- ...you haven't done anything stupid, spontaneous or even remotely interesting since you were seventeen.... And that's just sad.
- -- House to Foreman after Lucas Douglas failed to dig up any dirt on him in Lucky Thirteen.
Dr. Eric Foreman was a member of Dr. House's diagnostic team during the first three seasons. He is a specialist in neurology. Overall, Foreman's personality is the closest to House's, although he is often loathe to admit the fact. However, although Foreman is far more outgoing than House, he shares House's introverted nature and is the least concerned about how he is perceived by others.
- Foreman: House got lucky.
- Cuddy: Yeah. He gets lucky a lot.
Foreman obtained a job at New York Mercy Hospital doing diagnostic medicine after leaving House's team. However, he was quickly fired after taking a risk that managed to save the patient's life. Ironically, he was fired for doing the very sort of thing that he had criticized House for doing. The reaction in the medical community was mixed, but no one would risk hiring him so he agreed to come back to work for Cuddy.
- You're "House Lite". The only person who's going to hire you is the person who hired "House Classic". The good thing is, she'll pretend she's not doing you a favor. -- Dr. Cuddy, agreeing to re-hire Foreman at his old salary.
It has been speculated that Foreman's name is derived from the word "Foramen", which is used typically in medicine to refer to the holes in bones which nerves pass through. This is appropriate as Foreman is a neurologist.
Eric Foreman was born into a poor but honest family. However, Foreman fell into criminal behavior in his adolescence, which we are aware at one point resulted in his imprisonment as a juvenile. He still carries a gang tattoo from this time. Luckily, this experience convinced him he was wasting his life and intellect and he later became a bright, dedicated student. He had a perfect grade-point average both as an undergraduate at Columbia University and a medical student at Johns Hopkins Medical School.
Despite the fact he has excelled in his chosen profession, his family life has virtually fallen apart. His mother suffers from a form of dementia (Euphoria (Part 2)). His father Rodney (played by veteran character actor Charles S. Dutton), although he cares deeply for his son, is disappointed that Eric no longer shares the deep religious beliefs he holds himself. Eric's brother is currently incarcerated on a serious but undisclosed offense, and is not expected to be released at any time in the near future. However, in the episode Lucky Thirteen, the aforementioned brother had been easily contacted by Dr Houses' P.I, which suggests that he has been released.
Relationship with House
Although Foreman knows that he is well qualified for his job, he must put up with House's constant jibes that he is House's affirmative action hire, either because of his race (he is the only African-American of note at the hospital) or his previous criminal record. Even when House is in a good mood, he insists he only keeps Foreman on because Foreman is the only member of the team who is constantly challenging House's conclusions.
Conversely, although Foreman has often described House as the best doctor he has ever worked with, he is probably the least tolerant of all the staff of House's faults, such as his Vicodin addiction. It is implied that Foreman was probably exposed to addiction during the time he was growing up.
Of everyone on his staff, House appears to think Foreman is the most likely to become as good a doctor as he is. This is backed up by the opinion of most of the senior doctors in the hospital, including Cuddy who offered Foreman a position similar to House's. This is despite the fact that, according to multiple tally's done online, Chase was the best diagnostician of the three. However, House still believes Foreman is swayed by attempting to play it safe and still doesn't trust his own opinions enough. For his own part, Foreman admires House's talents, but not his personality, and does not want to become as good a doctor as House if it means having House's personality. However, House has always tried to convince Foreman that he does and always has had a similar personality.
However, in the episode Resignation, Foreman resigned from the team, giving two weeks notice. He had just finished a procedure where he put a patient in a great deal of pain in order to save the patient's brother, and the fact that he could do it made him feel he was turning into the same unfeeling type of doctor he sees in House. On his last day, in the episode Human Error, House first asks Foreman to stay, but they start arguing who has the better attitude - House has saved the patient's life by anticipating a never before seen congenital heart defect, but Foreman noted that House only cared about the problem at hand and not the patient. When the patient's heart stopped but she kept talking, House concentrated on the talking and not the threat to the patient's life. House argued that saving her life mattered more than any of her feelings, while Foreman countered that House didn't even care about that and was simply a junkie for solving puzzles. House countered that Foreman didn't care any more than he did and only cared about his ego, using patient feelings to validate himself. Foreman left without another word.
