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The untold truth of Bones

Of all the many forensic-based procedural crime dramas that debuted in the early 2000s, few were as beloved as Fox's Bones. The series about the team of forensic anthropologists at Washington, D.C.'s Jeffersonian Institute led by the brilliant Temperance "Bones" Brennan (Emily Deschanel) enlisted to help FBI agent Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz) debuted in 2005, and eventually became the longest-running drama in the network's history. But as with any series that's on the air for so long, there's bound to be controversy, scandals, and disagreements. Here's a look right into the marrow of Bones.

Sweets takes a permanent Vacation

When he isn't acting, longtime cast member John Francis Daley (FBI psychologist Lance Sweets) enjoys a parallel career as a screenwriter. With his writing partner Jonathan Goldstein, Daley wrote Horrible Bosses, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, and Spider-Man: Homecoming. In 2014, he signed on to write and direct the remake of National Lampoon's Vacation. He needed four months off for the project, but Bones writers couldn't come up with a viable way to explain Dr. Sweets' absence for half a season, so in the last few minutes of the season 10 premiere, they killed him off—shot in a parking garage by a Navy SEAL caught up in the conspiracy ensnaring Booth at the time.

Zack Attack!

An earlier fan favorite's abrupt departure came even further out of nowhere. Before the show settled on a format of revolving interns at the Jeffersonian, the position was filled by the super-intelligent, socially awkward Zack Addy (portrayed by Eric Millegan), who received his doctorate in the show's second season. It came as a shock to fans when it was revealed in the third season that the apprentice to Gormogon, the terrifying cannibalistic serial killer that Bones and Booth just couldn't catch...was Zack. Locked up forever in a psychiatric hospital, the character has made occasional appearances. But why was he written off the show? At the time, cast and crew said it was a creative decision to mix things up.

The nasty lawsuit

In 2015, Bones executive producer Barry Josephson sued Fox and production company Twentieth Century Fox Television for withholding profits from a number of people—including himself, Kathy Reichs (on whose novels the show is based), and stars Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz, who joined in the suit. How much underreporting? As much as $24 million, accrued from airing the show in Europe, online streaming, and in product placement deals. Fox filed a motion to immediately move the case into arbitration, avoiding a lengthy and costly court battle—a move allowed because Deschanel and Boreanaz had contract clauses agreeing to arbitration over a trial. The case did make it to arbitration, and the show was renewed for its 12th and ultimately final season in spite of the legal troubles.

An even nastier lawsuit

Josephson's lawsuit was not the first time Bones faced legal difficulties. In 2009, actress Kristina Hagan appeared on the show as an extra, after which she alleged that David Boreanaz took an inappropriate interest in her. According to Hagan, Boreanaz offered career guidance and a bigger role on the show because he was "the boss." Instead of delivering on those promises, he allegedly drove her to a park and sexually assaulted her. Later that month, Hagan alleged that a similar event happened on the Bones set, in Boreanaz's trailer. The suit was settled out of court, around the same time that Boreanaz admitted that he cheated on his wife, Playboy Playmate Jaime Bergman, with Rachel Uchitel, best known for being one of Tiger Woods's many mistresses.

It's based on a book series…and Fox's desire to have its own CSI

In the early 2000s, writer/producer Hart Hanson had another show in the works, but it fell apart during the 2005 TV pilot season. Because he had a development deal with Fox, the network asked him to create a forensics-based crime show not unlike CBS's extremely popular CSI franchise. At first, Hanson wasn't the least bit interested in making a procedural, but Fox asked him to meet with producer Barry Josephson, who held the rights to develop a series about forensic anthropologist and crime novelist Kathy Reichs. Hanson then watched a documentary about Reichs, which he found "fascinating, because what she could do with a pile of bones was amazing." Then Hanson returned to Fox and pitched them his skewed, humor-inflected version of a crime procedural.

Bones became less about Reichs and more about Temperance Brennan, the forensic anthropologist from Reichs's novels. However, the real Reichs considers Bones "a prequel to my books" because when the series starts, the character is a decade younger than she is in the books. "She is less polished, so passionate about her work [that] she is a bit of a social nerd," Reichs told Yahoo! "And her people skills have some developing to do."

There was a spinoff

Only two Bones episodes aren't titled with a "X in the X" (e.g., "The Man in the Cell"; "The Pain in the Heart") format: the pilot and the sixth-season episode "The Finder." The latter was also a pilot—for a Bones spinoff called The Finder. Geoff Stults (7th Heaven) portrayed Major Walter Sherman, a retired Iraq War veteran whose brain injury left him with the keen ability to see connections in things most ordinary people could not. Michael Clarke Duncan (The Green Mile) played Leo Knox, an attorney turned bar owner and Walter's sidekick in his detective duties. The characters were introduced on that episode of Bones, and, nine months later, The Finder debuted as a standalone show. Unlike Bones, The Finder failed to find an audience, and Fox canceled it in May 2012, after a 13-episode run.

