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Is There a Doctor in the House?

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Guy: [standing over a choking man] Is anybody here a doctor?
Doctor: I am!
Guy: Well, you're a nerd! [high-fives now-unconscious friend]
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A Stock Phrase often yelled by a character when someone is injured in a public setting such as a theater or a restaurant, though it's been played for laughs since at least the 1930s, making it a bit of a Discredited Trope, hardly ever taken seriously. (Nowadays, the sensible thing to do would be to use a phone to call the paramedics.) It can often lead into instances of Breaking the Fourth Wall and Born in the Theatre, and the word "doctor" or "house" might be replaced by something else, either because the plot calls for it or for comedic effect. It is still parodied to this day.


A common variant is on airplanes with "Is there a doctor onboard?", perhaps the second most worrying question you can be asked while flying after "Does anyone know how to fly?" (Though both, in order, work too.)

Even if there is a doctor at hand, they might turn out to be Not That Kind of Doctor.

Despite most people calling medically-trained professionals in the event of an accident in a public place, there are occasions where a paramedic may really call for help from those around them. It's not as uncommon as you might think. Real Life examples may involve Fatal Method Acting.



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  • Parodied in a NSFW ad for Hero Condoms, where a man is choking in a restaurant and a woman cries "Is there a doctor?" A doctor rushes towards the table, but rather than help the man, he starts having sex with the woman on the table. The choking man, stunned, just passes out on the floor.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Chopper from One Piece made a running gag of asking for a doctor, then remembering that he is a doctor.
  • Lampshaded and subverted in Cromartie High School in the Class Trip episode (one of the three). When the question is asked, comedian wannabe Yamaguchi Noboru notes that it's a nice classic joke. After that, another announcement calls for sumo wrestlers. Out of professionalism, Noboru won't be surprised by such an outrageous demand. After that, another announcement, this time for a green grocer. Noboru muses for a very short while, until snapping: that lady can't be allowed to say whatever she wants! Cue Freddie's wild horse (having trampled masked Takenouchi), being held by two sumo wrestlers, while a green grocer is trying to stop him with carrots. Noboru realises he's way too normal.
  • In the Shaman King manga, Yoh starts feeling sick during the flight to the second stage of the tournament. Horo-Horo panics and asks if there's a doctor on the plane. Faust VIII turns round in his seat. Next page, everyone's very quickly gone back to normal.

  • In 1995, Senator Bob Dole was instrumental in defeating Dr. Henry Foster's nomination for Surgeon General. On the "Fake News" segment of his comedy show, Dennis Miller displayed a picture of Foster reclining in a chair, with the following voiceover:
    "Is there a doctor on the Senate floor? Is there a doctor on the Senate floor? Senator Dole has collapsed. Is there a doctor on the Senate floor? Sir, you, in the balcony. Are you a doctor? Senator Dole is VERY ill! Is there a doctor on the Senate floor?!"
    (The obvious implication being that a furious Foster simply sits and watches and does nothing to help.)

    Comic Books 
  • One Marsupilami story involves a costume party. When one person faints, a guy in a Doctor Outfit complete with little forehead lamp calls out "Is there a doctor in the house?"
  • Spoofed in a Paperinik New Adventures special narrating the Evronian invasion of Xerba: shortly before the invasion we have an in-universe comedy sketch scene where a Xerbian feels sick at the throat, someone shouts the phrase and it's immediately pointed out that pretty much everyone on Xerba has a doctorate, prompting the first rescuer to ask for an otolaryngologist (there was one-the man feeling ill). Later on one of the colony ships that escaped the invasion the ship's doctor, needing helps, goes on the bridge asking if there were any doctors-and immediately follows with "And I mean a medic".

