Scrubs

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"Dr. Dorian, do you not realize you are nothing more than a large pair of scrubs to me?"
Dr. Bob Kelso, Scrubs, "My First Day"

Scrubs was a Dramedy series that aired from 2001-2010 (2001-2008 on NBC and 2009-2010 on ABC). The show was a blend of a goofy Work Com and a serious Medical Drama, shot in a single-camera format.

John "J.D." Dorian trains and works at Sacred Heart hospital, learning the difference between studying medicine and being a doctor, as well as how being a person can differ from both. His guide through much of this is Dr. Perry Cox, an acerbic, sharp-tongued and profoundly bitter attending physician with a terrible personal, professional, romantic and social life but a genuine desire to help his patients.

Other people in the hospital provide contrast, support, and the more-than-occasional weird situation: J.D.'s long-time Black Best Friend Dr. Chris Turk, a surgeon who tries to be the best and blackest thing since burnt sliced toast; nurse Carla Espinosa, the Team Mom to the staff with a penchant for delivering advice whether you like it or not; Dr. Elliott Reid, J.D.'s (female) on-again, off-again love interest and possibly the only doctor on staff more nerdy and psychologically messed-up than he is; Dr. Robert "Bob" Kelso, the hospital's Chief of Medicine and Magnificent Bastard of a boss whose job requires him to be a heartless bastard and think only of the hospital in fiscal terms; and "Janitor", a mysterious and often menacing presence in J.D.'s life who has taken the role of his nemesis.

The show uses rapid-fire dialogue, a running mental commentary in J.D.'s head for narration, rapid scene changes, hippocratical humor and a single-camera viewpoint to maintain a high energy to the story and to the comedy. The show also takes quite a few dives into the surreal end of the pool, especially in its frequent depiction of J.D's fantasies. These fantasies provide much of the show's humor, as it deals with the often bizarre train-of-thought and overly literal depictions of metaphors people use.

Scrubs became well known for it's focus on Character Development, the extensive supporting cast and recurring characters, the largely accurate medicine and politics surrounding it and paying attention to the gradual progression of the careers of the young doctors (how they go from interns to residents to attending physicians and eventually department heads).

Scrubs spent its first seven seasons on NBC, but moved to ABC for its eighth campaign. That season ended with what was thought to be the show's Grand Finale, an episode whose end credits were played alongside footage of the cast and crew tearfully saying goodbye to each other. But in a surprise move, ABC picked up Scrubs for yet another season; this resulted in a Post Script Season set at New Sacred Heart, a teaching hospital. Though Turk, Dr. Cox, Dr. Kelso and J.D. all showed up (the latter for only 6 episodes), the focus was on a new group of interns, with intern Lucy Bennett largely replacing J.D. as narrator. The show officially ended after the Season 9 finale.

Genres: Dramatic Half Hour Dramedy, Medical Drama, Work Com


Scrubs is the Trope Namer for:
Tropes used in Scrubs include:


Tropes A-D[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Abuse Is Okay When It Is Female On Male: Carla is guilty of this, especially in the later seasons. She belittles Turk constantly, tells him what he can and can't do, enforces a bed time on him because she is tired, and while she's allowed to go out on a date with her ex-boyfriend, she almost breaks up with Turk because he had a phone conversation with one of his ex-girlfriends. Of course, it's all played for laughs.
    • Though to add a little context to that, Turk had "forgotten" to tell his ex that he was married and was flirting with her on multiple phone calls.
      • Though to add even more context, Carla had also flirted on several occasions with her ex-boyfriend and went on a date with him without mentioned that she was due to be married either.
  • Abusive Parents: It is revealed in Season Five that Dr. Cox's father was a violently abusive alcoholic who showed love by throwing bottles at his head and missing on purpose. This is why Dr. Cox's sister, who appears in a later season, converted to a strong Christian faith, whereas it is one of the reasons that Dr. Cox himself is strongly against the concept of God.
    • Jordan in one episode uses this trope as an excuse for why she's so mean, though she admits later on that it's a lie and that her parents were supportive.
    • Elliott's parents were at the very least emotionally abusive and neither see her as being good enough for various reasons, explaining her neuroses.
    • The Janitor claims this at times, but has revealed many self-contradictory stories about his childhood and is an admitted liar. Some flashbacks bear out at least a few of his statements, predominantly explaining why he acts how he currently does. These include the Janitor becoming what he is because his mother intentionally threw out his teddy bear to teach him a lesson about keeping his room clean and the revelation that he takes pride in the fact that he keeps the floors of the hospital clean enough to eat off of; when asked why, there is a flashback that shows him as a child with a meal set out in front of him on the floor. His mom (off-camera) tells him that if he is going to throw his food on the floor, that is where he is going to eat from now on. At one point, the Janitor is on the phone to his mother and says "No, Mom, playpen/baby cage is not like tomato/tomato."
      • Actually, since those were flashbacks which he didn't voice aloud, they probably genuinely did happen. On the other hand, the identity of the angry father who visits the hospital at one point is in question, as when J.D. calls him on a random anecdote about having no parents, this happens:

J.D.: Wait a second, I met your father!
The Janitor: You met a man.

    • In the episode "My Transition", the Janitor gave Carla a baby cage, and explained how his mother used it on him. When everyone was shocked and disgusted, the Janitor quickly claimed it was a joke, and walked away with an angry face, later resulting in the above phone conversation.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Dr. Kelso angrily denounces the vandalism on the hospital's sign, but privately admits to Turk that he thinks "Sacred Fart" is hilarious.
    • Played with when Carla laughs to herself after Turk breaks wind; Elliot gleefully asks her if she thinks farts are funny too, despite Carla having scolded Turk for it earlier. Turns out Carla was laughing at something else.
  • Aesop Amnesia: Oh so very much.
    • Lampshaded by Carla and Elliot at one point, where Carla yells at Elliot for forgetting the aesop she dropped on her a mere two weeks before, causing Elliot to have a quick flashback to that very scene In the original aesopdropping, Carla even told them to "Pay attention, because I don't want to be saying the same thing again in two weeks."
    • This makes up the drama at the end of "My Lunch". Earlier in the episode, Dr. Cox tries to comfort J.D. by saying that the latter shouldn't fret over not being able to see that Jill was in trouble before she died, because "the moment you start blaming yourself for deaths that aren't your fault, there's no going back." But at the end, when all four donor patients die, Cox completely breaks down, despite the fact that he couldn't possibly know the organs were infected with rabies. J.D. even ends up calling him out on it, but Dr Cox subverts the trope by saying he's right, and walks out anyway.
  • Affectionate Parody: Both the Three Cameras Sitcom episode, the Musical Episode, and the House Shout-Out.
  • Age-Inappropriate Dress
  • All Girls Like Ponies: Elliot and J.D. both love horses; Lucy is obsessed with them to a positively creepy extent - which is commented on by the other characters.
  • All Men Are Perverts/All Women Are Prudes: Avoided occasionally, especially early in the show's run; Jordan was unapologetically sexual, and Carla could be sexually assertive as well. The tropes were eventually played pretty straight, however, as Turk was frequently reduced to begging Carla for sex.
    • This was foreshadowed in one of the episodes before they got married, with Elliot saying: "Plus now you only have to have sex when you actually want to!"
      • Carla also told Elliot in the first season that she refuses sex in order to hold something over men she's dating, so that might very well be why she makes Turk beg.
      • Averted with Elliot, who in the same conversation, claimed she used sex as an icebreaker.
  • Almighty Janitor: Who do you think?
    • According to the show's creator, they didn't even intend the character to be part of the show; he just started showing up and forced his way in.
  • Always Someone Better: Dr. Kevin Casey (played by Michael J. Fox) from the episode "My Catalyst".
    • Also, Nick Murdoch from "My Super Ego".
    • And Russell Vaughn from "Our Dear Leaders".
  • Amicably Divorced: Jordan and Dr Cox. When they learn that their divorce was never made official due to an error, they get divorced again to save their relationship.
  • And I Must Scream: One episode features Locked In Syndrome.
  • And Knowing Is Half the Battle: Don't smother your kids.
  • Anger Montage: Elliot, right before she hacks off all her hair.
  • Anything That Moves: The Todd, Dr. Mickhead.

Janitor: What the hell are you?
Todd: I'm The Todd!

  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The Janitor's list of insulting names
    • Also, Cox' list of things he cares as little about as J.D.'s last week as a resident.
    • In Dr. Cox's list of reasons why God doesn't exist, he includes sugar free ice cream and Hugh Jackman.
  • Ascended Extra: A number of extras were promoted to recurring cast members as the seasons progressed, including...
    • Dr. Mickhead.
    • Dr. Beardface.
    • Snoop Dogg Intern / Resident / Attending.
    • Dr. Coleman "Colonel Doctor" Slawski.
    • Lloyd Slawski, the delivery guy.
    • Word of God says that the Janitor was originally meant to be a one-season only character meant to be revealed in the season finale as being J.D.'s imaginary creation. He was so popular that they scrubbed that idea and kept him as a real character and Almighty Janitor.
  • Ass Shove: "Either this kid has a light bulb up his ass or his colon has a great idea."
    • Also a string of patients who tell Turk that they "fell" on the items he's removing from their rectums, save for one who admits that he was "bored".
    • Sacred Heart doesn't have a lost and found box. They have an "Ass Box".
  • Attention Deficit Ooh Shiny: From the episode "My Own Personal Jesus":

J.D.: I don't want to go to Mass in the stupid morn- ooh, hey, candy!
[J.D. takes candy from the Christmas tree, causing it to topple to the ground].

  • Author Appeal: Scrubs has way more spanking than other shows.
  • Ax Crazy: Hooch is crazy.
    • Hooch is crazy.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Turk and The Todd, in one of J.D.'s dream sequences.
  • Back for the Finale: Good Lord, too many people to name: both dead and alive. Though not everyone made it - in particular, both of Jordan's siblings were absent, and since the show had just channel hopped to ABC, NBC did not allow Masi Oka (Franklin/Hiro Nakamura) or Sarah Lancaster (Gift Shop Girl/Ellie Bartowski) to make cameos.
  • Backhanded Apology
  • Badass: Dr. Cox is constantly wrestling a certain other doctor for most badass doctor on television. And he knows it.
  • Bad News in a Good Way: Sometimes invoked for breaking bad news to a patient, both in and out of fantasy sequences.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: Averted in "My Princess". The two-headed witch's breastplate, at least on Carla's side is anatomically accurate.
  • Beach Episode: Two episodes in the eighth season send the main characters to the Bahamas.
  • Begone Bribe: Discussed. J.D. is trying to get Cox to hire more nurses. Cox claims that there just isn't enough money for it, but that J.D. could raise the money himself, since he's so annoying, by offering people a service whereby he doesn't talk to them in exchange for a monthly fee.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: In early seasons, Dr Cox and Jordan.
  • Berserk Button: The Gooch does not like being lied to. Also counts as Beware the Nice Ones.
  • Beta Couple: Turk and Carla, and Dr. Cox and Jordan. Also according to Word of God, it should have been Turk and Carla as the only beta couple with all others failing, but the producers/writers came to like Cox and Jordan so much that they couldn't bring themselves to sink that ship.
    • And according to Bill Lawrence, Drew and Denise will be this from now on.
  • Better as Friends: A slight version of this may be Dr. Cox and Carla. In the first couple of seasons, it's revealed that Dr. Cox is enamored with Carla, but he eventually outgrows it and they continue to be good friends.
  • Big No: Done by J.D. in "My Last Chance" when, after spending an entire night trying to get to Molly's apartment before she left town for another job, he finds out the note from Elliot that presumably gave him permission to have sex with Molly instead read "Now we're even."
  • Bilingual Backfire: Both these cases are actually inversions, since the person whose language skills were secret is the one being backfired upon.
    • When Carla's brother Marco was first introduced, he pretended to only speak Spanish to annoy Turk. Turk eventually goaded him into revealing he spoke English.
    • In a later episode, Turk decided to surprise Carla by telling her he'd learned Spanish, but then decided to keep it a secret for a bit so he could listen in on her secret conversations and appear to be a more attentive husband. This didn't go entirely as planned.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Musical episode. The woman is safe from the hemorrhage in her head that was a ticking time bomb, but it ends with her already missing the music.
    • The ending of "My Old Lady". J.D. comments at the start of the episode that, on average, one out of every three patients admitted to hospital will die. We then follow JD, Turk and Elliot as they treat three separate patients, waiting to see which one will be the one to die. Turns out it's all three of them.
  • Black Best Friend: Turk and J.D. regularly comment and joke about how Turk is one - J.D. even calls him Brown Bear or Chocolate Bear.
    • Invoked by J.D. in one episode when they have a falling out and JD starts hanging out with Hooch, presumably for the sole purpose of still being able to call someone Chocolate Bear.
  • Blatant Lies: After a very pregnant and very angry Jordan has been summoned to the hospital:

Dr. Cox: You look pretty, dear.
Turk: So pretty.

