Scrubs Wiki

Janitor and J.D. as clowns. ("His Story II")

Scrubs is a situational comedy television program, therefore it's purpose is to entertain mainly through laughter. The series does have its poignant and dramatic moments, but it utilizes a multitude of comedic techniques to make the audience laugh.

Absurd humor

Janitor's squirrel army. ("My First Kill")

Absurd humor, often seen in J.D.'s fantasies, is when something that is shown or said is too outrageous to be true. Many times, the joke is so absurd that the audience never saw it coming, and the resulting surprise is humorous. Or, if a statement is too absurd to be true, but ends up being true (within the reality of the Scrubs universe) it can be comical. Typically, everything Janitor says or does is absurd.


  • Janitor built a giant sand castle in the parking lot of Sacred Heart. ("My Five Stages")
  • Janitor has an entire Squirrel army made of taxidermied squirrels. ("My First Kill")
  • In a fantasy, J.D. and Turk bury Turk's testicle and a clone of Turk grows out of the ground. ("My Manhood")

Cultural references

Kill Bill ("My Female Trouble")

Main article: Cultural references

A cultural reference is a nod to anything that exists in reality. Scrubs has referred to many things, such as Grey's Anatomy, Lost, Harry Potter, Michael Jordan, Hugh Jackman, and even trends such as the Atkins diet. Many pop culture references are either re-enacted or mocked in fantasies.



J.D. fantasizes about receiving a unicorn. ("My Number One Doctor")

Main article: Fantasies

One of the most distinctive elements of Scrubs is its use of fantasies or daydreaming. Nearly every episode includes at least one. Typically they are spurred from a thought, from something a nearby person says, or from a posed hypothetical question. They are a wide range of possibilities because they are imagined, and can therefore utilize multiple types of comedic techniques within, such as:


  • As a caveman, J.D. sneaks out from a cavewoman's bed the morning after. ("My Buddy's Booty")
  • Dr. Cox and Dr. Kelso fight like Jedi. ("My Two Dads")
  • Turk gives J.D. a unicorn, and he figures out it is fake. He then awakes to another fantasy, where the unicorn is fake again. ("My Number One Doctor")

Ironic humor

J.D. plays second fiddle in his own fantasy. ("My Fifteen Minutes")

Ironic humor occurs when either the audience or a character expect one thing, but another happens. The audience can be in on the joke and know that they character is about to be surprised.


  • J.D. impregnated Kim without actually having sex with her. ("My Mirror Image")
  • After voicing his disdain toward Halloween, Dr. Kelso tormented the staff of Sacred Heart in a gorilla costume. ("My Big Brother")
  • In his own fantasy, J.D. was Robin while Turk was Batman. ("My Fifteen Minutes")

Meta references

"My Life in Four Cameras" was shot as a multi-camera studio audience sitcom.

Main article: Meta references

Meta humor occurs within Scrubs when it either refers to itself as a television show, or when the show references the fantasy technique.


  • The episode "My Life in Four Cameras" reflects on the sitcom genre.
  • J.D. falls into a fantasy, and Todd must wait for him to snap out of it. ("Their Story")
  • J.D. jokes that he likes Grey's Anatomy because its "It's like they've been watching our lives and then just put it on TV." ("My Buddy's Booty")

Physical humor

J.D. gets a wedgie. ("My Kingdom")

Physical humor is any use of the body to get a laugh. A common technique is the pratfall. Other types of physical comedy include:

  • Comedic injuries
  • Dancing
  • Funny faces


Comedy Comedic TechniquesPratfallRecurring gagsSlow Motion GirlsNicknames
Drama Dramatic TechniquesMusic
Themes ApprovalEducationFamilyFriendshipLife and DeathLoveMentorshipRivalriesSex
Alternate realityBreaking the fourth wallClip showCultural referencesFantasiesFlashbacksJanitor storyMeta referencesNarratorsStory episodes e