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The Historical Figure Related To Agent Booth From Bones

There are a few things fans of any network TV show can expect when a series has been on the air long enough. Coma fantasies, musical extravaganzas, and bottle episodes are all hallmarks of shows that last past their first two or three seasons. Among these, flashback episodes often provide the most opportunity for fan service, thanks to tropes like retro hairstyles and shocking character backstories. In the case of beloved crime drama Bones, it took 100 episodes before we finally got a flashback but, when we did, it turned out to be worth the wait.

For the show's centennial installment, its audience was treated to a trip back to the very first case that Dr. Temperance "Bones" Brennan (Emily Deschanel) and Agent Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz) worked together. Through this time jump, we got a deeper insight into not only the crime-solving and romantic partners, but also other beloved characters from the show, including those who were long gone when the season 5 episode came around.

"The Parts in the Sum of the Whole" does not, however limit its history to the Bones crew. Fans also got further confirmation about one of the historic ancestors of Seeley Booth, and it's not someone the FBI agent is proud to call family.

Agent Booth of Bones is a direct ancestor of John Wilkes Booth

Partway through the flashback, Booth stops Bones and tells her he has something to confess. Before he can spit it out, though, she counters with a typically blunt response, asking "What? Is it the fact that you're a direct descendant of John Wilkes Booth? I already know that." When Booth asks how she could possibly have inferred that fact, she reveals that it was the agent's bone structure that gave the connection away. He then asks her to keep the information a secret.

This flashback exchange wasn't a revelation for fans who have seen every episode, but rather an explanation for something we learned several episodes prior. In "The Proof in the Pudding," Bones and Booth are having a conversation about Presidential assassination plots when Bones alludes to the sensitive subject that Booth is related to the most famous presidential assassin in history. After she brings it up, Booth responds, "You promised you would never mention that. You said that to me."

It was a thrill for viewers to get to see the exact moment when the original exchange about Booth's distressing familial history happened. Bones aficionados who are also history buffs likely had a conniption, however, while watching both episodes for one very particular reason.

The problem with Agent Booth's historic ancestor

In case you're unfamiliar with one of the most famous events in United States history, let's touch on the facts: On April 15th, 1865 an actor and Confederate sympathizer named John Wilkes Booth shot US President Abraham Lincoln in the head while he attended a play at the Ford's Theatre in Washington, DC. Booth was killed 11 days later by a Union army soldier who was pursuing him in an attempt to bring him to justice.

Booth was 26 years old when he died, and most significant to the issue of his alleged distant, direct ancestor, Seeley Booth, he never married or had children before Lincoln's assassination. Although conspiracy theories of Booth's escape abound, none are taken seriously, and most historians agree that the presidential assassin left no heir. That, of course, means it's impossible for Agent Seeley Booth to be a direct descendant of the infamous John Wilkes Booth.

This was likely an oversight on the part of the Bones writers, rather than a co-signing of one of the "John Wilkes Booth lived" theories. On the other hand, they were also not entirely wrong in stating that Booth could be a relative of the murderous actor. John Wilkes Booth doesn't have any confirmed direct descendants, but he does still have some living relatives.

The real descendants of the Booth family

John Wilkes Booth was not the only actor in the family. His brother, Edwin Booth, was famous for his interpretations of Shakespeare, and for not murdering any US government officials. The older Booth brother lived to be 59 years old and had one daughter, Edwina Booth, to whom many modern ancestors of the Booth family trace their lineage.

According to The Columbus Dispatch, ancestors of Edwin Booth even attempted to have his body exhumed so that DNA tests could be done to try and officially determine whether or not his brother, John, actually escaped justice and lived a longer life than stated by the accepted historic record. Ultimately, their request was denied, and for those who still believe that John Wilkes Booth lived past 26, the mystery remains. We have to assume that, given Agent Seeley Booth's distaste for his John Wilkes relation, he would be happy to never have the possibility confirmed.