"Dr. Dorian, do you not realize you are nothing more than a large pair of scrubs to me?"
—Dr. Bob Kelso, "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 very goofy Work Com and a very 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, hippocraticalhumor 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 its 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.There is now a Shout Out page. Check it out.
This show provides examples of:
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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 Rosanna, one of his ex-girlfriends. Of course, it's all played for laughs. Though Turk had "forgotten" to tell his ex that he was married and was flirting with her on multiple phone calls, who immediately stopped talking to him when she found out he was married. However, Carla had also flirted on several occasions with a visiting doctor who used to work there and she used to have a huge crush on him — he was her "What If?" guy. and went on a date with him without mentioned that she was due to be married either, and just to make Carla look that much worse, Carla begged J.D. not to tell Turk she was seeing her ex-boyfriend! She did end up kissing JD after the whole Rosanna incident, which was actually Played for Drama, as Carla got upset enough to move out for a while and they eventually end up in couples' counseling. Carla's drunken "friend kiss" with JD was played for laughs and she expected Turk to just forgive them easily, saying she now understood how Turk could have messed up like he did.
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 JD calls him on a random anecdote about having no parents, this happens:
JD: Wait a second, I met your father!
Janitor: You met a man.
In the episode My Transition, Janitor gave Carla a baby cage, and explained how his mother used it on him. When everyone was shocked and disgusted, Janitor quickly claimed it was a joke, and walked away with an angry face, later resulting in the above phone conversation.
Dr. Maddox, played by Courteney Cox, makes fun of Dr. Perry Cox's last name.
It is revealed that The Janitor was in The Fugitive. Neil Flynn, who plays The Janitor, really did play that role.
A very dark one - you know that episode where Hooch threatens to run somebody over? Guess which actor actually had fatally run someone over in the early nineties. Go on. Guess.
In "My Last Chance", JD is watching Sixteen Candles (starring Molly Ringwald) with Dr. Molly Clock and internally exclaims "God bless Mollys everywhere!". That particular episode featured an ambulance driver played by Molly Shannon.
In "My Last Words", Turk tells a patient about how he used to be a football safety in college. Guess where the character played by Donald Faison, who played Turk, ends up playing in the movie Remember The Titans? He starts out on offence but is moved to safety.
In Season 9, Lucy mentions that Dr. Cox used to be roommates with Michael Bolton. Dr. Cox shoots back that he hates Michael Bolton.
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.
This makes up the drama at the end of My Lunch. Earlier in the episode, Dr. Cox tries to comfort JD 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. JD even ends up calling him out on it, but Dr Cox subverts the trope by saying he's right, and walks out anyway.
All Girls Like Ponies: Elliot and JD both love horses; Lucy is obsessed with them to a positively creepy extent - which is commented on by the other characters.
All Just a Dream: Much of "My Occurence" is revealed to one of JD's extended daydreams towards the end, with the shift occuring the moment he walked in to tell Dr. Cox and Ben the test results.
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.
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.
Analogy Backfire: An extended one in season five, when Elliot quickly loses her new job at a different hospital, and refuses help from her friends. Carla maintains the opinion they have to help her. When Turk says Elliot didn't want their help, Carla comes with an analogy about JD refusing help, and Turk immediately finds a reason why JD wouldn't want their help. And it only goes south from there. For the record, Elliot really didn't want help and managed to get her old job back by herself, so Turk's initial point was valid.
Carla: Guys, listen. We really need to help Elliot.
Turk: Baby, she said she didn't want to be helped.
Carla: If JD were drowning and he told you he didn't want you to save him, would you do it?
Turk: That depends: what if there are hot chicks at the pool? Maybe he want one of thém to jump in and save him.
Carla: Let's say there's no women.
Turk: There's always women at the pool, baby.
Carla: Fine, he's in a pond.
JD: Oh, I would never swim in a pond. They're infamous for serpents.
Turk: You could swim at the Y[MCA] on tuesdays, men only.
JD: Have you been to the Y on men night? Not me...
Also, Cox' list of things he cares as little about as JD's last week as a resident - the list in general starts on low things and ends in the big ones, but Cox returns to add Hugh Jackman, resulting in this trope. Afther this, Hugh Jackman frequently became the punchline of a Cox Long List rant.
In Dr. Cox's list of reasons why God doesn't exist, he includes sugar free ice cream and the before mentioned Hugh Jackman.
