Bones Theory

Vintage Bones: Pilot- IAYA: What’s In A Nickname?


{Edit from Seels: Thank you to each person who sent encouragement about this trip down BONES memory lane! As the week has gone on, I’ve gotten more and more excited. I wanted to announce the winner of the (and the) category name for this project, and it is… “Vintage Bones”, brought to you by the lovely Linda (cosmicgirl).

There were SO many great suggestions, but in the end, this one just felt right. As we take a look back at this great series so far, it just feels like some of those older episodes just get better and richer with age. I guess we’ll find out for sure! Thanks again, Linda!

And Maria had a question that turned out to be perfect for our opening discussion of the series–The Pilot}

Why did Booth feel the need to call Brennan “Bones”, and even more intriguing, why did she let him? It’s not as if she couldn’t have put an end to that if she really wanted to.


Here’s your B&B of the Day

The “She says ‘diatomaceous earth’, and all of a sudden, we’re all about to get a lot smarter” B&B

From: Pilot– Season One


18 thoughts on “Vintage Bones: Pilot- IAYA: What’s In A Nickname?

  1. Great question – great start – great name! I’m so excited about this Vintage Bones project πŸ™‚

    My first thought on why Booth gave the nickname is that it’s what people who work together that Booth is familiar with do – the military and in the FBI I think it’s fairly common for people to have nicknames as it builds trust and positive working relationships. Maybe Booth knew he wanted to work with her more than once, maybe he wanted a quick way to build rapport, maybe he felt ‘Dr Brennan’ was too formal, maybe all of the above. I love it πŸ™‚

    I think Brennan kind of liked the nickname from the start – she was attracted to Booth and nicknames are quite flirty πŸ™‚ I am so very very glad that ‘shoes’ didn’t catch on though πŸ™‚

    Think of all the brilliant discussions and memories Vintage Bones is going to provoke – I can’t wait πŸ™‚

  2. I think it was Booth being Booth with a beautiful woman – flirty, funny and it establishes a sense of intimacy between the two of them. As Brennan told Angela later, she’d never had a nickname before. “Just Bones.” (And the smile on her face then was so pretty!)

  3. Booth wanted to give her a nickname to annoy her and depersonalize her because he was attracted to her. It’s his own way of compartmentalizing, putting her into the box of “bones”– that’s what she does and that’s what she is to him. She’s his means of getting a solution, getting closure, getting a better office. Yes, it might have had a flirty component for him, but I think it was really to categorize her. The same with the “squint” nickname. They do science, he does cop and together they might be able to solve cases.

    Kids at school give nicknames to other kids, sometimes it’s a good thing, sometimes not so much. Booth also comes from a tradition of nicknames– Hank calls him Shrimp, Booth calls his grandfather Pops. We see Booth give suspects nicknames, ways to categorize them. But the people of his immediate family get nicknames– out of love. It might have been lust or something near it early on in their relationship, but it evolved into respect, trust and love.

  4. I think Booth could tell that while she was this beautiful, accomplished person, that she had walls up. Remember, Brennan greatly admires his ability to read people. I think he read her like a book! So I think it was partly because he wanted to build a partner type relationship with her, partly because he knew she needed someone to breach her defenses, and also because he’s flirty charming Booth, and knows he can get away with things πŸ™‚

  5. And props to Barbara for being tweeted by Hart Hanson!

    Thanks to Bones writer @DLoIndustries (Dean Lopata) for passing on this awesome piece on the bonestheory website.

  6. I think the nickname was sort of a possessive gesture on Booth’s part meant to make her more “his,” which is why he got so annoyed when Jared attempted to use it. In some ways he was marking off his territory, whether he knew it at the time or not. It might have also been his way of creating a little more intimacy between them, an effort which she initially rejected pretty thoroughly. Why she finally accepted it remains a mystery to me. She’s just as stubborn as he is, and she could have read him the riot act about not working with him if he continued to use it. So did she kind of like it becasue of the implied bond it created, or did she just give up? I like to believe it was the former.

  7. First of all, I’m a new poster, having discovered the world of Bones fans much more recently than having discovered the show. I can’t tell you how fulfilling (odd?) it is to feel reinforced by the observations and opinions of the people here…or how exciting it is that a new project is starting that I might actually be able to be part of. Yay! Please pardon if I’m long-winded at first…I have so much to say!

