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John "JD" Dorian (Zach Braff)
"I don't think people are meant to be by themselves. That's why if you actually find someone you care about, it's important to let go of the little things, even if you can't let go all the way. Because nothing sucks more than feeling all alone, no matter how many people are around."
Simply known as JD, he is the show's protagonist and resident doctor. The show depicts the problems and fears he has to face in the hospital, accompanied by his Inner Monologue
. JD may just be the embodiment of a Cloudcuckoolander
for his most prominent habit of daydreaming, which almost always ends with a weird comment said out loud
which, of course, nobody but him understands. Despite being an enthusiastic, clumsy person with a lot of self-doubt, he is an intelligent good-by-heart doctor, who cares deeply about his patients.
- Adorkable: He's an incredibly friendly and nerdy guy who has fantasies in his head and narrates all the time in his head. It's one of the reasons his patients and friends like him so much because he's so approachable.
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: The smallest thing can cause him to tilt his head up and have a fantasy, no matter how dire the situation is. Elliot and Turk even use it to their benefit on more than one occasion.
- Big Brother Mentor: Sharply contrasted with Dr. Cox's sink-or-swim approach, and also deconstructed in that it is JD's style of teaching that is considered terrible, stemming from his own personal need for everyone to "like" him.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: However eccentric he becomes (and they really pushed this one in later seasons), he is consistently shown as an excellent doctor, with Cox describing him as one of the best he's ever seen.
- Butt Monkey: He gets most of the physical comedy and gets hurt offscreen, he ends up homeless at the end of Season 4 until Elliot lets him move in with her and then he ends up homeless again for a good part of Season 6. His friends tend to give him little to no respect and he's always mocked for who he is by pretty much everyone.
- Camp Straight: It wouldn't be completely out of line to presume JD is gay after his flanderization. His apparently "gay" relationship with Turk has even been addresses as they both insist they don't feel that way at all, even in song.
- Cannot Tell a Joke: Season 5 is the best example of this. At first he thinks he's funny, but the Janitor reveals to him that his interns are just kissing his ass (Not literally) by pretending his jokes are funny. Once they stopped kissing his ass, there was an awkward silence as he laughed at his own terrible joke.
- Chronic Hero Syndrome: One of his most consistent traits is that JD simply cannot walk away when someone's in trouble. Dr Cox admitted once that the reason why he first took an interest in JD was because he actually cares about his patients.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Almost constantly drifting off into daydreams, only to snap out of it with a strange comment.
- Did I Say That Out Loud: He always comes out of a fantasy with some kind of comment that makes whoever he's talking to give him an odd stare. And half of the time when he's narrating, he ends up saying something that only makes sense to him.
- Ditzy Genius: He is an extremely skilled Doctor with a very goofy personality.
- Flanderization: JD went from a genuine, though quirky, person into some kind of extremely girly super-geek.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Turk; they've been friends since college and their friendship is so strong that Carla has said sometimes she's afraid that Turk will leave her for J.D. They're so close that most of the recurring or one shot characters have thought they were a gay couple at least once.
- Hollywood Dateless: It's hard to believe a cute looking guy with a genuinely nice personality finds it so hard to get a date. Word of God says that Sacred Heart is in southern California and someone like JD makes up about half the male population so most likely the women of the surrounding town are just used to men like him.
- Hollywood Nerd: Seriously, he's a very good-looking fellow that managed to score on lots of ladies, but he's still considered very nerdy, sometimes nerdier, than his fellow doctors.
- Hypocrite: JD's fatal flaw, especially in regards to his brother.
- Inner Monologue: JD's inner monologue pretty much narrates the entire series, save a few episodes.
- The Intern: During the first season, J.D. was Dr. Cox's Intern and followed him around to learn and apply medical knowledge. At the end of the first season, he became a Resident.
- In Touch with His Feminine Side: Has several effeminate mannerisms, such as keeping a "hug schedule." It's to the extent that Dr. Cox regularly calls him girl names.
- Inferiority Superiority Complex: One of his catch phrases is "I'm a doctor,", and yet half the series he doubts himself or Dr. Cox forces him to doubt himself.
- It Never Gets Any Easier: JD wants to care so much about his patients, so it is justified
- Keet: As close as a non-anime character can get.
- Magnetic Hero: Dr. Cox describes him as this because despite all of his flaws, J.D. cares deeply about his patients and his friends and it shows in his work and it draws people in, Dr. Cox included.
- Man Child: Definitely becomes this after his flanderization. He slowly grows out of it after a talk with Turk after his son is born.
- Manly Tears: J.D. has cried on several occasions on screen, usually because a patient has died on him and it's hard for him to deal with, but he deals with it anyway.
- Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Feminine Boy to Elliot's Masculine Girl.
- The McCoy: A Lot of the time. He is extremely compassionate and genuinely cares about his patients.
- The Mentor: Becomes this for Denise in Season 8.
- Mr. Imagination: He narrates to himself and has fantasies at the oddest moments, whether it's because of his narration or because someone's talking to him about something.
- My Sensors Indicate You Want to Tap That: Turk and JD can sense whenever the other has hooked up. In fact, they even have a Sex-Gong that they ring to let the other one know, even if they are several miles away.
- Naïve Newcomer: On first coming to Sacred Heart.
- The Nicknamer: He gives all of his interns nicknames. He also really loves receiving nicknames, even insulting ones.
- Pretty Fly for a White Guy: J.D.'s first onscreen discussion with Turk was about rap music and whether he can say the N word if he's singing along to a song and the word is in the song. He's not allowed to. And on several occasions, he's tried to act black and it doesn't work well.
- Pungeon Master: J.D. makes really awkward puns, mainly from Season 5 onwards.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
- Delivers an epic one in Season 2, but is often on the receiving end of them, mostly from Dr. Cox or Carla.
