Which Medical Shows Are Most Realistic? Ranking ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ ‘The Good Doctor’ & More

Medical Shows
ABC (3)

Medical shows on TV aren’t 100 percent accurate, but some are definitely closer to reality than others.

Over 20 years after ER set the tone, doctor-based series are still all the rage, with newer hits like New Amsterdam and The Good Doctor and established favorites like Grey’s Anatomy. So we decided to do a little investigating into which are most true-to-life, including taking a look at ones off the air like the aforementioned ER and Code Black.

From doctors doing the work of nurses to surgeons having an impossibly wide range of specialties, some creative licenses are being taken. Considering these medical inaccuracies, we ranked 10 popular hospital shows on a scale from 1 (totally unrealistic) to 10 (doctor-approved). (But don’t let that affect your binging; Private Practice is worth the watch on Netflix.)

Scroll down to find out how your favorite show scored!

Grey's Anatomy - Ellen Pompeo

Grey’s Anatomy (2005-Present)

Score: 3/10

It may be one of the most well-known medical shows on TV, but Grey’s is the least accurate when it comes to hospital life. There are the frequent sexcapades in hospital closets, interns performing surgeries and bypassing hospital superiors, and residents routinely making egregious mistakes without repercussions. In other words, Grey’s misses the mark when it comes to realism.


Private Practice (2007-2013)

Score: 3/10

The Grey’s spinoff was just as over-the-top with drama and relationships. Not to mention, there are the extraordinary cases and crazy situations. But in reality, day-to-day hospital life simply isn’t that exciting.

House - Hugh Laurie and his team of doctors: Omar Epps, Jesse Spencer, and Jennifer Morrison

House (2004-2012)

Score: 4/10

The most obvious flaw in House is that, despite his obvious opioid addiction, Dr. House (Hugh Laurie) is still able to practice medicine. Sadly, addiction among doctors can be a reality, but Dr. House’s constant pill-popping and inappropriate behavior would certainly lose him his medical license. On top of that, one small group of doctors performs all of the testing, focuses on one patient at a time, and faces one-in-a-million cases every episode.

The Resident

The Resident (2018-Present)

Score: 5/10

On top of the usual medical show mistakes, The Resident features frequent hospital hookups and even had one character whip out her phone in the OR to take a selfie. With that ratio of realism to entertainment, The Resident lands in the middle of the pack.

New Amsterdam - Season 1
Francisco Roman/NBC

New Amsterdam (2018-Present)

Score: 6/10

NBC’s medical drama may be inspired by one of America’s oldest hospitals, but its inspiration doesn’t necessarily translate into accuracy. Sure, New Amsterdam has mostly accurate depictions of medical treatment, but the over-the-top drama knocks it down a few pegs.


The Good Doctor (2017-Present)

Score: 6/10

ABC’s hit does have its fair share of medical errors — walking into an OR without a mask, unnecessarily removal of organs — but compared to other medical shows, it’s fairly accurate when it comes to medical jargon, diagnoses, and treatments. “Some [cases] do seem so outlandish, but the fact is they’re really medical truth,” lead medical consultant Dr. Oren Gottfried shared.

ER - Anthony Edwards as Doctor Mark Greene; George Clooney as Doctor Doug Ross; Sherry Stringfield as Doctor Susan Lewis; Noah Wyle as Doctor John Carter; Eriq La Salle as Doctor Peter Benton

ER (1994-2009)

Score: 7/10

ER accurately demonstrates how difficult it is to be an emergency doctor — even if the NBC drama did make some common mistakes. For instance, they frequently showed residents doing the work of nurses, and they often exaggerated how effective CPR actually is.

Code Black

Code Black (2015-2018)

Score: 7/10

One of the most prominent issues with this show is the name itself. CBS defines “code black” as the term for when an ER is overcrowded and understaffed. However, this term can mean very different things for different hospitals, including bomb threats and personal threats. That said, many real-life nurses have been vocal about the show’s accuracy, which earns it a 7/10.

Chicago Med - Season 3 - Marlyne Barrett as Maggie Lockwood, Rachel DiPillo as Sarah Reese, Oliver Platt as Dr. Daniel Charles, Brian Tee as Dr. Ethan Choi, S. Epatha Merkerson as Sharon Goodwin, Torrey DeVitto as Dr. Natalie Manning, Yaya DaCosta as April Sexton, Nick Gehlfuss as Dr. Will Halstead, Colin Donnell as Dr. Connor Rhodes
Nino Munoz/NBC

Chicago Med (2015-Present)

Score: 8/10

Dick Wolf’s Chicago Med is one of the more realistic hospital shows on TV. The series medical advisor, Andrew Dennis, estimates the medicine to be about 85 percent accurate. The writers also follow the rule that only published cases can be used.

Scrubs - Zach Braff and Donald Faison

Scrubs (2001-2010)

Score: 9/10

Surprisingly, TV comedy Scrubs ranks as the most realistic medical show with an overall score of an 9/10. Though not perfect — no medical show is — Scrubs manages to capture the residency training process and the dynamics of a hospital. Plus, it has realistic cases!