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Vulture Festival 2018: Scrubs Reunion Highlights

I might have to go re-watch some episodes of Scrubs in the near future. I was a huge fan of the show and revisiting many funny moments — and also some very serious and poignant ones — with the cast at the reunion panel was pretty great. And the chemistry and love and respect this group of people had and still have for each other was so apparent in the way they interacted with one another on stage. I always love reunion panels and this one felt really special. Here are some highlights.

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On how Scrubs got weirder over the years

Bill Lawrence: “The way the show became weird, quite honestly, was we lived in a time that once your show had a very passionate fan base, which you all are a part of, you knew you could stay on for a while. I think when people are enjoying [it], we pledged early on, even if we ever went down with the ship, to do stuff we thought was funny and made us all laugh.

I knew we had a really talented writing staff, but also with actors and actresses, I can’t tell you how many lines people have come up to me and said, ˜I really loved that, and I know one of these people made it up on their feet. And you know what I say? ‘Thank you.’ I’m modest.

I think that the show was able to evolve because we had a fan base that followed us from time slot to time slot, year to year.”

On favorite fantasy sequences or if anything ever got too weird

Zach Braff: “One thing I always thought was funny was that sometimes they’d let something go through to the reality world that was completely a fantasy. Neil [Flynn] literally built a home-size sand castle and he was living in it in the parking lot. [Audience laughs.] That was not the fantasy world.”

Neil Flynn: “I remember you saying, ‘We’re not fantasizing in the moment. This exists.'”

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Bill: “Look. It’s a slippery slope. You guys were all around for some of our mistakes. I remember I directed an episode that I believe that Turk used to smuggle JD into movie theaters in his backpack.”

Zach: “We did this shot where I was literally in a backpack. My head was through a table, there but a fake leg going up. I look back and no, that wasn’t a fantasy. I was in the backpack.”

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On if anything went too far

Sarah Chalke: “The fantasies were all of our favorite things to do. I got to make out with the hot ladies like Judy Reyes, Mandy Moore. There was one fantasy where Bill and I, we were so excited, because it was the first fantasy idea to be a nerd, in head-gear with lots of zits and we’re having fun with it.

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I came down and Bill was like, ‘What is on your lip?’ And I was like, ‘It’s a cornflake. It’s supposed to be a cold sore.’ He was like, ‘No. Lose the cornflake.’ Too far. Too far.”

Bill: “I shouldn’t have to say, ‘Lose the cornflake coldsore,’ to somebody.”

Christa Miller: “My favorite thing, though, is if you would read a script — I shouldn’t say this because Bill’s such a brilliant writer, it would say the Janitor says whatever.”

Bill: “When we couldn’t think of a Janitor line, sometimes we would write, in the script, it would say Janitor. Underneath it would say, ‘Neil, say something funny.’ [Audience laughs.]

One of the ‘Neil say something funny’ things was you had to explain why you had killed a duck once. And you invented a riff.”

On Judy Reyes always playing it straight in her scenes

Judy Reyes: “I would go to him at least yearly.”

Bill: “Every year Judy would come in.”

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Judy: “‘Why don’t I have any jokes?'”

Bill: “She would go, ‘I’m funny too. I’m funny as shit.’

These shows only work if you can have someone that can ground it and make it seem real. Judy could help us with gears to the pathos and the drama and emotional stuff in the show. She’s such a good actress. It’s one of the main things that made the show.”

On pushing relationships in new directions

Bill: “This is how TV shows evolve, you guys. We became a family working together and enjoying each other. Ken Jenkins and John C. McGinley had such a good relationship in real life and were such cantankerous antagonists on the show. I really enjoyed the end when we made them friends.

It mattered to me on a personal level because I could watch those two to do scenes. Instead of being mean to each other, they were treating each other like they did in real life.”

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On the JD/Turk relationship

Donald Faison: “I think after we sang Guy Love, I knew. This relationship would last.”

Zach: “Once you sing a love song into another man’s eyes, about his hands being inside of you…”

Donald: “It was surgery.” [Audience laughs.]

On having great minor/secondary characters

Bill: “One of the philosophies of the show early on, we were talking as a staff, was to do it like The Simpsons. On our show, they all have to be funny. They pop on their own. We decided to fill our world with all these odd ducks.”

Robert Maschio makes a surprise appearance.

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Bill: “All jokes aside, I want to give a shout out. One of the things that made the show work was that everybody felt that their job, rightfully so, was the most important.

Whether it was Sam Lloyd playing Ted, with my favorite a capella group of all time or Alona Wright plays Nurse Roberts, the people we brought into this world, some of them are here, I want to thank them and thank you guys for liking them so much.”

On having to change any story or plot details

Zach: “We only shot one thing ever that Bill had to throw out. It was a medicinal marijuana [episode.]”

Bill: “I don’t want to make a dumb point, but this was how screwed up network television is. They would not let us do a story about getting medicinal marijuana for somebody that was having trouble with chemo and cancer.”

So to make a point, I said, ‘What if the patient that’s dying is a virgin and wants to have sex for the first time. And Carla and Elliot want to go looking for a male prostitute for her?’ They go, ‘Oh, that’s fine.'”

Condensed and edited for space and content.

  • If they ever revisit these characters, it will be as a short movie or something and would want to see where everyone is in their lives.
  • Also, we didn’t get to see the poison dance live on stage, but here it is for your viewing pleasure:

All 9 seasons of Scrubs are streaming on Hulu now.

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