Hear Us Out

Hear Us Out: Gregory House Was TV's Last Great Doctor

Inspired by Sherlock Holmes, the irascible TV doctor lured us in, slapped us around, and healed our souls. On the show's 15th anniversary, we hail TV's abrasive medical antihero.

by | November 15, 2019 | Comments

HOUSE, Hugh Laurie, (Season 3), 2004-, photo: Andrew Macpherson / TM and Copyright © 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved, Courtesy: Everett Collection

(Photo by Andrew Macpherson / TM and Copyright © 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved, Courtesy: Everett Collection)

“Everybody lies.” As simple a statement as those two words are, they form the credo of Gregory House, the curmudgeonly antihero doctor who made Hugh Laurie a household name and central figure in House, Fox’s highly successful medical procedural that ran from 2004 to 2012.

House was not a likable guy. And yet, as much as the genius physician went out of his way to break rules, insult colleagues, put patients in danger, and feed into his own deeply troubled psyche — while masking his personal problems with a candy-popping Vicodin habit — there was an addictive quality in watching the man work. It’s been 15 years since the show’s premiere changed the face of medical dramas. Sure, the genre has continued to thrive on the small screen, but Gregory House MD was truly TV’s last great doctor.

His disruptive, manipulative nature intrigued us. He lured us in by flouting convention and putting his position and that of his colleagues in jeopardy, until finally that moment of epiphany promised by every episode locked us in and made us embrace this misunderstood medical madman.

It’s common knowledge that Dr. House was inspired, in part, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. Aside from the similarities in their last names and addresses — House lived at 221B which was a direct shout-out to Holmes’ residence on Baker Street — both men carried with them a distaste for the general public. Instead, they were driven by investigative motivations. Holmes was a detective out to solve the most dastardly bizarre crimes; House was a doctor by label, but at the character’s core, he was a medical detective. The criminals he fought were every crazy infectious disease that crossed his path.

HOUSE, Hugh Laurie, ' Both Sides Now ', (Season 5, episode 524, May 11, 2009), 2005-,. Photo: Larry Watson / © FOX / courtesy everett collection

(Photo by Larry Watson / © FOX / Courtesy Everett Collection)

Tapping into the Sherlock Holmes mythos was a winning formula for show creator David Shore. Not only does the dynamic between the chaotic internal workings of the famous detective provide engaging entertainment when met with his external brilliance, Sherlock is an iconic figure who continues to be explored in a variety of television programs to this day — from BBC’s cutting-edge Sherlock to CBS’s detective procedural Elementary.

But what if Sherlock Holmes worked in the medical field, a realm where a calming bedside manner and unrequited trust dictate an unspoken, yet expected, relationship between the doctor and the patient? House explored the answer to that question for eight seasons, and the deeper we dug into Gregory’s complex character story, the more audiences stayed on the hook.

As much as we loved to watch Dr. House exercise his biting wit and insulting personality to each and every person whose path he crossed, however, a glimpse of the misunderstood hero would randomly shine through his harsh exterior. His patients knew they were in good hands. House saw through the dishonesty of both the people he saved and the corporate overlords he served, while always searching for the ultimate truth buried inside every life-threatening riddle he and his team encountered.

HOUSE, Jesse Spencer, Jennifer Morrison, Omar Epps, Hugh Laurie, 'Meaning', (Season 3, airing Sept. 5, 2006), 2004-, photo: Michael Becker / TM and Copyright © 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved, Courtesy: Everett Collection

(Photo by Michael Becker / TM and Copyright © 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved, Courtesy: Everett Collection)

Of course, the man would have been nothing without the core group of physicians he turned to on a regular basis for support. From neurologist Dr. Eric Foreman (Omar Epps) and intensive care physician Dr. Robert Chase (Jesse Spencer) to immunologist Dr. Allison Cameron (Jennifer Morrison) and Olivia Wilde‘s rebellious Thirteen, House regularly turned to others for assistance in solving the mysterious problem of the week. And that just adds to the character’s allure. Because as much as his genius would regularly astound his colleagues and viewers alike, there was a very real theme of “fail until you succeed” that they faced on a daily basis.

