I love television shows, and I love ranking things. It only makes sense that I combine the two. I’ll be ranking every season of Scrubs, according to science. Science, in this case, means watching every episode and assigning it a score 1-5, with five being amazing and one being not so amazing. Obviously the most important thing is the comedy, but I also give special props to good concepts, unique episodes, and great stories. It’s all on a sliding scale, so a “one” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a terrible episode. I then average the individual episode scores for an entire season, and rank them all according to that final score. For ties, I’m giving the edge to the season that has the stronger “best” episodes, since those are the ones we usually remember. I know, math is scary, but I’ve done all the hard work so that it’s easy for you to agree with me.
If you read my rankings of Parks and Rec, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, or The League, don’t compare the scores. The episode and season scores are only meant to be compared to other episodes and seasons of the same show. Comparing shows to one another is a whole other kind of list that I’m not willing to dive into right now. Maybe someday…
Let me know your favorite season of Scrubs in the comments below, and enjoy the list!
Season Nine – 2.92
Part of me didn’t even want to include season nine on this list, since it was really meant as the first season of a spinoff and the “series” finale in season eight was so perfect, but there were so many returning characters that it basically felt like the same show. There’s nothing offensively bad about season nine; in fact I rated every single episode a three except for one episode, which earned a two and dropped the season to a sub-three rating overall.
I think part of what held it back was its reliance on older characters. I understand including Cox and Turk in the main storylines since it helped bridge the two shows together, but having JD and Elliot come back several times, along with smaller characters like The Todd and Dr. Kelso, took away necessary character development time from our new stars. I actually liked the characters that made up this new version of Scrubs. Lucy was a good surrogate for JD, Cole was annoying and awful in just the right way to make him fun, and Dr. “Joe” Mahoney was a good choice for a returning character from the previous seasons. We just never got enough time to connect with these characters. It also didn’t help that the writing couldn’t hold up to the earlier seasons, which is really what brought Scrubs down in the first place.
Strongest Episodes: Our Role Models, Our Thanks
Weakest Episodes: Our Drunk Friend, Our New Girl-Bro
Season Eight – 3.16
Season eight marked the move from NBC to ABC, which was good for the show and also not so good for the show. Good, because NBC had clearly given up on it in season seven (more on that in a bit), and changing networks allowed the show a real shot at a real finale, but bad because it had already passed the time where Scrubs should have ended.
You can’t blame ABC for wanting the show to continue after making that kind of investment, but it seemed like most of the people involved in the show didn’t have their hearts in it anymore. It might have been for budgetary reasons, but there were more than a few episodes that were missing one or more of the core cast, and asking secondary and tertiary characters to pick up that kind of storytelling slack is not a good idea. It was just clear that the bar had been lowered for the show in general; season eight contains more episodes scored a two than any other season. The finale, at least, was stellar, and enough to justify this season’s existence.
Strongest Episodes: My Finale, My Last Words
Weakest Episodes: My Jerks, My Absence
Season Seven – 3.27
Season seven was when NBC gave up on Scrubs, and I still haven’t fully forgiven them. Sure, the show wasn’t quite what it used to be, but at least let the show go out on a high note! NBC aired the episodes out of order, which completely ruined any momentum of the story. Apparently, they thought the episode “My Princess” had the most interest to it, and they decided to air it as the season finale, despite the fact that it still included Dr. Kelso, a character that had just made his well-handled exit from the show. It was confusing, to say the least.
And that’s not even considering the fact that “My Princess” is quite possibly the worst episode of Scrubs. The entire episode was framed as a fairy tale being told by Dr. Cox to his son, where all of the characters from the show played characters in the fairy tale. It was a neat idea, but just wasn’t written or executed all that well.
Strongest Episodes: My Bad Too, My Dumb Luck
Weakest Episodes: My Princess, My Inconvenient Truth
Season Six – 3.55
You’ll notice quite the spike in scores from season seven to season six. That’s partially due to season six containing so many great episodes like “My Musical” and “My Road to Nowhere,” but also due to season seven being a complete bummer. I was honestly very surprised to see how well the middle seasons of Scrubs held up. In my memory, I always thought seasons 2-4 were the sweet spot, but that didn’t bear out in the scores.
Still, season six wasn’t all that, with some not as great episodes thrown in there. The cracks had started to show. I especially didn’t enjoy the finale of season six. It felt like a forced way to get JD and Elliot back together, not to mention the show didn’t even stick to that course early on in season seven. Still, it can’t be overstated how amazing “My Musical” was. Lots of shows from this era did musical episodes, but Scrubs did it possibly better than anyone else. There are a lot of classic episodes of Scrubs, but “My Musical” still stands out.
Strongest Episodes: My Musical, My Best Friend’s Baby’s Baby and My Baby’s Baby
Weakest Episodes: My Point of No Return, My Friend With Money
Season Two – 3.59
Whereas season one had the benefit of being first and therefore special just by existing, season two had no such advantage. I’m not saying that to rag on season two, only to explain why it rates so relatively low on this list. But it’s also worth mentioning that from here on out, every season of Scrubs up to the number one spot are absolutely fantastic. Some of them are just more fantastic than others.