    Comic Strips 
  • One The Far Side strip where a fishbowl shatters onstage during a magic act, with at least three guys in the audience standing up and announcing "Why yes, I'm an ichthyologist!"
  • In Peanuts Snoopy wrote a short story about a man who embarrassed his wife in a theater when he responded to this by saying he had an honorary doctorate from a college.
  • A Bazooka Joe comic (yup) had a man on stage ask, "Is there a doctor in the house?". When a man stands up and identifies himself as such, the response is, "Enjoying tonight's show, doc?" Possibly based on the Randolph Richardson story below.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Crazy House (1943)
    Ole Olsen: Is there a dentist in the house?
  • In The Three Stooges short From Nurse to Worse, a doctor shouts this frantically while in a hospital surrounded by other doctors, after accidentally giving another doctor sleeping gas when he was supposed to give it to Curly, before slowly realizing that he is a doctor.
  • Dr. Dolittle (1998): an astigmatic police horse.
  • The French title for Airplane! is Y a-t-il un Pilote dans l'Avion? - Is There a Pilot in the Plane?; the Polish translators also went for the same joke. (Of course, the actual trope was played straight in the movie itself; the doctor in question was Leslie Nielsen.)
  • Dr. Giggles: The title character's last words, after being stabbed fatally.
  • A variation in the 300 RiffTrax, when a stack of pots falls over in the burning village.
    Bill: Is there a potter in the house?
    Arcadian: I'm a potter...
    Spartan: Shut up, wanker.
  • The Adventures of Baron Munchausen: "Is there a doctor in the fish?"
  • In the Edward G. Robinson movie Dr. Clitterhouse, the eponymous doctor is being tried for murder. The lead juror faints after delivering a "not guilty" verdict on the grounds of insanity, and a policeman shouts "Is there a doctor in the courtroom?"
  • In the Marx Brothers film Horse Feathers, after watching some of his team get clobbered during the big game, Groucho calls out, "Is there a doctor in the house?" When a man in the stands announces, "I'm a doctor," Groucho asks, "How do you like the game, Doc?"
  • In the Carry On film Don't Lose Your Head, a panicked Citizen Camembert says this in his Oh, Crap! moment just after accidentally executing his own executioner.
  • Played straight (and word-for-word) in Between Two Women, the fifteenth film in the Dr. Kildare series, when a nightclub singer collapses backstage. Played for laughs at the end of the movie when Ruth faints after Dr. Adams kisses her.
  • This happens twice in Gimme Shelter, the Rockumentary about The Rolling Stones and their tragic, violent concert at Altamont Speedway in December 1969. The cry "we need a doctor" is first heard from the stage after the Hell's Angels, who had been hired to protect the stage, start cracking skulls during the Flying Burrito Brothers' set. Mick Jagger, who apparently knew that something bad had happened, starts calling out for a doctor right after Meredith Hunter is killed during a performance of "Under My Thumb". Hunter was killed not more than 15 feet from the stage.
  • Both the 'doctor' and 'pilot' versions of this question are asked in Snakes on a Plane; in this case, while there was a doctor on the plane, he had already been killed by the snakes, and the only 'pilot' had only 'flown' on a flight simulator before now.
  • Just Like Heaven: Elizabeth and David are visiting a restaurant when a man collapses. A waiter asks for help which cuts through Elizabeth's Ghost Amnesia and reminds her that she's a doctor. Unfortunately for David he's the only one who can see or hear her and since she can't operate on the collapsed man herself she has to talk him through an emergency tracheotomy.

  • Old Joke. A musical is going full swing, when a distraught older woman runs on stage and screams "Is there a doctor in the house?" A man near the stage stands up. "I'm a Doctor" he says. The woman turns to him. "Would you like to meet a nice Jewish girl?"
  • Another version ends with the punchline: "Great play, isn't it, dear colleague?"

