House has had several long term characters come and go. Characters like Vogler, Stacy, Tritter, Amber, and Lucas have sparked fierce debates about whether these extra characters are enhancing House or taking time away from our beloved main characters.
Right now, I've been wracking my brain for the true value of having Lucas around. I've come up with a few advantages, but I'm mostly hitting a wall. Thinking about Lucas has made me reflect on some other long term characters and what they've done for the show overall and House's character.
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Vogler (Season 1):
Vogler was introduced as a powerful donor who wanted to take over the hospital and run it like a business. Surprise, surprise House's charms didn't exactly work on him and Vogler quickly assessed that House's department was inefficiently run. Vogler's story arc interested me because it allowed House and Cameron to go on a date (showing us House as nervous and sweet) and also as one of the first major demonstrations of Cuddy's willingness to save House from himself. While I wasn't too thrilled with Vogler's one note, "I'm a scary guy with evil motivations," I can appreciate what insight his character arc provided into House's motivations and how Cameron's ideas about House's character changed.
Stacy (Season 2):
I loved everything about the Stacy arc (even though I'm now deep into the House/Cuddy dynamic). Not only did the actress (Sela Ward) really sell the character for me, she also gave us insight into how deeply intertwined his physical pain is with his emotional pain. This also revealed House's romantic side (an early prelude to his huge gesture of a gift for Cuddy-the desk). Stacy showed us House is quite capable of love and sacrifice for those he truly cares about.
Tritter (Season 3):
As much as I loved Tritter's entrance as a clinic patient who wanted revenge on House and used his authority to get it (re: Vogler), I also thought Tritter was one note. I wasn't as interested in the episodes where House's team lied for him and had to suffer the consequences (i.e. unable to access bank accounts). The only thing that interested me in this story arc was Wilson and House's relationship. Wilson was hurt by House stealing his medical pad and writing out prescriptions for pain killers (which could hurt Wilson's medical reputation) and out of what he called concern, he turned House in to Tritter. Both men were left feeling betrayed by the other and House feeling betrayed by his only friend most likely aided in his arguable suicide attempt in "Merry Little Christmas." After all was said and done, Cuddy swooped in to save House, willing to lie under oath for him to keep him out of jail and at the hospital.
Amber (Seasons 4-5):
I consider Amber a more integral part of the show than the other characters, but I wanted to include her in this article so I could discuss her effect on the show. Brilliantly portrayed by Anne Dudek (who also plays supporting roles in Mad Men and Big Love), Amber was a strong woman who knew what she wanted and how to get it. When House fired her, I was disappointed because I thought she brought so much life to the show. It only made sense that they would later reveal Wilson was dating her. Cheers to finding a female House to date Wilson. So how did her arrival, death, and rebirth as House's hallucination affect our favorite characters and the show as a whole?
To begin with, she was the first person Wilson dated that wasn't needy. She wanted him to be independent. She taught Wilson how to have an equal partnership. She was sassy, smart, and her death on the show gave us two of the best House episodes from the series ("House's Head/Wilson's Heart"). Because of her, we were let into House's subconscious at the end of season 4 and as if the writers wanted to use her for another angle into House's psyche, they gave us her character again at the end of season 5 illuminating House's thought process and intense feeling of guilt over her death, Kutner's, and his father's. In a way, her character is one of the most important since she pushed House to get the help he desperately needed.
Lucas (Season 5-6):
Sigh. Oh, Lucas. I actually enjoyed Lucas in season 5 as House's substitute friend for Wilson. I also thought he was charming with Cuddy and it was nice to see her pursued for a change with clear intentions. This season, I was disappointed to hear Lucas would now be dating Cuddy and that their relationship would hinder House and Cuddy getting together. However, even after I knew they would be dating, I wanted to like him because I wanted Cuddy to have a chance at happiness/stability and from the get-go with Lucas, it would appear that she was happy and still is.
On the other hand, Lucas is manipulating and hurting House, lying to Cuddy, and in my opinion, childish. The writers certainly wanted us to hop on the Lucas train earlier in the season. I was willing if I saw some real potential, but now I don't. So now what? Was the Lucas arc designed to put off a House/Cuddy connection? To show us Cuddy is capable of being in a relationship without screwing it up? To push House into being more proactive where Cuddy is concerned? I love that House shows us all kinds of damaged people and its fair share of broken relationships (a grand total of none have ever succeeded on the show). Is Lucas here to provide us with a look into another type of relationship?
Cuddy desperately wants to be happy and accepted. Lucas allows her to feel loved and to feel supported regarding Rachel. Maybe he's there to provide us with a glimpse into what Cuddy is like at her happiest. I'm assuming she's still emotionally damaged (why, we don't know). Remember she said she had screwed up every relationship she had ever had in "Joy to the World." She, like House is trying to rid herself of a toxic addiction (consistently making herself vulnerable to a sometimes abusive House) and her need for stability and love have won out this season.