- Gives an understated but no less devastated one to Kim in "My Urologist", which actually causes her to rethink her stance on staying neutral on everything.
- Salt and Pepper: With JD being "Vanilla Bear"
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Sensitive Guy to Cox's Manly Man.
- This Loser Is You: JD doesn't really suck at life, but he does symbolize problems and fears everyone of us has.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: If he could just get that hug from Cox...
- White Sheep: Both his dad Sam and brother Dan had extreme Man Child qualities, but while good people they simply did not aspire to anything and achieved nothing. Dan later confessed to Dr. Cox that everyone knew J.D. would be something great and urged him to take the role of Mentor seriously because J.D. had no one in his family to look up to.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: Changes rather quickly when confronted with reality.
- With Friends Like These...: No matter what he does, his friends almost always end up right so he can learn An Aesop.
Elliot Reid (Sarah Chalke)
Elliot: My therapist thinks my trouble in bed stems from a basic fear of intimacy. But I just think it's just because any type of repetitive motion makes me nauseous. Oh, and since I was a little kid, I've always had nightmares about being crushed.
Carla: That poor shrink.
Neurotic but sweet.
Elliot is another promising young doctor, who initially showed signs of fear and low self-esteem as an intern, but has later grown to become a confident, yet extremely odd
, doctor in the series. She has a tendency to ramble on
about her issues as well as stories about her life, but she's extremely intelligent and takes her profession seriously when she must. Due to a fear of commitment, she has a constant on-again-off-again relationship with JD.
- Adorkable: Like JD, she's a pretty good combination of this in her early years. She was very shy, short in stature, and had a tendency to cry under pressure; but her determination to become a doctor kept her going. In the later seasons, she shows shades of this, but it's overshadowed by her confidence and neurosis.
- All Girls Like Ponies: She's stated her love of ponies and even rode one into work once, though whether it was a flashback or a fantasy was unclear.
- Ambiguously Bi: She has an occasional habit of flirting with other women when sufficiently drunk, and was apparently very close to her lesbian room-mate in college.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Never assume that a little girl from Connecticut would never fight dirty.
- Blonde Republican Sex Kitten: Elliot is a Republican and when she found out Keith was too, they made out and had sex in a closet.
- Break the Cutie: Mid season two her dad cut her off financially and she had to fend for herself for the first time in her life. This took a toll on her and life didn't start looking up until about season five when she took a private practice job.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Despite her various flaws and neurosies, Elliot is a competent doctor who impressed a private practice doctor so much that he gave her a job.
- Butt Monkey: In the early seasons, Dr. Kelso treated her worse then everyone else except Doug and he made it his mission to try and break her.
- The Cast Show Off: Elliot speaks fluent German and French because her actress, Sarah Chalke actually speaks both those languages. Sarah Chalke being quite good at roller skating was also shown in the show a few times.
- Character Development: Starts out very good, but she suddenly becomes a complete foil of what she used to be. Note how she dresses as she becomes more confident.
- Cute but Cacophonic: "STOP FINISHING MY AWESOME JOKES!" (J.D.'s "Oh my god" was a genuine reaction by Zach Braff, who did not expect her to get so shrill).
- Cute Clumsy Girl: She has slipped and fell on several occasions, she gets hurt almost as often as J.D. does.
- Demoted to Extra: In season 9, along with everyone who isn't Turk or Dr. Cox due to the focus shifting to Med Students.
- Drama Queen: Self confessed.
- Finger Poke of Doom: A childhood of harvesting apples gave her enormous finger strength, enough to lay out JD with a single poke to the chest.
- Fire-Forged Friends: With Carla. When the series started, they started out on the wrong foot and insult one another a great deal. After the first few episodes, they had a casual friendship and in Season 2, they became much closer friends after bonding over insecurities and they were best friends for the rest of the show.
- Gender-Blender Name: Her father named her "Elliot" because he wanted to have a son. Her desire to please him is part of what leads her to become a doctor (widely seen as a man's profession).
- Girliness Upgrade: Beginning in the third season. This was due in part to Executive Meddling (as NBC wanted a Hotter and Sexier female lead to better attract the coveted young male viewer demographic), although in-universe it's justified as her getting a makeover to gain needed self-confidence.
- Hollywood Nerd: Despite her short appearance and shyness in the first two seasons, she still looks rather good-looking despite belonging in a group of "hospital nerds".
- Hospital Hottie: She's number 12 on the 20 hottest female staff members at Sacred Heart and has the most bra scenes.
- I Knew It: In universe. She even has a dance for it.
- Important Haircut: Elliot's "new me" has different hair!
- Insistent Terminology: Due to being very uncomfortable with various sexual terms. For starters, she uses "bajingo" instead of "vagina".
- Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Masculine Girl to JD's Feminine Boy.
- Moment Killer: When J.D. and Kim were home from a concert and about to get intimate, she burst into the apartment and ruined the mood. She's referred to this by name.
- Morality Pet: She is this to the Janitor.
- Motor Mouth: Talks at the speed of light whenever she gets upset/excited.
- Ms. Fanservice: Very much so. The writers even claimed they tried to think up ways for Elliot to be in just her bra at least once a season.
- Tomboyish Name: Elliot's proud of having a mostly 'male' name, to the point that she's annoyed when another member of staff, Veronica, changes her name to 'Ronni' not long after Elliot arrives.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Her behavior in Season 3, where she's dating Sean, then hops into bed with J.D, who is still in love with her, only to go running straight back to Sean when he unexpectedly turns up. The fact she accuses him of not being a good friend to her when he is angry about the way she treated him is the lowest point. It didn't stop there either in the later seasons with how she treated Keith during the short time they were engaged.
- Ungrateful Bitch: Complains in Season 5 that Dr. Cox "has always been a total bastard" to her, ignoring the fact he punches Kelso out for mistreating her, made her and J.D co-chief residents so they would learn to get on and various other Pet the Dog moments. Not to mention, he arguably has been even worse to J.D than Elliot. Also does it in the later seasons too. It reaches the point where she starts saying she got where she is all on her own with no help from anyone.
