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Every Scrubs Main Character Ranked

Some television shows make you laugh out loud, others tug at your heartstrings, and a rare few are able to do both. In the third category belongs the hospital sitcom comedy-drama series "Scrubs," created by Bill Lawrence, which ran for nine seasons from 2001 to 2010. 

"Scrubs" takes a look at the inner workings of the fictional Sacred Heart Hospital, which treats patients suffering from all sorts of ailments while giving young doctors first-hand experience in the medical field. One such doctor is John "JD" Dorian, the central character of the series, who joins Sacred Heart as an intern in the first season. The viewers are taken along with JD on his misadventures on the job as he tries to grapple with the responsibility of becoming a doctor

While JD provides the overarching narration and bird's-eye view of the goings on at Sacred Heart, the show gives equal importance to a host of supporting characters who make up the rest of the staff at the hospital. From best friends and mentors to authority figures and hapless bystanders, "Scrubs" features a large number of memorable characters played by actors who seem born for their roles. Let's take a look at some of the best characters belonging to the series. 

Doctor Cox

While JD is the heart of "Scrubs," it's Dr. Perry Cox (John C. McGinley) who embodies the soul of the series to the fullest extent. Imagine your most cantankerous uncle who constantly complains about everyone and everything, yet is also fiercely protective and always willing to drop everything to come to your aid: that's Doctor Cox in a nutshell. 

Despite loudly and repeatedly denying the responsibility from day one, Doctor Cox becomes the mentor and father figure JD needs to navigate his way around Sacred Heart. JD isn't the only one to benefit from Cox's mercurial but generous nature. Cox acts as the hospital's unofficial guardian angel, always ready to fight anyone who tries to use bureaucracy as an excuse to not give aid to patients who need it. 

But Cox's acts of kindness are usually buried under mountains of sarcasm and gruffness, providing some of the funniest moments on the show. A particular highlight of the character is the patented "Perry Cox rant," during which Doctor Cox goes on extended speeches about how much he hates someone or something. So popular did those little speeches become with fans of the series that some of them took the time to make an entire book of the best rants delivered by Cox.  


Doctor John Dorian, or JD as he's known to friends, is the central character of "Scrubs." Such an unusual show needs a highly unusual and likable protagonist, and JD more than rises to the occasion. JD's personality combines two extremes: silliness in his private life and serious hard work in his professional one. 

These traits allow JD to be the perfect foil for the show's funniest as well as the most heart-rending moments. You can laugh along with JD's frequent trips and falls, his zany daydreams (which might as well be cartoon shorts), and his childish tendencies. But you also feel JD's pain when he fails a patient, or when he has to deal with the prospect of death at close quarters, or anger at the broken hospital system.

The importance of JD as the show's central character is further emphasized when he leaves the series as the main character at the end of Season 8. Although the show tries to keep going with a new main character, his absence is glaring, and the series was only able to continue for one more season before wrapping up for good. 

Elliot Reid

Every television protagonist worth their salt needs a will they/won't they relationship. For JD, that role is filled by his fellow intern and later fellow physician Doctor Elliot Reid (Sarah Chalke). Fortunately, Elliot is much more than a simple love interest and gets to go on her own emotional journey through the series. 

In the beginning, Elliot is shown to be a competitive rival to JD, on whom he has a hopeless crush. As the two grow closer together, Elliot becomes much more three-dimensional and sympathetic. She relentlessly pushes herself to be the best, but also cares deeply about her friends and patients and fights an often-lonely battle as a female doctor surrounded by men.

With each passing season, Elliot becomes more zany and unhinged, helped along by Sarah Chalke's impeccable comic timing. Whether she's freaking out because her engagement ring won't fit on her finger, or celebrating scoring a point over her student with a victory dance, Elliot provides many moments of hilarity to the series. You also can't help but root for her to end up with JD, since despite their superficial differences, at their core, the two are equally dorky, awkward, and well-meaning.   

Christopher Turk

If Doctor Cox is the mentor JD needs to push him through his career, his best friend Christopher Turk (Donald Faison) is the wind beneath his wings that keeps him upright —sometimes literally, since Turk and JD are fond of giving each other piggyback rides around Sacred Heart, during which one of them pretends to be an eagle.

Basically, JD and Turk are one of the best bromances in the history of television. It helps that Donald Faison and Zach Braff are good friends off-camera as well, so much so that they started a podcast together after the show ended. JD and Turk also have an entire song dedicated to their "Guy Love." Any weird scheme JD wants to pull, Turk is first in line to help make it even weirder with unquestioning loyalty and support. At the same time, JD's love for Turk borders on obsession, since he couldn't leave the guy alone even when Turk was on his honeymoon.   

Aside from his friendship with JD, Turk's character explores other sides to being a young doctor and surgeon, from feeling competitive with his peers and disliking being the token "Black doctor" at the hospital to learning the ins and outs of dating at work. Turk keeps audiences hooked on his personal journey with large dollops of comedy, charisma, and heartfelt drama.  