Art Shift In one episode J.D. imagines the show as a traditional multi-camera sitcom, complete with laugh tracks and a studio audience.
Ascended Extra: A number of extras were promoted to recurring cast members as the seasons progressed, including...
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 JD'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".
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.
Bad News in a Good Way: Sometimes invoked for breaking bad news to a patient, both in and out of fantasy sequences.
Bad Omen Anecdote: Eliot often tries to cheer people up by remembering one of her relatives being in a similar situation. These stories all end with the relative committing suicide.
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. JD is trying to get Cox to hire more nurses. Cox claims that there just isn't enough money for it, but that JD 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.
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 Brother Instinct: Surprisingly, given their antagonistic attitude toward each other, Dan showed this toward J.D. when he stood up for J.D. against Dr. Cox:
Dan: "I just wanted to say a few things to you, Perry. I've never been much of a good example to my brother... Johnny will never look up to me, but when I see you two together he hangs on every word you say as if it's his entire world. If you ever let him down, you'll answer to me."
Big "NO!": Done by JD 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.
Bilingual Bonus: Turk decides to learn Spanish to speak to Carla and the vast majority of the episode is subtitled. All of it except for the bit at the very end where they talk about JD and Eliot as they start to repair their friendship and ultimately their relationship. Lampshaded before hand by Turk saying they are going to say things nobody can understand except in their language.
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'. JD 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 JD 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.
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 JD 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 named 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 cast (all the way down to Snoop Dog Resident) funny.
Played with in "My Jerks" when JD seemingly points at the ABC logo in the corner and says "That's new" (it was the show's first episode on ABC) but is actually talking about the Janitor's new watch.
Played with again in the tag for the same episode when JD, 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.
The Janitor's wedding is officiated by show creator Bill Lawrence.
Bill: And now it's time to join these two as only the Creator can.
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.
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 apologised for how he treated Murray. Its Murray who apologises in the end.
In an early episode when JD surpasses Carla in medical knowledge, she later decides to tell off Dr Cox for giving JD trouble instead of letting him handle his own problems. This of course leads Dr. Cox to heap even more abuse on JD. JD lashes out at her for giving him advice (in a rather condescending manner while calling him Bambi) during a procedure. He apologizes, but that is not enough for Carla as she later rants at him about not being respected enough and how JD looked down on her. So the lesson is to not look down on your subordinates. Yet Carla showed less respect by interfering in his business and telling him what to do.
In another episode after JD finds out about Kim's miscarriage and he is depressed. He learns from Carla, Elliot, and Turk to stop being a burden to them after he "has driven them crazy for six years". This coming from people who drag JD into 80% of their relationship problems (Carla and Turk) and has helped Elliot since day one.
Possibly the worst one involved the episode in which Dr. Kelso changes everyone's scrubs to ugly colors in order to stop workers from stealing them. Everyone including the main cast responds by giving a patient Kelso brought in the boot because "he didn't trust them not to steal, so why should they treat an uninsured patient". When they were the ones stealing from him, and put a patient danger just to get their scrubs back. Made even worse after realizing how tight the budget is. It's as if Kelso and the main cast swapped roles for the entire episode. The moral of the episode is trust the people who have proven they can't be trusted, or they will intentionally let patients die.
Brick Joke: JD'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 JD's bad review the balloons come down.
There are many of these, such as the reveal that the "Crotch-Punching Midget" in JD'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 JD accidentally insulted him.
In the Season 1 finale, JD says he wants more people to call him Tiger. In the season 2 premier, Turk wakes him up by saying "Good morning, Tiger."
Doubles with Call Back and Funny Background Event: At the start of "My Five Stages", a mid season five episode, JD narrates how Elliot and Keith love to play games, as the camera pans over a bunch of gaming cards/boards/dies and the likes. Amongst it is a scrabble board and on it the word "jzilbek", which JD commented on not being a real word while playing scrabble with a patient in "My Old Friend's New Friend", the first season four episode.
Bridezilla: Carla before her and Turk's wedding, Elliot during her engagement to Keith.
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 JD:
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.
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.
To be fair, he doesn't technically have experiences with either sex. The Janitor tacks on a "God is watching" after the Todd is asked about his experiences, to which he responds, "Doughnut." But it still doesn't excuse why he wouldn't even make it up to begin with.
