilet Horror: In one episode, the Victim of the Week turns up when a kid who seems to be in the middle of potty training goes into the bathroom and gets terrified by blood and body parts coming up from the toilet. The team, of course, has to figure out where they came from and find the rest of the body.
  • Too Stupid To Live: Several characters early on in the series, have been targeted by serial killers. After being told that they are in danger, they refuse police protection. (The first who is the serial killer's wife, who was in denial that he would kill her. The second was just stubborn) They don't survive the episodes.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Hodgins in season 11 after he’s left wheelchair-bound by an explosion. He did get better after a while.
  • Torture Always Works: A horrifying example in "The Scare in the Score": someone who's after Booth, but doesn't actually know his name, captures one of the men in his old army unit, but after having failed to extract info from another of Booth's comrades (see below), they also abduct an innocent old lady and torture her in front of Booth's friend until he breaks and gives up his name. ...And then, they kill the old lady and move on to torture Booth's friend For the Evulz for one week.
  • Torture Is Ineffective:
    • One Body of the Week is a Salary Man paper-pusher at the CIA who investigates a diamond smuggling operation on his own after his superiors didn't think there was anything to it. He is killed by torture but never gives up the info they were after. CIA agents point out that even most well-trained field agents would crack under what he was subjected to. After the crime is solved, he is given a star on the CIA "Killed in Action" wall even though his position didn't qualify for that honor.
    • In season 12, Aldo Clemens was tortured by someone tied to one of Booth's sniper kills using the barbaric technique of making rats burrow into his chest while alive. However, he didn't give up Booth's name and sacrificed himself by breaking his own neck instead.
  • 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".
    • Hodgins gets one when he tries using an internet translator on Arastoo’s Farsi poetry.
  • Trapped in Villainy: In "The Goop on the Girl" 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.
  • Trash the Set:
    • Booth and Brennan's house gets destroyed in the ninth season finale.
    • The Jeffersonian lab is blown up in the final two episodes.
  • Trash Talk: Oliver and Hodgins during their video game duel in “The head in the Abutment”. They make science based insults of each other’s face.
  • Traveling at the Speed of Plot:
    • Bones and Booth managed to reach Sweets's murder scene before the paramedics, when they were nowhere near it. This is in part because Writers Don't Know Geography.
    • Booth and Cam somehow flew from Washington, D.C. to Tehran, Iran so fast, that Arastoo was just starting with the autopsy of the Iranian victim.
  • True Companions: The Jeffersonian-FBI gang. A certain quote that's said multiple times sums it up best:
    There's more than one kind of family.
    • The true companionship kicked in even more in Seasons 4-5, after Goodman and Zack left and Sweets became a fully integrated team member. And it isn't just restricted to the main cast. Many of the rotating interns (more prominently Wendell, Clark, Daisy, and Arastoo) along with Caroline Julian also fit this. By the later seasons, it's clear that all these people would do anything for each other, and don't dare mess with one of them, or the others will find you. The gang is also open to welcoming newer additions such as Aubrey, Rodolfo and Jessica.
    • The Bones set had the reputation of being one of the happiest and most friendly sets in town. Pretty much everyone got along really well, from the actors for the regular and recurring characters, to the writers, producers and directors.
  • Tuckerization: A really strange example. The work of Real Life forensic antropologist and author Kathy Reichs and her Temperance Brennan novels inspired the show, in which the main character, Temperance Brennan, is both a forensic anthropologist and an author that writes novels about the adventures of a fictional forensic anthropologist named Kathy Reichs.
  • Tuck and Cover: Aubrey throws himself on Hodgins when a bomb hidden in a body explodes in “The Doom in the Boom”.
  • 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.
  • TV Genius: Brennan,Zack,Wells.
  • 21-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. She dated two guys at once, because one was good at sex and one at conversation. It blew up in her face when they both showed up at the lab at once.
  • Twofer Token Minority: Arastoo (Iranian Muslim). Angela too as a biracial (half Chinese, half White) bisexual woman.

