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“Everybody Lies” and 19 Other Great Quotes from House M.D

Premiering in 2004, Fox’s House M.D ran for an admirable eight seasons, garnering widespread critical acclaim, as well as a dedicated fan base. Centering around the misanthropic, yet brilliant diagnostician, Dr Gregory House, the series explores the day-to-day workings of his department while also delving into this unconventional, but beloved protagonist’s enigmatic psyche.





Release Date
November 16, 2004



Starring British-born actor Hugh Laurie as the twisted titular character, House lives with both chronic pain and a somewhat superhuman brain. He lacks bedside manner – to the extreme and finds himself in constant conflict with those around him, but in the words of his long-suffering boss and part-time lover, Dr Lisa Cuddy, “The son of a b*tch is the best doctor we have.”

Renowned for its razor-sharp dialogue and quick wit, the series has birthed a multitude of memorable lines – many humorous, others cutting, and a few surprisingly profound. So, with this in mind, let’s explore 20 of the most iconic quotes from House

20 “Everybody Lies.”

Season 1, Episode 1 – “Pilot”

Perhaps one of the best-known quotes from the show’s run, “Everybody lies” reverberates throughout the entire series, forming the very foundation upon which House’s philosophy is based. This mantra is made known to both the audience and House’s already increasingly exasperated team during episode one, often and aptly referred to as “Everybody Lies”.

Patient number one comes to us in the form of Rebecca, a sweet and seemingly unassuming kindergarten teacher with an unfortunate and potentially deadly mystery illness. As House attempts to make a diagnosis, his comparatively conventional colleague, Doctor Foreman, asks, “Shouldn’t we be speaking to the patient before we start diagnosing?” The answer: A resounding no, with the reasoning being that House sees little value in this due to his unshakable belief that “Everybody lies.”

19 “This is one of the symptoms of working for House. You start seeing zebras everywhere.”

Season 8, Episode 15 – “Blowing the Whistle”

You may have heard the phrase “When You Hear Hoof beats, Think Horses, Not Zebras”. Popularized in the late 1940s by Dr. Theadore Woodward, it is used to illustrate the idea that when making a diagnosis, doctors should consider the most probable or common cause before the more rare or exotic.

In “Blowing the Whistle”, House and his team treat an army private accused of leaking classified military information to the public. With the threat of prison looming over him and a set of symptoms that don’t make sense, the team assumes he is faking, but swiftly change their minds after his condition worsens, eventually finding their “zebra” in the form of Typhus.

Meanwhile, House embarks on an elaborate ploy to trick his team into thinking he’s dying through a prolonged mind game involving fake symptoms, herbal remedies, and blocked toilets (among other things). Amidst the uncertainty, however, House’s unwavering confidant and long-standing companion, Dr. Wilson remains skeptical of the ploy, offering this valuable kernel of wisdom to House’s exasperated team.

Related: House: The 20 Best Episodes of the Series, Ranked

18 “My unicorn isn’t a unicorn. It’s a donkey with a plunger stuck to its face.”

Season 6, Episode 19 – “Open and Shut”

“Open and Shut” explores the idea of open marriage as the team is tasked with treating a woman who swears by it.

This strikes a chord with House’s underling and unlikely Lothario, Dr. Taub, who’s feeling somewhat disillusioned with the idea of marriage as his own begins to collapse, claiming that functional open marriages are like unicorns in that they don’t exist. House, believing that he has found this elusive mythical creature in the outwardly happy couple, is bitterly disappointed when all is not what it seems and his unicorn is downgraded to a plunger-faced donkey.

17 “See, the problem with speculation is you make a speck out of you and some guy named Lation.”

Season 5, Episode 23 – “Under My Skin”

Season 5 sees House facing dark and dire times following the death of Wilson’s girlfriend, Amber. Plagued by guilt for the part he played in her demise and with Wilson keeping him at arm’s length, House ups his daily dose of pain meds, causing some extremely troublesome hallucinations.

