Later this year, Bones will say its final goodbye... But first there are 12 brand new episodes for fans to savor.
It's rare a show gets enough advance warning it's ending in order to prepare a proper farewell -- and usually, if there is a warning, it's a few episodes ahead of the end rather than an entire season. The executive producers of Bones won't waste the opportunity they were given, and have decided to deliver a final season they hope will show loyal viewers of the Fox procedural how appreciative the show is to have had their support for 12 seasons.
"It's a giant love letter, hopefully, to the fans," EP Michael Peterson tells TVGuide.com "This is one where we are so appreciative that the fans, no matter what day of the week or what time we were on, they always found us. We could not be more appreciative of this wonderful run that we've been on."
In order to properly honor its fanbase, the show is returning to its roots, going back as far as Season 1 to answer questions that have been lingering in the back of fans' minds for nearly twelve years. That's going to bring up a few old wounds -- specifically for Booth (David Boreanaz).
"We want to move the characters forward. We went back to the early seasons. We went back to Season 1 and thought, 'What's been opened about these characters? What are the threads that can still be pulled and still be tied up?,'" executive producer Jonathan Collier says. "There's past wounds for these characters, particularly for Booth, that knowledgable fans will know about. It's actually worth going back to some of the earlier seasons, but we reinvestigate those. "
The show will spend a significant amount of time digging into Booth's days as a sniper in the military -- though the issues brought up will affect all of his colleagues.
"One of the most difficult decisions Booth made in the past, back when he was a sniper that he's talked about with Brennan before, is a painful memory that's going to come back to haunt him in ways that will affect everyone at the lab," Peterson explains.
Digging into the past also means bringing back familiar characters. Eric Millegan already made his return at the end of Season 11 as former "squintern" Zack Addy, and will continue his arc when Season 12 picks up. Stephen Fry will make a guest appearance as Dr. Gordon Wyatt and Betty White will reprise her role as Dr. Beth Mayer. Eddie McClintock and Cyndi Lauper will also return as Sully and Avalon Harmonia respectively.
While some of the reunions will be joyous occasions, the executive producers have built a lot of twists and turns into the final season to give Booth, Brennan (Emily Deschanel) and everyone at the Jeffersonian a thrilling adventure before the show ends.
"It's an exciting rollercoaster," Collier teases. "It really is, actually. We have opened up the past and hopefully resolved huge issues for the characters going forward."
Bones returns for its final season on Tuesday, Jan. 3 at 8/7c on Fox.