Years after the release of its series finale, House retains its title as one of the best TV medical dramas ever created. Fans have a soft spot for the show's titular sardonic, cynical, and overwhelmingly brilliant diagnostician. Viewers love to learn about Dr. House's team of high-achieving doctors and the mind-boggling medical cases they must solve before their patients succumb to illness or injury.
While every episode contains biting humor and mysterious diseases, some stand out from the crowd as the best House episodes.
1. Paternity (Season 1, Episode 2)
When a patient enters the hospital because of dizziness and chronic insomnia, Dr. House (Hugh Laurie), in his typical fashion, believes the patient's family refuses to tell him the whole truth. When House suspects his patient's father isn't his biological father, House's employee Dr. Foreman (Omar Epps), oncologist Dr. Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard), and even the hospital's Dean of Medicine Dr. Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) bet money against House's claims.
As one of the first House episodes, “Paternity” does a fantastic job establishing the relationships between the doctors at Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital (PPTH) and the sarcastic, confident Dr. House. The scene at the beginning of the episode where House berates a young mother for refusing to vaccinate her child remains one of the most iconic in the entire show. Plus, the medical case in the episode takes tons of dramatic twists that fans soon expect from the series.
2. DNR (Season 1, Episode 9)
Dr. House doesn't follow silly little rules like the law, and fans get a glimpse into just how far he's willing to go to get to the bottom of a case in “DNR.” When a jazz musician with Lou Gehrig's Disease (ALS) comes down with what seems to be pneumonia, he signs a do-not-resuscitate order (DNR). But of course, House doesn't believe the musician has pneumonia or ALS. When the patient falls into a coma, he resuscitates the man despite his wishes.
3. Three Stories (Season 1, Episode 21)
“Three Stories” contains a rich backstory about Dr. House that establishes his character as complex and sympathetic. On his way to fill in for a medical school lecture, House bumps into his ex-girlfriend, who asks him to treat her husband. House's usual defensive demeanor changes as he's forced to be vulnerable for one of the first times in the series.
During the lecture, House shares three cases of patients presenting with similar symptoms of leg pain, who all had completely different diagnoses. The House episode's anachronic storyline allows for a surprise twist that reveals details about House's past that help viewers understand why he's become such a hardened person and a driven diagnostician.
4. All In (Season 2, Episode 17)
Fans love Lisa Cuddy House episodes, and “All In” doesn't disappoint. The hospital hosts a charity poker tournament, where House, Wilson, Cuddy, and House's team compete. At the same time, a young boy gets admitted to the hospital for digestive issues, and Cuddy orders him fluids before getting back into the game. But when House learns about the boy's symptoms, he's reminded of a similar, deadly case from years back that took the life of a young girl. House spends the rest of the poker tournament using Wilson to distract Cuddy as he secretly leads his team on an investigation to get to the bottom of the boy's worsening symptoms.
5. Euphoria: Part 1 (Season 2, Episode 20)
The two-part House episodes “Euphoria” present one of the most confounding cases in House history. When a police officer visits the hospital after suffering a gunshot wound, Dr. House becomes intrigued because the man can't stop laughing. As the team investigates the officer's strange symptoms, they continually find themselves at a dead end. The diagnosticians don't know where to turn with new, even weirder symptoms emerging. But they must act fast because Dr. Foreman begins exhibiting the same symptoms after searching the officer's home for clues.
6. Euphoria: Part 2 (Season 2, Episode 21)
“Euphoria's” second part begins just after Foreman fails to resuscitate the police officer after he suffers a fatal heart attack due to his mysterious illness. House displays his attachment to Foreman not through get-well-soon cards or flowers but by becoming both more frantic and uncharacteristically careful in his efforts to treat his colleague. Not only does Foreman have the same deadly, unknown condition as the officer, but his symptoms start to progress faster than the other patient. With time running out, House and the team risk their jobs and health to save Foreman's life.
7. One Day, One Room (Season 3, Episode 12)
House begrudgingly working in the hospital's walk-in clinic always makes fans laugh. In “One Day, One Room,” the humor of the clinic, combined with a patient who gets under Dr. House's skin, makes this one of the best House episodes. As House desperately tries to evade his assigned two days of clinic duty, he tests a woman for Chlamydia, and it comes back positive. When she bursts into tears, he realizes the woman acquired the STD when someone sexually assaulted her.
