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Percival Ulysses "Perry" Cox, M.D. (most commonly referred to as Dr. Cox), is a fictional character played by John C. McGinley on the American television comedy-drama Scrubs.

Cox has appeared in every episode except three Season 8 episodes, "My Last Words", "My Comedy Show" and "My Full Moon".

John C. McGinley is the only original cast member, besides Donald Faison, that will return for season nine as a regular cast member.

Character profile

Dr. Cox is the Chief of Medicine at Sacred Heart Hospital and Residency Director for the hospital, having accepted the former position after Dr. Bob Kelso's departure, and until Dr. Maddox (Courteney Cox) takes up the position. However, after concluding that Dr. Maddox is worse than Dr. Kelso, he teams up with the Janitor and Dr. Kelso to oust her. After a few days, Kelso convinces him to accept the Chief of Medicine position.

Dr. Cox is sarcastic and misanthropic, with a quick, cruel wit and a love of rants often making very illogical and self-destructive decisions in order to keep his "bad boy" image. He 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's middle-aged. Out of vanity, he tries to disguise his injury. In "My White Whale", Cox reveals he was circumcised as a baby; however, his son was not.

Cox can sometimes be seen wearing a blue and yellow Down syndrome awareness bracelet. McGinley's son has Down syndrome, and McGinley served as the spokesperson for the 2006 Down Syndrome Buddy Walk.

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 uses it as a sign of irritation rather than 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 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.

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 during the 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. This may be intentional, as throughout the series Cox is loath to give J.D. compliments to his face.

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

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 hates Jackman because he envies the actor's talent.

Cox is occasionally seen wearing a Detroit Red Wings jersey. McGinley is a Red Wings fan and a close friend of 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 Chris Chelios.

Cox is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Dr. Cox is constantly condescending to the residents, giving main character John "J.D." Dorian girl nicknames (e.g. "Tiffany", "Jennifer"), calling Elliot Reid "Barbie" and calling Turk "Gandhi" as well as taking cheap shots at Turk's diabetes. The one person he openly admits to tolerating in the hospital is head nurse Carla Espinosa.

Cox and Carla

Carla Espinosa the head nurse is the only member of staff to whom he is not condescending. He says that Carla "gets him". Throughout season one, he and Turk compete for her affections, with Cox eventually stepping out of the way when he sees that Turk and Carla are in love. In My Quarantine it is also revealed that they used to date before Turk came to the hospital.

Mentoring J.D.

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") and (reluctantly) comforting him when his father passes away ("My Cake"). 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 also refuses to say these directly to J.D., or to hug him.


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 several 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."

Family life

Cox's Irish-American family is from Pittsburghmarker. He has a sister, Paige (Cheryl Hines), who is a born-again Christian. In "My New God" Cox is presented as an ardent atheist. 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 sides with those opposed to the Iraq War, and is disgusted when Elliot reveals herself as a Republican.

In "My New God", Cox reveals that his father was an abusive alcoholic, and that his mother would "watch silently while he drunkenly knocked us 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 is legally divorced from Jordan Sullivan (Christa Miller Lawrence) but the two have lived together in an exclusive relationship since Jordan discovered she was pregnant. 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-protegé Peter Fisher (Jay Mohr).

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. 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 father in "My Dream Job," 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.

Production details

  • Neil Flynn originally auditioned for the role of Dr. Cox, but it went to McGinley. Flynn was then asked to play Janitor.


  1. at Sacred Heart Hospital
  2. Buddy Walk
  3. Anna Johns, "John C. McGinley: The TV Squad Interview." May 16, 2006.

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