Huntington's disease in popular culture

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Huntington's disease has been shown in numerous formats, more so as awareness of the condition has increased. Here is a list of references to it in popular culture;



  • In the 1967 film Valley of the Dolls, the husband of one of the film's main characters has HD.
  • Arlo Guthrie's 1969 film Alice's Restaurant, which depicts Guthrie's father Woody suffering from what was then called "Huntington's Chorea", and features numerous mentions of the condition by the younger Guthrie to his peers and the draft board's medical staff.
  • Broken Elf, a 2010 documentary by Robert Ciesla featuring Jukka, an alcoholic man with advanced Huntington's disease. Screened at Reikäreuna Film Festival, September 7, 2013[3]
  • Do You Really Want to Know?, a 2013 documentary by John Zaritsky featuring Huntington's disease researcher Jeff Carroll
  • Huntington's Dance a 2014 release by Chris Furbee an 18-year-long journey with a family afflicted by Huntington's Disease. World Premiere at Slamdance, January 19, 2014[4]
  • The Lion's Mouth Opens, a 2014 documentary by Lucy Walker (director) featuring filmmaker Marianna Palka
  • The Inheritance, a 2014 documentary film
  • The Faith of Anna Waters, a 2016 horror movie released in the U.S. as The Offering, depicts a crime reporter whose sister dies of Huntington's and whose niece inherits it ... as does, eventually, she as well.


  • Sammy Davis Jr. in the 1970 episode "Song of Willie" from the series The Mod Squad
  • Joseph Campanella in the 1970 episode "Dance to No Music" from the series Marcus Welby, M.D.
  • Edward Dunglass, the goth teen from the Australian soap opera Home and Away (1999–2000)
  • Dr. Samantha O'Hara from the Australian medical drama All Saints
  • Hannah's father from the American drama Everwood, as revealed in the episode "Need to Know" (3x10)
  • Characters in the episodes "Pad'ar" (3x08) and "the Sins of the Father" (4x03) of Gene Roddenberry's Earth: Final Conflict.
  • Angie Padgett from the episode "In Which Charlotte Goes Down the Rabbit Hole" (1x06) of Private Practice.
  • Dr. Remy "Thirteen" Hadley, one of the doctors who joins House's second team on House, as well as her brother, whom she helps to commit suicide.
  • An episode of the BBC drama Waterloo Road
  • The ER season 9 episode "Insurrection" featured a completely disabled man with Huntington's. During the chaos caused when Dr. John Carter leads a walk-out to protest unsafe working conditions, the man's mother disconnects his ventilator so that he can die in peace. Dr. Susan Lewis figures out what the mother did but protects her.
  • In the season 8 finale of Scrubs, a woman is diagnosed with Huntington's disease, and her son has to make the decision to find out whether or not he also has the condition.
  • In The Bold Ones: The New Doctors, Dr. Paul Hunter counsels a pregnant woman whose irritable husband is found to have the disease. After explaining the 50-50 odds, he advises her to have the baby, trusting in the advance of medical science.
  • The episode "Second Sight" of the third season of Without a Trace ends with the revelation that the disappearance and kidnapping of the girl Malone's team was searching for, was in truth an elaborate set-up so that she could return to her estranged gypsy family – a decision she took after discovering she had the disease, inherited from her grandmother. Knowing she just wants to live the time she has left with her parents, Malone lets her and her father go.
  • In a season 4 episode of Breaking Bad, Walter White shares a childhood memory of his father who was diagnosed with Huntington's disease with his son.
  • In the season 3 premiere episode "Fear" (aired September 29, 2013) of the ABC series Revenge, the character of Conrad Grayson, played by Henry Czerny, is seen passing out during a political speech. In the very next scene, a doctor informs him that he has Huntington's disease.
  • "Fighting Huntington's Disease", a 2010 episode of the CBC News Network documentary series Connect with Mark Kelley, depicted the life and work of Huntington's disease researcher and advocate Dr Jeff Carroll, himself a carrier of the genetic mutation that causes Huntington's disease.[5] The episode was nominated for a Gemini award for 'Best Lifestyle/Practical Information Segment.[6]
  • David Collins was a fictional character in the BBC soap opera EastEnders in 2004. He was played by Dan Milne. David was the husband of Jane Collins. He suffered from Huntington's disease and lived in a hospice. Jane kept David a secret from her new boss Ian, but one day Ian demanded to know why she was infrequent with her work, and Jane took him to meet David. Ian regularly visited him until David died shortly after Christmas 2004, leaving Jane heartbroken.[7]
  • On the TV series Royal Pains, Hank and Evan's wealthy benefactor, Boris Keuster von Jurgens-Ratenicz, has a family history of a genetic disease which, according to his recollections, robbed his father of his ability to move and, eventually, his mind. Although the name of the disease is never explicitly revealed, it can be deduced from these symptoms that Boris's family most likely suffers from Huntington's.
  • In the second episode of the second season of BBC's Ripper Street, HD (referred to as Huntington's Chorea) and the possibility of it being passed on in a prominent family are the cause of the death of a woman and the stealing of her child by the patriarch of the family. His son had been diagnosed with HD and is the father of the stolen child. The patriarch took the child to make sure that HD ended with his son, his intention being to kill the child if signs of the disorder manifested themselves.
  • season 2, episode3 "Drop D3ad Diva", Gloria Rubens plays a professor that petitions the court to be cryogenically frozen before the disease causes too much irreversible damage.

Video games[edit]


  • Mind Matters: RTÉ Radio 1 programme on Huntington's Disease, featuring a family affected from Ireland.
  • Huntington's disease - two part ABC Radio National "The Health Report" program on the disorder examines the effects on families and the challenges it presents for the health system and society. (part 2)
  • Dr. Gilmer and Mr. Hyde - This American Life report on a man imprisoned for life for a murder committed while afflicted with, but undiagnosed as, Huntington's disease.
  • "What Are You Doing For The Test of Your Life" [2] - This American Life segment from the episode titled "It Says So Right Here": a report on a woman who has several family members who either have suffered from or have been tested positive for Huntington's Disease and is going through the process of being tested.


  1. ^ Seagle, Steven T.; Teddy Kristiansen (2004). It's a Bird. New York: Vertigo. p. 123. ISBN 978-1-4012-0311-5. 
  2. ^ Nancy S Wexler and Michael D Rawlins (2005). "Prejudice in a portrayal of Huntington's disease". The Lancet. 366 (9491): 1069–1070. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(05)67405-3. 
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Connect with Mark Kelley: Fighting Huntington's disease". CBC, Canada. Retrieved November 22, 2011. 
  6. ^ "Gemini award nomination for the 'Connect with Mark Kelly' episode featuring Carroll". Gemini awards. Retrieved November 22, 2011. 
  7. ^ Also see BBC press release at [1].