Obviously, Bones and The Finder creator Hart Hanson wished the spinoff could have run for years, but barring that option, he had plans for Stults and Duncan to reprise their roles on Bones. Unfortunately, Duncan suffered a heart attack a few months after The Finder wrapped up, and he died in September 2012, ending any plans for another Bones/The Finder crossover.

Brennan might be on the autism spectrum

Hart Hanson based the TV version of Temperance Brennan on a friend diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, a condition on the autism spectrum. The character may display some traits associated with the diagnosis, and actress Emily Deschanel has implied that Brennan has Asperger's Syndrome. Because Bones was made for network television, Hanson ruled against specifically stating that Brennan had autism. However, Hanson added, "If we were on cable, we would have said from the beginning [that she did]." (TV has come a long way in a little over a decade. One of the hottest new shows of fall 2017 is ABC's The Good Doctor, which stars Freddie Highmore as a brilliant doctor who is also explicitly identified as a high-functioning autistic person.)

The origin of Booth's eye-catching belt buckle

Seeley Booth is a fairly straight-laced guyex-military turned FBI agent. Booth used two small additions to his daily wardrobe to quietly express himself: a belt buckle which reads "COCKY" and colorful socks. David Boreanaz received the belt buckle as a gift from acting coach Ivana Chubbuck, who worked with Boreanaz and Deschanel for years, and he made it part of the character of Booth. He also kept the buckle after Bones ended as a sentimental souvenir. As for the socks, those were Boreanaz's idea too—a splash of bright color to counter Booth's steely FBI persona. Fans used to send Boreanaz tons of colorful knit socks, which he says he re-appropriated as hand puppets for his son.

Why was Stephen Fry on Bones?

Bones enjoyed quite a few notable guest stars over the years, including Cyndi Lauper as a crime-solving psychic, Emily Deschanel's real-life sister Zooey Deschanel playing Brennan's cousin, and Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top playing himself...and also character Angela's dad. The oddest guest star of all just might be British actor, writer, quiz show host, and all around bon vivant, Stephen Fry, who recurred in the early seasons of the show as Booth's psychiatrist, Dr. Gordon Wyatt. How on Earth did Fry end up on an American crime procedural series? As he relayed on an episode of the British talk show Parkinson In 2007, he was en route to New Zealand to meet with The Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson about a film but thought he'd break up the long trip from London with a stop in Los Angeles. Since he was going there, his American agent pitched him on doing Bones. He hadn't heard of it but watched an episode, found it "charming," and asked one of his best friends, Hugh Laurie of Fox's House, what he thought of the series. Laurie noted that the show shot just down the lot from House, and that he found the cast and crew to be "awfully nice." So Fry signed on, and he got to hang out and have lunch with Laurie.

Why Cam lived (and Vincent Nigel-Murray died)

Tamara Taylor joined the cast of Bones in season two as Jeffersonian forensic pathologist Dr. Camille Saroyan and remained with the show for its entire run. Creator Hart Hanson, however, initially planned to kill off Cam after just a few episodes. Hanson, as well as stars Emily Deschanel David Boreanaz liked Taylor (and Cam) so much that he changed his mind.

As for Vincent Nigel-Murray (Ryan Cartwright), the British, Jeopardy!-winning "squintern," his fate was not so rosy. Bones writers killed him off when Cartwright scored a regular starring role on Alphas.

It was almost canceled in season 10

The Bones tenth-season finale, "The Next in the Last," had two themes: transition and reflection. For example, husband and wife team Angela and Hodgins opt not to move to Europe and remain at their beloved Jeffersonian, while Brennan and Booth do consider moving on. It plays like a series finale, but also open-ended...and that's because it was written that way. When the cast and crew shot the episode, Fox executives hadn't yet made up their minds about renewing Bones for another season. "We were then told, 'This could be a series-ender,'" showrunner Stephen Nathan told TV Guide. "So, we had to actually write a series finale that hopefully contained a vibe of a continuum." Had Bones gotten an early renewal, as had been the case with earlier seasons of the show, Nathan would have ended season 10 with a cliffhanger.

The finale was conceived during the first season

After 12 seasons, Bones literally went out with a bang: A laboratory explosion destroyed the Jeffersonian facilities where so much of the show's 200-plus episodes had taken place. Before the final season began, Bones creator Hart Hanson told a reporter that although he was no longer the showrunner, he had met with his successor, Stephen Nathan, because he had "ideas of how I think the series should end." Those ideas went all the way back to a conversation he had with David Boreanaz while shooting one of the first Bones episodes back in 2005. "David and I were standing beside craft services, and he said, 'I want to blow up this lab,'" Hanson told Deadline. "And I said, 'If we last long enough and have warning, in the final episode we will destroy the lab,' and that made him very happy." Promise kept.