Todd is involved with a married couple named the Hendersons in season eight. He claims the three of them are becoming serious.
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".
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.
The Cast Showoff: Several of the actors are actually good singers. Sam Lloyd (Ted) in particular is the leader of an A Capella band, and they get to sing a lot on the show. One episode has a few of the cast members sing
C.A.T. Trap: Inverted as Elliot claims she uses a broken MRI machine as her "own little cocoon" when she's feeling stressed.
JD meets his girlfriend Alex while she is stuck in an MRI machine, though she wasn't freaked out at all.
Celebrity Star: Clay Aiken in the episode "My Life in Four Cameras". Also Colin Hay, who sang in "Overkill".
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.
Chair Reveal: The Janitor to Dr. Cox in "My Friend With Money".
Channel Hop: Moved to ABC in the 8th Season. Interestingly enough, the show was ABC produced anyway but aired on NBC for some reason.
This was because the show pre-dated a change in what incentives each network looked for in a show. In 2001, it was more common for networks to buy shows from each other's production companies (though usually only after the network that technically produced it passed. This is true in the case of Scrubs: ABC originally declined to air the show), because the only way to profit off a show was through the network charging for commercial time (how much they charged was based on ratings), and an eventual syndication deal, through which the production company and the broadcast network would split the profits. By the mid-00's, broadcast ratings were down across the board (meaning networks couldn't charge as much for ads), but the DVD and online markets were rising. Only production companies made money from the DVD and online download sales. This was the tipping point at which networks started to only broadcast shows made by their own production companies, because then if the show didn't have great ratings but had a strong cult audience who would buy the DVD's, the parent company of both the network and the production company would still profit.
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.
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.
Chekhov's Gun: In "My Last Words", JD and Turk buy a beer for a dying patient, but since the clerk made a sarcastic comment about buying a single beer, JD also buys a flare gun. After George passes away, Turks toasts him with a beer and JD 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!"
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 realised 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 learnt 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 JD'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 JD feels like a fifth wheel she is never seen or heard from after that.
She was referenced in a list of JD's girlfriends he broke up with over stupid reasons in a later episode. She also appeared (in fantasy form) amoung 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. JD 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 epiosde... only to dump him in the next and THEN never be mentioned again.
Bonnie Chang, Turk's rival surgeon and nemesis during Series 2.
She is briefly mentioned in season 5 when Dr. Wen posts the surgical rankings, as one of the people who is better than Turk.
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.
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 JD 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.
Comforting the Widow: J.D. ends up having sex with his patient's widow, and comments "There are a lot of ways to grieve, but last time I checked, wheelbarrow style wasn't one". It borders on Romancing The Widow in this case, as the man had been in a coma for several years (after a car accident two weeks into their marriage). As "Tasty Coma Wife" puts it, she had already grieved over losing her husband, his actual death really just gave her some closure. This trope is more definitely in effect several episodes earlier when JD and the wife went on a date while the husband was actually still alive (but of course comatose). They have a good time together but JD backs out before anything physical happens because this trope makes him uncomfortable with the situation.
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.
While not a vice per se, Turk's strong Christianity is the focus of the first season's Christmas episode and is never brought up again.
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 JD rattles of a list of his former girlfriends, Elliot is nicknamed 'Mole Butt'
Continuity Porn: The Grand Finale. Nearly every minor character who lasted for more then one episode (and even some of the one-episode ones as well) showed up. A few of them had even died during the course of the series.
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.
Dr. Cox and Jordan punish the doctor responsible for Dr. Cox's failed vasectomy by strapping him to a chair while an a cappella 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.
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 countertop'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.
Creator Cameo: Bill Lawrence appears as bohemian Justice of the Peace "Van" (stretch it out - Vaaan) in season 8 "My Soul on Fire" parts 1 and 2. He marries the Janitor and Lady with the line "It is now time to join these two, as only the creator can."
In My Finale: Part 2, he appears as a janitor and he and J.D. deliver the final goodbye of the show.
Curse Cut Short: A couple times: once after The Todd high-fives JD ("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".
Curtain Call: The Series Fauxnale at the end of season 8 ends with JD walking down a hallway and meeting a lot of the actors that has appeared on the show. A few dead people too. Some of them make comments referencing their story arcs.
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.
(Looking at an X-Ray) "Either this guy has a lightbulb 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.
