Gregory House, M.D., (often simply referred to as House) is the title character and antihero of the American television series House, played by Hugh Laurie. House is the Chief of Diagnostic Medicine at the fictional Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital in New Jersey, where he leads a team of diagnosticians. House's character has been described as a "misanthropist", "cynic", "narcissist" and "curmudgeon".
In the series, the character's unorthodox diagnostic approaches, radical therapeutic motives, and stalwart rationality have resulted in much conflict between him and his colleagues. House is also often portrayed as lacking sympathy for his patients and having a practice allowing him the time to solve pathological enigmas. The character is partly inspired by Sherlock Holmes. A portion of the show's plot centers on House's habitual use of Vicodin to manage pain stemming from a leg infarction involving his quadriceps muscle some years earlier, an injury that forces him to walk with a cane. This addiction is also one of the many parallels to Holmes, who was a habitual user of cocaine.
Throughout the series' run, the character has received positive reviews. Tom Shales of The Washington Post called House "the most electrifying character to hit television in years". In 2008, House was voted second sexiest TV doctor ever, behind Dr. Doug Ross (George Clooney) from ER. For his portrayal, Laurie has won various awards, including two Golden Globe Awards for Best Actor in a Television Drama Series and a Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actor from Drama Series. Laurie also earned Primetime Emmy Award nominations in 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. TV Overmind has named House the best TV character of the last decade.
Gregory House was born to John and Blythe House (R. Lee Ermey and Diane Baker) on 15 May 1959 or 11 June 1959. House is a "military brat"; his father served as a Marine Corps pilot and transferred often to other bases during House's childhood. One place in which his father was stationed was Egypt, where House developed a fascination with archaeology and treasure-hunting, an interest which led him to keep his treasure-hunting tools well into his adulthood. Another station was Japan, where, at age 14, House discovered his vocation after a rock climbing incident with his friend. He witnessed the respect given to a buraku doctor who solved the case that no other doctor could. He also spent some time in the Philippines, where he received dental surgery. House loves his mother but hates his father, who he claims has an "insane moral compass", and deliberately attempts to avoid both parents. At one point, House tells a story of his parents leaving him with his grandmother, whose punishments constituted abuse. However, he later confesses that it was his father who abused him. Due to his father abusing him, House never believed that John House was his biological father; at the age of 12, he deduced that a friend of his family with the same birthmark was his real father. In the season 5 episode "Birthmarks", House discovers that this was true, after he ordered a DNA test that compared his DNA against John's. After performing a second DNA test in the season 8 episode "Love is Blind", House discovers that the man who he thought was his biological father, Thomas Bell, wasn't his biological father either. The identity of his real father is as-yet-unknown.
House first attended Johns Hopkins University as an undergraduate. Before choosing medicine as his discipline, he considered getting a Ph.D. in physics, researching dark matter. He was accepted to the Johns Hopkins Medical School, and excelled during his time there. He was a front runner for a prestigious and competitive internship at the Mayo Clinic; however, during this time in medical school, he was caught cheating by another student, Philip Weber. During the time he was appealing his expulsion he studied in the medical school at the University of Michigan, where, while working at a bookstore, he met his future employer and love interest Lisa Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein), with whom he shared (in his words) a night where "he gave her everything she asked for. After the appeal process, he was denied re-entry into the Johns Hopkins Medical School. During a medical convention in New Orleans that he attended shortly after graduating medical school, House first saw his eventual friend Dr. James Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) among a "sea of boring people" clutching a package. House deduced that it contained divorce papers. While at a bar, Wilson accidentally broke an antique mirror in frustration and started a bar fight after a man, "allegedly" House, repeatedly played "Leave a Tender Moment Alone" by Billy Joel to test Wilson who indeed was going through his first divorce at the time. House bailed him out and hired an attorney to clear his name, thus starting their professional and personal relationship. House eventually became a Board certified diagnostician with a double specialty in infectious disease and nephrology.
Approximately ten years before the beginning of the series, House entered into a relationship with Stacy Warner (Sela Ward), a constitutional lawyer, after she shot him during a "Lawyers vs. Doctors" paintball match. Five years later, during a game of golf, he suffered an infarction in his right leg which went misdiagnosed for three days due to doctors' concerns that he was exhibiting drug-seeking behavior. House would eventually diagnose the infarction himself. An aneurysm in his thigh had clotted leading to an infarction and causing his quadriceps muscle to become necrotic. House had the dead muscle bypassed in order to restore circulation to the remainder of his leg, risking organ failure and cardiac arrest. He was willing to endure excruciating post-operative pain to retain the use of his leg. However, after he was put into a chemically induced coma to sleep through the worst of the pain, Warner, House's medical proxy, acted against his wishes and authorized a safer surgical middle-ground procedure between amputation and a bypass by removing just the dead muscle. This resulted in the partial loss of use in his leg and left House with a lesser, but still serious, level of pain for the rest of his life. House could not forgive Stacy for making the decision and this was eventually the reason Stacy left him. House now suffers chronic pain in his thigh and uses a cane to aid his walking. He also frequently takes Vicodin to relieve his pain. House does however break his addiction with psychiatric help, after he suffers a psychotic break. When Warner makes her first appearance in season 1, she is married to a high school guidance counselor named Mark Warner. Although she and House have a brief, intimate encounter during the second season, House eventually tells Stacy to go back to her husband, devastating her.