Doctor Kelso

JD is the everyman hero of "Scrubs," and Doctor Cox his mentor, but they also need a suitable antagonist. Many times, that role is fulfilled by Doctor Bob Kelso (Ken Jenkins), the Chief of Medicine at Sacred Heart. Kelso stakes his claim to the main villain role in the first episode, when he contemptuously describes the new interns as nothing more than the hospital's lowly "scrubs."

Kelso's whole thing is being able to put up a fatherly front while acting like a completely ruthless jerk to patients and doctors alike. This provides a lot of interesting conflict in the early seasons of the show between JD, Cox, and Kelso. Slowly, with each new passing season, Kelso stops being an all-round villain and becomes a much more relatable and complicated character. 

Later seasons show Kelso not as a heartless boss, but as a man who wrestles with difficult choices daily, and who must carry the burden alone to keep the hospital running. The greatest acknowledgment of this comes from none other than Perry Cox, who, after a lifetime of hating on Kelso, finally admits that he always knew the latter's job wasn't easy and required routinely making necessary but unpopular decisions.   


JD was in desperate need of friends when he first started out at Sacred Heart. One of his earliest supporters was Carla Espinosa (Judy Reyes), a nurse who works at the hospital and is one of the most efficient and kind-hearted people in the whole show. Carla becomes a bigger part of the proceedings when she starts dating Turk.

If JD and Turk are like over-excited toddlers in a tree house around each other, Carla is their exasperated mother trying to keep them from burning the whole place down. Carla also has important relationships with the rest of the main characters. She is one of the few staff members able to stand up to Doctor Kelso, and Doctor Cox had long nursed a crush on her that ended up going nowhere. 

Carla is also an important sounding board for Elliot, even though the two come from completely different backgrounds. They go from not liking each other to becoming firm friends, and after JD marries Elliot and Turk marries Carla, the four are basically one big family. There is also enough zaniness within Carla to save her from always having to be the "straight man" of the comedy ensemble.   

The Janitor

It can be difficult to explain the purpose of the Janitor (Neil Flynn) on "Scrubs." At first glance, he contributes little to the inner working of the hospital; in fact, he often actively hinders work. Still, imagining "Scrubs" without the Janitor is unthinkable for fans, making him one of the major breakout characters from the show. 

The Janitor's whole deal is, aside from viewers never learning his real name, that he lives to cause chaos, usually at the expense of JD. JD managed to offend the Janitor in the first episode, and ever since, the former has had to suffer many, many bizarre pranks at the hands of the latter. JD's not alone, however, —other characters are also subject to the Janitor's wrath or pranks. Not even Doctor Kelso or Cox is safe. 

What makes the Janitor more interesting than a stereotypical bully is that he's far more cunning and manipulative, and, at the most serious moments, knows to pull it back instead of piling on JD's other problems. Mostly a provider of one-off comic relief, The Janitor doesn't really fit into the overall narrative arc of "Scrubs." Still, he's part of the show's larger theme of trying to get by in the face of constant, seemingly random obstacles. 


Doctor Cox prides himself on keeping up a tough exterior in front of the world, but there's one person who never falls for it, and that's his off-again, on-again wife/ex-wife Jordan (Christa Miller). Jordan can always be counted on to take Cox down a peg or two with her caustic tongue and intimate knowledge of the chinks in his emotional armor. 

Despite the open hate that Cox and Jordan usually exhibit towards each other, they are also somehow one of the strongest couples on the entire show. They both have an immensely cynical view of life in general, while also being subject to bouts of sentimentality when it comes to their friends and family. In the end, despite having divorced once already, both Cox and Jordan know they'll never find anyone else who completes them like each other. 

Apart from her relationship with Perry, Jordan is always entertaining to watch in the role of the temporary villain or vitriolic best bud for the rest of the characters. Despite being tasked with playing such an unlikeable character, Christa Miller manages to infuse Jordan with genuine humanity and vulnerability that shines through in the most unexpected moments. 


If the Janitor is a mysterious, powerful force of nature, Ted Buckland (Sam Lloyd) is the sweaty emoji given human shape. Ted is Sacred Heart's resident lawyer. The nicest thing that can be said about him in a professional capacity is that he tries. Sadly, life refuses to ever work out for Ted, professionally or personally. 

Repeatedly being beaten down by circumstances at every turn has turned Ted into a quivering mass of fear and haplessness, which sounds pretty sad. Thankfully, Sam Lloyd manages to present Ted's sad-sack life in a hilariously downbeat manner, so you can't help but smile whenever he turns up on screen. Ted is also one of the nicest people at Sacred Heart, which doesn't get noticed much because everyone is so quick to dismiss his presence. 

