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Blood, Guts and Gore on House, M.D.

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House, M.D., being a medical show and all, certainly has its share of gory moments. The visual effects take us up nostrils, down throats and into various other bodily caverns. But there are moments that just seem to stay with us, memorably gross—beyond the oh-so-ordinary blood and guts of the operating room and the blood-gushing orifices of so many opening teaser sequences.

 So, in the sprit of Halloween—and given there is no new House episode this week—I present this trip down memory lane to revisit the best gross-out moments in House, M.D. history. Here are my top candidates, and feel free to add your own in the comments section. So, let the gore-fest begin:

“Fidelity” (1×07) African sleeping sickness patient Elyse hallucinates bugs bursting through a huge boil on her arm, which we observe through her point of view.

“Detox” (1×11) After House has figured out that Keith was suffering naphthalene poisoning from a termite invasion in his home, he sends the team to confirm. Breaking through the walls of Keith’s bedroom, we see swarms of the little critters pouring out of the walls. Still gives me the shivers. Actually, “Detox” has several fairly shiver-inducing scenes, including one where the team stick a needle in Keith’s eye, another, where House intentionally smashes his fingers with an old brass pestle.

“Distractions” (2×12) House treats a patient Adam with severe burns over most of his torso. He treats the burns the old fashioned way, just like Napoleon’s physician—with maggots. Maggots, as you may know feast on dead tissue, thereby cleaning the wounds nicely.

“Who’s Your Daddy” (2×23) House’s patient suffers reverse peristalsis and literally has bowel movements from her mouth. As House says, it gives new meaning to the word “potty mouth.”

“No Reason” (2×24) After he is shot at point-blank range, House lays on his floor bleeding. He has an elaborate hallucination about a patient whose symptoms get increasingly quite disgusting. At one point, his testicles explode, and in one of the episode’s final scenes, House cuts into him with a robotic apparatus, slicing open his entire torso. It qualifies as one of the series most gross gross-out moments, but it’s also horrifying, because for a moment, House believes he has actually murdered a patient in cold blood.

“Informed Consent” (3×03) In the teaser segment, famous cancer researcher Ezra Powell collapses while running an experiment. As his lab rats escape, the feast on the researcher’s face.

“Insensitive” (3×14) House treats Hannah, a teenage who cannot feel pain. During a brain procedure, she pulls out the tubes and wires inserted in her head—no anesthesia. And to top that, House pulls a 25-foot tapeworm from her belly!

“Top Secret” (3×16) “Top Secret” is sort of a gross-out fest in itself. The patient suffers from vaginosis in his mouth, and causes him to have a disgusting discharge coming from his mouth. House is having some health issues and catheterizes himself to find relief. In a dream, House’s catheter urine collection bag bursts and leaks all over the floor, causing Chase to slip.

Resignation” (3×22) The head of House’s patient explodes and leaks all over the place while she is undergoing tests.

“Under My Skin”(5×23) The patient, a ballerina, suffers a rare reaction to antibiotics and begins sloughing her skin in large sheets.

House returns November 9 with “Known Unknowns.”

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About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is Publisher/Executive Editor of Blogcritics, (blogcritics.org). Her Bram Stoker Award-nominated novel, called "Anne Rice meets Michael Crichton," The Apothecary's Curse The Apothecary's Curse is now out from Pyr, an imprint of Prometheus Books. Her book on the TV series House, M.D., Chasing Zebras is a quintessential guide to the themes, characters and episodes of the hit show. Barnett is an accomplished speaker, an annual favorite at MENSA's HalloWEEM convention, where she has spoken to standing room crowds on subjects as diverse as "The Byronic Hero in Pop Culture," "The Many Faces of Sherlock Holmes," "The Hidden History of Science Fiction," and "Our Passion for Disaster (Movies)."
  • Ana

    I’m a med student and I work in the ER pert time. So, I have seen some really nasty stuff. Things they show on House seep pretty mellow to m. The eonly times i cringed were the guys eye pooping out an when the cop pulled out his own tooth. Oh, an the cat autopsy in Detox was pretty naty too 🙂

  • Denise_muc

    Ups, I meant woke up…

  • Denise_muc

    Great list. But what about “Brave Heart”, when the patient waked up during the autopsy? That was scary.

  • Celaeno

    I have a hard time watching Cate perform all those painful procedures on herself in “Frozen”. It’s not gory, but it’s cringe-worthy all the same. Like at the end, when the researcher whose name escapes me has to pop her toe back into place. Ugh!

  • Have a very happy Halloween, Barbara! And let’s hear it for the gore to come!

    (Between you and me, I find “NCIS” much more disgusting on a consistent basis, although I hardly watch it.)

  • Yup. Lots of great gore on House, but what would you expect?

  • Great list, Barbara! I have a VERY strong stomach and gore doesn’t bother me at all, but I still have to cover my eyes during the POTW scenes! Especially when his eye pops out!