  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: Brennan and her cousin, who was played by Emily Deschanel’s sister Zooey.
  • Undercover as Lovers
    • In one episode Booth and Brennan go undercover as married circus performers.
    • Booth and Brennan go to Las Vegas and pose as a "loosely committed" couple. (Read: Brennan nixed the idea of marriage because she doesn't believe in it — even when it's supposed to be fake for the investigation.)
    • Season 5 has an episode where they go semi-undercover to Bones' high school reunion, with Booth posing as her husband. Made a thousand times more awkward by the fact that this came right after the episode where he confessed his love for her and she said she didn't want to start a relationship.
    • Done a fourth time in the season 6 finale, with a twist: at the end of the episode, Brennan reveals that she's carrying Booth's baby (the previous episode had implied that they'd slept together), and they actually do become a couple thereafter.
    • In season 11, Booth and Brennan went undercover again as demolition derby drivers who were lovers.
    • One episode has Angela and Sweets going undercover as a couple to nab possible murder weapons.
  • The Unfair Sex/Double Standard: While the show is feminist and portrays a wide range of strong female and male characters, it will occasionally veer into this category generalizing men as Acceptable Targets, Played for Laughs.
    • For example, in "Yanks in the U.K., part 2":
      Hodgins: I thought women loved it when we fought over them
      Cam: "Women" is an unacceptable generalization.
      (10 minutes later)
      Angela: Men are stupid.
    • Or in "The Finger in the Nest"
    Bones: Pitting animals is a common pastime in evolving cultures where violence is more commonplace and animal life has no value.
    Angela: To men.
    Bones: Yes, it's always men.
    • Or the episode involving the MRA group used as a HateSink.
  • 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: The showrunners say 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.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Max Keenan killing several of Kovac’s lackeys with his bare hands when they attack the safe house he and his grandkids are in.
  • 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.
  • Wainscot Society: In "The Woman in the Tunnel", Booth and Brennan investigate the death of a woman who was investigating the underground denizens of Washington DC, who are depicted as forming something of a distinct society; one of the main guest stars is a vet who suffers from PTSD and who lives down there.
  • Waking Up Elsewhere:
    • Brennan and Hodgins in “Aliens In The Spaceship.” Brennan is tazed and Hodgins hit by a car. They wake up in a car buried underground.
    • Hodgins,twice, when Angela’s dad knocks him out and tattoos him. The first time, he wakes up in the desert somewhere, and the next, he’s in a car.
  • 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 Change in the Game" (S6 finale) 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 Pain in the Heart" (S3 finale), where we learn that Zack was the Gormogon's most recent apprentice.
    • "The Conspiracy in the Corpse" (S10 premiere) brutally kills Sweets without warning in the last few minutes.
    • The final episode of Season 11, "The Nightmare in the Nightmare", ends with the revelation that Zack Addy is The Puppeteer, and he's kidnapped Brennan.
  • Wham Line:
    • From the Season 6 finale:
    Brennan: I'm pregnant. You're the father.
    • Also Brennan’s “I don’t know what that means” in the series finale after the explosion in the lab leaves her unable to process job related information.
  • 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.
    • Caroline gives a spectacular one to the whole team in "The Man In The Mansion" after Hodgins' attempts to remain on a case he's personally involved in nearly get their case kicked out of court.
    • Arastoo to Finn in “The Patriot in Purgatory” when Finn asks about whether the Muslim Arastoo should work the 9/11 case.
    • Finn himself gives one to Hodgins in his first episode when Hodgins keeps teasing him over his Southern accent.
  • White Male Lead: Despite having Michaela Conlin and Tamara Taylor as main characters and Eugene Byrd and Pej Vahdat as regular side characters, not to mention other minorities regularly in the show, Booth and Brennan's relationship is the only one in the spotlight, and they're white straight people. Michaela Conlin's character Angela is bisexual but that's never mentioned again after she stops dating Roxie. Even the relationship Tamara and Pej's characters are in are just seen as a side-story even after they're married on the show, though granted, they marry only one episode before the series finale.
  • Whodunnit to Me?
