A good way for an actor to start out is by making a guest appearance on a TV crime procedural series like Bones — the Emmy-nominated show starring Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz that ran for 12 seasons on Fox. In fact, the fun, clever, and romantic drama inspired by the life of forensic pathologist Kathy Reichs was an early credit, or even first credit, for many actors before really making a name for themselves. Take a look at the 18 actors below and see if you remember when they crossed paths with Dr. Temperance “Bones” Brennan and Agent Seeley Booth.
Michael B. Jordan (Perry Wilson)
Before becoming one of the most popular and respected actors of his generation with stellar performances in Fruitvale Station, the Creed movies, and Black Panther as one of the MCU’s most memorable villains, Michael B. Jordan was best known for television roles of varying magnitude, such as the time he was guest star on House. Earlier than that, however, he appeared on Season 5 of Bones as a young man who encounters Booth’s protective side when he starts dating Camille Saroyan’s (Tamara Taylor) adoptive daughter, Michelle (Tiffany Hines).
Jaimie Alexander (Molly Briggs)
Another Marvel movies star who guested on Bones just a few years before playing Lady Sif in the Thor franchise was Jaimie Alexander. In the Season 4 episode “The Beaver in the Otter,” Brennan and Booth eventually learn her character knows more than she would let on about the body of a fellow college student found inside the school mascot uniform.
Sean Gunn (Dr. Howard Fitch)
Yet another Marvel movie veteran with a Bones episode on his resume is Sean Gunn, who plays both Kraglin and provides the motion capture for Rocket Raccoon in his brother James’ Guardians of the Galaxy films. Actually, Gunn had already completed his stint in the Gilmore Girls cast and made his MCU debut when he a made a small appearance as a forensic science convention attendee in the crime procedural’s tenth season.
Jennifer Holland (Nicole Twist)
Another actor with both personal and professional connections to James Gunn is his real-life romantic partner and Peacemaker cast member Jennifer Holland. In 2011, the former model also had a brief role on a Season 6 episode of Bones as the sole social media friend of a recent murder victim, with whom she had suffered a falling out regarding a counterfeit handbag.
Aldis Hodge (Jimmy Merton)
Speaking of DCEU actors, Black Adam cast member Aldis Hodge is also known for the TNT series Leverage, Leigh Whannell’s The Invisible Man, and the Oscar nominated movie, One Night in Miami…, to name few. He also starred on the first season of Bones as a military veteran still struggling to overcome painful memories when he is questioned by Booth and Brennan about the death of his former comrade.
Laz Alonso (George Warren)
Speaking of comic book adaptation stars, Laz Alonso is best known today for taking out corrupt supes as Mother’s Milk on Amazon Prime’s hit series based on Garth Ennis' The Boys. Years earlier, he appeared on Bones Season 1 as the brother of a woman whose mummified remains were found, along with a bag of methamphetamines, by Brennan inside the wall of a night club.
Giancarlo Esposito (Richard Benoit)
Speaking of The Boys cast members, Emmy nominee Giancarlo Esposito is also known for many other legendary (and very sinister) roles in TV series like Breaking Bad and The Mandalorian. One of his lesser-known (but still pretty sinister) TV characters is that of a New Orleans voodoo shop owner who threatens to curse Brennan when she suspects him of murder in Season 1 of Bones.
Aaron Paul (Stew Ellis)
Speaking of Breaking Bad cast members, three-time Emmy-winning Jesse Pinkman actor Aaron Paul just happened to appear on the first season of Bones before he was cast on the hit AMC series as well. He played a comic book store owner whom Brennan and Booth confront about the murder of a teen who was so obsessed with superheroes that he tried to become one.
Dean Norris (Don Timmons)
Aaron Paul’s Breaking Bad co-star and DEA Agent Hank Schrader actor, Dean Norris, also appeared on Bones — and not just once, but two times. In Season 4, he played the owner of a pitbull who may have been responsible for the death of his own veterinarian, and would return in the uncredited and unrelated role of a court juror in the following season.
