‘Scrubs’: Does Dr. Cox’s Real Name Explain Why He Always Makes Fun of J.D.?

In a wildly popular TV show like Scrubs that’s filled with several memorable characters, few are more memorable than John C. McGinley’s Doctor Cox.

Cox was brash, mean-spirited, opinionated, deprecating, and most of all, hilarious. One of the biggest targets of his ire was Zach Braff’s JD. One of the show’s most popular recurring bits had to do with Dr. Cox’s insistence on calling JD a wide variety of names outside of his own.

After learning Cox’s real name, however, this might make perfect sense. 

Scrubs and building an audience

Scrubs was on air for nearly a decade. During that time, it grew into one of the most ambitious shows on television thanks to its willingness to both go in bizarre directions while remaining a heartfelt look inside the medical world.

However, for a show like this to work, it needed a cast of characters who could properly balance this mix between comedy and drama. 

With so many characters, the show was, at its core, about Zach Braff’s JD. JD was a young medical intern looking to make a name for himself in the medical field while also forging new relationships with his co-workers.

These relationships with fellow intern Elliot Reed, surgeon Turk, the aptly-named Janitor, chief of Medicine Turk, and a diverse cast of other figures made the show ripe for new content. 

However, at the heart of the show was a story about JD trying to impress his mentor, Dr. Cox.

‘Scrubs’: Dr. Cox and JD

SCRUBS - "My Own Worst Enemy"
SCRUBS – “My Own Worst Enemy” | Scott Garfield/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

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Like most young professionals in any field, JD is out to impress the older generation. While he might be a goofy, even childish medical intern, he’s shown time and time again to take his job seriously and reach for the stars. Despite this hard work and dedication to his career, however, he has a hard time getting through to Dr. Cox. 

Cox berates anyone in his path. If JD does something good, Cox is likely to find something wrong to criticize him or patronize him in ways that imply he’s just doing his job. One of Cox’s favorite forms of harassing JD is by calling him female names. Cox rarely acknowledges JD’s real name, instead referring him to dozens of different names throughout the show. 

Despite this, their relationship is one of the driving focuses of the show. Cox doesn’t like to prop up JD, but in a bind, he expresses admiration toward the lengths that JD goes to be the best doctor that he can be. Despite his mean-spirited digging, Cox is shown to secretly have a heart of gold and will stop at nothing to do what’s best for his patients. 

This puts him at odds with other characters but makes him the perfect mentor for JD. Despite his admiration, however, Cox rarely actually acknowledges his humanity. However, with a little bit of digging, one might see why he seems to focus on JD’s name. 

It’s all in a name

According to Screen Rant, JD stands for John Dorian. This isn’t a strange name by any metric/. Perhaps as a bit of meta-comedy, John is also the name of John C. McGinley, who plays Dr. Cox. JD is a fun-loving, immature goofball with a heart of gold, but Cox can’t seem to stand anything he does. While rarely the center of attention, however, Cox’s real name might explain why he makes fun of a person with a relatively normal name. 

Dr. Cox’s full name is Percival Ulysses Cox. However, few people are ever brave enough to call him that. While this is never called into the forefront on the show, fans of the series have noted that such a bizarre name could bring about a disdain for those who cannot relate. Cox doesn’t want anyone to call him by his name, and he doubles down on this by refusing to call JD by his own name. 

This type of layering of logic helps set Scrubs apart from so many other shows. It might not be confirmed in the forefront, but such a backstory is right in line with the type of intelligent storytelling that sets Scrubs apart from other shows. Dr. Cox is a complicated figure who is often hard to pinpoint—as such, looking at his name might reveal a little bit of origin to one of his most memorable quirks.