- Foreman: Am I boring?
- Chase: Yes.
- -- Foreman, discussing House's conclusion about him, in Lucky Thirteen.
House's observations are not without merit. Foreman has no close friends or relationships; comparable to House, although it can be argued that House does have a single close friend: Wilson. He too loves his parents, but is alienated from them. Like House, he has rejected his father's belief system (his father is a devout Christian while Foreman is an avowed atheist). He has stated explicitly that he doesn't like Chase, and he has also alienated Cameron, although he told her she was his friend in "Euphoria: 2" (though the sincerity of the statement was doubtful, since he was dying at the time and had also just asked her to be his medical proxy). It appears that Chase and Cameron are the closest things Foreman has to friends, despite his House-like manner of pushing people away. Although he has a better relationship with patients than House does, he does not have the same rapport or attachment that Wilson, Chase and Cameron have with their patients. Foreman shares House's distrust of authority figures, particularly the police.
When Foreman was dealing with the mirror patient in Mirror Mirror, the patient acted like Foreman by first being sorry about having to perform a necessary but life threatening procedure, but then being excited about getting to do it. Foreman realized that although there were things about his job he hated having to do, the job itself was something he loved. Later in the episode, Foreman comes out with his first real Houseism. When an applicant expresses doubts about doing a heart biopsy, Foreman says:
- Yeah! It's dangerous! Why don't we biopsy his big toe instead?
House identified Foreman as the only doctor when, given an insight about his own personality, actually did anything about it - the other doctors were running from their own personalities.
Foreman becomes House
Foreman tried to leave Princeton-Plainsboro because he didn't want to become more like House. However, this turned out to be a pointless exercise at it appears Foreman is becoming more and more like his mentor with every passing week.
House, for his part, believed that Foreman had always been like him, but was in denial about it. House had always admired Foreman's intelligence and objectivity, but had upbraided him for not trusting his own judgment. Their fundamental disagreement was whether you had to care about the patient to get results. House was of the opinion that as long as you cure the patient, they aren't going to complain. Foreman felt that you couldn't empathize with people unless you understood that they were suffering.
However, since leaving House, Foreman has not only become a better doctor, he has become more like House. Three weeks into his new job, he was fired for going against his superiors and treating a patient (successfully) without definitive proof that they had the disease they were being treated for. Had Foreman been wrong, he would have killed the patient. After being fired, he found himself in a similar situation to House - being seen as a rogue doctor who cared more for results than procedures, even if he did produce results.
Since coming back to Princeton-Plainsboro, Foreman has continued to morph into House. Like House, he has eschewed wearing a white lab coat regularly, although he tends toward well-tailored suits and ties rather than House's t-shirt and jeans combo. His position as senior fellow has also given him more of House's mannerisms, as he treats the new fellows with contempt whenever they try to play it safe and tends to provide them with cynical if well-meaning advice. However, House does not hesitate to remind Foreman he is still below him, such as in No More Mr. Nice Guy when he makes Foreman do team reviews that the fellows ignore. House admits he expected the team to disregard them, rationalizing "If the team fears you, they don't question you; if they don't question you, they don't find answers; if they don't find answers, they're useless." However, he doesn't have House's ability to read people. He tends to be biased and generally won't revise his first impression of people. He also, unlike House, doesn't seem to be able to think outside the box.
In the Season 5 episode Emancipation Foreman decides to treat a patient without House's help, just to prove that he can, and when he figures out what's wrong with the patient, he gets up and leaves the room in mid-conversation, just like House does.