Was the Janitor on Scrubs Originally Just a Figment of J.D.’s Imagination?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.

TV URBAN LEGEND: Janitor was written in the first season and a half of Scrubs as though he was a figment of J.D.’s imagination.

Scrubs was on the air for nine seasons and it even survived a move from NBC (where it was for Seasons 1-7) to ABC (Season 8-9), but when it began, creator Bill Lawrence did not expect his quirky comedy to last past a season (and early on, it was not clear that it WOULD).

Due to this knowledge that the show might be canceled at any given time, Lawrence wrote the entire first season a certain way so that, if the show was canceled, he would be able to give it a nice twist ending.

Read on to see what it would have been!

One of the most popular supporting characters on the show is The Janitor (whose name has yet to be revealed), the bizarre nemesis of lead character John “JD” Dorian.


Eventually, the Janitor became a regular cast member, and was since Season 2. However, when he began, he was just a recurring character, and what Lawrence made sure to do was to have The Janitor only interact directly with JD during season one.

The Janitor DID have some mild interactions with other people, but they were mostly instances where you were not positive that the other person definitely WAS talking to the Janitor or you were not positive that said interaction was not part of JD’s daydreams (a big part of the show is JD’s vivid daydreams about wacky situations).

The reason for this is that Lawrence was going to reveal, at the end of the season (if the show was canceled) that the Janitor actually was just a figment of JD’s imagination (Lawrence revealed this on the commentary on the Scrubs DVDs)!!

Even when the show was renewed for season two, Lawrence figured that the show was not in good shape to start, so he was planning to use the same reveal if it was canceled soon into the second season. However, decent ratings coupled with actor Neil Flynn (who plays the Janitor)’s request that he have scenes with actors other than Zach Braff (who plays JD) finally led to Lawrence giving up the plan and, in a Season Two episode, had the Janitor interact with another character, Donald Faison’s Turk.

Still, it was a long commitment by Lawrence to a bit, and it is to be commended!

NOTE: There WAS a moment in Season 1 where he sure seemed to interact with Sarah Chalke’s character, Elliot, but I guess that was just a screw-up.

The legend is…


Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future urban legends columns! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com

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5 Responses to “Was the Janitor on Scrubs Originally Just a Figment of J.D.’s Imagination?”

  1. […] http://legendsrevealed.com/entertainment/2012/08/18/was-the-janitor-on-scrubs-originally-just-a-figm… […]

  2. The Janitors name is Glen Matthews! in one of the last episodes he tells Jd its Glen Matthews, then an orderly calls him Tony literally 30 after. Bill lawrence even said on facebook that the Janitor told JD the truth! Its under the trivia section under real name here -> http://scrubs.wikia.com/wiki/Janitor

  3. […] 11. The Janitor from “Scrubs” was meant to be part of JD’s imagination in the first season, as a finale twist if the show was cancelled, which is why he does not interact with any other cast members in that season. – Source […]

  4. […] by trexrocks [link] [918 […]

  5. This is completely false. He directly interacts with other characters in the first season multiple times. For example, in “My bed banter an beyond”, the janitor blocks Laverne’s path with his vacuum twice in a row and Laverne clearly looks at him and puts her hand on her hips. There are many other examples.

    Stop making things up.

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