Perry Cox

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Dr. Perry Cox, M.D.
Scrubs character
First appearance "My First Day"
Last appearance "Our Thanks"
Created by Bill Lawrence
Portrayed by John C. McGinley
Gender Male
Occupation Doctor of internal medicine
Title Attending Physician of Internal Medicine
Residency Director
Interim Chief of Medicine
Chief of Medicine
Family Paige (sister)
Spouse(s) Jordan Sullivan
Children Jack Cox
Jennifer Dylan "J.D." Cox
Religion None[1]

Percival Ulysses "Perry" Cox, M.D.[2] (most commonly referred to as Dr. Cox), is a fictional character played by John C. McGinley on the American television comedy-drama Scrubs. Dr. Cox appeared in every episode except, "My Last Words," "My Comedy Show," and "My Full Moon," which are all in season 8.

McGinley is the only original cast member besides Zach Braff and Donald Faison who returned for season 9 as a regular cast member.

Character profile[edit]

Dr. Cox is sarcastic and bitter, and has a quick, cruel wit, normally expressed through frequent and sometimes incredibly long rants. At the beginning of the series, he is the chief attending physician at Sacred Heart Hospital; he is later promoted to Residency Director and, by the eighth season, Chief of Medicine. In the ninth and final season, he becomes a professor when Sacred Heart is turned into a medical school. He is the superior and unwilling mentor of the series' protagonist, John "J.D." Dorian (Zach Braff). He has a "married but not married" relationship with his ex-wife, Jordan Sullivan (Christa Miller), with whom he has a son, Jack, and a daughter, Jennifer Dylan.

Cox is athletic, often found playing basketball in the hospital's parking lot with younger hospital employees. In "My Friend the Doctor", he shows off by slam-dunking a basketball, but then injures his back when he lands, a reminder that he is middle-aged. Out of vanity, he tries to disguise his injury. He is also extremely egotistical; when named by a magazine as the best doctor in the city, he lines up every member of staff beneath him and his ex-wife to consecutively praise him. In "My White Whale", Cox reveals he was circumcised but his son was not.

As revealed in the episode "My New God", Cox grew up in an Irish Catholic family, and has a younger sister, Paige (Cheryl Hines). Their family was extremely dysfunctional; their father was an abusive alcoholic who "drunkenly knocked [them] from room to room", while their mother did nothing to stop the abuse. Cox has a strained relationship with his sister, who reminds him of the childhood he has tried to forget.

Ironically, while he goes out of his way to distance himself from others, Cox often gets up in the hardships of both his patients and those around him. This personal involvement often manifests in destructive ways, with Cox either internalizing or externalizing his feelings (and targeting those around him). Despite this, Cox has intervened in situations, with no expectation of personal gain and often to his own detriment, to "help" others. A notable example of this is when he risks incurring the wrath of his pregnant ex-wife, Jordan, by calling her in to help Carla deal with her postpartum depression.

According to McGinley in the Season 1 DVD bonus features, Dr. Cox's habit of often touching his nose is a homage to Paul Newman's character in The Sting, although Cox also uses it as a sign of irritation on occasion, rather than just a sign signifying "it's going to be OK", as it was used in the film. Dr. Cox also has been compared to Gregory House (although Cox's character was created several years before House's) by Kelso, who says, "Oh Perry, you are so edgy and cantankerous; like House without the limp." This is further explored in "My House", during which Cox acquires a temporary limp. At the end of the episode, through a series of circumstances, Dr. Cox walks into the room where the other characters are sitting and in a very House-esque way, gives them the answers to everything they have been trying to figure out through the whole episode.

Cox accepts the position of Chief of Medicine ("My Cookie Pants", season 8) after the former, Dr. Bob Kelso, retired at the age of 65 ("My Dumb Luck", season 7). The position, however, does not come easily. He temporarily holds the position until the board finds a replacement, Dr. Taylor Maddox (Courteney Cox). After concluding that Dr. Maddox is, in fact, worse than Kelso, Dr. Cox teams up with the Janitor and Dr. Kelso to oust her. After Dr. Maddox is fired, the position is vacant until Dr. Kelso, behind Cox's back, recommends him for the job. Dr. Cox is initially hesitant to take the job out of fear of losing the connection he has with his patients. Although it takes a few days, Kelso convinces him to accept the position.[3]

In the Season 2 DVD commentary of "His Story", series creator Bill Lawrence stated that one of Dr. Cox's quirks is that he knows if someone is standing behind him and who it is, without turning around to check. This quirk is defied in "My Finale" when J.D. stands behind Cox as he tells one of the new interns how he really feels; throughout the speech, he gives no sign that he knows that J.D. is behind him.

