My Screw Up

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"My Screw Up"
Scrubs episode
Episode no. Season 3
Episode 14
Directed by Chris Koch
Written by Neil Goldman
Garrett Donovan
Featured music "Winter" by Joshua Radin
Production code 315
Original air date February 24, 2004
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"My Porcelain God"
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"My Tormented Mentor"
List of Scrubs episodes

"My Screw Up" is the 14th episode of Season 3 and the 60th episode overall of the American sitcom Scrubs. It originally aired on February 24, 2004 on NBC.

It features Brendan Fraser's final appearance as Ben Sullivan. The character had previously appeared in the Season 1 episodes "My Occurrence" and "My Hero."

Critical reaction was very positive. Most notably, the episode was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series.


Jordan, Danni and Ben return to help prepare a gathering for Dr. Cox's son Jack's first birthday. Dr. Cox, having to leave the hospital on a short errand, advises J.D. to keep an eye on a patient of his with a bad heart and to take responsibility for Ben as routine tests for his leukemia are started. J.D. is worried about the heart patient, and Dr. Cox tells him irritably that he has looked at the patient's EKG, and "he's not gonna die in the next 30 minutes." Turk and Carla clash over removing Turk's mole and changing Carla's last name after they marry, and one of Ted's band members quits.

When Dr. Cox returns, J.D tells him, "Twenty minutes after you left, he went into cardiac arrest. We tried to resuscitate him, but there was nothing we could do." Dr. Cox angrily blames J.D. and dismisses him. Ben calms Dr. Cox down and, on the way to Jack's birthday party, tells him to forgive himself for the patient's death. When J.D. arrives and breaks their reverie, Dr. Cox realizes that Ben is not there, and that they are not at Jack's party, but at a funeral. The final scenes reveal that Ben is the patient who died, and that his presence has only been in spirit. The episode ends as a heartbroken Dr. Cox uncharacteristically allows those around to comfort him.

Homage to The Sixth Sense[edit]

In the special features on the Season 3 DVD, Bill Lawrence says that this episode is a homage to The Sixth Sense. The film, starring Bruce Willis, is famous for its twist ending, when it is revealed that Willis' character has been dead throughout the film. In the film, Willis interacts only with a boy who can "see dead people"; no other characters ever acknowledge Willis' presence. The film allows the audience to assume Willis is alive. Similarly, the audience in "My Screw Up" is led to believe that Ben is alive until the very end, even as close examination reveals that Dr. Cox is the only character who acknowledges him after the point in the episode when he dies. Ben says early in the episode that he will take his camera with him everywhere until the day he dies. After "the patient" dies, Ben doesn't have his camera for the rest of the episode.


Footage from this episode was later re-used in "My Urologist," with Dr. Kim Briggs digitally worked into it (replacing Carla) to verify she was there for Ben's funeral.

Brendan Fraser was supposed to appear in "My Long Goodbye" as Ben, when Carla asked Dr. Cox if he had ever seen a ghost. However, Fraser couldn't appear because he was filming a movie. As such, Jill Tracy from "My Lunch" appears instead.[1]

Ben had previously appeared in two Season 1 episodes: "My Occurrence" and "My Hero". It is in these two episodes that Ben was diagnosed with leukemia. In the former, J.D. himself goes through many events with Ben after he is informed Ben is clear of leukemia; however, there was a theory Ben never was rid of cancer and the scene declaring him cancer free was imagined. This was debunked in the very next episode when Dr. Cox declares they did rid the cancer, but was worried Ben had not had any checkups to make sure the cancer has not returned.

Cultural references[edit]

  • In the locker room where J.D. shows off his "Shower Shorts", on the locker behind him stands "Peace Sam". Sam is the name of J.D.'s father, played by John Ritter, who died September 11, 2003.
  • Upon seeing Danni, Jordan's sister, played by Tara Reid, J.D. quickly mentions that he destroyed the video they made when she last visited. The video features Danni hitting J.D. in the crotch with a golf club, a mockery of many entries submitted to America's Funniest Home Videos. J.D. mentions sadly that now he'll never get to meet Bob Saget, even though Saget left the show in the mid 1990s.


  • It received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series. In 2008, Empire placed Scrubs 19th on their list of "The 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time" and cited "My Screw Up" as the show's best episode.[2]
  • In IGN's list of the 10 best Scrubs episodes, "My Screw Up" placed third.


External links[edit]