NOTE TO PRODUCER: photo credits follow each caption
As played by Patrick Dempsey (near right), Dr. Derek Shepherd — aka McDreamy — keeps Grey's Anatomy fans swooning. Back in the 1960s, Dr. Kildare's Richard Chamberlain could have been given the same nickname.
c. 1963, Everett Collection; 2010, ABC via Getty Images
The Good Guys
Doogie Howser, M.D. (Neil Patrick Harris) and Marcus Welby, M.D. (Robert Young) were decades apart (in age and airdates for their eponymous shows), but the teen prodigy and the veteran physician shared a kind bedside manner and a passion for patient care.
1990, 20th Century Fox/Everett Collection; 1969, Alamy
Bedside manners were hardly a priority for House's prickly Gregory House (Hugh Laurie). On Grey's Anatomy, the surly Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson) is called "the Nazi" by her colleagues.
2011, 20th Century Fox/Everett Collection; 2010, ABC via Getty Images
Patients came first for E.R.'s Doug Ross (George Clooney) and, before him, for M.A.S.H's Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce (Alan Alda). These rebels flouted the rules, typically saved the day — and always got the girl.
c. 1998, Jeff Katz/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images; c. 1975, Everett Collection
On the sitcom Frasier, psychiatrist Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer) doled out advice he often needed to follow himself. Joel Fleischman (Rob Morrow) was a painfully displaced New Yorker working as a country doctor in the Alaska-based Northern Exposure.
c. 1998, Alamy; c. 1993, Universal, Everett Collection
The Strong Women
Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman (Jane Seymour) took her practice to the western frontier. On Grey's Anatomy, contemporary docs Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh) and Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) doctor patients and their own personal lives in the halls of Seattle Grace.
c. 1995, Alamy; 2006, ABC via Getty Images
Laughter was the best medicine for The Cosby Show's Cliff Huxtable (Bill Cosby) and The Love Boat's Adam "Doc" Bricker (Bernie Kopell), both of whom seemed to spend more time practicing punch lines than medicine.
c. 1988, NBC/Photofest; c. 1980, Aaron Spelling Prods/Everett Collection
Star Trek's chief medical officer, the irascible Bones McCoy (DeForest Kelley), spent years gainfully employed in space. The X-Files' Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) was actually a surgeon, albeit one working as a skeptical FBI agent in search of non-earthly beings.
1968, CBS via Getty Images; 1990, 20th Century Fox/Everett Collection
As doctor detectives, Quincy, M.E. (Jack Klugman) and Diagnosis Murder's Dr. Mark Sloan (Dick Van Dyke) didn't have to worry about losing a patient — only a body.
c. 1978 and c. 1995, Everett Collection
The Good Listeners
Therapy sessions were rather more dramatic for psychiatrist Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco) of The Sopranos than they were for comedian Bob Newhart's alter ego — psychologist Bob Hartley — on The Bob Newhart Show, but both docs worked with their share of curious characters.
2004, HBO/Everett Collection; c. 1976, Everett Collection
The Future Superstars
Once upon a time, Denzel Washington and Mark Harmon charmed viewers as St. Elsewhere doctors Philip Chandler and Robert Caldwell. Each would go on to become a People magazine Sexiest Man Alive (in 1996 and 1986, respectively) and acclaimed actor.
c. 1985, NBC via Getty Images
PROMO:The daytime drama General Hospital began seeing patients 50 years ago this April, but it's the night-shift (aka prime-time) docs we remember most