- “What has two thumbs and doesn't give a crap? Bob Kelso! How ya doin'.”— Dr. Kelso
Dr. Robert "Bob" Kelso, MD was the Chief of Medicine at Sacred Heart Hospital from 1985 until he willingly retired. He was in medicine for many years, including during the Vietnam War, until he turned 65 and quit his job. He stayed in Coffee Bucks for the next year, enjoying free muffins. He entered family practice locum tenens until Enid's passing, when he began teaching at Winston University.
As Chief of Medicine, he was seemingly desensitized by the death around him and was forced to make tough financial decisions without care of consequence to the patients or staff. He does have a sweet side, brought about by a dire situation or food. He is also a womanizer and has had many mistresses.
Dr. Kelso is portrayed by Ken Jenkins, who has appeared in 174 episodes of Scrubs over all nine seasons. He was a main cast member for the first eight seasons, appearing in the pilot. His last episode was the penultimate "Our Driving Issues". It is assumed that Kelso is still partially retired and teaching classes on the side.
At Sacred Heart
Bob Kelso was the Chief of Medicine at Sacred Heart Hospital from before 2001 to 2008. He worked as a medical doctor at the hospital for several years before receiving the promotion. Around the hospital, he is known for being a stickler for the budget and insensitive about patient or staff issues. Dr. Cox often challenged Bob on budget cuts and staff decisions, and sometimes Carla and the nurses stand against him as well. He is a doctor in a business man's job, and ultimately has to answer to the board of directors.
The Softer Side of Kelso
Although Kelso is often viewed as being mean or insensitive, he can also be sweet and nice. This side of him is rarely seen, but it can be acknowledged that he does want what is best for his staff and patients. The staff have determined that his cold attitude has stemmed from having to deal with death and illness for his entire working life, and that the quickest way to his heart is through his stomach.
Kelso's business decisions are primarily made with the best interests of the patients at heart. He runs the hospital to be as economically efficient as possible, such as when he selected a wealthy patient for a drug trial over a patient of J.D. and Dr. Cox, in the hope that the patient would donate money to the hospital so that he could reopen the "babymobile" to provide free prenatal care to underprivileged women, which the hospital recently had to discontinue due to budget cuts. Kelso also seems to have a soft spot for children, as seen when he meets Tyler Milligan, son of the patient in the season four episode, My Best Moment. He hopes to play catch with Milligan, and arranges for Milligan's father to get free medical care in the hospital over Christmas.
Kelso occasionally bends the rules and lends a helping hand when the staff need it most and has admitted to "looking the other way" when doctors and nurses use bureaucratic loopholes to treat patients without adequate insurance, such as Kelso's friend Maggie Kent. This was later lamented upon by the staff during Taylor Maddox's tenure as Chief of Medicine, who implemented policies to crack down on these practices.
Kelso often does his best to hide his emotions from employees in regards to the decisions he has to make. He cultivates a reputation that instills fear among his subordinates through his verbal abuse and fearful demeanor in front of the medical students, interns and the rest of the staff. Although primarily a source of amusement for him, it also appears to be a ploy to wean out the weak or incompetent. With an uncanny ability to discern employee's emotional frailties, he can intimidate them into quitting before they make life threatening mistakes that could seriously harm patients or be a huge liability to the hospital.
Bob Kelso was married to his wife Enid Kelso for 44 years, who was a wheelchair-bound overweight paraplegic. There was a rumor that once a year, on their anniversary, he and his wife slept together. The result was that a day afterward Dr. Kelso is in a 'good mood', during which you can ask him for anything and you'll get it. Only Turk knows that this is just a ruse by Kelso to keep people from asking for things any other day of the year. Enid was at a fat camp during this time. ("My Case Study") His loves his pet dogs very much, and was very sad when Baxter died. ("My Chopped Liver")
Dr. Kelso has a gay son, Harrison, who has been a source of torment to Kelso. He often cites his son's actions when commenting on others' problems. Although he constantly complains about his son's action, he really does love him; this is shown when he punishes Dr. Cox for bad-mouthing him, even in passing.
Dr. Kelso also has a nephew named Francis, who cleans pools. Little else is known about him.
Kelso had his hands full with Enid, but he also seemingly had a few other illegitimate families he keeps on the side. He has had many mistresses, mainly prostitutes, and even a Vietnamese son, Trong Tri whom he is putting through school. The family member who receives most of Kelso's love was his dog, Baxter; an Australian shepherd who was aggressive towards his wife, Enid. Both Baxter and Enid have passed away.