“One Day, One Room” asks Dr. House to get uncomfortable and retreat from his usual defensive, biting demeanor. The patient clings to House because she can tell that he's endured quite a bit of trauma in his life, just like her. Any episode where House must confront his emotions and deep, inner pain adds definition to a series–and its protagonist– regularly characterized by sarcasm and harsh witticisms. Don't worry, the episode also has plenty of those aimed at House's other clinic patients for the day.
8. Half-Wit (Season 3, Episode 15)
Dr. House's diagnosticians work on many bizarre cases, but this one is up there on the list as one of the most extreme. A piano savant arrives at the hospital, and House's team discovers the entire right half of his brain died. As the doctors prepare for surgery to remove an entire hemisphere of the patient's brain, they realize Dr. House has a secret: he received a diagnosis of terminal brain cancer but doesn't want anyone to know.
9. Airborne (Season 3, Episode 18)
After House and Cuddy attend a conference in Singapore, they board a non-stop flight to New York to make it back to New Jersey in time for work the next day. While on the flight, Cuddy assists a man and begins to fear that he has a highly contagious bacterial infection that, without immediate treatment, could be deadly. As the infection–along with mass hysteria–spreads across the plane, House and Cuddy rush to find a way to save lives in midair.
At the same time, Dr. Chase (Jesse Spencer) begins to develop feelings for his coworker, Dr. Cameron (Jennifer Morrison). Fans love watching this workplace romance come to life in “Airborne.” Plus, the dramatic setting of Dr. House treating patients on board a red-eye flight adds intrigue and suspense to this excellent episode.
10. Human Error (Season 3, Episode 24)
Fans of House know that most season finales erupt with incredible self-destructive measures House takes to protect himself to his detriment. Season three's finale, “Human Error,” stays true to that pattern. As Dr. House prepares for Dr. Foreman to leave his position at PPTH for a new job with a boss who prioritizes bedside manner just as much as diagnosing conditions, House manages to push away every single member of his team. Meanwhile, a woman and her husband make a treacherous journey aboard a ramshackle boat from Cuba to the U.S. to meet with Dr. House in the hopes that he can cure the wife's painful heart condition.
11. Mirror Mirror (Season 4, Episode 5)
After House ousts his entire team of doctors with his cruelty and bitterness, he must find a new crew to interact with his patients and run his tests. The first few episodes of season four contend with House's cutthroat hiring process to cut over forty applicants down to just a few. Many fans find the competitive aspect of these episodes exciting, but one episode stands out from the rest.
By the time of the events in “Mirror Mirror,” House only has six applicants left, and his former employees Chase, Cameron, and Foreman, along with Cuddy and Wilson, place bets on which applicant House will fire next. At the same time, the doctors work on a puzzling case where a man with a brain injury takes on the personality of whoever he interacts with.
12. Frozen (Season 4, Episode 11)
Some of the best House episodes take place outside the hospital, and “Frozen” is one of them. When a psychiatrist stationed in Antarctica suffers from severe abdominal pain, she must seek help via video chat. Dr. House takes the case and begins to grow fond of his patient. The brave woman must conduct every test on herself with makeshift tools until her coworker steps in to help.
As House attempts to diagnose the psychiatrist from afar, he notices Dr. Wilson has a new girlfriend but can't figure out who. Wilson's girlfriend's reveal at the end of the episode shocks fans to their core when they watch it for the first time.
13. House's Head (Season 4, Episode 15)
As one of the most mysterious and gut-wrenching House episodes, “House's Head” begins a two-part episode that fans never forget. After enduring a concussion in a bus accident, Dr. House suffers retrograde amnesia and can't remember anything that happened right before the accident. He does remember one small detail: he saw someone with a severe and deadly illness and knows he needs to find them before it's too late.
In the emergency room, House struggles to recall the events before the crash. As his team rushes to treat the bus driver, House refuses to rest–despite Cuddy's best efforts–and pushes himself to the extreme to recover his lost memories. When he does, he's flooded by grief and devastation.
14. Wilson's Heart (Season 4, Episode 16)
“Wilson's Heart,” the second of the two-part bus crash episode, begins as Wilson and House rush to Priceton General to find Amber (Anne Dudek), one of House's former applicants and now Wilson's current girlfriend, struggling to stay alive after the crash. While the surgery for her injuries went well, Amber's health continues to deteriorate, and House believes the answer lies in his repressed memories.
