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After the main lab assistant, Zack Addy, was found to be in cahoots with an evil character a few seasons ago, the role of the lab assistant on Bones has been played by a rotating set of actors and actresses, any one of which would be featured on a particular episode.

The episode of Bones from the week before last (U.S. airdate,"The Patriot in Purgatory") brought together Dr. Temperance Brennan's lab assistants to all work together.

This interaction as part of Dr. Brennan's Phil Jackson-influenced team made me curious about why this assistant role has been designated to all of these performers, and not just focused down to perhaps a couple of recurring assistants with stronger character depth.

I have worked in science, and while there is some variety in personnel, I don't see this casting move as being symbolic of scientists working with a variety of different assistants on a day-to-day basis. Are we to believe that we're getting to know bits and pieces of these characters as Dr. Brennan might with her semi-limited ability to socialize?

If not, is this totally a decision based on economic and logistic needs of the production staff?

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According to the Bones wiki, the assistants since Zack's departure are interns. As such, they would be working for a limited period of time in order to get on-the-job training as part of a degree program, and then they graduate and move on to real jobs. For the dynamics of the show, it gives a fresh energy every season or so.

ADDITIONAL INFO - In an interview with executive producer Stephen Nathan, he said:

"As of now we're going to continue to rotate them. We were looking back at all the interns we used this season and trying to figure out who would work out best, and we can't make a decision," Nathan said.

"We love them all. And I think [the variety] has really helped the show a lot, because fans have their favorite, so people tune in to find out who's going to be on that week. Also, we've been extremely lucky with the actors we've cast. Everybody our casting director Rick Milligan has brought in could easily be a regular on our show, and that's a very rare thing to find. It seems like we have a permanent cast of players now."

This would indicate the decision has less to do with how real labs work and more about ratings.

  • A good observation, but the interns have crossed multiple seasons, and their "crossing paths" in this season's episode would indicate that most of them hadn't moved on to other things in the meantime. I do agree with the "fresh energy" aspect, but I suspect a quirky "one shot" guest star could serve the same purpose on each episode, and yet these characters recur. – jonsca Nov 22 '12 at 21:29
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    In-universe, they are all post-grad students working on their Doctorates. Taking multiple years is par for the course. Zach himself was pointed out that he was taking long to get it done multiple times in Seasons 1 and 2. – cde Nov 12 '15 at 11:55
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    Actually - i do believe it was also a story point not only about the irreplacability of Zack but the exacting nature (and difficulty) of working with Dr Brennan. I always got the impression they kept rotating between them in the hope of finding the 'next Zack' who met Brenans exacting standards @cde PhD students tend to work in one lab with one professor (I was in a PhD program) as their advisor. – user37503 Oct 5 '16 at 16:51
  • SPOILERS (character backstories): In addition to the rotation, each actor occasionally mentions the excuse in absences through (in no particular order): getting fired (Daisy), switching disciplines (Arastoo), lottery winner (Vincent), stint in the "loony bin" according to Fisher's character (or Hodgin's brings it up?), moving onto to head of Anthropology (Dr. Edison) though he still appears in place of an intern, and cancer (Wendell). Just a few examples now that I think about the rotations. – doctordonna Jan 21 '18 at 16:09

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