    Live-Action TV 
  • M*A*S*H:
    • Episode "Out of Sight, Out of Mind": Hawkeye Pierce, while blinded.
      Hawkeye: Frank, I'm glad you're here. Get a doctor.
    • Zig-zagged in the episode where Hawkeye and Trapper contend with a bigot:
      Trapper: [arriving in post-op] I understand you're in need of a medical man.
      Hawkeye: I see you couldn't find one.
    • In "Alcoholics Unanimous", Father Mulcahy gets accidentally drunk prior to delivering a temperance sermon, which he interrupts to unsteadily ask, "Is there a doctor in the tent?"
  • Scrubs:
    • Episode "My Conventional Wisdom":
      Turk: So when the conference starts, I pretend to choke, and you say, "Is there a doctor in the house?" It's going to kill.
    • When JD collides into a gurney and injures himself:
      J.D.: Is anyone else a doctor?
    • One episode has a seemingly-perfect doctor experience a nervous breakdown and quit because he didn't respond to the question, resulting in the death of a small child.
  • Angel episode "Smile Time":
    Lorne the Host: [holds torn body of Angel puppet] Is there a Geppetto in the house?
  • In Friends, Joey dates an insane woman who believes him to be Dr Drake Ramoray, the character he plays in a Show Within a Show. While at a restaurant together, she puts Joey on the spot when someone starts choking and this phrase is shouted. He says that he's unable to deal with the problem since he's a neurosurgeon and this is clearly a case of "foodal chokage".
  • There was a very short-lived television series in 1969 called Doctor in the House.
  • Used for the title of an episode of Hogan's Heroes, with a later episode using the variation "Is There a Traitor in the House".
  • 1989-91 Sitcom Doctor Doctor used "Is there a doctor in the house?" at the end of its theme song.
  • House:
    • House himself uses this phrase once so that he won't be bothered to have to be a doctor while not on the clock.
    • In the episode "Airborne", he and Cuddy take a flight, with House in first class while Cuddy is bumped to economy. A passenger gets sick, and somebody asks: "Is anyone a doctor?" House looks around, hopefully, then eventually gives up, gets up and says, "Yes! I'll go get her," and heads back to fetch Cuddy, who is not amused.
  • Used in Monk when there was a doctor in the house when a murder takes place on stage but it turns out he was not a real doctor but an accomplice of the murderer, they catch him when he uses the phrase later on.
    Monk: Last time you were the doctor.
  • I Dream of Jeannie had an episode with this title.
  • The Brady Bunch had an episode entitled "Is There a Doctor In the House?" as well.
  • On The Mentalist the Victim of the Week collapses in front of a crowd as he's about to present his entry in a cooking contest (he's a chef) and the emcee says the line.
  • In a Seinfeld episode George pretends to be a marine biologist to impress his girlfriend. Unfortunately, he happens to be at a beach with her when a whale is beached, and someone shouts: "Is anyone here a marine biologist?"
  • El Chapulín Colorado: In a Dr. Chapatin segment, a man was starting to feel the consequences of his overeating at a restaurant and his wife asked if there was a doctor around. That was Dr. Chapatin's cue.
  • On The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Will is trapped in a limo with a pregnant woman. Trapped in the parking lot because of the traffic jam, he pokes his head through the sun roof and yells for a doctor. As the doctor in question runs towards him, Will screams, "LOOK OUT!". We hear a thud (as the doctor is question is apparently hit by a car offscreen)... and then Will calls out, "Is there a doctor for the doctor?"
  • Subverted in an episode of ER, when an accident leaves part of the hospital under quarantine due to risk of contamination, Doctor Carter is in the locked down area without any of the experienced doctors. A patient has a medical emergency, and he shouts for a doctor, only for a nurse to reply that he is the doctor. Through quick-thinking and application of what he has learned in medical school and working for Doctor Benton, Carter is able to keep his patients alive until the quarantine is lifted.
  • Tracker, when Vic is shot during an alien-caused art show holdup/robbery plot.
    Mel Is there a doctor here? Anyone?
  • Supernatural. In "Changing Channels" Sam and Dean are Trapped in TV Land, as doctors in a cheesy medical drama. Dean gets shot In the Back and Sam calls for a doctor — cut to him having to operate on Dean.
    Sam: I need a pen knife, some dental floss, a sewing needle and a fifth of whiskey. Stat!
  • In one episode of All in the Family that takes place in a stalled subway car, Mike loses his temper in an argument with someone and to even his shock, slugs him, knocking him out cold. He, Gloria, and Archie try to find a doctor, and there is one, but the guy refuses to look at the man out of fear of being sued should something go wrong. The only advice he'll give is, "Get him to a doctor."
  • When it seems like Cheyenne is about to give birth on Superstore, Garrett asks if anyone in the building is a doctor. He then remembers that they're in a big-box chain store, and asks if anyone's seen a lot of Grey's Anatomy.

