Over twelve seasons of solving crimes at the Jeffersonian, Bones racked up a lot of guest stars. There was Ryan O'Neal as Bones' father. Billy Gibbons as Angela's dad. Emily Deschanel's real-life sister, Zooey Deschanel, dropped by for season five's Christmas episode. Cyndi Lauper was a medium, and in season 11, Betty White was a forensic anthropologist. These appearances were some of the more publicized guest spots, generating buzz and, for the majority, reappearances down the line.
When a show runs for that many years, however, there are guest stars you forget. Maybe their breakout roles were still in the making. Maybe you didn’t know their work yet when they stopped by, or maybe the reason they slipped your mind is no greater than it’s been two hundred plus episodes and you didn’t recall them being on the series.
That forgetfulness comes in handy when a show you loved comes to an end, because it's fun to come across reruns on TV and spot a familiar face you didn’t expect to see wearing a lab coat or facing interrogation by Booth. Here are some of the famous faces you may have missed in their short roles on Bones.
15 Noel Fisher ("The Hero in the Hold")
Besides being the episode Brennan and her team discover who the Grave Digger is, “The Hero in the Hold” is one of the best of the series, with Booth having to find his way off a ship with the help of a hallucination. Or maybe a ghost. They never quite decide what he is, but Booth named his son after Corporal Teddy Parker, who died when he was twenty years old. Booth always blamed himself – he was Teddy’s sergeant – but Teddy helps him realize that it wasn’t his fault. It’s a wonderfully written two man play, and Noel Fisher is spectacular in it.
As Shameless fans hope for his return as Mickey Milkovich, Fisher can be seen on the upcoming National Geographic show, The Long Road Home, and as the voice of Klarion the Witch Boy on Justice League Action.
14 Rider Strong ("Mummy in the Maze")
Boy Meets World’s Shawn Hunter may have been a lady’s man, but he was the furthest thing from a sex offender. That’s Rider Strong’s Bones character, Gregg Liscombe, who is first seen in a Grim Reaper costume. It’s Halloween and Gregg works at a carnival, despite his attraction to young girls making him a danger to others.
His girlfriend likes being jealous, and they roleplay him cheating on her, so she can lash out at his conquests. It’s sick, especially considering the age of the girls being attacked, but that’s the skit. Much more child-friendly was Strong's time embodying Shawn again in the Disney follow-up series, Girl Meets World. His costar, Ben Savage, even did a turn himself on Bones’ season seven episode, “The Male in the Mall.”
13 Kristin Bauer Van Straten ("Boy in the Time Capsule")
Credited at the time as Kristin Bauer, there’s no hint of the leather wearing vampire van Straten would play for seven seasons on True Blood in her Bones character, Janelle Stinson. Janelle was a cheerleader in high school, married the future school principal, and this episode is about the skeleton found in her class’ time capsule, next to a rubix cube and an old floppy disk. The victim, Roger Dillon, was Janelle’s math tutor, and while she wasn’t directly responsible for his untimely death, his crush on her is the reason that he’s dead.
van Straten’s Once Upon A Time co-star, Patrick Fischler, also guests as Roger’s best friend Gill, while van Straten herself is set to appear in Kevin Smith’s upcoming TV pilot, Hollyweed, which is currently in post-production.
12 Giancarlo Esposito ("The Man in the Morgue")
While most episodes of Bones are set in Washington, DC, “The Man in the Morgue” starts out in New Orleans, with Bones offering to help with the identification of Hurricane Katrina victims. A large chunk of the episode is dedicated to looking at the voodoo practices in the area. Giancarlo Esposito is Richard Benoit, the owner of a voodoo shop and, according to a photo in that shop, an old Cadillac. This broadcasting of his sports car will be what incriminates him later.
One of Esposito’s most celebrated roles will always be Gus Fring on Breaking Bad, who also appeared in the latest season of Better Call Saul, but Esposito has plenty more films on the way, including the final Maze Runner movie, Death Cure, coming this spring.
