The doctor(s) in house: an analysis of the evolution of the television doctor-hero

J Med Humanit. 2011 Mar;32(1):31-46. doi: 10.1007/s10912-010-9124-2.


The medical drama and its central character, the doctor-hero have been a mainstay of popular television. House M.D. offers a new (and problematic) iteration of the doctor-hero. House eschews the generic conventions of the "television doctor" by being neither the idealized television doctor of the past, nor the more recent competent but often fallible physicians in entertainment texts. Instead, his character is a fragmented text which privileges the biomedical over the personal or emotional with the ultimate goal of scientifically uncovering and resolving instances of disease. This article examines the implicit and explicit messages in House M.D. and critically analyzes both the show and its lead character in relation to the traditional medical drama genre that highlights the "doctor-hero" as the central character. While at first House seems to completely violate narrative and generic norms, ultimately the program provides a new form that reinforces the presence of the doctor-hero, but highlights House's character as the central figure who is personally and interpersonally problematic but biomedically effective.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Drama*
  • Hospitalization*
  • Humans
  • Mass Media
  • Physician's Role / psychology*
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Social Identification
  • Social Perception*
  • Television*