Sherlock

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"The game, Mrs. Hudson, is on!"
"Don't make people into heroes, John. Heroes don't exist. And if they did, I wouldn't be one of them."
Sherlock Holmes

A modern-day version of Sherlock Holmes incorporating 21st century forensic technology, computers, smartphones and Google searches; however, it's still pretty faithful to the original tales in style. Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) solves crimes through sheer intellect and his patented Sherlock Scan, but is a "high functioning sociopath" barely kept in check by his friend Dr. John Watson (Martin Freeman) as he is called upon for the more baffling cases. No, Sherlock doesn't do coke (at least not on screen). Absurd numbers of nicotine patches[1], on the other hand...

The show was an immediate critical and popular smash hit, winning BAFTAs for Best Drama Series and Best Supporting Actor (Martin Freeman) in 2011, and Best Supporting Actor (Andrew Scott) in 2012. Benedict Cumberbatch has also been nominated twice for leading actor.

Three 90-minute dramas form the initial run, starting July 2010 on BBC 1:

  • "A Study in Pink" (written by Moffat) is based on "A Study in Scarlet".
  • "The Blind Banker" (Stephen Thompson) is based on "The Dancing Men" and "The Sign of the Four".
  • "The Great Game" (Gatiss) adapts "The Bruce-Partington Plans" as a subplot, and lifts from various other stories for plot points.

Due to the high ratings and critical response, BBC 1 commissioned a second series which aired in January 2012:

A third series was commissioned at the same time as the second. It is scheduled to begin filming in January 2013, and is expected to air in the UK later that year. Both series aired on PBS in the United States as a part of their Masterpiece programming block, and it is expected that the 3rd series will be run in the same fashion.

A similar concept to Jekyll, another Steven Moffat written television series based around setting a classic Victorian story in the 21st century. Not to be confused with Sherlock Holmes of the 22nd century.

Tropes used in Sherlock include:

A-E[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Aerith and Bob:
    • Sherlock and John. Mycroft and "Anthea".
      • Justified, as it's not her real name.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Sherlock. He does show many classic signs of Asperger's Syndrome, including limited empathy, abnormally intense interests, and idiosyncratic language. In "The Hounds of Baskerville", John makes a comment about Sherlock having Asperger's, but it's unclear whether or not he was being serious.
    • Most of those are also indications of being a sociopath, which Sherlock out-and-out says he is.
  • Answer Cut: In yet another situation where John ends up being the butt of a joke.

Sherlock: I'm putting my best man on to it, right now.
John: Right. Good. ...Who is that?

  • Arc Words: In Series 2, it's Stayin' Alive.
  • Artistic License Geography: Over a tiny area no less; if you know Central London, occasionally things don't quite match up how they should. One egregious example occurs in "The Blind Banker" where the duo go from Picadilly, across the street to "That Shop There" and end up on Gerrard Street in London's China Town, which is roughly a quarter of a mile from where they started.
  • Artistic License Gun Safety: Every scene where Sherlock holds a gun during "The Great Game". Though that could just be Sherlock not really giving a damn, or rattled after his meeting with Moriarty.
  • Ascended Extra: Molly goes from That Girl at the Morgue (not a promising start for a character) in the first episode to being invited to Sherlock's Christmas party in the next series to having some involvement in faking his death in "The Reichenbach Fall".
  • Awesome By Analysis: C'mon, it's Sherlock Holmes. It's practically a given.
  • Awesome McCoolname:
    • Obviously, Sherlock Holmes, but also his actor, Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch. Just say it out loud.
    • Then there's his brother Mycroft Holmes and his PA, 'Anthea'. We cannot be sure that this is her real name, however, since she changes it when she's bored, especially considering that in "A Study in Pink" she flat-out admits that this is not her name.
    • Carl Powers.
  • Badass: The series has so much.
    • Badass Nickname:
      • The Golem, a notorious Czech hitman hired to kill gallery attendants and astronomy professors.
      • The Woman, Irene Adler.
      • The Whip Hand, Adler's Twitter name.
      • The Iceman, Moriarty's code name for Mycroft.
      • Totally subverted when it's revealed that Moriarty's code name for Sherlock is "The Virgin". Ouch.
        • Between "The Iceman" and "The Virgin", I'd prefer the latter. It's not as mean, and if you believe in Virgin Power...
  • Battle of Wits: Well, when one's a psychopath and one's a "high-functioning sociopath"...
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Sherlock is prone to these to get himself into places he isn't supposed to be, but the absolute apex has to be "The Hounds of Baskerville". Sherlock gets himself and John into a top secret military base using Mycroft's government ID, but it's John who pulls rank on the Corporal and uses his military background to deflect the man's suspicion.
  • Beneath Suspicion: In one case, the murderer was a taxi driver. Sherlock even mentions that the killer has to be someone the victims trusted and was in plain sight.

