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Pretty sneaky, Death.J.D.

"My Old Lady" is the fourth episode of Scrubs' first season. J.D. tries to convince his 74-year-old patient, Mrs. Tanner (Kathryn Joosten), to start dialysis in order to prolong her life. Turk becomes friends with a patient, David Morrison, after they watch a football game together. Elliot learns Spanish from Carla so she can talk to her patient, Mrs. Guerrero.


Mrs. Tanner escapes from Sacred Heart

J.D., Turk and Elliot each get a patient. Statistically, one of the three is going to die. J.D.'s patient is a 74-year-old woman, Mrs. Tanner. Turk has to perform surgery on David Morrison, and Elliot's patient, Mrs. Guerrero, only speaks Spanish.

All three of them try to get close to their patients and talk to them. At one point, Mrs. Tanner leaves the hospital to celebrate her granddaughter's birthday in the park. J.D. shows up and takes her back to the hospital. Turk and David watch a classic football game on TV, and Elliot learns some Spanish from Carla to be able to talk to Mrs. Guerrero.

In the end, all three of the patients die, and the young doctors have their first experience with death. Mrs. Tanner chooses to die because she thinks she is old enough and doesn't want to have dialysis, while Turk's and Elliot's patients died because their doctors couldn't do anything to save them.

Recurring themes

     More: FantasiesFlashbacksJ.D.'s girl namesJanitor's pranks and lies

J.D. plays with Death


  • J.D. rewinds time to take back a comment he made to Elliot and Carla, only to say it again.
  • Mrs. Tanner escapes from Sacred Heart as if it were a prison.
  • J.D. pushes Samantha Tanner's face into her birthday cake.
  • J.D. and the Grim Reaper play Connect 4, and the Grim Reaper wins (diagonally—pretty sneaky).
  • A ton of bricks falls on J.D.

Janitor story

Janitor threatens J.D., and later intimidates him with a floor waxer.

Guest stars

Kathryn Joosten as Mrs. Tanner


     List of music featured in Scrubs

  • "Dracula from Houston" by The Butthole Surfers
  • "Hallelujah" by John Cale


Carla and Elliot turn on J.D.

Hello? I'm the doctor!J.D.

[family continues to bicker]
I'm... I'm... I'm the doctor.

What are you, 16?Tommy Tanner
Oh, this is unacceptable.Gina Tanner
What'd you have, like, coupons to this hospital, Ma?
I should—we should have gone to my doctor.
Now, that's enough! Now, sure, he's young, but he's probably a very good doctor. [to J.D.] Are you a good doctor?Mrs. Tanner
It's kinda too soon to tell.

J.D. rewinds his mistake

I'm a chunky monkey from funky town.Elliot

I'm gonna have a little trouble translating that.Carla

'Neat?' Dude, the 1930s called, and they want their lingo back.Turk

I feel like you're missing out. Like, this Mrs. Tanner, she's got this... incredible energy and... and warmth.J.D.

Dude, the League of Women Voters called, and they want to know where to send your membership info.Turk
You're using that "somebody called" joke a lot.

I know, I can't help it. I got a hernia patient to take care of.

J.D. is hit with a ton of bricks

What's his name?

Well, his name is Hernia Patient, but we've gotten close, so I like to call him 'Hernia.'
He must feel so safe and taken care of.

Shut up.

Speaking of heparin, have you slept with Turk yet?Elliot

J.D. sits with Mrs. Tanner

Sweetie, I'm 74 years old. I'm ready to go.Mrs. Tanner

Yeah, but with dialysis, you could live another... 80 or 90 years.J.D.


Turk talks with David's father

  • Zach Braff said that he was mad at Sarah Chalke while filming this episode. In the final scene, J.D. does not look at Elliot and interacts only with Turk and Carla.
  • Dr. Cox doesn't call J.D. a girl's name.
  • First appearance of the Grim Reaper and Lloyd.
  • The line Mrs. Tanner says in Japanese means, "I lived in Kyoto for about five years."
  • The Connect 4 scene is a parody of a Connect 4 commercial from the 1970s, which features similar dialogue. It also parodies The Seventh Seal, in which a knight plays chess against the Grim Reaper.
  • J.D. tries to cheat when he plays Connect 4 with the Grim Reaper. He has placed eight chips, while the Reaper has only placed six.
  • This is the first episode to use the Fantasy Flash.
  • When Turk is with his patient and says, "Thanks, I'll take your fruit cup," he leaves the room with a red Jell-O.
  • Turk states that "the Catch" is "Joe Montana to Dwight Clark, NFL championship game, no time left on the clock." However, there were 51 seconds left on the clock at the time of "the Catch."
  • In the "ton of bricks" fantasy, J.D. flinches a second before the bricks fall on him.
  • In the "rewinding" fantasy, Carla first says, "If she's from El Barrio, she must not like music," but the second time, she says, "If she grew up in El Barrio, she must not like classical music."
  • The name tag that Dr. Cox wears when he first enters Elliot's patient's room says "Paul Cox."
  • The music in two of the sequences was changed by the time the episode got to DVD. The music when it originally aired included a song called "Why We Gotta Die?"
  • This episode won the 2002 Humanitas Prize in the 30-minute category and was nominated for the 2002 Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series.
  • "Push thrombolytics" is not a real medical phrase. Creator Bill Lawrence said in the DVD commentary that it was used because the writers knew it would annoy the show's medical consultants.
  • When Turk's patient, David, dies on the table and Turk looks over at the heart rate monitor, in the top left corner the monitor is displaying the time: 14:23:24–14:23:27. But the scene is set at night, and when Turk is talking with David's father, it is night.