This article covers many of the cultural references that frequently come up on House, M.D.

Sherlock HolmesEdit

Sherlock Holmes Portrait Paget

Main article Sherlock Holmes connections

The most famous fictional detective of all time; a man with a gift for observation and a brilliant mind. However, Holmes was also socially challenged with a single committed friend. Acknowledged to be the model for Gregory House. House's address is also 221B Baker Street. There have also been references to his creator Arthur Conan Doyle (also a physician) and Doyle's mentor Joseph Bell. His first patient, Rebecca Adler, is named after Irene Adler from "The Bohemian Prince"; the name Irene Adler is used for a fabricated story in Joy to the World. Ester Doyle appears to have been named for Sir Arthur. The man who shoots him in No Reason, Jack Moriarty, is named after Holmes's arch-nemesis Professor Moriarty. Holmes is killed off in "The Final Problem", but it turns out he faked his own death. However, the great detective himself is only mentioned in passing in the episode Love Hurts when Cameron refers to Chase's detective skills derisively..

Reuben SandwichEdit

Katz's Deli - Lunch
(Wikipedia link) House's favorite - a hot corned beef sandwich on rye bread, generally served with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Russian dressing. First mentioned in The Socratic Method when he gets Luke Palmeiro to get him one so he can get him out of his mother's room. His father offers to buy him one in the cafeteria in Daddy's Boy. Ruby objects to using the name "Reuben" when Taub suggests it for their new child in Moving On by saying its a more appropriate name for a sandwich than a baby.  House offers one to Wilson as a peace offering in Transplant, but Wilson gets mad at him soon after and tosses it into the trash.

The Usual SuspectsEdit

Usual suspects ver1
(IMDB) (Wikipedia) A 1995 film about a crime gone wrong. Directed by Bryan Singer. Both House and Foreman have revealed the film's key plot point during the series.

Monster TrucksEdit

Big foot
(Wikipedia) A pickup truck with highly modified suspension. House and Wilson's favorite sport. In Sports Medicine, House scores two all access passes, but Wilson says he can't go because he's giving a speech at a conference. However, he finds out Wilson is lying - he's meeting Stacy Warner for dinner the same night. House asks Allison Cameron to go with him instead and they have a great time. In Dying Changes Everything, after Wilson leaves, House goes looking for a new friend and finds Dr. O'Shea likes monster trucks too. However, they fail to bond over it. In The Social Contract, Wilson pretends he doesn't like monster trucks because he plans to see his brother Danny Wilson the same night as the monster truck meet and he doesn't want to tell House the real reason why. In Office Politics, House quizzes Martha M. Masters about monster trucks to show her that her knowledge is limited. House rents a monster truck, "Collosus", to park in several handicapped parking spaces to take advantage of Cuddy's guilt over their breakup in Fall From Grace.


Casablanca, title
(IMDB) (Wikipedia) A 1942 film about a man and a woman. They once had a passionate love affair that ended suddenly. While the man is living his new life, the woman comes back into his life begging for his help for her husband. He turns her down. He has a change of heart and agrees to help her and her husband. However, he plots to get rid of the husband and run away with her. She's fine with that. However, in the end, he realizes she will be miserable with him and sends her on her way with her husband. In other words, it's the Housy story-arc. In Lines in the Sand, House paraphrases Rick's goodbye to Ilsa when saying goodbye to Ali. The first line of the main theme song of the movie gave the name to the episode You Must Remember This. One of the lines is referenced in Family.


Blackadder the Third cast
Blackadder (Wikipedia) (IMDB - Third Series) (IMDB - Fourth Series) is a much beloved British comedy series which consists of four series of six episodes each, plus three specials. It was produced from 1982 to 1989. Hugh Laurie appeared as a guest star in two episodes of series 2, which was set in Elizabethan England. He stars as Prince George, the Prince Regent in series 3, which takes place during the reign of George III (who apparently suffered from porphyria). In series 4, set during World War I, he stars as Lieutenant The Honourable George Colthurst St. Barleigh. The series is referred to several times in the show. In Cane & Able, Allison Cameron tells Lisa Cuddy to come up with "a cunning plan". In Clueless, the show appears on House's TiVo. In Known Unknowns, House comes to the '80s party dressed in period costume from the 1780s during the reign of George III.

The United KingdomEdit

Flag of the United Kingdom
(Wikipedia) The second-largest English speaking nation in the world. Birthplace of several actors on the series, most notably Hugh Laurie. Although Gregory House is an all-American boy, he can convincingly fake a British accent (The Socratic Method) and for protection against pranksters uses a cricket bat (Moving the Chains). Wilson affects a British accent when pretending to be House's neighbor to get Dominika her green card in Man of the House. House is seen with a Submarine Spitfire model in Bombshells.

