For whatever reason – repression, I blame repression – I thought Scrubs was just a funny, funny series. And so when I needed some cheering up during lockdown I switched on the sitcom, which I hadn’t watched in a very, very long time. Long story short: I pissed tears four episodes in. But then my dumb ass thought it was just a one-episode thing, so I kept watching. Now I find myself whispering the name Ben into the night, before immediately weeping.
Scrubs is just packed with crushing moments isn’t it? So let’s revisit some of them. ‘Cos if I cry, you have to cry too. I don’t make the rules, sorry!
‘My Old Lady’, S1E4
This is where it all started for me. In the fourth episode of season 1, JD (Zach Braff) begins the episode by saying, “One out of every three patients that’s admitted to this place will die here.”
That should’ve tipped me off, but once again my dumb ass was like, “Oh, really?????” instead of “OH NO”.
JD, Turk (Donald Faison), and Elliot (Sarah Chalke) treat one patient each and much of the episode is spent with said patients. With JD’s words in mind, you kind of expect one of these patients to die, right?
For me, it was clearly going to be JD’s patient, Mrs Tanner (Kathryn Joosten). JD has to convince her to start dialysis in order to live, but she doesn’t want to. She’s lived this incredible life and is ready to die, but JD doesn’t want her to. He’s afraid, and he spends the entire episode trying to give Mrs Tanner a reason to live.
It’s around the time that JD tells Mrs Tanner that he’s afraid of her dying that I start to lose it a little. And then fucking ‘Hallelujah’ starts to play in the background.
“So they say that one out of every three patients admitted to this place will die here,” JD says. “But some days, the odds are worse than that.”
‘My Balancing Act’, S1E13
Dr Cox (John C. McGinley) spends episode after episode ranting and delivering verbal assassinations. He’s rude and bitter and sarcastic, and sometimes that’s all we see.
And then other times, we get moments like this and they hit so hard.
It is an absolute crime that McGinley never won an Emmy for his role.
‘My Screw Up’, S3E14
Let’s just rip this one off like a band-aid.
In this episode, Dr Cox hasn’t quite accepted that his best friend Ben (Brendan Fraser) has died. And we, as the audience, don’t learn this until the last few moments of the episode. And it just sucks, it really sucks, especially when you realise that throughout the episode, only Dr Cox speaks to and sees Ben.
That’s all I can say about it without crumbling into tiny pieces at my desk.
‘My Cabbage’, S5E12
In this episode, JD is struggling with his favourite intern Cabbage (Shaughn Buchholz) who just isn’t cut out to be a doctor. Meanwhile, Kelso finds a bird in the hospital and orders Janitor (Neil Flynn) to get rid of it in case it’s carrying a disease. He explains how easy it is for a disease to spread through handshakes and whatnot.
The spread of disease is represented by the colour green, which spreads from person to person whenever they touch each other.
It’s all a bit too close to home, this one.
Anyway, recurring character Mrs Wilk (Michael Learned) is finally ready to be discharged from the hospital and everyone is so happy for her. We love Mrs Wilk, she’s the bloody best.
The episode ends with JD telling Cabbage that he can’t be a doctor. On his way out, Cabbage chucks a pair of infected medical gloves he found on the floor into the bin. And just as he’s about to leave, he thanks Mrs Wilk for always being so kind to him. They shake hands. Mrs Wilk touches her face and then the green slowly spreads across her entire body.
I think with everything going on in the world right now, this scene just terrified me beyond words.
You know what happens next.
‘My Lunch’, S5E20
Maybe if I just write this one straight I won’t cry. Let’s give it a go.
In season 5, episode 20, recurring character Jill (Nicole Sullivan) dies from an apparent overdose, and JD feels horrible that he didn’t do more to help her. Dr Cox helps him get through it, and they use Jill’s donated organs to save three transplant patients. But then it’s later revealed that Jill’s cause of death was actually rabies.
All three transplant patients die in a devastating scene to the tune of ‘How To Save A Life’ by The Fray.
Dr Cox emotionally breaks down, mostly because one of the patients could’ve waited another month for the surgery.
This is such a defining moment in JD’s relationship with Dr Cox, but I can’t write much more about it through these fucking tears.
‘My Long Goodbye’, S6E15
Truth be told, I cried the hardest when Laverne (Aloma Wright) died. And it still makes me so sad.
‘My Last Words’, S8E2
Steak Night, this episode was supposed to be about Steak Night, but JD and Turk put aside their beloved tradition to stay by the side of a dying patient, George (Glynn Turman).
JD and Turk know that George is going to die. His last dying request is a bottle of beer, which JD and Turk get him. Believing that they’ve done enough, the mates leave for Steak Night, only to learn that George lied about having family come visit him. George has no one, he will die alone.
So JD and Turk stay the entire night with George, talking about their lives and his.
“You guys will be here when I wake up?” destroys me every single time.
‘My Finale’, S8E8
As a parting gift, I hope this cheers you up a little bit.
You can catch all season of Scrubs on Stan now.