- Unusual Euphemism: "Frick!" "Bajingo" (meaning "vagina") and "Kaboodle" in one episode for ass. Strangely, an early episode has her say "vagina" with no problem.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Her dad, though she eventually learns to rely on her own self-respect
Christopher Turk (Donald Faison)
"You know, I love how kids of divorce really have the market cornered on family dysfunction. But let me share with you a typical Thanksgiving at the Turk household: It starts with my mother yelling at my sister for yelling at my grandmother who's yelling at the television screen, which happens to be the microwave. And then my militant brother Jabari - formerly Bob - gives my father attitude for using the word black, even though he's referring to the turkey. Which, by the way, only got burnt because instead of turning the oven off, my bi-polar aunt Leslie tried to shove her head in it. But you know what we do? We kiss... and we hug... and we apologize for all the things we said... 'Cause a month later, we gonna get together and do it again at Christmas!"
JD's Black Best Friend
, who JD has known since they were roommates in college, and Carla's husband. He's a very skilled surgeon but his arrogance sometimes exceeds his talent. His attitude does come across as a typical jock, but he takes his work seriously and is atypical as a surgeon in that he strives to get to know his patients. He loves basketball, video games, using slang, and making sweet love with his wife.
- Accidental Misnaming: Kelso thinks his name is Turk Turkleton, which is why he calls him Dr. Turkleton all the time. This was revealed after Kelso got really drunk at Turk's wedding.
- Bald of Awesome: In one episode, Turk confesses to a patient that he shaves his head because he's going bald.
- Black Best Friend: Subverted in the later seasons, where he's nearly as much of a geek as JD is.
- Book Dumb: He was a C student in high school, but managed to get into medical school and eventually makes head surgeon. He explains that by saying that when he realized he wanted to be a surgeon, he got his head in the game.
- But Not Too Foreign: He's 1/8 Japanese.
- Catch Phrase: "That's what I'm talkin' about!"
- Character Development: Turk is probably the only character to remain consistent throughout the entire series. His main development was in becoming noticeably more responsible thanks to having to cope with his diabetes, being married to Carla, and becoming a father. He doesn't have nearly the same level of character arc that J.D., Elliot or even Dr. Cox have.
- Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: Occasionally he's this to JD.
- Dented Iron: He gets diagnosed with Type II Diabetes in the fourth season, which shook him up because he has always been very physical and athletic and now has to worry more about his health and diet. He also loses one testicle after his daughter Izzy Groin Attacked him.
- Embarrassing Middle Name: When the Todd finds out that Turk's middle name is Duncan, JD claims it's because Turk's dad loved donuts and he tells JD to stop saying that.
- Happy Dance: Comes in several named subcategories as well.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With J.D., they've been friends since college and their friendship is so strong that Carla has said sometimes she's afraid that Turk will leave her for J.D. They're so close that most of the recurring or one shot characters have thought they were a gay couple at least once.
- I Know Mortal Kombat: Actually Truth in Television. Studies have shown that surgeons who play video games improve their reaction times and dexterity.
- I Shall Taunt You: If Turk wins a bet or an argument, he will dance in your face.
- Jerk Jock: The first impression of him from co-workers which is, of course, wrong.
- Large Ham: He has his moments. After beating Carla in an arm wrestling match: "DO YOU SEE WHAT YOU GET, CARLA, DO YOU SEE WHAT YOU GET WHEN YOU MESS WITH THE WARRIOR!!"
- Last Name Basis: Even with his wife. But then, that's nobody's business but the Turks'.
- Mr. Fanservice: Turk is really fit and is shirtless the most out of the guys outside of Todd.
- My Sensors Indicate You Want to Tap That: Turk and JD can sense whenever the other has hooked up. In fact, they even have a Sex-Gong that they ring to let the other one know, even if they are several miles away. He can also tell when JD and Elliot have been hooking up by the way they nod at each other and when two male orderlies are getting together just from a look.
- Only Sane Man: When he and JD are not being Heterosexual Life-Partners.
- Perma Stubble: His shaved head has this.
- Salt and Pepper: With Turk being "Chocolate Bear"
- Surfer Dude: Probably the first impression one gets from him
- The Spock: No matter how often he appears to care about his patients, he'll still say he works better without emotion or attachment.
- Small Name, Big Ego: In the beginning of the series his confidence outweighed his actual skill, it was humbling to learn that several other surgical interns were actually better than him. In fact it was only J.D.'s encouragement to spend more time with his patients that put him good enough to get a Surgical Attending position. But by the end his leadership ability became his greatest asset, nearly everyone in the hospital nominates him to become the new Chief of Surgery.
Percival "Perry" Ulysses Cox (John C McGinley)
"I did it, I'm a genius, I'm a huge brain in a ripped-up body, I am Jesus H. Cox M.D..."
JD's mentor (much to his chagrin) and resident doctor of Sacred Heart. He comes across as a typical Dr. Jerk
with a huge ego to match
. However, he believes his hard teachings mold interns to competent doctors and he cares more about treating patients that deserve help rather than the budget of the hospital. He has a tendency to rant on about anything that ticks him off even slightly.
- Abusive Parents: He once states that his father's primary way of showing him affection was intentionally missing when he threw bottles at his head.
- Alcoholic Parent: His father was this and often took it out on him and his sister. It was so bad that it's difficult for Cox to be around his sister because it reminds him of those experiences.
- The Alcoholic: It's a major part of his character that he does drink a lot. It really comes to the forefront in "My Fallen Idol." Jordan claims that Jack's first full sentence was "Daddy drinks a lot".
- Armor-Piercing Question:
- Delivered by J.D. when Cox is talking to Ben at the event.
