Temperance "Bones" Brennan, Ph.D.
(née Joy Keenan
) is a fictional character
portrayed by Emily Deschanel
in the American Fox
television series Bones
. An anthropologist
, forensic anthropologist
, and kinesiologist
, she is widely considered in the series as a leading authority
in the field of forensic anthropology
. Brennan first appeared on television, along with other series characters, in the "Pilot
" episode of Bones
on September 13, 2005. She is the main protagonist of the series along with her husband FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth
Brennan is loosely based on author Kathy Reichs
. Her name originates from the heroine in Reichs's crime novel series. The main similarity the two share is their occupation as forensic anthropologists. Brennan appeared in Comcast
's list of TV's Most Intriguing Characters. She was included in AfterEllen.com
's Top 50 Favorite Female TV Characters. Her relationship with Seeley Booth was listed in Entertainment Weekly
's "30 Best 'Will They/Won't They?' TV Couples".
Temperance "Bones" Brennan is a forensic anthropologist who works in the Medico-Legal lab at the Jeffersonian Institute in Washington, D.C. She received her Ph.D. from Northwestern University
, as stated in "The Girl in the Fridge". She has three doctorates, as referred to by Dr. Jack Hodgins in the episode "The Parts of the Sum in the Whole", in anthropology
, forensic anthropology
; it is implied that most of her work at the lab was related to either long-dead bodies or victims of genocide
. Her occasional contract work for the FBI shifted the focus of her work.She was paired with FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth
, and helped to solve two difficult cases;
Since then, they have worked together almost exclusively on modern-day murder cases.
Brennan works with a group of other well-qualified colleagues, including the entomologist Jack Hodgins
, her boss and forensic pathologist Camille Saroyan
, forensic artist Angela Montenegro
, and a host of eager graduate students. Booth refers to her crew of colleagues as "squints", because they come to crime scenes and squint at evidence. He is also responsible for her nickname, "Bones".
As of season one it can be determined that Brennan is at least 30 years old because in the first season finale she mentioned that her parents went missing over 15 years ago, and states that she was born in 1976.
also she has said numerous times that they disappeared when she was 15 years old. In "The Death of the Queen Bee" it is revealed that her then-current age is 33 years.
First mentioned in season 1, Brennan has a love of dolphins, which she shared with her late mother: in the season one finale, "The Woman in Limbo", Brennan examines a custom-made belt with a dolphin on the buckle, which had belonged to her mother, and which she mentions having once borrowed without asking first. Brennan's love of dolphins is highlighted again in season 2 episodes "The Titan on the Tracks", "The Killer in the Concrete" and "Stargazer in a Puddle", when she mentions the constellation Delphinus
, (the Dolphin), her and her mother's favorite. In season 6, "The Doctor in the Photo", she is shown to wear a dolphin ring.
In "Mummy in the Maze", Brennan exhibited ophidiophobia
when confronted with snakes, but later only shows a moment of fright when confronted with another snake in "The Mastodon in the Room". She takes note of this, voicing her observation that she only seems to lose her head around snakes when Booth is also "there to be jumped upon", and also she mentions that she once had a pet snake during high school. It should also be noted that, in "The Man in the Morgue," Brennan handled a snake without any trace of fear, even while Booth is in the room.
In season one, in "A Man on Death Row", Dr. Brennan expresses her stance on the death penalty
; "I believe in the death penalty. There are certain people who shouldn't be in this world. The people who hacked hundreds of innocent children to death in Rwanda
; beheaded them at their desks at school! The people who did that, they should be executed." In "The Woman at the Airport", Dr. Brennan is shown to have a strong dislike for plastic surgeons
, believing them to be no more than "glorified butchers with medical degrees", and this dislike is voiced again in season 4
, in "Cinderella in the Cardboard". In "The Woman in the Car", Dr. Brennan reveals that her third doctorate is in kinesiology
, a field that would allow her and Angela to unravel how one of the bodies that had been found had been killed.
In season two, she expressed the desire to get a pet pig, whom she would have named "Jasper". Brennan's expertise in kinesiology
would again prove its worth in "The Truth in the Lye" (she could tell that one of the murder suspects was pregnant just from having observed her gait
), in "The Girl with the Curl" (she could tell if one of the young beauty pageant contestants was suffering from scoliosis
just by watching them perform on stage), and in "The Woman in the Sand" (while undercover with Booth, she was able to tell Booth exactly how to beat his opponent from just having watched his moves). In "Judas on a Pole", she and her brother are identified as having the same blood type
, blood type O. In "Glowing Bones in the Old Stone House", she is shown to be a good cook: Booth's comment on her mac and cheese
is that he'd "like to be alone with it."
In the season 3 episode, "Mummy in the Maze", it is revealed that Brennan's favorite superhero
is Wonder Woman
, and that she always goes as Wonder Woman to the Jeffersonian's Halloween
party. In "The Baby in the Bough", it is revealed that Brennan is a registered foster parent
, at her brother's request, to take in his stepdaughters in case anything should happen to him and his girlfriend. In the season 3 episode, "Intern in the Incinerator", Booth reveals that Brennan's favorite flower is a Daffodil
, her second favorite flower is a Daisy
, and her favorite planet is Jupiter
In season 5, in "The Death of the Queen Bee", when asked if she'd had a pet rat, Brennan discloses that she, in fact, had a pet mouse, snake and some spiders. During her time at Burtonsville
high school, her only friend was the school custodian, Ray Buxley
, with whom she would enjoy long, in-depth conversations on life and death, and who would also provide her with dead animals to dissect (Brennan having set out to become a forensic anthropologist
,) and who would later be one of her books' biggest fans (she having named the killer in her first book, Bred in the Bone
, after him). According to the Burtonsville high school on-line yearbook
entry on Brennan, in her senior year, she was a member of the Chemistry
club and Math
club, her interests were chemistry and mathematics, and she was a National Merit Scholar
and an Academic All Star.