At the beginning of season three, House temporarily regains his ability to walk and run after receiving ketamine treatment. However, the chronic pain in his leg comes back and House takes painkillers and uses his cane once again. The other doctors speculate that his cane and opiate re-usage are due to his psychological tendencies. On a routine clinic visit, a police detective, Michael Tritter, is seen by House. Tritter observes House taking Vicodin for his pain and attributes that as his reason for being rude and a bully. Tritter, beliving that doctors should be more responsible while practicing medicine, decides to take it upon himself to take legal action to curb House of his addiction by launching an investigation into House's addiction and suspected drug abuse. The investigation slowly involves Cuddy, Wilson and House's diagnostics team using extreme measures to get information. House, being forcibly weaned off of Vicodin to take a deal where he would keep his medical license, goes to extreme lengths to manage his pain by stealing Oxycodone from a cancer patient of Wilson's who had just died giving Tritter what he needed to bring House to trial. At the pretrial hearing, the Judge decides that House is not a danger to society and that his pain management for his leg is not as serious as Tritter made it seem. This conclusion is reached when Cuddy manufactures evidence and perjures herself to keep House out of jail.
During season five, House once again regains his ability to walk without pain after taking methadone, but soon stops after nearly killing a patient due to an uncharacteristic medical error. At the end of season five, House's use of Vicodin reaches a level in which House starts hallucinations about a former fellowship candidate and a relationship with Cuddy. When House comes to the conclusion that the Vicodin is making him hallucinate and taking over his life, he checks himself into Mayfield Psychiatric Hospital. At the start of season six, after spending time in the Mayfield, House stops taking pain medications and with the help of Dr. Darryl Nolan, finds other ways to deal with his pain and other aspects of his life. Thirteen and Wilson discover that House is a great cook, attributing this to House thinking of ingredients in terms of chemistry. House eventually finds the one thing that seems to help the pain go away: practicing medicine. After he diagnoses a patient online for his team (without their knowledge) and he shows Doctor Nolan how this reduces his pain, Nolan suggests that House resume his medical career. In season seven when Cuddy, who is House's girlfriend at this point, has a brush with death. House, who tries to deal with the fear of losing her, goes back on Vicodin. In season eight, House finds himself in jail after running his car into Cuddy's house. There he finds that his need for Vicodin is a weakness when an inmate makes House steal 20 pills of Vicodin or be killed. Throughout season eight House's use of Vicodin is pretty typical just like before season five.
House's character frequently shows his cunning and biting wit, enjoys picking people apart, and often mocks their weaknesses. House accurately deciphers people's motives and histories from aspects of their personality and appearance. His friend and colleague Wilson says although some doctors have the "Messiah complex"—they need to "save the world", House has the "Rubik's complex"—he needs to "solve the puzzle". House typically waits as long as possible before meeting his patients. When he does, he shows an unorthodox bedside manner and uses unconventional treatments. However, he impresses them with rapid and accurate diagnoses after seemingly not paying attention. This skill is demonstrated in a scene where House diagnoses an entire waiting room full of patients in little over one minute on his way out of the hospital clinic. Critics have described the character as "moody," "bitter," "antagonistic," "misanthropic," "cynical" "grumpy," "maverick", "anarchist," "sociopath," and a "curmudgeon." The Global Language Monitor chose the word "curmudgeon" as the best way to describe the character.
Laurie describes House as a character who refuses to "obey the usual pieties of modern life" and expects to find a rare diagnosis when he is treating his patient. As a protagonist, many aspects of his personality are the antithesis of what might be expected from a doctor. Executive producer Katie Jacobs views House as a static character who is accustomed to living in misery. Jacobs has said that Dr. Wilson, his only friend in the show, and House both avoid mature relationships, which brings the two closer together. Leonard has said that Dr. Wilson is one of the few who voluntarily maintains a relationship with House, because he is free to criticize him.
Although House's crankiness is commonly misattributed to the chronic pain in his leg, both Stacy and Cuddy have said that he was the same before the infarction. To handle the chronic pain in his leg, House takes Vicodin every day, and as a result has developed an addiction to the drug. He refuses to admit that he has an addiction ("I do not have a pain management problem, I have a pain problem"). However, after winning a bet from Cuddy by not taking the drug for a week, he concedes that he has an addiction, but says that it is not a problem because it does not interfere with his work or life. In the 2009 season House goes through detox and his addiction goes into remission, so to say. However, it does seem that House may have gotten over his addiction in the season 6 premiere. House creator David Shore told the Seattle Times in 2006 that Vicodin is "becoming less and less useful a tool for dealing with his pain, and it's something [the writers] are going to continue to deal with, continue to explore". House openly talks about, and makes references to, pornography. In "Lines in the Sand", he returns the flirtations of a female underage patient. He regularly engages the services of prostitute of which his former female diagnostic team member Dr. Allison Cameron (Jennifer Morrison), who has a crush on him, is aware.
