Movies & TV Shows

Scrubs’ Planned Arrested Development Crossover & Why It Didn’t Happen

Scrubs star Zach Braff was hoping to get David Cross’s Tobias Fünke to make an appearance at Sacred Heart after Arrested Development was cancelled.

Scrubs and Arrested Development are two beloved television comedies, and they nearly intersected. Scrubs follows the lives of the employees of Sacred Heart Hospital—and that of John Dorian in particular—whose fantastical daydreams lend the series some of its considerable quirkiness. The show’s creator, Bill Lawrence, is currently serving as showrunner for Apple TV+’s acclaimed original series Ted Lasso. Arrested Development details the exploits of the Bluth family and their perpetual fall from grace.

Both Scrubs and Arrested Development premiered in the early 2000s, and each brought an absurdist twist to the sitcom format, although they would have markedly different lifespans. Beginning in 2001, the former ran for nine seasons, even outlasting its central cast and intended finale, as the last season of Scrubs (subtitled “Med School“) shifted its focus to a new group of students. Arrested Development had a comparatively shorter run, airing from 2003 to 2006 before being cancelled after three seasons. Nevertheless, the show managed to grow into a cult classic and net two revival seasons on Netflix nearly a decade later.

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Star Zach Braff, who portrayed J.D., commented in an interview during Scrubs‘ original run that he was personally pushing for David Cross’s Tobias Fünke to make an appearance on the show following the cancelation of Arrested Development. Braff was noted a fan of the Bluths, even appearing in two episodes of Arrested Development as a distinct character. With star billing and credits as director and executive producer, Braff would presumably have had some say in making this cameo a reality, from the Scrubs side of things. However, the issue may have involved forces beyond his ken, as the two shows were airing on rival networks, with Scrubs on NCB (and later ABC) and Arrested Development on Fox. Whatever the reason, the crossover never came to be.


Tobias Funke is injured on Arrested Development

Eccentric as it sounds in retrospect, Tobias Fünke making a sudden appearance at Sacred Heart would not have been unprecedented. A handful of crossovers with other shows occurred throughout Scrubs‘ nine-season run, including appearances by characters from Sesame Street. Scrubs characters have also appeared on other shows, like Cougar Town and, according to one fan theory about the Janitor, Clone High (both of which, not coincidentally, were co-created by Bill Lawrence). In terms of the potential underlying corporate issue, there are even precedents for cross-network crossovers, with The A.V. Club identifying instances from the Arrowverse, The X-Files, and The Simpsons, among others. It’s worth noting that Tobias Fünke himself can actually be spotted in, of all things, Avengers: Infinity War.


For two shows that engaged with and subverted TV tropes so deftly, the time-honored tradition of prime-time crossovers would have formed a wonderfully effective-yet-mockable bridge between the off-kilter sensibilities of Scrubs and Arrested Development. Not only could the style and tone of the shows easily have complimented each other, there was even the natural plot connection of Tobias having a medical background (ignominious though it was), which could have given him a natural jumping-off point with the doctors and nurses of Sacred Heart. Instead, the two shows passed one another by, wacky ships in the comical night. Regardless of whether or not they were kept apart by reasons corporate or otherwise, their legacies are still laurelled with countless laughs brought to fans and the resounding influence they’ve had on the television comedies that have followed.


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