The Ending Of Bones Explained

When it first debuted in 2005, few could have predicted that "Bones" would last for 12 seasons and 246 episodes to become Fox's longest-running live-action drama (via Entertainment Weekly). On paper, the show's premise sounds generic enough, as "Bones" is a police procedural starring two beautiful people, Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz, who fight crime with a mix of science and gut instinct with the help of an ensemble of young allies. 

Deschanel plays Dr. Temperance Brennan, whose nickname, "Bones," gives the show its title. She's quirky and eccentric but a genius forensic anthropologist. The character is loosely based on Kathy Reichs, a forensic anthropologist, author, and producer on the show. Deschanel's hunky co-lead, Boreanaz, plays Seely Booth, a jolly tough guy-type who keeps things light and bouncy until it's time to draw his gun and take down the bad guys. Many of the arcs on the show end with Booth shooting a serial killer, even though he detests the act of killing due to his past as a military sniper with Army Ranger experience. Early in the show's run, Brennan and Booth had a classic will they or won't they relationship, but they became a couple by the end of Season 6.

Eventually, all good things must end, and "Bones" wrapped up its run in 2017. Let's take a look at how things went wrapped up. This is the ending of "Bones," explained.

Season 12, the final year

For such a successful show, it's a miracle "Bones" lasted as long as it did. Bones was moved around numerous times over the years, filling six different slots across five different nights over the course of its run (via Deadline). Often, such scheduling changes spell doom, even for the most popular series. However, thanks to the show's dedicated fan base, who would follow Brennan and Booth anywhere, "Bones" remained steady in the ratings and staved off cancellation year after year.

While producers revealed during a press tour panel that they weren't quite ready to end the show yet (via TV Line), the word ultimately came down that Season 12 of "Bones" would be its last. Beyond that, it was also announced that the final season would be shortened to only 12 episodes, half the usual duration. Still, with knowledge of the show's inevitable end, the writers were allowed to craft a proper finale for "Bones," averting the anti-climactic fate of so many shows that are unceremoniously canceled before their time.

The trial of Zack Addy

Zack Addy, one of the original "Squinterns" from Season 1, finally has his controversial and divisive storyline wrapped up in the penultimate episode of the series, "The Day in the Life." At the end of Season 3, it is revealed that Zack is the secret apprentice of the Gormogon, a cannibalistic serial killer, the latest in a long line of cannibalistic serial killers of a centuries-old secret society. After confessing to the murder of Ray Porter, Zack is placed in a mental institution, where he remains for several years. At the end of Season 11, Zack comes back as a suspect, as a serial killer called The Puppeteer is believed to be Zack, but is ultimately revealed to be his psychiatrist, Dr. Mihir Roshan. Brennan figures out the truth just in time for Booth to rescue Zack from his evil doctor, who nearly makes the former Squint his next victim.

Throughout the rest of Season 12, Jack Hodgins (T.J. Thyne) and the crew work to prove Zack's innocence regarding the murder of Ray Porter. In the end, it's revealed that the murder was committed by the Gormogon's previous apprentice, who the Gormogon then killed in order to make Zack his new apprentice. Thus, his life sentence is overturned. Still, due to his work as the Gormogon's apprentice, Zack must serve the remaining thirteen months of his sentence, a punishment and responsibility he happily accepts.

David Boreanaz directed the series finale

During Season 3, both David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel became producers on "Bones," and their behind-the-scenes involvement didn't stop there. Deschanel directed the final season premiere, "The Hope in the Horror," while Boreanaz directed eleven episodes of the show, beginning with Season 4's "The Bones That Foam" and culminating with the series finale. Boreanaz made his directing debut in a 2004 episode of "Angel," the "Buffy the Vampire" spin-off that made him a big star, and has directed several episodes of his current show, "SEAL Team," on CBS.

Having Boreanaz direct the episode lends an intimate touch to the final chapter of the long-running "Bones" saga. The episode features multiple instances of characters reminiscing on little details from the show's history, and having those sequences directed by someone who was there at the very beginning imbues them with that a welcome degree of sentimentality.