    I tried to take this question from a strictly “Pilot Episode only” viewpoint, as when we first saw it there were no other episodes to clarify what we saw here. It’s only too easy to take a look at the 100th or where Brennan talks about nicknames. We’ve also seen that Booth likes to give nicknames (remember cementhead and icepick?) But this is the pilot and without any other frame of reference, assumptions would be made from that alone. We also see that their previous case is referenced by Booth and Brennan and Angela mentions that Booth is in the book…so we know there is previous interaction but nothing of the nickname.

    I take the nickname a few different ways. The first time he uses it is in the “interrogation room” at the airport. The way he says “Bones identifies bodies for us” shows a sort of …possession?..As if he knows her better than anyone who doesn’t have a nickname for her and is sort of claiming her as part of his own spectrum of expertise/knowledge…or something like that. It seems a little bit to show the Homeland Security guy that there is a history…a connection or familiarity of some kind. I think you’ll find that when he uses her name in this way, THIS is the time when you will see her telling him not to call her ‘Bones’ -when it’s just a label or almost a failure to show respect by using her proper name around people who don’t know her. It’s unprofessional or too personal in some situations. I noted that he used the name (yes even in the Pilot) as if it were just a matter of course. Very familiar to him, despite not having interacted with her for quite some time, as we learn as the episode progresses.

    The name could also be seen as his acknowledgement that she is the best at what she does and he finds familiarity with dealing with the best. There is some respect in it, raising her above the average “squint”.

    Otherwise, nicknames (from personal experience) indicate a connection, imply a friendship..and further a bond, whether established or still in formation. It loosens things up from the formal “Special Agent” and “Doctor” relationship, bringing them to a partnership of sorts. A nickname is something that is special…private in a way, just between those two, that no one else can share. People see it, recognize it and can even be jealous of it or try to use it, but it’s not the same because the story behind it -the reason for the nickname is between the person who thought it up and the person they use it on.

    Brennan doesn’t say she hates the nickname, she says don’t call me that -and usually in pretty specific situations. I haven’t really taken a hard look at when she says it, but we’ve all noticed that he calls her Temperance when he wants to make a point or be personal. I think she allows it because she identifies with it a little bit..but doesn’t allow it in situations that should be professional in which it is perhaps too personal or inappropriate. Sometimes it’s inappropriate in that he uses this “pet name” at times when they are arguing or he is being less than complimentary and she calls him on it.

    Honestly, I think she likes it at least a little bit. I think she gets the need to connect as partners and I imagine she respects Booth enough to overlook it most of the time, wanting to let that go so that she can continue this partnership, which is clearly important to her.

    • Welcome to the loony bin… er, party! πŸ˜‰

      You’ve made some great observations – love your point about Booth calling her Bones right from the moment we meet him. It does speak to a certain amount of possession and suggests that he knows her, maybe more than she would like.

      Hope you’ll continue to be a part of the madness! πŸ™‚

  8. I think he did it because he wanted to get under her skin. He probably thought she was so self-righteous, and was used to people treating her in a certain way. I think he just didn’t want to give in to that. Let me rewind some. I think he thought it was kind of cute. When he met her he realized bones were her thing. When she started resisting it, it kind of gave him more of a reason to keep saying it, just to irk her. They were both sorta prickly with each other, but I think part of them liked igniting something in the other person. But as their relationship and dynamic changed, so did the way in which he used it and she took it. Just like the word squints. It was not a compliment at first, but even Brennan eventually got to the point where she used the word on a couple of occasions.

    I think being “Bones” is important to her. Under that name, she can challenge herself to think and grow in ways she never thought of or even refused to do before. It’s kind of funny when she refers to herself as “Bones”. After some time, Booth’s friendship meant so much to her, she dedicated a book to him.

    • I like what you said there C-bones. I think he was trying to knock her off her Dr. Brennan high horse a little bit, but not in a mean way, just to irk her, like you said. Kind of in a big brother way at first. It did bug her at first, but as they established a tight friendship/partnership it became a fond nickname that she likes. Like she told Angela, she’d never had a nickname before, and it became very special to her.

  9. When I saw the Pilot for the first time, shortly after watching three episodes in season 5, I was struck by how easy Booth used the term Bones. We knew from their conversations that they had worked together before. Why else say “Why are you here?” when she saw him for the first time in the Pilot. We later learned that their first go around didn’t end well and this was Booth’s second attempt. Watching the Pilot, we didn’t know that but we did know there was a history of some type. To me, by the time the Pilot came around, Booth was calling Temperance Brennan “Bones” because he had been doing it mentally since their first case. He wasn’t awkward when he said “Bones”. It just flowed out of his mouth with ease. By the time they started working together in the Pilot, “Bones” was already embedded in Booth’s thoughts.