Sherlock: ...All of his victims disappeared from busy streets, crowded places, but nobody saw them go. Think! Who do we trust, even though we don't know them? Who passes, unnoticed, wherever they go? Who hunts in the middle of a crowd?
John: I dunno, who?
Sherlock:...I haven't the faintest. Hungry?

  • Berserk Button: Sherlock might claim to be a sociopath... but if you value your own well-being, do not mess with his landlady.
    • Do not threaten John with harm in front of Sherlock. It rarely ends well.
    • And don't diss Sherlock in front of John, for that matter.
  • Bland-Name Product:
    • MePhone.org.uk standing in for Apple's MobileMe service and as a pun on the iPhone.
    • Surprisingly averted in "The Hounds of Baskerville" — the bartender tells the pub owner that they're out of "WKD", which is the actual brand-name of an alcoholic beverage.
    • There's also very conspicuous product placements for, among others, Samsung and Land Rover. In "The Reichenbach Fall", John is reading a newspaper with a blatant advertisement for the iPhone 4 on the back page. It seems that when the show's popularity took off, various brands decided they wanted to be seen in it.
      • Except Sherlock's a BBC funded series, where deliberate product placement is not allowed (and often the reason for Bland Name anything). While trademark use is permissable in some situations (usually genericised and well known ones), they won't have been paid for them. Also paid product placement was against broadcasting regulations even for commercial TV until either just after the first series was completed or during it's filming.
  • Book Ends: Series 2 begins and ends with a confrontation between Sherlock and Moriarty where the Bee Gees plays.
    • Also, Series 1 opens with John speaking to his therapist just before Sherlock enters his life, and Series 2 ends with John visiting her again, eighteen months after his last appointment.
  • Brief Accent Imitation:
    • Sherlock does a dead-on impersonation of a metrosexual yuppie to fool a woman into thinking that he lived at a posh apartment complex and let him in.
    • And then again in the third episode, he abandons his usual upper-crust tones for a more cockney accent, pretending to be a grief-stricken friend of the departed, but intentionally getting things wrong. He knows that people will automatically contradict any mistakes made by a stranger pretending to be a friend or relative, which means that she'll expose things that she wouldn't if he was actually an old friend of her husband.
    • In "A Scandal in Belgravia", he changes his accent briefly again, taking leave of his brother and other government functionaries in a more common accent and slang ("Laters!") and pretending to be a priest who has just been mugged.
    • Toward the end of "A Scandal in Belgravia", Sherlock briefly adopts an American drawl to mock a CIA agent.
    • Moriarty seems to be putting on a generic English accent in the scene in "The Great Game" where he meets Sherlock while pretending to be "Jim from I.T.", but then reverts back to the actor's natural Irish brogue when he reveals himself.
    • He does it again in the "The Reichenbach Fall", switching from his Irish accent to an American one here and there, without much reason.
    • "Doncaster" in Baskerville.
  • Brilliant but Lazy: Sherlock hacks his way into John's laptop because he doesn't feel like getting up and fetching his own laptop from his bedroom.
  • British Brevity: Three 90-minute episodes equals one season. The original plan was 6 sixty minute stories, of which "A Study in Pink" was filmed as the first episode. This turned into a 60-minute pilot instead, with the 90-minute version being substantially different.
    • Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss remark upon this in the Series 2 DVD commentary, pointing out that at 90 minutes long, Sherlock is more like a film series than your average TV series, meaning that production time is also longer. They do say they'd love to make more, there just isn't enough time in the year.
  • Buffy-Speak: About as close as you are ever going to get, since this is Sherlock. But upon being given a cigarette: "Smoking indoors... isn't this one of those... law things?"
  • Bullying a Dragon:
    • All Sherlock has to do is sniff Anderson and he was able to deduce he is having an affair (which people will get divorced over) with a co-worker (which many places will fire employees over). He probably has similar ammo against most of the people he knows, and yet, he's still the freak.
    • It works both ways, however, since he arrogantly and blithely antagonizes and embarrasses them despite the fact that they are police officers with, as shown in the first episode, the authority to raid his flat looking for drugs, among other things which could probably get him sent to prison for a good long while if they investigated him for it. This comes back to bite him in a big way in "The Reichenbach Fall", when Moriarty finds it very easy to convince the police Sherlock is a fraud and a criminal simply because, with the exception of Lestrade, they all hate him for how he's treated them.
  • Call Back:
    • John's psychosomatic limp returns for a few seconds at the end of "The Great Game", when the same leg buckles at the swimming pool.
      • And again, very slightly, affecting his stiff military bearing as he walks away from Sherlock's grave in "The Reichenbach Fall".
