8 TV Shows Saved By Ridiculously Last Minute Changes

6. J.D. Was Going To Be Revealed As Mentally Ill In Scrubs

Lost Jack

Unlike other shows on this list, Scrubs didn’t undergo drastic changes from the pilot episode. Though the tone of the pilot is somewhat inconsistent, often leaning more towards the drama than comedy side of things, Scrubs’ key elements – voiceover, flashbacks, fantasy sequences, realistic medical cases – were all there.

It took a while for the show to find its feet, though. Early on, writer and creator Bill Lawrence was so worried the show wouldn’t be deemed funny enough by the general public that he added in “comedy” sound effects. He later admitted the sounds were “annoying” and they were gradually phased out in Season 1. But the really big change that helped save Scrubs didn’t appear until the second series, and all it took was the show's renewal.

The sitcom was under near permanent threat of cancellation throughout its run, so much so that it’s amazing it made it to nine seasons, but Lawrence was so sure they would not make it past one year that he had a big twist planned to bow out with. If you re-watch Season 1, you’ll notice that the nameless Janitor, played by improv genius Neil Flynn, does not interact with any character other than Zach Braff’s J.D.. The reason for this is because Lawrence planned to reveal that The Janitor was in fact a figment of J.D.’s imagination at the end of the first season.

Thankfully, the show was picked up for another year, Lawrence dropped the ill-conceived “the main character has a serious mental illness” plot twist and integrated The Janitor into the main cast. This allowed for more improvised jokes and monologues from Flynn and opened up the possibilities for more comedic b-plots that helped Scrubs achieve classic status – for a few years, at least.


David is an office drone and freelance writer for WhatCulture and Moviepilot, among others. He's also foolishly writing a serialised novel on Jukepop and has his own irregularly updated website. He's available for freelance work. Reach out on Twitter to @davefox990