Why Everyone in "House M.D." Is a Terrible Human Being
Dr. House's Diagnostics Team
Throughout the eight seasons of House M.D., we witness House's diagnostics department tackle their hospital's most challenging cases. Dr. House is a brilliant but damaged doctor known for implementing morally-questionable solutions.
With that premise, it's not surprising to see some ethically-ambiguous scenarios throughout the show's lengthy run, but you might be surprised by just how many characters, even "moral" ones, commit gruesome acts. Don't believe me? Here's everything wrong with the characters in House M.D.! Spoilers ahead.
- Punches Chase in the face for interrupting him with a correct diagnosis
- Gives a gun back to a gunman (which leads to Thirteen almost getting shot), prolonging a hostage situation just to arrive at a diagnosis
- Has sex with Lydia knowing she's married
- Indirectly killed Wilson's previous cat (by purposefully leaving a window open)
- Crashes his car through Cuddy's house when she gets with another guy after dumping him
Duh, you might think; the show's point is that House is a jerk, yet he's good at saving people. But honestly, many of his "immoral" work-related actions have a rational explanation; most of his biggest faults come from personal screw-ups, the biggest of which are listed above.
Heck, even some of his "kind" moments screw people over, like in "Joy to the World", where House convinces a guy that his girlfriend got pregnant without having sex. Presumably, House was trying to help her, but all he's really doing is convincing some poor sap that his unfaithful girlfriend is loyal.
- Proposes (and has) have sex with Chase at work in the middle of a patient's scan. So complications arise with no doctors were watching, and if not for Foreman just happening to check in, the patient could have died.
- Everyone in House's team breaks into patient homes (to look for samples), but only Cameron offers to have sex (with Chase) on their patient's bed. Ew.
- Drugs an overweight patient to keep him in hospital, which leads to him crashing through a window.
Cameron's one of the worst, parading around with a holier than thou attitude yet performing as many as if not more dubious actions than her colleagues. She riffles through House's mail, almost kills a patient through negligence by having sex with Chase at work (he's guilty too, but she's the one who suggested it), and continues having sex at work afterwards. I'm sorry, was your patient almost dying not enough of a wake-up call?
And despite objecting to many of House's immoral schemes, Cameron crafts some of her own, like drugging an overweight patient to convince him he needs to stay longer at the hospital. She's right that he has something wrong with him, but her actions lead to him crashing through a full glass window (her drug kicks in while he's standing), and only luck prevents him from being seriously hurt or killed.
- Injects Cameron with a disease (he's already exposed) to entice her to explore a dangerous area for samples
- Chooses to fire his girlfriend (Dr. Remy "Thirteen" Hadley) rather than resign
- Writes an article on the same case as Cameron without telling her, then rejects her attempts to reconcile
- Has an affair with a married woman
- Stole a car in his youth (to be fair, he was 14)
By far my biggest complaint about Foreman is when he infects Cameron with his own disease in the hopes of making her go collect samples in a quarantined area. Man, I get you were desperate, but that's pretty cruel: you just killed your coworker if the team doesn't find what's wrong.
Foreman's also just kind of unlikable most of the time; he's got House's inflated ego but lacks most of House's genius. Although the show tries to treat Foreman as the second-best doctor after House, it's actually Chase who bears the second-largest epiphany count.
- Spies on House to boss Edward Vogler (and lies about it to House) in exchange for immunity from being fired
- Agrees to sex with Cameron at work, ignoring a patient in need
- Punches House in the face
- Indirectly kills President Diablia and covers it up
Chase is the most complex of House's team; he's often ridiculed as the weakest link, but is actually the most valued underling. He's a womanizer yet tries to make his eventual marriage to Cameron work, a suck-up to House who nonetheless snitches on him to Vogler.
I actually like these traits, showing a depth to Chase that most characters lack, and many of his above failings aren't truly his fault. He shouldn't have had sex with Cameron at work, but she knew he was in love and likely wouldn't say no. He punches House in season 6 (reversing their past positions), but this was just to disturb his coworkers so they'd stop bugging him about his failed marriage, which House seems to understand.
Then we come to Chase's indirect murder (he switched medicine) of President Dibala, an African dictator featured in The Tyrant. This action (and his cover-up and lying about it) leads to Chase's divorce from Chase, and it would certainly lose his medical license (and likely put him in jail) if discovered. That said, he was only trying to prevent Diabala from committing more ruthless actions, had been begged by a victim to end the dictator, and only involved Foreman because Foreman deduced what had happened.
All-in-all, Chase is a complex character and the most likable of House's original three staff—if you justify his actions against Diabala.
Wilson and Taub
These two share one major character flaw: adultery. Both Wilson and Taub have cheated multiple times on their wives. Wilson's already thrice-divorced by the show's beginning, but we get to witness how Taub's infidelity slowly but surely ruins his marriage. To be fair to the show, it's almost refreshing to see characters reap the consequences of their actions, even if it's those we generally root for.
Wilson (and House) also chose to not tell Cuddy that her adopted daughter swallowed a coin, valuing their reputations over the girl's safety. A few other nitpicks include Wilson dating one of his patients (highly frowned upon) and Taub cheating on his pathology test in season 7 (evidently, Taub cheats on everything and everyone).
Cuddy and Thirteen
Honestly, these two are probably the best influences on the show, with Dr. Cuddy maintaining an ethical demeanor for a full seven seasons. Any points here would be nitpicks, like when Dr. Cuddy perjures (lies in court) on House's behalf, or when Thirteen euthanizes her brother (she goes to jail, but it was a mercy kill). Kudos, ladies.
Who is your least favorite House character?
Other Character Flaws
We've now unearthed the biggest skeletons in the main cast's closet, but various side characters deserve mention. Like when House's generally-moral ex-girlfriend Stacy starts cheating on her husband with House, only stopping when House calls it off.
Don't get me wrong, characters should have flaws to accurately mimic real life, and I still recommend and enjoy House M.D., but it can be discouraging to see just how low our protagonists stoop. But for now, vote for your least favorite character and I'll see you at our next cinematic review!
Questions & Answers
© 2020 Jeremy Gill