Series: Nurse Jackie

Nurse Jackie, to which some fans fondly refer as "Nurse House", is a Showtime half-hour drama/comedy about Jackie Peyton (Edie Falco), a nurse in an inner-city hospital in New York City who manages to be both a mega-bitch (with a heart!) and a life-saving Jesus in a skirt. Or scrubs, whatever.

It attracted some overstated initial hype in the USA about how dark and edgy it is, although that is true only by comparison to more sentimental hospital dramas. The strengths of the show are the way it combines (often dark) humour with subtle drama, its rounded characters and how it avoids being preachy. Jackie is bitchy, cheats on her husband and is addicted to all sorts of medication, but is still a sympathetic character.

Some other characters include Jackie's Gentleman Snarker English friend Dr. O'Hara; Gloria Akalitus, Jackie's mostly no-nonsense boss; Dr. "Coop" Cooper, a parody of the traditional supercool heroic young doctor who always seeks attention; Jackie's Naïve Newcomer protégée, Zoe; Eddie, the hospital pharmacist who was once her Hopeless Suitor drug supplier and friend but is currently playing a more neutral role in her life, and Sam, a nurse who was once a drug addict but doesn't know about Jackie's true nature.

This show contains examples of:

  • The Ace: Kelly in season 3. A Chick Magnet, a very good nurse even to the point where Akalitus compliments him, athletic, goes jogging shirtless. Later becomes a Broken Ace when it's revealed that he takes painkillers.
  • All Abusers Are Male: Averted; one patient is a man whose girlfriend managed to crack his skull out of anger. He hit her back in self-defense, but she only suffered some bruises.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Jackie and Coop in season 1, but only on his side. Jackie was manipulating his feelings to convince him that she hit her finger to see him, rather than disguise the fact that she's married.
  • Big Applesauce
  • The Big Guy: Thor, overlapping with Camp Gay.
  • Bi the Way O'Hara; it doesn't come up until Season 2, and then it's treated like a non-issue.
  • But I Can't Be Pregnant!: subverted with Zoey, who can't believe she's not pregnant.
  • Byronic Hero: Jackie.
  • Camp Gay: Thor and Momo (Mohammed). It takes Zoey a while to realize this.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Jackie takes tap dancing lessons with her daughter early in the series, and later uses it to keep an inebriated Sam awake.
  • Custom Uniform: Jackie is the only nurse who wears the classical "ciel blue" (often called "hospital blue") scrubs, which was done on purpose to distinguish her as efficient and dependable.
  • Dr. Feelgood: Jackie is a rare sympathetic example.
  • Dr. Jerk: Coop, in his worse moments.
  • Expy: Zoey is an expy of Alice Chantrey from Casualty.
  • First Episode Spoiler: At the end of the first episode, we find out Jackie is married with two daughters.
  • A Friend in Need: O'Hara exemplifies this. Even in later seasons, when she has more than enough reason to avoid Jackie because of her unpredictable behavior as an addict.
  • Friendly Rival: Coop thinks he has one with O'Hara, as she's the only other doctor on the floor. It's made the plot point of a season 3 episode.
  • Friends with Benefits: Eddie and Jackie in season 1, although Eddie wants a more emotional relationship.
  • Gentleman Snarker: O'Hara is a rare female example.
  • Has Two Mommies: Coop.
  • Hollywood Tourette's: Coop. His tic acts up when he's stressed or nervous, and he grabs women's breasts. It gets him into trouble sometimes.
  • Hopeless Suitor: Eddie.
  • Hospital Hottie: Averted with the nurses, in that they all wear practical shoes, have their hair short/tied up, and do not wear make-up, just like real nurses. This illustrates the difference in work between nurses (who work long hours on their feet) and doctors.
    • Played straight with O'Hara and Coop. Specifically invoked when Coop is deliberately chosen for an advert for All-Saints, with the tag-line "If Looks Could Cure..."
  • Intoxication Ensues: In the second episode, Gloria accidentally gets a full dose of Percocet after stealing what she thought was Jackie's coffee sweetener.
  • It's Not You, It's Me: Inverted At the end of season 3 when Kevin confesses to Jackie that he had an affair (despite her having one as well) and she tells him to leave.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Jackie. And how.
  • Karma Houdini: Inverted, with a protagonist who does questionable things. Executive producer Liz Brixius even used the name Houdini to describe her. Understandable as Jackie is the main character, but nearly every season ends with her getting off scot free. In season two Keven and O'Hara find out she's an addict, but she's given near free rein in season 3 until her new supplier bites the dust. She then gets clean, but not by choice. Season 3 has Keven revealing that he had an affair because he felt distant from her, and Jackie planning to divorce him. Simultaneously (and unbeknownst to Jackie), Gloria tosses Jackie's urine sample in the trash rather than giving it to HR, getting her out of hot water at work.
    • The tables are turned in season 4 when Kevin discovers about Jackie's affair and her drug use and sues for child custody.
    • And near the end of season 4, Cruz fires Jackie, although not without taking Gloria and Eddie down first.
    • The tables are turned again at the end of season 6 Jackie makes a serious mistake at work while under the influence, Zoey calls her out on her drug use, she's confronted by Akalitus and possibly has lost her job, and to top it all off, she's arrested when cops and paramedics find a suitcase full of pills in her car after an accident
  • Karmic Jackpot: Arguably Jackie. She saves lives, is considered a good person by most of her co-workers, and as a result is able to hide her secrets almost flawlessly.
    • Eventually averted as O'Hara discovers Jackie's drug problem, then Jackie goes go rehab. By the end of season 4 Cruz has fired her and Eddie and Akalitus for covering up her problem.
      • They're all rehired at the start of season 5
  • Married to the Job: Akalitus. She even says the phrase verbatim when talking to a nun on the phone.
  • Moral Dissonance: Jackie, whose patients consider her to be a good nurse and an "angel", but who is also an addict whose family is coming to hate her and who has done things like stealing drugs from a man who was having a heart attack before calling him an ambulance.
  • MD Envy: Inverted; most of the nurses and paramedics are happy in their jobs, but Coop often gloats about being a doctor, especially to Sam, the series' only recurring nurse who is both straight and male. Barring Kelly, but Kelly is The Ace, so he gets a pass from Coop.
  • Mushroom Samba: A good chunk of The Lady With the Lamp is comprised of Jackie's hallucination/nightmare while detoxing.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Zoey and, to a lesser extent, Coop.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Are you seriously going to threaten someone who's friends with a guy named Thor?
  • Oh, Crap Akalitus, when she realized that not only were the DEA agents screening for drugs, they were also screening for the absence of drugs
  • One of Our Own: In season 3, Lenny becomes a patient for an episode.
  • Recycled IN SPACE!: House, but with a nurse.
  • Sarcastic Confession:
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: Jackie all the time, and, to a lesser extent, O'Hara.
    • Zoey gets her first chance at doing this in season 4, when she ignores Cruz's orders and leaves to pick up a patient's husband at another hospital. She's thrilled to get the opportunity.
  • Ship Tease: Cruz and Jackie. He comments She Cleans Up Nicely, and she has a dream where he kisses her.
  • Skewed Priorities: Arguably Jackie, depending on what you think is most important to her (drugs or other obligations?). Definitely Coop and Zoey, at times.
  • Talkative Loon: God.
  • The Unfair Sex: Coop and Jackie's disagreement on domestic violence vs. self defense.