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House and Holmes: A Comparison of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. House
Dr. Greg House
Dr. House was based on Sherlock Holmes.
When I was growing up., Sherlock Holmes was one of my favorite fictional characters. Whether it was the literary Holmes created by Arthur Conan Doyle, or the cinematic Holmes (Played by many talented actors, most notably Basil Rathbone), or the TV Holmes portrayed by Jeremy Brett. Holmes was such a great character, I just couldn't get enough of him.
My current favorite show is House, MD, mostly because of the fascinating protagonist Greg House, magnificently portrayed by Hugh Laurie. After having watched only a few episodes, I noted the many similarities between the brilliant doctor and the brilliant detective.
Therefore, I wasn't surprised at all to learn that the creators of House MD, David Shore and Paul Attanasio, were fans of Sherlock Holmes and deliberately based the character on Arthur Conan Doyle's legendary detective. Also, House's friend and co-conspirator Dr. James Wilson was patterned after Holmes' loyal friend and partner-in-crime-fighting Dr. John Watson.
Never noticed the similarities? Maybe you're not familiar with one or the other of these characters. Let me lay out the similarities (and there are many) for you.
1) The names. House and Holmes. Holmes is very similar to "Homes". Therefore, the TV doctor got the name House, as in "House and Home". Even the sidekicks have similar sounding names (John Watson/James Wilson)
2) Both characters are anti-social narcissists, shunning the company of other people (except their one friend) and looking down at others in their field (police in Holmes case. Other Doctors in House's case) as incompetent morons.
3) Both Holmes and House will reject cases unless they are sufficiently challenging. Easy cases bore them.
4) Both are obsessed with mysteries.They both find intellectual stimulation in unraveling mysteries, be it a medical mystery or a crime. House is a diagnostician and it's his job to figure out what's wrong with a sick patient. Holmes is a detective and he figures out who-done-it.
5) Both have a gift for observation. Holmes can deduce numerous facts about a person with incredible accuracy just by looking at him/her. House can diagnose a serious illness by noticing a tiny gesture, like a yawn or a twitch.
6) Both men are addicted to drugs. Holmes is a cocaine addict, while House is addicted to pain-killers (Mostly Vicodin.)
7) Both are indifferent to their clients/patients as human beings. They are only interested in solving the mystery. They see people more like necessary annoyances that supply them with an intellectual challenge to overcome. Once the case is over, they lose any interest in the person they saved.
8) Both have musical talent. Holmes played the violin, while House plays the guitar and the piano.
9) They have the same street address for their apartment. Both live at 221. (In Holmes' case, its 221-B.)
10) The relationship between Holmes and Watson is similar to the relationship between House and Wilson. Holmes and House are the Alpha-males who control the relationship, while Watson and Wilson are the followers. Both House and Holmes can be abusive, but their loyal friend always tolerates the abuse. Yet Holmes and House are depended on Watson and Wilson because these two meek fellows are the only connection the two geniuses have to the world.
There were occasional little hints and "Easter eggs" dropped into House MD in homage of Sherlock Holmes. For example, the name of the patient in the pilot episode of House MD was Rebbecca Addler. Readers of Sherlock Holmes know that the one woman who ever touched Holmes in an emotional way was Irene Addler. In a later episode, Wilson used the name Irene Addler while talking to House's team of Fellows.
In another episode, House pulls a prank on his team using a book about Doctor Joseph Bell. The real Joseph Bell was a doctor of forensic medicine who practically created the concept of forensic crime scene investigation. Arthur Conan Doyle was a student of Joseph Bell and he modeled Sherlock Holmes after Dr. Bell. (House, like Bell, is a doctor.)
Some aspects of Holmes and Watson were switched when creating House and Wilson. For instance, Watson received a war wound and had a limp. In House MD, House has the limp instead of Wilson. Also, Watson had a military background. In House MD, House was an army brat (His father was in the military) and grew up in various military bases, including one in India, where Watson spent some time during Britain's Indian campaign.
Both are great characters. If Shore and Attanasio needed inspiration to create their character, at least they chose the best to imitate.