"I don’t know what that means" is a statement frequently uttered by Dr. Temperance Brennan.

Despite Brennan's extensive knowledge of anthropology, she is quite unaware of pop culture; her co-workers, particularly Agent Booth, like to tease her about it. A running gag on the series is someone making an obvious popular culture reference and she blankly states, "I don't know what that means", and she is somewhat excited on the rare occasion that she does understand them.

The use of "I don't know what that means" shows the difference in different characters' personalities and is most often used to show how different Bones and Booth are.

When Dr. Brennan is kidnapped by the Grave Digger, Booth says to Zack, "You have to be Dr. Brennan," to which Zack ironically replies, "I don’t know what that means."

Examples[edit | edit source]

Pilot[edit | edit source]

Booth: What’s it going to take?
Brennan: Full participation in the case.
Booth: Fine.
Brennan: Not just lab work. Everything.
Booth: What? You want me to spit in my hand? We're Scully and Mulder.
Brennan: I don't know what that means.
Zack: Right away, Dr. Brennan.
Booth: He's got no sense of discretion, that kid. Typical squint.
Bones: I don't know what that means.
Booth: Well when the cops get stuck we bring in people like you. You know, squints. You know to squint at things.
Bones: Oh you mean people with very high IQs and basic reasoning skills.
Booth: Yeah.
Bones: Split the difference. Mixed race.
Angela: Lenny Kravitz or Vanessa Williams?
Bones: I don't know what that means.
Booth: A case this big. The director is going to create a special investigation unit and if I line all my ducks up in a row, I can maybe, I can head it up.
Bones: I don't know what that means, but I think maybe I can be a duck.
Booth: You're not a duck, okay. On this one we stick to the book. Cops on the streets. Squints in the lab.
Bones: Well in that case, the Jeffersonian will be issuing a press release identifying the girl in the pond.

The Man in the S.U.V.[edit | edit source]

Angela: Brennan, I know this great club; they play trip-hop and trance.
Bones: I don't know what that means.
Angela: It doesn't matter. We’ll grab Booth.

The Man in the Bear[edit | edit source]

Sheriff: A cannibal. You mean a Hannibal Lecter type deal?
Bones: I don't know what that means.
Booth: And we're certain a human being gnawed on that bone?
Sheriff Chris Scutter: We see this kinda thing all the time, kids come up here, get baked, do their own version of the Blair Witch Project.
Bones: I don't know what that means.
Booth: Horror movie, Bones, didn't make any sense.
Sheriff Chris Scutter: Scary, though, with the bloody hand prints.

A Boy in a Bush[edit | edit source]

Bones: Did you bring the thermal imager?
Zack: I don't think we need it. It makes me look like the Great Gazoo.
Bones: Okay, I don't know what that means, but we definitely need it, Zack.
Booth: Well, because she’s human. I'm sorry, Bones, it's just that, you know Angela didn't get the same training that the rest of you got on uh, planet Vulcan.
Bones: I don't know what that means.

The Girl in the Fridge[edit | edit source]

Bones: It's not like that. We're friends, colleagues, that's all.
Angela: Colleagues with benefits.
Bones: I don't know what that means, but Michael and I are not involved. I’m sorry if that's difficult for you to understand, but what we have isn’t traditional.

The Woman at the Airport[edit | edit source]

Brennan: You know, I'd like to drive sometime.
Booth: (Changing the subject) Look, our contact out here is Special Agent Tricia Finn.
Brennan: I'm an excellent driver.
Booth: OK, Rainman.
Brennan: I don't know what that means.
Booth: From whom?
Kostov: I…
Bones: I don't know what that means.
Booth: LA speak for call girl.

The Skull in the Desert[edit | edit source]

Brennan: Because nothing in this universe happens just once, Angela. Nothing. Infinity goes in both directions. There is no unique event, no singular moment.
Angela: I don't know what that means.
Brennan: It means you will get another chance.

The Ghost in the Machine[edit | edit source]

Angela: (sets skull on Brennan's desk)
Brennan: I don't understand.
Angela: Sweetie... Avalon says that Collin's spirit is still here.
Brennan: (scoffs) I don't know what that means.

Aliens in a Spaceship[edit | edit source]

Booth: I need you to be Dr. Brennan.
Zack: (unintentionally quoting Brennan) I don't know what that means.
Booth: Perfect.

The Santa in the Slush[edit | edit source]

Brennan: (right after kissing Booth) Was that enough steamboats?
Caroline: (astonished) Plenty. A whole flotilla.
Booth: I don’t know what that means, but um... Merry Christmas.

The End in the End[edit | edit source]

Booth: And besides, we're way better than Mulder and Scully.
Brennan: I don't know what that means.
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