Scrubs’ Best Janitor Theory Is A Perfect Meta-Identity Joke

One of Scrubs‘s most memorable character, the janitor, has his true identity somewhat vague throughout its nine-season run – and this theory posits that the reason for this is that Neil Flynn actually plays himself on the show. Introduced in Scrubs‘s first ever episode as JD’s comedic antagonist, the janitor quickly became a staple of the series and an integral part of some of its funniest moments. His intense dislike of JD provided one of the show’s best running jokes, and it also saw him regularly bonding with John C. McGinley’s Dr. Cox, JD’s reluctant mentor.

Despite Scrubs‘ Janitor being originally intended as imaginary – in the early episodes he is only seen interacting with JD – his resounding success has earned him a permanent place among the show’s cast. From there, one of Scrubs‘ The biggest mysteries have evolved: who is the Concierge when he’s not in the hospital. Thanks in large part to Neil Flynn’s bizarre and hilarious improvisations, the character was given a convoluted and contradictory backstory that only served to deepen the mystery surrounding his character enigma.


Related: Why The Scrubs X-Ray Gag Opening Credits Were Deeper Than You Imagined

It may seem implausible, but the idea that Neil Flynn was actually playing himself on Scrubs is tied to the few glimpses the show gives into the character’s past. These tie directly into Neil Flynn’s past or act as references to other TV shows or real events, making the character’s identity particularly difficult to pin down. The janitor was one of Scrubs‘ best secondary characters, but eight seasons of mystery are hard to dispel, leaving room for a theory as mind-bending as the character itself.

Janitor’s acting career references Neil Flynn’s past

Neil Flynn as Janitor in Scrubs "The fugitive"

One of the first authentic clues to Scrubs‘ Janitor with a tangible past on the show arrives in Season 3, Episode 8 “My Friend the Doctor.” JD spots a man who looks remarkably like the janitor while watching The fugitive and attempts to prove that the janitor once pursued an acting career prior to his employment at Sacred Heart. The story is built around one of Neil Flynn’s actual career credits – he appeared in The fugitive in a minor role, which is the first time that Scrubs blurs the lines between the janitor and Flynn himself.

From his very first appearance in the pilot episode “My First Day”, the Janitor is evasive when asked about his past. However, assuming it was actually him in The fugitivehe gives Scrubs‘ the biggest clue to his true identity. If the film exists in Scrubs‘, then it’s reasonable to assume that he exists as is – the show’s pop culture references prove that movies and TV are mostly unchanged – and so the transit cop would still be credited as ‘Neil Flynn”. By referencing the actor’s real past through the lens of the character, Scrubs connects the character to the actor who plays him, and with a character as mysterious as the janitor, this perhaps serves as a clue to his true identity.

Janitor’s ‘revealed’ identity was a high-reference clone

Mixed image of Glenn the janitor in Clone High and Neil Flynn in Scrubs

In the latest episode of Scrubs season 8, “My Finale”, the janitor’s real name is revealed. After eight years of being tormented by the Guardian, JD finally asks him what his name is, only to be told the simple (and anti-climatic): Glenn Matthews. However, immediately afterwards, another character is then heard calling him “Tommy”, casting some doubt on its authenticity. However, consistent with this theory, there may be another reason why the janitor chose the name Glenn Matthews.

Related: Scrubs’ Final Season Ruined JD’s Perfect Ending

Glenn Matthews’ name is actually confirmed to be a reference to Flynn’s character in one of Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence’s other shows, clone high. Flynn voices Glen the Janitor in clone highleading to the theory that the Scrubs the character can be the same person, but it is also possible that the name is a reference in Scrubsuniverse too. Yes Scrubs‘ Janitor is actually really Neil Flynn, so he would have offered his voice to the character as well, so in a sense, Flynn is Glenn – which means it’s technically not another of the Janitor’s lies.

Scrubs writes everyone except the janitor

Scrubs Janitor Secret Experiment Theory

One of the best known and brightest backstage pieces Scrubs trivia is that the scripts would contain the words “everything Neil says” instead of the concierge dialogue. It’s a testament to Neil Flynn’s comedic ability, but it also shows how well he was able to inject his own personality into the character. Moreover, it potentially serves as additional evidence for this theory.

All along Scrubs, the janitor was rarely depicted as sharing any real common ground with any of the show’s characters. The idea that his character is Neil Flynn, even in the show’s narrative, is accentuated by the show’s scripts, as all the other characters have their lines. By allowing Flynn to act as his natural self, Scrubs used his acting skills, but the idea that his lines were unscripted further blurs the line between fact and fiction when it comes to the janitor.

What The Janitor Being Neil Flynn Really Means

janitor tv show scrubs

Sure, the idea that the janitor is really Neil Flynn himself is a bit of a stretch, but the character’s quirky nature is entirely consistent with the theory. The character’s connection to JD was written into the show as the reason the janitor didn’t return for Scrubs season 9, but the real reason was because Flynn landed a starring role on The middle. Flynn not being available to return led to the character’s departure from Sacred Heart, and inside Scrubs‘ story, he is shown simply being discharged from the hospital, never to be seen again.

Related: Scrubs Season 9 Was A Near-Perfect Spinoff Despite The Hate

The Janitor being really Neil Flynn himself potentially reframes the show with the character at its heart, which isn’t entirely implausible given the Janitor’s massive popularity. Scrubs always had fun with the character’s fluid backstory that never quite established who the character really was, but the few clues the show gave all potentially prove that theory. Flynn’s departure also contributed to the failure of Scrubs season 9, because he was such an integral part of the show’s dynamic that she didn’t recover without him. It’s a theory as mind-blowing as it is implausible, but it’s always possible that Scrubs‘ Janitor was really Neil Flynn from the start.

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About the Author

Sharon D. Cole