House goes to extreme lengths to regain his memory, even risking his own life for his best friend's girlfriend in an act of love rarely expressed by the cold diagnostician. The tragic end of the episode lets viewers delve into the hidden emotions of House's mind with a brutal clarity that's so rare in this series that when it does happen, it leaves a lasting impact.
15. Birthmarks (Season 5, Episode 4)
Everyone loves an episode that reveals hidden truths about Dr. House's complex, cynical personality, and “Birthmarks” is one of the most illuminating episodes for House's character development. When Dr. House's estranged father dies, he tells his team he's not sad and carries on with work as usual. Even though Dr. Wilson's friendship with House remains rocky during this episode, he agrees to House's mom's request to forcibly take him to his father's funeral.
16. Locked In (Season 5, Episode 19)
This unique episode of House comes entirely from the perspective of a man who wakes up in a hospital bed, completely conscious but without the ability to move a single muscle but his eyelids. The patient in the bed beside him turns out to be none other than Dr. Gregory House, who suffered some minor injuries during a motorcycle crash.
House notices the patient has locked-in syndrome and transports him to PPTH so his team can figure out how to get the man's movement back. What makes “Locked In” such a fun episode is the patient's internal dialogue, which serves as commentary from an outside perspective about House and the other doctors at the hospital.
17. Under My Skin (Season 5, Episode 23)
For a couple of weeks, House has hallucinated Wilson's dead girlfriend, Amber. Concerned that the hallucinations may interfere with his work, House admits his problem to Wilson but refrains from telling him who he keeps seeing. As he and Wilson narrow down the possibilities for the cause of the hallucinations, House must finally face the facts: the culprit must be the result of his chronic Vicodin abuse.
Dejected, House goes to Cuddy to quit his job, and she agrees to care for him while he goes through detox. Fans crave scenes with interactions between House and Cuddy because they have the perfect combination of chemistry and tension. But in this episode, fans get to see another, more tender side of their relationship.
18. Both Sides Now (Season 5, Episode 24)
With some of the most entertaining patients with wild symptoms, “Both Sides Now” also sees House descend further into a complex mixture of obsession and denial about his addiction and his feelings for Cuddy. As House and his team investigate a man with a surgically split brain whose left hand acts on his deepest impulses, House reflects on his night with Cuddy and does whatever it takes to make her angry.
The episode contains a ton of fun power struggles between Cuddy and House as they rope a patient from the clinic who squawks like a parrot into their mind games. But when House finally makes Cuddy so angry that she fires him, he realizes he lost control of his most valuable asset: his mind.
19. Broken: Part 1 (Season 6, Episode 1)
After House finally seeks help for his myriad of mental health and addiction issues by checking himself into a psychiatric hospital, he tries to go home after detoxing without receiving any other treatment. But the psychiatrist convinces House to stay by withholding his medical license. Instead of following his doctor's orders, House threatens the staff in an attempt to get his license back without delving into his trauma and emotional pain.
House uses his superb intelligence and natural leadership skills to manipulate the other patients and convince the doctors he's healing rather than actually trying to get better. That is until House makes a terrible choice that puts a delusional patient in harm's way. Only then does he admit he needs help, and fans either breathe a sigh of relief or jump out of their seats to shout, “Finally!”
20. Broken: Part 2 (Season 6, Episode 2)
It takes a little over five seasons for Dr. House to finally admit that he needs help and accept it. In the second half of “Broken,” fans watch as House puts down his defensive front and confronts his inner pain. In between psychotherapy sessions, he connects with the sister-in-law of a patient who hasn't spoken in over twenty years. As House grapples with the emotional pain that contributed to his Vicodin addiction, both his doctors and the viewers feel a sense of hope for House that we've never experienced until this critical episode.
21. Ignorance Is Bliss (Season 6, Episode 9)
This psychologically compelling episode contends with the tension between intelligence and happiness. A genius physicist who abandoned his academic life because of the pressures of success lives happily as a courier with his beloved wife when he ends up in the hospital with a puzzling condition. As the team attempts to determine what's going wrong with their patient, Dr. House tries to weasel his way into Cuddy and her boyfriend's Thanksgiving celebration.
