- "He paid for your lunch, liked monster trucks, and was your conscience"
- ―-Kutner reminding House what Wilson did for him in Not Cancer
James Evan Wilson was a major character on House from the first season until the end of the series. He was the Head of Oncology at Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital and also Dr. Gregory House's sole good friend up until his resignation from the hospital and eventual death from Thymoma which he was officially diagnosed with in the Season 8 episode, Body and Soul. Wilson acts as House’s conscience, sounding board, and the enabler of his abusive personality.
He has been married and divorced three times (his first wife was Sam Carr, the second wife was Bonnie Wilson, the third Julie Wilson). He cheated on each one of his wives, although he did tell them all afterwards. He has had an affair with one of his terminally ill patients and dated one of House's rejected applicants, Amber Volakis until her untimely death. Wilson states in Season 1 that he has no children. He does seem to suggest to last girlfriend Sam (also his first wife) that he wants a child with her in Season 7, as when she says she should get a puppy, he replies, "Or pregnant." He proposed to her in the following episode, but it resulted in her leaving him.
He has been treated for clinical depression. Although he cares deeply for House, he often goes behind his back in attempts to help him. For example, although Cuddy proposed the bet to House that he give up Vicodin for a week in order to reduce his clinic duty, it was Wilson's idea. It was also Wilson's idea not to tell House that he was right about Richard McNeil suffering from Addison's disease.
Wilson has gone to extreme lengths to protect and support House, as well as enable House's abusive and manipulative behavior:
- He was the only board member to vote against firing House in order to satisfy Edward Vogler, which cost him his spot on the board and almost cost him his job.
- He lied to Michael Tritter when House forged Wilson's signature on Wilson's prescription pad. After Wilson admitted the forgery to Tritter, he once again refused to cooperate with Tritter after House saved yet another patient no-one else could.
- He was always by House's side when Stacy Warner left him, which eventually cost Wilson his second wife.
He was portrayed by American actor Robert Sean Leonard.
Wilson is one of three brothers. He has an undergraduate degree from McGill University, and graduate degrees from Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania. He is Jewish.
Shortly after a medical convention in New Orleans, after graduating medical school, Wilson accidentally broke an antique mirror and started a bar fight when another customer repeatedly played "Leave A Tender Moment Alone" by Billy Joel to the frustration of Wilson, who was going through a divorce with his first wife at the time. Out of interest, House bailed him out and hired an attorney to clear his name, thus starting their professional and personal relationship. In the Season 1 episode "Histories", it is revealed that one of his brothers is homeless and that Wilson is unaware if he is still alive as he has not seen him in nine years. Wilson has a history of failed marriages: he is married to his third wife during Season 1 and, with the discovery of his wife's infidelity, separates from her during Season 2. After the failure of his third marriage, Wilson lives in various temporary accommodies as (including a stint at House's own apartment) until he meets Amber Volakis, who is a female substitute for House. He is described as "nearly 40" in "Don't Ever Change", in Season 4. Wilson and House's relationship has been sorely tested on many occasions.
Wilson was born in New Jersey to Henry and Sophie (nee Krugman) Wilson. Wilson's father is Protestant and his mother is Jewish. Due to the mixed religions the family never seriously practiced one religion or another, although Wilson is recognized as being Jewish (as Judaism recognizes the religion passing down the mother's line, not the father's). From the time Wilson was born until he was ten his father Henry was a woodshop teacher that did oddjobs for extra money, Sophie was a nurse.
Shortly after Wilson's tenth birthday the family moved to Pennsylvania where Henry Wilson started up a construction company along with his brother, this money made the family comfortable financially. Wilson did well in school and was also talented athletically, he was the captain of his high school's varsity tennis team and also played the sport in college. He also plays squash.
Wilson has ties to both McGill University (he is often seen wearing a sweatshirt from the university) and the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University (he has a Surgical Degree from it in his office). It is reasonable to presume he went to McGill as an undergraduate and Columbia for medical school. He also has a degree from the University of Pennsylvania where he did his specialty training in Oncology.
