Janitor (Scrubs)

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The Janitor
Scrubs character
First appearance "My First Day"
Last appearance "Our First Day of School"
Created by Bill Lawrence
Portrayed by Neil Flynn
Aliases Dr. Ján Ĩtor
Glenn Matthews
Dr. Elliot Reid
Chief of medicine
Zebra Poacher
Gender Male
Occupation Janitor
Title The Janitor
Family Unknown due to the unreliability of his stories
Spouse(s) Unknown wife
Ladinia "Lady" Williams

The Janitor is a fictional character, played by actor Neil Flynn in the American comedy-drama Scrubs. Though he is a janitor at Sacred Heart, he is rarely referred to as the janitor, but rather just called Janitor.

Neil Flynn was originally billed as a recurring guest star throughout Season 1, although he appeared in all 24 episodes of that season. He was promoted to a series regular beginning with Season 2 and remained a regular through to Season 8. He made his final appearance in the Season 9 premiere, "Our First Day of School", as a guest star.

Janitor appeared in every episode during the first eight seasons except Season 2's "My Lucky Day" and Season 8's "My Last Words", "My Absence" and "My Full Moon".

Fictional character biography[edit]

In the series' pilot episode, protagonist J.D. sees Janitor fixing a sliding door that is stuck, and suggests someone might have stuck a penny in the door. Janitor immediately accuses J.D. of sabotaging the door, and forms a relationship in which the Janitor tries to sabotage J.D. through much of the series. Although he previously denied it, J.D. admits to the penny issue as an accident in the season eight finale. Janitor admits he saw J.D. do it and claims it was a "character test" that he failed, although J.D. tried to defend himself on the grounds that it had been an accident and he hadn't wanted to create a bad impression at his new job. Some of his practical jokes have been on the severe side, such as destroying J.D.'s bike (twice), trapping him in a water tower, stranding him in the middle of nowhere, tricking him into robbing an Asian couple's house and enlisting Ted and Todd to duct tape him to the ceiling.

Neil Flynn, who plays Janitor, has said:

"I think it's possible that he doesn't hate J.D. Maybe J.D. is as close to a friend as he has. For all we know, he just has poor social skills. I think that the Janitor constantly misreads J.D.'s motives and assumes he's a young punk."[1]

It is suggested in the episode "His Story III" that he is in some way responsible for a medical intern named Jill having a child.

During the first six seasons he has a crush on Dr. Elliot Reid, but in Season Seven he meets his future wife Lady, and they get married the following season.

In the first episode of season 9, a flashback is seen of the Janitor's last appearance the day after J.D. leaves Sacred Heart. Janitor believes that J.D. is simply hiding, as a practical joke, and will reappear. When Turk convinces him that J.D. has left for good, the Janitor hands over his mop to Turk and leaves, never to be seen again.


Concrete information about the Janitor's personal history is sparse, and confounded by his penchant for giving outrageous (and often conflicting) accounts of his past. In "My Bright Idea", J.D. lists some of the things Janitor has told the hospital staff about his life, with many of the staff agreeing that Janitor made up most of it. Many of the stories that he has told J.D. are patently absurd, some bordering on the surreal or fantastical.

He has claimed that his parents are also his siblings; made multiple conflicting accounts of having been married and having children; claimed that, in college, he came close to a world record in the 100m hurdles race; and given an explanation for learning sign language so convoluted that he asks to have it recounted back to him when J.D. asks if any part of it was true. His childhood and family life are equally mysterious. The occasional flashback sequences imply that his parents were fastidious and mildly abusive. One flashback implies the loss of a stuffed animal in the "clutter" of his bedroom led him to take on a janitorial career. Also, in the episode "My Therapeutic Month", he claims that his great-grandfather was the Civil War general Ambrose Burnside (mispronounced "Burnsides").

According to a flashback the Janitor was born in 1964.

Janitor speaks Spanish, Korean, German, Italian and American Sign Language. When the hospital support staff wants dental coverage, he becomes their spokesman.[2]

On occasion Janitor indicates he does little actual work. He tells J.D. that he spends only an hour and a half a day performing his duties at work. He does, however, defend his sanitary responsibilities in the hospital whenever J.D. questions him about it, and takes great pride in the cleanliness of the hospital's floors.[3] In the episode "My Identity Crisis," the Janitor makes a bet with J.D.: if J.D. loses, he must do the Janitor's job for a day. If J.D. wins, the Janitor will actually do his own job for a day. The bet involved J.D. learning the name of everyone in the hospital and being able to identify all of them to the Janitor. J.D. eventually loses the bet as he knew everybody's name except the Janitor's.

