Medical emergencies and comatosed comedies are watched on the box all around the world. Shows such as Scrubs and Greys Anatomy are big hitters packed full of dramatic decisions and comedic actors, but are these classics really filmed in working hospitals? Health Staff Recruitment were interested to know so we dug deeper into the world of medical mystery television to find out.

House M.D.

Ah, Dr. Gregory House. Now, wouldn’t you like to be treated by a doctor like him? Hugh Laurie plays the antisocial doctor dubbed ‘Dr. Feelbad’, whose character could best be described as irreverent, mean to patients and obnoxious to colleagues. The series well into its 6th season, is full of sarcastic one-liners and patients suffering from the most complicated medical problems. The fictional setting for the show is the cold New Jersey Plainsboro Teaching Hospital. Aerial location shots in the series use Princeton’s First Campus Center, NJ whereas the rest of the show is shot at the 20th Century Fox studios in LA.


Scrubs, the series that when watched can become an addiction. The mix of comedy and drama in the medical setting tie together to create a show that is filled with witty anecdotes and laughter. The series is filmed in the North Hollywood Medical Centre which was a fully operational hospital catering to the residents of Los Angeles, California. Interestingly, the same hospital was also used in the filming of the 2001 film ‘The One’ starring Jet Li and Jason Statham.

Greys Anatomy

The complicated, tear-jerking personal lives of five tightly knit trainee surgeons forms the axis around which Greys Anatomy revolves. The long running show is set in the fictional ‘Seattle Grace Hospital’. Fisher Plaza, in Seattle is used for some scene-setting shots of the hospital while interior scenes are filmed at the VA Sepulveda Ambulatory Care Centre, North Hills, California. Various locations around Seattle are used to stage scenes outside the hospital when the drama follows Meredith to her house – that’s an actual house in Seattle. The VA Sepulveda Ambulatory Care Centre is a working hospital and caters for around 17,000 patients.


M*A*S*H was a comedy drama about war, and the futility and frustrations of war.  Is it fair to say that M*A*S*H, the hospital drama that sparked a whole genre, is the most popular TV series of all time? The story of the doctors and nurses of the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital based in Uijeongbu, South Korea, ran for 11 years – while the Korean War it was based upon only lasted for three. The final episode of M*A*S*H, which screened in February 1983, had nearly 122 million viewers, making it the most watched episode of a TV series in U.S television history. Though set in Korea M*A*S*H is generally considered to be an allegory for the then-recently-ended Vietnam War, which remained top of mind in the collective consciousness. The series became increasingly political as the show evolved. M*A*S*H was shot on two different sets – one at what is known today as Malibu Creek State Park at Calabasas, Los Angeles County, California; the other location being a sound stage at Fox Studios.

Nip Tuck

Created by Ryan Murphy and referred to as “immoral”, “twisted” and “smart”, the series focuses on two plastic surgeons who are in business together. One is a veritable sex-addict, driven by money, the other is an altruistic family man (with a very dysfunctional family). Described by fans as “addictive” this medical drama has a very different take on the doctor-patient relationship. This “deeply superficial” drama explores modern society’s obsession with perfection, and the idea of beauty being only skin deep (as some people are diabolical).  No episode is without the compulsory breast or butt cheek shot. Nip Tuck is filmed in California, USA, in four locations: Altadena, Los Angeles California, Marina del Rey and San Diego. It has won numerous awards including a Golden Globe for best TV drama series, and has been repeatedly nominated for Emmy’s and a host of other awards, including special effects. Filming began in 2003 and finished with its 100th episode in 2009.

Chicago Hope

One of the classic soap opera-style TV medical dramas, Chicago Hope had a dedicated fan base. Set in a fictional charity hospital called Chicago Hope Hospital, from the beginning the series was competing head to head with another medical drama, ER, with ER ending up as the ratings winner, while Chicago Hope, despite winning notable awards for it’s cast and quality, was shuffled to new timeslots. Each episode of Chicago Hope explores a moral dilemma, while following the lives of key cast as they struggle to survive long days, emotional turmoil, love, loss, life and death. Sensationalism and melodrama are key ingredients in the show.  Chicago Hope first went to air in 1994 and finished up in 2000. Shot in California, filming took place at a number of locations, such as 20th Century Fox Studios; City Hall in downtown Los Angeles; and Ren-Mar Studios, Hollywood.

Flying Doctors

Running from 1986 to 1992, The Flying Doctors is a classic Australian TV series, its Australian viewers were passionate followers and it was compulsory viewing in many households. It is based upon the efforts of the real Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia, a non-profit air ambulance service to isolated communities in regional and rural Australia. Well-written, beautifully shot and produced, with complex and believable characters and great acting.  Set mainly at Cooper’s Crossing, towards the end of its production life, and in an effort to reinvigorate it, the show it’s primary location was shifted to Broken Hill. During its nearly seven-year, run the series was filmed at Nulla Station, New South Wales; the Royal Botanic Gardens, Cranbourne, Victoria; Minyip in Victoria; Broken Hill, New South Wales; Lancefield, Victoria; and the Point Cook Royal Australian Airforce (RAAF) Base.


A big hit in the 1990’s, ER’s key plot plunged the audience into the work and personal lives of a group of emergency room doctors in the fictional County General Hospital, Chicago. The TV series, created by Michael Crichton, was strong enough to last a full 15 seasons before producers pulled the plug. The real set for the series was 2,000 miles away at the former Linda Vista Community Hospital in LA, California, an old facility that had ceased operating as a medical centre. Then not long after the series got going, filming moved to a set at Warner Bros studios, also in California.

Friends & Days of our Lives

As an honourable mention it’s hard to go past the cult 90’s TV series, ‘Friends’ in which actor Matt Le Blanc played the character of Joey Tribbiani, a naive yet loveable womaniser who is constantly struggling to find work as an actor in New York. In Friends, Joey’s career peaked early with two stints in the role of ‘Dr. Drake Ramoray’ in the real ‘Days of our Lives’ soap. Days of our Lives has been aired in the USA on almost every weekday since 1965. Filming of the soap is actually shot in Burbank, California although the acting references the town of ‘Salem’ in a vague, fictional state bordering Illinois. All scenes within hospitals and clinics (24 are mentioned in the show’s history) are shot within the studio at Burbank.


One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest


Here’s one for some of the more mature, readers who may remember the classic film, ‘One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest’. First released onto the big screen in 1975 patients in a mental institution take on Nurse Ratched, who was more like a evil dictator than a nurse, who were rallied together by a rebel, Randle Patrick McMurphy, played by Jack Nicholson. The film itself was filmed in multiple locations in Oregon, USA, and included the Oregon State Mental Hospital which is now the only state run psychiatric hospital in Oregon.