  • Near the end of the song That Summer When We Killed That Guy by the comedy band Dead Cat Bounce, the guy in question calls out for medical assistance while being tortured by the singer and his friends.
    Is there... Is there a doctor in the house?
    ...No, thank you, sir, a medical doctor, thank you.

    Print Media 
  • The phrase became very popular among the writers of news article headlines in need of a catchy and cheesy line when reporting on Obama's health care plan early in his term as president.
  • Presented as true in an old Reader's Digest edition, when someone fainted at an unemployment office. In response to this line, the answer from an onlooker was, "Lady, have you ever seen an unemployed doctor?"

    Puppet Shows 
  • Very literal example happens on one episode of The Muppet Show after Kermit breaks his leg on stage. Fortunately, there is a doctor in the audience.
    Fozzie: You are a real doctor are you?
    Doctor: Of course I'm a real doctor! You want to see my sheepskin?

  • In the Cabin Pressure episode "Boston", when a passenger has a heart attack, the pilots ask if there's a doctor on the plane ... and, since they can see on the manifest that one of the passengers has the title "Dr", get increasingly specific, until he finally takes the hint and moves to the flight deck to pointedly explain that he's Not That Kind of Doctor.

  • Used in a sketch Peter David and friends put on for Shore Leave 2009. They were doing their Mad Scientist schtick, then one of them collapsed as if he had a heart attack. "Get a doctor!" "Oh my god." "Is there a doctor in the house!?" Enter Robert Picardo. "Please state the nature of the medical emergency."
  • "Who's Got the Pain?" from Damn Yankees has a definitely facetious use of the phrase.
  • The stage version of Doctor in the House opens with the stage manager saying there has been a minor accident backstage and asking if there is a doctor in the house. Two cast members planted in the audience leap to their feet and race to the stage. Their meeting starts the play proper rolling.

    Theme Parks 

    Video Games 
  • Bubsy II: The title character. Of course, there's "Is there a veterinarian in the audience?"
  • Trauma Center: Under The Knife actually plays this straight. When the PA on a flight calls out "Is there a doctor on board?", Derek Styles and his assistant immediately answer the call, discovering they have to drain fluid from the patient's lungs. In flight. During turbulence. This is about as tricky as it sounds.
  • In Mega Man Battle Network 2, during Lan's flight home from Netopia, a man is bitten by an incredibly venomous spider and needs medical treatment. Thankfully, there is a doctor on board and the man's life is saved.
  • When you unlock Dr. Mario in Super Smash Bros. Melee, his unlockable message says:
    Dr. Mario is in the house! His prescription? KOs.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • On Episode 52 of Ask That Guy with the Glasses, this question was one of the ones asked. That Guy answered "yes", and proceeded to shoot the doctor off screen.
  • One ASDF Movie has this bit as its post-credits bit.
    (guy is standing over his choking friend)
    Guy: Is anybody here a doctor?
    Doctor: I am!
    Guy: Well, you're a nerd! (high-fives now-unconscious friend)

