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Season 3 Episode 16

My Butterfly

Aired Tuesday 9:30 PM Mar 16, 2004 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
260 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

An ever present butterfly prompts the question on what could have happened different as Turk looks for his lucky do-rag for surgery, and Elliot tries to find a lost stuffed animal for a child needing a bone marrow transplant.

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  • ok

    i dont see whats so great about this ep i mean its like time travel thts was pretty cool really it good this is what happens:A butterfly landing on a woman's chest sets off a chain of events. This results in Elliot not finding a girl's lost stuffed animal, Carla forgetting Turk's lucky do-rag, and a patient's aortic dissection not being discovered until the last minute. After the patient's death, J.D. thinks about how things may have turned out if the butterfly had landed on a nearby man instead of the woman. In this parallel situation, things seem to be better, as the do-rag and the stuffed animal are found. Also, Dr. Cox and J.D. catch the aortic dissection early. However, the patient still dies in surgery.moreless
  • The butterfly effect.

    A surprisingly awesome episode, at first I thought this was going to be your ol' ordinary episode, where nothing special occurs, this episode was quite the opposite. With one flap of the butterflies wings everything can change. I like how "the butterfly effect" was analyzed in this episode. I really enjoyed the concept, and how things would have gone differently, because I'm sure that's what many people ask themselves. What would have happened if things had gone down differently? Us humans would never know, so it's always interesting to see a bit of an alternate universe in a show like this. All the characters were great in this episode since they all had their own plot. Elliot needed to fulfill a young girls promise to have her pink stuffed dog. In one universe, she gets the stuffed dog, in another universe, Elliot can't find the stuffed dog. I like how in both universes, the same outcome happens in JD's plot. No matter how good things go, it doesn't mean the final outcome will be good. Turk gets his lucky dew rag when he's about to operate on JD's patient, but it still didn't go through. I love Turk/Carla's relationship, no matter what universe they're in, they always have to fight about something. I also liked the emotional ending between JD & Cox. All plots were great, and it was an amazing concept, with emotional results which is always great in this show. Amazing episode.moreless
  • One of the most underrated episodes of Scrubs. This one isn't just absolutely hilarious, but it is dramatic and very special.

    This episode is one of the best made on the whole show, if you paid attention to every little detail you would know. I would just love this episode so much because of the comedy on it, but that's not fair for what it was. A big favorite of mine. The episode deserves special mention, it was so well written and detailed, everything just worked perfectly. "Insignificant events could lead to significant events"

    My Butterfly is just amazingly funny. It just starts off and there is a personal favorite funny moment of mine: JD recommending Turk to use Power Rangers do-rag saying "Remember when communications with Zordon went down and the MegaZord was destroyed?", just the way he says it just cracks me up, then Turk tells him off "How could I miss that episode? That's right... I was making love to a woman!" Fantastic. Then when Turk and JD are talking about taking off his pants, the Todd pass by with his usually funny stuff. Right after, JD daydreams of what could go wrong during Turk's surgery: Turk is doing surgery, suddenly, Randall pops up from the patient's stomach and hits Turk in the balls! JD: "Powerful tiny fists! ...he's back!". I don't know about you, but that's one of the funniest things I've ever seen on TV. More funny stuff I love: JD playing the banjo and Kelso dancing, again in the alternate reality; Cox with the banjo and Kelso with the washboard, "This is your show, Debbie. Isn't it the moment like you always pictured?", in stupid made-house dolls too: "is a little bigger", JD impersonating Dr. Cox, and the attempt of it in alternate reality, world's longest handshake, JD's picture on the janitor's wall, "if you show me your penis I'm going to take it away from you!", Turk confronting Kelso, etc. It was pure genius comedy.

    So the first half of the episode is about the butterfly posing on the hot girl's boobs, and the events following taking place in a bad way. All things happening seem dissapointing for the characters. The episode rewinds when JD wonders "What if?" In the second half, the butterfly poses in the fat guy's chest, but the events this time takes place in the best case scenario, a cheering up music plays during a scene that could make you think now everything worked fine. Except at the end, still the patient dies. Leaves JD thinking again "what if?"moreless
  • In this episode, J.D. explores how a very minor event can affect many outcomes.