  • Blessed with Suck: Doug is an amazing pathologist, because he's accidentally killed patients in every way known to man.
    • Dr. Cox once commented that he suspects that Doug is secretly a government assassin.
  • Bluff the Eavesdropper: In one episode, Dr. Cox realizes that Doug is listening to him and says to himself:

Dr. Cox: If this kid [Doug] doesn't leave I'm gonna kill him!
Doug: ... *begins to leave*
Dr. Cox: Hey, if you leave, I'm going to know that you were listening to me and kill you anyway!

  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: I could hit you over the head with a wrench. Or, I could stab you in the gut with a knife. 'Knife-Wrench'!
    • For kids!
    • The Janitor is fond of these, he also makes a pen-straw. It works, but his cola somehow tastes of ink.
  • Break the Cutie: Happens to Turk during the Christmas special.
    • Also, Dr Kelso gleefully enjoys doing this to Elliot in the early seasons.
    • Kelso and Cox also spend an episode trying to break Molly Clock.
  • Leaning On The Fourth Wall: Played around with a few times during the series.
    • In "My House", when the interns mention House.

Dr. Cox: This isn't a TV show, and there aren't any (waves in direction of cameras) cameras over here.

    • One episode's cold open has a gag of J.D. seemingly speaking directly to the audience about his new suit but actually talking to one of the characters, taken to its extreme when he says "What I really want to know is what America thinks." when he's actually speaking to his tailor, an Italian man name Americo.
    • "My Fishbowl" features Dr. Cox explaining to Carla that she simply can't tell jokes because that's not how she's funny and then proceeds to hang lampshades on exactly what makes each member of the main and supporting (all the way down to Snoop Dog Resident) funny.
    • Played with in "My Jerks" when J.D. seemingly points at the ABC logo in the corner and says "That's new" (it was the show's first episode on NBC) but is actually talking about the Janitor's new watch.
      • Played with again in the tag for the same episode when J.D., Turk and Elliot discuss how people count on them from week to week so they should work hard even though its tempting to phone it in. There's also a reference to a Dr. Shaloub who steals all the awards during medical award season and Turk points out that the Nielsens (an unhappy family at the hospital) don't really like them.
  • Break the Cutie: Elliot starting in the second half of season two. She got cut off financially by her dad when she refused to take her career where he wanted her to go, losing her ability to afford her spacious apartment. While looking for a new apartment the moving truck holding everything she owns was stolen and she was such a wreck from the stress she had patients dropping her because she simply wasn't focused on her job. In addition she had a complicated UST thing going on with J.D. and even broke up with a boyfriend because she couldn't handle a relationship at that time. Things kind of even out after that, but she doesn't really get back on her feet until about mid-season four.
  • Brick Joke: J.D.'s last episode has him attempting to launch a bunch of balloons from his classroom ceiling; later in the episode when Dr. Cox reveals he wrote J.D.'s bad review the balloons come down.
    • There are many of these, such as the reveal that the "Crotch-Punching Midget" in J.D.'s fantasies was a patient he was treating, or that Troy the Lunch Room Worker eventually joined in the Janitor's grudge-war against JD because J.D. accidentally insulted him.
    • In the Season 1 finale, J.D. says he wants more people to call him Tiger. In the Season 2 premier, Turk wakes him up by saying "Good Morning Tiger."
  • Bridezilla: Carla before her and Turk's wedding, Elliot during her engagement to Keith.
  • Broken Aesop: In "My Unicorn", the aesop is supposed to be about Murray Marks learning to forgive his father and that whats truly important is the fact Gregory Mark deeply loves his son. Yet apparently, not so much that he won't freely admit to having once stolen Murray's college girlfriend and took her to the Bahamas. We're supposed to forget he's a Jerkass who still hasn't apologized for how he treated Murray. Its Murray who apologizes in the end.
  • Bully Hunter: Though it takes J.D.'s urging for Doctor Cox to deliver the trope, he socks Kelso one when Kelso was tormenting Elliot.
    • Dr. Cox's evaluation of J.D.:

Dr. Cox: It's time. Sit down. Now what you want me to say? That you're great? That you're raising the bar for interns everywhere?
J.D.: I'm cool with that.
Dr. Cox: I'm not going to say that. You're OK. You might be better than that someday. But right now, all I see is a guy who's so worried about what everyone else thinks of him that he has no real belief in himself. I mean, did you ever even wonder why I told you do your own evaluation?
J.D.: I ... I can't think of a safe answer, I just figured--
Dr. Cox: Clam up! I wanted you to think about yourself. And I mean really think. What are you good at? What do you suck at? And then I wanted you to put it down on paper -- and not so I could see it, or not so that anyone else could see it, but so that you could see it! Because ultimately you don't have to answer to me, you don't have to answer to Kelso -- you don't even have to answer to your patients, for God's sake. You only have to answer to one guy, newbie, and that's you! [Beat] There. You. Are. Evaluated. Now get the hell out of my sight. You honest-to-God get me so angry that I might just hurt myself.

  • Bumbling Dad: J.D.'s father, J.D. himself.
  • Bunny Ears Lawyer: The majority of the staff at Sacred Heart Hospital, but not the actual lawyer, Ted. He's got the weirdness down, but is terrible at his job.
    • Todd is easily the most prominent example. Outside of the O.R., he is dimwitted and lecherous, but inside he is actually a very skilled and focused surgeon.
      • They once ranked all ten of the current surgical interns. Todd was #2. He beat Turk by two spots.
    • Special mention must go to Dr. Molly Clock, skilled psychiatrist and the biggest Cloudcukoolander in the entire show.
  • But Not Too Bi: For being the libertine that he is, Todd's experiences with men are never even mentioned.
  • Butterfly of Doom: Subverted in the episode "My Butterfly".
  • Butt Monkey: Ted, who was once labeled "the hospital sad sack". Also, bizarrely, J.D., who has become the rare main character Butt Monkey over the last few seasons.
    • Also Doug Murphy, the most incompetent doctor in Sacred Heart, and possibly the world. Even when he found his square hole as a pathologist, he still had his moments:

Dr Cox: Bottom line: in medicine, half of pulling it off is believing you're the biggest, smartest badass of a doctor to ever walk these halls. You wanna see how you end up if you don't believe that?
(He opens the morgue door to reveal Doug, trapped under a dead body.)
Doug: I don't know how it happened again, but it did.

  • Calling the Old Man Out: Ultimately subverted by Elliot and her father; he told her to go into OB/GYN, citing he paid for everything (college, med school, apartment, etc). Elliot retorted by telling him that she's going to run her life the way she wants to. He responds by cutting her off.
  • The Cameo: Throughout eight seasons, Creator Bill Lawrence made four appearances -- twice in Season Six: "My Best Friend's Baby's Baby and My Baby's Baby" and briefly in "Their Story", and twice in Season Eight: a semi-major role in "My Soul's On Fire" and a blink and miss it one in "My Finale".
  • Cannot Tell a Joke: J.D.
    • Carla also has an episode where her inability to tell jokes that are funny is one of the central focuses.
    • Elliot also fails to tell a series of ancient jokes, which everyone knows. After every setup she creates, everyone in the coffee shop responds with the appropriate punchline.

Elliot: [screeching] "STOP FINISHING MY AWESOME JOKES!"
J.D.: [holding his ear] "...oh my god."
It is said that this was actually a genuine reaction by Zach Braff, as he didn't know just how shrill Sarah Chalke could get.

  • Casanova Wannabe: The iconically lecherous, sexually traumatized, eventually bisexual Todd "The Todd" Quinlan is constantly being rejected.
  • Catch Phrase: "Now that's what I'm talkin' bout!" Because sometimes that is what he's talkin' 'bout...
    • Also Todd's high-fives: [noun, verb, adjective or long phrase] five!
      • Complete with the crack of a whip.
    • Elliot with "frick", although that's more of a catch word.
    • "It's Beardfacé, damnit!"
    • J.D.'s brother Dan - "heeey little brother!"
  • CAT Trap: Inverted as Elliot claims she uses a broken MRI machine as her "own little cocoon" when she's feeling stressed.
  • Celebrity Star: Clay Aiken in the episode "My Life in Four Cameras".
  • Central Theme: You need help from your friends to survive, especially when you have the responsibility of people's lives on your shoulders, because you can't do it all on your own -- you're not Superman.
    • Each episode generally has a central theme of its own, many of which fulfill some aspect of the above.
  • Character Development: Most everyone by virtue of becoming better at their jobs and managing their personal lives better. Elliot becomes less neurotic, J.D. becomes more confident in himself (and more humble), Turk becomes less self-absorbed, although all of these traits still remain with them throughout the series. Dr. Cox learns that sometimes it is okay to play the system by asking for recommendations, which is why he eventually takes over as Chief of Medicine.
  • Characterization Marches On: J.D. was at least somewhat familiar with sports in the early seasons. Turk was also a bit more secretive of his "bromance" with J.D.
    • In the first season, Turk deeply resented being viewed as a token Black man or anything other than a good surgeon. In later episodes, he is the epitome of every Black stereotype in Sitcoms and worries about not being thought of as Black.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In "My Last Words", J.D. and Turk buy a beer for a dying patient, but since the clerk made a sarcastic comment about buying a single beer, J.D. also buys a flare gun. After George passes away, Turks toasts him with a beer and J.D. fires the flare gun in commemoration.
  • Chess with Death: J.D. plays Connect Four with Death in an Imagine Spot, and Death wins on the diagonal, prompting J.D. to say "Very sneaky, Death!"
  • Chew Toy: Ted.
  • Choose Your Own Adventure: The code blue game on their website.
  • Christianity Is Catholic: Before the writers decided to drop Turk's role as a stereotypical Black charismatic Christian (which was handed off to Laverne), a Christmas episode has J.D. admiring his friend for his faith, featuring an Imagine Spot with Turk portrayed as a Baptist preacher. Later in the episode, Turk forces Carla and J.D. to go to Mass. Protestants use service, church, or any number of other terms for their worship practices, but decidedly not Mass.
    • A more subtle example: when Laverne finally passes away after Carla is able to say goodbye to her, the screen pans down to her hand which appears to be clutching a rosary. This would be very odd, as the character has been firmly established as a charismatic (possibly evangelical) Protestant, and rosaries are very, very, very Catholic.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Dr. Miller, who appeared in a few Season 3 episodes before disappearing abruptly. Word of God later said that she had been removed because she was a poor attempt at creating a female Dr. Cox who came off as insufferably Sue-ish.
    • Also, they realized that they kinda already had that in Jordan.
    • Quoth Jordan: "Let me guess. Dark haired, domineering, doesn't take any of your crap? You see, a lesser person would mock your inability to move on. I'm going to consider it an homage."
      • Although that quote actually was in reference to Kristen Murphy, who was a romantic interest of Dr Cox before breaking up with him after she learned he had slept with Jordan once she came back into the picture.
    • The same quote easily be applied to Julie Keaton, yet another Jordan-lite character in a romance with Dr Cox who was also insufferably Sue-ish and apparently was only added as a recurring character due to Executive Meddling. There is starting to be a clear trend here.
    • Doug also hasn't been seen towards partway through the eighth season, being last seen in "My Soul on Fire" being locked into a morgue drawer. He was notably absent from the "finale" despite his supporting role.
    • Doug is replaced by Jimmy the hands-y intern, in what is ultimately Doug's final mention in the episode "My Chief Concern", because the Janitor didn't like the way Doug said "here" (as in, he wasn't there to say it).
    • Jamie, one of J.D.'s girlfriends. At the end of "My Drama Queen", it is suggested that they have made up. The season finale "My Dream Job" does not mention her, and in the following season, other than a brief mention about her being out of town when J.D. feels like a fifth wheel she is never seen or heard from after that.
      • She was referenced in a list of J.D.'s girlfriends he broke up with over stupid reasons in a later episode. She also appeared (in fantasy form) among many others in the finale. She said "You never called." Read what you will into that.
    • In "My Fifteen Minutes", its implied that Ted actually may have children, mentioning when he started working at the hospital, he had hair, a wife and a family. Later episodes indicate that he just has an ex-wife.
    • In the Season 1 episode "My Student", the interns all get medical students assigned to them. J.D. and Elliot's students never appear or are mentioned again after the episode despite the episode going out of its way to establishes conflicts between the interns and their students. Turk's student fairs a little better since she begins dating Dr. Cox in the same episode... only to dump him in the next and THEN never be mentioned again.
    • Bonnie Chang, Turk's rival surgeon and nemesis during Season 2.
  • Clip Show: Season 6's "My Night to Remember" framed around the characters reminiscing while treating an amnesiac patient. J.D.'s narration mocks it mercilessly -- which doesn't stop it from being a Clip Show, of course.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: J.D. may as well be the Cloudcuckooland emissary.
    • Molly Clock was also an example of this.
  • Clutching Hand Trap: Turk has gotten his hand stuck in both a candy vending-machine, and a an ice dispensing machine (apparently the latter also happened to Leonard the Hook-Handed Security Guard) and J.D. once got his hand stuck in a coffee jug.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: About half (or more) of the gags involving Ted Buckland depend on this (with poor lawyer as a victim).