- He also managed to deliver one to Jordan in an argument, which rendered her speechless and unable to come up with a proper retaliation. Needless to say, he was overjoyed.
- Badass: He's easily the best doctor on the staff and has a wealth of experience and everyone fears him except for the Janitor.
- Broken Ace: When Cox says he's the best, nobody disagrees with him, but he has some huge issues.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: This is actually a plot point in that he is too good of a doctor to get fired but he absolutely hates the bureaucracy of the hospital and jumping through hoops to get promotions that would get him anywhere besides a basic staff attending doctor. J.D. is the only person to make him understand that his attitude was getting in his own way and he slowly starts taking on leadership positions that let him make a difference rather than just complain about it.
- Byronic Hero: He's a brilliant doctor and an excellent mentor to JD, but he's very anti-social, prefers to be miserable, and grew up with an abusive father with a drinking problem that was inherited to Cox.
- Character Development: He suffers the least amount of Flanderization in the series and manages to grow as a character while keeping his original nature.
- Character Tics: His habit of touching his nose. John C. McGinley stated that this is an homage to Paul Newman's character in The Sting. He also holds his hands together behind his head whenever he's worried or stressed. This is lampshaded by Carla at one point where - after showing him that he's not reaching his patient - she asks if he wants to put his hands behind his head. He does.
- Deadpan Snarker: He gives snarky one-liners when he isn't ranting
- Deuteragonist: In the earlier seasons, the show focused on his personal life and explored his issues a great deal as a contrast to J.D's.
- Distracted by My Own Sexy: He really likes his appearance and one episode explores this, it never becomes a problem though because the right level of ego is important to his success and he knows it.
- Dr. Jerk: He's a fantastic doctor, but he has a short fuse and gives insulting speeches to a lot of his patients and to his fellow staff members.
- Embarrassing First Name: Percival, which is usually shortened to Perry.
- Embarrassing Middle Name: His first, middle and last name are all odd in their own way. Percival "Perry" Ulysses Cox.
- Embarrassing Nickname: Sometimes gets "Per-Per" thrown at him, usually from JD or Jordan.
- Freudian Excuse: For having Abusive Parents, he developed incredibly well, and one may forgive him any Kick the Dog scenes.
- Friendly Enemy: With the Janitor thanks to their mutual dislike of JD and Kelso as well as their snarky personalities. However, the Janitor still has a vendetta against doctors and Cox is included.
- God Complex: Look at his character quote. He even admits it.
- Good Is Not Nice: He'll save your life if you're a patient and help teach you if you're an intern, but he is very abrasive and has little patience for most people.
- Has a Type: Has a thing for strong women who don't take any of his crap. He prefers them brunette, but is happy to settle for a blonde ball buster.
Jordan: Let me guess, let me guess - dark haired, domineering, doesn't take any of your crap?
- Heroic BSOD: "My Lunch", due to four patients dying due to organ transplants from a woman infected with rabies. The fourth patient hit him the hardest since he wasn't in a desperate state and could have waited a little longer. Dr. Cox spends the next episode just drinking on the couch and only says 20 words the whole episode and most of them are in flashbacks.
- Hey, You!
- Kelso = Bobbo or Bobcat
- Elliot = Barbie
- Turk = Gandhi
- JD = Newbie, every girl name in existence (Except for the names of female characters in the show.)
- On at least one occasion he literally called JD "Girl's Name".
Dr. Cox: Hey, girl's name!
Dr. Cox: Gimme a break, I got a lot on my mind, Ellen—oh! Look at that, I bounced back.
- Hollywood Atheist: He constantly mocks religion and acts like he's superior because he doesn't believe in religion. He himself lampshades this on several occasions. Despite this, he often talks directly to God in his rants, including thanking God for having his back even though he technically didn't believe he exists. At one point, he becomes determined to convince Laverne that everything is a coincidence and, typical to Cox, pushes it way too far. Laverne gives an epic Shut Up, Hannibal! speech telling him why she needs there to be a God and a bigger reason behind the things that happen to patients. He softly offers an apology and stops pushing the issue.
- Insufferable Genius: Is there a moment when he doesn't brag about his skills as a doctor? Let it be granted, because he really is that good.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Despite his attitude and speaking to everyone—coworker and patient alike—with disrespect, Dr. Cox genuinely wants to help people and when he's incapable of doing so it affects him strongly. Also, the finale of season 8 revealed he truly did like JD after all, though he admits it when he thinks JD isn't around.
- Knight in Sour Armor: He's a very bitter and miserable guy, but if he's your doctor, he will do everything in his power to save your life.
- Large Ham: He gives very enthusiastic speeches about how amazing he is and makes sure everyone hears them.
- The Last DJ: In some ways he's a deconstruction of this trope: he lives for his job and has far too much integrity to kiss ass and play the games needed to climb ranks in the hospital. That in turn leaves him locked out of any chance to change things, and the more he complains about how the hospital is run or goes outside the rules to help patients, the closer he comes to actually getting fired for good and being unable to help patients at all. It takes a whole range of people trying to give him wake up calls and several opportunities falling into his lap before he realizes that he can get himself into a position of authority and improve certain things without compromising his integrity.
- The McCoy: A lot of the time, especially when with Kelso.
- Meaningful Name: He's named after a knight of the Round Table and a famous Greek hero, which is fitting, given JD's idolization of him. "Percival" is particularly meaningful, given his Knight in Sour Armor tendencies, and his commitment to helping patients at any cost.
- Mr. Fanservice: And he's very much aware of it.
- The Nicknamer: He gives all of the main cast except for Carla a nickname that he prefers to call them by and rarely ever calls them by their real name, you can actually count on one hand how often Dr.Cox calls them by their real name outside of fantasies. See Hey, You! for what he calls people.
- No Respect Guy: His perception.
