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

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