During the sixth season finale of the FOX show Bones, viewers were surprised when leading character, Temperance Brennan, turned to her leading man, Seeley Booth and said five simple but powerful words, “I’m pregnant. You’re the father.”
This moment was unexpected because the show previously hinted that Brennan and Booth were in a relationship, but it was never verified. As the moment of confirmation, we might believe that Booth/Brennan shippers would be thrilled, but that was not the case.
To find out why the shippers were not unanimously elated, I spoke with two individuals highly involved in the Bones fandom, Jennifer Lester, Founder and Administrator of the U.S. based fan forum Bonesology and Beatrice Belli, Founder and Administrator of the Italian fan forum i-bones.net. Lester and Belli explained their personal views about the announcement and summarized fan responses posted on their forums.
Lester and Belli agree that shipper reactions on their sites were polarized. Many shippers were happy because the announcement confirmed the relationship they desired. Others were frustrated because they felt cheated by a lack of build-up to the actual moment. As Belli explained, “this was not the way they wanted it to happen.”
Lester and Belli believe the surprise announcement was the reason both of their sites experienced a “drastic” reduction in activity when the show returned for its seventh season. They believe the happy shippers left because their desires were fulfilled; those people no longer felt a need to participate. The frustrated shippers left because they were disappointed in the way events unfolded.
To further complicate the matter, not all shippers agreed the announcement was the moment of fulfillment. Many shippers who remained proclaimed the pregnancy announcement did not fulfill the ship and they re-focused their energy on a call for a wedding; an event they felt would more appropriately act as the culminating occasion.
This situation shows that paying off a ship for fans might not be as easy or straightforward as we might expect. Here, it is clear that shippers held differing ideas about what constitutes a fulfilled ship and fan activity splintered as a result of the pregnancy announcement.
Do you watch Bones? What are your thoughts on this situation? Have you shipped a relationship on another show? How do the events on Bones compare to other shows you watch? What are your criteria for a ship to be realized?