Bill Lawrence and a few of the writers jokingly claim that Neil Flynn (The Janitor) has never actually spoken a line from any script. A fourth season script reportedly even contained "(Whatever Neil says)". While Lawrence's comment is certainly an exaggeration, it illustrates how much of his performance is spontaneous.
Dr. Cox's trademark nose rub before crossing his arms is a reference to Robert Redford in The Sting (1973). Redford used it as a sign for "It's O.K.", or "Go Ahead". John C. McGinley added it himself as a tribute to the film.
Several characters, including Colonel Doctor, Snoop Dogg Intern, and Dr. Beardface started as extras, and were referred to by these names by the cast and crew, who did not know their real names, but were later written into episodes with speaking roles.
Creator Bill Lawrence has said in interviews that he wanted this show to be almost like a live-action The Simpsons (1989), not only in the style of humor, but also with the numerous high-profile guests and a fairly large cast of recurring characters. In a 2006 episode, J.D. commented that Grey's Anatomy (2005) was so realistic, that "it's almost like someone was watching our lives and put it on television", a joke borrowed from an early '90s The Simpsons (1989) episode, saying the same of Dinosaurs (1991).
During any episode where J.D. is not the narrator, he must usually make physical contact with the person who will be the narrator to pass off the responsibility. When narration is passed back to J.D. at the end of the episode, the former narrator must contact J.D. to give it back to him.
Unusual for a series, no one character appears in every episode. The closest to hold this achievement are John C. McGinley (Dr. Cox) and Donald Faison (Turk), who are absent from three episodes each. Following them are Ken Jenkins (Bob Kelso) and Zach Braff (J.D.), who are absent from seven and eight episodes, respectively.
For the first eight seasons, almost every episode title begins with the word "My". Notable exceptions are the episodes titled "His Story", "His Story II", "Her Story", "Her Story II", "His Story III", and ''His Story IV''. These episodes each contained internal narration from a character other than J.D. (Dr. Cox, Turk, Elliot, Carla, The Janitor, and Dr. Kelso, respectively). There is also "Their Story" in which we hear the thoughts of Ted, the Todd, and Jordan. In "Their Story II", the thoughts of three interns are followed. Starting with season nine, every episode title starts with "Our".
The network leased and refurbished a closed hospital (North Hollywood Medical Center in the San Fernando Valley in California) for the program. The lower and upper floors of the hospital are used as other sets and production offices.
In one episode, J.D. daydreams about winning an award at a ceremony hosted by Dr. Cox. When he breaks out of his trance, he smirks and utters to himself "Take that, Tony Shalhoub!" This is a comic reference to the fact that Zach Braff lost his only Primetime Emmy nomination for this show to Shalhoub for his role in Monk (2002), as well as the fact that Shalhoub won a grand total of three Emmys for this role by the end of the show's run.
Many episodes contain some form of the phrase "And there it is" in its dialogue, usually when the moral or theme of that episode is revealed. Usually J.D. delivers this line, but sometimes other characters are given this responsibility.
The only girls names Dr. Cox has used more than once are Lily, Ginger, Shirley, Gidget, Marcia, Gloria, Janice, Betsy, Carol, Toto, Nancy, and Brittany, which J.D. points out to Dr. Cox, who responds with "Today, I'm going with famous pop-stars."
Through the first season, the cast and crew, especially Writer and Creator Bill Lawrence, were so sure that the series would be cancelled by the end of the season, that a plot twist was created for use when they'd have a forced series finale. This plot twist noted the fact that The Janitor (Neil Flynn) never directly spoke, nor was spoken to by any other character than J.D. (Zach Braff). Therefore, The Janitor would be a complete figment of J.D.'s imagination. This idea was kept up into the second season, still in fear of cancellation, until Flynn asked Lawrence to be able to finally interact with another cast member on the series. Although Elliot (Sarah Chalke) throws a cup at him in the sixth episode, and sarcastically says "SORRY!", in episode eleven, he gets punched on the balls by a little girl, and in episode fifteen, The Janitor teases the nurse with the vacuum cleaner. In episode twenty the janitor talks a patient of J.D.'s into getting surgery.
At the beginning of the second season, a longer intro was introduced that included all of the characters in the show, and not just the doctors. It was quickly scuttled when NBC decided to extend the length of the episodes in an attempt to win more viewers.
Season eight was originally supposed to be the show's finale, but Creator Bill Lawrence decided to add a ninth season (and not doing a spin-off). As a result, the show changed significantly. Season nine became known under the title "Scrubs: Med School", J.D. was no longer the central character, a lot of new actors and actresses were cast, and the episode titles no longer started with "My...", but with "Our...". The whole show was eventually cancelled after season nine.