22. Help Me (Season 6, Episode 21)
In a 2012 Facebook poll, fans declared “Help Me” as their all-time favorite among House episodes. Not only does it take place in the rubble of a crane accident in a parking garage, but it also forces House to confront his demons. As House and other doctors and emergency responders search the crash site for the injured, he finds a woman with her leg stuck under piles of concrete. Though Cuddy urges House to amputate her leg as soon as possible, the patient refuses and House backs her up.
Cuddy accuses House of letting his emotions get involved in the case because it reminds him of his own leg and his similar refusal to amputate. When the doctors finally manage to free the patient from the rubble, viewers watch in horror as the inevitable procedure causes the patient to take a turn for the worse, knowing House's mental state rests on this case more than others.
23. The Dig (Season 7, Episode 18)
Who doesn't have a soft spot for the mysterious and empathetic Dr. Hadley (Olivia Wilde), referred to as “Thirteen” throughout the whole series? “The Dig” brings Thirteen back into the spotlight when House picks her up from jail and attempts to figure out why she spent time locked up. House takes Thirteen to a spud gun contest to enlist her help in beating a young rival who earned first place last year.
Fans love “The Dig” because it teaches them more about the secrets of two of the series' most compelling characters: Thirteen and House himself. As the central mystery of Thirteen's conviction unfolds, the audience also catches a glimpse into House's inner emotional turmoil in the aftermath of his breakup with Cuddy.
24. After Hours (Season 7, Episode 22)
House's mental state completely unravels in “After Hours,” making this episode simultaneously one of the best and most harrowing of the series. After taking an experimental drug currently being tested on rats to enhance muscle growth in his injured leg, House begins to reap the rewards. But his euphoria turns to panic when the researchers tell him they're stopping the trial because the drug causes tumors to grow in the rats. Instead of reaching out for help, House decides to perform his own surgery on his leg at home in the bathtub to remove the tumors.
At the same time, Thirteen receives a visit from a friend she met while in prison. Her friend suffered a stab wound and asks Thirteen for treatment, but not to be sent to the hospital. Enlisting the help of Chase, Thirteen attempts to treat her friend without the amenities of the hospital environment.
25. Twenty Vicodin (Season 8, Episode 1)
House's terrible actions from the previous season finally catch up to him in the season eight premiere episode. Eight months after driving his car through Cuddy's living room, House awaits his release from prison. As he tries his best to be good and get out on parole, a fellow inmate asks him for help with a mysterious illness.
House can't resist getting back into his role as a diagnostician despite the doctor at the prison, Dr. Adams (Odette Annable), advising him to stay out of it. “Twenty Vicodin” also reveals that House no longer has any friends in the outside world. Now that he's finally hit rock bottom, fans wonder whether he'll be able to pick up the pieces and finally become a healthy person.
26. Chase (Season 8, Episode 12)
After a patient stabs Dr. Chase in a terrible accident, House's guilt manifests in his constant calling up on Chase to find out when he's coming back to work. As Chase recovers, he agrees to return to the hospital for clinic duty but refuses to work with House. Fans who love Chase love this House episode because it's told entirely from the handsome blonde doctor's perspective.
As Chase struggles to overcome the trauma from the incident and dodge House's constant questions and nagging, he becomes enthralled with a nun who initially comes to the clinic for shoulder pain that quickly evolves into something more sinister. Towards the end of the episode, as Chase faces a life-changing decision, viewers witness a heartfelt moment between House and Chase that reveals House cares about his team after all.
27. Everybody Dies (Season 8, Episode 22)
Unsurprisingly, House ends up in hot water with the police again, leaving him desperate to find a way to avoid jail time to spend Wilson's last few months by his side. The series finale of House achieves its goal of shocking the audience one last time with House's unruly behavior and unflinching attempts to find a way to be there for his best friend. The series delves one final time into Dr. House's psyche as he's haunted by hallucinations of the people he hurt over the seasons, like Amber, Kutner (Kal Penn), House's ex-girlfriend, and Cameron.
Ultimately, House discovers a way to support Wilson, but at the same time, he sacrifices his future. House simultaneously breaks fans' hearts and puts them back together as its sardonic protagonist makes the most important choice of his life and disrupts his typical pattern of destroying relationships to protect himself.