A polyglot, House speaks English, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, Hindi, and Mandarin. House is an atheist. He plays the piano (as does Hugh Laurie) and has an interest in vintage electric guitars. He openly and relentlessly mocks colleagues and patients who express any belief in religion, deeming such beliefs as illogical. He does not believe in an afterlife because he finds it is better to believe that life "isn't just a test". However, in the season four episode "97 Seconds", he expresses sufficient interest in the possibility of an afterlife to electrocute himself in an effort to find out; however, he is dissatisfied with the results and denounces the possibility of an afterlife. This is also an example of House's tendency to self-experiment and submit to risky medical procedures in the name of truth. Over the course of the series, he disproves the effectiveness of a migraine cure by self-inducing a migraine and controlling the effects through drugs, undergoes a blood transfusion to assist with a diagnosis, and overdoses on physostigmine to improve his memory after sustaining head injuries, subsequently causing his heart to stop beating, then undergoes deep brain stimulation soon after.
House frequently says "Everybody lies", but jokingly remarked that he was lying when he said that in the first season finale. Even though that could be mistaken as an example of the Liar paradox, House was not creating a paradox when he said he was lying. House criticizes social etiquette for lack of rational purpose and usefulness. Dr. Cameron states in the first episode of the first season "House doesn't believe in pretense ... so he just says what he thinks". In the season three episode "Lines in the Sand", he explains how he envies an autistic patient because society allows the patient to forgo the niceties that he must suffer through. In the same episode, Dr. Wilson suggests that House might have Asperger syndrome, which is characterized by a number of traits found in House, such as difficulty accepting the purpose of social rules, lack of concern for his physical appearance, and resistance to change; though he later reveals to House that he does not truly believe this, and that claiming this was a part of a ploy to soften Cuddy's opinion of House. House is a strong nonconformist and has little regard for how others perceive him. Throughout the series, he displays sardonic contempt for authority figures. House shows an almost constant disregard for his own appearance, possessing a permanent stubble and dressing informally in jeans, T-shirts, and sneakers. He avoids wearing the standard white lab coat to avoid patients recognizing him as a doctor.
House does not have much of a social life, and his only real friend is Dr. James Wilson. Wilson knew House before the infarction and looked after him when House's relationship with Stacy ended. Dr. Wilson's moving into House's apartment after his failed marriage in "Sex Kills" symbolizes his taking emotional refuge in his friend.Although they frequently analyze and criticize each other's motives, Wilson has risked his career to protect House, including having his job terminated in the first season as an effort of Edward Vogler to dismiss House, and having his practice damaged by Detective Michael Tritter in an investigation of House's narcotics consumption. House has quietly admitted, at several instances, that he is grateful for Wilson's presence, including referring to Wilson as his best friend. When Wilson resigns and moves away from both New Jersey and House's friendship in the season 5 premiere, House is desperate to have his friend back, and hires a private investigator (Michael Weston) to spy on him. The two ultimately reconcile at House's father's funeral in a scene similar to their first meeting where Wilson again breaks something valuable with a glass in a moment of anger, this time directed at House.
Edelstein has said that despite his sardonic personality, House is a character who is reliant on people surrounding him. Edelstein says this characteristic is portrayed on several occasions in the third season, during which House's medical career is in jeopardy due to investigations by Det. Michael Tritter (David Morse), who arrests him for possessing narcotics. House's legal trouble ends when Edelstein's character, Lisa Cuddy, commits perjury during his hearing. In Season 5, a relationship with Cuddy begins to blossom, as they are unable to deny feelings between each other. They share a kiss in episode six "Joy" which sparked an ongoing romantic tension between them. When Cuddy's office is destroyed by a gunman and is being renovated, she moves into House's office in what Wilson believes to be an attempt to get closer to House. The two try to drive each other away, doing things to each other's office to make them worse, but in an uncharacteristically nice move, House has Cuddy's mother send her medical school desk for her new office as a surprise. Cuddy is touched by what he did, but is devastated when she spots him with a prostitute he hired, not knowing he had done so only to mess with Kutner and Taub. In the season finale "Both Sides Now" it is confirmed that House wishes to pursue a romantic relationship with Cuddy. In this same episode he believes he has slept with Cuddy and informs Dr. James Wilson the following morning. This however is revealed to be a psychosis, which is a side effect of his Vicodin abuse. The House-Cuddy story culminates in the season 6 finale, "Help Me", when Cuddy cancels her engagement to Lucas to face the inevitable realization of her loving House all along; they share a passionate kiss, thus hinting on mutual willingness to try to develop a real relationship. However, in season 7, this relationship is ended when House starts taking Vicodin again when he is faced with Cuddy possibly having a terminal illness.
House can also been seen acting as mooch at times, frequently stealing food from Wilson. In "You Don't Want to Know," while House is searching for the cause of Thirteen's twitching, he claims to have stolen money from her wallet. In the same episode, Wilson later observes that House's blood type is AB, the universal recipient, reflecting his desire to take whatever he can.