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Bones Fans Accuse Instinct of Stealing Storylines

Let's take a look at the evidence

Lindsay MacDonald

In the writing community, plagiarism is pretty much the equivalent of first degree murder, and interestingly enough, a recent murder storyline on CBS' freshman drama Instinct has been accused of the crime as it was eerily similar to something that happened on an episode of Bones. Fans of Bones have complained that a recent episode of Instinct borrowed a little too much of an old Bones storyline, and it garnered so much attention that the creator of Instinct had to apologize for the issue.

The storyline in question involves a mystery in which a young Amish man who goes to the city is murdered, and upon discovering some popsicle sticks resembling piano keys in the teen's room, Instinct's super sleuths seek out the victim's piano teacher for answers. In the Bones version, exchange popsicle sticks for rocks, and it's basically the same setup, right down to the murder of an Amish kid and police interrogating his piano teacher. Yikes.

Fans of procedural police dramas are not easily fooled though, and Bones fans were quick to point out the similar storylines on Twitter. The controversy stirred up enough attention that Instinct's creator and executive producer, Michael Rauch, addressed the matter on Twitter, commenting that the similarities were unintentional, but that he would be looking into the matter.

Instinct Is Broadcast TV's First Gay and Female Forward Procedural

The plot thickens even further though. It turns out the writer of the Instinct episode, Christopher Ambrose, was also credited with writing four episodes and producing 36 episodes of Bones -- though he's not credited as either on the episode fans claim was copied.

Is this a case of "there's nothing new under the sun," or did the similarities push too closely to a straight ripoff?

Instinct airs Sundays at 8/7c on CBS.

(Full disclosure: TV Guide is owned by CBS)

Alan Cumming, Instinct

Alan Cumming, Instinct

Francisco Roman, CBS