5704 in-depth character profiles from comics, games, movies

Doctor Gregory House (Hugh Laurie) among drugs shelves

Doctor Gregory House

(Peter's profile)


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

House was a medical drama and one of the big TV series of the 2000s. It ran from 2004 to 2012 and earned lots of awards.

The main appeal was the charismatic and titular Dr. House, a cynical and cranky medical genius. Back during the series’ heydays, it would have been almost odd if Dr. House didn’t make at least a cameo during an hospital scene in a modern-days RPG campaign.


Background

  • Real Name: Gregory House, M.D.
  • Other Aliases: One of the best diagnosticians in the world
  • Marital Status: Single
  • Known Relatives: John House (legal father, deceased), Blythe House (mother)
  • Group Affiliation: Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital in New Jersey
  • Base Of Operations: The hospital
  • Height: 5’11” Weight: 160 lbs
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Black Age: 51


Powers & Abilities

Dr. Gregory House is one of the very best diagnosticians in the world. While he has no patience with patients themselves, he often solves the oddest of cases after having been presented the information by his team or other doctors.

House is a genius with some odd mental quirks. He is very multi-talented, with knowledge of the most varied of fields. He knows several other languages in order to be able to read medical journals from around the world for new findings. He also engages in various unusual hobbies.

In fact, his analytical mind has few peers. Were he not so cynical, and well, odd, he would be the greatest diagnostician in the world.

Teaching Hospital

Dr. Gregory House is a misanthropic medical genius who heads a team of diagnosticians at the Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital in New Jersey. He is widely renown for his skills. People from all over the world come to meet him for diagnosis. The government hires him at times as well.

House’s department usually only treats patients that have already been to other doctors, but have yet failed to receive an accurate diagnosis.

Although he could cure most patients all by himself, in exceptionally difficult cases, he will Team Attack with his team to figure out the medical problem. This demands that he only hire the very best. Working for House is extremely educational, but stressful and often troublesome.

Members of his team are often sent to break into the patient’s home to recover clues as to the medical condition. The original team consisted of Dr. Allison Chase, Dr. Eric Foreman and Dr. Robert Chase. The new team consisted of Dr. Eric Foreman, Dr. Remy ‘Thirteen’ Hadley, Dr. Chris Taub, and earlier also Dr. Amber Volakis and Dr. Lawrence Kutner.

He also at times ’consults’ his boss Dr. Lisa Cuddy and his friend Dr. James Wilson.

And the diagnosis is…

Also, keep in mind that House so rarely sees the patients himself that he may, in DC Heroes RPG terms, be gets up to a full +1 CS OV/RV to his diagnostic rolls until he does so in person. He occasionally gets a far-fetched idea about the diagnostic problem at hand. But if he then asks exactly the right questions and sends his team to study the right things, he is not penalized.

However, the nature of the show disallows him to immediately “guess” the problem. Particularly since the problems are often exceedingly rare medical phenomena rarely found anywhere else.

Additionally, House is actually not fully mentally healthy. In DC Heroes RPG terms, whenever his Psychological Instability kicks in, he immediately enters a Mental Instability subplot. These may take many forms, for example, hallucinating of a dead colleague following him everywhere and talking to him, increased addiction problems, or the like.

Completing such subplots, and the medical, physiological or psychological reasons behind them (like drug abuse or suppressed guilt), should be handled like solving a tricky puzzle or a mystery.

During such subplots he is not at the top of his game, could be a danger to his patients, and suffers from penalties equal to those of a Guilt Drawback. Yet no HP fee may be paid to eliminate it, and the subplot has to be completed.


History

Early life

Gregory House was born to John and Blythe House on either the 15th of May 1959 or the 11th 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. There House developed a fascination with archaeology and treasure-hunting. This interest led him to keep his treasure-hunting tools well into his adulthood.

Another station was Japan. There, 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, whom he claims has an “insane moral compass”. He avoids 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. This came 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.

Indeed, he used to find his mother very boring – the main reason he avoided her for long. That lasted until he found out that the identity of his real father is as-yet-unknown.

Medical schools

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 . While working at a bookstore, he met his future employer and love interest Lisa Cuddy, 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 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. He 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 .

Leg injury, part 1

Approximately ten years before the beginning of the series, House entered into a relationship with Stacy Warner, a constitutional lawyer. That came 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. It 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.

Doctor House and fellow physicians

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. She 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.

Leg injury, part 2

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 counsellor 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. Thus, 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.

Hospital work, part 1

On a routine clinic visit, a police detective, Michael Tritter, is seen by House. Tritter observes House taking Vicodin for his pain. He attributes that as House’s reason for being rude and a bully.

Tritter, believing 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. He launches 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. He steals Oxycodone from a cancer patient of Wilson’s who had just died, giving Tritter what he needs to bring House to trial.

At the pre-trial 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.

Hospital work, part 2

During season five, House once again regains his ability to walk without pain after taking methadone. But he 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. With the help of Dr. Darryl Nolan, House 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.

Later seasons

In season seven, 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 continues, ‘as usual’ working as a controversial diagnostician, with all the quirks and problems that are so common in his life.