During this time, Wilson was trying to deal with the demands of his brother Danny Wilson, a student at Princeton University who was on medication for his schizophrenia. Danny had a habit of calling James to complain about his treatment by the professors as the medication Danny took did not totally eliminate his paranoia. However, on one occasion, James was desperately trying to study and hung up on Danny. He soon learned that Danny had left the university and didn’t take his meds, losing all contact with his family.
During his later part of medical school, he met and married his first wife, Sam Carr. It appears Sam was about a year ahead of him and that they married in medical school. The marriage was strained as Sam took an unpaid internship after medical school, leaving James to work two jobs to pay the bills as well as continuing to attend to his final year of medical school.
Shortly after graduating medical school, Wilson decided to take some time off to attend a medical convention in New Orleans, Louisiana before starting his own internship. While he was at the convention, his wife had him served with divorce papers (the first time he knew Sam was dissatisfied with their marriage). While mulling the matter over at a bar, he got upset with a doctor who kept playing Billy Joel’s “Leave A Tender Moment Alone” on the jukebox. He got into an altercation and hurled a glass into an antique mirror. He was soon arrested and taken to jail.
However, he was soon rescued by a doctor who had also been at the convention who had been following him around, Gregory House. House became intrigued with Wilson when he saw him carrying around a parcel from a divorce attorney all weekend without opening it. He followed him to the bar and bailed him out of jail. They spent the rest of the weekend drinking together and soon became fast friends. Unfortunately, due to a misunderstanding, Wilson never attended to plead to the charges and a Louisiana warrant was issued for his arrest.
Wilson enjoyed substantial career success as an oncologist. One day, House called him to let him know that Princeton-Plainsboro was looking for a new oncologist and thought it would be fun to work together. Wilson jumped at the chance, but not for the reason House thought - since Danny had disappeared in Princeton, Wilson took the opportunity to look in homeless shelters for him. He kept this secret from House for years. He only spotted Danny once during this time - while James was having dinner, he spotted him outside. However, by the time he got out of the restaurant, Danny was gone. This eventually prompted Wilson to join the Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital where he eventually became the head of the Oncology Department.
Unfortunately, Wilson’s second marriage went no better than his first. When House became disabled and his girlfriend Stacy Warner left him, Wilson started spending more time with House and less with Bonnie. Between this and Wilson’s infidelity, Bonnie finally decided to divorce him too, leaving Wilson on the hook for alimony.
However, Wilson bounced back again - he married a third time to Julie (who has never been seen in the series).
Wilson is House’s constant friend and protector, often deflecting the attacks of their mutual boss Lisa Cuddy and reminding her how important House is both to the hospital and the patients despite his deficiencies.
It is during this time (after House treats a homeless patient) that Wilson finally admits to House that he has a brother that he has never talked about that he hasn’t seen in years.
The hospital is soon in turmoil when it obtains a new benefactor and chairman, Edward Vogler, who insists that all the departments be profitable. Wilson tries to advise House to get along with Vogler, but House instead stands on principle, refusing to endorse Vogler’s new expensive drug that replaces a cheaper drug that is almost as effective. Vogler tries to convince the board to revoke House’s tenure, but Wilson stands firm and refuses to allow unanimous consent. For his trouble, Wilson is voted off the board, and is forced to consider resigning his position at the hospital to avoid further damage to his career.
However, the next time House's tenure comes up, it's Cuddy who stands up for House and when Vogler’s attempt to remove her from the board fails, Cuddy manages to convince the Board to remove Vogler even despite his donation. Wilson is soon restored to his job.
We also find out that both House and Wilson love monster trucks, but when Wilson refuses an invitation on the pretence that he is giving a speech and House finds out that the speech had already been cancelled, he finds that Wilson is instead meeting Stacy. Stacy is soon back in House’s life when she seeks treatment for her husband Mark Warner.
Wilson is brought into action when Stacy returns and it appears House wants to rekindle their relationship despite her marriage. He confronts her and reminds her of the damage she did to House the last time she left. Although House and Stacy have a brief affair, House decides to end it. However, House’s pain gets worse and Wilson can’t convince him that Stacy’s departure is the reason.