He is also a very good golfer, regularly besting Dr. Kelso.[4]

Cox harbors an intense hatred for Hugh Jackman, even going so far as to mention him frequently in his rants about things he hates throughout the series. According to a 2006 interview with McGinley, Cox's reason for hating Jackman may be because Bill Lawrence envies the actor's talent.[5]

Cox is occasionally seen wearing a Detroit Red Wings jersey. McGinley is a Red Wings fan and a close friend of former Detroit defenseman Chris Chelios, whose name can be seen on the back of Cox's jersey. He has also been seen wearing a T-shirt for Cheli's Chili Bar, a small chain of restaurants owned by Chelios.

Cox is a graduate of Hale University and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, the former being a fictional adaptation of Yale University. Interestingly however, a janitor on the show is stated to have attended Yale.[6]

Dr. Cox is often seen drinking scotch and has acknowledged (humorously) that he has a drinking problem. In "My Mentor", J.D. fears that Cox will die of liver disease. In "My Fallen Idol", after making a mistake about a transplant patient that results in three deaths, a guilt-ridden Cox goes to work drunk, a behavior he had berated J.D. and Turk for in a previous episode ("My Dream Job"). His son Jack's first full sentence is "Daddy drinks a lot."[7]

Relationships with other characters[edit]

In Sacred Heart[edit]

Dr. Cox is constantly condescending to the residents, giving John "J.D." Dorian girl nicknames (e.g. "Tiffany", "Jennifer", "Carol", "Betsy", "Lindsey") and regularly calls him "Newbie". He also calls Elliot Reid "Barbie", Turk "Gandhi" and Bob Kelso "Bob-O" or "Bobcat" and even once went as far to call him "Beelzebob" (a play on Beelzebub). The one person he openly admits to tolerating is head nurse Carla Espinosa. Throughout season one, he and Turk compete for her affections, with Cox eventually bowing out when he sees that Turk and Carla are in love. In "My Quarantine", it's revealed that they went on a date before Turk came to the hospital. Despite his forthright intolerance for Turk in early seasons, Dr. Cox develops a restrained level of respect for him, and at times gets along and relates to Turk.

While Dr. Cox has had limited interactions with veteran nurse Lavern Roberts, his cynical nature drives him to mock her strong religious beliefs on occasion. This culminates in "My No Good Reason", when Cox confronts her about a seemingly "miraculous" accident- unwilling to accept it as divine intervention. Visibly upset, Lavern replies that after 24 years as a nurse, she has to believe in a 'bigger plan', otherwise she'd lose all hope. Taken aback, Cox uncharacteristically apologizes and sincerely replies that he wishes he could also believe that.

He berates J.D. from their first meeting ("My First Day") and emphatically denies being his mentor, despite J.D.'s repeated attempts to win his favor. Nonetheless, Cox has shown concern for J.D.'s welfare, such as telling him not to blame himself for a patient's death ("My Lunch"), (reluctantly) comforting him when his father dies ("My Cake") and bluntly telling J.D. the truth that he has to accept his pregnant ex-girlfriend's behavior because he'll be an expecting father ("My Rabbit"). He also tells the young doctor that he trusts him as a doctor and a person and has taken an interest in him from the start because he seems "to actually give a crap" ("My Last Day"). In the season one episode "My Fifteen Minutes", Cox recommends him as a promising, skilled and hard-working doctor to a review board. In "My Finale", Cox finally admits that he considers J.D. a talented doctor, a good person, and a friend, although he has to be tricked to do it. He refuses to say this directly to J.D., or hug him.

