TV

7 Core Elements Of House That Were Set Up In The Pilot

Summary

  • House leans on his best friend Wilson, just as Holmes relies on Watson, to persuade him to take on patients and to serve as a moral compass.
  • House treats everyone poorly, from his boss to his best friend and patients, displaying his arrogance and negativity towards others.
  • House’s love for music and art is a key aspect of his character, providing a softer and more emotional side to him that contrasts with his logical thinking.


House M.D. is an incredibly well executed medical drama show which laid out several of its core elements from the very first episode. The series, created by David Shore, follows the brilliant, yet unruly and unorthodox Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie) as he seeks to help unravel the mysteries behind unique and intriguing medical cases. Along with a crack team of medical specialists, House takes on rare cases that appear unsolvable and finds the solution to best treat his patients.

The series was inspired by Sherlock Holmes and has several references to the reclusive genius detective that show the similarities between House and Holmes throughout the series. And upon rewatching House, it becomes clear that several elements which carried through to the very end, and played a significant role in almost every episode, were established during the “Pilot.” This appears to be a clear indication that a lot of thought and effort went into the series from the very beginning and the show is made all the better for that.


7 House Loves Wilson

Despite Treating Him Poorly

Just as Holmes relies on John Watson to support him and occasionally serve as a moral compass, House leans on Dr. James Wilson, his best friend and fellow doctor at Princeton-Plainsboro Hospital. Wilson has an abundance of compassion, patience, empathy, and genuine desire to help others, and when House is stubbornly refusing to take on any patients or help individuals who he deems boring, Wilson is frequently the man to persuade him. In the “Pilot” episode, Wilson lies to House about a new patient being his cousin, which results in House taking the case as a favor. The two push each other, and have a tight bond which continues throughout the series.

6 House Is Also A Jerk

To Patients, Colleagues, And Everyone Else

Hugh Laurie and Lisa Edelstein as Gregory House and Lisa Cuddy Looking into Each Other's Eyes in House, M.D.

While most doctors may at least attempt to develop some sort of bedside manner, House doesn’t try to play silly games, convincing people that he cares. House genuinely does not care when it comes to most people. House treats everyone poorly to an equal level, from House’s boss, Lisa Cuddy, to his best friend, Wilson, and any patient he comes into contact with. House displays his arrogance and negativity liberally in the first episode, immediately establishing how his character behaves and views the world around him.

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5 Philosophy And Music Is Key

House Enjoys Art More Than People

dr gregory house playing piano

Again, leaning into the connections with Sherlock Holmes, House finds it soothing to listen to music, as well as playing instruments like the piano to keep his mind and hands active. In the first episode, House loudly plays music to help himself focus. Throughout later episodes and seasons, House continues to reveal his love for music and art as a whole. This side to his character is somewhat softer and more emotional, as it is less about logic and more about the feelings and sensations which can be achieved by playing or listening to the right notes at the right time.

4 House Doesn’t Play By The Rules

Of Neither The Law Nor The Hospital

House is behind bars in House MD.

House is often reckless in his behaviors. He plays fast and loose with the rules and as soon as he comes across a credible theory, he often starts prescribing medicine and treatments ahead of the results in the hopes that the correct conclusion has been found. In the “Pilot” alone, House orders several intense tests which put his patient in danger, before eventually narrowing the illness down to just a few options. When weighing up how to find out which treatment is required, House decides to halt all current treatments and see how quickly the patient starts to deteriorate.

This same attitude of acting first and asking questions later leads to several issues later on, not least of all with his vicodin addiction, and being fired with the threat of losing his medical license for his irregular procedures. It can feel like House is employing the shotgun method to diagnose his patients, but there is a method to the madness, and House usually comes out the other side with a positive diagnosis and a patient who has been cured. Ultimately, House’s failure to abide by the law results in plenty of conflict in the final few seasons.

3 House’s Vicodin Addiction

House Suffers From Addiction

Hugh Laurie as Gregory House in a hospital bed with nurses and doctors working on him in House, MD

As touched upon above, House is also addicted to vicodin. House has a severely injured leg which he describes as being in constant agony, but the vicodin appears to be much more than just a pain relief supplement for House. House occasionally swaps out the prescribed medications for patients, while pocketing the vicodin for himself. When that isn’t the case, House pushes his friend Wilson to write and approve prescriptions for him whenever he needs, or wants, to get a refill.

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House would like to believe that he has control over his pill-popping, but as the show progresses, the intensity of his addiction is revealed. Again, this element carries on throughout the show as House battles his addiction and relies on the medication to numb his pains, both physically and mentally. House even gets into stints at rehab to try and earn back his right to practice medicine, and he works hard to get sober.

2 House Is A Genius Diagnostician

With A Talented Team

There is no denying that House is a difficult man to work with, stubborn, and insubordinate towards Lisa Cuddy and the rest of House’s team, but the reason everyone stands by him and even defends him is the fact that he is a truly outstanding doctor. House is established as being the leading diagnostician, capable of uncovering most cases that would stump other doctors completely. And in order to support his tremendous efforts at diagnosing the undiagnosable, House surrounds himself with intelligent doctors and specialists who earn a place on his team.

In the first episode, the team consists of Eric Foreman, Robert Chase, and Allison Cameron. As the series progresses, team members come and go, and House hires new staff to replace the ones that leave. His proteges range in age from medical students early in their studies, to experienced surgeons who have been working for decades to earn their position. These teams are vital in finding the correct diagnosis, as well as throwing out ideas to brainstorm what could be wrong. House frequently hosts meetings in his office to do just that.

1 Controversial Medical Exams

Like Making Patients More Sick

house pilot first patient teacher

As touched upon above, House uses methods which are not recommended or advised by most medical practitioners. Instead of taking samples and performing tests, House spends much of his time thinking about patients, and how their symptoms indicate what could be the problem. For much of the “Pilot,” House does not see or interact with his patient in person. Instead, he assigns his team to break into her home, conduct painful tests, start her on treatment plans that could cause more harm if incorrect, and ultimately to leave her without any treatments and see how fast she dies.

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This behavior continues throughout the show, with House briefly learning the error of his ways, but considering the fact that he still employs many of these elements right to the end, it appears he has yet to learn his lesson. House may not be a typical medical procedural, but it certainly holds on to its patterns to create engaging and tense episodes. As with many of the most pivotal elements of the show, House M.D. revealed much of what makes up a typical episode, and the characters who will be playing a major role from the first episode.

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