- Parental Substitute: To JD. He hates it. Although from a certain point of view one wonders if he knows he's not the best role model for JD and is encouraging him to not see him as one. At the same time, Dan points out that he really believes that under Cox's tough-guy act, he loves that the 'newbies' idolize him. Arguably, he really does enjoy getting to steer people on the right path.
Cox: (exasperated) "Look! We have me, emotionally-crippled narcissist. And you (JD's brother Dan), an emotionally-crippled narcissist who is in a bathtub filled with by now is mostly his own urine! Hopefully we can come together and make ONE fully functioning adult!"
- Perma Stubble: In season 5, he has facial hair for the majority of the season which turns into a Beard of Sorrow when he has a Heroic BSOD due to him accidentally killing four patients. He shaves it off once J.D. helps him recover and bounce back.
- Pet the Dog: Whenever the heart of gold shows itself, Dr. Cox has one of these moments, mostly with J.D. or Carla.
- Rant Inducing Slight: The tiniest thing can set Dr. Cox off into a rant, mostly in the earlier seasons though.
- Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: The exact reason why he hates Kelso
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Manly Man to JD's Sensitive Guy.
- Sink-or-Swim Mentor: Mainly justified in this approach; he wants his interns to learn, as quickly as possible, that lives depend on them, and that eventually they must rely on their own skills rather than outside assistance
- Stepford Snarker: He's incredibly snarky and one of the funniest characters on the show, but as it turns out, he's incredibly broken and miserable and has very little to be happy for and even after he gets back together with Jordan and they start a family, he's still broken.
- Tough Love: This is part of his Sink-or-Swim Mentor shtick.
- Verbal Tic: He eloooongates his words when particularly riled.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: J.D. desperately wants his approval, which pisses Cox off a lot. Subverted with his father though, one of the happiest day of Cox's life was when his father died.
- With Friends Like These...: With J.D., he hurls abuse and snarks heaps at him and 99.5% of the time, he never uses his real name. But at the same time, Dr. Cox greatly respects him and considers him to have the potential to be an amazing doctor.
Carla Espinosa (Judy Reyes)
"Well, you're a surgeon. So, you've got the god-complex, the cockiness, the whole "married to the job" thing. You're cute, but you're very, very aware of it. You have no idea what I'm like, so all of your feelings for me are coming from down there [points at his crotch]. But most of all, I'm looking for the real thing; and you're nothing but a little boy who's not used to being told "no." So there's a bunch of reasons. Pick your favorite."
She's the Spicy Latina
who's the resident nurse of Sacred Heart and wife of Turk. Carla molded JD and Elliot over the years with her tendency to be there for them
, which has resulted in their friendship. She can be rather hotheaded to people and feel like her friends are overwhelming her with her quirks, but she cares about them and it shows.
- Action Girl: When an intern needs help, she springs into action as fast as possible.
- All Women Are Prudes: She never seems especially enthusiastic about sex and struggles to keep up with Turk's needs.
- Clingy Jealous Girl: If Turk so much as looks at another woman, she goes nuts and yells at him.
- The Dreaded: Comedic example, but not even Cox and The Janitor have the guts to say anything bad about her. Even Kelso from the seasons, before he was softened up, avoided getting into a direct confrontation with her, especially when it pertained to work matters.
- Deadpan Snarker: She's the snarkiest character after Dr. Cox and Jordan and it's usually while criticizing J.D., Turk, Elliot or Dr. Cox.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: She feels the Doctors take the Nursing staff for granted and most of the time she's right and often points it out.
- Fire-Forged Friends: With Elliot. When the series started, they started out on the wrong foot and insult one another a great deal. After the first few episodes, they had a casual friendship and in Season 2, they became much closer friends after bonding over insecurities and they were best friends for the rest of the show.
- Flanderization: Her trait of giving advice got flanderized as time passed. In the early seasons, it was to help struggling interns, residents, or even friends that needed her guidance; in the later seasons, she forcibly gives her opinions whenever she has the chance and once admitted that taking the moral high ground "is like crack for [her]".
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: In one of JD's dream sequences, as a Shout-Out to Mortal Kombat and X-Men.
- Gossipy Hens: With Laverne.
- Gratuitous Spanish: Carla has a tendency to mix English and Spanish together at times.
- Hospital Hottie: She managed to get it on with Turk in the first episode and was crushed on by Dr. Cox so she definitely has a hot factor to her.
- Lysistrata Gambit: At the drop of a hat. Elliot can do this to Turk just by being Carla's friend.
- Mama Bear: So much so that she once admitted that being the mother figure to the rest of the cast was "like crack" to her.
- The Nicknamer: Calls JD "Bambi" sometimes.
- Only Sane Woman: The sanest of the principal cast and mostly everyone else who works at the hospital
- Overshadowed by Awesome: In-universe. For a nurse Carla has a lot of power in the hospital, and this was BEFORE she was head nurse. Lampshaded by JD's monologue after one episode where the only doctors present were himself, Elliot and Turk.
while he, Elliot and Turk walk out the hospital) "Tonight we practically ran the hospital. But tomorrow, we'll go back to being the most under-appreciated people here."
Camera goes past them and focuses on Carla.
Carla: "Hey guys, wait up."
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: "You know what your problem is?"
- The Reliable One: At the hospital, she's Head Nurse and she has an amazing memory when it comes to the patients and what they've been given. In her personal life, she's more or less the den mother for J.D., Turk and Elliot and keeps Elliot grounded.
- Rightly Self-Righteous: If everyone else in the clinic wasn't as nuts as she viewed them, Carla's characterization would likely lean more as a Never My Fault Control Freak.
- Sitcom Character Archetypes: The Sage. Rarer than Cox, but still apparent.
- Spicy Latina: Get in her way or hurt her friends and she will give you a full dose of her temper.
- Team Mom
Carla: "You think I enjoy being den mother to all of you!?"