Dr. House was an antihero, but at the end of the day, he was still a hero. His goal was to fix the disease, not the patient. But when you add in the regular bits of failure that would enter into his professional and personal life — the ongoing will they/won’t they between him and Dr. Lisa Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein), for example — added a welcome layer of humanity to him. The average viewer may dream of being on the same intellectual playing field as the man, but seeing the faults in the star doctor suddenly gave us all someone we could relate to, as well.

Dr. Gregory House didn’t always get it right. The show had its fair share of episodes where, by the end, a patient’s life was lost. As much as the medical procedural formula can be wrought with fairy-tale components that reassure viewers that everything will be all right, House always gave us a little wake-up call here and there, reminding us that fairy tales don’t belong in the operating room.

HOUSE, Omar Epps, Jennifer Morrison, Hugh Laurie, Robert Sean Leonard, Jesse Spencer, Lisa Edelstein, (Season 3), 2004-, photo: Andrew Macpherson / TM and Copyright © 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved, Courtesy: Everett Collection

(Photo by Andrew Macpherson / TM and Copyright © 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved, Courtesy: Everett Collection)

It’s been seven years since the program ended, and since then, a few networks have tried to fill the void Dr. House left. Some have come close, too. Take The Good Doctor, for instance: ABC’s heartwarming medical drama was created by House’s David Shore. The new drama, which stars Freddie Highmore as a doctor with autism, has achieved a fair share of success and was even called the inverted version of House by The AV Club’s Alex McLevy.

The era of the TV antihero has all but come and gone. The narrative pendulum has swung back into a territory ripe with feel-good stories. And as popular as the medical procedural genre continues to be, with the long-running soap opera drama of Grey’s Anatomy, for one, providing small-screen comfort food to the masses, there’s a wonder if another Dr. House will ever grace our screens again.

Whatever misunderstood genius medical practitioner grabs our attention next will have some big shoes to fill, however. House the most popular TV doctor in the world, and Hugh Laurie was named the most-watched man on television by the Guinness Book of World Records. He may have been inspired by Sherlock Holmes, but Dr. Gregory House was one in a million.

House is available to stream with an Amazon Prime subscription or to rent or own on FandangoNOW, iTunes, Google Play, YouTube, and Microsoft Store.

Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.

