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Sep. 13, 2005
60 min.
FOX TV Network

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A forensic anthropologist, Dr. Temperance "Bones" Brennan and a cocky FBI agent, Seeley Booth are teamed together to investigate causes of death by focusing on human remains.

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Dr. Temperance 'Bones' Brennan Bones
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Dr. Temperance 'Bones' Brennan

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  Played by:
Emily DeschanelEmily Deschanel
Emily Erin Deschanel ([deɪʃə'nɛl]; born October 11, 1976) is an American actress and television producer, ...

Character Bio

Dr. Temperance 'Bones' Brennan photo
Dr. Temperance "Bones" Brennan Booth, born Joy Ruth Keenan is a forensic anthropologist and works at the Jeffersonian Institute in Washington, D.C.

She works with her husband Special Agent Seeley Booth to solve cases which require her expertise. He nicknames her "Bones", referring to her job as a forensic anthropologist. She hates this at first, but eventually comes to accept. They seem to have a fairly comfortable working relationship, despite the differences in their personalities.

Temperance's character is very loosely based on author Kathy Reichs. Portrayed by Emily Deschanel, Brennan is a strong female lead. Although the character is named after the heroine in Reichs' crime novel series, her characterization was based on Reichs herself rather than the books' protagonist.

Along with her work at the Jeffersonian, Brennan is a best-selling novelist and writes a best friend and fellow co-worker, forensic artist Angela Montenegro. Aside from Angela, Dr. Brennan has a band of 'squints' (a term given by Agent Booth to describe what scientists do - "they squint at things"), specifically entomology expert Dr. Jack Hodgins, Dr. Camille Saroyan, a forensic pathologist who is Dr. Brennan's boss, and formerly (through Season 3) Dr. Zack Addy, a bone trauma expert who was also once Dr. Brennan's graduate student.

Brennan was inspired to be an anthropologist by the film "Mummy" as revealed on several episodes.

Brennan graduated from Northwestern University and is a licensed hunter (she has licenses that allow her to hunt in four unspecified states). She claims that she hunts only for food, though in later episodes, she becomes a vegetarian.

Brennan is an utmost scientist, surpassed in emotional detachment only by her assistant (in first two seasons) and later coworker forensic anthropologist Zack Addy.

Her scientific approach to life results as her being an atheist, highly critical toward any religion, and at the same time she believes in the death penalty. Her being an atheist and judgmental about religion lead to more than one argument with Booth, who is a Roman Catholic and arguably defensive of his faith.

Brennan's character develops in the second season where she refers to the rest of the team as "our squints" even though the term "squints" is predominately used by Booth when he describes the team, Brennan included.

Bones' emotional detachment results in a lack of social skills, so she either has trouble understanding jokes or comments related to male-female relationships, or she just chooses to ignore it. Her portrayer in the television series, Emily Deschanel, commented that "Bones" Brennan "is a lot younger and different" from the Brennan in Kathy Reichs' books. Deschanel remarked, "Not that there aren't certain similarities, but it's a kind of a mesh". According to Deschanel, she and the show's creator Hart Hanson discussed that her character "almost has Asperger's Syndrome".

Despite Bones's extensive knowledge of anthropology, she is quite unaware of pop culture, and her coworkers, particularly Booth, likes to tease her about it. A running gag on the series is someone making an obvious popular culture reference and she blankly states "I don't know what that means", and she is somewhat excited on the rare occasion that she does understand them; for example, in "The Maggots in the Meathead," Bones excitedly explained guidos, GTL (Gym Tan Laundry) and other "tribal" features of Jersey Shore denizens after mistaking the reality program for a documentary on television.

Brennan, due to her lack of social skills, insults most people she comes across without realizing it, and she constantly derides religion; she once stated that god was fictional within feet of an elderly priest. She also insults colleagues by claiming her working environment or field of study are superior to theirs, or that study done in her area of expertise is more likely to result in a cause of death than work done in theirs. An example of this is that in "The Salt in the Wounds", Brennan got angry at Camille because she didn't remove the flesh from a corpse so Brennan could examine the bone. The main point of tension was that Brennan honestly believed that Camille couldn't find cause of death from the corpse, whereas she could from the bones. When later proved wrong she reluctantly apologized; this is notable as she rarely apologizes. Usually, she either believes she is right or feels that what she says is not insulting.

Dr. Brennan also displays an exceptionally strong sense of integrity. In "A Night at the Bones Museum," Booth comments to Assistant Director Andrew Hacker that one of the things that "makes her Bones" is that she does not feel pressure to do or say anything she does not want to and that no one can force her to.

Along with her work at the Jeffersonian Institute, Brennan is a best-selling novelist and writes about a fictional anthropologist, Kathy Reichs (this is a nod to the real-life Kathy Reichs, who writes about a fictional anthropologist named Temperance Brennan). Due to her book sales, Brennan is a very wealthy woman. She was told by her publisher that she would never have to work again, but she stays at her job at the Jeffersonian out of choice and love for what she does.

In one episode, The Man in the Morgue, it is said she is trained in three types of martial arts. In Aliens in a Spaceship, it mentions that Dr. Brennan was currently studying karate. The known list of Brennan's diverse talents is expanded in Double Trouble in the Panhandle, as it is revealed she is a trained amateur highwire performer. Also of note are Brennan's intimate knowledge and understanding of forensic anthropology and kinesiology, often being compared to the police detective Columbo for her seemingly unintelligent appearance toward suspects, which have given her an aptitude for gaining clues from the body movements of other people (The Woman in the Garden, The Truth in the Lye, The Girl with the Curl) and contribute toward her martial arts prowess, and she even advises Booth once how to win his fight against another Ultimate Fighting contestant in The Woman in the Sand.

In Mayhem on a Cross, a specific instance about Dr. Brennan's turbulent time in the foster care system is revealed. She was locked in a trunk for two days for breaking a dish. According to Brennan, she was warned of the consequences in advance. However, the water was simply too hot to safely use and the soap slippery and thus the dish was dropped. When Brennan reveals this information to Dr. Sweets and Booth, she becomes extremely emotional. This creates an emotional connection among the three of them by metaphorically "sharing scars". Although all three continue to hide it, they become much closer.

Brennan's relationship with her family is complicated. Early in her life, she was very close with them. However, when she was young, her parents left her and her brother, and her brother later left her as well. This left Brennan resentful towards both of her parents, as well as her brother. After reuniting with her brother and father, she was hesitant to trust either of them, especially her father. However, eventually, they begin the process of amending their relationships.

Episode Screenshots

03x05 - The Mummy in the Maze
Season 3, Episode 05
11x21 - The Jewel in the Crown
Season 11, Episode 21
04x06 - The Crank in the Shaft
Season 4, Episode 06
09x16 - The Source in the Sludge
Season 9, Episode 16
[More Episodes]

Dr. Temperance 'Bones' Brennan Photos

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