Leaving Sacred Heart
In 2007, he turned 65 and was told that he had no choice but to retire. After Elliot and Carla got Dr. Cox to convince the board to keep him, Kelso decided to quit on his own terms. He grabbed his portrait, thanked Ted for his years of loyalty, and drove away from Sacred Heart. ("My Dumb Luck") He returns to Sacred Heart on a regular basis, however, to eat the free muffins he won from Coffee Bucks. ("My Jerks") After feeling self conscious about hanging around Coffee Bucks all day, Kelso ventures off claiming to go traveling with Enid. However, it is revealed that he does not have enough money to travel as he wishes, and is content hanging around Coffee Bucks. ("My Happy Place") Although he enjoys his retirement, including the ability to stay in the Bahamas for an extended amount of time, he misses being a doctor. ("My Cuz") He has entertained the idea of temporarily working in family practice. ("My Chief Concern") He left Coffee Bucks to pursue working in family practice locum tenens on the same day J.D. left Sacred Heart, and Bob stole his favorite table and chairs from Coffee Bucks as a memento. ("My Finale")
As a Professor
After Enid's passing, Kelso returned to work so he doesn't have to sit at home alone. He is currently teaching courses at Winston University and chasing women. ("Our First Day of School") After one of the students drops out of med school, Kelso claimed his dorm room for himself, calling it his "love nest." He says that it is too awkward to bring home women to have sex in Enid's bed.
Kelso's has an extremely complicated relationship with Perry Cox. It's made up of one part hate and loathing and one part grudging respect. At times Kelso will do anything in his power to bring the hammer down on Cox, and other times they will be seen eating together and making fun of others. While Kelso does admit that Cox is a good doctor, he has no patience for the fact that Cox cannot just 'play the game' like everyone else, and instead goes by his own rules. The two of them often fight over new staff members, one trying to turn them against the other. Ever since Kelso retired, the position no longer gets in the way of their communication. They become "secret friends," which Kelso says has "all the thrill of an affair, but without all that exhausting sex." They occasionally talk outside of the hospital, and Cox sometimes looks to him for advice. ("My New Role")
Dr. Kelso's relationship with J.D. is very similar to his relationship with everyone else, excluding Dr. Cox and Carla. He treats him with apathy, very rarely valuing his opinion, and is usually happy to see him in distress. In one of the 'his story' episodes, however, Kelso thinks to himself that he is actually somewhat fond of J.D., imagining him as the perfect life-partner for his son, if he were gay. ("His Story IV"). And on J.D.'s last day at Sacred Heart, the two converse on what J.D. thought his ideal last day would be; though he couldn't match his expectations, Dr. Kelso offers a handshake and wishes J.D. the best of luck.
Dr. Kelso's relationship with Carla Espinosa started when she began temporarily getting rides to work with him and the two bonded outside of work where he admired her 'sassy' nature. However, Carla soon found being friends with Kelso alienated her from the nurses and Kelso began treating her as harshly as before to help her. Their current relationship is currently unmentioned on the show, but it appears to be back to the normal Kelso/Employee status.
Carla and Kelso have a mutual respect for one another and often help one another when necessary, Kelso gave Carla advice about how to handle Turk's mole and convinced her to take the fertility test she was trying to avoid having out of fear. Carla has helped Kelso out on a number of occasions in return.
Bob Kelso especially enjoys tormenting Elliot Reid. He constantly tries to undermine her confidence and self-worth, mocking her work decisions and lifestyle choices. She was at first extremely sensitive to this, and didn't think she could handle it. She has since become used to Dr. Kelso and has even gone as far as to openly mock him in his presence. For several episodes in Season 6, Dr. Kelso stopped speaking to Elliot when she left Sacred Heart to become a Private Practice doctor. He has since gone back to insulting her as a doctor.
Dr. Kelso's relationship with Christopher Turk is much like his relationship with everyone else, with the exception of his use of the name "Turk Turkelton", which he insists is Turk's real name since he first used it after getting drunk at Turk's wedding. The "Turkleton" name has also been used by several other characters, including Jordan, who might have heard it from Kelso. The "Turkelton" name has actually been transferred to Carla as well. Previously Kelso would refer to Carla as Nurse Espinosa. Currently though, he greets her as "Nurse Turkelton". Kelso has admitted that Turk is the best surgeon in Sacred Heart. ("My Cuz")
Ted Buckland is Kelso's personal punching bag. He takes every opportunity to crush Ted's confidence and even going as far as pushing him to attempted suicide after reminding him that his accumulated vacation time expired. However, before he left for his retirement he sincerely thanked Ted for everything. He also gathered some of New Sacred Heart's employees to see Ted off when he left to tour the nation with Gooch.