    In this episode, JD explores how a very minor event can affect many outcomes. Turk is looking for his lucky Tabasco do-rag, Elliot is helping a little girl find her stuffed dog in time for her bone-marrow transplant. At the reception, a butterfly lands on a pretty woman's chest. JD bumps into Laverne, who drops a tray of drinks. Elliot wants Janitor to help find the stuffed dog, but he's too busy cleaning up the mess. A series of events follows, and almost everything ends in tragedy, with Turk's patient Mr. Strauss dying, JD not recognizing the same patient's ischemic bowel, and Elliot not being able to find the pink dog. At this point, JD thinks back, and what-ifs about the butterfly. In the following series of events, almost everything ends happily, but in a surprise twist Mr. Strauss dies anyways. This is one of my all-time favorite Scrubs episodes, because it incorporates serious philosophy with wry humor. My Butterfly shows viewers how a seemingly insignificant event can affect many, many, things. Even if every eventuality was found, luck and fate still have their way. This fact was demonstrated when Mr. Strauss died.

    All in all, My Butterfly is fantastic, and gave me a lot to think about.moreless
  • Episode revolves around two alternate storylines, sharing the common influences of a butterfly's landing on cleavage

    Once in a while Scrubs tries something new. Some of these Episodes are AMAZING (like His Story) and some are really bad (like My Princess). This one was really good. It doesn't beat His Story but it is still a very great episode. Yet it is not one of these you remember forever, which is why i didn't give it a 10. I didn't like that Dr Miller was practically gone, they can't just throw a character in and then make them dissapear in the next episode. I don't know any other sitcom who had complex stories like this!! Go Scrubs!!!!moreless
Donald Faison

Donald Faison

Dr. Christopher "Chris" Duncan Turk

John C. McGinley

John C. McGinley

Dr. Percival "Perry" Cox

Judy Reyes

Judy Reyes

Nurse Carla Espinosa

Ken Jenkins

Ken Jenkins

Dr. Robert "Bob" Kelso

Neil Flynn

Neil Flynn

The Janitor

Sarah Chalke

Sarah Chalke

Dr. Elliot Reid

Donald Sage MacKay

Donald Sage MacKay


Guest Star

Zaid Farid

Zaid Farid

Mr. Strauss

Guest Star

Lily Goff

Lily Goff


Guest Star

Martin Klebba

Martin Klebba

Randall Winston

Recurring Role

Charles Chun

Charles Chun

Dr. Wen

Recurring Role

Robert Maschio

Robert Maschio


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (10)

    • In the first half of the episode when Turk is performing surgery and you hear the patient's heart monitor flatlining, it shows his heart rate increasing. This clearly wouldn't happen if his heart rate was dropping towards zero and he was dying.

    • Featured Music:
      "What a Wonderful World" by The Ramones

    • During the second half, when Turk does not stand up for Carla, he is behind her, though when she storms away he is in front of her.

    • On the second half, when JD is in the lift with the three other Doctors, a mysterious figure can be see on the far corner of the screen, wearing Beige trousers, he is standing right next to JD though when he leaves there is no sign of him.

    • During JD's and Dr Cox's second lift conversation you see a man exit the lift who is later called "Colonel Doctor". But when the Camera turns back to JD you can see him in the distance.

    • In both halves of the episode, Dr. Cox and J.D.'s aortic dissection patient goes into surgery at the same time as the little girl, even though in one half, it's emergency surgery after his condition worsens from the dissection, and another time, it's to remove the dissection before it gets worse. Because the little girl's surgery didn't have any reason to start earlier, isn't it implied that the aortic dissection surgery happened at the same time in both versions of events, and therefore for no reason, the dissection didn't act up in the second version?

    • When J.D. is talking about Power Rangers, he ends the conversation with "Power Rangers HO!" That is actually the catchphrase for the ThunderCats.

    • In the first half, Carla was still in the hospital 9 minutes after her shift ended. As J.D. was delayed for 10 minutes in the 2nd half, Carla should be around more than 9 minutes after her shift has ended.

    • Randall says that he "just got the job" as a janitor at the hospital despite the fact that he was described as the janitor's assistant in an earlier episode when Kelso bribed the two into getting rid of the piling up trash.

