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- "The whole point of the criminal justice system is to make things right when everything else fails."
- ―Michael Tritter in Finding Judas
Detective Michael Tritter was a recurring character on House in the third season. He is the main antagonist of the third season, which ran between 2006 and 2007. Tritter is a police detective, who tries to get Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie) to apologize for leaving him in an examination room with a thermometer in his rectum. After House refuses to apologize, Tritter researches House's background and discovers the doctor's Vicodin addiction. Tritter turns people close to House against him and forces House to go to rehab. When the case ultimately comes to court, the judge sentences House to one night in jail, for contempt of court, and finishing his rehabilitation, telling Tritter that she believes House is not the drug addict he tried to make him out to be.
The character was created as somebody who could go "toe-to-toe" with House. Morse, who had never seen the show before, was unsure if he could portray the character and was not impressed after familiarizing himself with the show. The excited reaction of his friends to the acting opportunity finally convinced him to take the role. Initial critical responses to the character were mostly positive, but critics later felt that the seven-episode Tritter story arc became "boring"; however, Morse was praised for his portrayal and gained an Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series Emmy Award nomination for his appearance in the episode "Finding Judas". Morse stated in a 2006 TV Guide interview that, although he had discussed it with writers of the show, bringing the character back on the show would be "practically impossible".
He was portrayed by actor David Morse.
Tritter comes to the clinic fearing he has an STD, as he shows severe irritation in the area of his groin. House is assigned to see him, and Tritter sees him taking Vicodin. House immediately notices Tritter is chewing nicotine gum and easily diagnoses him with dry skin, a common side effect of the gum. He prescribes lubricant and sarcastically suggests foreplay if the man prefers a cheaper option. However, Tritter is not convinced and insists that House take a sample for testing. House initially refuses, but Tritter trips him. After managing not to fall, House agrees to test him but insists he has to take Tritter's temperature rectally. House inserts the thermometer and then walks out of the room, throwing the sample away and leaving Tritter in the room.
Tritter goes to Cuddy and Cuddy insists House apologize before Tritter sues. Tritter says he would prefer to beat up House but will accept an apology; House refuses to either apologize or back down, figuring Tritter is a bully, and suggests that Tritter merely tell his macho pals he scared the bad doctor into submission.
However, when House is riding home on his motorcycle, he is pulled over by Tritter. Tritter notes his chart stated he was a policeman, which House hadn't bothered to read. House wittingly tells him to write a ticket. On a pretext, Tritter searches House and finds his Vicodin. House is then arrested for possession of drugs.
Wilson bails out House, but as House returns to work, he soon learns that Tritter got a search warrant for his house and found a stash of about 600 pills. Tritter adds trafficking to the charges.
Tritter is convinced that House is an addict and puts pressure on his co-workers to testify against him. Wilson is in a bind because House has stolen his prescription pad to write himself prescriptions. Wilson lies and says he signed them himself, although Tritter has noticed that the signatures don't match. He impounds Wilson's car and freezes his account; to make it even worse, he makes it so that Wilson is no longer authorized to write prescriptions. As a result, Wilson instead uses Cameron to write his prescriptions, but when House refuses, Wilson refers all of his patients to different oncologists and shuts down his practice.
House's team refuses to turn him in as well, even as Tritter goes after their weaknesses: he goes after Cameron by appealing to her love for House, Foreman by promising to help his brother get out of prison, and Chase by making it look like he has already co-operated. However, it is Wilson who actually caves first, only after he hears that House has struck Chase and almost cut a patient's arms and legs off. He figures House needs help and works out a deal with Tritter to get House into rehab.
However, House refuses the deal. Eventually, Wilson backs out, too, after he sees House save yet another patient. Tritter offers House another deal with a 48 hour deadline. In a fit of withdrawal and pain, House goes after a dead patient's oxycodone. When House figures he has no choice but to take the deal, he finds Tritter already knows about the oxycodone and won't accept the deal any more.