Wilson also finds out that House borrowed money from him to buy a motorcycle even though House had enough money already. House admits that he borrowed the money to see how much he could borrow before Wilson refused. In retaliation, Wilson refuses to give House an excuse to get out of dinner with his parents, leading to what turns out to be House’s last face to face meeting with his father.
However, Wilson’s personal life begins to unravel as well. Fearing that his wife is angry with him for his latest infidelity, he instead finds out that she has been cheating on him. He moves out and moves in to House’s apartment. Initially, House makes out like he wants Wilson to leave as soon as possible, but instead House erases messages from potential landlords, and then tries to make Wilson’s life as difficult as possible by stealing his food and refusing to clean up.
Wilson does manage a personal accomplishment. With House out with a patient and helping Wilson to keep Cuddy playing poker instead of checking out his activities, Wilson manages to win the oncology benefit poker tournament by slow playing a pair of pocket aces and beating a pair of kings.
Wilson’s womanizing ways nearly cost him his career. He has an affair and moves in with one of his terminal cancer patients. After House figures it out and confronts him, Wilson agrees to end it and moves out on his own.
After House returns from his convalescence after being shot and having treatment that removes his leg pain, he takes on the case of a former cancer patient who is confined to a wheelchair. After performing several dangerous procedures on the patient, House comes up with the seemingly crazy idea that the patient has Addison’s disease and merely needs a shot of cortical. However, Cuddy refuses permission, only to give the patient the shot herself. As if by a miracle, the patient immediately improves, showing House was right. However, Wilson tells Cuddy she can’t tell House as if she does, he will never be controllable again.
At the same time, House’s leg pain starts to return and he asks Wilson for Vicodin. Wilson refuses, figuring that House is merely suffering aches and pains from overdoing his rehabilitation. However, House responds by stealing one of Wilson’s prescription pads and forging his signature.
The deception soon turns into a disaster. A police detective takes an interest in House after he sees House taking Vicodin in the clinic. He soon finds the faked prescriptions and asks Wilson about them. Wilson lies to the detective and says he wrote them, but it’s clear the detective doesn’t believe him.
The detective soon turns up the heat on Wilson by having his car towed and suspending Wilson’s ability to prescribe narcotics to his patients. Wilson tries to get Allison Cameron to sign off on his prescriptions, but when House calls her away to work on his case, Wilson instead gives up his oncology practice.
Wilson accompanies House on a trip to Atlantic City with a former coma patient who House has temporarily revived. When it turns out that the only way to save the patient’s son is to have him serve as a heart donor, Wilson sets up an alibi for House in a casino.
However, when House’s Vicodin is cut back, House lashes out at Robert Chase, leading Wilson to the belief that House must somehow deal with his Vicodin addiction. He starts cooperating with Tritter and tries to convince House to take a deal that will not involve jail or a risk to House’s medical license. Instead, House turns the deal down flat. In order to keep the pressure on House, Cuddy and Wilson conspire to cut House off of Vicodin completely until he agrees to the deal. Instead House steals drugs from a patient and, even though Wilson reverses himself and stops cooperating, House nearly goes to jail until Cuddy perjures herself to convince the court the stolen drugs were only a placebo.
Wilson has to intervene once again when he realizes House is plotting to get nerve tissue from a patient who is insensitive to pain in an attempt to graft the nerve cells to his own.
While House is away, Wilson takes over the team when a middle aged woman collapses in her own home. Fortunately, Chase comes through with the right diagnosis.
Wilson ends the season by angrily confronting House about the imminent departure of Eric Foreman and his subsequent decision to fire Chase, stating the decision turns House into a bastard.
Wilson puts the pressure on House to hire a new team by "kidnapping" House’s expensive guitar until he agrees to interview fellowship candidates. House finally relents when he takes a lengthy period of time to solve a case.
After the fellowship derby, House is sure that Wilson is not only dating someone, but someone House knew personally. Much to House’s dismay, it turned out to be Amber Volakis aka "Cutthroat Bitch".