Description

Dr. Gregory House is a rather grumpy man in a suit, and yet looks rather casual. He manages this by having an open shirt underneath the coat, and always having a three days shadow in his face.

He walks around with a limp and his trademark cane. House always seems very focused on some goal or another, often ignoring people (patients in his eyes) that he rushes to in order to reach his destination.

House regularly pops up agitated in the offices of Cuddy or Wilson regardless of if they are busy or having a meeting or not. His body language sometimes does show signs of drug abuse, amplified by the fact that he does take pills in public. But anybody that points this out is quickly cut down in size.


Personality

Equipped with a dry, acerbic almost cruel sense of humor, House is enigmatic and conceals many facets of his personality with a veneer of sarcasm. He is narcissistic and appears to disdain most people, leading some to label him a misanthrope. He has contempt for most societal institutions including feminism and religion. House is an atheist and it is implied that he is nihilistic.

These traits make him something of a Byronic hero . Despite his cynicism, he does seem to care about his colleagues to a certain extent. While considering them idiots is able to sometimes put aside his pride and apologize when he has offended them in a particularly cruel fashion.

House uses his flippancy to conceal his affection toward his colleagues. He denies it to the extent that he himself sometimes forgets it. House is a total maverick and has stated that he frequents prostitutes.

His best friend, Dr. Wilson, has stated that House could have Asperger’s Syndrome, but later told House that he only wished he had Asperger’s so he had an excuse to get away with more in life.

Wilson has also told House that his obsession with solving cases has nothing to do with saving lives but that while “some doctors have a Messianic complex, House has a Rubik’s complex”. That is to say, he’s more concerned with figuring out what is wrong with his patients than he is with saving their lives.

The latter he does simply because it’s his job at the facility’s walk-in clinic. This is shown when he sometimes tries to diagnose patients after they’re dead, which hopefully is done so that he can do better diagnostics in the future.

Dominant male

House frequently shows his cunning and biting wit, enjoys picking people apart, and often mocks their weaknesses. He accurately deciphers people’s motives and histories from aspects of their personality and appearance. He then impresses them with rapid and accurate diagnoses after seemingly not paying attention or having been very rude.

He often finds solutions to the problems in the middle of his own sentences, by quickly jumping from subject to subject. Frankly, most of his team are afraid of him, which is a rational response to his antics.

His grudging fulfilment of his work duty, or his creative methods of avoiding it, constitutes a recurring subplot. This often serves as comic relief. Further, House confounds patients with unwelcome observations into their personal lives, eccentric prescriptions, and unorthodox treatments.

However, after seeming to be inattentive to their complaints, he regularly impresses them with rapid and accurate diagnoses. These eventually save their lives.

In order to do what he considers his work, he has also become a real masterful manipulator. It is very important for him to always be in control or being right in any situation. He often does some really stupid things and elaborate pranks just to prove he can manipulate/control others and/or to prove a moral point where he feels everyone else is “an idiot”.

Genius

The insights that occur as he deals with some of the simple cases in the clinic often inspire him to solve the main case. In many episodes where he didn’t have access to his team, he used normal people or even kids in some cases.

Also, often the solution comes to him while sharing thoughts with people who have no knowledge of the case he’s working on (like Wilson). Of course this was inspired by Holmes running ideas past Watson.

His genius does come with a price, namely mental problems. These are amplified by his anti-social behavior and drug abuse. Other colorful words that have been used to describe House are dangerous egomaniac, an ass, a cynic, a narcissist and a curmudgeon.

He is, in fact, something of a mad, renegade doctor. He’s unethical and unsympathetic with unorthodox diagnostic approaches, radical therapeutic motives, and a stalwart rationality. Yes, he is a regular Sherlock Holmes of medicine, but he doesn’t actually want people to know that he is a doctor.

Other traits

House more or less does what he thinks is right regardless of the consequences. He believes that heroism is a symptom, and cannot really exist. He is a bit surprised when people assault him, when he has gone too far, although he still understands exactly why that is.

While he will fire incompetent staff, he will fire them if he has first provoked them into attacking him. He likes to psychologically push his ‘friends’ and ‘co-workers’ around to their limits.

This sometimes helps them come to realize things about themselves and is for their own good. But his motivation for doing this seems to stem mainly from an interest in creating his own entertainment. Still, it sometimes has the extra benefit of actually helping others in the process.

He longed for many years for his ex-girlfriend, Stacy Warner. But eventually realized that they could never have the life they both wanted to have.

His only real friend is Dr. James Wilson, the head of the oncology  department.

He was born a military brat and hates his father (or who he thought most of his life was his father) but does genuinely love his mother. He also seems to genuinely love Cuddy as well, but has trouble showing this properly. He likes to always use people’s last names or nicknames (sometimes very imaginative).

The price of pain

An unavoidable and important part of House’s life is pain. He is in chronic pain due to his incurable leg injury, caused by an infarction in his quadriceps muscle. He uses Vicodin to manage the pain. He will get extremely irritable without his Vicodin, or another suitable narcotic analgesic such as morphine, oxycodone or methadone.

