“Bones” had a strange knack for letting the air out of its central ship like a slowly deflating balloon, but none of its mishandled Bones and Booth moments stung viewers and diminished audiences’ goodwill quite like the show’s choice to hype up a season 4 “sex scene” that turned out to be a hallucination. Shipper fans weren’t quite the tour de force in 2010 that they are now, but viewers were still pretty ticked at series creator and showrunner Hart Hanson, who apparently added fuel to the fire by telling press the scene was “not a dream.” In an interview with Assignment X after the episode’s air date, the outlet noted that Hanson “got in a little bit of trouble” for his misleading characterization of the season 4 finale.
Hanson owned up to the mistake, saying, “We wouldn’t do that again. Not in that way.” Apparently it wasn’t just fans who weren’t thrilled by the choice, but the network itself, a response Hanson seems to have been surprised by. “I was talking to the network about the hundredth episode, and they said, ‘Well, we don’t want what happened with the [fourth] season finale to happen again,'” he recalled. “And I know I can be obtuse, but I don’t mean to be difficult, but I said, ‘Why? More people tuned in than we ever had, and more people tuned in for a season opener than we’ve ever had. What exactly was the downside?'” It’s hard to imagine a showrunner making similar comments today, when legions of very vocal fans treat characters like real-life friends and take their mistreatment as an unforgivable offense. Back in 2011, though, FOX execs sounded like they just wanted what the fans wanted: good TV that wasn’t ridiculous or misleading.