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Bones: The Moments & Episodes Deemed Most Cringe-Worthy By Fans Of The Series

"Bones" was more than a show that ran for 12 seasons — it was a cultural powerhouse that accomplished a number of positive things. For one, the titular main character, Dr. Temperance Brennan (Emily Deschanel), presented a strong and independent female lead that inspired female Boneheads (self-proclaimed fan nickname) to pursue a career in science. It was also a primary example of a TV show that, for the first half of its run passed the Bechdel Test, a list of criteria that showcases gender bias in media. But while it thrived for over a decade as a prominent weekly whodunit, "Bones" wasn't without its missteps.

There are a handful of episodes in the series that fans can't help but cringe at how they are written, performed, and presented. u/mnlxyz posted the question on Reddit to spark a conversation with fans about which episodes didn't land with them, and there were some installments that kept popping up. While some of the show's primary themes, like how Seely Booth's (David Boreanaz) mother was presented and Angela (Michaela Conlin) treating Hodgins (T.J. Thyne) poorly, made the list, some specific episodes found ways to miss the mark, either by not aging well or not making a lot of sense.

Of course, when you broadcast a series that runs for 12 seasons and boasts a whopping 245 episodes, you're bound to experience some misses. The following five are among the handful of episodes that fans are likely to skip when doing their rewatches.

The He in the She couldn't handle an emerging societal concept

When watching an older show, it isn't surprising to discover some themes, dialogue, or character tropes don't age well. We are, after all, an evolving species that tends to grow beyond preconceived notions once we open our minds to change. The idea of gender is one area of society where we have made significant strides in understanding its complexities, and, as a result, one episode in the fourth season of the series feels particularly old and antiquated when dealing with that concept.

Season 4, Episode 7, "The He in the She," sees the team from the Jeffersonian investigating a body found in the Chesapeake Bay. While they initially had nothing to go on, breast implants eventually led them to discover the identity of a trans woman who disappeared to Massachusetts and became the pastor of a church. She is ultimately killed by the wife of a parishioner who is jealous of the time the pastor spent together with her husband.

u/D3xt3er felt that the episode shouldn't have even been written. "As a trans man, it just makes me so uncomfortable; I know the show was made in the early 2000s, but honestly, I would've preferred if they never had a trans victim; they just weren't ready to write it. It was a very stereotyped episode, what with the vic going to Thailand to get surgery, abandoning her past life, etc..." Older shows not knowing quite how to handle evolving societal concepts is nothing new, but some series and episodes tend to fall far below others, especially when approaching topics without being properly prepared to write about them.

The Girl in the Mask repeated the same mistake

"The He in the She" isn't the only time that "Bones" stumbles when dealing with the concept of gender. Another episode from the early seasons is like a rehashed version of the "It's Pat" skit from "Saturday Night Live." The idea of not being able to tell someone's gender becomes one of the secondary storylines in the episode, creating the opportunity for a slew of jokes that don't paint the characters in a good light, especially when viewed by modern audiences.

Season 4, Episode 23, "The Girl in the Mask," sees an old friend of Booth coming to America from Japan to enlist his help in finding his sister, whom he hasn't heard from in a long time. Booth's friend brings Dr. Haru Tanaka (Ally Maki), who presents as an androgynous character and brilliant scientist who follows Bones' work closely. The presence of the character and their unobvious gender become the focus of conversation in the lab, culminating in Angela saying goodbye with a hug and reporting that she "felt something" in the general region.

u/indiscoverable made their feelings known about how Dr. Tanaka was treated as a character. "When Angela d*** near groped Dr. Tanaka to see what was in their pants ... that whole episode made me so uncomfortable with how obsessed everyone was with finding out what Tanaka 'really' was. f****** gross." The presence of these jokes and using the androgyny of a character as a comedic plot point isn't entirely new in TV, but we had hoped "Bones" was better. 

The Hole in the Heart fumbled what had been teased

There are parts of "Bones" that become long-running gags and themes, like the team's "King of the Lab" contest or Angela's father terrorizing Hodgins. But one of the main recurring themes and continuing conversations is the apparent feelings that Booth and Bones have for each other. Sure, building it up and making fans wait for the moment provides tension and anticipation; it makes us earn the payoff. That is, until the writers fumble a critical moment and the culmination falls flat.

In Season 6, Episode 21, "The Hole in the Heart," recurring villain Jacob Bronsky (Arnold Vosloo) takes another life with his skill as an assassin. Referred to as the Anti-Booth throughout Season 6, he dispatches his own form of justice on those he deems unworthy of life, even taking out notorious serial killer The Gravedigger (Deirdre Lovejoy). In the season's next-to-last episode, he's trying to murder Booth but kills a different team member. In their grief, Booth and Bones take solace in each other's arms. The act of them consummating their feelings after six seasons took place entirely off-screen and, thus, was unsatisfying for fans.

u/sammycat672 explains why the moment the two leads finally took the leap was horribly anti-climactic. "Booth and Brennan getting together after Vincent died. So awkward and out of character. And just weird that they were feeling like that after someone died in front of them. Huge let down for a moment I was waiting for the whole show." u/HexyWitch88 agreed with this sentiment, frustrated that all fans got were mentions and hints. "This bothered me too, plus so much of the "get together" was off-screen, it didn't feel satisfactory after 6 seasons of teasing it."

The Maggots and the Meathead turns Bones into the meathead

Speaking of the show's running gags, one of the most prominent jokes prevalent throughout the entirety of the show's dozen seasons is Bones' unfamiliarity with pop culture. The idea is that someone with an IQ as high as hers doesn't have time to engage in fiction or make-believe (her side gig as a fiction author notwithstanding) while she is learning and teaching about the real world. This part of the character also causes her to be uber-logical and miss a lot of social cues. While that is part of her charm, it can sometimes make the character feel far below the IQ level she is meant to have.

In Season 6, Episode 3, "The Maggots in the Meathead," the team is dispatched to a beach where they find the body of a man who belongs to the Jersey Shore community where he worked as an on-air workout guru and trainer. While watching one of his videos, Bones states that she learned all about the Jersey Shore behavior by watching a compelling documentary, hinting that she has confused the "Jersey Shore" reality show with a documentary.

u/fallen-angel-forever points out the problem with Brennan being a genius who can't distinguish between reality and reality TV. "The Jersey Shore thing, besides the stereotypes, in what universe is Bones so stupid she truly believes this is a documentary?" While her cluelessness to social cues and the subtleties of modern human communication and bonding is often one of the more charming and humorous aspects of the character, moments like this create a weird dichotomy within the character where she has the highest IQ on the team and yet has the social awareness of a child.