James Evan Wilson, M.D., is a fictional character on the Fox medical drama House. He is played by Robert Sean Leonard. The character first appears in the show's pilot episode when he introduces a medical case to Dr. Gregory House, the protagonist of the show. Wilson is Dr. House's only true friend, and frequently provides him with consultations and aid. Wilson is the head of the Department of Oncology at Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital.
During the show's run, the characters of Dr. Gregory House and Dr. James Wilson have been compared to Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson. Wilson's portrayer, Robert Sean Leonard, has stated that his character and Dr. House were originally supposed to play these roles, but Dr. House's diagnostic team has taken over Dr. Wilson's part since the show's premiere. Leonard also read the script of the pilot episode of CBS' Numb3rs and was planning to audition for the part, but auditioned for House because he felt he would more enjoy playing the character that House went to for help and because he liked the "Odd Couple" dynamic of the relationship.
The character was positively received. Alan Sepinwall of The Star-Ledger described Wilson as "the only irreplaceable supporting character" of the show, as well as Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune, who stated that Wilson can "never, never, never, never" leave the show.
The character's name is derived from two neighboring buildings (James Administration Building and Wilson Hall) located within McGill University's downtown campus.
Wilson is one of three brothers from a Jewish household. He has an undergraduate degree from McGill University, and graduate degrees from Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania.
Shortly after a medical convention in New Orleans that he attended after graduating medical school, Wilson accidentally broke an antique mirror and started a bar fight when a random man repeatedly played "Leave A Tender Moment Alone" by Billy Joel to the frustration of Wilson, who was going through a divorce with his first wife at the time. Out of interest, House bailed him out and hired an attorney to clear his name, thus starting their professional and personal relationship. In the season 1 episode "Histories", it is revealed that one of his brothers is homeless and that Wilson is unaware if he is still alive as he has not seen him in nine years. Wilson has a history of failed marriages: he is married to his third wife during the show's first season and, with the discovery of his wife's infidelity, separates from her during the second season. After the failure of his third marriage, Wilson lives in various temporary accommodations (including a stint at House's own apartment) until he meets Amber Volakis, who is a female substitute for House. He is described as "nearly 40" in Don't Ever Change. Wilson and House's relationship has been sorely tested on many occasions.
House describes Wilson as "a buddy of mine people say 'Thank you' to, when he tells them they are dying." House also describes Wilson as an "emotional vampire". On a date with Dr. Lisa Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein), Wilson evades a question as to whether or not he wants children.
However, Wilson defends House when House's career is in jeopardy, after billionaire entrepreneur and then chairman of the hospital board Edward Vogler (Chi McBride) proposes a motion for House's dismissal. Wilson is the only one to vote against the motion. In response, Vogler proposes and succeeds in obtaining Wilson's dismissal from the board, but Wilson is soon reinstated thanks to Cuddy after she convinces the board that Vogler is the real threat to the hospital and his money is not worth the business-obsessed mindset with which he tries to rule the hospital. In a late season three episode it is revealed that Wilson suffers from clinical depression and uses a prescription for his illness. Wilson is also seen to be left-handed, a trait he shares with Cuddy and Foreman.
Wilson attempts to change House's drug habits, with little success. After Cuddy makes a bet to prove House's addiction to Vicodin, House concedes to Wilson that he has an addiction, but says that the addiction is not a problem. It is, in fact, Wilson who usually writes House's Vicodin prescriptions (with Cuddy writing a few merely for leverage in her dealings with House). In Season 3, when Detective Michael Tritter (David Morse) threatens to jail House for his Vicodin addiction after finding a huge stash in his apartment, Wilson attempts to convince House to attend rehab as the situation worsens. After Tritter pressures Wilson to testify several times, Wilson reluctantly agrees, unknown to House. Before this, Wilson watches House punch Dr. Robert Chase in a reaction to his detoxing, insult Cuddy, and incorrectly diagnose a child with a condition that would have required an amputation of one of her arms and legs.
Near the end of season 4, Wilson starts a romantic relationship with Amber Volakis, because she is House in female form, and who competed for one of the open jobs on House's team in the wake of Foreman, Chase, and Cameron's departure. In the season finale, she dies as a result of a bus crash sustained while picking up a drunken House from a bar. Her death eventually leads Wilson to conclude that his relationship with House only serves to enable House's dysfunctions. To remove himself from House's influence, he resigns from Princeton-Plainsboro at the beginning of season 5. The two reconcile when Wilson forces House to attend the funeral of House's father. Wilson realizes that he had been afraid of losing House, who is his true friend, and that Wilson's life didn't get any better when he resigned. He then returns to Princeton Plainsboro.
During Season 5 it is revealed that Danny, one of Wilson's brothers (who had previously been mentioned as being homeless), suffered from schizophrenia since adolescence, which is what caused him to run away in the first place. Wilson blames himself for his brother's homelessness, having hung up on his brother right before he disappeared. Wilson also reveals to House that he took the position at Princeton-Plainsboro because it was near the place he had last seen Danny. When Wilson finds out that Danny is in the psych ward of New York Mercy, House offers to come with him to keep him company, noting that it could end badly. However, when Wilson is let in to see his brother, House is busy with a differential with his team.
In the season's 15th episode "Private Lives", House discovers that Wilson, in his youth, had been an actor in some scenes of a porn movie called "Feral Pleasures", and throughout the episode, after House hangs posters of the movie all over the hospital, people start paraphrasing a quote by Wilson's character: "Be not afraid. The forest nymphs have taught me how to please a woman". In addition, Wilson proposes a joke marriage to House in "The Down Low".
Gay references have been made to the relationship between the two characters of the show. House has made a comment about the relationship between them ("I'm gay!...Oh that's not what you meant. It would explain a lot, though: no girlfriend, always with Wilson, the obsession with sneakers..."). Barbara Barnett said that "House is the needy one in the relationship, and Wilson the doormat" Verne Gay of Newsday described House's love for Wilson as "touching and genuine".However, Robert Sean Leonard compared the relationship between the two characters to the relationship between Cesar Millan and his pitbull, while Hugh Laurie said that the relationship between the characters is "not just buddydom". The two characters appeared on the cover of the October 13, 2008 issue of TV Guide.