Diegetic Switch: In "My Tormented Mentor" Dr. Miller starts playing I'm With You by Avril Lavigne in the OR before it becomes the background music for a J.D. voiceover.
Directed by Cast Member: Zach Braff directed 7 episodes during the show's run, including the 100th episode. He also played a major role in the music used for the show; one of the biggest strengths of the show.
A lesser known example: Michael McDonald of Mad TV fame guest starred as a patient in 3 episodes before directing 6 episodes in the later seasons, some of which he acted in. This eventually led to him being hired as a consulting producer, staff writer, frequent director and sometimes actor on Bill Lawrence's next comedy series.
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!"
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.
Double Standard: Abuse—Female on Male: Constantly, and not just gentle slaps either. Elliot shoving JD across a dinner table, smashing numerous glasses and plates in the process, was played for laughs.
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 JD'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 JD repeatedly brushed her off outside the hospital and JD can't stop blaming himself. Dr. Cox tells JD 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.
Dressed To Heal: Averted; as one might guess from the title, most of the main cast tends to wear hospital scrubs. JD 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.
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 JD 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".
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
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.
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?
JD: 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.
JD: And yet I do it almost every week.
Even the Girls Want Her: Elliott mentions that the only woman in the hospital she would consider sleeping with is Jamie in Pediatrics and everyone around her agrees, including the women.
Elliot: Those gyno girls are really putting the pressure on. Who wants to look at a hundred women's bajingos today? Bajingo, bajingo, bajingo. I mean, I can't even look at my own bajingo.
Carla: Is that because it looks so much like a vagina?
Elliot: Carla, there's people!
Fan Disservice: Any time Ted's skin is shown. The instance where Carla has a bizarre sex dream about Ted is hilariously lampshaded by Judy Reyes in one of the commentaries, saying she was jealous that Donald Faison got to have a hot girl (Sarah Chalke) crawl all over him during Turk's sex dream.
Fanservice: Elliot is Ms. Fanservice, but not to forget the two-part Beach Episode in season 8's "My Soul's on Fire." The male principals (JD, Turk, and Cox) collectively spend about as much time shirtless as Elliot, but aren't quite so forthcoming about their fetishes.
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.
The Farmer And The Viper: An episode has J.D. pull a splinter from the Janitor's toe, and even bring up the parallel to Androcles Lion (with the Janitor saying the story ends with the lion killing and eating the mouse anyway). The Janitor makes a show of offering unwanted payback, and finishes off by pointing out that J.D. could have just asked for him to stop messing with him (and steals his stethoscope when he tries to).
Faux Yay: Most notably, Dr Cox and Ben's game of gay chicken.
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.
JD 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 Jerk Ass 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.
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.
Foreshadowing: "My Occurence" and "My Screwup" are chock-full of it.
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 8th 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.
It's mocked earlier than that. In one of the episodes with JD's dad, Cox tells him to stop moping because "everyone's parents do considerable emotional damage".
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.
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.
In My Hypocritical Oath, Todd can be seen in the background asking another doctor if Carla is black.
Elliot storms into a room to demand why JD has been telling people that she's rough with her physical examinations, startling Turk who had been balancing backwards on a wheelchair into falling on his ass. While Elliot and JD talk, we can see Turk shuffling out of the hospital room, tenderly rubbing his behind.
Doug fighting Ted, with the other Worthless Peons joining in, at Turk and Carla's wedding.
Gag Dub: The cast once did an in-character redub of It's a Charlie Brown Christmas.
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?
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 JD 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.
J.D. and Dr. Kelso have heard enough of Elliot's inspirational stories to know they invariably end with someone killing themselves.
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 JD's daydreams in the first episode.
Hair Reboot: Avoided when JD 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 sproingy 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.
Who'd imagine one of Roseanne's kids would become a doctor?
The same actor who plays Cameron in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Alan Ruck, plays a character similar to his role in Ferris Bueller's Day Off in season 2, episode 9.
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...
All the episodes in season 9 are called "Our [Something]".
Idiot Ball: Not even JD 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".
Except somebody has to be the first person she tells they (or their loved one) is going to die and JD does push her to be somewhat more sympathetic
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.
Jordan: (noticing Perry holding two glasses of whiskey) You do know I'm pregnant, right? Perry: Yeah...they're for me.