    In “Euphoria,” when House shoots the corpse in the head, and then puts him/it in the MRI, and we see the bullet fragments being pulled out of his head…UGH!

  • Jen

    Kevin, it took me a few times reading this to figure it out. Yeah, when the girl says, something like Foreman and he says, that’ll work! The kid is priceless! “Can you make an Aussy accent”, ROTFLMAO

  • Kevin

    Sorry Jen. Meant to put your name over here.

  • Jen

    Love the way he tells each of them to react to him in “Airborn” too.

  • Jen

    KC, it is the bathroom scene when they are referring to his, you know what. Oh, Kevin, the eyeball part, forgot that one as my own eyeballs were closed! I just love No Reason, I carry it around on my iPod but it sounds like now, I don’t watch much of it! Just the HL parts! My favorite part of Airborn is that scene too! Only House could come up with that!

  • Kevin

    You mentioned “No Reason” but didn’t talk about the guy’s eye poping out. That one is on my all time gross-out list. And “Airborn” had one of my favorite moments when House gathers the three passengers together to be his “Team.”

  • KC

    @Jen What scene are you refering to?

  • Jen

    I have to chime in again for “No Reason”, first the tongue (can’t look), the robot (can’t look), I do love it when HL is eating the taco (so sexy!) And the grand finale of NR…is the scene in the bathroom, and all of you know what I am talking about, I still don’t know what is actually shown! What a dork!

  • Melissa

    Good list, but by far the worst scene in “No Reason” was the eyeball popping out. And House’s self-catheterisation in Top Secret always makes me cringe.

  • Kate

    @Barbara B. I was trying to quote Jenn. That didn’t work. But was it “Who’s Your Daddy?” where House’s face melts as he’s testing her pain threshold in the MRI. The toe was the night terror? When House pulls it off?

  • Kate–that’s what Jen was talking about!

  • Kate

    Jen #12-What about Paternity? When Danny is having a “night terror”! Yep, closed my eyes!

    OMG…I still can’t watch that scene when House’s face melts. Ewww!

  • Great moments! House cutting off the kid’s toe! And the priest’s toe. Very icky.

  • PH

    Hi Barbara,
    What about the lucky rabbit’s foot that Kutner found in “Unfaithful” …. ummm.. I mean the unlucky priest’s toe.
    Showing the close-up of the petrified digit was definitely a nice touch. lol

  • Jen

    I can clearly see ALL of these moments in my head, and clearly remember closing my eyes! I am not a horror fan at all!

    What about Paternity? When Danny is having a “night terror”! Yep, closed my eyes!

    This was a great Halloween treat!Thanks Barbara!

  • Hi Denise, welcome…

  • Insensitive STILL sickens me every time he takes out that freaking worm.


    The recent episode where the guy pulls out his own tooth made me shudder too!

  • Denise

    LOL -Grace, I use to eat in front of the telly. Almost every House episode has it’s moment(s) where I’ve to cover my eyes in order to being able to finish my meal. :-))

    To me the most eew-moments are mostly when the POW pukes blood or other icky fluids by the gallon.

    Barbara, I’m so thrilled to have found your blog. I started to watch House MD three weeks ago – from the beginning – and marched straight forward into a new obsession and that despite the fact that english isn’t my first language and I don’t understand everything. I made my way through all five seasons within 2 weeks and started a second sweep last weekend.
    Reading your reviews and the recaps on FOX is so much helpful to understand what I’ve seen. I think this show must be incredible good if even people with limited english skills are fascinated by this compelling show and/or character and/or actor.
    Since I started to watch I wonder why the hell do we like House (the character) so much.

    So, Happy Halloween to you, Barbara, and thanks so much for your great work.


  • Denise

    @Grace – >>Gee…thanks, Barb! I WAS eating!!! 🙂

  • Grace

    Gee…thanks, Barb! I WAS eating!!! 🙂
    HAPPY HOLLOWEEN and THANK YOU for your recaps! I LOVE THEM!!

  • KC

    I like airborne because of the last scene. Is it just me or did cuddy seem jealous that the flight attendant was flirting with house, to me that was interesting to see.

  • valdad! How could I have forgotten??? very gory. very icky.

    Rbrown–my least faves: airborne, Whatever it takes, spin, needle in a haystack

  • valdad

    I have another
    I tink it is in Not cancer: when Kutner and Foreman are making a colonoscopy to a dead guy and his intestins explode all over Foreman

  • rbrown205

    Interestingly, in this time of 116 episodes, you have picked out two of my five least favorite House episodes – No Reason and Top Secret, and they made my list for exactly those reasons (I also didn’t like the robot thing with Cameron in NR – kinda kinky). Most of my least favorite episodes turn my stomach, no matter what the subject matter.

    The other three, BTW, are Airborne,
    Whatever It Takes, and Lucky Thirteen.

  • Orange–of course there’s that one too!

  • Orange450

    Love it. Nothing like a good gross-out fest!

    How about House Divided, when Seth pulls out his cochlear implant? That one still gives me the shivers.