House MD vs. Sherlock Holmes

I was re-watching episodes of the Jeremy Brett series as Sherlock Holmes, which is my favorite of all of them.  It most accurately portrays the genius, eccentricity and arrogance of Sherlock Holmes while also showing the caring, considerate and loyal Dr. Watson, who often as not is embarrassed by his friends manners, but sticks with him.  It then hit me an amazing similarity between this Sherlock Holmes, and that of House, the wildly successful television series that just ended.  I don’t know why I never saw the parallels before.  I will explain my observations and deductions below.

jeremy logo

house log

Sherlock Holmes falls into bouts of melancholy and angry temper when life is boring and there is no mystery worthy of his great mind to solve.  In these periods, his friend Dr. Watson comes and tries to help him, even sharing rooms with him.  Dr. Watson is most concerned when Sherlock turns to drugs, in the form of a seven percent solution of cocaine.  Sherlock rationalizes this use as making him a better thinker, even though he knows it is wrong.

Dr. Gregory House falls into bouts of melancholy and angry temper when life is boring and there is no medical mystery worthy of his great mind to solve.  In these periods, his friend, Dr. Wilson, comes and tries to help him, even living with him on many occasions.  Dr. Wilson is most concerned when House turns to drugs, in the form of Vicodin.  House rationalizes this as making him a better thinker, even though he knows it is wrong.



Both House and Holmes use canes as props.  House needs his more for his bad leg, but uses it for all sorts of gestures and gibes.  Holmes carries it for fashion, but uses it the same as House.  House and Dr. Wilson enjoy laughing with each other over the effect of House’s machinations on others, and occasionally grouse over the dirty tricks they play on each other for amusement.  Holmes and Dr. Watson also smile at each other as Holmes pulls off machinations on others, and to a lesser extent, also tease and pull tricks on each other that are not always appreciated.  House hates people in general.  Holmes, dislikes almost all women.  Dr. Wilson likes all people.  Dr. Watson likes all women.



Dr. Watson enjoys going on adventures with Holmes, though he often is disturbed by his rude behavior and focus solely on the mystery, not the people.  Holmes frequently keeps him the dark, wakes him up at all hours, but also often gets the solution to a mystery by talking it through with Watson.  Dr. Wilson likes going on adventures with House, but is disturbed by his rude behavior, his focus solely on the mystery and not the people.  House wakes him up in the middle of the night, keeps him in the dark, but often gets that moment of clarity by bouncing things off of him.

Holmes likes smart police detectives that he can show up once they do the preliminary work for him.  House likes smart doctors that he can show up once they do the preliminary work for him.  Dr. Watson retired from the Army due to a wound and suffered poor health.  Dr. Wilson develops cancer and suffers poor health.  Holmes and Watson enjoy a cigar and fine liquor together.  House and Wilson enjoy a fine cigar and liquor together.

Holmes lives at 221B Baker Street.  House lives at apartment 221B.  Holmes plays a violin when thinking about life, House plays the piano.

house-on piano




I could actually go on and on with the parallels.  Now that I see it, I can’t help but wonder if the original pitch for the show was, “Ok, we take Sherlock Holmes and put him in a hospital and all the mysteries are medical, not criminal.”

What do you think?


Filed under Humor and Observations, Writing

7 responses to “House MD vs. Sherlock Holmes

  1. Hmmm….sounds mysterious….
    Its just like imitation and plainly changing some facts’ names….a bit.
    But Sherlock Holmes was only one…no other substitute for him. 😀


    • Michael Bradley

      Wendy, after I posted I noticed other sites alluded to it. The writers and producers long denied it, but later admitted they had “borrowed” certain aspects. Still, as an author myself, I found it mind boggling that as an avid fan of both, it took me so long to see it for myself.


      • ameliawestcott

        I never realized how similar these two characters and their trusted companions were until I read this blog article. Interesting to know!


      • Tom

        They’ve never made any bones about the fact it was based on Holmes, and they weren’t drowning in subtlety over there. They named their characters House and Wilson for pete’s sake, they’re practically bludgeoning you over the head with the references.


  2. Travis

    Wow, you missed the incredibly obvious for quite a while. Their names are House and Holmes. They each solve mysteries using observation, logic and deduction. Aside from the many other parallels that could be drawn (some of the more obvious you already identified), it was never a secret that one borrowed from the other.


    • Michael Bradley

      Yeah, I know. I feel stupid now. I watched the whole series and did not think of it. Even though I have read and watched all the Sherlock Holmes novels and shows. Just goes to show how you can overlook the obvious, lol.


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