Zach Braff’s 7 Best Movies and TV Shows

He may be no Superman, but he's amazed us regardless.

by J.R. Waugh
Zach Braff Movies TV Shows Scrubs
Image: Doozer Productions, Inc.

Zach Braff is a distinctive leading man in Hollywood, an accomplished actor, and director whose characters resonate well with viewers. His performances have led to numerous award nominations, and his particularly good ear for soundtrack selections even nabbed him a Grammy. Zach Braff has starred in an impressive array of movies and TV shows over the years and created quite a name for himself as a dramatic and comedic actor.

Best Films and TV Shows Featuring Zach Braff

Braff has been active in the industry now for 30 years and continues to make projects into the present. It can be argued that his major breakthrough happened in the early 2000s, but he’s still got movies and TV shows in the works. Here are some of his best work:

The Broken Hearts Club

Image: Sony Pictures Classics

A subversive yet positive take on romantic comedies, this film from 2000 was one of Braff’s earliest credits. Along with exploring typical romantic comedy tropes and themes, unlike the typically more serious tone taken for Hollywood movies centered on gay characters, the movie had an impressive cast.

Related: Best Jennifer Coolidge Movies and TV Shows

Along with Braff were other actors who have been commonly recognized among TV and movie viewers alike, like Timothy Olyphant, Dean Cain, and Jennifer Coolidge. Its writer/director, Greg Berlanti, has also been involved in probably more than one project you’ve heard of.

The High Cost of Living

Image: Tribeca Film

This film hits all the usual marks of an independent drama film, for which Zach Braff is well-known at this point. What sets it apart, however, is how it received particular distinctive honors at the Toronto International Film Festival where it debuted, winning Best Canadian First Feature Film.

Oz the Great and Powerful

Image: Walt Disney Studios

While Braff might not be the main star of this flick, his role is memorable in this origin story of the man behind the curtain. In it, Braff plays Finley, the winged monkey who mistakenly pledges his service to Oscar whom he believes to be the wizard he’s been waiting for. Much like the rest of the characters, Finley comes out of this story with some interesting developments and a landscape that sets the stage for the story of The Wizard of Oz. It doesn’t hurt that the movie features a stellar cast including James Franco, Mila Kunis, and Michelle Williams.


Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

One of Braff’s more recent appearances, Moonshot is a spacefaring romantic comedy starring Cole Sprouse and Lana Condor. Braff plays the supporting role of Leon Kovi, leader of the Mars program, who witnesses Walt (Sprouse) as he stows away on the journey and attempts to support this endeavor.

Manhattan Murder Mystery

Image: TriStar Pictures

As problematic as Woody Allen truly is known to be now, his films have made stars out of some massively high-profile actors through the years. Manhattan Murder Mystery holds the distinction in this case, as being Zach Braff’s first movie credit, and it also featured returning collaborating actors like Diane Keaton and Alan Alda. It’s certainly one of Allen’s stronger films, even though the allegations about his actions extend to even earlier than the release of this movie making it understandably difficult to justify a viewing.

Garden State

Image: Searchlight Pictures

Braff’s strongest film was also his directorial debut. In many ways, it helped define many established tropes about independent dramedy stories, including flawed protagonists, mental health, and even a proto-Manic Pixie Dream Girl played by Natalie Portman. It’s also one of the best soundtracks of any movie released in the era, and how the actor came to win a Grammy award for the film.


Image: Doozer Productions, Inc.

While Braff has starred in several TV shows, his greatest was a phenomenal single-camera workplace sitcom called Scrubs. The show followed Braff as Dr. John “JD” Dorian, who started the show as an intern at the Sacred Heart Hospital and bonds with coworkers, falls in and out of love, and gets his friends through some truly harrowing or hilarious moments. It breakdanced the line between comedy and tragedy at points, and while the show was undeniably from Braff’s character’s point of view, it featured some incredible guest stars.

Aside from typical fellow NBC talent featuring throughout the show’s run, including Friends stars Matthew Perry and Courteney Cox, there were some truly crazy and amusing guest appearances. This included musical guest stars like The Polyphonic Spree, a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance by an unhinged Gary Busey, and even amazing stints from Michael J. Fox, Heather Graham, and Colin Farrell. But perhaps the most memorable in recent years, especially in light of his Oscar win, is the recurring character Ben Sullivan, played by Brendan Fraser.

It was a special series that won the hearts of its viewers and had lead characters who were relatable yet wildly imperfect in a way you couldn’t help but root for them. It doesn’t hurt that the Janitor, played by Neil Flynn, accidentally predicted the location of Osama Bin Laden (entirely by coincidence as much of his lines are ad-libbed, but still!)

Zach Braff has been steadily working in movies and TV for 30 years, and aside from these above credits, he’s had multiple other appearances worth noting. Yes, that includes his brief set of appearances as fellow never-nude Phillip Litt in Arrested Development, and even appearances on Cougartown, created by Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence.

What’s Next for Zach Braff?

Braff’s characters can at times be despondent, and at others assertive, with highly introspective moments and nuanced portrayals that will resonate with viewers. We hope to see more of his work in the coming years, including his 4th director credit coming up, A Good Person, starring Florence Pugh, Morgan Freeman, and Molly Shannon. As if that’s not enough, he also recently directed episode 2 of Ted Lasso season 1, and episode 8 of Shrinking, with Harrison Ford and Jason Segel for Apple TV+.

- This article was updated on March 22nd, 2023

About The Author

J.R. is a content creator with AOTF and has been covering gaming and entertainment in the industry since 2022. Along with a B.A. in History from the University of Cincinnati, he has studied at the University of Birmingham, UK, and part of his M.A. at the University of Waterloo. You'll find J.R. particularly at home writing about the hottest manga and anime. He is highly passionate about horror, strategy, and RPGs, and anything about Star Trek or LOTR. When not ranting about fan theories or writing guides, J.R. also manages his local movie theater.