    • During the second half of the episode, Dr. Kelso throws to J.D. his pen. Of course J.D. did not catch, but as he and Dr. Cox enters the room where Dr. Kelso threw the pen, J.D. walks right over his own pen.

  • QUOTES (39)

    • J.D.: Look, Dr. Cox, I know my opinion doesn't mean anything and I'm always wrong and apparently useless - which deep down you know isn't true because... shoot, I forgot your coffee.

    • Custodian: Heeeeyyy! Get outta here.
      Janitor: It's all right, Butchie, she's with me.

    • Doctor: So I had this guy today presenting vomiting and abdominal pain? Two hours and one CT later, I tell him he's got ischemic bowel.
      Dr. Mickhead: Mm.
      J.D.: Have you ever noticed that words that rhyme with "bowel" are always bad? Like "scowl", "growl"..."movies with Andie MacDowell"...
      Dr. Mickhead: You're right, J.D. You are funny.
      J.D.: Stop.

    • J.D.'s Narration: Whatever. Just avoid the shoulder bump, catch the elevator, and make a great wise-ass remark before the doors close!
      J.D.: Hoohoo, hey, Dr. Cox, if you're so smart, maybe you should just... go ahead and be the... you're the kind of... Oh, dammit! I don't know what happened there. I'm usually quick and funny...

    • J.D.: Sounds to me like a G.I. bleed.
      Dr. Cox: Look, Newbie, if you go ahead and leave this hospital knowing only one thing - and God save me, it looks like there's a real chance that might happen - please let this be that one thing: I'm in charge, and I don't care about your opinion. Now go get me a cup of coffee.

    • Carla: Oh, hey. Thanks, Rowdy. Hey, by the way, as soon as we're married, you're outta here.

    • Little Janitor: Mommy! Where's my teddy bear?
      Janitor's Mom: Oh. I must have accidentally thrown it out when I was cleaning up. You know, this never would have happened if your room weren't so filthy.
      Janitor: Never again.

    • Elliot: Janitor? Thanks again for your help, but I know that you're busy. I mean, I could just call Carla, and-
      Janitor: No! Mark my words: We will find that little girl's stuffed animal.

    • Carla: Turk! Why didn't you stand up for me?
      Turk: Baby, you said I was too whipped.

    • J.D.: Uh, Dr. Kelso? That's my pen.
      Kelso tosses the pen J.D. misses it again
      Dr. Cox: Nice grab.
      J.D.: I'm a righty.
      Dr. Cox: Ehhhhh.

    • Dr. Kelso: Son, do you think I got to be chief of medicine by being late?
      Dr. Cox: Nooo, Bobbo! You got there by back-stabbing and ass-kissing.
      Dr. Kelso: Maybe so, but I started those things promptly at 8.

    • Elliot: Janitor, could you help me look for a little girl's pink stuffed doggie?
      Janitor: I would love to. I'll meet you upstairs in ten minutes.
      Elliot: You are like... the sweetest guy!
      Janitor: I'm blushing.
      J.D.: Heh. So charming. Could you be half as nice to me as you are to her?
      Janitor: You are right. We need a fresh start. Come on.
      He holds out his hand to J.D., who shakes the Janitor's hand.
      J.D.: Fresh start.
      Janitor: Mm-hmm... I think we need a longer fresh start.
      J.D.: How long do ya... suppose this'll be?
      Janitor: Probably ten minutes.

    • J.D.: Mmmm! Orange Goo Goo!
      Laverne: Ain't nothing here for you, mooch!

    • Carla: What is wrong with you? I can't believe you're looking at that guy's cleavage while Suzy Big-Rack over there is sitting there busting out of her niece's tank top.
      Turk: How the hell did I miss that?
      Carla: Damn, you're whipped.

    • Dr. Cox: Lookit, it's just that aortic dissections are a doctor's worst nightmare. If you don't catch 'em early, there's about a ninety percent mortality rate. I mean, honestly, unless your patient was lucky enough to trip and fall into a CAT-scan machine, he wasn't gonna have a happy ending.

    • Turk: Did you bring my lucky 'do-rag?
      Carla: Why don't you wear the fluffy puppies 'do-rag that I got you for Lent?
      Turk: Baby, I hate to tell you this, but the fluffy puppies? They killed like three people - they banned from the O.R.