Dr. Kelso seems to despise Laverne Roberts as much as any nurse yet a long time ago he and nurse Roberts 'did it' once. 'He likes him some brown sugar', Carla's vision of Laverne Roberts explains to Carla while she is in a coma. However, this may not be true seeing as Laverne was so against sex before marriage. Although this may have been before Laverne became religious.
- Bahama Mama (easy on the Bahama, heavy on the Mama) ("My Best Moment") ("My Soul on Fire, Part 2")
- "Bessy", his car, which has been slammed into by a patient, and had an electric scooter dropped on it.
- Bobble heads
- Face Cake
- Good Soup
- Hearing his name spoken
- His backyard fountains ("My New Role")
- His gardener
- J.D (He "actually doesn't mind that goofy bastard")
- Johnny (You would know what he means if you went through what they went through)("His Story IV")
- Mesh boxers ("My Lawyer's in Love")
- Moist Cake ("My Way or the Highway")
- Money, Saving Money
- PacMan and Ms. PacMan
- Peanut butter on a spoon. ("Her Story II")
- Prostitutes (Preferably South-East Asians)
- Scones ("My Saving Grace")
- Shift switching
- The day hypodermic needles arrive
- Tyler Milligan
- Fine food
- Korean call girls
- Dr. Cox's rants
- Elliot Reid
- Every staff member
- Having to ask Carla for favors in Spanish
- Psych Docs
- Sex with his wife
- Spending money
- When people don't show him respect
- When People insult his son
- Dr. Cox (Pre-Friendship)
- Beelzebob (Dr. Cox) ("My Nightingale")
- Bob-a-tron ("My Boss's Free Haircut")
- Bob-o (self) (Dr. Cox) ("My Boss's Free Haircut")
- Bobarino (Dr. Cox)
- Bobby (Dr. Cox) ("My Bad")
- Bobcat (Dr. Cox) ("My Kingdom")
- Bottom-Line Bob (Dr. Cox)
- Mr. Sign-up-on-a-hospital-bulletin-board-for-private-german-lessons-and-then-never-show-up (Elliot) ("My Lips Are Sealed")
- Mr Doody-head (Elliot)
- Robbie (Elliot) ("My Tuscaloosa Heart")
- Special K (Duncook) ("Our Histories")
- Graduated 12th in his class from Stanford University in 1968 (allegedly).
- He had been sued 10 times. ("My Lucky Day")
- Had the high score on Sacred Heart's Pacman machine until Turk 'unplugged' it.
- In "My Way Home" it was revealed that he was once one of the best shortstop prospects in the Eastern League (AA) for Altoona. He was let go due to the influx of Dominican players and his constant referring to them by the name "Pepe".
- In "My Transition" it was revealed that he has oddly youthful legs (which he shaves) and well developed calf muscles. When he served in Vietnam, he would scare Charlie (his helicopter pilot) by vertical leaps of over 8' from the ground into the chopper.
- After Leonard lost his hand, and got a $5,000,000 settlement, Dr. Kelso put a quick release button on the ice machine to prevent anyone else from getting their hand stuck in the machine.
- In the episode "My Princess", the Dark Lord Oslek, (the antagonist based on Dr. Kelso) has the surname Kelso spelt backwards. Ted also calls Kelso Dr. Oslek in "My Dream Job" after he says he has stress induced dyslexia.
- In Season Seven, Kelso becomes annoyed by certain personal quirks of staff members (namely Dr. Cox's speeches and Elliot's stories which end with "and then he hung himself") and begins cutting them off.
- Like some physicians, he doesn't consider psychiatrists 'real doctors' and so makes Molly Clock do reports in order to "earn her keep"
- He also wrote songs in college and played them on his guitar. They were about a certain "bunny" character. Later, it is discovered that bunny is a pet name for his wife, Enid.
- Dr. Kelso also has a tattoo of the name "Johnny," on his ass. He's an old navy buddy and if you went through what they did, you'd understand.("My First Step")
- He had at one time a cigarette boat named "Dr. Feelgood".
- He has a nephew named Francis that cleans pools. ("My Big Brother")
- He has only one testicle. ("My Quarantine")
- He was married to Enid for 44 years until she died ("Our Drunk Friend")
- The first patient Kelso ever "killed" was a 19 year old girl who had severe abdominal pain. Kelso mistakenly thought she had appendicitis when she was unknowingly pregnant and her baby was ectopic, which caused her to bleed internally. Kelso didn't catch his mistake until it was too late and she died. ("My Dumb Luck")
- His name is possibly based on Aulus Cornelius Celsus, a famous ancient Roman doctor and encyclopedist.