Sherlock Bones*

[WARNING: Contains minor spoilers from Sherlock Season 3 Episode 1: The Empty Hearse.]

On Wednesday I, like 9199999 other people, sat down to watch the much anticipated Season 3 opener of the BBC’s Sherlock. I thoroughly enjoyed the episode. Therefore this is not a post about the plot, but rather one particular point. The skeleton. Yes. THAT skeleton. WHYYY?


My reaction:


Yeah. Skeletons on TV are generally pretty terrible.

See, the thing is, with the exception of a few bones in your body (and of course certain pathologies) the only thing holding your bones together as a skeleton is soft tissue. Once that soft tissue is gone (let’s say, oh I don’t know, once you are skeletonised) then your bones are no longer attached, sooo… they don’t look like a skeleton anymore. (Okay yeah, when you are excavating a skeletonised individual the bones are often in a roughly skeleton-shaped position, but they aren’t attached so that still doesn’t count.†)

Yes. I know it’s TV. Let me be clear, I’m not griping about things like this:


What an asshole.

But crime/dramas, seriously? Osteologists exist for a reason. Hire us.

I am allowed to get annoyed about this, because mistakes like this are totally unnecessary. All of these big TV shows supposedly have scientific advisors. WHY DON’T THEY USE THEM? It’s seriously not that hard.

I know that I am not alone in feeling this way and therefore, I endeavoured to write a post about it – a post about the super shitty presentation of in situ skeletons on TV shows (although once they’ve been moved for further investigation and laid out in the labs they frequently get that wrong too).

Now, of course, I know this particular skeleton in Sherlock was supposed to be staged, so I suppose I can get around the fact that deceased individuals, once they are skeletonised do not look like that… especially not when they’re sitting up in a chair (someone hold me back). I mean, unless they are held together with wires.

Wait, what was that? Wires?






I am fairly certain that, given the presence of such bleedingly obvious wires holding this skeleton together, that even Scotland Yard wouldn’t need to call in the brilliant mind of Sherlock to figure out what was going on…

SherlockLaughingNow. It was my intention to use this episode of Sherlock as a jumping off point to examples of bad skeletons from other shows like: CSI, NCIS, Bones, Rizzoli and Isles, Silent Witness, Bonekickers, etc‡ BECAUSE IT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME – except that apparently “screenshots or it didn’t happen” sort of applies here.

Since I don’t screenshot every time I witness a bad TV skeleton (of course, now I’m going to) I actually don’t have much to go on (and Google isn’t an enormous amount of help and I’m crazy busy). Therefore I am simply going to leave you with this one remarkable beauty, from ‘Bones’.

Bones The Verdict

I’m not even making this up.

The best thing about this incredible example is that it is introduced in the opening scenes of Season 3 Episode 13: The Verdict in the Story – but because Brennan (‘Bones’) and Booth (‘Booth’) and everyone else are too busy being involved in the court case of Brennan’s father, this absolutely ridiculous and completely implausible skeleton case is left with other individuals to investigate and you never hear anything more about it…



*I am absolutely not apologising for this title.

† And yes, I’m aware that sometimes soft-tissue can still hold certain skeletal elements together – but in those cases they aren’t entirely skeletonised, now are they?

‡Films are not immune either.

I intend to update this post as and when I capture screenshots of televisual skeletons that make me laugh (and then cry). If you have any examples you’d like to add, just send them over. I mean business…



4 responses to “Sherlock Bones*

  1. Nail-head-hit. Annoys me so much too. As do too many archaeologically-unsound things on TV, but them I am too much of an anorak. Nevertheless, I love a bit of Conan Doyle and the well-done modern extensions of the canon. On the radio, however, it’s quite different. An osteologist-acquaintance of mine was consulted for when Eddie Grundy dug up a skeleton in Ambridge; turned out to be seventeenth-century if I recall properly, and the whole story was very well written.

  2. Pingback: This Week I Found: January 18-31 2014 | Scientia and Veritas·

  3. Pingback: Bad To The Bone Skeleton·

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