The "I Love You" Stigma: Carla and Turk had an episode revolving around them sharing that word with each other and even a little fallout over the implications of what that means. Cox and Jordan lived together in a "long-term, non-committal" relationship and played up the idea they hate each other but he eventually confesses he's tired of the joke and wants to get back as a couple who says "I love you" to each other.
One that really played with the trope was when J.D. and Elliot get back together (permanently, this time) she eventually plans out this short monologue about how much she loves him. J.D. happily reciprocates but she then lays down the ground rules that he has to plan out a similar monologue and spring it on her unexpectedly. Ironically, they get into a fight over it but when it settles down J.D. gives her what she wanted, confessing that he loves her more than Turk.
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 JD; especially notable in that all four doctors played characters on Saint Elsewhere.
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 asshat 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.
JD:Ohh, you smell like a father figure. Mmm.
Dr. Kelso, as well. He lets out a few hints of warmness now and again. Later seasons it was stated outright that he had to be the bad guy as the Chief of Medicine, otherwise the hospital wouldn't function. But it came up early when he learned from J.D. that an older doctor (played by Dick Van Dyke) was unwilling to keep up with the constantly changing medical field, he had to force the guy to retire and was noticeably saddened to do so.
An earlier episode, in which Dr. Cox plays a prank that spirals out of control and convinces everyone in the hospital that Kelso's dead, while not going so far as to suggest that Kelso actually has a heart of gold does imply that Kelso is partially presenting a Jerkass Façade to the world and is more wounded by how people think of him than he lets on.
Cox: And there it is ... you know, this 'I don't care what anyone thinks of me' act? It's pretty convincing. But methinks that there's a sad little cartoon boy living inside the hairy beast, and he's sad because he realizes at the end of the day all anyone ever thinks about is what an evil sonofabitch he really is.
Jerkass Has a Point: While Dr. Kelso is generally depicted as a ruthless, heartless bastard, it is sometimes noted that he does have hard decisions to make between demonstrating humanity towards the doctors and the patients versus the overall welfare of the hospital as a whole. J.D once notes that while he'll never like or respect Kelso, he also wouldn't want to have to make these decisions himself.
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 Screwup. And beloved nurse Laverne.
However Laverne's actress came back to play a character who was identical in personality to Laverne. Her name? Shirley.
The Lad-ette: Intern Denise Mahony in the 8th 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.
JD: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 smelled like "Wet ass"...
The Last DJ: Dr. Cox has this going on. Often deconstructed, however; just as Kelso's tight-fisted Jerkassery was sometimes suggested to be necessary to keep the hospital from falling apart at the seams, Cox's anti-authoritarian independence was often framed as being knee-jerk stubbornness and ultimately self-sabotaging, stalling his career and preventing him from making any meaningful change for the better.
Latino Is Brown: Carla is worried because Turk is placing too much emphasis on her daughter's “African heritage” and very little on her Dominican heritage. This really doesn’t make much sense since the Dominican Republic's population is mostly composed of descendants of African slaves, and Carla should have a lot of African heritage herself.
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.
Less Embarrassing Term: In one episode, Cox meets a doctor who likes to collect dolls. Did I say dolls? It's a collectible!
Doug. They eventually solve this by making him a coroner.
JD'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.
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 'a capella' 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 JD 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.
Elliot: "Why would I be talking to Kelso if I was pregnant?"
Carla: "Ah, it's his baby."
Elliot: "That was ONE dream! And it doesn't count because he was half dolphin."
Carla: "...Which half?!"
Meta Casting: Michael J. Fox played an ace doctor visiting the hospital, which already works along the lines of a Special Guest and Fox being so famous and beloved. But his character Dr. Kevin Casey was well-known for his Super OCD and how such a disorder really takes a toll on him emotionally even though you may never see him lose his cool, a reflection of Fox's Parkinsons and his uncontrollable bodily ticks.
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...
Missed Her by That Much: When Elliot and the Janitor are looking for Carla in "My Screw Up", they walk past a closet with her in it, and a window in the door.
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.
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 JD's father has died.
Moral Dissonance: A couple, though most of them are in later seasons, from JD: 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 Jerk Ass.
Elliot's moment is in the episode after she sleeps with JD (for like the fourth time or something) and then jumps into Sean's arms not three seconds later but expects JD 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 JD up with his patients just so his ratings will go down on a Rate Your Doctor website.