Ted: If people keep pushing me for no reason, I swear I will hurl myself off this building!
The Janitor: I'm not cleaning you up.

  • Companion Cube: Rowdy, a stuffed dog J.D. and Turk treat as a real one.
    • It should be clarified that "stuffed" does not mean "toy." It is an actual dead dog that has been stuffed.
  • Compressed Vice: This happens a lot (and goes hand-in-hand with the series-wide Aesop Amnesia epidemic) but the most egregious is J.D.'s flaw of "wanting what he can't have", which was used to justify why he dumps Elliot one episode after they hook up despite three years of pining for her, and all his jealousy after she hooks up with other guys.
  • Cone of Shame: One of the new interns tries putting one of these on a mentally ill patient to stop him biting the bandages on his hands. She is told to stop it.
  • Continuity Nod: The second webisode is basically one long continuity nod.
    • A lot of the later episodes use a continuity nod to help a little with character development, such as one where Elliot tries to warm up her hands and apologizes ahead of time for how cold they are. An earlier episode had a massive argument between J.D. as a patient with appendicitis and Elliot with cold hands.
    • One episode has Elliot telling an embarrassing story to a patient to cheer them up about their own embarrassing incident; which involved her roller-skating out of a toilet with her pants about her ankles. Due to a mole on her butt, she earned the nickname Roller Moler. Several episodes later and J.D. rattles of a list of his former girlfriends, Elliot is nicknamed 'Mole Butt'.
  • Contrived Clumsiness: At one point, Elliot is in a crabby mood and tosses her drink on the ground right in front of the Janitor, sarcastically saying "oops" as she walks past.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment:
    • Dr. Cox and Jordan punish the doctor responsible for Dr. Cox's failed vasectomy by strapping him to a chair while an acappella group continuously sings the baritone part to the "Chili's Baby Back Ribs" jingle over and over. The torture is so horrendous that thirty minutes into the singing, the doctor starts eating his own face.

"Dear God, when do they say ribs?!"
"Never. They never say ribs."

    • An earlier episode features Dr. Cox warning that if they don't leave he'll make them regret it. After not leaving, he gives a helpful sounding comment that ruins that character's relationship with all the nursing staff.
    • "My Office": Dr. Cox, Turk and the Janitor team up to remove a light bulb out of a patient's anus; they succeed, but Dr. Kelso steals the credit for their work. The trio's response? They install that bulb in Kelso's office. Judging by his reaction, they didn't clean it before.
    • In the fifth season, Dr. Cox has Keith take the counter-top's heartbeat for hours.
    • "Duct tape. Two hours in a morgue drawer. Don't piss off the Janitor. End of story."
    • There was also an episode where the Janitor kidnapped J.D. and stuck him in a water tower for an entire episode.
    • The 4-Story Atomic Wedgie
    • One of J.D.'s interns being forced to follow Hooch around all day, no matter what.
      • That was Rex, and he wasn't forced, just incentivized by Turk and J.D. to do so. What Hooch said he'd do to Rex (and the other interns that were also roped into this) counts as this trope.
      • Hooch is crazy.
  • Cool Old Lady: Mrs. Tanner (after all, she's portrayed by Kathryn Joosten) and Mrs. Wilk.
  • Cool Teacher: J.D. Sometimes also Dr. Cox.
  • Crazy Memory: The Janitor.
  • Curse Cut Short: A couple times: once after The Todd high-fives J.D. ("motherf-" cut to opening song) and another when Dr. Cox starts to call Dr. Kelso a "stupid motherf-" after he punctured his eardrums.
    • Not so much cut short as sneakily slipped in, JD demonstrating that he can indeed rhyme with anything by responding to Laverne "Eat schmidt and die".
  • Cut Apart: Turk makes it to his wedding just in time...only to find the "priest who looks like Sulu" from the church they agreed against.
  • Cute Clumsy Girl: Elliot, Julie.
  • The Cutie: J.D.'s childlike innocence and sensitivity is part of his eccentricity.
  • Daydream Surprise: A staple.
  • A Day in the Limelight: The His/Her/Their Story episodes.
  • Dead Baby Comedy: Anything involving Dr. Murphy.

"They're like children. *Chuckles* Big, dead children."

(Looking at an X-Ray) "Either this guy has a light-bulb up his ass or his colon has a bright idea."

    • Deconstructed. Dr. Cox makes fun of basically everyone, to the point where he literally has no friends except J.D. by the episode "His Story", and even J.D. sometimes can't stand him.
    • Also sometimes subverted by having Cox reprimand people for their quirks, which turn out to be based on deeper problems. Example: after being partnered for a few paramedic shifts with guest star Molly Shannon, Cox finally chews her out for speaking non-stop, usually about her son. Turns out her son's dead. Oops.
    • Dr. Kelso, of course.
  • Deep Sleep
  • Dirty Old Man: Dr. Kelso, who is known to unabashedly talk about his own affairs with South-East Asian sex workers in public.
    • "Hiya, my name is Bob Kelso and I like whores. Now why don't I introduce myself like that? Because there is a time and a place for the truth!"

Denise: "You're a nasty old man, aren't you?
Kelso(brightly): Thank you, dear.

Female Patient: Doctor, I'm getting a little tired of the constant innuendo.
The Todd: ...Beat... In your end-o.

  • Double Standard: Dr. Miller, a surgeon briefly appearing in a few episodes. She belittles Elliot for being feminine, Turk for standing up for her (it has been shown throughout the run that his attitude is less that she's a woman, more that he has a tendency to try to help people fit in) and generally behaves horribly at the drop of a hat, all the while claiming it's under a banner of Feminism. The reality is that she's just an awful person, and is never called out on it. On the other hand, many characters have been called out for doing much less than she has, which itself carries a degree of Fridge Logic.
  • Downer Ending: A number of episodes end on a downer note, the most notable ones being:
    • "My Screw Up" ends with us finding out that Dr. Cox has been in denial most of the episode and that Ben was actually the patient that J.D.'s titular screw up ended up killing.
    • "My Lunch" even has a downer middle when Jill Tracy is brought into the hospital from a suicide attempt by overdose after J.D. repeatedly brushed her off outside the hospital and J.D. can't stop blaming himself. Dr. Cox tells J.D. he can't blame himself and has to move on. Jill's organs end up being donated to three patients in need of organ transplants that Cox has been obsessing over for weeks. Turns out Jill actually died of rabies and the three patients start dying one by one from her infected organs which sends Dr. Cox into a downward spiral of alcoholism over the next episode.
  • Dramatic Wind: "Vampires like it windy."
    • "This is a really windy hospital."
    • Most women J.D. finds attractive are introduced this way in an Imagine Spot, which was parodied in "My Last Words" where an elderly patient noticing an old lady he likes is shown in the same manner.
  • Dramedy
  • Dressed to Heal: Averted; as one might guess from the title, most of the main cast tends to wear hospital scrubs. J.D. only ever wears the usual white coat in one episode and it's a plot point then. Many other doctors do wear it, though. They wear (and use) stethoscopes, however.
    • It's actually a character thing. The older and less hands-on doctors like Kelso, Mickhead, and Beardface wear shirts and ties with lab coats. The younger, main character doctors wear scrubs. Cox, who straddles the line, wears the lab coat, but with t-shirt and sweats underneath.
      • Elliot switches from Scrubs to a lab coat around season five to indicate her change from a timid person to a stronger character.
    • Dr. Jan Itor.
  • Driven to Madness: Hooch first appeared as a completely sane, normal person, but repeated practical jokes by J.D. and Turk literally drove him insane by the end of the episode.
    • While Hooch clearly was Axe Crazy, he was still capable of functioning as a Doctor. That was until J.D. made his interns follow him around all day and not tell him why. Later in the episode, Kelso mentions Hooch was fired because of the "Hostage situation".
  • Driven to Suicide: When she was younger, Elliot attempted suicide.
    • Oh, and Ted. Constantly.
    • And Elliot has a lot of stories about people that always seem to end in them killing themselves.
    • Not to mention Jill Tracy, who attempted suicide once but eventually died from rabies.
    • Private Brian Dancer attempted suicide by taking an overdose of his medication. His injuries, including severe memory loss, meant that he wasn't allowed to rejoin the army, which he mentioned was a huge part of his life.
    • Dr. Cox becomes suicidal after accidentally killing three patients.
  • Dr. Jerk: Cox and Kelso.
  • Duet Bonding
  • Dysfunction Junction


Tropes E-H[edit | hide]

  • Early Installment Weirdness: The first few episodes in particular sometimes had an almost documentary-like look to them, with seemingly dozens of extras and little background events going on, as well as being a lot more low-key in humor with less surreal imagine spots. Later in the first season, they toned down how busy the hospital looked likely to save money and make filming simpler.
    • The Season 1 Documentary Episode included Dr. Kelso recounting a story about his treatment of his wife that is genuinely cruel. Later appearances tossed that aside and revealed his Hidden Heart of Gold.
  • The Eeyore: Ted.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Percival Cox.

Turk: Please- I'm Christopher Duncan Turk.
Todd: Duncan?
J.D.: His Dad liked donuts.
Turk: That's not true- you really need to stop telling people that.

  • Eureka Moment: Played for laughs (and for Shout-Out to a certain doctor who has a lot of these moments) in "My House": Dr. Cox solves a mystery of the orange man after seeing paints mixing on the floor. Played straight in "My Own Worst Enemy": Turk's random comment about Dr. Beardface ("I wonder what he's hiding under all that hair") makes Dr. Cox realize that his initial diagnosis of a patient's disease was correct. Interestingly enough though, House had an almost identical case to the latter at one point as well.
    • Also played straight when the comment "I hope you listen to your patients better than you listen to us" makes J.D. and Cox realize that their patient Jill Tracy had been letting on that she was depressed, leading them to figure out that she had poisoned herself.
    • Lampshaded in this scene:

Dr. Cox: What in the hell are you talking about?
J.D.: Oh, I'm just doing this thing where I use a slice of wisdom from someone else's life to solve a problem in my own life.
Jordan: Seems coincidental.
J.D.: And yet I do it almost every week.

  • Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The Janitor.
    • When he takes over the narration, he even refers to himself as the Janitor.
  • Family Relationship Switcheroo: Some of the Janitor's stories.
  • Fan Service: Elliot is Ms. Fanservice, but not to forget the two-part Beach Episode in Season 8's "My Soul's on Fire".
  • Fantasy Twist: J.D.'s daydreams often do this. In particular, his recurring fantasy of how much he could get done as Floating Head Doctor invariably ends with his headless body screwing things up.
  • Faux Yay: Most notably, Dr Cox and Ben's game of gay chicken.
  • Fawlty Towers Plot: "My Jiggly Ball".
  • Finger in the Mail: Played for Laughs in the episode "My White Whale". In a Cutaway Gag, after Dr. Cox denies acting like a complete lunatic, doll enthusiast Dr. Norris receives a parcel containing the hand of a doll that went missing after he refused to break his schedule to look at Dr. Cox's son. Soon after, Dr. Cox reveals that the hand belongs to another doll--not the one that Dr. Norris is missing.
  • First Girl Wins: Happens to almost every male character that ended in an Official Couple situation: the first love interest introduced ends becoming the official one. The only notable exception is Ted - His first love interest introduced in the series died. Subverted with Dr. Cox in which Jordan was not exactly first introduced as a love interest, but she was his ex-wife.
  • First Gray Hair: Dr Cox goes a little nuts when he finds a gray hair in his happy trail.
  • Five Stages of Grief: Obviously, Dr. Cox, and J.D. go through them in "My Five Stages".
  • Flanderization:
    • J.D. was originally more of a timid but very empathetic character who looked to Dr. Cox as a mentor and role model. Soon his obsession with Dr. Cox became a Parental Substitution ordeal and (with few exceptions) was just desperate for any sort of appreciation.
    • Elliot was mostly stable with her quirks mirroring J.D.'s except she was not as good as dealing with people, but those quirks became full on neurotic mid-way through Season Two.
    • Dr. Cox made a few token gestures of appreciation to J.D. for his work, making it clear the Jerkass behavior was to push him to do his best. Towards the end it became hard to see if he even liked or respected J.D. at all.
  • Foreshadowing: "My Occurrence" and "My Screw Up" are chock-full of it.
  • For Want of a Nail: "My Butterfly" shows the same day with only one difference: a butterfly either landed on a hot girl's breasts or a fat guy's breasts. This leads to the days being almost entirely different in spirit (yet with the same outcome) but it's never explained which, if either, was the real one.
  • Franchise Zombie: Continuing after "My Finale".
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: In the first half of "My Soul on Fire", when everyone is receiving their invitations, if you pay close attention you can see that all of the envelopes have his nicknames for the given person on them.
  • Freudian Excuse: Openly mocked. J.D.'s dad would drop in and out of his life, which gives him some father figure issues. Dr. Cox's parents were violent to each other and to him. Elliot's parents are unhappily married and have given her plenty of neurosis. When an intern in the eighth season, Katie, tried to use her alcoholic mother and Disappeared Dad as a Freudian Excuse to justify her "privileged" behavior Carla tells her that damn near everyone has some sort of parental issues and no one is going to feel sympathy for her.
    • In one episode, Cox and a patient have a "Who had the worst father" contest. Cox says the patient wins "because your father is still alive."
    • Dr. Kelso has one of these for bikes: His father left the family, but:

Kelso's Father: Since the car is in your mother's name, I want you to know that I couldn't leave the family forever if not for your bike.

  • Friends with Benefits: J.D. and Elliot attempt to have one of these. It doesn't work out.
  • Full House Music: First played straight, then Lampshaded when the producers of the show noticed what they were doing, and then subverted. They still use that particular chord, but mostly for a joke. They have a variety of other tunes for those emotional moments.
  • Full Name Ultimatum: Parodied when Dr. Cox addresses his ex-wife as "Jordan Godzilla Sullivan!"
  • Funny Background Event: As Dr. Kelso is stating that he knows everything that goes on in Sacred Heart, Dr. Mickhead is being led away kicking and screaming by the polices.
  • Gag Dub: The cast once did an in-character re-dub of A Charlie Brown Christmas.
  • Gagging on Your Words: When Cox finally tells J.D. that he's a good doctor.
  • Gag Penis: One of Kim's patients. Also "Bob Kelso, ten inches".
    • It's like a baguette.
  • Gallows Humor: Played with, mostly along the lines that it helps for some people but not for everyone.
  • Gaslighting: Done often for laughs.
    • The Janitor tries to convince Dr. Kelso that he has Alzheimer's by using a crane to pick up Kelso's car and Ted.
    • J.D. also mentions that he's attempting to do this to Turk when he asks Elliot's college friend Melody to keep a tiny bottle of ketchup so that he can replace everything in his apartment with tiny versions and convince Turk that he's grown extraordinarily tall (something Donald Faison experienced in Big Fat Liar).
    • Done to the Janitor in the last season, where they actually convince him all the weird stuff he did (building a giant sand castle in the parking lot, etc) was just in his mind. He believes it. Or does he?
  • Gay Moment: J.D.'s had one. It started in 2001.
    • More specifically in "My Friend the Doctor"...
      • "Wow, you must be dancing on the wind right now! ...That sounded straighter in my head."
      • "Haaa, that is so fabulous! ...What is wrong with me today?!"
      • And of course, "Harrison Ford, hands down! But you were probably talking to Carla...I'm having such a gay day!"
        • Day?
  • Gender Equals Breed: The Janitor imagines being married to Dr. Reid. They have quite a few preteen children, of whom all the girls are playing with stethoscopes and all the boys are playing with mops. Then again they later say that the kids aren't theirs.
  • Genius Ditz: The Todd. He's managed to graduate from med school and at one point was a better surgeon than Turk. Yet he is horribly un-PC with constant sex-jokes, unable to remember 5 seconds later that you can hear people through the door and at one point couldn't spell his own name.
    • This somewhat falls under Crazy Awesome, as it's stated that the reason The Todd is such a good surgeon is because he is completely and utterly consumed in the exact moment he's in at all times.
  • Genre Savvy: In "My Best Moment", Dr. Cox tells J.D. that his patient, a younger guy, will probably die while the many old people in the ICU will continue surviving forever because the younger guy has a son who has nowhere else to go and it's near Christmas. The man survives, although it wouldn't have been a surprise if he didn't.
  • The Ghost: Dr. Kelso's wheelchair-bound wife, Enid, whom he torments and reviles (or claims to) at every opportunity.
    • His son Harrison as well, although a photo of him was once shown.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Jordan sports them when posing as a younger woman to impress her new gynecologist.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: The Janitor makes the grave mistake of saying a new attractive Latina nurse looks like a "young Carla", Carla gets glowy eyes and conjures up a powerful wind that blows all throughout the hospital (in a Shout-Out to Storm) and emits a high-pitched scream that breaks Dr. Kelso's glasses and shatters Turk into a million pieces.
    • It wasn't a mistake. He did it deliberately to get back at her for an earlier slight because he knew it would piss Carla off.
    • Dr. Kelso also has these during one of J.D.'s daydreams in the first episode.
  • Go Look At the Distraction: Todd and the nonexistent tennis ball.
  • Good Is Not Dumb: Molly Clock's indomitable optimism stands against the cynicism of Dr. Cox and Dr. Kelso, and she's still able to triumph against them.
  • Good People Have Good Sex: While Carla and Turk are shown as mostly vanilla, Elliot is shown have extremely strange fetishes. Mexican apple pickers are mentioned often...
  • The Grim Reaper: In one episode, J.D. images Death hanging around the hospital due to all the deaths that happen there. Death among other things has a daughter selling girl scout cookies, and plays a game of Connect Four with J.D. over a patient's life.
  • Groin Attack: "Powerful... tiny... fists..."
    • Not to mention Neena from "My Malpractical Decision". "I'm wearing a cup!"
    • Man-Check!
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: The Janitor.
  • Hair Reboot: Avoided when J.D. shaved his head for a patient. The next episode indicates that a month passed for his hair to grow again.
    • Eerily enough, one episode features Dr. Cox shaving off his curly mop... an episode AFTER he appears bald.
      • There was actually an attempt to avert the trope and have Cox's hair grow back over the course of a couple of episodes. It failed when NBC broadcast the episodes out of order.
        • Of course, the real fail came when the season finale some weeks later had him with a buzz cut, and the next season premiere, one week later story time, had him with his hair back to its former springy state.
        • Lampshaded a few weeks later when Cox is reading a doctor-rating website and finds a complaint about his inconsistent hair length on it.
  • Hannibal Lecture: Jordan uses this on the collective cast in the first season finale using inside information she had on each of them, almost destroying their relationships with each other.
  • Happy Dance: Turk has many (including the "you are so getting a piece of this" dance and the "there's a sale on lotion" dance).
  • "Happy Ending" Massage: Dr. Kelso takes Turk for one. It doesn't end very happily for Turk.
  • Has Two Thumbs And: Dr. Kelso uses this a number of times.
  • Heads-Tails-Edge: Ironically.
  • Heads or Tails: When J.D. and Kim can't decide if they want to keep their baby, so they leave it up to a coin toss. The result is...
  • Heroic BSOD: Dr. Cox.
  • Heterosexual Life Partners: J.D. and Turk, forever and ever, amen.

"It's Guy Love! There's nothing gay about it... in our eyes."
This has even been lampshaded:
J.D.: "Turk, we're not married."
Turk: "Dude, we're a little married."
J.D.: "I know, I love it."

    • When J.D. moves out a few years after Turk got married, he and Turk realized that they had been roommates all through college and their time at Sacred Heart, totaling at least 12 years.
    • It's also shown sometimes, though a bit more discreetly, that Doug and Ted often hung out. Bikin'.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: Dr. Kelso is often used as the badguy for whatever heartless policy the hospital has. One episode in particular begins showing Kelso shutting down the free women's clinic with a thin-seeming "money is tight" line and then going on to give a jerkass rich patient the last spot in a potentially life-saving drug trial while a poor Mr. Nice Guy dies despite Dr. Cox doing everything he can to save him. Then, in the last scene, we see the women's clinic is reopened with money donated to the hospital by the jerkass millionaire, and we see Kelso had simply made a decision based on The Needs of the Many.
  • Hide and No Seek: When the Janitor is taking pictures of Doctor Cox playing dangerously with his son and a young girl spots him. He starts asking her to make silly faces for his camera:

Janitor: Look happy... now look sad... now look like you're going away...


Tropes I-L[edit | hide]

  • I Call It Vera: One gag involved a security guard with a tranquilizer rifle he called 'Megan Fox'.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every episode is named "My [Something]", unless the narrator isn't J.D., in which case it's His/Her/Their Story, depending on who's getting A Day in the Limelight.
    • All the episodes in Season 9 are called "Our [Something]".
  • Idiot Ball: Not even J.D. is dumb enough to give the responsibility of telling a wife that she should let her husband die to the one woman who has proven time and time again that she's so emotionally dead that Jordan looks happy by comparison. It's arguable that the only reason he did it was to tie up the symmetrical intern-protege story arc at the end of "My ABC's".
  • I Feel Guilty You Take It: In the Season 2 episode "My Big Mouth", Turk only gets to go to Mexico with Dr. Kelso, because He's a guy, and Bonnie isn't. So, feeling guilty, Turk gives the prize to Bonnie, and she turns him down, refusing his "charity", Since he isn't the rightful winner, he doesn't want to keep it so he gives it to Todd in the end.
  • If I Were a Rich Man: The lottery episode.
  • I Know Mortal Kombat: Turk credits his improvements in surgery to having trained his fingers by playing Madden on the Xbox.
    • Startling as it may seem, this is Truth in Television. High-speed and reaction time based video games have been proven to dramatically improve surgical performance.
  • I'll Take Two Beers, Too!

