There are some TV experiences you just can't get from any show but Bones. Only Bones has Cyndi Lauper as a psychic who also sings at weddings. Only Bones has an alternate universe episode set in a nightclub called "The Lab." Only Bones has that Sleepy Hollow crossover, which completely ignores the fact that Sleepy Hollow also exists as a show in the Bones universe. They just don't make 'em like that anymore! But while there's only one show out there about people who solve crime by looking at bones, there are plenty of other fun procedurals out there for Bones fans to enjoy.
The reliable procedural, which ran for 12 seasons on Fox, starred Emily Deschanel as brilliant forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan and David Boreanaz as her sharp-shooting partner, FBI special agent Seeley Booth. Despite how much it reveled in gross dead bodies, Bones left its mark as a trustworthy comfort show, popular with everyone from college students to Midwestern aunts. If you're looking for the next show to fill that Jeffersonian-sized hole in your life, there's a little something for everyone on this list, whether you kept coming back to Bones for the electric romance between Booth and Brennan, the cool science, the freaky science, or the banter between smart hot people.
If you like your shows so close to Bones that the characters actually make jokes about Bones, check out Lucifer, another playful procedural about an unlikely police consultant — in this case, the literal devil. Lucifer Morningstar (Tom Ellis), who's abandoned hell to become a nightclub owner in Los Angeles, partners up with L.A.P.D. detective Chloe Decker (Lauren German) to solve crime — stranger things have happened, maybe? — while sorting out his otherworldly daddy issues. On top of being a fun show with a steamy will they/won't they couple, Lucifer is also a clever spin on redemption stories. And yes, turns out the devil is a big fan of Bones. [Watch on Netflix]
Fringe is what would happen if the Jeffersonian team's weird experiments got so much weirder. The series — which really puts the science in science fiction — stars Anna Torv as Olivia Dunham, an agent with the FBI's Fringe Division, who enlists Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) and his scientist father, Walter Bishop (John Noble), to consult on strange cases. It started as mostly a case-of-the-week procedural, but as it embraced its destiny as a twisty serialized epic about parallel universes, Fringe grew into one of the best and most underappreciated dramas of its era. Bones fans who loved Booth and Brennan will enjoy Olivia's multiverse-spanning romance with Peter; Bones fans who loved watching scientists solve puzzles will enjoy, well, more of that. [Watch on IMDb TV (free with ads), Amazon (for purchase)]
No procedural on TV right now is having more fun than Evil is. The drama, which aired its first season on CBS and is moving to Paramount+ for Season 2, starts with a nice opposites-attract partnership: Psychologist Kristen Bouchard (Katja Herbers) teams up with priest-in-training David Acosta (Mike Colter) and tech expert Ben Shakir (Aasif Mandvi) to investigate claims of demonic possession on behalf of the Catholic Church. But because it hails from the network's favorite boundary pushers, Robert and Michelle King, it's also fantastically dark and full of surprises. Evil takes the kind of religious debates Booth and Brennan had on Bones, turns up the heat, and throws in a lot more creepy exorcisms. It's philosophical, absurd, oh-so-smart, and a total must-watch. Plus, Kristen's four daughters are the best kids on TV. [Watch on Netflix, Paramount+]
Remember Bones' sort-of spin-off? The Finder, a show about a guy who finds things, but like, really well (sure), was created by Bones creator Hart Hanson, introduced via a backdoor pilot in Bones' sixth season, and featured guest appearances from Bones favorites like Lance Sweets (John Francis Daley) and Jack Hodgins (T.J. Thyne). The series follows Walter Sherman (Geoff Stults, having a lot of fun), a U.S. Army vet who suffered a traumatic brain injury in Iraq that left him paranoid but able to see patterns others don't. Walter finds things for clients, working out of the Key West bar he co-owns with his friend Leo (the late Michael Clarke Duncan). The Finder was canceled after its first season, just as it was starting to unlock its potential. But it's always nice to meet up with old friends (fictional characters from Bones) in warm climates. [Watch on Amazon (for purchase)]
Before Bryan Fuller was turning dead bodies into baroque art displays on Hannibal, he created Pushing Daisies, a far quirkier show that also involves a lot of dead bodies. The forensic fairy tale follows a pie-maker named Ned (Lee Pace) whose touch can bring dead things back to life — with the twist that if he keeps them alive for longer than 60 seconds, another random life will be taken. When Ned takes a risk and brings his childhood sweetheart, Chuck (Anna Friel), back from the dead, the two embark on a touchless romance while also, naturally, using Ned's gift to solve murders. Pushing Daisies is an impossibly cute show that checks a lot of the same boxes as Bones, like peculiar crimes and corpses in weird positions. It's also got something we all wish Bones had: Kristin Chenoweth singing show tunes with a golden retriever. [Watch on HBO Max, CW Seed]
You had to know this list would get here eventually. Bones (like most of the shows listed here) wouldn't exist without The X-Files, the classic Fox procedural in which FBI agents Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) investigate paranormal phenomena, like their out-of-this-world chemistry. Booth and Brennan's partnership on Bones shares so much DNA with The X-Files' definitive skeptic and believer that the Bones pilot just went ahead and admitted it: As Booth put it to Brennan, "We're Mulder and Scully." (Still unanswered: Are Mulder and Scully real agents in the Bones universe, or does Booth have a stash of X-Files VHS tapes at home?) Decades after its premiere, The X-Files remains as gripping and relevant as ever, and its moody blend of monsters and government paranoia has never been duplicated. Learn your Bones history and watch The X-Files. [Watch on Hulu]
If Bones is a "romantic crimedy," then Psych is a friendship crimedy. The very funny cult favorite USA Network show follows irreverent charmer Shawn Spencer (James Roday Rodriguez) as he bluffs his way into a gig as a fake psychic detective alongside his best friend, Gus (Dulé Hill). Using his keen observational skills, Shawn wins over the Santa Barbara Police Department, including his love interest, Juliet O'Hara (Maggie Lawson), and gruff head detective Carlton Lassiter (Timothy Omundson). Psych is sillier than Bones, loaded with obscure pop culture references and running gags about pineapples, but it takes the relationships at its core seriously. [Watch on Peacock, Amazon]
Castle has often been pitted against Bones in a battle of will they/won't they procedurals, but having a favorite is no reason not to enjoy both. Castle stars Nathan Fillion as mystery novelist Richard Castle, who begins following NYPD detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) for research and winds up consulting on colorful cases. The series was obviously ABC's play for its own Bones, but it had the benefit of coming out of the gate knowing exactly what tone it wanted to strike, and it built Castle and Beckett's relationship on an entertaining blend of trust and tension, especially in the early years. Castle eventually went off the rails, but when it was fun, it was really fun. [Watch on Amazon (for purchase)]
If you somehow haven't yet watched a young David Boreanaz claim his throne as TV's resident brooder, let this be your sign. Before you watch Angel, the spin-off focused on Boreanaz's vampire with a soul, start with Buffy, a flat-out classic coming-of-age story about a game-changing female character. Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) fights the vamps and demons in her town — which happens to be situated over a Hellmouth — as part of her calling as the Slayer, all while navigating homework and prom and really bad breakups. It's a smart teen drama that speaks its own language, centered on an action hero whose femininity and toughness complement each other. [Watch on Hulu, Amazon]
Looking for more shows based on ones you already love? Check out our massive list of recommendations centered on some of TV's best shows.