Never Lend to a Friend: JD once lent the Janitor a buck for the vending machine, only for him to start acting as if every random encounter is JD hounding him for a repayment. Of course, that's how he acts most of the time with no provocation whatsoever, so...
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"
Janitor: What the hell are you?
The Todd: I'm The Todd.
No Ending: Two season finales were written with the expectation that the show would be canceled, and both conspicuously avoided resolving the JD/Elliot Will They or Won't They?.
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
It is Neil Flynn's happy-go-luckyjanitor's name in Clone High... (a show made by Bill Lawrence concurrently with Scrubs, in which the janitor is mortified when a clone of Ponce de Leon is graphically killed in an elaborate litter-related accident)
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.
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 So Great Escape: Happens to Elliot when she tries to dodge Kelso after accidentally revealing his age.
N-Word Privileges: The first conversation between J.D. and Turk. And no, J.D. does not get them...
Obfuscating Stupidity In a meta-sense. In Their Story, Todd is shown to be at least smarter than JD, 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.
Once a Season: Starting in the second season there was A Day In The Lime Light 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?"
Opposed Mentors: Dr. Kelso and Dr. Cox have this dynamic for the first few episodes, with both being presented as possible mentors to JD. 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. JD 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 JD think that Cox and a Private Practice Doctor were warring mentors to him, but really it was about the PPD having slept with Jordan years ago, shattering Cox and Jordan's already fragile marriage.
When JD 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 JD 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).
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.
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 Xbox360, the footage is from Unreal Tournament III, but the characters dialogue suggests that they're playing something more like Halo. They're also apparently playing multiplayer 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.
The 100th episode, "My Way Home", is a parody of... you guessed it... The Wizard of Oz, complete with a protagonist who just wants to go home, a search for a literal heart for a transplant, "Over the Rainbow," and a painted yellow floor... among other references.
Also, the episode "My Princess" which was told the style of a fairy tale with some Princess Bride references.
"My Life in Four Cameras" qualifies as well, being a parody of standard 80s-90s sitcoms with Studio Audience.
Plot Tumor: JD at the beginning of season 9. While him being there is justified with him Passing the Torch, he is too prominent and takes important screen time away from the new characters in need of Character Development, only to rehash old plotlines with Turk and Doctor Cox, which we have seen done better already and in turn also keeps these two characters from forming relationships with the new cast members.
Pull the Thread: Involved by the Janitor when he decides to go around "bustin' chops". This basically involves him listening in on people's conversations and then bursting in with incriminating evidence that proves they're lying at the most inconvenient moment:
Carla: Where the hell have you been for the last few days? Cox: Deep-sea fishing. Carla: You hate fishing. Cox: Went with my buddies. Carla: You don't have any buddies? Cox: Oh yeah? Well, we landed a 200lb white marlin off the coast of San Diego. Janitor:[Appearing out of nowhere] Interesting, because that's 3000 miles away from the natural habitat of the white marlin. Hmm. Oh well. Maybe it hopped a train from Cape Cod! Cox: Why?! Janitor: I'm bustin' chops today. You can ask anybody. Carla: It's true.
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 John Ritter (who played Sam Dorian, J.D. and Dan's father) died, they wrote an episode devoted to JD and Dan dealing with his character's death.
Judy Reyes (Carla) broke her pelvis during the filming for season six. This reflects in the choreography of the Musical Episode during the song "We're Gonna Miss You Carla," which has her sitting in a chair while other characters sing to her and she doesn't move around much for the rest of the episode. Carla's tango scene with Turk was filmed later once Judy Reyes had healed enough for the dance. If you're observant, you might notice that her hair is a little longer there.
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.
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.
"The Reason You Suck" Speech: Several, though special mention goes to Dr Cox. JD 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.
Reality Subtext: In the episode "My Catalyst", Michael J. Fox plays a doctor with OCD - a neurological disorder that all-but usurps control of the body from the active portions of the head - played by a man diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, which accomplishes the same thing in a vastly different way. In an interview after that episode aired, Fox stated that he allowed his frustration with Parkinson's to help inform the character of Dr. Casey.
Recurring Extra: Snoop Dogg InternResident Attending, Dr. Beardface, Colonel Doctor and Dr. Mickhead.
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.
The Reveal: In the finale, the Janitor's name is Glen Matthews. Immediately after, a passing intern goes "Hey Tommy". Janitor: "Hey."
