In the tv show House, Dr. House is a diagnostic genius with a team of doctors under him. Every episode deals with a new mystery case which takes the entire episode for the team to solve.

Obviously, they are dealing with strange cases every time which is why they are so difficult to solve, but how is it that every case they get is such a rare mystery? Is there some sort of process where these patients have already been to other doctors who couldn't diagnose them? I know there are cases in the show where the patients were specifically referred, but in the majority of the cases, it seems like it goes unexplained.

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    "how is it that every case they get is such a rare mystery?" There are ~two dozen episodes each year. Do you think he only sees two dozen patients each year? Jan 1, 2020 at 0:30
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    @Accumulation Actually, I think that's about right. Most of House's patients take anywhere from 3-4 days to diagnose to over a week. Usually the limiting factor on the lower end of that time range is due to the severity of the patient's condition. But if you combine that range with House always trying to avoid Cuddy, playing pranks on Wilson, and House being so selective on the cases he takes, that averages out to one case every couple weeks, give or take a day or two. House only tackles exotic/rare conditions and that's the defining feature of his dept and why PPTH is "unique".
    – Charles
    Jan 1, 2020 at 19:53
  • @Acccumulation are you suggesting that House and his team take normal cases in between episodes? I highly doubt that considering House's nature and his expertise and the fact that he has to be strong armed into even just doing clinic hours.
    – sanpaco
    Jan 1, 2020 at 23:10
  • ofc, when he does clinic hours he sees way beyond the superficial issues and digs some weird cases on his own... Apr 5, 2023 at 10:07

2 Answers 2


One of the responsibilities of his team is to find House interesting cases. There are a multitude of episodes that begin with House fielding cases that are presented by his team members until they eventually suggest one that interests him. The team members get these cases from where patients will "apply" to be treated by House after they've seen so many other doctors but haven't had any luck in being cured.

Also, there are a few episodes that begin with House in a random place [outside of the hospital] and he comes across a bizarre medical condition and takes the patient on on his own accord. And then, in the later seasons when Dr. Cameron starts working in the ER, she sometimes refers cases to him (ex. S05e05). Dr. Cuddy is also known to pressure House into taking on certain patients.

But yes, you're also correct -- sometimes it's not mentioned how House acquires his patients, it just shows the moments that lead up to the person/patient needing hospitalization.


While the Sherlock Holmes references in House are aplenty, this is no different. You're essentially asking why Sherlock Holmes deals with mysterious cases instead of open and shut police work.

Very simply put, because that that Sherlock/House do for a living.

House is a diagnostician, someone who specializes in finding out the disease. He doesn't do treatment or patient care. He obviously gets assigned the cases where his particular skill set is valuable, which means he inherently gets assigned patients with symptoms that are not straightforward to diagnose.

Much like how it's the police who refer a case to Sherlock when they can't solve it themselves, other doctors refer the patient on to House when it becomes clear the patient is not easily diagnosable.

how is it that every case they get is such a rare mystery?

As an aside, this is not completely true. It's a recurring theme that House hates doing regular clinic work specifically because it is so mundane - but he's still forced to do it from time to time.

  • Which of course these clinic work is the comic relief of the show. Dec 31, 2019 at 12:58

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