    • J.D.: Randall?!
      Randall: Just got the job, brah.
      J.D.'s Narration: So that's why he's been back in my dreams...

    • J.D.: Hey, you find your pink doggie yet?
      Elliot: Nope. But I had the pleasure of meeting Helen, the laundry room lady.
      J.D.: Oh, I think I know her! Does she have blonde hair?
      Elliot: No.
      J.D.: Brown hair?
      Elliot: Y-nuh-uh.
      J.D.: No hair!
      Elliot: That's the one.
      J.D.: Yeah, that's from the dryers.

    • J.D.: Sounds to me like a G.I. bleed.
      Dr. Cox: Sounds to me like angina. Look, Newbie, if you leave this hospital knowing only one thing - and, God save me, it seems like there's a pretty good chance that just might happen - let that one thing be this: that medicine is a collaborative effort. And that means that your opinion is just as important as mine. So, let's see if you got the gobstoppers to take the lead.

    • Dr. Kelso: Nurse Espinosa, your shift ended nine minutes ago. How is it that your time card isn't punched out?
      Carla: Well, sir, I-
      Turk: Dr. Kelso, how is it that you had an ambulance take you to your dinner reservation last night just so you wouldn't lose it?
      Dr. Kelso: How do you know that?
      Turk: Because I'm the "homeboy" you screamed at to get my "ghettomobile" off the road.

    • Carla: Turk, I just got off of a 12-hour shift. I'm starving and I have yet to take a single bathroom break - which, by the way, is why I'm dancing a little - and you want me to run home, search through your nasties, and bring back your lucky 'do-rag?
      Turk: And if you could be back in twenty minutes that'd be great.

    • Dr. Cox: You know, my head's probably going to melt when I say this but Kelso's idea wasn't half bad. Letting you run this place for a day would be a great educational experience. And, come on, let's face facts - the training bra's got to come off eventually.

    • J.D.: Uh, Dr. Kelso? That's my pen.
      Dr. Kelso tosses the pen and J.D. misses it
      Dr. Cox: Nice grab.
      J.D.: Well, I'm a lefty.

    • Dr. Cox: Hey, fellas. What'd I miss?
      J.D.'s Narration: And here he is!
      Dr. Cox: Goodness gracious. Suddenly I'm getting the most intense headache. Lemme see if this relieves the pain.
      He grabs J.D. and puts him between himself and Dr. Kelso.
      Dr. Cox: Better. (pushes J.D. away) Worse. (pulls J.D. in) Better. (pushes J.D. away) Worse. I could do this all day!
      Dr. Kelso: You know, Perry, since Dr. Dorian was on time and you were busy in the break room coming up with that hilarious "better-worse" bit, maybe you should answer to him all day.

    • Dr. Kelso: Where the hell is Dr. Cox? His shift started four minutes ago!
      J.D.'s Narration: Uh-oh. You've gotta cover for him.
      J.D.: Have to learn to play the banjo.
      Dr. Kelso: Dammit, son, are you listening to me?
      J.D.: Yes, sir!
      J.D.'s Narration: And buy a banjo.

    • Carla: What is wrong with you!?
      Turk: Baby, I wasn't looking at her lovelies. Okay? I was looking at the butterfly that just happened to land on her lovelies. And who could blame it? There they are, all snuggly and safe and whatnot...
      J.D.'s Narration: ...It sets everything else in motion.
      J.D.: Uncomfortable!

    • Turk: Since I been wearing that Tabasco 'do-rag, my surgery record's like 23 and 0.
      J.D.: Are you counting the boil you lanced yesterday?
      Turk: Question: Did he die? Answer: No, he did not. The point is, I gotta stick with whatever's hot. Like last month, it was not wearing any underwear.
      J.D.: So why don't you just take off your underwear?
      Todd: That's what I keep telling him!
      J.D.: Todd knows about the underwear thing?
      Turk: No.

    • J.D.'s Narration: I couldn't help but think two things. First, I do look stunning in these navy scrubs - I mean, come on, who wants a taste?

    • J.D.: Me, I don't believe in fate. I believe we have more control than we think and that every action has a reaction.

