Bones Theory

I Ask, You Answer: Booth’s Parents


It’s time for another IAYA, and that means it’s time for you to weigh in with your thoughts on today’s topic:


What do you think happened to Booth’s parents?


50 thoughts on “I Ask, You Answer: Booth’s Parents

  1. OK this is going to be quick and short as I just need to respond and things are a mess here at work right now.

    My personal theory (which will probably be blown out of the water when they actually show us anything) is that Booth’s mother died and that’s actually when his father went over the edge, started drinking and started beating his kids.

    To me that would explain Booth’s idealized ideas about marriage and family. Everything was fine while his mom was there, and with her death everything fell apart. Also if she died of an illness she could have said something like as the oldest he needed to look after his little brother, things like that. Setting him up as a protector.

    • Frankie, this is what I think happened as well. Happy home life with dad the barber and mom writing jingles until her untimely death. Then dad falls apart (maybe because he couldn’t save her) starts drinking and hitting the boys.

  2. We know that Hank forced Booth’s Dad to leave after catching him beating Booth; so, I would guess that Hank took the Booth boys home and didn’t contact his son again. Booth’s Dad probably just drifted along angry at the world and blaming everyone else for his problems except himself. Child abusers are like that. Nothing is the fault of the abuser.

    I will make the assumption that Booth’s Mom is dead. No one has said anything about her except that she was a jingle writer. It was a happy memory for Booth. Since Hank didn’t mention Booth’s mother when he told Brennan that he kicked his son out of the Booth boys lives then we can assume she wasn’t in the picture. She is either dead or she fled from her abusive husband. I hope the second thing didn’t happen as that would mean that she abandoned her sons and left them in a dangerous situation.

    • I actually wrote a fanfic about this topic in July. If you want to see it, it is titled “Booth Talks About His Mother”, under the name FaithinBones at FanFiction.Net

      • I liked that story ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Liked it too Lenora! I figure his dad is still alive but Booth hasn’t heard from him since he left. I have a feeling we’ll see them confronting each other this season, and I hope the Booth/Brennan conversation you wrote about will take place then. If you get a chance, I wrote one too: The Inner Life under mariu100 (because they also stole my name…) Let me know what you think!

    • Maria, I read part of your story yesterday and finished it this moring. I liked it. Are you going to add more chapters?

  3. I have no idea but I can’t wait to see what everyone else has to say.

    I do believe that at the least, Mama Booth is still alive. There was something about his expression in “Wannabe in the Weeds” when Pam said she’d called up and pretended to be his mother. There was a . . a something . . . there.

    • Ah but see it’s that little bit of something in his expression that makes me think even more that his mom is dead. When I saw it my thoughts were kind of a yep his mom has passed.

      Maybe someday we’ll find out the truth in the show.

      • It’s probably wishful thinking on my part. Mostly because I want to see Kathy Bates or Jacqueline Bisset show up as his mother. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Do you watch Rizzoli & Isles? Jacqueline Bisset showed up as Isles’ mother last week, so you can get a fix of her on there.

      • Good grief. Everyone I want on BONES shows up elsewhere. Maybe if I pretend to watch other shows, HH&Co will hire the ones I like. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • MJ, perhaps HH follows you on twitter and deliberately avoids the actors you like just to spite you. It’s a conspiracy!

      • Hodgins would buy it.

      • MJ mabye you should twitter that you DON’T want James Marsters on Bones. Then HH would put him on the show to spite you.

      • It is my life’s mission to get James Marsters on BONES, goshdarnit.

        It’s also my life’s mission to fit in a size 8 again but this one might actually happen! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • I want Tyne Daly to be on the show. She’s too old to be Booth’s mom, but she could be Pops’ girlfriend or some crusty old professor who mentored Brennan decades ago.

      • I want Neil Patrick Harris to do a guest spot. I love Dr. Horrible!

      • Look, people – I was in line first! We get James Marsters and then you guys can have a turn! ๐Ÿ™‚

        Tyne Daly is only in her 60s, isn’t she? Booth is in his 40s, so she could be his mum. She’s great.

        And NPH? Gold in everything he touches. I mean, if you can make that Kumar thing watchable he can pretty much do anything.

      • Since we can’t have James Garner as Booth’s grandfather, how about as his grand-uncle. Gosh he would be great on Bones.

      • I think Tyne Daly would be wonderful as a former professor of Brennan’s. I would love to see that. Maybe someone who steered her from disecting dead animals more into the forensic anthropology realm.

        As for James Marsters wouldn’t he be fabulous doing a serial killer arc? One where like Epps, the Gravedigger, and Broadsky covers several episodes during a season or seasons.