In the season 6 episode, "The Blackout in the Blizzard", Brennan mentions her pet iguana for the first time. This same episode show that one of the number of scientific publications that Brennan reads is Medicinal Physics Quarterly
, with one article on electrostatics
and triboluminescence proving useful during the lab's power outage. Further concerning her pet iguana in "The Truth in the Myth", as a part of his rehab from alcohol abuse, Vincent Nigel-Murry made apologies for, among other things, having borrowed her iguana one night, wearing him as a hat for a party; after his confession, she comments that he must having taken good care of her iguana as she has observed nothing wrong with him (the iguana); she further expresses some surprise that Vincent Nigel-Murry was able to get her iguana to stay perched atop his head, to which he replied that he was good with ribbons.
In season 8, "The Tiger in the Tale", Booth mentions to Sweets that Dr. Brennan once took Peyote
with Native Americans
Although Brennan seemed to have a relatively normal childhood, her parents disappeared when she was 15 years old.
Her older brother Russ
was unable to care for her and she was put in the foster care system. By the time she started college she had been to twelve different schools and has specifically said that she hated the lack of consistency.
There has been contradictory evidence about her time in the system; in one episode, Brennan stated that her grandfather got her out of the foster system,
but in a later episode, she indicates that she never knew her grandparents (possibly the two references are to two separate sets of grandparents, paternal
However, taking into consideration the fact that Brennan's parents had assumed new identities when she was 3-years-old, the grandfather who had taken her in from her time in the foster system may not have been her biological grandfather.
Her time in foster care was quite traumatic
and abusive; Brennan indicated that she was once locked in the trunk of a car for two days because she broke a plate,
and in the episode "The Finger in the Nest", she reveals to Booth that she walked into her elderly neighbor's house to find the woman dead. In the same episode, she also mentions to Booth that her parents were very concerned about her afterwards, because she started faking her own death. In Season 2, she mentions that during her time in the foster care system, she kept a list of foster homes she had been kicked out of on the bottom of her shoe.
In the first season she hands Booth the file on her parents' disappearance and he agrees to look into it as a personal favor.
It is later revealed in Season 2 that her parents, who were bank robbers specializing in safety deposit boxes
, changed the family's identity after they stole some damaging FBI documents regarding the murder of an FBI agent and the false imprisonment of civil rights activist Marvin Beckett. Brennan's birth name was Joy Keenan.
Her mother (real name Ruth Keenan, known under the assumed identity of Christine Brennan) had hoped to someday return to her children and family, but made a tape for Brennan to watch on her 16th birthday in case that never happened. Brennan later discovered that Ruth/Christine was murdered in 1993, two years after she and her husband went on the run.
Her father Max Keenan
re-entered Brennan's life when she and her brother were being threatened by an old acquaintance, who turned out to be Booth's boss, Deputy Director Kirby.
Max evades capture after killing Kirby, and takes Russ into hiding to protect him.
Later, Max allows Booth to arrest him in order to improve his relationship with his daughter.
At trial, Max is acquitted of murdering Director Kirby (due in large part to a defense Booth indirectly came up with, positing an alternate theory of the crime in which Temperance was the killer instead, creating reasonable doubt), and he begins to rebuild his life.
He temporarily works at the Jeffersonian as a guide for children visiting the place and demonstrates his brilliant talent as a former science teacher. However, Brennan is concerned about a convicted felon having access to a lab that investigates crimes.
Max also introduces Brennan to her cousin Margaret Whitesell
portrayed by Deschanel's real-life sister Zooey Deschanel
Brennan is best friends with her coworker, Angela, saying in the 6th season premiere she loves Angela "like a sister" and is going to be an aunt to Hodgins' and Angela's newborn child. It is revealed at the end of the season six finale "The Change in the Game" that Brennan is pregnant and the father is Booth.
In Season 7, episode 2 "The Hot Dog in the Competition", Brennan and Booth found out they were having a baby girl. Their daughter, Christine Angela Booth (named for Brennan's mother and her best friend), was born in a stable during the episode "The Prisoner in the Pipe". In the Season 7 finale, "The Past in the Present", key evidence in the death of her friend, Ethan Sawyer, is linked to Brennan. Max
convinces her to go on the run along with Christine, saying that if she is arrested, even if she is found innocent, she may never see her daughter again.
In Season 8 premiere, it is revealed that while on the run, Brennan was communicating with Angela, via flowers
, and eventually used this as a way to communicate with Booth. Despite being on the run, Brennan risks her safety and decides to meet directly with Booth in a hotel room after months of being a single mother. Eventually, they arrest Christopher Pelant, who was the real murderer of Ethan Sawyer, and Brennan is allowed to be back with her family.