In spite of all this, House maintains his snarky ways, offering no respite to his long-suffering team as their attempts to diagnose their latest patient are promptly shot down. A play on the phrase “Assumptions make an ass of you and me”, House adds his own unique spin to the old adage, resulting in this rather iconic line.

16 “There are three choices in this life: be good, get good, or give up.”

Season 4, Episode 9 – “Games”

With this scathing view of the world, it comes as no surprise that House struggles to maintain connections with those around him. Having worked with his trusted team for a number of years, a series of questionable choices led to the sudden departure of Dr Cameron, followed by her colleague-turned-ex-husband, Dr. Chase.

In typical House fashion, he transforms his latest medical case into a game, assigning points to four prospective new doctors for correct diagnoses as they vie for a position on House’s coveted team. Amidst this cutthroat competition to crack the case, patient and struggling musician Jimmy Quid attempts to explain to an uncomprehending House that he doesn’t care if people like his music because he makes it for himself, an idea House vehemently disagrees with, arguing that “There are three choices in this life: be good, get good, or give up.”

15 “Doing things changes things. Not doing things leaves things exactly as they were”

Season 3, Episode 12 – “One Day, One Room”

In season 3’s “One Day, One Room” House faces an unprecedented challenge as he is forced to venture beyond diagnostics and into delicate human interaction, an area where he typically struggles. Structurally unique, the episode shifts focus to clinic duty rather than the usual mystery case, as House is stuck seeing walk-in patients.

Among them, he diagnoses a young woman with an STD, only to discover later that she has been a victim of sexual assault. When she insists on being treated by House, but refuses to talk about her ordeal, he offers up the opinion that “Doing things changes things. Not doing things leaves things exactly as they were”, a statement that does seem to pay off in the end, with House even following his own advice and opening up (albeit briefly) about his own past traumas.

14 “Everybody does stupid things, it shouldn’t cost them everything they want in life.”

Season 1, Episode 12 – “Sports Medicine”

Every so often, despite his never ending quest for truth and general disdain for most people, House displays a level of compassion that actually seems to rival those around him.

Season 1’s “Sports Medicine” is a densely packed and emotional episode that delves into medical ethics and the impossible choices that both doctors and patients are often forced to make.

When professional athlete Hank Wiggan is referred to House for an unexplained broken arm, his condition deteriorates, forcing him to confirm his suspected drug use. However, with the knowledge that this could ruin his career, House amends his medical chart in order to hide the fact, justifying his actions to a hesitant Dr. Cuddy with this quote.

13 “Sometimes we can’t see why normal isn’t normal.”

Season 2, Episode 2 – “Autopsy”

Autopsy stands out as one of the more poignant episodes in the series as it follows Andie, a 9-year-old girl battling cancer, while also managing to embrace who she is and find joy in life. When Andie falls victim to a mysterious illness, House treats her personally, revealing yet another brief glimpse into his rarely seen softer side as he offers sincere empathy, guidance and admiration.

As Andie’s health continues to decline and with every test having come back normal, House hits on a moment of accidental profundity, realizing that this is not in fact the case because “Sometimes we can’t see why normal isn’t normal”, a sentiment we think resonates well beyond the world of diagnostics.

12 “You were at least six wronger.”

Season 4, Episode 11- “Frozen”

In a unique and enthralling episode, the only doctor within miles of a remote arctic base falls desperately ill. Unable to figure out what’s wrong, she turns to House for a remote diagnosis, only to be awarded the mammoth task of performing life-saving surgery on herself!

Prior to this, both House and the patient make incorrect and near-fatal diagnoses, the difference being that House suffers from a chronic inability to admit his mistakes, just about overcoming it on this occasion with the caveat, “You were at least six wronger.”

Related: House M.D. Had a Spin-Off That No One Saw

11 “It’s normal to be screwed up, but it’s really screwed up to romanticize it.”