Mark Kovac and his bombs

The final villain of "Bones" is Mark Kovac, who was just a boy when Booth killed his father (via CNN), a Serbian war criminal. Driven by revenge, the now-adult Kovac embarks on a vendetta against Booth, aiming to murder all of his loved ones before killing Booth himself. Through his machinations, he succeeds in killing Brennan's father, who manages to save Booth and Brennan's children before suffering a fatal wound.

In the penultimate episode of the series, "The Day in the Life," Kovac arranges to have multiple bombs planted in the Jeffersonian Institute laboratory. While Booth is able to disarm one of them, the others detonate and cause substantial damage to the lab, though nobody is killed in the explosions. The episode ends on a dour note, as the fates of Booth and Brennan are unclear while Kovac is seemingly successful in his plan to destroy Booth's life.

The End in the End

In the series finale, "The End in the End," Brennan is injured in the explosion, causing her to forget her encyclopedic knowledge of human bones. Naturally, this leads to a massive crisis of confidence, as she fears she is nothing without her knowledge, though Booth tries to reassure her this is not the case, and she will always be the woman he loves. Eventually, the team discovers how the bombs were planted in the lab and then learns that Kovac's wife built the bombs. Beyond that, it is revealed that she's not actually his wife but his sister, who has been protecting him all along while playing the cops for fools.

When the team finally tracks down Kovacs, Booth leads a raid on his hideout. However, when he dives out of the way of a fleeing Kovac's vehicle, he injures his hand and is unable to fire at the bad guy. Brennan sees Booth's hand injury and can both identify it and snap the bone back into place, which proves that she is recovering her memory. Now, with his gun arm restored, Booth fires a single shot at Kovac, nailing him right between the eyes. In a particularly over-the-top climax, Kovac drives his car off the side of a cliff, and the vehicle explodes when it lands in the chasm below. It's a spectacular end to one of the show's most dastardly villains.

The 447 mystery

The biggest recurring Easter egg in "Bones" is the number 447, which had appeared numerous times throughout the series, beginning as early as Season 4. Brennan and Booth first sleep together at 4:47, and their first child is born at 4:47. It appears many other times, sometimes to mark significant events and other times as nothing more than an Easter egg like a room number.

In the final episode, while Brennan examines a clock from her lab, she notices that it stopped at 4:47, the time the bombs went off, nearly killing her and Booth. When Booth questions why she would keep such a morbid memento, asking, "Why would you want to be reminded of the moment everything almost ended?" She replies, "Because it didn't." According to executive producer Michael Peterson, 447 represents a supernatural message, telling Booth and Brennan that something big is happening (via TV Line).

It's worth noting that original showrunner and creator Hart Hanson had his own idea for the significance of the 447 mystery (via TV Insider). Still, he was satisfied with the show's ultimate resolution and expressed his approval of the finale, even if he would have done things differently. Alas, he has yet to share how he would have explained his interpretation of the 447 Easter egg.

The gang breaks up, but the work continues

While the grand finale of "Bones" destroys the lab in a massive explosion and temporarily de-powers its lead character (via Entertainment Weekly), it also ends with the promise that the lab will be rebuilt and the work will continue. Brennan is injured, but her skills are only temporarily scrambled, and she will fully recover. She will return to her office and continue solving mysteries with her unique abilities. New Squinterns will arrive at the lab, and new relationships will be formed.

As for the rest of the characters, some stay at the lab, while others move on to the next chapter of their lives. Angela (Michaela Conlin) and Hodgins are pregnant, while Cam (Tamara Taylor) and Arastoo (Pej Vahdat) are adopting a trio of children. While they take their leave of absence, Hodgins is left in charge as "King of the Lab," which gives him no shortage of vainglorious pleasure. Finally, Aubrey (John Boyd) breaks up with Jessica (Laura Spencer), but it's implied he may have a future with the equally red-haired Karen (Sara Rue).

The series ends with Brennan and Booth walking off together, holding a box full of memories, while John Lennon's 1973 song, "Out The Blue," a heartfelt romantic ballad, plays in the background.