He also has a relationship with the Janitor which swings between hostility and reluctant friendship. He engages the Janitor to act on his behalf on occasion; they team up against common enemies and have been known to come into conflict with each other directly (with Dr. Cox ending up bound, gagged and hidden in a morgue freezer as a result).

Family life[edit]

Cox's family is from Pittsburgh. He has a sister, Paige (Cheryl Hines), who is a born-again Christian.[8] In "My New God" Cox is presented as an ardent skeptic.[9] In "My Half-Acre", Cox says that he does not "technically believe" in God. His political views are varied; he has expressed disdain for members of both political parties, as well as "registered Independents." In "His Story IV", he voices his opposition to the Iraq War, and is disgusted when Elliot reveals herself as a Republican.[10]

In "My New God", Cox reveals that his father was an abusive alcoholic, and that his mother would "watch silently while he drunkenly knocked [Dr. Cox and Paige] from room to room." At the end of the episode, he admits to his sister that seeing her reminds him of the childhood he has tried so hard to forget.

Cox was apparently legally divorced from Jordan Sullivan (Christa Miller Lawrence) but the two have lived together in an exclusive relationship since Jordan discovered she was pregnant ("My Fruit Cups"). As revealed in flashbacks, the marriage appears to have started out strongly, but went downhill and eventually ended when Jordan slept with Dr. Cox's then-protégé Peter Fisher (Jay Mohr).[11] Later into the series, it was revealed that Ted did not submit the divorce papers properly, so Cox and Jordan have been married during the entire run of the show. They immediately resumed the role of husband and wife since they had already reconciled, but they quickly became dissatisfied with being an ordinary married couple, so they agreed to go back to acting as though they were divorced, even going so far as to actually legally divorce with Ted (again) ending their marriage. In the later years, Cox quietly resumes wearing his wedding ring, and Jordan soon acquiesces to the marriage title after the birth of their second child.

He has two children with Jordan: a son named Jack and, after an unsuccessful vasectomy, a daughter named Jennifer Dylan (J.D.). Jack is played by Andrew Miller and his twin brother (although in a cameo appearance in "My Missed Perception" he is played by Bill Lawrence and Christa Miller's son, William). When Jordan first becomes pregnant with Jack in "My Fruit Cups", she tells Cox that she had been impregnated by a Greek bellboy, wanting him to stay because he wanted to rather than out of obligation to his child. At first, Cox feels nothing connecting him to the then nameless boy, but begins to feel a connection after the child responds to the name Jack, which Cox had been trying to impress upon him for some time. J.D.'s college friend Spencer (Ryan Reynolds) accidentally tells Cox that he is actually Jack's biological father in "My Dream Job,"[12] and he takes on the role of father with much more sincerity. Cox has a very unorthodox way of raising Jack, often treating him like his "drinking buddy." Nonetheless, Cox loves his son very much and tries fervently to be a better father than his own was. Cox often talks to Jack in lieu of a therapist. He also dotes on his daughter; in "My Hard Labor", he goes far out of his way to have someone else give her a shot so that she will not associate him with pain.


  1. ^ "My No Good Reason", Scrubs, ABC, March 22, 2007
  2. ^ at Sacred Heart Hospital
  3. ^ "My Two Dads". Scrubs. Season 1. Episode 05. 2001-10-23. NBC. 
  4. ^ Anna Johns, "John C. McGinley: The TV Squad Interview." May 16, 2006.
  5. ^ "My New Role". Scrubs. Season 8. Episode 07. 2009-02-03. NBC. 
  6. ^ "My Fallen Idol". Scrubs. Season 5. Episode 21. 2006-05-02. NBC. 
  7. ^ "My New God". Scrubs. Season 5. Episode 05. 2006-01-17. NBC. 
  8. ^ "My Half-Acre". Scrubs. Season 5. Episode 102. 2006-02-07. NBC. 
  9. ^ "His Story IV". Scrubs. Season 6. Episode 07. 2007-02-01. NBC. 
  10. ^ "My Own Private Practice Guy". Scrubs. Season 2. Episode 17. 2003-03-13. NBC. 
  11. ^ "My Dream Job". Scrubs. Season 2. Episode 22. 2003-04-17. NBC. 

External links[edit]

Quotations related to Perry Cox at Wikiquote