Season 8, Episode 6 – Parents

Having just become a father, Season 8’s “Parents” finds Dr. Taub grappling with the idea of parenthood as House insists with full force that all parents “screw up” their children regardless of their intentions and with no room for exception.

However, this theory crumbles in the face of House’s new team member, Dr. Adams, who admits that her upbringing was characterized by unwavering parental love and a stable home life. Paradoxically, she resents this as she feels it makes her less interesting, to which House interjects with the characteristically quippy, yet astute “It’s normal to be screwed up, but it’s really screwed up to romanticize it.”

10 “Everything is conditional. You just can’t always anticipate the conditions.”

Season 3, Episode 7 – “Son of Coma Guy”

Fans of the series may recall Coma Guy, the enduring, but unconscious patient whose room House frequents as his go-to hiding place until interrupted by an unexpected visit from Coma Guy’s son (also known as Kyle), who collapses in front of him. Now under House’s care, the team scrambles to diagnose Kyle, but are hindered by a lack of family history. So, naturally, House wakes Coma Guy up.

Much to everyone’s astonishment, however, Coma Guy seems unfazed by his son’s condition, sparking a discussion between Wilson and House on the complexities of love and parenting. Wilson argues that parental love is unconditional. House, on the other hand, argues that “Everything is conditional. You just can’t always anticipate the conditions.” Whilst House being cynical is nothing new, this conversation offers us a glimpse into why, alluding to House’s childhood and the kind of love (or lack thereof) he experienced.

9 “The problem is, when we don’t find a logical answer, we settle for a stupid one. Ritual is what happens when we run out of rational.”

Season 7, Episode 8 – “Small Sacrifices”

Season 7’s “Small Sacrifices” tackles some not-so-small ideas, exploring different characters’ moral and philosophical stances on things like faith, religion, truth and sacrifice.

Ramon, a devout man of faith, falls ill after his annual reenactment of the crucifixion – a ritual he observes since his daughter’s miraculous recovery from cancer. However, House, as a staunch man of science and notorious skeptic, promptly challenges Ramon’s beliefs, claiming that “The problem is, when we don’t find a logical answer, we settle for a stupid one. Ritual is what happens when we run out of rational.”

Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with this statement, the episode as a whole is thoroughly engrossing, well-thought-out and a perfect example of what elevates House M. D above other medical dramas.

8 “You and I have found out that being normal sucks. Because we’re freaks. The advantage of being a freak is that it makes you stronger.”

Season 3, Episode 10 – “Merry Little Christmas”

Despite its whimsical title, “Merry Little Christmas” is one of the more hard-hitting episodes of the series, as House is caught stealing pain medication from the hospital in an effort to feed his vicious addiction.

Having suffered with this for many years alongside debilitating pain and a mind that just doesn’t seem to work like other people, House is a self-proclaimed freak in the sense that he feels different. However, he manages to find a small silver lining in the strength that this demands and therefore creates, stating that “The advantage of being a freak is that it makes you stronger”

7 “Occam’s Razor: The simplest explanation is almost always somebody screwed up.”

Season 1, Episode 3 – “Occam’s Razor”

The aptly titled “Occam’s Razor” finds House and his team at a loss as their patient suffers from a plethora of symptoms that go from having no apparent cause to two very rare ones.

The episode centers around the principle of Occam’s Razor, which states that when solving a problem, one should look for the solution that requires the fewest number of elements or assumptions. With the patient on the verge of death, House, in a moment of genius and with unbreakable conviction, treats him for what has essentially been a pharmacy mix-up, reworking this old philosophical concept in true House fashion.

6 “I’m sorry. I’m about to lose you because I’m about to drive into a tunnel in a canyon on an airplane while hanging up the phone.”

Season 5, Episode 24 – “Both Sides Now”

Whilst an undeniably good doctor, it’s safe to say that House lacks bedside manner. Highly averse to polite conversation and with an affinity for breaking the rules, he often butts heads with patients or, better still, avoids them altogether, as was the case with season 5’s unfortunate squawking man.

