1999 George Clooney Stars In Year 5 Of "Er." Zach Braff arrives at a third season DVD launch event and season five wrap party for the television series "Scrubs" at the Rain Nightclub inside the Palms Casino Resort April 27, 2006 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Ken Jeong attends The Critics Choice Association's Celebration of Cinema and Television Honoring Black, Latino and AAPI Achievements at Fairmont Century Plaza on December 04, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.

Science and medicine may not seem like the most exciting subjects to base a drama around. However, shows based on doctors and hospitals end up being some of TV’s juciest. They are often some of the most enduring shows, too.

Cast of NBC TV Show "Scrubs", Actors Who Have Played Doctors On Television
(Photo Courtesy of NBC/Getty Images)

Actors Who Have Played Doctors

Many actors who have played doctors or nurses have risen to fame with these roles. Medical series like ER, Grey’s Anatomy, and House feature stars that we instantly envision with the titles. In each series, these TV doctors stand out thanks to their unique personalities and medical knowledge.

For example, Patrick Dempsey‘s character, Dr. Derek Shepherd, on Grey’s Anatomy, is one of the most iconic characters of the past few decades. He was a member of the show’s core cast from the early seasons, where he eventually fell in love with Ellen Pompeo’s Meredith Grey.

His character is nicknamed “McDreamy” by his coworkers. He is one of the best surgeons at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital, saving countless lives in the series. In the series’ 11th season, Derek is involved in a fatal car accident while driving to the airport.

Dempsey was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series Drama for the role, and the 2006 SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Drama Series.

Then, in the comedy realm, Dr. Zoidberg from the hit animated series Futurama is an alien crustacean. Though his character is a doctor, Zoidberg is ridiculously ill-informed, and the other characters in the series question his credentials often. Despite the constant criticisms from his friends, Zoidberg works hard throughout the series to help his crew however he can and actually improves his practice as the years go on.

Take a look below at the actors who have played doctors on television:

  • George Clooney

    George Clooney’s acting career launched after he snagged the role as Dr. Doug Ross for five seasons of the medical drama ER from 1994 to 1999. He received two Primetime Emmy Award nominations and later returned to reprise the role for a guest appearance in the show’s final 15th season. ER set the standard for medical shows and is regarded as one of the best shows of all time. Set in Chicago, this medical drama deals with the personal and professional crises of the doctors in the emergency room at County General Hospital. From the exciting to the mundane, a day in the frantic hospital serves up many interesting dilemmas as well as heartrending choices for everyone on staff.

  • Zach Braff

    Braff starred as John Michael “J.D.” Dorian on the medical sitcom Scrubs for nine years. This was his first major role in a television show and was nominated for three Golden Globes and an Emmy. He even directed several episodes of Scrubs, and served as one of the executive producers in the show’s ninth season. Scrubs is rated by doctors as the most accurate medical show due to its realistic portrayal of the daily life and struggles of doctors in training.

  • Freddie Highmore

    You may know Highmore for his work as a child actor or later as the serial killer in the Bates Motel series, but the English actor gained wide recognition as the lead role in The Good Doctor series. He stars as Dr. Shaun Murphy, an autistic surgical resident with savant syndrome. Highmore was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Drama Series for his performance and serves as an executive producer and director on the show.

  • Ken Jeong

    The actor, who is widely recognized for his role as the unhinged Leslie Chow in The Hangover film series, used to be a doctor before pursuing his career as an actor. Jeong practiced medicine for several years while doing improv and made his film debut in Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up. Dr. Ken aired on ABC for two seasons from 2015 to 2017. The series was created, written, and co-executive produced by Jeong, who based the concept on his experience as a physician before becoming a stand-up comedian.

  • Ryan Eggold

    New Amsterdam is a medical drama television series, based on the book Twelve Patients: Life and Death at Bellevue Hospital by Eric Manheimer. Eggold stars as Dr. Max Goodwin, who becomes the medical director of one of the United States’ oldest public hospitals, aiming to reform the neglected facility by tearing up its bureaucracy to provide exceptional care to patients. The series aired in 2018 on NBC for five seasons.

  • Ellen Pompeo

    Grey’s Anatomy is the longest-running scripted primetime show on ABC, and it’s still airing. The medical drama series debuted in 2005 and stars Pompeo as Dr. Meredith Grey, the daughter of a world-renowned general surgeon. For most of its run, the series revolves around Dr. Grey’s progression from surgical intern to fully qualified doctor to the hospital’s chief of general surgery. Grey’s Anatomy has received numerous awards, including the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Drama and a total of 38 Primetime Emmy Award nominations, including two for Outstanding Drama Series. Pompeo’s role on the long-running series earned her a Screen Actors Guild Award, and she is one of the most renowned television actresses.

  • Hugh Laurie

    From 2004 to 2012, Laurie starred as Dr. Gregory House on the Fox medical drama series House. Dr. House is an unconventional medical genius (and kind of a jerk) who, despite his dependence on pain medication, leads a team of diagnosticians. The English actor received two Golden Globe Awards and many other accolades for the role that lasted eight seasons. He was listed in the 2011 Guinness World Records as the most-watched leading man on television and was one of the highest-paid actors in a television drama at the time.

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