11 Abigail Spencer ("The Man in the Mud")
You’d think playing a member of a motorcycle racing family would earn you a scene riding a motorcycle, but it’s no so such luck for Abigail Spencer during her guest turn on Bones. Catching a break isn’t her character’s m.o., as it’s revealed that she dated the murder victim, Tripp, before discovering his affairs. At least she still had her twin brother, Danny -- until he died in a fiery accident. Philippa had sabotaged Tripp’s bike, but she didn’t plan on her brother inheriting it after Tripp’s death.
It’s the kind of death where a time machine could really come in handy, and Spencer gets to travel around in one of those on her new show, Timeless. Cancelled, then renewed(!), by NBC for a second season, Spencer also recently wrapped her work on Rectify, where she played the sort of sister Philippa should’ve aspired to be.
10 Sam Jones III ("Intern in the Incinerator")
For fans of Sam Jones III from his days as Clark Kent’s best friend Pete on Smallville, Neil Tyler -- his character on Bones (if misnamed ‘Tyler Neville’ on IMDB) -- is in a similar position. No, he’s not entrusted with a secret like his buddy’s a hero from Krypton, but he does feel like he’s living in another intern’s shadow. That somebody is the murder victim, Kristin, who was ahead of him for a fellowship and likely to get it as the daughter of a legacy. Neil’s problem wasn’t with her but her advantages, like not needing to work a second job, or being free to put in extra time.
9 Gina Torres ("The Bone that Blew")
Gina Torres as a talented liar and dermatologist? Both her Firefly character, Zoe, and Suits lawyer, Jessica Pearson, would have something to say about that. Getting the full story out of Dr. Toni Ezralow is like pulling out teeth. First, she doesn’t know the murder victim. Then she does as a manny. Then, she’s giving him rides in her plane and prescribing him pain killers as part of their affair. Booth and Brennan have to revisit Ezralow multiple times about the case, but never does she show any signs of withholding information. They run into her coincidentally watching her son play lacrosse, and she’s in the right state of mind to hand over her lawyer’s card so she’s not inconvenienced.
She may not be the best human being, but she is one cool customer. Only the latter can be said about the tremendously talented actress who plays her.
8 Ray Wise ("The Titan on the Track")
Ray Wise is no stranger to playing charmers who have a sinister side. His smile is racked with connotations, so learning he’s a private investigator named Ray Turco on Bones is on brand. The fixer who tries to help his client, Warren Lynch, fake his own death, they leave a dead, homeless man on the tracks to get hit by a train, and encourage authorities to mis-ID him by forging his dental records.
Allegedly, Truco put the real Warren Lynch in a coma afterwards but, as a man who knows the law, it’s unlikely those claims will stick. From playing Laura Palmer’s father on Twin Peaks, to appearing in shows as diverse as Fargo and Fresh Off the Boat, Ray Wise has had a prolific career, and it’s only getting more varied.
7 Pete Gardner ("The Crank in the Shaft")
In many ways, Pete Gardner’s episode of Bones feels premonitory. The office boss, Gardner’s Garry Flannery becomes a murder suspect when one of his employees, Patty, is dropped down an elevator shaft. He wasn’t having an affair with Patty but getting blackmailed by her, for overbuying and selling office supplies.
It’s a small role, but Gardner makes it pop with priceless reaction shots, and his Crazy Ex-Girlfriend character has a similar starting point (just switch ‘office’ boss for ‘law firm’ boss). The key word there, however, is "starting", because nowadays, Gardner’s Darryl is singing, exploring his sexuality, and proving himself to be a great friend. The nuggets are there in his Bones role, but it’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend that fully realizes what Gardner’s capable of as an actor.
6 Bianca Lawson ("Fire in the Ice")
Upon learning that their murder victim had run afoul of a loan shark, Booth looked at the name Albie and assumed he’d be dealing with a guy. The truth is much better, as it turns out that Kendra the Vampire Slayer is running this episode’s gambling ring. She’s not somebody to be trifled with, either. Biding her time with the police so that she can relocate her operation, Albie lives to gamble another day.
Bianca Lawson has appeared in a number of supernatural shows since her Buffy days, including Teen Wolf and The Vampire Diaries, but her current work on Queen Sugar, as a mother and recovering addict, is the show to watch this summer. Interestingly, her current co-star, Dawn-Lyen Gardner, was in the Bones episode, “The Man in the Mansion”.
