How Bones Could Have Ended If It Had Gotten Cancelled Sooner

"Bones" had a massive run on Fox, airing nearly 250 episodes across 12 seasons. Unless streaming changes dramatically, we might never see a run of scripted television like that again. But all along the way, the people working on the show feared they might get canceled. Luckily, they made it all the way to the now-infamous lab explosion that concluded the series. However, the show could have ended very differently had the network canceled it sooner.

Series creator and executive producer Hart Hanson never expected that the show would run as long as it did. Wanting to ensure that the show could end on his terms, he devised several different finales at various points along the way. After the finale aired in 2017, Hanson delved into those plans in an interview with Deadline, when he was asked if he always thought the show would end with the lab being destroyed.

"When we first started all those years ago in 2005, no, but mind you, I thought it was going to end on about Episode 4 in the first season. But when we started realizing that we would be aiming for an end-of-series, you know, two or three seasons in, I wrote down what my idea was for the end of the series, and the first idea was the wedding, [Brennan and Booth] would get married. But then we didn't get canceled, we kept going, so we burnt that up."

"Bones" was on the bubble so often during its run that it seemed like that lab explosion might never happen. When season 11 ended, it was awkward for the cast and crew because they weren't certain they would be back for more. But they did come back and saw it through the way Hanson wanted.

'It wasn't the ending I first had in my mind'

While Hanson and company did get to wrap things up in season 12, there were plenty of other endings considered along the way. From David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel starting an on-screen family to making career changes for the sake of that family, Hanson had options in his back pocket at various points that he could have relied on to bring it in for a landing.

"We thought that the next thing was, well, we'll have them pregnant, start a family, and we burned by that. So I kept coming up with new endings. Then it was maybe when they have their second child they will decide that they need to make some changes in their lives, they can't be running around after murderers, and we kind of burned by that. So, although it wasn't the ending I first had in my mind when we started the show, the endings that I had in mind in one guise or another came and went."

Fortunately, the show never had to contend with an abrupt ending, in no small part because "Bones" had a big champion at Fox. In the end, Hanson was happy with how things ended, even if he wasn't the one who actually wrote the finale.

"I'm good with that. Stephen [Nathan] and Michael [Peterson] and John [Collier] and Karine [Rosenthal] wrote it, and I thought they did a great job. I thought their decisions were all very solid, especially given that they had a sure hand on the tiller for two years. They knew exactly what they were doing."

"Bones" is currently streaming on Hulu and Amazon Prime Video.