    Brennan allowed Booth to use the nickname because, to me, she knew that he was going to do it whether she wanted him to or not. She did protest that she didn’t want to be called Bones; but, that didn’t seem to deter Booth. She probably thought at first that it would be easier to just ignore the whole Bones thing; but, then a strange thing happened, she became use to him saying it and she responded to it.

    Brennan did have a history with nicknames; but, apparently not outside of the family. Her father and brother called her Tempe. She probably didn’t like non-family using a nickname with her because it connotated a family connection. I think as she became friends with Booth she allowed the implied family connection to move forward.

  10. I think Booth started calling her Bones as a flirty sort of gesture. I might be over thinking it, but I think he actually thought about what kind of response he would evoke out of her by using a nickname before he even called her it, and he was waiting for a playful sort of moment to use it for the first time. I believe the first true time he used it was in the flashback in the 100th episode where he said “Ya know I am really enjoying working with you bones.” The nickname is a sort of way he uses to flirt with her and connect with her on a personal level (Dr Brennan is way to formal to use for flirting….unless it was for some naughty sort of roleplay :p) , and I think he takes pride in the fact that she lets him and only him use it. I remember Sweets trying to use it at one point after they had experienced being hit by a car in that one episode with the collectible sword and she just gave him and incredulous look and basically stated in different words that “No he could not use that nickname with her, only Booth could.” Anyways even though she initially half-heartedly rejected being called Bones she never truly seemed angered by it so he continued to use it as a way of being personable and flirty.

    He somewhat did the same sort of thing with Cam. When she was first introduced with working with the team she called him Seeley and he called her Camille and they playfully went back and forth on how they don’t like to be called those names, and yet we still continue to see them call each other by full name sometime though not nearly as common as him calling Temperance “Bones”

    As far as Brennan goes, I don’t think she completely understood that being given a nickname was meant as a way of being personal at the beginning, but as time went on she understood it to be a her and Booth sort of thing and because what goes on between them is just theirs NOBODY but Booth better use that name on her. She’d never admit it out loud, but she loves that name :p

  11. Hey! You chose my title! I’m seriously chuffed πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ Thanks!

    Great question for today. Now that we’ve seen the 100th, the nickname takes on a new meaning for me. In the Pilot, I think Arrogant Booth does it to needle her … show his cockiness, that he won’t bow down to a squint. But I think he initailly called her that to flirt with her.

    Why does she let him? Mmm…She’s attracted to him. I bet she gets *that* little tingle whenever he says it, even if she says “Don’t call me Bones” in response. Hell, she wrote a book about the guy in the 13 months minus a week that they were apart!

    By the way, the repetition of ‘diatomaceous earth’ was one of those quirky things that hooked me into the show. That such hot bodies could squint talk like that was great πŸ™‚ Tapped into my geek side quite nicely!

    • I remember hearing HH say once that after they wrapped filming the pilot, the cast made him promise that should they be picked up, they’d never have to say ‘diatomaceous earth’ again πŸ™‚

      One of the more puckish sides to my personality has a secret wish that when they film the finale episode of the series (may that be long in the future, please PTB), he sneaks in a couple of ‘diatomaceous earth’ comments just for fun, to connect and kind of bring the series full circle. I’m sure it won’t happen (they’ll be too busy filming the B&B wedding! :)) but it would be a fun nod to the pilot.

      • I alway thought it would be cool if they used Howie Day’s song “collide” in the final episode. I think the song fits B&B.

  12. In the pilot episode we learn that they have worked together in the past but that something happened because they had not been in contact for while….Booth says Brennan’s “assistant”, a.k.a. Dr. Zach Addy, would not put Booth through when Booth tried to reach her, thus the airport set-up. Booth calls Brennan “Bones” and it seems effortless; Dr. Brennan bristles. From the pilot episode alone, it seems like Booth calls her that because that’s what she does, it’s her thing. Plus, it seems to get under her skin and there’s clearly tension between them so if it rubs her the wrong way, hey, okay. After seeing the 100th episode it seems, to me, Booth started calling her “Bones” because it’s her thing but it’s also a flirty move, meant to forge a bond and, yes, maybe done in a way – unknowing – to mark some territory. In the 100th episode Brennan doesn’t seem to mind the moniker when Booth first calls her it….they were flirty, attracted, having fun. However, she DOES mind the morning after them almost sleeping together. The spell was broken. Her finally accepting it, I think, shows her accepting their partnership and the bond they share.

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