Wilson's relationship with Amber Volakis came as a surprise to everyone, including Wilson and Amber themselves. Wilson realized that because Amber shared many characteristic with his best friend that they might be able to have the same type of lasting relationship. He later admitted to House that one of the reasons he liked Amber so much was because, like House, she was so much fun to be with. He also enjoyed the fact that she was much more assertive than he was. On Amber's part, she had deep seated feelings of inadequacy that drove her to demand respect and to excel to get that respect. In Wilson, she found someone who could both respect her and find her attractive and desirable at the same time. Unfortunately, the relationship ended in tragedy when Amber died as a result of kidney failure due to the pills she was taking for the flu. She was transferred to another hospital under the name "Jane Doe" but once House realized Amber was the dying patient, she was sent to PPTH where House and his team tried to save her life with little success. Amber was put on life support, eventually succumbing to the organ damage but not before she said goodbye to Wilson.
Amber's death devastated Wilson more than his three previous divorces had. Although he did not blame anyone for Amber's death, not even House, he came away from the relationship with the one lesson Amber taught him - she could take care of herself and he had to take care of himself, particularly in a relationship with someone like her. He soon came to the conclusion that he didn't want to enable House any more, but tried to hide his feelings from House in order not to hurt him by claiming he just wanted a change of scenery.
- "Nobody at this hospital even liked her."
- ―Wilson, rejecting Cuddy's attempt to sympathize with his loss in Dying Changes Everything
After a long period of mourning, Wilson returns to the hospital to announce that he’s leaving. House tries to confront him about it, but Wilson is tired of House acting like a jerk all the time and won’t change his mind.
In an attempt to reconnect with Wilson, House hires Lucas Douglas, a private detective. Lucas soon finds out that Wilson has stayed connected with everyone at the hospital except House. House once again tries to confront Wilson about this, but Wilson blows him off again.
However, when House’s father died, Cuddy enlisted Wilson to ensure that House attended the funeral. During the trip, the two confronted the problems with their relationship and Wilson learned not only that House suspected John House was not his biological father, but that House’s suspicions were correct. He soon realized after the trip that he hadn't had any fun since Amber died until he and House were back together again. They soon reconciled and Wilson returned to his old job.
However, Wilson soon realizes that House is in serious trouble and Wilson accompanies him to Mayfield Psychiatric Hospital, watching from a distance as House approaches the entrance of the hospital before House eventually enters the hospital.
House quickly detoxes from Vicodin, but refuses to deal with his underlying issues. Instead of following his doctors’ treatment regimen, he tries to blackmail Dr. Nolan and tries to enlist Wilson in the attempt. However, Wilson refuses to cooperate. However, House soon agrees to treatment and is released into Wilson’s care. Wilson encourages House to start a relationship with Cuddy, but their plans are thwarted when they discover she’s dating Lucas Douglas.
House is soon reinstated and back doing diagnostic medicine. Wilson is astounded when House tries to re-form his old team, and is even more astounded when he succeeds.
When an old friend and patient of Wilson’s needs a liver transplant, Wilson finally agrees and House shows up just before the operation for support even though he thinks it’s a bad idea. House is there for the rehabilitation as well, and Wilson soon regrets his decision when the friend goes back to his new girlfriend instead of his ex-wife.
Wilson remains supportive, even moving into a larger condo in order to give House more living space. In the process, Wilson decides to make a dig at Cuddy for starting a relationship with Lucas by outbidding Cuddy for the condo she wanted. Both of them try to get together with their new neighbor Nora, but she rejects them both. When House demands that he decorate the new space himself, Wilson gets a decorator instead but gets House a thoughtful gift - a new electronic organ.
However, Wilson soon has a new relationship in mind. He reconnects with his first wife Sam on the internet and they are soon dating and, soon after that, planning to live together. Sam and House immediately earn each other’s enmity, but they agree to keep the peace for Wilson’s sake. However, at the end of the season, Wilson is asking that House move out of the condo so he can spend more time with Sam.
When House and Cuddy get together, Wilson is initially skeptical until Cuddy makes it clear how comfortable she is with House’s sexuality.
