Why Was House M.D. Canceled?


Summary

  • Producers purposely ended House M.D. after Season 8 to maintain quality and respect for the title character.
  • Universal TV wanted a Season 9, but Fox wanted fewer episodes due to high production costs.
  • Despite negotiations, conflicts over production costs and episode numbers led to the cancellation of House M.D.



Created by David Shore, House M.D. premiered on Fox in 2004 and became an instant hit for the network. The series follows the personal and professional life of Gregory House (Hugh Laurie), a grumpy misanthropic surgeon who, despite his brilliant medical mind and radical methods, grapples with clinical depression, substance abuse, and long-term hallucinations. The show became a critical and commercial success, lasting for 177 episodes over 8 seasons and garnering several awards and accolades, including five Primetime Emmy Awards.


Yet, for all the success House M.D. enjoyed between 2004 and 2012, the medical drama was abruptly ended by Fox following Season 8. The sudden move left many fans wondering if the show had naturally run its course, was officially canceled, or put on an extended hiatus. At the time, Hugh Laurie expressed interest in returning to the show for Season 9, with Universal TV also intent on keeping the hit show on the air. Despite the star and production company’s desire to keep House M.D. on the air, a contract dispute between Fox and Universal Television spelled doom for the acclaimed medical drama. While other factors played a part, here’s everything to know about the cancelation of House M.D.


House M.D. Producers Wanted to Go Out on a High Note

house

House

Release Date
November 16, 2004

Seasons
8


When Season 8 of House M.D. was in production, the producers of the medical drama expressed interest in ending the hit medical drama before it ran out of steam and became too stale for viewers. The idea was to go out on a high note rather than drag the show on for unneeded episodes. Rather than overstaying its welcome, ending House after Season 8 was a deliberate choice by the producers to maintain the drama’s high quality and admiration for its title character.

In Feb. 2012, showrunner David Shore and executive producer Katie Jacobs wrote an open letter to the public declaring that it was time to end House after Season 8. The letter explained that the decision was built around the producers’ desire to keep House as “an enigmatic creature” and to maintain the show’s underlying “mystique.” At the time the letter was published, 11 episodes of Season 8 had yet to air. As Season 8 approached its final episode, aptly titled “Everybody Dies,” TV Guide published a revealing report about the contractual negotiations between Fox and Universal that took place behind the scenes.


Why Was House M.D. Canceled?

According to TV Guide, Universal Television was interested in producing House Season 9. The show averaged a 3.5 rating among adults 18-49 and 9.1 million viewers. Given how financially successful House M.D. was for Universal Television, it stands to reason why the company wanted to produce House Season 9. Continuing the show would have generated more revenue for the company. However, a dispute formed between Universal Television and Fox over the number of episodes the two sides were willing to produce for House M.D. Season 9. Universal Television wanted a 22-episode order, while Fox wanted a truncated 13-episode final season.

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The reason Fox desired a shorter final season of House is directly related to the cost of production. According to TV Guide, Fox spent roughly $5 million on producing each episode of House M.D. Therefore, from an economic standpoint, it makes sense for Fox to keep the production costs as low as possible by ordering 13 episodes rather than 22. With one side willing to make 13 episodes and another intent on producing 22, an impasse developed during negotiations that ultimately led to the show’s demise.

Meanwhile, it was reported that Hugh Laurie was one of the highest-paid actors on TV at the time and had earned roughly $700,000 per episode of House M.D. This added another factor that increased the potential cost of a longer ninth season for Fox. Laurie, who at first expressed his desire to end the show with Shore and Jacobson in the publicly written letter, was reportedly willing to take a pay cut to keep the show on the air for Season 9. Even so, Fox needed more to convince the network to renew HouseM.D. for one more season.


Negotiations Between Fox and Universal Fell Through

Although Universal was reportedly willing to foot the bill for some of the production costs on Season 9 of House, Fox balked, citing that the compensation wasn’t large enough to incentivize the investment. Negotiations between Fox and Universal continued until a deal ultimately fizzled out. After a prolonged impasse during the negotiations, David Shore eventually decided to part ways with Fox and sadly end the medical drama with “Everybody Dies” at the end of Season 8.

Therefore, while the show could have continued House’s personal and professional arc and wrapped up the show differently than what ultimately transpired, House M.D. was essentially canceled for economic factors above all else. For Fox, the show cost too much to produce and pay Laurie per episode, and despite the star’s willingness to give money back and Universal’s desire to keep the show on the air, House M.D. was shut down for good following the series finale in May 2012.




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