‘Bones’ Rips Stories From Real Life


Bones rips stories from the real life and work of Kathy Reichs, a forensic anthropologist. Unlike The Blacklist or 24, which are suspenseful and entertaining, this series is based on true stories. Reichs splits her time between working at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in North Carolina and working in Québec for the Laboratoire des Sciences Judiciaires et de Médecine Légale (Laboratory of Forensic Science and Forensic Medicine).

Bones, a show by FOX Entertainment, recently concluding its 10th season, has captivated Americans with 5.1 million viewers of the season finale. The show stars Emily Deschanel, sister of actress Zoe Deschanel, and David Boreanaz, who work as a team of investigators to solve crimes. Reichs inspired the story of the Bones protagonist.

Reichs is a Chicagoan born in 1950, and has published 22 stand-alone books and a series of eight books titled The Viral Series. It was the books that developed the main character of Bones, Dr. Temperence Brennan, and FOX was the best offer for bringing Reichs’ main character to the small screen. Writers and producers learned what they needed from reading her detailed and accurate explanations of the work that she does, as it is being described through her character, who solves similar challenges to the true stories Reichs solves. Additionally, Bones loosely rips stories from real-life crimes. The rest of the cast and characters are created by FOX writers, and do not have a presence in her books.

The main roles of forensic anthropologists, according to Reichs, is to identify if a body has been burned, mutilated, mummified or decomposed and to identify the cause of death. Reichs’ revelation is that she enjoys work because of the different, chilling and unexpected cases she will find on a day-to-day basis. Her work has included international cases in Canada and in Guatemala, to aid in the research of bodies found from their civil war. Reichs worked closely with investigators on Staten Island and in Ground Zero in New York City after 9/11. Kathy is only one of 52 forensic anthropologists certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology.

In additional to writing fiction books with a large following she has written two non-fiction books, and many academic papers that have appeared in a variety of journals including: Forensic Science International, Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology and the American Journal of Physical Anthropology. As such an accomplished individual, she is a subject expert that has used her knowledge to make a difference, and has also testified at the UN’s Genocide Tribunal on the genocide in Rwanda in order to review positive IDs of soldiers who had passed away.

Reichs has made a big impact on the world through her job, her writing, and now her participation with this show. She has developed a strong female character that thrives in the world of science, thereby hoping to motivate girls into the field of science, even if it is not forensic anthropology. Furthermore, Reichs has brought forensic science to the general audience, as well as begin to get it ingrained in pop culture. The only drawback to these shows where DNA evidence is prevalent, and often the lynchpin to any mystery, is that it has become more widely expected by jurors and the public, which is far from the truth. Not all cases with chilling event have a surprise revelation in the victim’s bones

The season finale startled the audience and concerned the viewers, leading them to believe that it could be the end of the show; however, Bones will return for another chilling season as long as it rips stories from real life. As long as there are murders there will be detectives, forensic examiners, forensic anthropologists, doctors and lawyers giving fodder for many more excellent seasons of top dramas.

By Olivia Uribe-Mutal

Edited by Chanel van der Woodsen


KatyReichs.com – About Kathy

Cornerstone Publishing – Kathy Reichs on Forensic Anthropology

Smithsonian Magazine – On the Case

Image Courtesy of Raysonho’s Wikimedia Commons Page – Creative Commons License

2 Responses to "‘Bones’ Rips Stories From Real Life"

  1. peterson1280   June 23, 2015 at 9:53 am

    I want to thank Ms. Reich for the many many hours of reading you’ve given me. I have just about every book you’ve written and will continue to watch bones . I also have every episode of Bones all 10 and looking forward to seeing as well as owning more books as well as episodes of Bones. Once again Thank You.

  2. Ruth Ann Walker   June 17, 2015 at 4:34 pm

    Ms. Reich’s is an excellent writer, although I must admit I know little about anthropology. I will say that I have grown leaps & bounds since watching Bones, can’t say I can name all of the bones, but I am getting there and learning. Yes, Ms. Reich’s is among the very aleite in her field. This day and time we need both anthropology & DNA working together to bring correct justice, where justice is do, no more prisoners being falsely accused. Thank you Ms, Reich for your dedication & hard work in this field and what must be grueling day after day looking at decomposed bodies. Thank you also for Bones, which is both entertaining & true anthropology as much as possible.


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