Although he spends most of the series harassing J.D., on occasion he will harass other characters such as Turk.[4] This is usually in response to a perceived wrong, such as another character creating a mess in the hospital or disrespecting him.

Several episodes show the Janitor pretending to be a doctor ("Dr. Ján Ĩtor") and he also greatly enjoys one occasion (in "His Story III") when he is asked to assist during a medical emergency.[5] On one occasion, he even had a set of broken defibrillator paddles and was pretending to shock a patient (in reality, a pair of pillows and a mop) back to life. He has also been asked by Elliot Reid to pass himself off as her (due to "Elliot" being a traditionally male name) in order to appease a sexist patient.

Janitor shows a softer side on several occasions. He harbors a schoolboy crush on Elliot Reid, whom he usually refers to as "Blonde Doctor," and who is seemingly oblivious to the Janitor's true nature of tormenting the other staff members. In the episode "His Story III", Janitor spends the day talking to a patient unable to speak or move, just to keep him company. At the end of the day, when Dr. Cox brings the patient a new computer with which to communicate, the patient says "Thank you", then specifies that he was not thanking Dr. Cox, but instead the Janitor for actually spending time with him. In the episode "My Long Goodbye", he joins the others in saying a heartfelt farewell to Nurse Laverne Roberts. Later, as the hospital mourns Laverne's passing at a bar, Janitor buys them a round of drinks and raises his glass in salute. He later reveals he and Kelso had both slept with Laverne.[6]

Flynn had a small role in The Fugitive. The show's writers took advantage of this, placing Janitor (in his fictional role) as the real actor in the film. J.D. notices this during the episode "My Friend the Doctor" as he watches the movie. When J.D. confronts Janitor, he (eventually) admits that it really was him, but admonishes him not to inform anyone else about this.

In "My Old Man", Janitor's father is portrayed as having treated him the way a drill instructor would treat a new recruit. His father is played by actor R. Lee Ermey, who famously played a drill instructor in Full Metal Jacket. However, Janitor later tells J.D. that his father died when he was young. When J.D. remembers meeting his father, Janitor responds mysteriously that "You met a man."

In "My Jerks", the new Chief of Medicine fires the Janitor for pulling a prank on J.D. that could have resulted in serious injury. At the end of the episode, he remains fired and does not appear in the following episode, but is replaced. He returns in "My Saving Grace" and is rehired by "My Happy Place". He achieves this by telling the administrator handing out paychecks that he is still working there. He also tricks her into doubling his pay.

Janitor is the self-appointed leader of the "Brain Trust", an unofficial club at the hospital that consists of a rotating cast of Sacred Heart staff members such as Ted, The Todd, Doug Murphy (a.k.a. Nervous Guy), and Lloyd Slawski (a.k.a. Lloyd the delivery guy). The Brain Trust originally had three other members, but he became fed up with them during lunch, and joined the table behind him where the new members were sitting.

The Janitor is notorious for his lies. In the episode "My Friend the Doctor", J.D. asks around the hospital and discovers that people know him in four personalities, which are Nigel the Brit, Klaus the dimwitted German, simple, stuttering Ephraim, and of course the Janitor, but only to J.D. and his friends.


The mystery of the Janitor's name is a running gag throughout the series. In several episodes, he calls himself "Janitor" (even in his own mind), and in many episodes he refers to himself as "Doctor Ján Ĩtor".

In "My Hero", Janitor chastises J.D. for not even knowing his name while Janitor knows many personal details about J.D.'s life (though it's later shown Janitor has been breaking into J.D.'s locker and reading his journal). When J.D. protests that he does in fact know Janitor's real name, Janitor asks him to say it aloud and quickly claps his hand over his name badge so J.D. can't read it. In "My Jerks" the new Chief of Medicine, Dr. Maddox (played by Courteney Cox Arquette) examines his name tag only to find it says "The Janitor."

In "My Manhood", Janitor speaks to Dr. Cox that he says "Now I’ve been called a great many horrible names in my life. Backstabber. Zebra-poacher. Josh! And I’ve accepted these, because to each of them there is a degree of truth. But, I am not nor will I ever be stupid."