(Everyone gives her a "Well duh" look)
Carla: "Okay fine. It's like crack to me."
Robert Kelso (Ken Jenkins)
"Dr. Dorian, do you not realize, that you're nothing more than a large pair of scrubs to me? For God's sake, the only reason I carry this chart around is so I can pretend to remember your damn name!"
He may not look like the devil...
The Chief of Staff of Sacred Heart, Kelso is a snide and grumpy old man who allows improper practices and makes strict rules for the sake of the hospital's budget. However, he does show some care
to certain people, even if it's extremely rare and his decisions in the hospital aren't always easy to make for him.
- Insistent Terminology: Refers to Turk and Carla as "Mr and Mrs Turkleton". Even when Turk points out that isn't his last name.
Turk: "Sir, you do know my last name isn't Turkleton?"
Kelso: "Not yet. Turkleton. Not yet."
- Kick the Dog: Pretty much any scene he appears in with Ted to the point that while everyone else tries to save Kelso's job Ted is absolutely elated when he retires.
- Manipulative Bastard: He's very good at playing people to get what he wants and it's revealed in Season 6 that he manipulates everyone to hate him so they stay united.
- Mean Boss: He's a full blown jerkass who abuses Ted, constantly harassed and belittled Elliot in the earlier seasons and has no respect for anyone who works for him.
- Mentor Archetype: In late season 7 and throughout season 8, after retiring he is able to drop the "mean bureaucrat" facade and tap into his years of experience as Chief of Medicine and as a doctor in general to guide the characters. In particular, he helps Dr. Cox with understanding the responsibilities that come with being Chief of Medicine and teaches J.D. that he needed to be what Dr. Cox was to him, a thankless Morality Chain.
- Necessarily Evil: Crosses over with Zero-Approval Gambit and Mean Boss. As the Chief of Medicine, Kelso has to do what's best for the hospital, even if that means some patients end up dying as a result of his decisions.
- Papa Wolf: Lapses into Hypocritical Heartwarming, but while Kelso complains repeatedly about his son Harrison, only he is allowed to; when he and Dr. Cox are offhandedly making fun of their sons, Dr. Cox makes a joke about Dr. Kelso's son, who retaliates by forcing Dr. Cox work with Ted all afternoon. Cox is baffled by this until Jordan explains, "You made fun of his kid. You never make fun of somebody else's kid."
- Parental Abandonment: His father left him and family when he was a child, using a bicycle. As such he hates bicycles.
- Pet the Dog: Though when he retires Kelso tells Ted "Thanks for everything" and when he eventually leaves the hospital makes sure to give Ted a fond farewell.
- Put on a Bus: Subverted twice. When he's fired in season 7 he seemingly leaves the hospital for good, however season 8 keeps him as a regular by having him hang around the hospital coffee shop all day. At the end of season 8 he decides to leave Sacred Heart to become a doctor again else where, even taking his favorite chair from the copy shop with him. Then come season 9 there's a Time Skip and he takes a teaching job at the new hospital after his wife dies.
- Race Fetish: For Asian women, to the point of having an Asian Babymama.
- Screw Politeness Im A Senior
"Write this down, Perry. I'm old, and I honestly don't care what people think about anything I do." (farts) "That was me, folks!"
- Sitcom Archnemesis: To Cox, especially in the early seasons.
- The Spock: His primary role. He is all to willing to coldly sacrifice individual patients for the good of the hospital. However, its been shown that he really doesn't enjoy it and he gets moments that bring him closer to being The Kirk.
- Straw Misogynist: Often shows a sexist streak; on one occasion, he chose Turk to go to Mexico on Doctors Without Borders instead of his rival Bonnie Chang simply because Bonnie was a woman.
- Token Evil Teammate: Compared to the other main characters (and most people who work at the hospital), he's by far the most cruel and malicious.
- Tragic Bigot: In "My Five Stages" it's revealed that he's apparently this toward... bicycles. More specifically, to anybody who associates with them.
Kelso's Father: Son, Daddy's got to move on. And I just want you to know that since the car is in your mother's name, I wouldn't be able to leave the family forever if it weren't for your bike.
- Zero-Approval Gambit: In one episode, he lets himself be hated because it rallies the staff together AGAINST him, letting them focus on caring their patients and not on gouging each other's throats.
The Janitor (Neil Flynn)
"You seem unhappy. I like that."
The Almighty Janitor
who has a dislike of doctors, especially JD. When he's not tormenting JD at every chance he gets, he tells zany stories (which are mostly lies) to the staff and helps out Elliot when he can. He's also insane.
Todd "The Todd" Quinlin (Robert Maschio)
"I'd like to double her entendre!"
The Todd is a plastic surgeon at Sacred Heart. He loves hitting on women (presumably)
for sex and hands for high-fives as well as showing off his physique. He's also a good friend of Turk.
Theodore "Ted" Buckland (Sam Lloyd)
Dr. Maddox: [looking into Ted's briefcase] Hey... How come all you have in there is a smiley face button and a revolver?
Ted: Well one's in case I get sad, and the other is in case I get really sad.
Resident lawyer of Sacred Heart. A lot of bad luck befalls him and he's pretty much awful at his job, enabling him to bellow his trademark "Awwwww...!" He's also the leader of an A Capella band
- Butt Monkey: Kelso basically bullies him. It's Played for Laughs, though.
- The Cast Show Off: "The Worthless Peons" is Sam Lloyd's actual group, "The Blanks." Even outside of that they make an effort to showcase Ted's very real singing talent.
- Catch Phrase: As mentioned above, "Awww..." might as well belong to Ted with a copyright attached to it.
- The Chew Toy: He's Kelso's punching bag and outside of the Worthless Peons, he's got nothing good in his life.
- Clothes Make the Legend: His suits are almost always cheap and horrible looking.