Aside from being bullied by his boss Doctor Kelso and getting walked all over by the other workers at the hospital, Ted spends his time making up new melodies with his a cappella group, the "Worthless Peons." The group never sees much success on "Scrubs," but it was popular enough in the real world to make an appearance on "Cougar Town," for which Bill Lawrence also served as showrunner.  

The Todd

Doctor Todd Quinlan (Robert Maschio), aka The Todd (as he likes to call himself), is a surgeon who arrived at Sacred Heart at the same time as JD, Elliot, and Turk. Smart and capable, Todd's main area of interest is the art of seduction. On second thought, it would be more fitting to describe that "interest" as the chief governing obsession of Todd's life. 

Todd isn't just interested in seducing women but also in talking about them and his overwhelming libido to anyone who'll listen. To that end, Todd spends a lot of his time lurking around Sacred Heart waiting for someone to say something that he can turn into a sexual pun. He usually follows this up with a high-five to celebrate another ordinary moment that he has managed to turn indecent. 

While The Todd can seem like a one-note character, that's his chief appeal: garnishing the story with a hilarious bit at the right moment. In later seasons, Todd's sexuality becomes a focal point in some episodes. It's not always handled in the best manner, and the question of exactly to whom or what he is attracted has kept many of the staff at Sacred Heart up at night. 

Lucy Bennett

After eight seasons, "Scrubs" finally came to a close, with JD moving to another hospital, but public demand for the show did not abate. The series was brought back for another season with a new batch of interns arriving at Sacred Heart under the tutelage of Doctor Cox. This time, the central character is Lucy Bennett (Kerry Bishe).

Much like JD, Lucy is a seemingly ditzy but kind and talented medical intern trying to make sense of the chaos at Sacred Heart. The fact that Lucy is meant to be the new JD is made all the more clear by the way the two spend time together in the season's first few episodes, when JD, in a guest appearance, helps shape Lucy's expectations about life as a doctor. 

After that, Lucy takes over as the new protagonist of the series. Despite her similarity to JD, Lucy is not as prone to anger as easily and needs more support from friends as she gets flustered quickly, qualities she shares with Elliot in the early seasons. Unfortunately, we never really get to see Lucy's character evolve like JD's because the show was not renewed for another season.

Drew Suffin

Most of the characters on "Scrubs" sooner or later evolve into extremely wacky characters, even if they started as the straight man of the group. Drew Suffin (Michael Mosley) is a character introduced in the ninth season as an extremely serious and grounded guy who more often than not is the voice of reason in his circle. He stays that way throughout the season. 

Not much is known about Drew's past, but it's hinted that things went awry for him in some serious manner, leading to a stint in jail and once being shot at by a 12-year-old. All of this leads Drew to join Sacred Heart as an intern at a much older age than his classmates. His past is a sore point for Drew, and not something he likes to bring up unless forced to. 

While all he wants is to keep his head down and get through school, Drew's inherent likability means he keeps getting dragged into the spotlight. Like when Doctor Cox takes a strange liking to him and deems Drew his No. 1 student, much to the jealous chagrin of JD. Drew also starts a relationship with Denise Mahoney (Eliza Coupe) that might be considered the new Turk/Carla dynamic of the series. 

Denise Mahoney

Denise is first introduced in Season 8 as an intern studying under JD at Sacred Heart. She often stands out for her unusually blunt way of talking and general disinterest in emotions. JD tries to teach Denise to be a more empathetic person. She acknowledges the effort by occasionally trying to temper her bluntness with some tact.

In Season 9, Denise returns to the series as a teaching assistant at Sacred Heart. She still has a hard time being sensitive with other people, but proves herself to be a good mentor to the new interns. Despite her intense personality, there have been moments where Denise is shown to suffer from low self-esteem. 

While she makes fun of Drew Suffin at the start because of his age, Denise eventually enters into a relationship with him. At first, they try to keep things purely physical due to their independent natures, but it isn't long before they both admit they have serious feelings for each other and decide to try for a meaningful relationship. Drew's influence is shown to have a leavening influence on Denise's generally caustic nature.  

Cole Aaronson

"Scrubs" fans often said that what the show really needed was a character that everyone finds insufferable. Okay, maybe no one was actually saying that, but the show gives us such a character anyway in the shape of Cole Aaronson (Dave Franco), another new addition to the series in its ninth season as a medical intern. 

Cole is basically The Todd without the charm. The son of one of the hospital's trustees, Cole lives life on easy mode, and the only things that interest him are having fun and getting laid. To that end, Cole and Lucy end up in bed together in the first episode and subsequently try to find a way to make their relationship work despite how different they are from each other. 

While initially resistant to learning, Cole does eventually get serious about his studies and, by the end of the season, decides that he wants to become a surgeon. To that end, Turk takes Cole on as his protégé, albeit reluctantly. It's also shown that Lucy's influence is slowly turning Cole into a better person overall.