    Western Animation 
  • In The Amazing World of Gumball episode "The Parents", it's revealed that Nicole Watterson's first name is "Doctor" and "Nicole" is actually her middle name, leading to her bringing up an incident that involved this.
    Nicole: Oh, it's all very funny until someone shouts, "Is there a doctor in the house?" and your parents say, "Yes". Turns out people choking on a chicken wing rarely stay conscious long enough to enjoy the punch line!
  • Dozens of Looney Tunes shorts:
  • Tom and Jerry:
    • In the short "Mouse Trouble", Jerry sticks several needles through a box, and saws it in half, only to realize that Tom was hiding inside. He quickly writes a sign and holds it up so the audience can see it, asking "Is there a doctor in the house?"
    • One of the Chuck Jones shorts is titled "Is there a Doctor in the Mouse?"
  • Tex Avery MGM Cartoons: "Blitz Wolf", as the eponymous character is falling from the sky he lets loose a stream of fake German, which is translated as "Call for Dr. Kildare!"
  • In "Doc McStuffins", Stuffy says this in "Doctoring the Doc", "The Doctor Will See You Now" and "On Call Ball".
  • Edd in Ed, Edd n Eddy asks this question in "Floss Your Ed" when Eddy comes up with a dumb idea to get the tooth fairy to come over before the candy store closes.
    • One of the episodes is titled "Is There an Ed in the House?".
  • Batman (1966) episode "King Tut": Bruce Wayne says it.
  • A variation occurs in Teen Titans during the episode "Divide and Conquer": after the Titans lose to the new members of the Hive, they return home to Titans Tower, where they discuss what may have happened to Robin. Raven notices Beast Boy rubbing his aching knee, and so she heals it. Beast Boy responds, "Who knew we had a doctor in the house. Thanks."
  • Parodied in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles episode "The Big Cufflink Caper!"
    Raphael: Improvise? Against those goons? Is there a script doctor in the house?
  • In the World War II Popeye short, "Seein' Red White and Blue", when Adolf Hitler gets punched out by Uncle Sam the scene is censored by a cue card reading "Is there a doctor in the house?" with the word "doctor" crossed out and "undertaker" written above it.
    • In the short "How Green is My Spinach", Bluto destroys the world's spinach crops and begins to pummel a helpless Popeye. The narrator asks "Is there a can of spinach in the house?" Then we see (in live action) a child in the movie theater who throws Popeye a can of spinach.
    • In "Too Weak to Work", Bluto fakes collapsing due to sickness (because he's too lazy to work), and Popeye yells out "Is there an ambulance in the house?" An animated ambulance then drives through the movie theater that the short is being shown in and picks Bluto up.
  • Guy Hamdon of SheZow often says this as someone pummels the beezus out of him (in superhero(ine) form) while at the mall. Then his sister, Kelly Hamdon, asks "Is there a can of spinach in the house?" (a reference to one of the Popeye cartoon shorts) in which (in live action) a teenage girl (whose name is Sabrina the Teenage Witch) at West Bridge High School, throwing a can of spinach towards him.
  • It's also the title of an episode of the Animated Adaptation of Arthur.
  • At the end of the Courage the Cowardly Dog episode, "Night of the Weremole", the titular dog asks this when Eustace gets eaten by the weremole-infected Dr. Vindaloo.
  • Parodied in the Futurama episode "Why Must I Be A Crustacean In Love?", as Dr. Zoidberg goes nuts around some pregnant women:
    Gym Instructor: [after several pregnant women break their water] Is there a doctor in the gym?!
    Zoidberg: I'm a doctor! [More pregnant women break their water]
  • Rocko's Modern Life: In "To Heck and Back", Heffer starts choking in a restaurant (aptly called Chokey Chicken) and Rocko calls for a doctor. Everyone else in the restaurant is a doctor, but they just ignore him.
  • In the Garfield TV special Garfield Goes Hollywood, at the "Pet Search" talent show, there is an old woman who is trying to make her pet bird, which is most likely dead, perform tricks to the audience.
    Old Woman: (after realizing what's going on) Is there a doctor in the house?
  • There is an episode of Mr. Bogus entitled ''Is There A Bogus In The House?"
  • Tiny Toon Adventures: In one short, the Looniversity students are taking a school trip through an unsavory meat-packing plant owned by Montana Max, and Plucky Duck asks "Is there a USDA inspector in the house?"
    Audience Member: I'm an inspector, and you look pretty fresh to me! (stamps the word "APPROVED" on Plucky's forehead)

