Nerds Gets Cheery: Christmas Becomes More Than Just Bare Bones in ‘Bones’ First Christmas Episode


December is here, and the Christmas season is officially upon us! So we here at Nerds & Beyond are spreading the cheer by sharing some of our favorite things to watch during the Christmas season. Check in every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday through Christmas to see what’s on our screens this time of year.

We’re kicking off this year with the first Christmas episode from one of our favorite shows: Bones.

While not always the most cheery of shows, Bones offered fans a few Christmas episodes over the years. However, the season 1 episode is certainly one to remember, not only because of the memorable storyline, but also because it introduced some characters and plot points that were key to the show in later episodes. Plus, the story itself hits a bit closer to home now than it used to given the events of the last two years.


If you are not familiar with the episode, here’s a quick recap: Bones season 1, episode 9, “The Man in the Fallout Shelter,” kicks off on December 23 as Angela attempts to convince Brennan to attend the Jeffersonian company Christmas party with her. However, her efforts are quickly thwarted by Booth dropping by with a body. Upon hearing the details of how the skeleton was found in a fallout shelter from the 50s, dead from an apparent suicide, Brennan informs Booth that this death was not a suicide, thus kicking off the episode’s investigation.

The found remains belong to a white, male coin collector from Oklahoma who was murdered for his coin collection when the man who was set to buy the collection decided that murder was cheaper. Unfortunately his untimely death took him away from his pregnant, Black fiancé. The discovery of all this information plays backdrop to the more relevant story: the team is stuck quarantining in the lab in the days leading up to Christmas.


Early in the episode, Zack is working with the remains and takes a sample — one that ends up releasing potentially harmful spores into the air — and while he was following protocol and wearing a mask, Hodgins was in the room drinking eggnog. The spores set off the biological contamination protocols for the lab, trapping the boys, along with Booth, Brennan, Angela, and Dr. Goodman in the lab for a quarantine period while they wait out tests to see if any of them were infected with Valley Fever — the illness carried by the spores.

Understandably upset about the prospect of spending Christmas trapped in quarantine in the lab, the crew, aside from Brennan who makes it clear that she does not do Christmas, plans to make the best of the bad situation. While Brennan works to track down the dead man’s fiancé, the rest of the team shares their holiday traditions, participates in a secret Santa exchange, and decorates the lab for Christmas. They are even able to participate in a quarantine safe visit from family on Christmas Eve, which reveals that Angela’s father is none other than Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top and grants viewer their first glimpse of Booth’s son whose existence was revealed earlier in the episode.


Ultimately the team is able to leave quarantine on Christmas day, and Brennan is able to track down the fiancé and give her some much needed closure — the type of closure Brennan apparently never got. One of this episode’s biggest reveals is the fact that Brennan’s parents mysteriously disappeared just before Christmas when she was 15, which actually explains quite a bit about her character.

Now this may not sound like a great Christmas episode, especially as we come up on a second holiday season of quarantining and social distancing ourselves, but the way the team is able to celebrate the holiday — even under these circumstances — is heartwarming. Not only that, but the episode carries more than its weight in character development and backstory. Plus, it features one of the series’ most quotable moments when Goodman reveals that Booth has a son and this was the reaction:

ANGELA: Excuse me?

ZACK: Be kind, rewind.

HODGINS: Booth has a kid?


With a memorable storyline that warms even the most empirical of hearts, not to mention a soundtrack to make you cry, “The Man in the Fallout Shelter” is definitely a Christmas episode worth revisiting. So head over to Hulu to check it out for yourself then check out our other Christmas viewing recommendations here.

LeeAnn is children's librarian who joined Nerds and Beyond in 2020 as a way to stretch her writing skills and connect with others who have the same pop culture passions as she does. She loves music, reading (obviously), and any TV show that can grab and hold her attention. Currently some of her favorite things to nerd out over include Supernatural, Prodigal Son, Louden Swain and Percy Jackson (books, theater, or upcoming show - lets leave the movies out of it).

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