House enters rehab on the eve of the trial, but Tritter isn't impressed. The preliminary hearing goes forward and House enrages the court by leaving to deal with a seriously ill patient, severely lowering House's chances of winning. House later returns and finds Cuddy perjuring herself on the stand by saying she swapped the oxycodone bottle with actually a placebo bottle, and she has records to back it up. Tritter finally concedes defeat after the judge figures that the charges may be a personal attack against House for something he did to Tritter. Following this, Tritter approaches House and wishes him luck and says that he hopes he is wrong about House.
Although Tritter attacks House over House's addiction to Vicodin, House notes in their first meeting Tritter is using nicotine gum to get over his own addiction to cigarettes.
The main antagonist of the third season, Tritter is a "stubborn", "vengeful", and extremely determined police detective. According to David Morse, the offensive thermometer incident in "Fools for Love" made it easy for Tritter to stand up to House; as House's equal, Tritter "gets who House is on all levels and can really shake his foundation". Tritter's experiences with drug addicts colour his view of House, and he becomes so morbidly obsessed with House that, according to executive producer Katie Jacobs, the story arc turns into "a battle of egos" between them. The character shows a manipulative streak when he forms a plan to coerce each member of House's team to testify separately in "Finding Judas". Robert Bianco of USA Today described Tritter as an initially "legitimately, if belligerently, aggrieved adversary" character who later morphs into "some kind of insane supercop, tearing his way through the hospital and the Constitution at will".
Initial responses to the character were mostly positive. Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune declared Tritter the best male villain of the fall of 2006. Lisa Edelstein, who portrayed Lisa Cuddy on House, named David Morse as one of her favorite House guest stars, saying that he did a great job portraying the character. Barbara Barnett from Blog Critics Magazine and Charles McGrath of The New York Times compared Tritter to Inspector Javert of Les Misérables, and Alynda Wheat from Entertainment Weekly stated that Tritter annoyed House more than any other character, surpassing other antagonists such as Amber Volakis (Anne Dudek), Stacy Warner (Sela Ward), and Lucas Douglas (Michael Weston). Variety's Stuart Levine considered Tritter a "worthy foe" for House.
- ". . . However, after about the fourth episode and the many troubles he [Tritter] was causing the people in House's life, we [the audience] were bored. This story seemed to drag on forever and, in the meantime, there weren't that many great medical cases to fill in the gap."
- ―Staci Krause, IGN
However, the continued character arc increasingly bored critics. Staci Krause of IGN found the first few episodes of Season 3, in which House recovers from being shot, more interesting. In a review of "Que Sera Sera", Entertainment Weekly 's Michelle Kung noted that while David Morse is a fine actor, "his cop is so ridiculously one-note and revenge-bent that his scenes are often just excruciating to sit through". In a review for "Fools for Love", Sara Morrison of Television Without Pity doubted that Tritter's revenge on House was worth his time and aggravation, and later called the Tritter arc an "insane quest for ass-thermometer justice".The Star-Ledger 's Alan Sepinwall stated that "pitting House against a comedy-impaired cop was both dull and not a fair fight".
The show's fans had shown dislike for other antagonists with multi-episode guest-starring arcs, and critics suspected that Tritter's character would receive similar disdain. The conclusion of the storyline, and Tritter's departure from the show, were described by USA Today critic Robert Bianco as a Christmas gift for fans of the show. Morse jokingly stated after his departure that various fans had told him of their hate for Tritter after what the character had done to Dr. House.
Morse, however, gained mainly positive responses to his portrayal of Tritter. The Star-Ledger's Alan Sepinwall called Morse a "superb actor", and Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune stated that Morse's "understated performance" made Tritter all the more scary. Zap2it's Daniel Fienberg regarded Morse as "one of our very best character actors". Cynthia Littleton of Variety, who already considered Morse's work in St. Elsewhere Emmy-worthy, was glad that Morse's submission of the episode "Finding Judas" for a 2007 Emmy Awards consideration was accepted in the category of "Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series". The award eventually went to John Goodman for Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.
- Fools for Love
- Que Será Será
- Son of Coma Guy
- Whac-A-Mole (Only Mentioned)
- Finding Judas
- Merry Little Christmas
- Words and Deeds