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The 10 Best Episodes of Scrubs: From "My First Day" to "My Finale"
If you're looking for the absolute best of Scrubs, get ready.
It's been more than a decade since the last episode aired, and more than two decades since it premiered, but Scrubs remains one of the most beloved sitcoms of the 21st century so far, and with good reason.
The medical comedy created by Bill Lawrence (Ted Lasso) and starring Zach Braff, Donald Faison, Sarah Chalke, and John C. McGinley immediately set itself apart as the kind of single-camera comedy that was never afraid to blend the silly and the serious, making for episodes that are as gut-busting as they are heart-wrenching, sometimes in the same scene. It was a formula that earned the show lots of acclaim, and a passionate fanbase that's still attached to the characters to this day. It also means that, if you look back at the show's nearly 200 episodes, you'll find a lot of great ones.
RELATED: The Best Guest Stars in Scrubs
With Scrubs now streaming on Peacock for all your rewatching (or first-time watching) pleasure, we thought we'd take our own look back at the very best the series ever managed. Here are our picks for the 10 best episodes of Scrubs.
The Very Best Episodes of Scrubs
"My First Day" (Season 1, Episode 1)
The one that started it all really is a Scrubs classic, and not just because it succeeds in setting the tone. As the title suggests, the episode followed Dr. John "J.D." Dorian (Braff) and his best friend Chris Turk (Faison) as they begin their internships at Sacred Heart hospital. "My First Day" does a great job showing us the strange and often surprising flights of fantasy in J.D.'s brain as he narrates the episode, but it's also a masterclass in introducing a lot of characters and a lot of stakes all at once, from Dr. Cox (McGinley) to Elliot Reed (Chalke) to the unending rivalry between J.D. and the hospital's mysterious Janitor (Neil Flynn).
"My Own American Girl" (Season 3, Episode 1)
Though she's introduced as J.D.'s love interest, Dr. Elliot Reed eventually grows well beyond her connections to other characters and into one of Scrubs' most fascinating and relatable personalities, standing alone as one of the show's leads. "My Own American Girl," the Season 3 premiere, isn't just about Elliot, but it is a showcase for the character coming out of her shell, embracing her own agency, and doing her best to carve a path forward that allows her to assert herself in ways she never has before. It's a great showcase for Chalke, and a harbinger of things to come for the character.
"My Screw Up" (Season 3, Episode 14)
If you're looking for what's arguably the most emotionally devastating episode Scrubs ever filmed, look no further than this Season 3 classic, featuring Brendan Fraser guest-starring as Dr. Cox's brother-in-law, Ben. We're hesitant to say more about the shape of the story for those who've still never seen the series, but this one routinely makes the rounds on lists of the most emotional episodes of TV ever for a reason. Just watch it and you'll understand.
"My Life in Four Cameras" (Season 4, Episode 17)
Because J.D.'s imagination is so vivid, and plays such a huge role in the format of the show, Scrubs often had the freedom to shape entire episodes around this fantasy world, changing its format and storytelling style along the way. "My Life in Four Cameras" is, as the title suggests, a classic example of this, transforming the series into a more traditional sitcom complete with a studio audience, different lighting, and an entirely different tone for many characters. It's an ambitious, funny, and spot-on homage to a certain kind of TV comedy, and a satisfying episode of Scrubs too.
"My Way Home" (Season 5, Episode 7)
One of the most famous episodes of the series, "My Way Home" is Scrubs' tribute to The Wizard of Oz, and follows what happens when J.D. gets called into the hospital on his day off, only to find things are just a little different than when he left. The tributes to the classic Oz film are easy to spot, but what makes the episode so wonderful isn't just visual homages. There's a real magic in the storytelling as well, a sense of uplift that, even by Scrubs standards, makes it a particular delight.
"My Five Stages" (Season 5, Episode 13)
Though Scrubs is about the doctors and staff of Sacred Heart, it also finds plenty of time to craft memorable, lovable patients for the staff to befriend and care for, and few were ever as lovable as Mrs. Wilk (Michael Learned), a kind older woman who's so nice she's won over both J.D. and Dr. Cox. Sadly, Mrs. Wilk has also caught a terminal infection, sending both doctors into a grieving process neither is fully prepared for. This episode is J.D. and Cox's attempt to cope with the loss of the woman they've come to know and love, complete with fulfilling her last wishes and, of course, figuring out how to say goodbye. It's one of the most emotionally affecting episodes of the series, and a reminder of just how good Scrubs is at fleshing out every corner of its ensemble.
"My Fallen Idol" (Season 5, Episode 21)
Yes, Season 5 of Scrubs really is that good. The show hit its stride with these episodes, and nowhere is that more apparent than "My Fallen Idol." The episode follows J.D. attempting to cope with Dr. Cox's downward spiral after the loss of several patients at once (see the previous episode, "My Lunch," for the devastating details), and Cox's own despair over his failure. It's a hard, unrelenting look at guilt and grief, and it culminates in what might be the single most moving moment in the entire show.
"My Musical" (Season 6, Episode 6)
Yes, there is a Scrubs musical, and fortunately for everyone, it's one of the musical episodes in TV history that really delivers. In "My Musical," a patient at Sacred Heart (Stephanie D'Abruzzo) develops an unexpected neurological condition that means she hears everything the staff is saying in the form of song and dance numbers, giving the entire Scrubs ensemble the chance to go Broadway with things for a single episode. It's funny, it's clever, and it's even emotionally powerful by the end.
"My Long Goodbye" (Season 6, Episode 15)
We've talked a lot about the power of the Scrubs ensemble, and over the course of the series, one of the best examples of that power comes in the form of Aloma Wright as Nurse Laverne Roberts, Sacred Heart's sassy and no-nonsense voice of reason. Following the previous episode, "My No Good Reason," Laverne lays dying in a bed at Sacred Heart, and every major character on the show stops by to say their farewell, commenting on how Laverne changed their lives and what she means to the hospital and, by extension, the show. It's a remarkably effective farewell to a supporting character, and another example of Scrubs really tugging the heart strings when it counts.
"My Finale" (Season 8, Episodes 18 and 19)
"My Finale" is, despite the title, not the final episode of Scrubs. The show would live on for one more season on another network, with a new set of interns at the helm alongside many of the original cast, but "My Finale" is an ending of sorts for the series. The two-part episode is a farewell to Sacred Heart as we knew it for eight seasons, namely the Sacred Heart shown through the eyes of J.D. It's his goodbye to the hospital, to the staff, to the life he built there and the people he built it with, and even if you know there's a Season 9 coming after it, that does nothing to diminish its power. It's one of the most satisfying sitcom endings of all time, and a beautiful goodbye to the show's distinctive original storyteller.
Every great episode of Scrubs is now streaming on Peacock. And if you want more from Donald Faison, check out his new show, Extended Family, airing Tuesdays at 8:30/7:30c on NBC, with all episodes available to stream next day on Peacock.