- Driven to Suicide: One episode has him standing on a ledge of the hospital and pledging that someday he'll have to courage to jump. He finally jumps at the end of the episode only to have his fall broken by a pile of trash that the Janitor was hiding from Kelso.
- The Eeyore: 98% of the time, he has a miserable expression on his face and it's to the point that it hurts him to laugh or smile in Season 8.
- Hair Today Gone Tomorrow: Some episodes show him having an impressive head of hair when he started working at the hospital. On another occasion, he says he went bald at fourteen. Another episode implies he had hair when he got married.
- In-Series Nickname: His mom calls him Thunder.
- Perpetual Frowner: So often smiling actually hurts and it is said that sadness is his default expression.
- Stealth Hi/Bye: Because no one ever expects him to be there.
- Throw the Dog a Bone:
- The Janitor starts befriending him in Season 7.
- Finally gets a girlfriend in Season 8 and gets to show her off to the people who thought she was made up. Too bad it's revealed she left him for Hooch in his appearance on Cougar Town.
- "Thanks for everything, Ted. Sincerely."
Jordan Sullivan (Christa Miller)
"If you talk again, I'm going to eat you!"
A member of the board at Sacred Heart Hospital, and Dr. Cox's ex-wife-ish. Saying she has a vindictive personality is putting it mildly.
Laverne Roberts (Aloma Wright)
"Junior, I don't know what you're doing in my area, but you better be looking for some bandages because you're going to need them when I get through with you."
Head nurse of Sacred Heart (formerly
), Laverne is a devout Christian with twice the sass of Carla and a huge love for soap operas.
- Birth/Death Juxtaposition: The day Dr. Cox's second child, Jennifer Dylan, is born is the same day Laverne dies.
- Catch Phrase: "Mm-hmm."
- Deadpan Snarker: She used her religious beliefs to snark at everyone, but she was still snarky.
- Death by Irony: She constantly tries to prove Cox wrong and tell's him that everything in life happens for a reason. The morning after she convinces him that he might be wrong, she is caught in a car accident on the way to work, putting into a coma and eventually killing her.
- Flat Character: In early seasons, she was just Carla's friend and Sassy Black Woman. She got a bit more depth to her later on.
- Holier Than Thou: She snarks at people by using her religious beliefs against them.
- Sassy Black Woman: Her sassiness makes Carla look meek in comparison.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: Delivers one to Dr. Cox as he wouldn't stop challenging her Christian faith with several rants.
Phillip Wen (Charles Chun)
You know Christopher, surgeons don't have to be shallow rank obsessed cliches."
The Chief of Surgery and Turk's superior. He's the Only Sane Man
of the Surgery Wing and thinks surgeons can be more than just stereotypical Jerk Jocks
that are obsessed with being the best.
- Happily Married: He's mentioned to be married and was involved in a car accident with his wife briefly.
- Only Sane Man: Firmly believes that surgeons don't need to be shallow rank obsessed cliches and has a no-nonsense approach with his interns and doesn't approve of goofing off or large egos while on the job.
- Put on a Bus: He disappeared shortly after giving Turk his attending surgeon position, supposedly for family reasons. He still appeared in J.D.'s final fantasy in My Finale.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: He doesn't abuse his power and he compliments the interns/residents when they do well. He also gives Turk an attending surgeon position because he was providing excellent patient care beyond the bare minimum.
Doug Murphy (Johnny Kastl)
"They're like my children... my big dead children."
Formerly a resident, he is now the coroner of Sacred Heart. He's a big screw-up and he talks about his love for the job nonchalantly.
Lonnie (Michael Hobert)
"I hate you J.D."
One of J.D.'s interns and later residents who appeared throughout Seasons 3-5. He is an odd mix of jerkass
- Buttmonkey: Both J.D. and Dr. Cox have taken advantage of their power over him on several occasions, with Dr. Cox even once mummifying his head.
- Jerkass: He's as much of an ass to J.D. as he can be and get away with it.
- Put on a Bus: Vanished after Season 5 outside of a small cameo in Season 6.
- Really Gets Around: He has three children that he knows about and probably has more.
Hooch (Phil Lewis)
"Hooch is crazy."
A surgeon who Turk and JD love to mess with. He has a very
- Ax-Crazy: Hooch is crazy.
- Back for the Finale: In JD's last fantasy in the Season 8 finale.
- Beware the Nice Ones: He seems quite cheerful and friendly at first, but it quickly becomes apparent that he's deeply unstable.
- Butt Monkey: A favorite of Turk and JD's. His status as one is what drives him crazy
- Disproportionate Retribution: After being caught by a prank involving bouillon cubes put in the shower-head, his response is to threaten to run the perpetrator over in his S.U.V. Some interns following Hooch around for a day led to a hostage situation
- Hair-Trigger Temper: There's a reason people say he's crazy.
- Phrase Catcher: Said fondly / in amusement: "Hooch is crazy."
Keith Dudemeister (Travis Schuldt)
A medical resident at Sacred Heart. First introduced as a timid intern, he eventually becomes very popular, adapts to his hospital responsibilities and starts dating Elliot, to whom he eventually proposes.
Denise Mahoney (Eliza Coupe)
A intern introduced in Season 8 who becomes a Resident in Season 9. J.D. takes her under his wing. She's not very good at being caring and compassionate.
- Character Development: Under J.D's influence, she becomes a little better with being compassionate and able to be kinder to her patients and co-workers, in Season 9, she's able to genuinely have a proper relationship with a med student.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: As harsh, angry and unfriendly as she is, she does care deep down, she's just unable to openly express it properly.
- Really Gets Around: She loves fat dudes, they don't expect commitment and they're really grateful, so they put in a lot of effort.
- What the Hell, Hero?: She gets pissed off at J.D. for trying to apologize for giving her a hard time for going through with a procedure that ended up helping find out the patient's illness, since his pushing her to be more compassionate is helping her being a better doctor.