Salma HayekEdit

Salma Hayek Deauville 2012

(Wikipedia) (IMDB) A fairly attractive Mexican actress of Lebanese descent. She betrays House's preference for shorter, dark wavy haired women in their forties. In Deception, Dr. Imelda responds to a compliment by House by saying she's not quite as attractive. House also speaks highly of Salma in both Que Sera Sera and Perils of Paranoia


Moby Dick p510 illustration
(Wikipedia) A novel about a whaling captain's obsession over the whale that destroyed one of his legs.  House, a man with a leg disability himself, is often called out for being obsessive about his cases by bringing the metaphor into play.  In All In, it is used to point out House's inability to forget one of his lost cases, Esther Doyle.  The same metaphor is used in Merry Little Christmas. Robert Sean Leonard did the voice of Herman Melville on an episode of American Experience.

Cindy McCauliff Edit

House: "Give me a reason to get out of this, and I'll tell you who started the rumor about you being a transsexual."
Cuddy: "There is no such rumor."
House: "There will be unless you get me out of this dinner."
— House trying to avoid a dinner with his parents Daddy's Boy
House: "Bad news... [your] estrogen is too high."
Cuddy: "No matter how many people you tell otherwise, I am, and always have been, a woman. Estrogen is normal."
―House and Cuddy discussing her potential cancer on Forever

Edelstein portraying Cindy McCauliff in Ally McBeal.

[IMDB]A character portrayed by Lisa Edelstein on the series Ally McBeal. Cindy was a male-to-female pre-operative transsexual. House makes several references through the series that Cuddy is really a transsexual, the first one being in Daddy's Boy - House threatens to spread a rumor that Cuddy is really a transsexual. She firmly denies this in Forever. In Lockdown, House's fellows find a fake malpractice report where Cuddy suffered blood loss from a "penisectomy". In Small Sacrifices, House accuses Cuddy of lying about being a woman. References to transvestism/transsexuality are popular in general - see Skin Deep, The Softer Side and Sarah.
House: "Hey, how's that anal fissure? Did it heal yet, or is it still draining? Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't realize you came back for seconds. I figured that after that girl in the stairwell, you'd be done for the night. [...] No Adam's apple, small hands. It's no surprises this time."
Chase: "He's joking."
— House commenting Chase's partner in a party, All In

Wilson: "I am so tired of this... did you know that the new nurse from Cardiology is sleeping with that weird lawyer from the board?"

House: "The guy with eleven fingers?"

Wilson: "He has eleven fingers?"

House: "How do you not notice that?"

Wilson: "The nurse used to be a man."

House: "...she's not anymore?"

Wilson: "But we can't talk about that."

House: "I thought we were."

Wilson: "We were supposed to talk about that. I came here to talk about that - but on the way up, I ran into Cameron. You've got a CIPA patient."

House: "Mmmmm... tranny nurse is more interesting."


House: "It turns out the weird lawyer knew that she used to be a man."

Wilson: "And he is cool with that?"

House: "Turns out that his previous girlfriend also used to be a man."

Wilson: "Ho hoo...!"

House: "Yeah"

- Wilson tries to distract House, Insensitive
Amber (dead): "Shemale?!"
House: "Focus!"
— Dead Amber as House's alter-ego is distracting him, House Divided
"Seriously, anorexia? Were you supposed to be a girl?"
―House disrupting treatment in Mayfield, Broken
See also the article Transvestite

Judas Iscariot Edit

[Wikipedia]One of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ and their treasurer. Betrayed Jesus to the Romans in exchange for payment of thirty pieces of silver (which was to be donated to the poor). His name has become a universal metaphor for betrayal. Referred to several times by House, generally when he's betrayed by Wilson. The namesake of the episode Finding Judas where Wilson agrees to testify that House forged Wilson's name on prescriptions and he asks for "thirty pieces of silver". House also calls Wilson a Judas in the following episode Merry Little Christmas. House also refers to Judas and the thirty pieces of silver in Blowing the Whistle. The phrase is now so identified with the series that the web site TV Tropes named a trope after Finding Judas.

