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

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