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

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