  4. I think that I have also assumed the Booth’s mom is deceased. I think that, as Frankie said, this caused his father to go over the edge. I am guessing that he always drank and maybe even hit Booth’s mom on occasion, but it got significantly worse after his wife’s death. I think that Booth’s idealistic views of family and marriage are how he dealt with everything. Unlike Brennan, who chose to shut out the world (emotionally), Booth believed that there had to be something better and has been forever in pursuit of it.

  5. I don’t see any way for the show to have Booth’s mother be alive and have her be a sympathetic character. Audiences tend not to warm up to mothers who abandon their children at all much less to the care of abusive alcoholics. But then, if Booth’s mom did stuff like tell her kid she was feeding him eyeballs in her meatloaf, maybe she was abusive too.

    If they bring us Booth’s mom, alive, I’m not going to buy it if Booth’s all “Yay! Mom!” and I’m not sure the show is capable, in 13 episodes and with so much else going on, of handling a tough story like that. I think it’s a much better story if she’s dead. Especially if, as Frankie suggested, the abuse and drinking started after she died. It reconciles all the various snippets of Booth’s past. His fond memories, Jared’s casual reference to their father, and the suggestion that the boys were older when Pops took them in.

    • Personally, I consider just serving hard-boiled eggs to be a subtle form of child abuse. Blech.

      As for where she’s been, any explanation that would absolve her for abandoning her boys to their alcoholic father would have to be so far-fetched as to be laughable. Abducted by aliens? (I confess, I just watch The X in the File last night!) Witness protection? She hit her head, got amnesia, and joined the circus?

  6. To be honest, I’m not sure that Hart Hanson knows much about Booth’s parents. I don’t think it’s been given a lot of thought. Certainly, we don’t know much.

    Of the top of my head, I can only think of a few times his parents have even been mentioned. I think that Booth told Brennan about his mom writing jingles in The Woman in Limbo.

    There’s also an episode (I think it’s near the end of season two) in which B & B are sitting in the diner, and Brennan is asking Booth for advice regarding her father and Booth tells her he loves his father, and would jump at the chance to talk to him again (I’m a little fuzzy on the details, but I remember getting the impression that Booth had positive feelings for his father but was not in contact with him–is he perhaps dead, too?)

    In season three, Booth tells Gorgon Gordon “Wrong tree, doc. Dad and I were tight.” Is he just deflecting? Or had HH not yet conceived the abusive dad scenario?

    It’s not until season four that Booth tells Brennan, “My dad drank” and we got a little backstory about that from Jared, Cam, and Sweets. (Speaking of which, wouldn’t the fact the Booth has a brother be in a file somewhere? How did Sweets not know this, even if Booth never talked about him?)

    That leaves us with the Blackout in the Blizzard, and the story behind behind the stadium seats. That story just breaks my heart for little Booth.

    My personal opinions that they are both deceased, and I think the idea that his mother’s death drove his dad to drink has merit. It would certainly fit with what little we do know.

    • Yeah, I agree that the “Booth’s dad was an abusive drunk” storyline was thought up sometime in season 4 and there is no backstory.

      The conversation with Gordon Gordon took place is season 2, btw.

      I also suspect that Brennan’s “grandfather” who got her out of foster care was a story idea that was eventually transferred to Booth and became Pops.

      I don’t have any problem with any of this. It happens. A writer gets an idea and later, he gets a better idea. Ryan O’Neal as Max is a highlight of the series and well worth whatever we might have lost with the original idea for Brennan’s backstory.

      The challenge is to make thew new version of Booth’s past fit with the previous versions. Modern audiences, with the ability to record and re-watch and discuss with thousands of other viewers, are just less willing to accept the old “handwave” in which the writer doesn’t bother to explain why he’s shifted gears.

      Brennan’s disappearing grandfather is easy to explain – she barely knew Booth at that point and she lied to end a difficult conversation. For now, Booth’s evolving backstory is easy to explain too: children who grew up in abusive homes often cling to their good memories, and they still love their parents. If Booth’s father was only abusive when he drank, it would be easy for the family to blame the alcohol, not the man. Also, Booth would have grown up in the 70’s and 80’s when smacking one’s kids around was considered discipline, not abuse.

      So I think they have plenty of wiggle room to bring back the dad, but not the mom. If mom’s alive, it’s a whole other (uglier, IMO) story.

      • Barbara, for some reason I have this mental block that always places the episodes from The Girl in the Gator to The Boneless Bride in the River in season three instead of where it actually belongs, in season two. Perhaps that’s from too much partying in my college days. But you’re right, it is season two. The episode with the diner scene that I referenced is also from season two, The Killer in the Concrete.