Dan Dorian (Tom Cavanagh)
J.D.'s less successful older brother. Usually shows up Once a Season
and mooches off of his brother.
Grace Miller (Bellamy Young)
An attending introduced in Season 3. She's a incredibly condescending Jerkass
and sees any attempt to defend her from men as sexism. She was written out of the show at the end of Season 3.
- Blondes Are Evil: She was an even bigger jerkass then Jordan was in Season 1 and she made Turk's life hell on more than one occasion for petty reasons.
- Insane Troll Logic: Turk standing up for her because Todd was being sexist automatically means he's sexist too and Turk has to apologize.
- Jerkass: She puts Jordan to shame.
- Put on a Bus: At the end of season 3, since the writers realized that they had a female version of Dr. Cox in Jordan.
Mrs. Tanner (Kathryn Joosten)
"Listen, Dr. Dorian, there's not one thing I regret as I lay here right now. I'm ready. I really am."
An old lady who refused to undergo dialysis because she decided she had lived a long and eventful life and wanted to die peacefully.
- Back for the Finale: She appeared in J.D's fantasy of him walking down the hallway to the exit of Sacred Heart and asked him if he ever went on the picnic she told him to go on before she died.
- Cool Old Lady: She's portrayed by Kathryn Joosten, after all.
- Not Afraid to Die: Makes her even cooler.
Jill Tracy (Nicole Sullivan)
"Hey guys, how are you? I'm great! You know me, I'm up, up, up, up, up, and then some fashion nazi on the E! Network says that pear-shaped people shouldn't wear stripes, and whoosh, guess who's ear-deep in mint-chocolate chip ice cream. Meheehee."'
A recurring patient of the Sacred Hospital. J.D. and Cox found her rather annoying. She passed away in season 5 due to rabies, which triggered the events of "My Lunch".
She's one of the most recurring patients of the series.
- Armor-Piercing Question: "How have things been going lately?", which prompts her to admit she tried to kill herself.
- Ascended Extra: She appeared in a Season 1 episode, then returned for a few more episodes and then died in her second last appearance.
- Back for the Finale: She appeared in J.D's second last fantasy of him walking down the hallway to the exit of Sacred Heart.
- Driven to Suicide: A failed attempt in "My 15 Seconds", although J.D. and Cox manage to figure it out and try to help her. It's uncertain if it was her cocaine overdose or the rabies that killed her in "My Lunch", but J.D. was wrought with guilt thinking he could have helped her.
- Our Ghosts Are Different: After her death, she haunts Cox. It's comparable to how Laverne does this to Carla as she's dying.
- I Just Want to Be Loved: She's really lonely and once attempted suicide because her life went to hell.
- Motor Mouth: She can talk really fast and she says more words in one scene then most of the main cast say in half an episode.
- Stepford Smiler: Even though she's going through a rough period, she puts up a smiling façade.
"Pictures capture moments in time. When they're posed, they're not real. You know, I hate that whole, like, "gneen!" thing. That's why, at a party, you'll see me in the bushes with my camera."
Ben Sullivan is Jordan's little brother, and close friend to Dr. Cox. Infamous for taking photographs all of the time. Ends up in Sacred Heart as a patient suffering from leukemia. Played by Brendan Fraser
Harvey Corman (Richard Kind)
A patient that appeared in four episodes. He's a hypochondriac who constantly bothers doctors and insists that he has some sort of illness. He's an excellent tennis player as well.
- Hypochondria: His most defining trait. He will constantly insist he has some sort of disease, no matter how obscure. It annoys Dr. Cox to no end in a couple of episodes.
- Jerkass: He harassed Turk and then sued him over his surgery in Season 4, plus his hypochondria often made him a pain in the ass for anyone caring for him.
- Stalker Without a Crush: He once thought Turk's surgery on his arm affected his tennis game and Harvey kept bothering him about it. Turk had to end up getting a restraining order on him.
- Weak, but Skilled: He's not very athletic and his hypochondria holds him back, but his tennis swing was strong enough to send Dr. Cox flying into the fence behind him.
Mike Davis (Michael McDonald)
A semi recurring patient who appeared three times in the early seasons. Mike has a habit of being unable to hold his tongue, which gets him injured enough to be in the hospital.
- Back for the Finale: He appears in J.D.'s last fantasy in My Finale, claiming he broke his penis. For once, it wasn't because he insulted someone; he claimed it was for fun.
- Brutal Honesty: Arguably a deconstruction, since it gets him in a lot of trouble.
- Deadpan Snarker: A very harsh example and he gets harsh injuries as a result.
- Jerkass: He's really rude to the doctors looking after him.
- Too Dumb to Live: He never shuts up when he really needs to and it gets him in a lot of trouble with people.
Lucy Bennett (Kerry Bishé)
A medical student at Winston University. She serves as the new narrator for Season 9. She loves horses and believes if they could talk they would be wise.
- All Girls Like Ponies: She's even more obsessed with them then Elliot is and one of her worst fears is that they hate humans.
- Distaff Counterpart: To JD as she takes over as the main character and has his whimsical imagination.
- Horrible Judge of Character: She slept with Cole and he took a nude picture of her and she still thought he was a decent enough guy to date.
Drew Suffin (Michael Mosley)
A medical student at Winston University giving it a second go. He had previously been in jail and was apparently shot by a 12 year old. He describes jail as "cold". He is in a relationship with Denise. He is apparently Dr. Cox's favorite student; at one point Drew was forced to tape a "#1" sign to his chest by Cox, which is shortly replaced by a pink t-shirt saying "#1"
Cole Aaronson (Dave Franco)
A medical student at Winston University. His family donated a large portion of money to get the new Sacred Heart Hospital built and as such, Cole believes that he can do whatever he wants, as he is "untouchable". While spoiled, arrogant, and immature, he occasionally reveals himself to have a good heart.