5 Zeljko Ivanek ("The Woman in the Car")
There are lengths you are willing to go to do the right thing, and then there’s your son being kidnapped. With the promise that he would be placed under witness protection, Zeljko Ivanek’s Carl Decker was willing to testify against his employer for sending faulty armor to Iraq. His one other condition was that he be allowed to speak with his son, Donovan, every day. When the Feds stop being able to do that (Donovan’s kidnapped after Carl’s ex-wife is murdered), it doesn’t matter that the Feds don’t give Decker a reason. He immediately suspects the worst.
There are few TV shows Ivanek hasn't bolstered with his presence (Banshee, Damages, etc.) but his most recent work has been on Madame Secretary and the not yet released film, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. He's one of those guys you see in everything, even if you don't know his name. Duh, it's Zeljko Ivanek!
4 Danny Trejo ("The Finder")
“The Finder” isn’t the best episode of Bones, mostly because it’s not a Bones episode, but a backdoor pilot for the TV show, The Finder. Lasting for one season, today The Finder is most memorable for being actor Michael Clarke Duncan’s last TV role before he died from a heart attack.
In an instance of reverse typecasting, Danny Trejo appears in the episode as a bishop, who brings up that the main character, Walt (Geoff Stults), suffered a head injury in the war. That’s the only tease we get, and Trejo never appeared on The Finder, so it’s really a tease since we’ll never know what their relationship was, or why the bishop claimed that he owed Walt his life. Still, Trejo’s doing just fine without The Finder, with multiple projects in the works and recent voice work for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Puss in Boots already in the bag.
3 David Alan Grier ("The Body and the Bounty")
If you're of a certain age, you probably remember watching Bill Nye the Science Guy at school. A character who tends to generate strong feelings of love or hate, his VHS tapes were a regular presence in science classes, and his theme song an earworm.
Bones’ riff on Nye’s kids show is Bunsen Jude the Science Dude, starring Grier as the Dude. In order to convince Bones to tape an episode of his show, Dude offers to help her on her latest case. Armed with a PHD, a catchphrase, and an affinity for rhyming and saying “amazing,” Dude wins Bones over -- and there’s a skeleton costume and everything.
Unfortunately, The Carmichael Show was canceled last month, but you can still catch Grier as Jerrod’s father for a few more weeks while the third season wraps up its run over on NBC.
2 Danielle Panabaker ("The Gunk in the Garage")
Best known as scientist turned meta-human Caitlin Snow on Flash, Danielle Panabaker’s FBI Agent Olivia Sparling starts her first episode of Bones teamed up with Dr. Sweets. To say she’s skeptical about his pseudo shrink science is an understatement, and his theory about their victim’s twin bearing a similar personality, despite growing up separately, doesn’t fly with her.
Dr. Sweets gets to defend his hypothesis and it’s not long before they find the twin and Sparling admits she didn’t give him enough credit in the first place. There’s some chemistry that comes into play when Sweets accidentally gets shot, but Panabaker’s got Flash to be a regular cast member on, so outside of a second appearance later in the season, their relationship doesn’t go far.
1 Michael B. Jordan ("The Plain in the Prodigy")
Before going on to play Vince Howard on Friday Night Lights and Alex on Jason Katim’s other show, Parenthood, Michael B. Jordan was the unfortunate boyfriend of Cam’s adopted daughter, Michelle. Unfortunate should be clarified, because Michelle is a great girl, but she’s also got an ‘uncle’ Booth whose ready to strike fear into Jordan’s Perry before their big dance. It’s the usual, protective, father figure spiel, but Booth adds some personal touches that give it that extra edge. It’s one thing, after all, to know Michelle’s got people looking out for her. It’s another to know that one of those people carries a gun and was a sniper.
Jordan’s more recent projects include the Rocky sequel, Creed, where he played Apollo Creed’s son, and in the trailer for the upcoming Black Panther movie, Jordan can be seen sporting a slick new hairdo as the villainous Erik Killmonger.
Who are some of your favorite Bones guest stars? Did we forget any of the greats? Let us know in the comments.