There might not be a TV show that has done more to revolutionize modern sitcoms than Scrubs. Not only was Scrubs one of the early adopters of the "single-cam" in comedy, but it also blended heart and silliness as none had ever before. Scrubs was truly ahead of its time, but time has caught up, and in 2020 we can look back and be horrified at some of the awful shit these characters have done. It's why we're adding Scrubs to our "Who is the actual worst?" series. (Or, in the case of It's Always Sunny, "Who is the actual best?" Or for The Umbrella Academy, "Who is the most tragic?" Or forThe Fairly OddParents, "Who is the saddest?" Or for Modern Family, "Who is the worst couple?" Or for The Sopranos, "Who is the smartest?")
We're only counting the first eight seasons obviously, as we're not even sure if the ninth season is real or just a collective hallucination that we haven't yet learned is a symptom of COVID-19. Regardless, the first eight seasons have plenty of characters to pick at, but for me, this contest comes down to J.D. and The Janitor. Other people on the show might display awful traits, but those traits are eventually acknowledged and redeemed. For example, Kelso might as well have been a stand-in for the devil in the early seasons. But, with Kelso, we learn that everything he does (for the most part) is for the overall benefit of the hospital.
The Case For The Janitor:
The Janitor would probably have been the most expected entry on this list anyway and with good reason. The level of torment The Janitor puts J.D. through during the show's run would make the clown from Saw tricycle home in shame. This man is a clear-cut sociopath, and while the show frames his harassment of J.D. as somewhere between excessive hazing and a darker version of Punk'd (and trust us, for Zach Braff Punk'd has gotten pretty dark), this goes far, far beyond that.
Take the episode "His Story III," where The Janitor kidnaps J.D., seemingly for the sport of it, and locks him inside of a water tower for an entire day.
That's some Buffalo Bill shit. J.D. could have easily died having passed out from the lack of ventilation and drowning or just had his muscles give out or really any host of a million other reasons. That's not to mention the psychological trauma that J.D. must have endured from being abducted and placed inside a pitch-black tanker full of water. But at the end of the episode, The Janitor releases J.D. as if to say "gotcha good, huh?" not acknowledging that this "gotcha" should have earned him at least 8 years in prison.
There are a whole host of times the Janitor could have killed or severely injured J.D. He pays to have J.D. duct-taped to the ceiling and, in the same episode, orchestrates a sting to get him caught for a DUI. He drives him to the middle of nowhere in a van and then kicks him out with nothing. He even does this because J.D. was nice to him:
The only argument you could make for why The Janitor isn't the worst is that he doesn't have any other victims. He almost exclusively tortures J.D., and considering J.D. is such a piece of shit in his own right, it almost makes the Janitor redeemable. It's like a Dexter scenario where the serial killer murders other serial killers and, therefore, it might not be as bad. Even if you subscribe to this type of thinking, the question is if J.D. is enough of a gangrenous turd-shooter to justify the Janitor's level of abuse.
The Case For J.D.:
I'd argue that it's possible. You'd think J.D. would be a much better guy considering he spends so much time gazing off into the distance, pondering the moral ambiguities of life, and recapping the lessons he's learned. But there's a lot of shit in life that doesn't need an end-of-episode-breakdown to know that it's wrong, and J.D. does all of them.
We can start with how he kissed his best friend's wife.
He calls this a drunken accident, which ignores the level of flirting and intimacy that lead up until that point, but fair enough. J.D. has proven throughout the show that with even a little bit of alcohol, he'd kiss a stoplight if it blinked at him funny, and Carla is as much to blame for that incident as well. But J.D. was completely sober when he chose to hook up with Neena Broderick, the lawyer who was suing Turk for malpractice.
Clearly, J.D. values his dick over his best friend, but his narcissism doesn't stop there. He decided to confess to his girlfriend Kim that he didn't love her ... while she was in labor! (He also forgets to order her an epidural to add extreme pain to insult.)
But Kim should have seen this coming, considering J.D. left the room multiple times when she told him about the birth of their child. She also should have known that J.D. had a history manipulating women's emotions. He begged Elliot to be with him, having her breakup with her boyfriend, only to realize that he didn't actually love her either. This pattern repeats with multiple women, like Danni, who he tells he loves, only to avoid being alone, and Kylie, who he thinks he's falling for, only to ditch her for a shot at sleeping with Heather Graham's character. Also, somewhere in that mix, J.D. finds time to have sex with the wife of one of his former coma patients during the man's funeral.
I think the Janitor wins out. For as arrogant and narcissistic as J.D. might be, the Janitor should probably be in a padded cell.
That's some creepy stuff.
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Top Image: NBC