A list of the languages the characters know as revealed throughout the episodes. Elliot speaks German and French, Turk knows very little French, and he learns Spanish for Carla. Dr. Cox and Carla speak Spanish, and The Janitor knows sign language, and also speaks Spanish and Korean. J.D. also speaks a bit of Turkish, when a Turkish doctor tries to steal his pudding for the second time. Ted also speaks some Korean. Dr.Kelso speaks Vietnamese.
The third floor of the hospital, where this show was filmed, had been renovated to be offices for the crew and producers, and dressing rooms for the cast. The show's staff and cast were allowed to bring their dogs to work, and they all stay on the third floor. Donald Faison (Turk) was not a fan of the dogs, and was seemingly left quite a few presents by the dogs right in front of his door. Actually, fellow cast member, Robert Maschio (The Todd), collected the dog feces and placed them in front of Donald Faison's dressing room door. Maschio revealed this for the first time in a video for the DVD release of the show. It was put on the third season DVD special features. During Faison's interview, he was still unaware it was Maschio, and not the dogs leaving him the presents.
Dr. Perry Cox is named after a former High School English teacher Bill Lawrence had. It is simply a coincidence that the surnames of the only two major cast members from his previous show, Friends (1994), who had guest appearances on this show, are Matthew Perry and Courteney Cox.
While Bill Lawrence stated on Facebook that The Janitor's real name was Glenn Matthews, this was in conflict with season three, episode eight, "My Friend the Doctor", where J.D. sees The Janitor playing the role of the Transit Cop in The Fugitive (1993). At the end of the episode, The Janitor admits that it was him playing that role. The role of the Transit Cop was played by an actor named "Neil Flynn", indicating that The Janitor's actual name also had to be Neil Flynn. However, it is possible that, like many actors and actresses, Glenn Matthews went by the stage name of "Neil Flynn".
As an experiment, the season five finale, "My Transition", was finished and aired in High Definition. This was the first network show to complete an on-line edit in Final Cut Pro SD, and with this episode, became the first network show to online in High Definition in Final Cut Pro. However, the show continued to be produced in Standard Definition. According to Producer Randall Keenan Winston: "After a lot of teasing, yes, the HD was an experiment, for everyone really. We will not be doing any more HD, there is a cost that no one is interested in covering, and there is debate, not amongst us here at the show, about how the quality stands up. I don't think that we can get the look that the show is designed around by using tape."
Includes several references to Friends (1994), including numerous references to Elliot and J.D. being like Rachel and Ross. Courtney Cox and Matthew Perry, who played Monica and Chandler on Friends (1994), also guest starred on this show.
Due to budget cuts during season eight, the writing staff was split into two groups (one for episodes one through seven, the other for episodes eight through eighteen). Additionally, each regular cast member was absent for three episodes during the season (two in the case of Zach Braff and Sarah Chalke).
In season one, episode nineteen, "My Old Man", while Eliot and Turk are giving their presentation, a doctor is shown wearing a name badge that reads, "Dr. Hunter S. Thompson". Hunter S. Thompson was an American author who wrote "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" and "The Rum Diaries".
The show has some connections to the abbreviation "TCW". Donald Faison starred in Remember the Titans (2000), whose high school was "TCW". J.D. dated a girl, who was called "TCW" (Tasty Coma Wife), and then it is shown in season six, episode fourteen, "My No Good Reason", as being from a school with the initials "TCW".
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
J.D.'s father's (John Ritter's) final line when he asks J.D. to pull his finger and then says, "I pooed a little", was improvised, and Zach Braff had to bite the insides of his cheeks to keep himself from laughing.
It was presumed to be revealed in the season eight finale, that The Janitor's real name is "Glenn Matthews". However, after J.D. walks away, someone walks by The Janitor, and calls him "Tommy". In a Facebook post by Bill Lawrence, on April 13, 2011, he confirmed that The Janitor was telling the truth when he revealed his name as Glenn Matthews also in "My Soul on Fire" the Janitor's name is about to be revealed during his wedding vows to Lady but he is interrupted before he can finish another instance of the Janitor keeping his name a secret is in one episode where he cups his name over his badge before J.D. can read it.
In the episode where Ben dies you can spot the moment where he is no longer alive and just a figment of Dr. Cox's imagination. While he is still alive he makes a comment about having his camera on him until the day that he dies, and in that episode after he has passed he no longer has his camera in the rest of the episode.