Jordan: (noticing Perry holding two glasses of whiskey) You do know I'm pregnant, right?
Perry: Yeah... they're for me.

  • Imagine Spot: J.D.'s mind is a strange, strange place.
    • "It's gonna take a whole lotta gnomes."
      • In the Season 8 finale, J.D. imagines the rest of his life.

J.D.: And who's to say that my fantasies can't come true, just this once?

  • Impaled Palm: Ben's introduction. Played for laughs.
  • Important Haircut: Elliot reinvents herself by having her hair cut so her bangs aren't in her face so much. This is comprehensively mocked by Dr Cox and Dr Kelso in later episodes.
    • But by gum, the reveal was hot.
  • Impossible Shadow Puppets: The cast creates an impressive naval battle out of shadow puppets.
  • Improbably Predictable:
    • The Janitor tells J.D. that he is incredibly predictable, to which J.D. objects:

The Janitor: You're very predictable.
J.D. and Janitor simultaneously: No I'm not. Stop doing that! Peanut-butter-egg-dirt!

Janitor: Listen, crash in my garage. I guarantee you there will not be another person in there.
[J.D. has an imagine spot]
J.D.: You're gonna slather jam on my face and sic a family of raccoons on me, aren't you?
The Janitor: Damn it. I've become predictable.

Eliot: You can either use her relationship with us doctors to start a dialogue and make things better, or ignore me, stay pissed and hold me down in the parking lot tonight while Barb stomps on my face.
[The nurses keep drinking their coffee without reacting at all.]
Eliot: You're taking a pretty long time thinking about it...

  • Informed Ability: Played for laughs with Todd, a moron who routinely proves he's Too Dumb to Live. He's also evidently a skilled surgeon, a fact we rarely see (and that the writer's lampshade, as other characters frequently forget as well).
    • But in "My Hero", we're shown one of the only scenes displaying the Todd's skill that is not played for laughs. As the Todd walks down the hallway with a couple of nurses he says, "The periampullary carcinoma patient had a failed palliatitive stenting of the common bile duct so this is what I want to do. I want to go ahead and prep him for a pyloris sparing pancreaticoduodenectomy. Thanks." Every word, even that pan-whatever, is pronounced correctly and without hesitation or any suggestion of humor.
  • Informed Self Diagnosis: FOUR doctors as patients, helping J.D.; especially notable in that all four doctors played characters on Saint Elsewhere.
  • Inner Monologue and the inevitable Did I Just Say That Out Loud?: "Ted you idiot, you just said the loud thing in your head and the in-your-head thing out loud!"
  • Insistent Terminology:
    • Snoop Dogg Intern Resident Attending (That's right baby) rarely complains that nobody uses his name, but you'd better get his title right.
    • That drawing on J.D.'s journal is a horse with a sword in its head, not a unicorn. Even the internal fantasy of the "horse" disagrees.
  • Instant Drama, Just Add Tracheotomy: Turk does one.
  • Insult to Rocks: Trope Namer.
  • The Internet Is for Porn: "I'm pretty sure that if they took porn off the internet, there'd only be one website left, and it would be called 'Bring Back the Porn'."
  • Irrational Hatred
  • Irritation Is the Sincerest Form of Flattery: J.D. did this to Dr. Cox until he learned that Dr. Cox didn't like himself.
  • It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY": Dr Beardface, pronounced "Beardfa-say".
  • It Never Gets Any Easier: Justified. J.D. doesn't want it to get any easier.
  • Ivy League for Everyone
  • Jerkass: J.D. and it gets more pronounced as the series goes on. For example, in the episode "My Inconvenient Truth", his brother Dan shows up, having turned his life around since the last time he appeared thanks to some harsh truths from J.D. As a gift to say thanks, he gives J.D. a car - J.D.'s reply is to smash the windshield in and tell Dan that he's supposed to be the loser in the family. This is still very arguable though, not least because his reaction was because of dissatisfaction with his own life showing through at that moment, and he remains a kind, friendly person throughout the show. He's just weird and quite self absorbed. He also generally calls himself on it once prompted, and tries to make up for it.
    • Kelso and Cox spend most of the time in Jerkass mode, and occasionally switch to full-blown ass-hat mode... unfortunately, they're high enough in the hierarchy of Sacred Heart that to react may cost one their job (well, Kelso is, anyway).
    • Elliot, especially in Season 6. The writers acknowledged and responded to these criticisms in Season 7, as revealed in one of the commentaries.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Dr. Cox. Although he has some pretty legitimate reasons for not being affectionate towards hospital staff.

J.D.: Ohh, you smell like a father figure. Mmm.

    • Dr. Kelso, as well. He lets out a few hints of warmness now and again.
  • Kafka Komedy: J.D. and the Janitor.
  • Keet: J.D. after Flanderization.
  • "Kick Me" Prank: Kelso was ready to throw a patient (who happens to be Dr Cox's mentor) out of the hospital just before he nearly died, and then takes credit for saving his life. Cox puts a sign on Kelso's back saying "Never stop kicking me". The patient removes it... and discovers it's on the back of the discharge form.

Dr Kelso: Oh, very clever.
Dr Cox: What? It wasn't me. I think you put it there yourself to get attention.

  • Killed Off for Real: Numerous patients, which doesn't need spoilering. However, a few longer-running recurring characters do: Patients Jill Tracy and Mrs Wilk. Ben Sullivan, whose death made Dr. Cox suffer from a Heroic BSOD in the episode "My Screw Up". And beloved nurse Laverne.
    • However, Laverne's actress came back to play a character who was identical in personality to Laverne. Her name? Shirley.
  • Kissing Warm Up: J.D. practiced kissing with the stuffed dog.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Dr. Cox. Painfully so. He's not named Percival by accident.
    • Also see "My Princess".
  • The Ladette: Intern Denise Mahony in the eighth season. An entire story arc was made where J.D. had to not necessarily make her feminine, but at least able to comprehend patient empathy.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Among many others, in the ninth season, J.D. and Turk are walking along in the hallway when Dr Cox falls through the ceiling after escaping from a stuck lift.

J.D.: He just fell through the ceiling and we're not gonna address that at all?

  • Laser-Guided Karma: Recurring patient Mike Davis routinely finds himself in the hospital, often because he's such an insufferable jerkass that people keep harming him.

Mike Davis: An old woman pushed me off the bus!
Carla: What did you do?
Mike Davis: Nothing! Ok, I might have said she smelt like "Old ass"...

  • The Last DJ: Dr. Cox has this going on.
  • Laxative Prank: The Janitor attempts to give J.D. some pie that he refuses to eat, though The Todd does. Todd experiences what J.D. says is "what can only be described as 'epic diarrhea'". Later, the Janitor convinces J.D. to eat the pie anyway by eating it himself. They both experience the effects of the laxative.
  • Lethal Klutz:
    • Doug. They eventually solve this by making him a coroner.
    • J.D.'s girlfriend Julie has classic Klutz tendencies, but when there's someone else for her to hurt she'll find an interesting way to maim them. Elliot is often a victim.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Just a look at the IMDB cast list shows how much attention they paid to even the most minor characters. The record for non-main characters is Robert Maschio's Todd who is in two-thirds of the total episodes, but there are over 20 actors who are credited to more than 10 episodes.
  • Lonely Together
  • Long-Lost Uncle Aesop: The setting is a hospital. This was bound to happen.
    • A distinctive one is Ben, Doctor Cox's best friend who shows up in exactly three episodes. Distinctive because his third is considered one of the best episodes of the show.
  • Lopsided Dichotomy: When seeing a light-bulb shape in an x-ray:

"Either that kid has a light-bulb up his ass, or his colon has a great idea."


Tropes M-P[edit | hide]

  • Made of Explodium: In the episode "My Unicorn", a patient attacks J.D. with a remote control airplane. After dodging it, the tiny plane crashes in an enormous fireball.

J.D.: "...What an odd-sized explosion..."

  • Magic Feather: Ted is only socially confident as the leader of his 'acapella' group "The Worthless Peons". This leads to a complicated matter when he was interested in a cute ukulele player and he can only talk to her through music.
    • A Season 2 episode featured J.D. wearing a white coat that let him stand up to the Janitor and Dr Cox.
  • The Maiden Name Debate: Carla tells Turk that she wants to keep her maiden name. He doesn't respond well -- "Oh that's OK baby, we'll just be like one of those new age couples that doesn't love each other." They compromise -- Carla keeps her name, and Turk gets to keep his mole.
  • Master of the Mixed Message: Elliot quite often to J.D., right in the pilot episode until a major falling out late season three. One episode had a fun play on this where J.D. was hugely jealous of her and her current boyfriend, and as they were working together Elliot did a lot of flirtatious things like resting her head on his shoulder when tired, wiping some crumbs from his cheek and cuddling into the same bed in the on-call room because all the other beds were taken up.
  • Meaningful Background Event: In "My Screw Up", there's a sign that says "Pay Attention" hinting that Ben is the patient who died.
  • Meaningful Name: Possibly. In The Picture of Dorian Gray, the main character, Dorian, had a grandfather, Kelso, who served as an uncaring, heartless authority figure while he was alive.
    • John Dorian is named after John Doris, a medical doctor whose real-life stories inspired several episodes, and who wound up serving as the show's medical expert.
  • Mediation Backfire: J.D.'s attempt to intervene in a domestic between Cox and Jordan - "And just like that, all the hatred they had for each other was instantly directed at me."
  • Mental Story: Almost all of "My Life in Four Cameras" take place in J.D.'s head. Only the Book Ends are real.
  • Mermaid Problem
  • Milholland Relationship Moment
  • Mind Screw: Dr. Kelso once told Turk that acting like a black guy is a characteristic of being a white guy. Try not to think about that one too hard...
  • Mistaken for Racist: The Janitor tricks J.D. into appearing racist against East Asians; when he was in college, a black fraternity mistook J.D. for being racist against blacks.
    • ...Because he showed up at their door in blackface. Of course, it would have looked better if Turk (who had gone off for a second to greet a friend) had been by J.D.'s side, him being in "whiteface" and all.
    • Elliot was mistaken for racist by two identical black twins because she pointed out how they look alike.
  • Moment Killer: Elliot Reid, the Trope Namer.
  • Mood Whiplash: From humor to pathos in under 30 seconds.
    • Specifically, the end of "My Screw Up" where Dr. Cox is in a really good mood until it's revealed that they're going to Ben's funeral and Cox has been in denial for most of the episode (at which point both Cox and everyone watching the show have about the same reaction).
    • Another notable example is "My Lunch". The dark and grim ending immediately follows a scene where The Todd reveals that he was just following Elliot and Carla because they're hot, and then starts to realize he's bisexual.
    • "Resident Kabuki Theatre" is part of a dual whiplash. It's the funny moment after demonstrations of serious ways to tell people that their loved ones have died, and then it leads almost directly into the news that J.D.'s father has died.
  • Moral Dissonance: A couple, though most of them are in later seasons, from J.D.: when he explodes at Elliot when it's revealed that she is better than him at diagnosing a patient ("You're the one who's supposed to struggle, not me!") and when his brother Dan finally gets his life going in a positive direction and he yells that Dan is supposed to be the screw up of the family. Both caused him to look like a complete Jerkass.
    • Elliot's moment is in the episode after she sleeps with J.D. (for like the fourth time or something) and then jumps into Sean's arms not three seconds later but expects J.D. not to tell Sean that she cheated on him because he's her friend.
    • Dr. Cox in two instances: when he keeps attacking Laverne's belief in Christianity after a very unfortunate case involving a little boy... the episode before she dies and again when he starts intentionally messing J.D. up with his patients just so his ratings will go down on a Rate Your Doctor website.
  • Morality Pet: Dr. Cox's and Jordan's children.
  • Most Common Card Game: "My Lucky Charm".
  • Motor Mouth: Elliot.
    • She later finds her equal in Kim, who likewise has the ability to talk at the speed of light.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Elliot. Quite often seen in her underwear or lingerie and besides her time with J.D. she is shown to have a wide variety of sexual fetishes.
  • Musical Episode: Justified because a patient is suffering from a brain aneurysm that causes her to hear speech as singing. Though as to why they are speaking in rhyme...
    • As the main trope page says: It's Sacred Heart... that's a normal Tuesday for them.
    • What's truly shocking is that this condition, against all odds, is Truth in Television. It exists. This actually happens to people.
  • The Music Meister: The above-mentioned aneurysm victim in the Musical Episode, as her condition causes people to sing and dance. Even if it is just inside her head.
  • Music Video Syndrome: Practically Once an Episode.
  • My Dear Idiot: J.D. is initially called "Bambi" by nurse Carla, as he's a new and inexperienced doctor. The nickname persists even after J.D. becomes more experienced and Carla becomes friends with him.
    • Dr. Cox definitely meant his terms for the main characters ("Newbie", "Barbie", and "Ghandi") to be insulting, but kept using them even once he started to respect them as doctors.
  • My Name Is Inigo Montoya: In "My Princess".