Michael Cudlitz (Lucky)
Speaking of actors from hit AMC shows, Michael Cudlitz would join The Walking Dead cast in Season 4 as military veteran Abraham Ford, which is just about his best-known role to date. Years before then, he had a guest spot on Bones Season 3 as the operator of a lodge where people indulge in a unique form a sexual role play involving one person pretending to be a horse and the other their “rider.”
Kyle Gallner (Jeremy Farrell)
In addition to a very brief stint on The Walking Dead (one episode), Kyle Gallner is a bit of an underrated Scream King for his appearances in Jennifer’s Body and the fifth installment of the Scream movies from 2022, most notably. However, his role on the Bones Season 2 episode “The Girl with the Curl” as the older brother of a 9-year-old beauty pageant star harboring a dark secret was not particularly scary, albeit a bit upsetting.
Theo Rossi (Nick Arno)
Theo Rossi of Sons of Anarchy cast and Luke Cage fame dealt with a very different kind of zombie horde when he was cast in Army of the Dead — writer and director Zack Snyder’s Netflix original action-horror flick that was set in a post-apocalyptic Las Vegas. Coincidentally, the actor also appeared on a Season 2 Bones episode that took place in Sin City, playing the owner of a fight club that Brennan and Booth infiltrate by posing as a couple.
Indira Varma (Inspector Cate Pritchard)
There are also members of the Star Wars universe who have made appearances on Bones — such as Obi-Wan Kenobi cast member Indira Varma, who played Tala Durith on the Disney+ original limited series. The actor played a Scotland Yard inspector whom Brennan refers to as the “British version of Booth” while working a case together in a 2008 two-part episode set in the United Kingdom.
Jordan Fisher (Ian Johnson)
While he was already well on his way to securing himself as one of his generation’s most exceptional, multi-talented young performers, actor, singer, dancer, and Work It star Jordan Fisher got to put his best talents on display when he appeared on Bones. In a Season 11 episode that is easily one of the more musical of the whole series (not to mention how Pentatonix stars Mitch Grassi and Scott Hoying also guest star), Fisher plays a member of collegiate a cappella group whose leader is found dead.
Justina Machado (Lupe Rojas)
Also known for busting some epic dancing moves (particularly with her successful stint on Dancing with the Stars) is Netflix’s One Day at a Time star Justina Machado, who had previously had a major role on HBO’s Six Feet Under. In between, she appeared on a Season 6 Bones episode as the ex-girlfriend of a man who was found dead in a cave along with the woman he left her for, which automatically makes her a prime suspect in the case.
Ariel Winter (Liza)
Fellow sitcom star Ariel Winter (who played Alex Dunphy in the Modern Family cast for 11 seasons) also has a recurring voice role on Disney Channel’s animated series, Elena of Avalor, in common with Justina Machado, in addition to both guest starring on Bones episodes. Actually, the then-8-year-old also appeared alongside Kyle Gallner in the aforementioned Season 2 episode “The Girl with the Curl” as a young dancer.
Taylor Kinney (Jimmy Fields)
Also known for playing a solder in the Oscar-winning 2013 film, Zero Dark Thirty, Taylor Kinney is best known from his recurring role on The Vampire Diaries cast and on Chicago Fire as regular character Kelly Severide. Before any of these credits came about, the actor played a collegiate basketball player whose hot-shot teammate is found dead underneath the gym bleachers on a Season 3 episode of Bones.
Ryan Michelle Bathe (Erin Miller)
Speaking of NBC drama stars, Ryan Michelle Bathe had a memorable recurring role alongside her real-life husband, Sterling K. Brown, in the This is Us cast before becoming the heroic lead of The Endgame cast in 2022. Much earlier, she had a guest appearance on Bones in a Season 4 episode as a woman with a “Cleopatra haircut” who serves as the estate lawyer to a family whose recently deceased loved one is discovered by Brennan to have been murdered when she attends his funeral.
How many of these guest appearances by Hollywood’s soon-to-be stars rang a bell for you? If you still feel the need to refresh your memory by revisiting these episodes, you can stream Bones on Hulu (opens in new tab), or stream Bones on Amazon's Freevee app (opens in new tab) for free, now.