Word Of God is that the correct name is Glen Matthews, and that the other name was most likely part of another prank.
Road Sign Reversal: The Janitor does this to JD during his birthday triathlon. JD ends up biking uncontrollably down a near-vertical hill.
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 5th 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." note "You gotta stop saying that, I can't get it out of my head." Reccurs in season three.
Randall: Just got the job, brah.
J.D.:(To himself) So that's why he's been back in my dreams...
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...
Turk and JD (especially JD) are big fans of the movie Judge Dredd and occassional references are made to their viewing habits and the absurd number of times they have watched it; in "My Déjà Vu My Déjà Vu," for example, Turk invites JD to watch the movie at his place, at which point they both loudly proclaim, "NINETY-NINTH VIEWING," before they high-five each other; at the conclusion of "His Story II", JD is initially more interested in the movie than Elliot's sexual advances.
JD: What is she doing?! It's the Judge!
Hugh Jackman always shows up in a list of things Dr. Cox hates.
In season Eight, Denise, a new intern, provides several. She's bad at connecting with people so when they get sick, her go-to line is "That sucks." To which they reply "That totally sucks!" She also has a thing for fat guys. They try harder.
Sacrificial Lion: Patricia Wilk, introduced early in the fifth season, spends several episodes in the hospital with various, non-fatal issues, before finally getting an untreatable, fatal infection from the most incompetent intern ever.
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 Twenty Seven 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.
Science Marches On - Dr. Townshend's episode hinges on his use of an old treatment instead of the much safer modern alternative. As Dr. Kelso tells him, even the newest doctor's education is obsolete within five years.
Secret Test of Character: A downright epic one is revealed in the finale. Remember the elevator penny from the first day? It was JD's, after it fell out of his pocket and rolled there. He didn't say so because he wanted Janitor to like him. Except that the Janitor saw it happen, and had been hoping JD would fess up so they could be friends.
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.
J.D does it to Cox in "My Case Study" when, having been selected by Kelso to present his case-study at a prestigious medical conference in Reno, he is subjected to a vicious "The Reason You Suck" Speech from Cox about how this makes J.D Kelso's puppy. J.D is visibly hurt by this and retorts that, while he respects Cox, he wants to be "a more successful you — there's nothing wrong with playing the game once in a while." J.D then tries to lighten the mood with a joke about how, when he's Cox's boss, he'll put in a good word for him. Cox, however, is visibly taken aback by J.D standing up to him and unsettled by the unintentional implication that his own stubbornness and refusal to compromise even a little had stalled and perhaps even ruined his career.
Side Bet: Dr. Kelso's bet with the boys in Radiology.
Once when Dr. Cox imagines what it would be like to be married to Elliot. He can't stand her, so he murders here with a knife and is seen being taken away by the cops. As soon as he comes out of the fantasy, he has a great big slasher smile on his face and says "worth it".
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. The worst was probably when Eliot had a one night stand with a surgeon and immediately got a reputation through the entire hospital, with Turk being punished by his fellow surgeons for trying to stand up for her.
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.
Snark-to-Snark Combat: Dr. Cox vs. Dr. Norris (Christopher Meloni). Cox is so impressed by him he insists on him being Jack's pediatrician and successfully blackmails him into it.
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.
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...
Spank the Cutie: Correct me if I'm wrong, but this trope is used fairly often.
Superstition Episode: The series references a The Brady Bunch story when J.D. buys his own tiki necklaces for a group vacation. They joke around about certain things happening to them being bad luck, even mimicking the sound used for the Brady story, but overall it was just some arguments between couples and not actual bad luck.
"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.
Tell Her Im Not Speaking To Her: Happens to Elliot twice - in one episode Dr Cox gets annoyed with her for deliberately setting him up to say the wrong thing to a German patient, so when she asks him for help, he talks to a stapler. And for much of Season Six, once she becomes "Private Practice Barbie", Dr Kelso refuses to aknowlege her existence, and talks to her through the nurses.
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 It In: After realising Neil Flynn was a great improv comedian, the writers began to write most of the Janitor scenes with the simple direction "Neil says something".
The Out-takes definitely attest to the fact that often the crew had no idea what he was going to say in any given take.
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, Gooch, left him for Hooch sometime after his last appearance in season 9.
In My Way or the Highway, The Janitor lets JD win. This isn't the only time where this happens in the series, but it is the first time.