Wilson’s own relationship with Sam doesn't work out so well. Although he plans to marry her, he finds out during a review of Sam’s treatment records that she may have been overexposing terminal cancer patients to radiation in a last ditch effort to save them. Although he is supportive, Sam treats this as evidence that Wilson doesn't trust her and breaks up with him.
However, House and Cuddy break up and House reacts by driving his car through Cuddy's living room with Wilson breaking his wrist in the process.
House is eventually released from prison and returns to PPTH where he gets a cold reaction from Wilson who then finally tells House he doesn't like him. After House asks Wilson to either punch him in the face or kick him in the nuts to get over his hurt feelings, Wilson chooses the former and agrees to bring dinner around to his place. The two repair their friendship.
Wilson goes for a "Hail Mary" cure, but although he survives the treatment, it doesn't work and both men realize he will be dead in no more than six months if he refuses further treatment. When Wilson tells House he has no intention of spending the rest of his life in and out of hospitals, the two men get into a fight over it. Wilson goes back and forth over his decision, but in the end, House realizes that six months is better than nothing and accepts Wilson's decision. House plans on spending his remaining time with Wilson, but one of House's pranks goes horribly wrong which results in the revocation of House's parole and his imminent return to jail.
Unwilling to let that happen, House fakes his death and he and Wilson go on a trip across America together, intending to make the most of their time together before Wilson succumbs altogether.
It's presumed that in or around September or October 2012, Wilson eventually dies from the cancer.
Wilson is by all standards one of the nicest people you could meet, as he has an unbelievable bedside manner and knows exactly how to talk to people. He also cares deeply about others, sometimes even more than he cares about himself. Patients have been known to thank him after he tells them that they're dying. He has donated blood and even organs to his patients when they cannot find matches. In the Season 6 episode, Lockdown, Dr. Remy "Thirteen" Hadley teases him, saying that he's too much of a "nice boy". He is "incapable of turning away from any responsibility" and ultimately believes that "enduring pain for someone you care about" is what life is all about.
In contrast to his own personality and demeanor, Wilson generally finds friends in much darker and more dour people, such as his best friend House or girlfriend Amber. In fact, House and Wilson are so very different from each other, that the close pair of friends can be said to be "polar opposites." This social life issue causes Wilson a great deal of frustration at times. This trait makes Wilson the only person who is willing to be with House on such a close and personal level of friendship.
In addition, as House often criticizes him for, Wilson tends to be a "clingy" friend/date. This is because of how much he cares about other people, resulting in him wanting to be as involved with them as possible.
He has also demonstrated that he caves in to people's demands too easily and has trouble forming his own opinions. In the Season 3 episode, Family, House lashes out at Wilson for leaving a major decision up to the parents of a patient, and when asked what he would recommend, he simply tells the parents that it's their decision. Also, in the Season 4 episode, Living the Dream, his girlfriend, Amber Volakis, tells him that the reason that his previous marriages didn't work out was because he did whatever they wanted and he ended up resenting them. She also angrily tells him "don't you ever do that to me." In Season 8, Wilson even agrees to undergo debilitating chemotherapy in order to extend his lifetime for House's sake, despite not wanting the treatment for himself. Wilson constantly enables House, including drug abuse and rude behavior, but on occasion stands up to him, usually for his own good, such as refusing to help him escape the psych ward in "Broken," or refusing to take the fall for a vandalism charge in Season 8.
While Wilson is normally a calm, serious person, he does have a humorous and playful side, as well. This especially happens when he is in a good emotional state, and/or when people play pranks with him. He has also proven many times that he is more than capable of outwitting House with such examples being during the Season 2 episode, Safe where Wilson successfully sawed through House's cane so that it broke when House put his full weight on it, in Not Cancer, having learnt that House had a private eye to spy on him, Wilson deliberately hired a prostitute for a short visit and planted drug paraphernalia in his own garbage and then in the Season 8 episode, Perils of Paranoia where Wilson successfully locked House in the bathroom.
