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The Real Reason Lisa Edelstein Left House

Dr. House was the bad boy of television medicine, and as fans of House can attest, there was one thing he hated more than anything else: the rules. 

Give him a shopping mall Santa, and he'd write the sap a prescription for a pack of smokes. Toss an acclaimed British actor his way, and he'd give that guy 200 cc's of vaguely American accent. What's that? You expect your medical professionals to drive respectable vehicles and compose themselves with an air of dignity? Here comes Dr. House, driving his motorcycle through the operating room and blasting "Hot For Teacher" while he slams a Four Loko and kisses your mom. That House didn't give a good gosh darn about the rules, no sir. That was always Dr. Lisa Cuddy's (Lisa Edelstein) job.

As the Dean of Medicine, it was Cuddy's responsibility to play the grown-up foil to the fun-times opioid piñata that was her star player. Pragmatic, stern, but possessed of an understanding that legal and ethical violations are the skullduggery one must expect when hiring a brilliant but troubled ragamuffin, she was the glue that held the hospital together. Or, to put it another way, she was House's foundation.

All of this made it puzzling, narratively speaking, when Cuddy up and skedaddled at the end of season 7 for basically no reason besides the fact that House drove his car into her house. Startling, sure, but nowhere near the most upsetting thing she'd been through in the last decade — Meat Loaf appeared in season 5, after all. In truth, the abrupt exit of Lisa Edelstein appears to have been caused by that oldest and noblest of plot devices: budget cuts.

Doctors aren't cheap, and neither are House calls

It's been ten years since it was revealed that Lisa Edelstein would be leaving House. The critically acclaimed actress and former NYC socialite (she was once referred to by the New York Times as "New York's reigning Queen of the Night, Girl of the Moment, new Edie Sedgwick and top 'celebutante' of 1986") was considered by both fans and producers of the show to be instrumental to its continued success.

But shortly before the actress' departure from the program, TV Line (among others) reported that House was under the knife at the network, and the knife was cutting deep. Executive producer Katie Jacobs was quoted lamenting that, "For seven seasons we managed to avoid getting the phone call to make cuts in our budget. But now we're getting that call." This came as Edelstein's contract was set to expire, and the erstwhile Dr. Cuddy released a statement not long after: "After much consideration, I am moving onward with a combination of disappointment at leaving behind a character I have loved playing for seven years and excitement of the new opportunities in acting and producing that lie ahead."

Since leaving House in its penultimate season, Edelstein has gone on to land recurring roles on seven separate TV series and, in a characteristically bizarre move, made a winking appearance on Adult Swim's Children's Hospital. Even so, her absence was notable in the final season of the medical drama she helped to flesh out for the better part of a decade. It's a sad fact that Cuddy didn't even make a guest appearance in the show's finale, but then again, it's true what they say: you really can't ever go House.