For 12 years, from 2005 to 2017, viewers were glued to their TV sets as the Bones characters fell in and out of love, caught bad guys, and were challenged along the way with their own tragedies. The drama series, that verged on comedy, was based on the forensic science of an FBI file concerning the mystery behind human remains.
The premise of the show is quite simple: handsome FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth (played to hunky perfection by David Boreanaz) works alongside Temperance “Bones” Brennan (Emily Deschanel) to solve federal legal cases by examining the human remains of possible murder victims. While Bones is brilliant at her work, she is socially inept and often butts heads with Booth’s emotional and intuitive personality.
Most of the cases take place in and around Washington D.C. where the fictional Jeffersonian Institute Lab is located. Occasionally, we see our favorite characters investigate cases in other states and even out of the country (in Iran and Mexico).
Writers and producers were aware of the dark undertones of the story plot. To lighten up the gravity of a show full of human bodies in various states of advanced decay, comedic lines were added. Mainly the absence of social skills by Dr. Brennan provides most of the show’s lighthearted humor, primarily through her catchphrase of “I don’t know what that means” whenever a pop culture reference is said.
Here, our favorite Bones cast members, then and now.
David Boreanaz as Special Agent Seeley Booth
He was easy on the eyes, but tough as an agent solving murders. David Boreanaz was the first to be cast in Bones. His character, Seeley Booth, was the one that created the moniker “Bones” for the other lead, Temperance “Bones” Brennan (played by Emily Deschanel). Hence, the name of the show. In the first several seasons, the two don’t see eye to eye, but eventually the chemistry is too much and the professional partners fall in love.
(Click through for more on-screen love stories in the 10 best romance movies.)
Often recognized outside of Bones, Boreanaz played the mysterious Angel in the uber popular Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Due to the enormous success of the show, Boreanaz starred in the spin-off series, Angel. For more Boreanaz watching, tune into SEAL Team where he plays Jason Hayes.
Emily Deschanel as Dr. Temperance “Bones” Brennan
Brennan’s background was a complicated one and as the series grew year by year, a little more of her life was revealed. In 2011 and 2015, Emily Deschanel’s real life pregnancies were written into Bones. “I remember thinking, Oh, this could last us three years”, she said to The Hollywood Reporter. “And then it kept going and going and it was a lot of fun, with some great people.” Last year when asked about a reboot, she said to TV Line, “David says nope, he’s not doing it. But never say never for me.”
Making her feature debut in 1994’s It Could Happen To You, Deschanel made a notable appearance in Rose Red in 2002. Cold Mountain, The Alamo and Glory Road came in quick succession and Deschanel was named one of “six actresses to watch” by Interview Magazine. More recently, she played Angela on TNT’s Animal Kingdom and last year, she starred in the Netflix miniseries Devil In Ohio.
Michaela Conlin as Angela Montenegro
Michaela Conlin was a part of the series from day one. After relocating to Los Angeles from New York City, Conlin landed her first starring role in the show MDs. Next, she had the leading role in The D.A. as an outspoken political consultant. Joining Bones, Angela, often described as outgoing and caring, is married to Dr. Jack Hodgins (T.J. Thyne), while her dad, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, plays a fictionalized version of himself. Her character is a specialist in forensic facial reconstruction using her own three dimensional graphics program. In 2008, Conlin was nominated for an Asian Excellence Award for her role on Bones. In 2021, she portrayed Maria Li in the feature, Bad Trip. And this year, she began doing TV ads for Hormel’s Spam products.
John Boyd as James Aubrey
John Boyd has had many memorable roles throughout his career. Audiences will remember him as Arlo Glass on the espionage thriller 24 and his co-starring role in the political thriller Argo. From 2014 to 2017, he portrayed James Aubrey on Bones and since 2019, he’s on the hit crime drama FBI as Special Agent Stuart Scola.
(Read here for real FBI agent tips to “read” body language.)
John Francis Daley as Lance Sweets
John Francis Daley has done quite well for himself post Bones. He is a successful director, producer, musician and writer behind films like Horrible Bosses, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Game Night. Probably best known for playing high school freshman Sam Weir on Freaks and Geeks, it was as the FBI criminal profiler Dr. Lance Sweets that brought him a 2014 PRISM nomination. In 2023 Daley and his writing partner stepped away from script writing to direct the reboot of Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. Away from the bright lights, Daley plays keyboards and sings with the band, Dayplayer.
Tamara Taylor as Camille Saroyan
The Canadian native appeared in the role of Dr. Camille Saroyan, head of the Forensic Division on Bones. Tamara Taylor also appeared in season seven of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as one of the two main antagonists.
Her Bones beginning was in the first episode of the second season and for the first six episodes, she was credited as a guest star. Her character was supposed to be killed after episode 12 when she was poisoned, but the response to her character was so popular that the writers offered her a position as a recurring regular. After Bones, she joined the final season of the FX series, Snowfall.
Eric Millegan as Dr. Zack Addy
While Eric Millegan appeared in over 64 episodes of Bones throughout the series, he stepped away from acting and has not had any other roles. He was introduced in season one as Brennan’s grad student and intern. Like Bones, he is unable to grasp pop culture references and it became a running gag on the series. Ultimately, Zack is removed from his position on Brennan’s team in the season three finale when he is revealed to be the apprentice of the serial killer, Gormogon.
7 Fun Facts About “Bones”
The series was very loosely based on the life and novels of forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs, who also produced the show.
Brennan writes successful mystery novels featuring a fictional forensic anthropologist named Kathy Reichs.
Deschanel is best friends with her Bones co-star Michaela Conlin, who played her best friend Angela Montenegro on the show.
The Boston Bruins hockey photo behind Booth’s desk is that of Bobby Orr scoring his 100th goal in 1970. Now, that’s a photo that any true hockey fan would have.
Boreanaz is a real-life fan of Philadelphia sports teams: Eagles, Phillies and the Flyers. In the show, Agent Booth is a Pittsburgh Steelers fan.
Angela’s father is played by ZZ Top member, Billy Gibbons. Although Angel’s dad has never been given a name, before his first appearance, Angela told her friends that her dad is famous enough that they might recognize him. During Gibbons’ appearances, there were several references to the ZZ Top music.
In a ruling made public in 2019, 21st Century Fox was found guilty of using Hollywood account practices to defraud the producers and stars of the series , and were ordered to pay $179 million in missing profits.
Catch up with more crime show favorites below!