Tuskegee syphilis experiment Edit

[Wikipedia] Probably the low point in the history of American medical ethics. 622 poor black men were recruited to participate in a study to track the progression of untreated syphilis under the guise of the men obtaining free medical treatment. The study started in 1932. None of the men, over 400 of whom already had the disease, were told they had been diagnosed with it. At the time the study started, syphilis treatment was expensive and uncertain (see Georgia Adams). However, by 1947, it was clear that penicillin was effective in treating the disease as long as it had not exhibited any neurological symptoms. Nevertheless, and despite the fact the men were told the study would only last six months, the study was not discontinued until 1972. During that forty year period, researchers actively prevented the men in the study from seeking treatment for the disease. The study only came to public notice when Peter Buxtun, a Czech-American social worker, was told of the study during his interviews with people suffering from STDs.

On the series, the study was quoted when House tried something particularly unethical, such as in the Pilot, Informed Consent and Needle in a Haystack. The study also explains why a patient like Robert would distrust a doctor who tried to treat him differently than a Caucasian.

"You Can't Always Get What You Want" Edit

Main article - The Rolling Stones in House [Wikipedia] - A song by the Rolling Stones, written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Either the phrase or the song is found in Pilot, Honeymoon, Meaning, Wilson's Heart, Unfaithful, Both Sides Now and Last Temptation.

Each verse of the song explores the primary drivers of the counter-culture movement - love, politics and drugs. In each case, the verse starts with optimism, turns to disillusionment, then ends with the pragmatic chorus.

The New York Yankees Edit

( Wikipedia) (Official MLB website) The most successful baseball franchise in history, having won the Major League Baseball championship twenty-seven times since their founding in 1901. Although the characters are not fans of the team, they refer to the team or its star players in several episodes. In Sports Medicine, the main patient plans to pitch against the Yankees on opening day. In Open and Shut, Taub changes the subject to the Yankees when Julia complaints all anyone wants to talk about is her open marriage. The show has mentioned several current or former Yankees players such as Lou Gehrig (and the condition that often bears his name, ALS), Mickey Mantle, Johnny David Damon and Alex Rodriguez.

Lab coats Edit

(Wikipedia) A "white coat" or "lab coat" is a long white overcoat made of cotton (often blended with polyester) that is often worn by doctors or laboratory workers. It's color makes stains obvious and allows it to be washed in hot water and bleach to disinfect it. Originally worn by scientists in the 19th century, it was appropriated by the medical profession as it moved from a clinical/practical profession to a more scientific one. Modern coats have shorter sleeves to prevent contact with surfaces that could contain pathogens, which would pass them on to patients.

House wearing lab coat s05e11

House wearing lab coat (Joy to the World)

House is notorious for not wearing a lab coat, fearing that people will recognize him as a doctor if he wears one. However, in Joy to the World he wears one in an attempt to act nice and proper over the Christmas holiday, but only to win a bet with Wilson that a patient will buy him a gift. Furthermore in Family Practice, to convince Arlene Cuddy he is a serious doctor, he also dons a lab coat as he reviews her medical history with her. However, she notes that the coat is the wrong size for him and wonders why, if he is such a good doctor, he can't afford one that fits.

Cameron always rests her lab coat on the back of her chair when she's in the conference room.

Foreman initially wears a lab coat, but in order to emulate House, he stops wearing one and instead goes around in his usual business suit.

Johns Hopkins Edit

Hopkins hospital

(Wikipedia) (Website) John Hopkins was an American businessman and abolitionist. He made most of his money in railways and banking, although he started out as a retailer. In his estate, he endowed a hospital (pictured), which was established in 1873, and a university, which was established in 1876. By 1893, it had the most modern medical school in the country staffed by famous physicians like William Osler. Gregory House finished his undergraduate degree here and studied medicine at the medical school until he was thrown out for cheating. Eric Foreman obtained his medical degree here and also finished his residency under Walter Cofield. Jessica Adams also finished a residency here. At present, it has over 5,000 undergraduate students and over 14,000 graduate students. In a heavy piece of irony, it's motto is Veritas los liberabit - The Truth Shall Set You Free. It boasts 37 Nobel Prize winners, 16 being affiliated with the medical school. William Cushing (Cushing's syndrome) and Ernest Goodpasture (Goodpasture syndrome) were also associated with the medical school. ...and the real students are proud of Dr. House [1][2] that other universities can only envy [3].