Cox: "My name is Percival Cox. You're killing my friend. Prepare to die."

  • My Sensors Indicate You Want to Tap That: Turk figures out that J.D. and Elliot were getting back together for the second time by the potential couple nodding at each other in the hallway.
  • N-Word Privileges: The first conversation between J.D. and Turk. And no, J.D. does not get them...
  • Neck Lift: Elliot is really strong.
  • Never Heard That One Before: Lampshaded and subverted with Herman.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Once Carla and Elliot wanted to throw Kelso a birthday party. He had been telling everyone he was "57", so with the help of the Janitor they get into his employment records. They proceed to throw him his 65th birthday party. Guess what the hospital's mandatory retirement age is?
    • Dr. Cox. Four transplant patients. Three organs from a donor who died of rabies. Three dead transplant patients. Oops.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Turk was noticeably not nice to who he assumed was a parking valet. If he had been a bit nicer then his relationship with his future brother-in-law Marco might have been a lot better.
  • No Bisexuals: Subverted... maybe... kind of... we're not sure.

The Todd appreciates hot, regardless of gender.

    • In "Their Story", Todd says that even if he doesn't see attractive breasts, he can see "an awesome dong".
    • Let's not forget the exchange at the end of "My Lunch".

The Janitor: What the hell are you?
The Todd: I'm The Todd.

  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: With all the parallels and strikingly similarities between Elliot, famous author Sylvia Plath, and Plath's fictional alter-ego Esther Greenwood, it's hard to believe that the writers didn't have Plath in mind when they wrote Elliot's character. They both grew up in New England and went off to college. They're both young, blonde, successful, intelligent, and attractive. Elliot is just as neurotic as Plath was. They both struggled with the concept of being a woman and being successful. They also struggled with the choice between a successful career or romance. They also both suffered from serious bouts of depression and were both suicidal. Before her college years, Elliot swam out to the middle of a lake and attempted to drown herself, only to be saved by the school's rowing team. Elliot even says that, at the time, she had read poetry by Plath herself and Virginia Wolfe, two female writers that committed suicide. Plath's alter-ego, Esther, attempted suicide in an almost verbatim manner. Plath herself also attempted suicide, except she was successful in 1963 when she stuck her head in a gas oven. Elliot even states that the reason she didn't use Plath's method was because having a hot head makes her pee and she had no intent on being found in a puddle of her own urine. Not again.
    • Fridge Logic: Why would her head be hot, you're suppose to use a gas oven to suffocate on the gas. You would need nerves of steel to keep your head in the oven if you kill yourself the other way. Additional Fridge Logic, Elliot likely misunderstood the description of Plath's suicide
  • No Ending: Two season finales were written with the expectation that the show would be canceled, and both conspicuously avoided resolving the J.D./Elliot Will They or Won't They?.
  • No Name Given: The Janitor.
    • Revealed in the Grand Finale as being Glen Matthews... or is it? Word of God says it's at least 50% right.
      • It is Neil Flynn's happy-go-lucky janitor's name in Clone High... (a show made by Bill Lawrence concurrently with Scrubs, in which the the Janitor is mortified when a clone of Ponce de Leon is graphically killed in an elaborate litter-related accident).
  • Noodle Incident: Drew's parent's think he's dead.
    • And pre-Season Nine, there were several mentions of an above-ground pool party held by Laverne.
    • Also in the third episode of Season 5, Elliot's then boyfriend Jake reveals a fantasy that is apparently so horrifying its too much for even Elliot, too bad for us they never reveal it...
    • How Play-Doh Pants became all about the money...
  • No Sympathy: Don't worry J.D., the ladies just don't understand you.
  • Not-So-Great Escape: Happens to Elliot when she tries to dodge Kelso after accidentally revealing his age.
  • The Not-So-Harmless Punishment: Happens in "My Soul on Fire: Part 2" where the Janitor punishes J.D. for convincing everyone to come to his wedding on such short notice by keeping him at the top of a lighthouse for ten minutes...

J.D.: But that doesn't explain why these fish are taped to my hands!
Cue the flock of seagulls hungry for fish.

  • Not Afraid to Die: Several patients, which include:
    • Mrs. Tanner from "My Old Lady", who says she's ready to die when diagnosed a kidney failure. She even ends up comforting J.D., who is clearly more scared then her.
    • Elaine from "My Philosophy", who discuss about death with J.D. and Cox, explaining that she thinks it will be like a Broadway musical. When she dies, J.D. imagines that she goes out like she wanted.
  • Not So Above It All: Dr Kelso berates everyone for dressing up for Halloween in "My Big Brother", only for The Stinger to reveal he was the one causing mischief around the hospital in a Gorilla costume.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity In a meta-sense. In "Their Story", Todd is shown to be at least smarter than J.D., but the only time he's usually on camera is when fulfilling a jock stereotype.
    • Not to mention he's an extremely competent surgeon. He was once ranked the second-best in the surgical team.
  • Obsolete Mentor: Kelso firing his best friend.
  • Official Couple: J.D. and Elliot, despite sometimes years of not being officially together or with Unresolved Sexual Tension.
  • Oh Crap: J.D. attempts to Pet the Dragon by giving the Janitor a pen; when said pen bursts, staining the Janitor's favorite shirt (and his favorite skin), his first reaction is "Oh God no..."
    • Not to mention J.D.'s reaction to Dr. Cox learning he was baby Jack's real father.
    • Rabies. When an unknown rabies infection kills one and spreads to three organ donor recipients, things go from bad to worse. You know you're in trouble when even Dr. Kelso is visibly shaken.
  • Old-Fashioned Rowboat Date: J.D. has an Imagine Spot where he's on such a date with Elliot, and even throwing her lover in a lake.
  • Once a Season: Starting in the second season, there was A Day in the Limelight episode where someone besides J.D. narrated the story. The first three seasons was also regular in that J.D. and Elliot would hook up at the end of an episode only to crash HARD in the following episode. The writers ended the trend, realizing they were falling into a predictable rut and even lampshaded it. "J.D. and Elliot got back together." "That time of the year again?"
  • One Steve Limit: Averted with all the Murrays in "My Unicorn".
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Snoop Dogg Intern Resident Attending[1] and Colonel Doctor[2]
  • Only Sane Man: Carla and Dr. Wen.
  • Opposed Mentors: Dr. Kelso and Dr. Cox have this dynamic for the first few episodes, with both being presented as possible mentors to J.D. With Dr. Kelso being concerned with money (arguing that if the hospital doesn't make a profit, it'll close) and Dr. Cox arguing that the patient should come first. J.D. chooses Cox, earning him Kelso's contempt (although later episodes show Kelso in a better light). They recycled this plot a few times:
    • One episode had J.D. think that Cox and a Private Practice Doctor were warring mentors to him, but really it was about the PPD having slept with Jordan.
    • When J.D. moved up to attending in the middle of the series they replayed the Cox vs Kelso only this time with Cox taking Kelso's part and J.D. taking Cox's part with some of the new interns being the ones caught in the middle.
    • In the last season, after the Retool Drew was subject to the warring between Denise and Cox (although given he was in a relationship with Denise it was as much about the sexual relationship as much as the mentorship).
  • Organ Autonomy: Mr. Peeps in "My Best Laid Plans".
  • Out-of-Character Moment: Actually addressed in the show. J.D. was shown to drink regular beer in the early episodes, only to later have Appletini's "light on the tini" as his drink of choice. In the eighth season, after J.D. claimed to be allergic to beer, Turk called him out on it and J.D. had to explain himself.
  • Outside Inside Slur: Dr. Cox has a tirade where he derides Turk for being whiter than he is.
  • Overly Long Gag: The fantasy where Turk and Carla mistake a pumpkin for their baby, the longest of J.D.'s fantasies and also the most surreal.
  • Pac-Man Fever: One episode sees Turk playing an unnamed game on the Xbox 360, the footage is from Unreal Tournament 3, but the characters dialogue suggests that they're playing something more like Halo. They're also apparently playing multi-player on the same console without a split screen, and we're told that Carla is the best player, despite the fact she can't even hold the controller correctly.
  • Pair the Spares: Shaun and Kim in Season 8.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: The Janitor once added only a fake mustache. Justified in that it was supposed to be his twin brother. And subverted in that nobody buys it for a second.

"That's just sad…"

  • Patient of the Week: Both played straight an averted at different times.
  • Perma-Stubble: Dr. Cox.
  • Perverse Sexual Lust: At one point, Elliot mentioned that she got into anime porn. and old dudes, and in separate boxes from her partner, and any number of role playing games.
    • And one time when she was going out with J.D., she asked him to pee on her. Allegedly because a jellyfish had stung her. She does have her limits though, Jake's sexual kink creeps her out.
  • Pet the Dog: Big mean Kelso has had a few, and although he is a jerk, he also works hard to keep the hospital open and provide extra care where possible.
    • A few times Dr. Cox decides to give J.D. pat on the back as a token gesture. Most of the time he is patronizing and condescending.
    • Kelso also had a literal pet dog, Baxter, who he showered love on for years before... well. It's a dog and well... you know where this is going
  • Phrase Catcher: Hooch is crazy!
    • Also, the Janitor does this to J.D. every once in a while, each phrase only lasts for an episode or two.
  • Plot Parallel: Along with the Double Aesops.
  • Plucky Hospital Guy: The doctor who (briefly) replaced Kim as Sacred Heart's urologist.

Doctor: This is a nice job, but I'm not too crazy about my peers!
Kelso: God I hate you...