Tag Cloud

Star Wars cats mission: impossible lord of the rings science fiction Baby Yoda james bond ViacomCBS 21st Century Fox Kids & Family BAFTA romance Disney+ Disney Plus trailers rotten movies we love TCA Awards name the review Columbia Pictures YouTube Red Cannes space spanish language australia chucky singing competition Pixar Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Star Trek Sci-Fi Marvel RT History streaming movies cancelled television NBA blockbuster USA Network emmy awards twilight Fox Searchlight kaiju pirates of the caribbean DC streaming service sequels 2017 slasher Arrowverse Legendary Super Bowl spain Showtime VOD mockumentary zero dark thirty rom-coms Superheroes docuseries Marvel Television cooking indie facebook Marathons crime thriller Crunchyroll Photos Writers Guild of America Action Tomatazos royal family USA Apple godzilla PaleyFest Tumblr films adenture BBC sag awards Lionsgate Ellie Kemper gangster Election transformers basketball TCA 2017 First Look venice movie ABC Family Nominations justice league toy story scary movies monster movies zombie Song of Ice and Fire Awards Tour remakes Country Image Comics Year in Review ABC Signature spanish supernatural historical drama dogs DC Comics LGBTQ Warner Bros. worst 2015 action-comedy Heroines Pop comedies concert child's play new zealand medical drama tv talk book TV Land Apple TV Plus Acorn TV Calendar Stephen King Brie Larson renewed TV shows indiana jones Rom-Com Red Carpet FX El Rey Grammys Tubi christmas movies BET Awards 2016 cancelled screen actors guild 2019 universal monsters strong female leads batman new star wars movies spider-man crime Mary Poppins Returns 2018 new york technology Teen Adult Swim psycho richard e. Grant independent Trailer dark Hallmark Christmas movies japan telelvision Women's History Month Peacock Shudder Fox News prank book adaptation Black Mirror black History E3 asian-american dc Comic Book Shondaland TV One Reality Freeform Character Guide Martial Arts See It Skip It TV blaxploitation SDCC crime drama Marvel Studios NBC social media nature Podcast award winner football king kong nbcuniversal Broadway streaming laika Logo 2021 biography witnail psychological thriller Video Games 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards live action superhero dramedy Universal superman jurassic park Thanksgiving ESPN Mary poppins free movies green book werewolf Chernobyl cults 1990s A&E best scorecard reboot period drama ABC slashers Trivia stoner Masterpiece TCM Toys Endgame Certified Fresh Vudu WGN rt archives news TV renewals TCA Winter 2020 olympics breaking bad anthology Mindy Kaling kids APB high school marvel cinematic universe BBC America Travel Channel Horror Pride Month Lucasfilm nfl Television Academy serial killer war Pop TV Exclusive Video YouTube Funimation cartoon rt labs Spectrum Originals diversity international popular sitcom Amazon Valentine's Day San Diego Comic-Con critics spy thriller Discovery Channel halloween tv binge MSNBC festival Musical miniseries canceled The Purge 73rd Emmy Awards king arthur Television Critics Association festivals Superheroe OneApp TIFF Sundance TV Turner Winter TV The Walking Dead directors Sony Pictures RT21 hidden camera video know your critic adventure police drama young adult debate fresh Amazon Studios doctor who CNN disaster GoT scene in color Captain marvel Esquire HBO Max canceled TV shows zombies FOX parents cars Rocketman jamie lee curtis Paramount Network Paramount Plus political drama boxing 45 series Box Office cancelled TV series Hulu PlayStation The Arrangement Nickelodeon Watching Series die hard discovery Family game of thrones Interview hispanic heritage month Countdown vampires Set visit Trophy Talk south america Cosplay romantic comedy cancelled TV shows mcc President talk show versus cinemax 20th Century Fox 24 frames IFC robots Mystery ghosts OWN critic resources YA legend deadpool Lifetime Christmas movies 007 DGA Comedy Netflix Christmas movies revenge Awards heist movie National Geographic foreign Pet Sematary 71st Emmy Awards comic stand-up comedy Spring TV Best and Worst Disney feel good Disney streaming service Western comics screenings MTV Cartoon Network children's TV Amazon Prime LGBT what to watch Tokyo Olympics reviews obituary Wes Anderson Extras wonder woman Netflix thriller 99% Premiere Dates Ovation Hallmark quibi Walt Disney Pictures VH1 Drama DC Universe sports Britbox Film Rock dexter adaptation rt labs critics edition New York Comic Con Comics on TV stop motion The Witch FXX women Black History Month Starz Syfy Film Festival saw Crackle casting A24 cops target Ghostbusters Amazon Prime Video Reality Competition worst movies AMC posters animated kong The Academy 90s documentary video on demand BBC One hispanic Holidays Lifetime composers Creative Arts Emmys hist MCU rotten Music golden globes Tarantino American Society of Cinematographers Sundance Disney Channel Rocky Holiday razzies dceu harry potter Disney Plus SundanceTV comic books finale YouTube Premium Mary Tyler Moore natural history aapi based on movie theme song 72 Emmy Awards aliens documentaries E! Comedy Central latino GLAAD Quiz japanese television Schedule GIFs Classic Film TV movies teaser 4/20 travel Christmas unscripted Food Network Academy Awards Animation all-time comic book movie Binge Guide Avengers spinoff IFC Films DirecTV satire elevated horror X-Men anime franchise a nightmare on elm street Nat Geo Turner Classic Movies TNT criterion Anna Paquin dragons Fantasy Pirates SXSW sequel blockbusters suspense Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Fall TV NYCC VICE ratings CW Seed Bravo Alien HBO Go CBS All Access french archives Musicals FX on Hulu marvel comics PBS hollywood Dark Horse Comics movies game show Winners Paramount classics golden globe awards The CW boxoffice TCA toronto Spike Polls and Games fast and furious Elton John TBS 2020 true crime comiccon First Reviews Biopics Comic-Con@Home 2021 ID mutant ITV crossover CBS Summer biopic Apple TV+ Epix comic book movies WarnerMedia politics CMT BET italian Emmy Nominations The Walt Disney Company docudrama Mudbound halloween Sneak Peek 93rd Oscars Pacific Islander Infographic TLC TruTV HBO joker Opinion Sundance Now Oscars Emmys Hear Us Out