See also Johns Hopkins Medical School

Yiddish Edit

(Wikipedia) The lingua franca of the Ashkenazi Jewish diaspora in Europe. It developed in the 9th century out of German, Hebrew and Aramaic and spread with the diaspora through the rest of Europe including Russia. Prior to World War II, it had about 13 million speakers and was spoken by about 75% of Jews. However, about 85% of the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust were Yiddish speakers. As Jews spread further abroad, both before and after the war, Yiddish went into disuse in favor of local languages and today it is only spoken by about 1.5 million people, largely in separated pockets in Eastern Europe. Modern Hebrew is now the lingua franca of Jews and is an official language of Israel. Yiddish has no official status in Israel, but was favored by more secular Jews. House, although a gentile, is familiar with it, and Arlene Cuddy, although born a gentile, liberally sprinkles her speech with it. Ironically, Lisa Cuddy, James Wilson and Chris Taub rarely use it. It is still spoken by about 170,000 people in the United States.

A Chorus Line Edit


(Wikipedia) A Broadway musical where seventeen people audition for about half as many spots in the eponymous chorus. Until 1997, it was the longest running Broadway show in history, and remained the longest running musical that originated in New York until 2011. In other words, it's about The Applicants. In addition, House uses the count in ("five, six, seven, eight...) in Autopsy and obtains a poster from the show to convince Nora that he and Wilson are gay in The Down Low.

The O.C. Edit

(Wikipedia) (IMDB) A drama series that ran for four seasons on Fox. The series focused on an idealistic family helping to raise a troubled teenager in a materialistic neighborhood in suburban Orange County, California. He first mentions that he liked it in Histories. In Clueless, we see that House regularly records it on his TiVO. He also mentions it in Whac-A-Mole. Several guest stars on the series appeared on the show, most notably Olivia Wilde, who also played a bisexual character on the series.

Clue Edit

Cluedo 1956 Small Red Box Edition

(Wikipedia) A board game first distributed by the British company Waddington's in 1949 as "Cluedo" and at the same time licensed to the United States, re-named "Clue" and distributed by Parker Brothers. Since then, it has been through several iterations and spin-offs including a movie and a stage musical. It's six suspect "characters" have become cultural icons in their own right. The American rights are currently owned by toy giant Hasbro. In any event, it is one of the best selling board games of all time.

Finding Nemo Edit

Finding Nemo

(Wikipedia) (IMDB) An overprotective single father's worst nightmare comes true when his only son is captured by a dentist who collects tropical fish. Melinda Bardach compares herself to the father in Safe. House uses it as a euphemism for masturbation in Euphoria (Part 2).

Jack Bauer Edit

Jack Bauer

(Wikipedia) (IMDB) The chief protagonist of the long running Fox series 24. Portrayed by Canadian-born actor Kiefer Sutherland, who now stars in Designated Survivor. Known for his no-nonsense "take no prisoners" approach to a crisis. Mentioned in Euphoria (Part 2) and The Down Low. Mrs. Jack Bauer was portrayed by Lesley Fera.

See also 24 connections for actors that have appeared on both House and 24

The L Word Edit

(Wikipedia) (IMDB) An American-Canadian cable drama looking at the lives of lesbian women living in the Los Angeles area. It is referenced in a few episodes.

Village People Edit


By Mario Casciano - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

(Wikipedia) A 1970s disco group, named after New York's Greenwich Village, formed to appeal to the large gay disco culture of the era. They instead found mainstream success with "YMCA", "Macho Man" and "In the Navy"

Vincent van Gogh Edit

(Wikipedia) One of the greatest artists of all time, but whose personal life was tortured by a mixture of mental illness and a failure to be appreciated in his own time. His life is used by House as an example of how he feels his talent is tied to his personal issues.

Dog Day Afternoon Edit

(Wikipedia) (IMDB) A 1975 film directed by Sidney Lumet and starring Al Pacino about a bank robbery gone wrong. House uses the chant "Attica" to describe what he perceives to be poor treatment from Cuddy, a chant that was improvised by Pacino on location. House draws a parallel between the film and the events in Last Resort.

Hava Nagila Edit

Hava Nagila

Hava Nagila

(Wikipedia) Probably the best known work of traditional Jewish folk music. House accidentally plays it on his iPod in Control when he tries to get Edward Vogler to back off. In Unfaithful, House plays it on the piano during the final scene.

Annie Hall Edit


(IMDB) (Wikipedia) The 1978 Academy Award winner for "Best Picture", beating out the box-office champ that year, Star Wars. Man falls in love with woman. Man has relationship with woman. Man loses woman. The closing line provided the name for the Season 8 episode We Need the Eggs. Fawn's favorite Woody Allen film. Originally envisioned as a light-hearted murder mystery, Allen re-edited it as a romantic comedy (the light hearted murder mystery would have to wait for Manhattan Murder Mystery). Also mentioned in Failure to Communicate

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