House Vs. Holmes: A Study in Similarities

April 27, 2018

By Donnie Holstrom, HMNS Web Editor.

Source: Fanpop

221B Baker Street. Common knowledge as Sherlock Holmes’ famed place of residence. But did you know that’s where Gregory House lives as well?

House M.D. aired on the Fox network from 2004 to 2012, and it’s riddled with references to Sherlock Holmes. This is a fact that has been admitted by the series creator David Shore, and it starts with the very name of the show. “House” is an allusion to how “Holmes” is pronounced.

Here are a few more interesting similarities between the cantankerous doctor and the genius detective:

Holmes and Watson, Illustration by Sydney Paget, 1893. Source: Wikimedia

Gregory House (Hugh Laurie) and James Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) fro, “House, M.D.” Source: Shippin Wiki


  • House’s relationship with his best friend Wilson bears a striking resemblance to that of Holmes and Watson (and of course their names are similar). Both Wilson and Watson put up with their friends’ abrasive personalities, and both of them also tried to help House/Holmes quit various recreational narcotics.
  • In the season 2 finale, Dr. House was shot twice by a resentful patient named Jack Moriarty, a reference to Sherlock Holmes’ own nemesis.
  • Both Holmes and House are the masters of their respective fields, and each field happens to be a form of investigation, whether it’s medical or forensic. They’re the people that are called upon when no one else can solve the problem, and they’re obsessed with the problem itself, not the people it affects. People are just variables… excessive but necessary.
  • In the first episode of House M.D., the patient is named Rebecca Adler, a reference to Irene Adler, who outwitted Holmes in the first Sherlockian short story, A Scandal in Bohemia. Irene Adler is actually later referred to in full by Wilson as being House’s “one true love.”
  • There’s a riddle that Sherlock Holmes tells to Watson in the 1985 movie Young Sherlock Holmes: “You’re sitting in a room with an all-southern view. Suddenly, a bear walks by the window. What colour is the bear?” The answer, of course, is white. The room has an all-southern view, so it must be the North Pole. Dr. House tells this exact riddle to his medical team in the episode “Failure to Communicate.”

    House (Hugh Laurie) playing his electric guitar. Source: fanpop .

Sherlock Holmes playing his violin, by Sidney Paget,1908. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

The above references are most likely all intentional, but there is an eerie aspect to this House-Holmes relationship that sticks out to me. In 1887, a short story called Uncle Jeremy’s Household—written by Arthur Conan Doyle—was published in The Boy’s Own Paper. This story is widely believed to be the first prototype for the Sherlockian stories, and the main character in the story was named Hugh Lawrence. The actor that portrays Dr. House? Hugh Laurie. This means one of three things: the casting director for House M.D. is a meta-genius, the casting was pure luck/coincidence, or Arthur Conan Doyle is a time traveler.

I’ll let you decide.

Authored By Guest Contributor

From distinguished lecturers to scientific scholars to visiting curators to volunteers to leaders in their respective fields, we often invite guest authors to contribute content to our blog. You'll find a wealth of information written by these fascinating individuals as we seek to expand your level of knowledge with every post.

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