Tropes Q-T[edit | hide]

  • Queer People Are Funny: Most prominently the running gag of Turk and J.D. being a couple.
  • Race Fetish: Kelso cheerfully admits he has a thing for Oriental women. All of his affairs are with one.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: There were a lot of complaints about the episode "My Lunch" where a patient dies and has her organs transplanted into other patients, but it turns out she died from rabies and the transplants get it too and how this was unrealistic. But this was actually based on a real case from 2004. While there have also been more than a dozen other reported cases of rabies being transplanted with organs, including the infection of multiple recipients from a single donor, the real complaint was that one donor would be a match for three patients in the same hospital.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Both of Jordan's pregnancies was written in when her actress, Christa Miller, became pregnant. In addition, Sarah Chalke's pregnancy was written in during Season Nine.
    • Also Doug Murphy riding a scooter around because both of his legs were broken - this was included because the actor had broken his legs/ankles.
    • When Sam Ritter (who played J.D. and Dan's father) died, they wrote an episode devoted to J.D. and Dan dealing with his characters death.
    • Carla's actress hurt her ankle sometime during the filming for Season Six. This shows when she's confined to a chair for most of the Musical Episode, and when Carla hurts her ankle during the road trip to see Kim and has a crutch for a few episodes after that.
    • The Janitor was written out at the start of Season 9, as Neil Flynn had shot the pilot for The Middle after wrapping Season 8. The show was picked up, and due to contractual obligations Flynn left the show, but returned to shoot a brief scene explaining why the Janitor wasn't around anymore.
    • Judy Reyes opted not to return in Season 9 due to a reduced focus on Carla, as the producers had decided that it wouldn't make sense for Carla to constantly be hanging around with med-students.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: "Superman" by Lazlo Bane. The version used in the credit sequence is actually in a different key and a faster tempo than the actual song.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Several, though special mention goes to Dr Cox. J.D. has a book made filled entirely with every single one he's ever used on him in Season 8, fully categorized and rated from least to most damaging to his self esteem.
  • Recurring Extra: Snoop Dogg Intern Resident Attending, Dr. Beardface, Colonel Doctor and Dr. Mickhead.
  • Redheaded Stepchild: Elliot, starting in the eighth season.
  • Refuge in Audacity: "Turk, we tried the giant black doctor; people ran."
  • Relationship Reboot: The Janitor has offered this to J.D. a few times. It's almost always a trick, and even if it isn't, Failure Is the Only Option.
  • Remember the New Guy?: In Season 2, Dick Van Dyke guest stars for all of one episode as a doctor that's seen as the "anti-Kelso", is nice to the staff, is Kelso's best friend, has a strong relationship with the Janitor and has allegedly been at the hospital the whole time even though he was never mentioned before.
    • Also, Kim Briggs, for more info see....
  • Retcon: Dr. Kim Briggs was working in the hospital for years before J.D. ran into her. In a series of flashbacks using archive footage, they placed Kim in various settings where she definitely wasn't there before.
    • Also, Jordan having Post Partum Depression after giving birth to Jack. If she had, Dr Cox would have come off as far more of a Jerkass for whining abut how much attention she was giving the baby.
      • She could've just been hiding it well though.
  • The Reveal: In the finale, the Janitor's name is Glen Matthews. Immediately after, a passing intern goes "Hey Tommy". Janitor: "Hey."
  • Road Sign Reversal: The Janitor does this to J.D. during his birthday triathlon. J.D. ends up biking uncontrollably down a near-vertical hill.
  • Romantic False Lead: Alex.
  • Rule of Funny: Despite the cartoonish nature of the show, for the most part the situations and things that happen in the hospital are based on real events. But they are still out to entertain and that is why they have a nonsensical joke that wasn't an Imagine Spot where J.D. is incapable of seeing a woman with a wedding ring on... in the fifth season.
    • Likewise in the same episode, when J.D. would never have had a need for a urologist consult or even hear of her over the course of 5 years, but it was all for a gag.
  • Running Gag: All the time, especially J.D.'s imagination spots. Once about three episodes in a row J.D. would imagine something horrible and a midget would jump out in a karate gi and punch him in the crotch. Then it turned out that he had been treating the said midget, who would frequently say, "Well that's a punch in the crotch." [3] Reoccurs in Season Three.

J.D.: Randall?!
Randall: Just got the job, brah.
J.D.: (To himself) So that's why he's been back in my dreams...

    • J.D's butt.

J.D.: It's firm like mutton.

    • Also, almost every woman J.D. sleeps with has an androgynous name: Elliot, Jordan, Alex, Danni, Jamie, etc.
      • Even Kim, by far the least androgynous name of the lot, actually can be a male name...
  • Safety Worst: Jordan frets over Dr. Cox allowing their son on a dangerous climbing frame, and the last scene shows him in so much safety gear he can't move, even if he wants down. Meanwhile, Cox himself is horrified that Jordan allows the kid to be held by other people, all of whom were, of course, covered in germs.
  • Salt and Pepper: Or as Turk and J.D. would put it, "Vanilla Bear" and "Chocolate Bear". It's both played straight and subverted often since Turk tends to be just as nerdy and weird as J.D. sometimes.
  • Saw Star Wars 27 Times: Something of a Running Gag on the show, Turk and J.D. have watched Judge Dredd together on a surprising number of occasions. In the episode "My Déjà Vu, My Déjà Vu", Turk invites J.D. to watch the movie at his place at which point they both loudly proclaim in unison, "NINETY-NINTH VIEWING" before high-fiving each other.
  • Scary Black Man:

Dr. Cox: Angry black man, never disappoints.
Ron: I pull him out when I need to.

Kelso: Oh Perry, you're so edgy and cantankerous. You're like House without the limp.
J.D.: I love Grey's Anatomy. It's like they saw our lives and put it on TV!

    • The Grey's Anatomy one is also, of course, an incredibly subtle Take That. Although Bill Lawrence did admit once that these jokes stemmed more from envy rather than disdain.

Lucy: What the Fraggle Rock just happened?

    • One is made to Gremlins in the second episode of Season Nine.
    • Turk has an Imagine Spot where he's a white insurance salesman named "Cal Turk", who bears a strong resemblance to Chuck Taylor.
  • Shown Their Work: Despite some of the more cartoony personalities the show has, it is lauded as being one of the most realistic portrayals of the life of medical interns. The medicine itself too.
  • Shut UP, Hannibal: Happens in Season Six when Dr. Cox couldn't stop trying to tear down Laverne's faith in Christianity:

Dr. Cox: That was a coincidence.
Laverne: What?
Dr. Cox: The knife. It just so happened to go in the exact right spot. You do not get a win for dumb luck.
Laverne: Look...if that's the way you choose to see the world, then so be it. But don't you dare try to take this away from me. I've been coming here every day for twenty-four years, watching children die and seeing good people suffer. And if I quit believing that there was a bigger plan behind all this, well I wouldn't just be able to show up tomorrow. So just stop it!

    • Also done in Season 4, on a much lighter note than most examples. This seems to just be Dr. Molly Clock's regular reaction to Dr. Cox, though it's unknown whether she is intentionally or unintentionally doing it.
  • Side Bet: Dr. Kelso's bet with the boys in Radiology.
  • Signed Up for the Dental: The Janitor and other support staff briefly get jobs at the coffee shop for its dental plan.
  • Six-Student Clique: Adult variation.
    • The Head: Dr. Cox.
    • The Muscle: Turk.
    • The Quirk: J.D.
    • The Pretty One: Elliot.
    • The Smart One: Carla.
    • The Wild One: Jordan.
  • Skeleton Key: In the episode "My Jerks", the Janitor is revealed to have made a key that works on everything. Said key is confiscated by Dr. Maddox.
  • Slasher Smile: Dr. Cox is very good at making these, a number of them occurring in J.D.'s Imagine Spots.
  • Slut Shaming: The show tended to treat characters badly if they had sex outside of a committed relationship. Men were ostensibly excused if it had been long enough, but they were portrayed (and treated) as somewhat pathetic.
  • Sock It to Them: The Janitor claims that his father used to do this. It's unlikely that he was telling the truth, of course.
  • Something Completely Different: "My Life in Four Cameras" reworks the show as a parody of more conventional Sitcom; "My Princess" recasts the regulars in a fairy-tale told by Dr Cox to his son.
    • "My Absence" features no narration and a massive reduction of Imagine Spots.
  • Spank the Cutie: Correct me if I'm wrong, but this trope is used fairly often.
  • Special Guest and The Cameo: Dozens, ranging from recurring characters (John Ritter, Heather Graham, Michael J. Fox) to brief appearances-- Fred 'Rerun' Berry, Billy Dee, Jimmie Walker, Matthew 'Chandler' Perry, and more. Almost the entire cast of Spin City has dropped by at some point. Also has had musicians appear solely for musical numbers (Polyphonic Spree, Colin Hay). As the show got more popular, they got much more frequent...
  • Spell My Name with a "The": The Todd.
  • Spicy Latina: Carla.
  • Stand in Portrait: Spoofed in "My Jiggly Ball" when Kelso tries to hide as a doctor in a mural. He refuses to break cover even when Cox points out he is 3 dimensional and then physically grabs him.
  • Starving Student: While they aren't students anymore, J.D., Turk and the other interns (apart from Elliot, who's parents pay for everything) have to steal hospital supplies to make ends meet.
  • Stealth Insult: "Let's talk, you and me. No lawyers." - Kelso to Ted (the hospital's dimwitted lawyer on retainer) when trying to settle without a lawsuit after Kelso hit Ted with his car
  • Storybook Episode "My Princess".
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: Dr. Kelso and Dr. Cox agree - people are bastard-coated bastards with bastard filling.
  • Stupid Sexy Flanders: Almost everyone at least once, but especially J.D.

J.D.:Stop it! I don't have gay jungle fever!

  • Take That: "I love Grey's Anatomy. It's like they took our lives and put it on TV."
    • "If you want to solve a real mystery, how about who keeps taking my paper every morning? Or better yet, why anyone thinks Dane Cook is funny?"
    • In a similar vein to the one about Grey's Anatomy, there's the time Kelso says Dr. Cox is "Like House, without the limp." Though that may have been entirely well meaning, seeing as they later did an episode long House homage.
    • and Hugh Jackman.
  • Taught By Experience: In combination with a Sink or Swim Mentor in Dr. Cox.
  • Team Mom: Carla.
  • Ted Baxter: The Todd.
    • Something of an unusual example, as the Todd is in fact an extremely competent surgeon (in the first season, Turk's attending even tells him that the Todd is better than Turk). Played straight everywhere else though.
  • There Are No Therapists: Yes, there are. As Jordan points out,
      • However, Cox's therapist told him that he was being petty about not being loved enough. Later on, it's revealed that Cox's father was an abusive alcoholic.
  • There Was a Door: J.D. and Turk get kicked through a window by ostriches (long story). Their owner quips this.
  • Third Person Person: The Todd.
    • Cole.
  • Three-Way Sex

"Was it the good kind, or was it a devil's threesome?"
"All girl"
"DAMN!"

J.D.: *Narration* Oh my god, would I have a threesome with Turk and Carla? I'm flattered-
Turk: Will you be my best man?
J.D.: *Disappointed* Oh...

  • Throw the Dog a Bone: Ted gets a love interest and you just can't help but root for the guy since it's the best thing to have ever happened to him.
    • Sort of gets soiled when you learn in his first appearance on Cougar Town (also created by Bill Lawrence) that his love interest left him for Hooch sometime after his last appearance in Season 9.
    • In "My Way or the Highway", the Janitor lets J.D. win. This isn't the only time where this happens in the series, but it is the first time.
  • Tomboyish Name: Elliot.
    • Also a Running Gag is that J.D. always dates women with tomboyish names (Alex, Kim, Elliot, Dani, etc).
      • Almost always. He did have relationships with women named Neena and Kylie, both in Season 4. Nino and Kyle are close, though.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: A (fictional) prison inmate that one of the Janitor's alter egos knew.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: J.D. loves him the appletinis.
    • Doug is sometimes seen with a lollipop in his mouth.
      • This is a form of His Quirk Lives On because the previous pathologist that recognizes Doug's skill with identifying causes of death is also never seen without a lollipop in his mouth, and after this character progress, Doug adopts this habit.
    • And Dr. Kelso loves his muffins. He owns a pair of "muffin slacks", for crying out loud.
  • Trickster Mentor: Dr Cox's style of teaching, particularly when dealing with J.D., though he repeatedly denies doing this.
  • Truth in Television: Most of the medical cases, as weird as they may seem, are based on real life cases. Yes, this even includes the musical episode.
    • Many medical professionals have stated that Scrubs is the closest a show has gotten to showing how it actually is to work in medicine, gallows humor and all.
  • Tsundere: Every main female character. Also, Dr. Cox might apply.
  • Turn Your Head and Cough: When Dr. Kelso asks Dr. Cox to perform a physical on him for his new insurance policy, Dr. Cox issues the heavily sarcastic reply, "The day I willingly cradle your dusty old twig and berries and get a whiff of your chronic halitosis while you turn your head and cough is the day you can look for me up on the roof singing 'I Believe I Can Fly'."
  • Twisted Echo Cut: Used periodically; a character will be walking through the hospital and pondering their predicament and their thoughts fluidly pass into another character's thoughts by sharing the same dialogue. This happens a few times in a row and the characters' problems are pretty much entirely unrelated.