        Hmmm…I find your theory about Brennan’s vanishing grandfather being morphed into Pops very interesting. I can see that.

        To be honest, I don’t really have a problem with the changes either. Writing television is a creative process, but, unlike with a novel, they can’t go back and edit everything before publication. They’re just stuck with what they wrote six years ago, and have to find a way to make it work. Or just ignore it.

  7. I think the idea that his mother died (probably of a short illness and not accident or homicide) is the most likely. This gives credence to the theory that the father started or accelerated the drinking and abuse after that and that their childhood was relatively happy before that. I’ve always thought Booth was about 11 or 12 at that point but I don’t think it ever says in the show. When Hank took the boys, the dad must have drifted out of the picture. I think the dad must have died or Booth would have looked him up by now. Logically the dad could have died of liver damage or car accident or a bar fight or….

    • Hank said that Booth was a little kid when he caught his son beating him. I guess I assumed a “little kid” would be younger. It would have been nice if the writers had just had Hank say Booth’s age.

      • I think the story he tells in Blackout about the game with his dad would have been when Booth was about 9 or 10, and the abuse had already started then. I have no idea though how much after that the incident Pops described occurred.

      • The more details they give, the less wiggle room they have later if they need to monkey with the story to fit whatever new story idea they have. It makes sense to be as vague as the storyline allows. But it is annoying.

    • I went back and checked. Booth said he went to the 1980 World Series with this Dad. If you assumed that he was born in 1971 then he would have been 9. I get his birth year from the fact that in the show, Brennan at one time said there was a five year difference between her and Booth and in another episode I believe it was mentioned that she was born in 1976. (DB was actually born in 1969)

    • I have assumed Booth’s father was dead too but I guess it would be logical if he was still alive as well. Booth has said he wished he could talk to his father a couple times….he could easily look him up, right? OR maybe while he still holds affection for his father, he may have some anger too. I could see Booth not seeking his father out, kind of feeling that his father should be the one to come back to his life. I could see Booth softening toward his father after becoming a father himself but also becoming more confused by his father. Kind of along the lines that parents do the best they can with what they have, but also wondering how his father could beat him or not get help because he would feel that you do anything for your kids to keep them safe and happy. We also know Booth has tried to be very involved in Parker’s life, even if it has not been easy at times.

  8. I believe Booth’s mother died. I think if she had walked out that it would have been mentioned by this point…could be wrong, but that’s what I think. I think the theory that her death pushed Mr. Booth over the edge sounds very reasonable but I also believe that he was violent before. On a sadder note….anyone think Booth’s mother may have committed suicide? Why would a young Booth contemplate killing himself to end the pain or misery he may have been going through? Was it because his mother escaped that way? That’s pretty dark but….makes me wonder. Booth seems to be attracted to strong women though….could that be because he viewed his mother as being weak or was she strong while she was alive? Strong enough to protect her boys. Booth really snapped in Signs in the Silence when that guy hit his wife. I also think Booth could have fond memories of his father, even if his father beat him. Maybe Mr. Booth was okay when he wasn’t drinking….maybe Mr. Booth had a temper and he couldn’t control it when he drank. Booth’s memory of the world series game with his dad was so sad….he clearly stated that his dad had stopped drinking for a brief time during that period, thus that memory was particularly sweet. Booth seems to know that he has a temper as well. Remember in Fire in the Ice Sweets mentioned the history of violence in Booth’s past…Booth DID NOT want to acknowledge it but he did on his own terms in Signs in the Silence. He DID NOT like loosing control like that. Booth does have an idealized version of love/family and I think he probably gets that from the good memories he has of his family life and from Pops. For some reason I can easily see Pops sharing fond memories of his life with Grandma Booth. Pops was probably “that guy”… he probably “knew” when he saw Grandma Booth:)

    • cam cat, I’m not convinced Booth ever seriously considered suicide. I think it was hyperbole. Brennan wanted him to reveal something about his past, and I personally think that was just his way of saying, “I had a really crappy childhood. Pops saved me.” He makes a joke about jumping off the balcony like Epps when he’s talking to Gordon Gordon, too. I think there might even be one more reference to suicide, but I honestly believe he’s exaggerating and/or joking as a way to deflect.

    • I’ve thought of that same suicide possibilty, or along those lines, that she overdosed on prescription medication. Many wives of abusive alcoholics suffer from deep depression, especially if they feel unable to shield their kids from the abuse. i’ve met a couple of them, and both relied heavily on tranquilizers to get through their day. One of them (a cousin) was actually found by one of her kids after having od’d, whether on purpose or by accident, we don’t know. She was ok, but this, along with their dad’s behavior, left deep scars on those kids. I know Brennan tells pops that he was a good man for taking the boys in, since they had no one else, so she must have been out of the picture by then. I just don’t see them using an abandonment to justify her absence.