However, according to House himself he is not addicted: “it lets me do my job, and they take away my pain”. Fact is, though, that he has been to drug rehabilitation several times. Furthermore, he drinks liquor when he is not on medical duty, and even classifies himself as a “big drinker”.

House’s willingness to take risks and experiment with his patients extends to his own health. Beyond his use of Vicodin, he has frequently used himself as a guinea pig for drugs and medical tests. This disregard for his own well-being horrifies Wilson and Cuddy, who see it as an expression of his self-destructive impulses.

He even swapped to Metadon for a while since it completely eliminated his pain, although it risked killing him all the time instead.

Hobbies

While most of his time goes into fanatically solving mysteries, he does have some hobbies too. As hobbies, he rides his motorcycle (also to work) and reads foreign medical journals. He likes soap operas on the TV, and is not pleased if his watching is interrupted.

Still, despite his many character flaws, he is allowed to keep working as possibly the greatest diagnostician in the country, because he saves many, many lives in the end.


Quotes

“Cool.” [if anybody suggests an outrageous medical treatment or study]

“Interesting.” [A person has a mysterious or unknown disease why House accepts the him/her as a patient]

“You want me to intimidate him into not being afraid ? I don’t think I can do that.”

“Hey, Cameron, how would you like your old work back ? I’m only asking so that I could fire you again.”

“You aren’t going to feel a thing. Except excruciating pain.” [cuts patient open without anaesthetics since it’s an emergency]

“Hello, sick people and their loved ones ! In the interest of saving time and avoiding a lot of boring chitchat later, I’m Doctor Gregory House ; you can call me “Greg.” I’m one of three doctors staffing this clinic this morning. This ray of sunshine is Doctor Lisa Cuddy. Doctor Cuddy runs this whole hospital, so unfortunately she’s much too busy to deal with you. I am a Board-certified diagnostician with a double specialty in infectious disease and nephrology. I am also the only doctor currently employed at this clinic who is forced to be here against his will. That is true, isn’t it ?
“But not to worry, because for most of you, this job could be done by a monkey with a bottle of Motrin. Speaking of which, if you’re particularly annoying, you may see me reach for this: this is Vicodin. It’s mine. You can’t have any. And no, I do not have a pain management problem, I have a pain problem. But who knows ? Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m too stoned to tell.
“So, who wants me ? And who would rather wait for one of the other two guys ? Okay. Well, I’ll be in Exam Room One if you change your mind.”


Sharing

The links to follow us and/or subscribe to our monthly newsletter are at the bottom of this page.



Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Dr. House

Dex: 02 Str: 02 Bod: 03 Motivation: Unwanted Power
Int: 07 Wil: 06 Min: 06 Occupation: Head of Diagnostic Medicine Department
Inf: 05 Aur: 03 Spi: 04 Resources {or Wealth}: 06
Init: 012 HP: 025

Skills:
Artist (Electric Guitarist, Harmonica, Pianist): 04, Charisma: 04, Detective (Clue Analysis): 06, Medicine: 08, Scientist (Observation, Research): 06, Weaponry (Cane): 02, Vehicles (Land): 02

Advantages
Expertise (Archaeology, Psychology), Familiarity (Chess, Cooking, Juggling), Gift of Gab, Language (Mandarin Chinese, Egyptian Arabic and some Japanese, Korean, Greek and other languages), Leadership, Omni-Connection (Useable with the Intelligence Community and former patients only to obtain information or funding), Scholar (Infectious diseases, Nephrology), Sharp Eye

Connections:
The members of his first team: Dr. Robert Chase (Low), Dr. Allison Cameron (High), Dr. Eric Foreman (High), his second and third teams: Dr. Chris Taub (Low), Dr. Lawrence Kutner (Low; until Season 5), Dr. Remy “Thirteen” Hadley (High), Martha Masters (Low), Dr. Jessica Adams (Low), Dr. Chi Park (Low), Lucas Douglas (Low, at least up until season 6 or so) and Dr. Darryl Nolan (his psychologist in Season 6) (Low), Also, at all times: Dr. James Wilson (High; his prescription pad is also used to get drugs), Dr. Lisa Cuddy (High; the Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital in New Jersey), Street (Low; to get drugs, prostitutes and actors for one of his manipulative scams)

Drawbacks:
Age (old), MIA (Solving a mystery, preferably a medical one or an undiagnosed case), MPR (Limping, speed reduced to 1 AP), MPR (Vicodin-addiction), Minor Psychological instability

Equipment:
Walking Cane [BODY 01 STR 00, EV 01]

By Dr. Peter S Piispanen

Source of Character: House M.D. TV-series up to a few episodes into season 8, character played by Hugh Laurie.

Helper(s): Frank Murdock, Ethan Roe, Adam Fuqua, www.wikipedia.org

Writeup completed on the 10th of April, 2012, but final version submitted on the 1st of March, 2014!

Subscribe to our MINI-NEWSLETTER !

One bare-bones e-mail per month. Plain text. Short. To the point. Learn more.