    Real Life 
  • Still used as part of emergency medical procedures during any live theatrical event. The House Manager (or Stage Manager) will call for a 'Hold' stopping the production and will then ask the audience, "Is there a doctor in the house?"
  • Still used aboard commercial aircraft, too. The lead flight attendant will typically ask, over the PA, for any medical personnel aboard to identify themselves to cabin crew. This is why flight attendants are trained in first aid procedures, and also why they were originally registered nurses. In any case, a flight will divert to the nearest airport in event of a medical emergency on board.
    • Also still used on commercial ferries as well, or at least it is on ferries in the UK.
  • Played entirely straight when President Abraham Lincoln was mortally wounded by an assassin at Ford's Theater during a performance, April 14, 1865.
  • British comic actor Sid James collapsed on stage unconscious. One of the stagehands called this out to the audience, who cried with laughter. Turns out he'd died of a heart attack.
    • Similar responses were also at least partly responsible for the on-stage deaths of fellow British comics Tommy Cooper and Eric Morecambe, whose acts also depended heavily on slapstick physical humour; stagehands and crowd all assumed their on-stage collapses were part of the joke, and both comedians left this world to uproarious audience laughter.
  • At a Friars' Club roast for Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz on November 24th, 1958, comedian Harry "Parkyakarkus" Einstein made a phenomenally-received "comeback" performance, after which he received a standing ovation and immediately collapsed onto Milton Berle. Berle said, in complete seriousness, "is there a doctor in the house?", but everyone thought he was joking.
  • Pete Townshend of The Who asked his audience during a concert "Can anyone play the drums? - I mean somebody good!" after their drummer, Keith Moon, passed out due to a drug overdose. An audience member, Scot Halpin, filled in.
  • Narrowly avoided by Dick Cavett, who tells us that when Jerome Rodale died on his show, he asked “Is there a doctor in the... audience?”. He couldn't figure out why he paused, until months later, when Katharine Hepburn told him that he, somehow, knew that the stockline would make people laugh.
  • In 1995, two doctors on board a British Airways flight performed emergency surgery on a passenger whose lung had started to collapse. Using a scalpel, a set of cutlery, a flexible plastic tube, a bottle of water, and a coat hanger, all sterilized with half a bottle of cognac, they managed to get the patient back into stable condition. Then they drank the rest of the cognac.
  • Commonly yelled during baseball games in the early 1900s (teams didn't get their own doctors until late in the 1910s). On at least one occasion, two doctors jumped out of the stands at the same time, realized what had happened, and raced to the injured player as the fans cheered.
  • There's a story of actor Sir Ralph Richardson stopping a play to ask if there were any doctors present. One man stood up — at which point Richardson asked him: "Doctor, don't you think this play is dreadful?"
  • When Bolton footballer Fabrice Muamba collapsed during a match against Tottenham, the third person on the scene - after both team's physios - was Andrew Deaner, Tottenham fan and consultant cardiologist at the London Chest Hospital, who happened to be in the audience watching the match; he saw them performing CPR and decided he had to get involved. It wasn't the nearest hospital to the ground, but it was the best equipped to deal with Muamba's heart failure, and Deaner insisted that he be taken there - a decision credited with saving his life (the ambulancemen wanted to take him to the six miles closer North Middlesex). He survived after a three week hospitalisation, although he never played professional football again.
  • Apparently this is one of the automated announcements that London Overground drivers can pick from.
  • While on a plane to Orlando, 67-year-old Dorothy Fletcher collapsed from a heart attack, prompting this question from a flight attendant. Cue fifteen cardiologists standing up, all of them on their way to a conference on heart disease. She survived and made a full recovery.
  • When Gallagher collapsed on stage in 2011, he found out that there will be several doctors in the house in Rochester, Minnesota, home of the Mayo Clinic.
  • A woman who wasn't aware she was pregnant went into pre-term labor on a flight to Honolulu. Luckily, physician Dale Glenn and neonatal intensive care nurses Lani Bamfield, Amanda Beeding, and Mimi Ho were onboard. They used someone's Apple Watch as a heart rate monitor, shoelaces to cut the umbilical cord, medical tape to make an oxygen mask, and someone's sock for a beanie to keep the baby warm.


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