Season two had the show finding its footing, developing its characters and relationships, and really nailing down the tone. Scrubs was a unique show in that it could have you laughing one moment, then hiding tears less than five minutes later. That’s a special quality in a show, particularly one that dealt with death as often as Scrubs. The second season of a show is often great because that’s where the writers can really explore some of the backstory of characters — which was true of Scrubs, as well. We learned why Dr. Cox and Jordan first broke up and we met Turk’s brother. The show also had a great arc after Turk asked Carla to marry him and didn’t get an immediate answer. Plus, we got the first installment of the “His/Her Story” episodes, where the focused was shifted off JD. Season two was pretty great.
Strongest Episodes: My Dream Job, My Philosophy
Weakest Episodes: My Nightingale, My Big Mouth
Season Three – 3.73
Season three started off in a bit of a weird manner. Apparently, NBC execs didn’t think the females on the show were sexy enough and thought the show was missing out on some younger demographics because of it. They wanted Elliot to look hotter, and wanted the female scrub uniforms to be more form-fitting. If you’re rolling your eyes at this, you aren’t alone. It was a stupid thing to demand, but was — and is — pretty typical of a network when their only concern is numbers, not creativity. Still, the Scrubs writers did the best they could and found a decent story reason for Elliot to get a new haircut and walk around with a metric ton of makeup on her face. Her more confident characterization was a bit inconsistent throughout the season, but I thought it did bring a nice new level to her character.
Season three also contains probably the best episode of Scrubs, “My Screw Up.” I loved the red herring about another patient dying and Ben not even being there the whole time. Cox’s face at the end of the episode was heartbreaking. This was also a great example of Scrubs’ stellar soundtrack throughout the show’s run.
Strongest Episodes: My Best Friend’s Wedding, My Screw Up
Weakest Episodes: My Tormented Mentor, My Rule of Thumb
Season One – 3.79
The first season of Scrubs is definitely one of the best. The show just felt so fresh at the time, and the stories and characters still hold up well. If my fool-proof, scientific ranking system didn’t exist, this would definitely be a tough one to place because it’s so wildly inconsistent. Not that it had many “bad” episodes — “My Nickname” was the only one to earn a two — but it had a huge variety in scores. The “average” episode scored a three, compared to seasons one, four, and five averaging a four. To further illustrate this, season one had five episodes scored a five, more than any other season. Hey, numbers.
But really, it was kind of hard to go back and pick the two best episodes of the season, since there were so many standouts. Most of Scrubs season one falls in line with how most first seasons go on shows. There are some special moments, but there are also plenty of episodes that don’t quite work as the show tries to find its identity and voice. They didn’t make the cut for strongest episodes, but I want to point out the other great episodes in season one, since there were so many fives. Props to “My Old Lady,” “My Occurrence,” and “My Hero.”
Strongest Episodes: My First Day, My Bed Banter and Beyond
Weakest Episodes: My Nickname, My Heavy Meddle
Season Four – 3.88
Going into this journey to rewatch Scrubs, I would have guessed season three or four would end up at the top of the list, mostly because I remember the middle seasons as being the meat of the show, and I remember a lot of favorite episodes in those seasons. Well, it didn’t quite take the top spot, but season four was awesome. It was just a really solid season overall, with only five episodes out of the total twenty-five earning a three. Most everything else was a four.
There were fewer standout episodes, though, with my favorite probably being “My Life in Four Cameras.” It was a fun take on multi-cam sitcoms from the 90s. Shows like that just don’t work for me anymore, despite modern versions like Two and a Half Men and Big Bang Theory being the biggest shows on television. I’m not an idiot, I don’t need the show to tell me where the jokes are. But, I digress. As you’re about to read, season four really showcases that on these rankings, having more knockout episodes is better than providing consistent quality.
Strongest Episodes: My Life in Four Cameras, My Cake
Weakest Episodes: My New Game, My Malpractice Decision
Season Five – 4.00
Season five earns the top spot for three major storylines: Mrs. Wilk dying, Dr. Cox accidentally killing his patients, and introducing Kim. Most of the highlights from this season can be traced back to those storylines. I was honestly surprised to see season five take the top spot when I went through and ranked these, but it makes sense.
First, the storyline with Mrs. Wilk was a heartbreaker — freaking Cabbage and his murderous, glowing green hands. Then, Dr. Cox was responsible for his patients dying when they received transplants from a patient that died from rabies. The moment between JD and Cox at the end of “My Tormented Mentor” was beautiful. And then there’s Kim, who was a breath of fresh air for the show. Elizabeth Banks is a damn national treasure. I liked the shock ending of her being pregnant because it felt like something that could happen in real life. Too many shows feel like fantasy worlds where there are no lasting consequences for the characters’ actions, and this was different. I don’t love that JD and Kim didn’t end up together because the show was obsessed with JD and Elliot making it work, despite them being a terrible couple. But that’s an argument for another day.
Strongest Episodes: My Fallen Idol, My Five Stages
Weakest Episodes: My Buddy’s Booty, Her Story II
So there you have it, all nine seasons of Scrubs ranked according to science. Surprised? I know I was. That’s part of the fun of making these rankings, it rarely works out the way you anticipate. So, let me know your favorite episodes and seasons of Scrubs in the comments below, be sure to check out my ranking of The Office seasons, and thanks for reading!