It's a Wonderful Lie (House)

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"It's a Wonderful Lie"
House episode
Episode no.Season 4
Episode 10
Directed byMatt Shakman
Written byPamela Davis
Original air dateJanuary 29, 2008
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"It's a Wonderful Lie" is the tenth episode of the fourth season of House and the eightieth episode overall. It aired on January 29, 2008. It is the first episode of the series to feature Olivia Wilde, Kal Penn and Peter Jacobson as main cast members. The plot centers around the Christmas season; the episode's title is a play on the Christmas movie classic It's a Wonderful Life.


House and his team treat a woman, Maggie, who suffers from sudden paralysis of her hands. House probes the patient and her daughter, trying to tease out a lie between them, but both insist that they are always honest with each other. As the team tries to cure the paralysis, Maggie loses her eyesight, and her other organ systems begin to shut down.

The team believes Maggie's symptoms might be psychological in origin, but this is proven false when she is discovered to have severe calcification of her entire skeleton, and the lymph nodes in her neck begin to swell and occlude her airway. House and the team conclude that her best hope is a bone marrow transplant, but she will not allow Jane to be tested for a match, despite Jane's protests. Eventually, House realizes that Jane was adopted, and Maggie has hidden this from her at the request of her biological mother, who was a drug addict and didn't want Jane to know.

The team, without House, spends the rest of Christmas Eve testing for every disease they can. While they are at work, House has a conversation with Wilson that leads to an epiphany. Entering the lab, House proclaims that he is about to perform a Christmas miracle, and orders his team to give Maggie risperidone, an anti-psychotic medication. At Maggie's bedside, House explains how, during fetal development, a layer of breast tissue progenitor cells develops. House suspects that this process was faulty in Maggie, leaving a deposit of breast tissue somewhere on her body which eventually produced a tumor. Due to the anti-psychotic medication, the tissue has engorged and begun to lactate; House extracts breast milk from the swelling found on the underside of the patient's right knee, orders her to have surgery and a round of chemotherapy, and declares the case solved.

In the clinic, House treats another female patient, Melanie, whom he initially diagnoses with strep throat. At the same time, he notices that she has had HIV tests every 3 months, and concludes that she is a prostitute. She later returns with pustules on her neck and chest. House asks if she does donkey shows, and when she says yes, he gives her a prescription for contagious ecthyma, a disease she has that can be caught from donkeys. At the end of the episode, House visits a church, which is putting on a Nativity play during which his clinic patient rides in on a donkey, playing the part of the Virgin Mary.


The episode attracted 22.56 million viewers in the United States, making it the 6th most-watched show of that week.[1]

"It's a Wonderful Lie" received favorable reviews from critics. Donna Bowman of The A.V. Club gave the episode a "B" grade, stating "Although at times the episode was a more shameless Apple commercial than the frequent MacBook Air ads in the breaks — two purloined laptops and an iPhone that House gushes over — it does present House with an interesting variation on his usual misanthropy."[2]


  1. ^ Seidman, Robert (February 5, 2008). "Broadcast Nielsen Ratings w/e Feb 3: Fox Breaks Records". Retrieved July 9, 2009.
  2. ^ Bowman, Donna (January 29, 2008). "It's a Wonderful Lie". The A.V. Club. Retrieved May 3, 2012.