Title Drop: The first episode. Wouldn't normally be notable (scrubs are standard hospital clothes), but the context and emphasis makes it obvious that it was deliberate.
Dr. Kelso: Don't you know you're nothing but a pair of scrubs to me?
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.
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 humour 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... Janitor's Narration: ...this. Thirty cents to be exact. Damn riddle! Easy, Janitor. You'll get this.
Uncertain Doom: Doug Murphy was last seen being locked in a morgue drawer.
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.
Ungrateful Bastard: Elliot very much qualifies with her behavior towards Dr. Cox in later seasons. In a few episodes, Elliot would rant at Dr Cox about how he has never helped her. Not counting that he helps her in all of these episodes and other times, he punched out the CHIEF OF MEDICINE for her, risking his job.
Best exemplified in JDs Anvilicous 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.
Carla demands to know when JD 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 JD then immediately dumps him the day after because her old boyfriend came back; JD's jealousy is depicted as petty and he's advised to "be a good friend". Later, JD convinces Elliot to leave her boyfriend but realises 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 realises 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.
JD accidentally gets Kim pregnant on their first 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, JD doesn't want her to go but "learns" that the correct reaction is to support her decision unconditionally) and a few months later, informs JD that she has miscarried. Turns out, that was a lie to get out of their relationship. JD 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 labour 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 makes out with the father of a child 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 JD 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.
Unreliable Narrator: "My Princess" obviously has a bit of this going on through Dr. Cox telling his son the story of his day at work through the form of a classical fairytale involving knights, princesses and monsters but it's cemented by the ending; Cox tells his son that the 'maiden' (i.e. the patient) lived happily ever after, indicated that she survived, but in dialogue with Jordan immediately afterwards defeatedly implies that in actuality the patient never managed to get the liver transplant she needed and died.
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.
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: JD 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!).
What Happened to the Mouse?: In My Screw Up a subplot is devoted to Ted's band losing a member who wants to go solo. The next time we see his band, the lineup hasn't changed at all. May cross over into Status Quo Is God.
"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 third 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.
It could also arguably count as a deconstruction of the Mary Sue - up until that point, he'd shown up Dr.s Cox, Dorian, and Turk because of his OCD... then you get the darkness at the end of the episode showing that, while the condition allowed him to become a brilliant medical practitioner, the personal cost was extremely high to compensate.
"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 Cake" : At the beginning, it is foreshadowed and all but it is still not good for J.D. to learn that His father has died, but it seems otherwise fine until Turk has diabetes.
"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: 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?
Whole Plot Reference: The series, especially the early seasons, are one to the Samuel Shem book The House of God, and not just because it's about a nerdy white doctor with a black best friend and a cynical mentor. Many of the early scenarios and dialogue are lifted wholesale from the book, such as Dr. Cox's rant about how most patients are older and checked out mentally, but a doctor's job is to stay sane enough to treat the few people they can actually help. The writers admitted they leaned heavily on the book in the early seasons for situations, dialogue, language and atmosphere. They even directly quote the book at one point:
J.D.: A famous doctor once said "Show me a med student who only triples my work and I'll kiss his feet."
"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!"
By Dr. Cox, talking to a psychologist about how relationships aren't like they are on TV
and deconstructed in the fifteenth episode of the first season, which shows the aftermath of the first time J.D. and Elliot sleep together and the three week meltdown of the relationship that followed.
Wide-Eyed Idealist: J.D. starts the series this way, but by the second season he at least understands how the long-timers got to be so jaded and defensive.
Wire Fu: Dr. Cox flying out of the window in "My Hero".
Once when Dr. Cox imagines what it would be like to be married to Elliot. He can't stand her, so he murders here with a knife and is seen being taken away by the cops. As soon as he comes out of the fantasy, he has a great big slasher smile on his face and says "worth it".
Written-In Absence: The 8th 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.
One episode had JD take his son to Disneyland and one had Carla being out of town.
X Called; They Want Their Y Back: One episode has J.D. describe an elderly patient as a "neat old lady" and Turk tell him "the 1930s called, they want their lingo back." Lampshaded when JD tells Turk he's been using that "somebody called" joke a lot in that episode.
One episode has Dr. Cox tell Elliot that she did everything right and a deceased patient's father telling Turk that he was glad that not only did he do everything he could, but also that he became friends with his son.
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.