    • Janitor: Where is that lost & found box?
      Randall: Over here, brah.
      Elliot: Why does it say "free stuff"?
      Janitor: Heh-heh. I have no idea.

    • Dr. Kelso: Start punching out on time or I'll punch you out on time!... I don't mean that violently, I was just trying to turn a phrase.

    • Janitor: Man, I don't wanna clean this up!
      Laverne: Well, then, I think you picked the wrong day to be the janitor.

    • Elliot: Gaby, you all set for your bone marrow transplant today?
      Gaby: I'm scared. I wanted to bring my stuffed pink doggie with me, but Mean Nurse says I can't.
      Elliot: Well, I promise you you'll have it. Honestly, Mean Nurse, why would you say that?
      Carla: Because she lost her stuffed pink doggie two days ago.
      Elliot: Frick!

    • Turk: How are Power Rangers as lucky as Tabasco?
      J.D.: You remember when communications with Zordon went down and the Megazord was destroyed?
      Turk: How did I miss that episode? Ohh, that's right - I was making love to a woman.

    • Dr. Cox: Look, Carol, I know you think you look dashing in your navy blue scrubs, but I can't deal with the fact that I walk into the front door of this place and I find you standing there taaaalking at me.
      J.D.: All I said was "good morning".
      Dr. Cox: Exactly! And who in God's name wants to hear that every day?! "Good morning." In the immortal words of Daffy Duck: I demand that you shoot me now.

    • J.D.: I don't want to tell you how to live your life, but maybe you should avoid sushi from the Gas 'N Go.
      Patient: They came free with the fill-up. What am I supposed to do, throw it away?

    • J.D.: I don't like candy bracelets.
      J.D.'s narration: I love them!

    • Todd: I got a pink doggie for you. But it's not little.
      Elliot: If you show me your penis, I am going to take it away from you.
      Todd: Cool.

    • Dr. Cox: Be me!
      J.D.'s Narration: Come on... you can do this. Navy scrubs! Navy scrubs! Navy scrubs!
      J.D.: Here's the deal Elinor. We're gonna go head and get a full work-up on this guy, so while I drop NG tube into gastrogavage, why don't you go ahead get an order on a EKG with cardiobiomarkers. If you need to know where those are, they're on page thirty-seven of the Ann Taylor Catalogue, right next to that Salmon cable-knit sweater that you've wanted so long but haven't had the courage to order 'cause you're worried the weave's so thin your nipples just might go head and peak their little pink selfs through. Isn't that right, Dr. Cox? Dr Cox!
      Dr. Cox: Um I'm sorry, here I was in my own little world talking to myself and dreaming about candy bracelets.

  • NOTES (1)

    • Many of the story elements in Scrubs have been incorporated into several episodes of Grey's Anatomy. From this episode, the 'lucky do rag getting lost' is a side story part of the Grey's Anatomy, season two episode, "Superstition".


    • Turk: Aah!! Where's my lucky Tobasco do-rag?!
      J.D.: Why don't you just use Power Rangers?
      Turk: How are Power Rangers as lucky as Tobasco?
      J.D.: Do you remember when communications with Zordon went down and the Megazord was destroyed?
      Turk: How did I miss that episode? Oh, that's right...I was making love to a woman.

      J.D. is referencing the 1993 hit FOX children's action series "Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers", more specifically the "Green with Evil" five-part arc which introduced Jason David Frank as the evil Green Ranger named Tommy Oliver.

    • John Ritter's Death:
      This episode features a patient who dies from an aortic dissection. John Ritter who played J.D.'s father in the episode "My Old Man" also died from a aortic dissection at the beginning of the 3rd season. Dr. Cox explained that unless found early, an aortic dissection has a very high mortality rate and that J.D. should not blame himself for the patients death. In the 4th season an entire episode "My Cake" was dedicated to the late John Ritter.

    • Sliding Doors:
      The episode is an allusion to Sliding Doors, which was the first to explore what happens if one tiny element is changed at the beginning, only to arrive at the same result at the end.

    • The Butterfly Effect:
      The title of Butterfly comes from 'The Butterfly effect' in Chaos Theory whereby if we change one small element at the beginning of an experiment, there will be huge changes in the long run. The same concept was used in the movie The Butterfly Effect.