      My guess is they’re furiously working to figure this out as we speak. If Booth’s story is explored next year, and it seems that it finally will be, the writers are going to be forced to deal with the issue of where his parents are. I can’t wait to see what they come up with; it would be great to witness Booth dealing with his dad. Maybe we’ll get something really powerful, like that Daredevil bar scene.

  9. I think Booth’s mother died and then his father’s drinking got out of hand. Maybe Booth’s father had been a little violent before then, because he was a vietnam veteran and they went through some crazy stuff, but maybe his mother could talk him down. After she died, that kind of went out the window till Pops stepped in.

  10. I think there is an opportunity to explore Booth’s family but whether or not they take that opportunity is another story. There will be a shortened season 7 so they have a lot to cram in during a short period of time. However, I do think it is time to deal with the past since Brennan has faced her past and IF Booth and Brennan decide to try and create a family for their child it would make sense, to me, that this be addressed. Neither Brennan nor Booth has had a family of their own during their adult lives. Booth is a father but he has not been raising Parker in the same household as Rebecca…they co-parent and he’s involved but it’s not a day-to-day living together situation. We don’t know if Rebecca and Booth ever did try that arrangement but if they did I don’t think it lasted long. I actually do think they tried though as I remember getting that impression from the scene between Booth and Rebecca in Mother and Child in the Bay when Rebecca mentioned her current boyfriend fixes things around the house when he says he is going to. We know Brennan is in completely new territory here and Booth should be trying for a “different outcome” since he has not been successful to this point in past relationships. And, again, it shouldn’t just be for their child, it should be for them as well.

    Also, I think they could work Booth’s mother in there easily if Booth and Brennan discuss what they want to name their child. If they discuss girl names and boy names a conversation could easily be brought up if Brennan would want to name a daughter after her mother…Brennan could say what about your mother? Right? Right.

  11. If Booth’s mom did leave, it could be why his father started to drink and the abuse started. Often women who leave feel overwhelmed with being a mother and dealing with other issues they can’t cope with, do leave their families. Fathers tend to leave more often, but there are instances where it is the mother. If Booth’s father started drinking and abusing the kids after she left it could be because she said she could handle being a mother and all it encompasses. Their father could have blamed them and his drinking and abuse was the result.

    Booth is extremely careful in how he approaches relationships. He rarely likes to show his true self and always tries to create an environment with as little conflict as possible. I have always felt that his mother left their family, not died. Booth comes across as being wounded in more ways than just being the child of an abusive alcoholic. I get the sense that he always tries to be the best he can be because from a young age something else happened that told him he wasn’t good enough or worthy enough to be loved. Having both parents walk out on you, aat separate times, would do this.

  12. Wow, everyone makes such good points! I think I’m going to agree with the majority that Booth’s mom is dead, and probably his father also. I would think that Booth would have some type of commuication with his parents, regardless of his upbringing. Putting my own spin on it with my own grandfather, is that even though he was abusive to his children, I met him later in life, and now he’s an older man, feeble, and no longer as threatening. I could see Booth in some kind of contact if he was still alive, even perhaps allowing him to meet Parker (though I didn’t meet my grandpa till I was 18). Same with his mother. If she was alive, either Booth would’ve tracked her down and made contact, or she abandoned her family and left her kids alone with a bad father to who knows what and Booth never heard from her again? It just seems off.

    With Bones, it is hard to tell if we’ll get ever a straight answer on a backstory or story arc. It may be that all they give us as far as Booth’s family is Pops/Hank, which don’t get me wrong, is great. I love him!! But that may be all the family we get besides Jared.

    **It would be kind of fun if they threw in a cousin or something ala Margaret (Zooey Deschanel)…they could have DB’s dad come back (he was an extra once) as an actual character, that’d be fun.

  13. It might also depend if HH gets a season 8. He might give us more details if he gets more time.

    • Somewhere I read that Fox is saying they’d like an S8.

      I sure hope so!

      • In a perfect world (ha!) it’d go to infinity because crime never stops, and we could follow B&B through baby #1, baby #2…etc….and then on to the next generation crime fighters of Michael Staccato Vincent Hodgins and Baby Girl Booth as they kiss, bicker, fall in love slowly over years and years and finally get together……. ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. I got the distinct feeling that Booth protected his mom from his dad. I can’t remember if anything was mentioned in the Sign in the Silence but I feel like the abuse started while his mother was alive. I agree with everything else though – I think his mom died and the abuse may have escalated afterwards.

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