Scrubs is one of those rare shows that you find on a random cable channel late on a Tuesday night and just can't help but watch it. I should know because that's how I first found the long-running medical comedy series way back in my freshman year of college. The show had recently entered its run on syndication on WGN, and I was hooked from the start. Over the course of a few months, I watched some of the best episodes of television thanks the show's perfect balance of humor and drama, but that amazing cast doesn't hurt either.
Choosing the best episodes of Scrubs is no easy task. It's like trying to decide which one of J.D.'s fantasy scenes is your favorite, which one of Dr. Cox's putdowns get you the most, or picking your favorite performance from Ted Buckland and The Blanks. I think I'm up to the task though, I mean, at least I get to go back and watch some of the most hilarious and emotional episodes of television of the 21st Century.
10. My First Day, Season 1, Episode 1
As far as first episodes go, it doesn't get much better than the Scrubs pilot, "My First Day." Following John "J.D." Dorian (Zach Braff) on his first day at Sacred Heart Hospital, the episode introduces the large ensemble cast through interactions with the rookie doctor. From meeting his on-again off-again love interest Elliot Reed (Sarah Chalke) to his future mentor Doctor Perry Cox (John C. McGinley), "My First Day" sets the stage for what's to come over the following episodes and seasons. Hell, it's even the episode where we see J.D.'s first run-in with the Janitor (Neil Flynn), the introduction of his nickname "Bambi," and the first of many of the young doctor's trademark fantasy scenes and narration.
9. My Long Goodbye, Season 6, Episode 15
One of the best things about Scrubs was the show's ability to give each member of the expansive cast moments to shine, and that's very much the case for "My Long Goodbye" that focuses on the key members of Sacred Heart saying their goodbyes to the nurse Laverne Roberts, who's left brain-dead following a car accident. And while most of the cast gets a few moments to shine, no one gets more time than Carla Espinosa (Judy Reyes). Never letting go of hope for a turnaround, Carla refuses to say goodbye to her friend and mentor until the very end when she gives one of the most heartfelt and memorable monologues of the entire series.
8. My Old Lady, Season 1, Episode 4
Pretty early on, Scrubs proved time and time again that it was more than just your average early-2000s comedy series. By combining comedic and dramatic elements, Bill Lawrence and company created some of the most highly regarded episodes of television. Take "My Old Lady" for example. J.D., Turk (Donald Faison), and Elliott are all assigned patients who end up teaching the young doctors more than they ever learned in medical school. Without giving away the ending, this episode early in Season 1 showed that there would be a lot of crying before everything was said and done. But not to weigh viewers down with death and despair, the episode features some of the best fantasy scenes you'll see in the series.
7. My Last Words, Season 8, Episode 2
The patients of Sacred Heart became as much of a part of Scrubs as the doctors and nurses, and over the years, there are a handful that stick out. One of the most poignant run-ins with a sick patient comes in the Season 8 episode "My Last Words" where J.D. and Turk forgo their traditional Steak Night dinner in order to sit and drink beer with George, a terminally ill man with no family. Through conversations with the dying man, the two best friends come to terms with their fear of death, even though they have watched countless patients pass throughout their careers.
6. My Cake, Season 4, Episode 6
Now we're getting into the heavy hitters of emotional Scrubs episodes. In a series that does so well handling the fallout of death, the Season 4 episode "My Cake" takes things to another level. During the episode, J.D. and his brother Dan (Tom Cavanagh) slowly come to terms with the death of their father, but not before both find themselves grieving in different ways. With neither brother handling the situation in a healthy manner, it's up Dr. Cox to force them to open up about their dad and his passing. In the process, Dr. Cox proves that he's more than just antagonistic doctor and that he's the father-figure both men need.
5. My Occurrence, Season 1, Episode 22
For the most part, Dr. Cox isn't too fond of anyone. Well, unless their name is Ben Sullivan (Brendan Fraser). In "My Occurrence," we are first introduced to unbreakable bond shared by Dr. Cox and Ben, his brother-in-law as they both have fun at the expense of J.D. But after building up the close-knit bond shared by the two characters, you can't help but feel that something terrible is waiting down the road. And once the revelation finally hits you, boy does it hit you. This episode also sets up multiple appearances by Brendan Fraser, all of which are both hilarious and heartbreaking.
4. My Hero, Season 1, Episode 23
Picking up right where "My Occurrence" left off, "My Hero" continues the narrative thread about the relationship shared by Dr. Cox and Ben. Everyone in the hospital seems to have come to terms with Ben's sickness, but Dr. Cox still holds on to a tiny piece of hope and won't back down. And in the end, it's Dr. Cox who seems to be right about it all, at least for the time being. Other parts of the episode focus on the struggles of Turk, Carla, and J.D. as they all learn to confront their respective issues and push through their personal dramas.
3. My Screw Up, Season 3, Episode 14
There are episodes of Scrubs that make you just want to curl up in a ball and cry the night away, and then there is the Season 3 episode "My Screw Up." First, there's the plot where one of Dr. Cox's elderly patients dies, leaving him an emotional wreck. Blaming J.D. for the man's fate, Dr. Cox falls into a pit of depression that only seems to be made better by his good friend Ben. As the two brothers-in-law walk to what Dr. Cox believes is his son's first birthday party, they talk about old times and letting go. And it's not until the very final moments of the episode do you realize what is actually happening here.
2. My Lunch, Season 5, Episode 20
And so we find ourselves at the final two episodes. Technically, "My Lunch" and "My Fallen Idol" are a two-parter, but each offers such an amazingly written and well-acted story there's no way you could combine the two. The episode starts with J.D. and Dr. Cox getting lunch when they run into one of their most annoying patients, Jilly Tracy (Nicole Sullivan). When Jill turns up dead a few days later, the doctors initially think it was a drug overdose and they use her organs to save the lives of terminal patients at Sacred Heart. But after the surgeries are completed, the hospital staff realize their mistake. Cue "How To Save A Life" by The Fray and start the waterworks.
1. My Fallen Idol, Season 5, Episode 21
Picking up right where "My Lunch" left off, the Season 5 episode "My Fallen Idol" explores the toll a mistake and many deaths have a person with an already fractured psyche. Following Dr. Cox as he attempts to come to terms with mistakes he's made in his career and his problems with alcoholism, this brilliant piece of television gives audiences some of the most uplifting moments in the fact of darkness. Just go back and watch J.D. lay it all out on the line as he tries to get his mentor and father-figure to see that there is still good deep down in his soul and that a doctor's legacy shouldn't be based solely on a bad call. This episode reveals why Scrubs is more than just a normal medical comedy.
That's my list of the best Scrubs episodes. With a total of 182 episodes over the course of nine seasons, there was a lot to choose from, but I'm confident with my choices. How do you feel about it? Do you agree with my selections and ranking? Let me know in the comments below because I would love to know which ones I missed. And since you're here, why not check out this amazing cast reunion photo that has us hoping for a Season 10. And there's also never been a better time to check out Zach Braff and Donald Faison's Scrubs podcast "Fake Doctors, Real Friends" on iHeart Radio.
Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop yelling at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.
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