Whilst distracted by the unusual case of a man who’s left and right sides of the brain operate independently, House gets a call from a former walk-in patient suffering from spontaneous and uncontrollable squawking. However, being of little interest to House, he dismisses the poor parrot-like man and hangs up in a manner which is more brutal than bedside with the iconic “I’m sorry. I’m about to lose you because I’m about to drive into a tunnel in a canyon on an airplane while hanging up the phone.”

5 “Lies are like children. Hard work, but they’re worth it. Because the future depends on them.”

Season 4, Episode 10 – “It’s a Wonderful Lie”

In the pilot episode of the series, House is unshakable in his belief that everybody lies. However, as the show progresses, he encounters a myriad of patients who challenge this.

One such patient arrives at Princeton Plainsboro in Season 5 with sudden unexplained paralysis of the hands. Accompanied by her pre-teen daughter, House soon realizes that the pair do not lie to each other. Much to everyone’s surprise, he is unimpressed by the duo’s unabashed honesty, arguing that “Lies are like children. Hard work, but they’re worth it. Because the future depends on them.”

4 “Idiots are fun; no wonder every village wants one.”

Season 2, Episode 22 – “Forever”

With endless medical training and a mind that works at a million miles per hour, House often finds himself face-to-face with patients and even doctors who don’t quite stand up to his intellectual standards.

Whilst frustrating at times, he manages to find the humor in these disparities and most likely derives a twisted kind of joy from the feeling of superiority they provide, proclaiming that “Idiots are fun; no wonder every village wants one.”

3 “People choose the paths that grant them the greatest rewards for the least amount of effort.”

House and Cameron in House M.D

Season 1, Episode 1 – “Pilot”

The pilot episode of House MD offers both the audience and the team valuable initial insights into House’s outlook on life and, by extension, diagnostics.

Apart from the infamous “Everybody Lies,” House reveals another fundamental aspect of his beliefs: “People choose the paths that grant them the greatest rewards for the least amount of effort.” However, this time, the situation is not as straightforward.

House acknowledges Dr. Cameron is an exception to this principle, expressing in his characteristically blunt manner, “You could have married rich, could have been a model, you could have just shown up and people would have given you stuff. Lots of stuff, but you didn’t, you worked your stunning little ass off.” And that’s what he says, respectfully (in the most disrespectful way possible, of course).

2 “Dying’s easy. Living’s hard.”

Wilson in House M.D

Season 4, Episode 9 – “Games”

As mentioned, “Games” centers around Doctors Amber, Kutner, Taub, and Thirteen as they compete against each other in a race to diagnose their patient and earn a spot on House’s team. The secondary plot line, however, whilst far less action packed, is just as interesting and potentially profound.

Wilson, having misdiagnosed a patient with cancer, must tell him that he is no longer dying. Upon hearing the news, having sold his house, quit his job and accepted his own death, the patient is devastated. Whilst House is bewildered by this reaction, the ever-caring and emotionally sensitive Wilson explains it with these simple, but poignant words, “Dying’s easy. Living’s hard”

1 “People don’t get what they deserve. They just get what they get.”

Season 6, Episode 5 – “Instant Karma”

After exhausting all alternatives, wealthy businessman Roy brings his son to House in a last-ditch effort to diagnose and treat his mystery illness. However, the team soon discovers that his son suffers from an incurable disease, leaving him with only days to live.

Convinced that karma is at play, Roy resolves to bankrupt himself, reasoning that “There’s got to be some sort of balance. You can’t have all the good fortune in just one area of your life. It’s not how the world’s supposed to work.” Yet, House remains steadfast in his belief that the world doesn’t work this way, delivering another one of the show’s best known and quintessentially House-like quotes, “People don’t get what they deserve. They just get what they get.”

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