    • In "The Graft in the Girl" the team tries to solve a murder where the victim is still alive but almost certain to die after the episode due to having contacted cancer from a transplant that was supplied under false pretenses.
    • 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.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: A literal example. A teenaged kidnapping victim in "The Mummy in the Maze" has been frightened of snakes since once crawled out of a faucet in front of her. The kidnapper (a budding Serial Killer) locks her in a room with dozens of snakes in an attepmpt to frighten her to death and the poor girl is pretty hysterical by the time Booth and Brennan come to rescue her.
  • 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.
  • Willing Suspension of Disbelief: The show basically requires you to suspend your disbelief and accept Angela's computer skills at face value. Especially since as anyone versed in crime law will tell you, facial reconstructions (besides not being as easy and instantaneous as the Angelatron makes them seem) are not admissible for identifying a victim or a killer, at least by themselves. They’re subjective, and each artist will make their own interpretation.
  • Window Love: Everyone during the Christmas Episode in quarantine. Except Brennan, who was alone then.
  • Withholding the Cure: The killer in “The Pathos in The Pathogens” won’t give up the anti-serum at first, even as Cam begs him to save the dying Arastoo. He relents when Brennan grabs a nearby syringe and fakes injecting him with the virus.
  • With This Ring:
    • Booth buys an expensive ring to propose to Hannah, then hurls it into the Washington Monument reflecting pool when she rejects him.
    • Hodgins kept the ring he got Angela in his wallet after they broke up, hoping she’d come back to him.
  • Workaholic: The whole main cast; the things they've worked through include but are not limited to: Hodgins and Angela's imprisonment/wedding, the birth of Hodgins and Angela's baby, Booth and Brennan's wedding and Booth and Brennan's honeymoon.
  • 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.
  • Writer on Board:
    • Season 3 finale for one-Zack being Gormogon’s apprentice created a lot of backlash about him being out of character but the writers needed to write him out so Eric Mulligan could leave.
    • The season three finale was the result of 12,000 Writers On Board.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: In "The Boy in the Time Capsule", the skeletal remains of a teenage boy are found in his high school time capsule after being buried for 20 years. In the subsequent investigation, it's discovered that he has a son, who was explicitly born in January 1988. However, the son is stated to be a senior at the high school despite the fact that at the time of the episode's airing (November 2007), he should've been nearly 20.
    • Maybe he got held back.
  • Writing Around Trademarks: "The Gamer in the Grease" featured an arcade game called "Punky Pong".
  • Writing Indentation Clue: A high tech version is used to recover the writing from Sweets' blood-soaked notebook.
  • You Can Barely Stand: Booth insists on going to save Brennan in “Two Bodies In The Lab” despite being badly hurt by the fridge bomb hours before.
  • You Can Leave Your Hat On: In “The Party In The Pants”, where the Victim of the Week was a stripper, Angela tells Hodgins she’d put money in his pants and he launches into a striptease or at least as close to one as can be done at work. One of his thrown clothing items nearly hits an incoming Cam, who just turns and leaves and doesn’t want to deal with it.
  • 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 Killed My Father: The motivation for the Big Bad in the final season, then flipped: The grown children of a war criminal Booth sniped decades ago sends assassins to kill Booth's family. Brennan's dad dies after killing the assassins, prompting Brennan to risk her life to save evidence that will help get revenge on her father's killers.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Angela is horrified when Brennan praises the way she conducts her love life and compares it to her own.
  • Your Head Asplode: Heather Taffet, aka the Gracedigger, when Broadsky obliterates her head with his sniper round.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: The season 8 opener. Pelant is in custody and Brennan has proven her innocence, but then Caroline reveals Pelant changed his identity and they can’t keep him.


Video Example(s):


Booth and Perry

After learning that Michelle was afraid that her boyfriend would press for sex while she's not ready, and that neither she nor Camille knew how to resolve this situation, Booth decided that it's time for a manly talk.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / TwerpSweating

Media sources: