Pop Culture Based on Novels Part 3: Bones

November is halfway through. For those of you participating in this year’s National Novel Writing Month challenge, you’re halfway there! Hopefully everyone is satisfied with their progress so far. At the very least, you should feel proud of yourself for making the effort to try.

In solidarity with those of you taking on this monumental challenge, we’re taking a look at pop culture narratives based on novels this month. So far, we’ve talked about an epic anime and a classic video game, and today we’re tackling the popular TV crime drama, Bones.

The Anthropologist on the Set

Bones follows the typical formula for crime drama, taking place both in a forensics lab and on the streets as the characters work together to search for clues and confront criminals. The series is based loosely on the life and writings of physical anthropologist Dr. Kathy Reichs, who also serves as a producer for the show.

Sourced from Encyclopaedia Britannica

Just like Dr. Hideaki Sena, who’s work we discussed earlier this month, Dr. Reichs is far more than just a prolific writer and TV producer. She is a well known forensic anthropologist with years of experience both in the field and in academia. Aside from completing her B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in physical anthropology, her impressive credentials include teaching at numerous universities, assisting in high profile exhumations, and testifying in criminal tribunals.

Deja Dead

Dr. Reichs has published 19 novels in her Temperance Brennan series (which Bones is loosely based on), with a 20th anticipated in 2018. She has also published several novelas, one stand-alone novel, and co-wrote the Virals series.

The Bones in the Book

The TV series is only loosely based on Dr. Reichs’ works, but many similarities can be seen between the two. One similarity regarding one of the central protagonists comes also as a fun nod to the life and novels that inspired the series. Lead character Dr. Temperance Brennan is named after the protagonist of Dr. Reichs’ books. The two characters are quite different, however, because the TV Brennan is based more on Dr. Reichs than on the novel character.

As another fun nod to Dr. Reichs, several subplots reveal that Brennan writes crime novels based on her life when she’s not solving mysteries. The protagonist in Brennan’s novels is named Kathy Reichs.

Bones in the Lab

Aside from differences between the the main characters’ personalities, fans of either series might notice that the lab location is also different between the novels and TV show. The physical location of the lab is different, but so is the feeling of the lab. Bones features a highly dramatized lab that easily creates excitement for TV audiences and often explains visually what would be boring or take too long to explain verbally. The novels are able to feature a more realistic lab that better reflects where a forensic anthropologist might work.

Despite their differences, the heart of both the novels and their TV counterpart are strikingly similar. Both offer the same great character development and sense of humor, and neither compromise on that heart-thumping action that draws people to crime fiction.

episode cap

Thanks to their similarities where it matters, fans of the TV show would enjoy the novels, and vice-versa without growing bored or seeing the same stories rehashed from one to the other. Considering that the TV series aired its final episode in March of this year, fans hungry for more might want to pick up a book and start reading.



Do you have a favorite novel that you’d love to see adapted into another medium, or know of any that have already received adaptations? Leave a shout-out in the comments! You can also connect on Twitter at @Popliterary, or send a message on the “contact” page.

And as always, if you have a literary device you want to know more about, or a game, comic, show, or movie that you want to see make an appearance on the blog, leave a shout-out in the comments!

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