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How The Writers' Strike Affected Bones In A Huge Way

If you were watching a lot of television in the mid-to-late 2000s, you will likely recall a period of time in which TV ground to a halt as a result of a writers' strike. Now known as the 2007-08 Writers Guild of America Strike, this event occurred when the Guild was unable to reach a contract agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. The guild ultimately voted to strike over compensation related to content written for or distributed by emerging digital technology, like the internet.

This might seem ridiculous in 2021, when streaming is dominating the TV landscape and more people are cutting the cord every day. But back then, Netflix was sending out DVDs in the mail, Amazon wasn't quite as involved with online video, and Hulu didn't exist. It was a different time.

The writers' strike, which lasted from Nov. 5, 2007, to Feb. 12, 2008, ultimately affected a number of TV shows that season. The most common result was a shortened TV season, but for Bones, which was only in its third season at the time, it also meant the development of a major moment in the show's long history: The reveal that Jeffersonian Institute intern Zack Addy (Eric Millegan) was the apprentice to season 3's cannibalistic serial killer known as Gormogon.

How Zack became the Gormogon's apprentice on Bones

No one in the cast knew the identity of the cannibalistic Gormogon or his apprentice during the filming of the third season of Bones, and according to series creator Hart Hanson, the writers went through a number of possible scenarios when crafting the storyline, considering several characters as the apprentice before ultimately landing on Zack. Unfortunately, the writers' strike made it difficult for the team to properly develop the serial killer apprentice storyline and lay the groundwork it called for.

"Initially the plan—and things go through so many iterations—was that we would find that Zack was either the apprentice to the Gormogon, or that he was approached by the Gormogon, rebuffed the offer, and then was killed. Any number of scenarios were explored," Hanson told TV Guide at the time. "But coming back from the strike, we only had two episodes to set things up, and this presented the maximum bang for our buck—'Let's shock everyone'—and that seems to have worked to an extent."

Zack's portrayer, Eric Millegan, didn't even find out about the Gormogon twist until the writers' strike concluded and the cast was about to resume filming. "They met with me and told me and I was like, 'What? Zack eats people?' And they told me that I don't eat people, I kill them—I never reached the eating stage," Millegan explained in an interview with TV Guide. "And I was like, 'Oh, My god.' But I was kind of excited because I knew it was going to be an exciting send-off."

According to Millegan, if the writers' strike hadn't happened and the team hadn't been forced to reconfigure most of its plans for the third season, the show would have explored and addressed Zack's PTSD from his time in the military, which would have been a much less shocking development, to say the least.

All 12 seasons of Bones are now streaming on Hulu.