In "My Soul On Fire, Part 2", the priest (played by Bill Lawrence) is twice interrupted while attempting to address The Janitor by name, deciding ultimately to skip over it and continue with the ceremony.

Bill Lawrence gave a hint towards the Janitor's name at a speech at The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia on January 29, 2009. He said that the only clue he had given was that Janitor's name is the same as the janitor on Clone High (Glenn, voiced by Neil Flynn).[7]

In the Season 8 finale he tells J.D. that his name is Glenn Matthews;[8] "My Finale" was previously intended to be the series finale, in which the Janitor's real name would be revealed. When J.D. asks why the Janitor is only revealing his name now, the Janitor points out that J.D. has never before asked what his name is, and proves that J.D. has already forgotten it. However just a few seconds later, someone else walks by and calls the Janitor something else, commonly believed to be either Tommy or Tony.

In a Twitter post on April 5, 2011, Bill Lawrence confirmed that the janitor was telling the truth when he revealed his name as Glenn Matthews.[9]

Figment of J.D.'s imagination[edit]

As revealed in the DVD commentary on several episodes, the Janitor character was initially to be used as a figment of J.D.'s imagination if the show had been canceled during the first season or the first half of the second. This would have been revealed to the audience in the finale.

The first time that Janitor interacts with another major character besides J.D. is in the season two episode "My Karma", in which he blackmails J.D. and Turk. From the beginning of Season 2, Flynn joins the rest of the main cast appearing in the show's extended opening credits, but the credits were changed back due to objections by NBC, who wanted longer episodes instead. However, he was still acknowledged as a main cast member by the producers as of the second season. Since the start of season two, Janitor has had encounters with most of the other regular characters. He has even had an entire episode ("His Story III") devoted mostly to him.[5]

Production notes[edit]

Flynn is an improv comedian and, as such, ad-libs many of his lines. Although it is often stated that Flynn ad-libs all of his lines, on several parts of the Season One DVD commentaries and special features, both Flynn and series creator Bill Lawrence say that it is generally a mix of ad-libbed lines and the original script, with Flynn usually building on the original lines. Lawrence has also said that the rest of the cast followed Flynn's lead and that he would occasionally enter the rehearsal room with no idea what scene was taking place due to its lack of resemblance to the original script. Janitor's alter ego, Dr. Ján Ĩtor, is a happy consequence of one such moment of inspiration. Sam Lloyd once commented on Flynn's improvising: "I opened my script up once and it said 'Janitor: Whatever Neil says,' and I just started laughing."[citation needed]

Flynn originally auditioned for the role of Dr. Cox (which ultimately went to John C. McGinley). However, Lawrence asked Flynn if he would consider another part—the mysterious custodian who makes tormenting J.D. his life's work.[1]

The role of Janitor was originally devised as a one-time gag in the series' pilot episode, Lawrence admitted: "When we watched the pilot, we knew instantly we had to keep this guy around."[10]

In flashback scenes of Janitor's childhood, he is played by Brandon Waters.


  1. ^ a b Sepinwall, Alan (2003-04-10). "Mop vs. scrubs". My Own Personal 'Net Thing. Retrieved 2006-04-29.  Interview with Neil Flynn and Bill Lawrence
  2. ^ "My Coffee". Scrubs. Season 6. Episode 03. December 14, 2006. NBC. 
  3. ^ "My Drive By". Scrubs. Season 4. Episode 24. April 26, 2005. NBC. 
  4. ^ "My Dirty Secret". Scrubs. Season 3. Episode 9. December 11, 2003. NBC. 
  5. ^ a b "His Story III". Scrubs. Season 5. Episode 19. April 18, 2006. NBC. 
  6. ^ "My Cuz". Scrubs. Season 8. Episode 16. April 22, 2009. ABC. 
  7. ^ Paitsel, Nicole (2009-01-30). "'Scrubs' is ending, creator tells W&M audience". Dailypress. Retrieved 2009-05-10. 
  8. ^ Porter, Rick (2009-05-06). "'Scrubs' series finale (maybe): Bittersweet symphony". Zap2it. Retrieved 2009-05-07. 
  9. ^ Lawrence, Bill (2011-08-05). "JANITOR'S NAME WAS GLENN MATTHEWS. He told truth to J.D. for once.". Twitter. Retrieved 2011-08-05. 
  10. ^ "Last Comic Standing | Comedian Neil Flynn Information & Professional Biography". Nbc.com. Retrieved 2012-02-06.