Despite his kind, and sometimes humorous nature, Wilson does occasionally get in a cranky mood. This typically happens when House pushes him to his limits, or when his issues just become difficult to handle, in general. There have also been times where Wilson has expressed some outrage or anger towards Cuddy, House himself and even some of House's team, usually for some emotional failure. This usually manifests in him "going off" on them, but is usually brief, and he typically makes up with them quickly. This happens a number of times with House.
Relationship with House Edit
Main article Hilson
The two friends are so close that gay references have been made to the relationship between the two characters of the show and House has made a joke about the relationship between them ("I'm gay!...Oh that's not what you meant. It would explain a lot, though: no girlfriend, always with Wilson, the obsession with sneakers..."). Verne Gay of Newsday described House's love for Wilson as "touching and genuine." Hugh Laurie said that the relationship between the characters is "not just buddydom." The two characters appeared on the cover of the October 13, 2008 issue of TV Guide. In an interview with E!, executive producer Katie Jacobs stated that there are equal chances of either Allison Cameron, Lisa Cuddy, or Wilson "ending up" with House.
The term Hilson has been coined to describe those who support a romantic relationship between the two, and in the episodes Hunting, The Tyrant and The Down Low they have been mistaken for a gay couple. This same misunderstanding has also been explored in modern interpretations of Sherlock Holmes, particularly the 2010 production “Sherlock” set in 21st century Great Britain where people often mistake Holmes and Watson for a gay couple.
However, the relationship is deep but apparently platonic. One of the reasons House is so close to Wilson is that it appears it is the one relationship he has that he has no chance of ruining. Wilson, however, is often frustrated by House’s attempts to test the strength of the relationship, such as when House deliberately borrowed increasingly large sums of money for no reason.
- "$5,000! That’s nothing to be ashamed of."
- ―House’s response to Wilson expressing surprise that he was testing the friendship in monetary terms.
Wilson and House do share similar tastes. They are both big fans of monster trucks (and Wilson once used this as an advantage by claiming he didn’t like them that much to throw House off another scent). They are often attracted to the same women (even Cuddy at one point). However, at the heart of their relationship, Wilson often acts as House’s conscience, and House acts as an honest critic of Wilson’s own personality, pointing out faults such as his infidelities and his need to please everyone.
One other thing that Wilson does as a regular basis is to provide House with inspiration for his cases while talking about totally unrelated matters. This happens so frequently that House has commented that his strategy is often to “talk to Wilson about something unrelated” until he reaches an answer.
In Not Cancer when their friendship had broken up, he went so far as to try to pay Wilson to talk about things unrelated to his current case.
In You Don't Want To Know, they made references to each other's blood type (House AB+ and Wilson O-). Their blood types mean they are two sides of a coin; House is a Universal Recipient and Wilson is a Universal Donor. This means Wilson can donate blood to House if needed.
- Wilson is played by Robert Sean Leonard who also starred in the 1989 movie, "Dead Poet's Society" which has been considered his main breakout role. The movie itself has even been referenced a few times on the show.
- In the first seasons Wilson drives a silver Volvo S80 of the first generation. From Season 5 on he drives the new model (S80 II 4.4 V8) before he got a Ford Taurus instead in the last season. When Wilson realized he had cancer and not much time left, he bought a Corvette C6 which he crashed in Post Mortem. In the finale his Ford Taurus appears again.
- Wilson appeared in 172 out of the 177 episodes of House, M.D., more than any other character and second only to Gregory House.
- In Post Mortem, Wilson reveals that he cannot drive stick shift.
- He is also left-handed, a trait he shares with Lisa Cuddy, Eric Foreman and Jessica Adams.
- He is allergic to ragweed and dandelion.
- Wilson has been drugged by House on at least three separate occasions; the first with sedatives to prevent Wilson from giving a career-ruining speech, the second with Speed in an act of petty vindication and the third with sedatives again during a dinner with Cuddy and her mother simply because House thought Wilson would be the worse company.
- He shares his initials and name structure with John Watson, and serves much the same role to House that Watson did for Sherlock Holmes.
|January 2011||February 2011||March 2011|
|Chris Taub||James Wilson||Season 3|
This article was the featured article for February, 2011