Carla's Narration: ...In a lot of ways, I guess I'm as stubborn as he is. I wish I could make some sense out of...
The Janitor's Narration: ...this. Thirty cents to be exact. Damn riddle! Easy, Janitor. You'll get this.


Tropes U-Z[edit | hide]

  • Unexpected Positive: there was an episode with a hypochondriac patient who demanded every test available. Eventually, as they were running out of tests and trying to convince the guy he was obviously perfectly healthy, Dr. Cox sets him up with an extremely uncomfortable test for a one-in-a-million condition in the hopes that he'll go away. It unexpectedly turned out positive.
  • The Unfair Sex: Scrubs is really bad for this.
    • Best exemplified in J.D.'s Anvilicious closing narration in "My Tormented Mentor": "There will always be a battle for power between the sexes, sometimes a man just has to give in, other times he just has to take a positive step, and once in a while a man just has to be there for her." The subtext being that women can't be wrong because they have it hard on account of being women(!?), while in the same episode the chief complaint a female surgeon has against Turk is that he assumes women in their profession have it hard (which is true, at least in universe) and then punishes him for being perfectly nice to her. The female surgeon who is in charge of Turk constantly insults everyone around her and then prevents him from operating indefinitely because she overheard him defending her in front of the resident Memetic Molester and he told her he doesn't share the prejudices of the other male surgeons. Hint: You're not supposed to be supportive of women, it's demeaning. All instances of female surgeons in the show basically illustrate one point: cocky men are assholes, cocky women are professionals who fight the good fight for women all over the world and it's completely justified if they lash out and misuse their authority form time to time (or all the time).
    • That episode has another example with Dr. Cox and Jordan. After Jordan's brother dies (who was also best friends with Perry), Dr. Cox is extremely upset but finds it difficult to move on with Jordan's friends staying with them. Said friends openly insult and demean Perry at every opportunity and even lash out at him when he tries to get close to Jordan for emotional support. In the end, rather than getting an aesop that the two of them need to work together to overcome the loss, Perry learns he's meant to comfort and support Jordan at all times, even letting her cheerily keep her friends at the apartment knowing how much they upset him. His emotional needs are all but ignored.
      • To be fair, they are both emotional cripples to some degree, thought it's often Played for Laughs.
    • Carla demands to know when J.D. is moving out of the apartment because she wants to move in with Turk. Its a wonder why JD even goes along with this considering that its his apartment! Even Turk briefly moved out in the Pilot, so you could argue this only reinforces that it belongs to him.
    • Elliot sleeps with J.D. then immediately dumps him the day after because her old boyfriend came back; J.D.'s jealousy is depicted as petty and he's advised to "be a good friend". Later, JD convinces Elliot to leave her boyfriend but realizes that he doesn't love her. After struggling over his dilemma, he admits this to her; she physically assaults him and carries a grudge for the entire next season.
    • Elliot is engaged to marry Keith. The day before the wedding, she realizes that she doesn't love him (wow, small world) and dumps him. The day afterwards, she changes her mind and gets back together with him, sleeping with him twice. Then she decides that she's repeating a bad pattern and dumps him again. Keith is understandably furious and carries a grudge for the next season; meanwhile, Elliot can't understand what the big deal is and bemoans Keith's "lack of professionalism" (speaking of professionalism, the reason they got together in the first place was because Elliot wanted a sex buddy and chose Keith, her subordinate). Carla does manage to force Elliot to face up to the psychological devastation inflicted on Keith and apologize, but this is undercut substantially by being basically a way to write Keith off the show. He wasn't seen until the penultimate scene of Season Eight's last show (which was intended to be the series finale) and never again.
    • J.D. accidentally gets Kim pregnant on their fourth date, but they decide to raise the baby and work together to make their relationship work. Kim suddenly takes a lucrative job offer a few states over (naturally, J.D. doesn't want her to go but "learns" that the correct reaction is to support her decision unconditionally) and a few months later, informs J.D. that she has miscarried. Turns out, that was a lie to get out of their relationship. J.D. is furious but decides that he will get back together with Kim for the sake of his child, even if it means trapping himself in a loveless relationship for the rest of his life. When Kim is in labor, she demands to know what he thinks of her; he admits that he doesn't love her and she is furious, dumping him immediately afterwards.
    • Inverted in one episode where Elliot sleeps with a male patient only to discover that he's married. When he tells his wife, the wife goes into a frenzy directed only at Elliot, and hunts her for the rest of the episode.
    • Elliot demands that J.D. tell her he loves her in "the perfect way" and acts completely furious when he calls her on this, that they both agreed that the drama was over and it was this growth in character was the reason they got back together. Naturally, he has to eventually buckle in and give into her unreasonable demands.
  • Unfortunate Name: Very many, but one of the funniest being a memorable patient who's a Private in the army named Private Dancer.
    • At the end of Season 8, J.D. decides to work at the same hospital as Kim, stating he got on well with her boss, Dr. Mantoots.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Elliot has a whole bunch of them.
  • UST: J.D. and Elliot with the exception of the early part of the fourth season, the aftermath of when J.D. tells her he doesn't actually love her.
    • When J.D. moved in with Elliot as a platonic roommate in the fifth season, he admitted to Turk that there was still sexual tension but they've managed to keep it in check by just not hanging out with each other too much.
    • J.D. admits to Keith that if it weren't for his long and complicated history with Elliot, the two of them would probably be best friends.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: The "Best Buds" thing is a bit of a stretch, but this ends up being the type of working relationship Cox and Turk have.
  • Voice Changeling: J.D. can perfectly mimic Turk's voice.
  • Walk On the Wild Side Episode: Parodied when Elliot decides to go out on the town for the night. She steps out of a taxi and her hat is immediately stolen. She jumps right back into the taxi and screams "Get me out of here!"
  • Wanting Is Better Than Having: J.D. is usually only interested in Elliot when she's not in a relationship with him. The fact that he never learns that he only wants what he can't have is frequently pointed out to him.
  • Watch the Paint Job: In an effort to cheer herself up in the first episode of the third season, Elliot maxes out her credit for a new car. It doesn't make it through the episode -- it gets its passenger door taken out by a passing truck the very second that she gets the keys (FRICK!) and its driver's side door taken out a scene or so later by a van (DOUBLE FRICK!).
  • Waxing Lyrical:

Carla: What if we have a daughter and she wants to get hear ears pierced?
Turk: Irrelevant. We're not having a daughter.
Carla: Okay, what if we have a son and he wants to take dance classes while all his friends are playing football?
Turk: He can dance if he wants to. He can leave his friends behind. Because his friend don't dance and if they don't dance then they're no friends of mine. S-S-S-S-A-A-A-A-F-F-F-F-E-E...

  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: J.D. and Dr. Cox.
  • Westminster Chimes: "Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong... wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong."
  • Wham! Episode: Quite a few, with associated bombshells:
    • "My Super Ego": Watching golden boy Nick Murdoch completely break down when he can't save a seven year old boy significantly impacts J.D. and Elliot.
    • "My Occurrence"/"My Hero": The realization that the entire first episode was just J.D. trying imagine away revealing Ben's leukemia and Dr. Cox in the second struggling with Ben's chemotherapy.
    • "My Last Day"/"My Overkill": Jordan drops a flurry of bombshells, prompting the complete destruction of the group of friends.
    • "My Fifteen Seconds": The first Jill Tracy episode, complete with the doctors very narrowly preventing her from returning home to attempt suicide... again.
    • "My Catalyst": Another broken hero episode, with Dr. Kevin Casey who is so psychologically crippled by his OCD that he washes his hands until his skin is raw, and flicks the lights on and off all night.
      • Made especially whammy in that up until this point his condition has been played for lighthearted laughs. Cue one of the most accurate and serious portrayals it has ever received in media.
    • "My Screw Up"/"My Tormented Mentor": The sudden death of Ben Sullivan, and Dr. Cox's complete mental breakdown that results. See Wham! Line below for one of the show's supreme Tear Jerker moments.
    • "My Cabbage"/"My Five Stages": The first episode goes a little too right, and as a previously dangerously ill patient is finally better and ready to leave, an intern who has just been fired unknowingly passes off an infection, which ultimately results in her death.
    • "My Lunch"/"My Fallen Idol": Another Jill Tracy episode, in which she runs into J.D. and Cox, winds up in the hospital, and dies. After her organs are donated to three patients in dire need of transplant, it is discovered that Jill died of rabies. All three patients die and Dr. Cox, blaming himself, spirals wildly out of control to the point of catatonia.
    • "My Musical": Mostly an upbeat episode... until you realize it's only a musical because the guest character has a critically large aneurysm, causing her to hallucinate music. "When the Truth Comes Out" and "What's Going to Happen to Me?" are particularly whammy.

Dr. Cox: My god... that's the biggest aneurysm I've ever seen. The woman's a time bomb...

Patient (singing) : What's going to happen? What does the future hold? So many things that I put off... assuming I'd have time! Assuming I'd... grow old... what's going to happen? And will I be alive... tomorrow? What's going to happen... to me?

Ensemble (singing) : Plan for tomorrow, 'cause we swear to you, you're going to be okay.
J.D. (singing) : ...we hope.

    • "My No Good Reason"/"My Long Goodbye": The very sudden hospitalization and death of Laverne Roberts. Carla's goodbye is one of the biggest Tear Jerkers of the entire series.
    • "My Cold Shower":

J.D.: As I looked at all the relationships around me — some that had gone on forever, some that were reigniting, and some that were had just begun, I realized something...
J.D. stands silently under a cold shower.
J.D.: It should have been me.

    • "My Finale": Most of the episode, but in particular the final slideshow and this exchange:

Sunny: Oh, he's finally gone. Talk about making a big deal over nothing, you know? I mean, Dr. Dorian was fine, but he was no better than any other doctor.
Dr. Cox: For the record, he was the best that ever came through this dump. John Dorian was the first and only doctor I ever met who cared as much as I do. And you can forget about him being a just an exceptional physician, because the fact of the matter is, he's a damn exceptional person. It's why people gravitated to him. It's why I did. He was my friend.

Dr. Cox: Aren't you going to take any pictures?
J.D.: Pictures of what?
Dr. Cox: You know, of crying babies covered in chocolate? People singing happy birthday to my son who've never even met him before, you know, the whole routine.
J.D.: Where do you think we are?

"You're pathetic. For three years I've been watching you pine after blonde doctor, and I'll tell you, everyone is sick of it; 'Will they? Won't they? Looks like they're going to, ooo at the last second something went wrong uuuaaaacome on! Enough already!"

  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: J.D.
  • Wire Fu: Dr. Cox flying out of the window in "My Hero".
  • With Friends Like These...: J.D. and Dr. Cox.
    • Dr. Cox in many episodes, especially "My Lunch" and "My Fallen Idol". And "My Screw up". Especially "My Screw Up".
    • The Janitor during the ending of "My Best Laid Plans".
  • Work Com
  • Written-In Absence: The eighth season came with a mandate that each cast member not be in at least two episodes to reduce cost. Some were a near Real Time character study that occurred in one night, others were just casual mentions of characters on vacation or out of town. To deal with J.D. being gone from two episodes one episode had no narration at all while another passed the narration off to day in the limelighters.
  • X Called. They Want Their Y Back.: An example of this is the current page quote for this trope.
  • You Did Everything You Could: They're doctors. Of course they're told this at some point.
  • You Go, Girl!: Enforced by Elliot, who gets Carla to deny Turk sex because he didn't pick the one female in the group of candidates to be his assistant, which is apparently sexist.
  • You Remind Me of X: Jordan tells J.D. that he reminds her of Dr. Cox when Perry was that age.
  • Your Head Asplode:

Dr. Cox: I can't believe your head exploded. If your head explodes, then you'll never make it as a doctor.



...And Hugh Jackman!

  1. real name "Ronald"
  2. real name "Coleman Slawsky".
  3. "You gotta stop saying that, I can't get it out of my head."