- “You seem unhappy. I like that.”— Janitor
"My Best Friend's Mistake" is the third episode of Scrubs' first season. J.D. only has 48 hours to kiss Elliot before he is stuck in the "friend zone." Turk gets to close a patient for the first time. Elliot accuses Dr. Kelso of being sexist when he calls her "sweetheart" during rounds.
J.D. and Elliot start to get closer to each other. While they're talking about their stressful work days, they start flirting, as if on a date. Elliot acts as though she wants to kiss J.D., but he is not sure if she's joking. He decides to go for it, but before he can, Dr. Cox enters the room and breaks the mood. Now J.D. is under pressure to kiss Elliot, because he only has 48 hours before they both start overthinking things, she gets too invested in the idea of him as a friend, and he gets stuck in "the friend zone."
Meanwhile, Turk and Carla have begun dating. Turk gets to close a patient, Mr. Bidwell, for the first time. And Elliot gets in trouble when she confronts Dr. Kelso because he called her "sweetheart" during rounds and she thought it was sexist. Later, Mr. Bidwell's condition worsens, and J.D. fears that Turk forgot something inside of him during surgery. It turns out, however, that J.D. gave Mr. Bidwell insulin even though he was diabetic. Turk realizes this before J.D. and helps him out.
Only then does J.D. realize that he has just 30 seconds left to kiss Elliot. He rushes to her but just misses the deadline—and she only wants to talk. J.D. is disappointed, and in his imagination, he is now stuck in the friend zone.
- J.D. is kicked out of Sacred Heart and becomes homeless, offering "physicals for food," or he and Elliot get married and have a threesome.
- Dr. Kelso wears a red velvet jacket and smokes a pipe while seducing Elliot.
- Turk runs out of a room so quickly that the remote is still in the air after he has left.
- A patient and then Nurse Roberts turn into Turk and tell J.D. the truth he doesn't want to hear.
- Ted sings and dresses like Elvis.
- J.D. enters "the friend zone"—a closet full of people who were friends with Elliot but wanted more.
The Janitor generally makes life hard for J.D., commenting that his unhappiness pleases him. He later locks J.D. out of the hospital while J.D. is short on time.
Episode running gags
- Dr. Wen plays Erasure's "A Little Respect" during surgery. Turk, who hates the song, says it's "like a virus," and he and other characters sing lyrics from it at various points in the episode.
- Whenever J.D. sees or thinks about Elliot, a timer appears on the screen. This timer displays how much time is left before J.D. is in the friend zone.
- Dr. Cox flicks J.D.'s ear whenever J.D. comes to him for help with a personal problem.
- Charles Chun as Dr. Wen
- Max Kerstein as Mr. Bidwell
- P.D. Mani as Dr. Simotas
- Robert Munns as Mr. Kavanaugh
- Vanessa Marshall as Becky
- David Martel as Guy (My Best Friend's Mistake)
- Alpheus Merchant as Sleeping Patient
- John Brantley Cole Jr. as Guy #2
- "A Little Respect" by Erasure
- “You seem unhappy. I like that.”— Janitor
- “And you, you neurotic one-woman freak show, take your blah-blah to the blah-blah-ologist.”— Dr. Cox to Elliot
- When Dr. Cox is talking to Elliot about confronting Dr. Kelso, he swears to Allah, which is dubbed over with "Aisha" (possibly to avoid controversy).
- Dr. Cox doesn't call J.D. a girl's name in this episode.
- Turk plays basketball for the first time in the series.
- Ted sings for the first time in the series. This episode implies that he's a terrible singer, but future episodes show he's actually very talented, and his a capella group appears regularly.
- At the beginning of the scene where J.D. and Elliot are in a patient's room, about to kiss, a microphone is visible at the top of the screen.
- In the same scene, when Dr. Cox enters the room, a stagehand is visible lying along the bottom left of the door, perhaps to swing it open without John C. McGinley getting caught in it and breaking his stride.
- Elliot has no problem saying "penis," although she struggles with saying it and "vagina" in later episodes.
- When Turk asks J.D. if Nurse Roberts gave him his shoes, Turk is wearing the shoes that she gave him. However, two minutes before that scene, he is wearing green shoes.
- When Turk jumps at J.D. during the basketball game, the sound effect heard is from The Six Million Dollar Man.
- This episode was originally written as Episode Two.