    • Sherlock's last minute appearance with a sword in a turban in "A Scandal in Belgravia" is possibly a Call Back to Sherlock's random attacker in "The Blind Banker".
  • The Cameo:
    • The voice of the kid strapped to the bomb jacket in "The Great Game" is Steven Moffat's son.
    • The lover of one of the victims in "The Blind Banker" is Olivia Poulet, Benedict Cumberbatch's former girlfriend.
    • Moriarty's defense attorney in "The Reichenbach Fall" is Ian Hallard, Mark Gatiss' husband.
  • Canon Foreigner: Anderson, Donovan, and Molly Hooper.
  • Carnival of Killers: In "The Reichenbach Fall", a group of international assassins appear around Sherlock, although initially they appear to be keeping Holmes alive. Ultimately, it is revealed they have been hired by Moriarty to kill Holmes' friends if Holmes refuses to kill himself.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue:
    • Everybody involved in the last scene in "The Great Game". Most notably, of course, Sherlock and Moriarty, who have quite the civilised conversation and for a while almost forget about the bomb and the gun. Though, to be fair, John is the one who has enough gumption to crack an actual joke once he's free to use his own words. Even parroting Moriarty's, however, he does wind up with a slightly sarcastic tone of voice with "stop his heart".
    • Picked back up again at the beginning of "A Scandal in Belgravia". Played for Laughs with Moriarty mouthing "Sorry!" to Sherlock while on the phone; Sherlock, wrinkling his nose, mouths back "It's fine!"
  • Catch Phrase:
    • Sherlock: "Obviously."
    • John: "It's fine. It's all fine."
    • Irene Adler has two: "I know [someone with an important job]... or at least I know what he likes" and "Let's have dinner."
  • Celebrity Paradox: The series is set in a 21st century where the Sherlock Holmes stories were never written and never made their significant impact on popular culture. This was actually something of a roadblock to filming the Baker Street scenes at the actual Baker Street, due to the plethora of Holmesian landmarks on the street today, leading the production to use North Gower Street to fill in instead.
  • Character Blog: See Logging Onto the Fourth Wall below.
  • Character Development:
    • Starting in Series 2, Sherlock is a little more empathetic than he was in Series 1, best exemplified with his Pet the Dog moment with Molly.
    • Mycroft gets a lot in "A Scandal in Belgravia", getting significant character focus despite having not much more than a cameo appearance in the first series..
    • Both Molly and Mrs. Hudson prove they're tougher than they look in "A Scandal in Belgravia".
  • Chekhov's Gag: During a scene in "A Scandal in Belgravia", there is a Cluedo board randomly pinned to the wall with a dagger, which goes completely unacknowledged. In the next episode, John and Sherlock have an argument about Cluedo, with John vehemently refusing to ever play the game with Sherlock again (because according to Sherlock, the only possible solution is for the victim to also be the killer and the rules are clearly wrong). John must have gotten a bit worked up last time they played...
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • John Watson's handgun, particularly in "A Study in Pink".
    • Also in "A Study in Pink", Sergeant Donovan explains why none of the police (except Lestrade) like Sherlock: they figure one day he's going to grow tired of solving murders and start committing them. In "The Reichenbach Fall", this suspicion contributes directly to Sherlock's downfall.
    • "The Hounds of Baskerville": The Grimpen Minefield, which is prominently introduced soon after Sherlock and Watson arrive on Dartmoor (like the original story's Grimpen Mire), then forgotten about until the climax, when Dr. Frankland runs into it trying to escape... with predictable results. There is a question as to whether he forgot it was there, or decided to take his chances, like the culprit in the original story.
  • Chekhov's Skill:
    • Nearly inverted in "The Great Game": Sherlock's lack of knowledge about the solar system (because he doesn't consider it necessary) nearly causes him to lose the fourth 'round' with Moriarty. It's only a convenient slideshow at the planetarium that clues him in on the answer he needs.
    • "A Scandal in Belgravia" makes Sherlock's sociopathy into a Chekhov's Skill — because it's the only advantage he has over Irene Adler when Love Is a Weakness.
  • The Chessmaster: Moriarty. Being Sherlock's greatest fan, he is able to predict his actions and exploit his curiosity.
  • Chew Toy: Poor Molly.
  • Cigarette of Anxiety: You know a situation is bad if Mycroft lights up.
  • Comically Missing the Point: The entire exchange between Sherlock and Molly in "A Study in Pink" revolving around coffee and Sherlock noticing her lipstick (not because she looks nice, but because it "makes [her] mouth look smaller").
  • Companion Cube: Sherlock's skull, so much so that he apparently needs a replacement for it when Mrs. Hudson takes it from him. It's John.
    • Mycroft is very rarely without his brolly.
    • Irene's phone is her life.
  • Continuity Nod: In "The Great Game", Sherlock rips John's clothes off in a darkened swimming pool [2], to which he responds, "I'm glad no one saw that. People might talk." In "The Reichenbach Fall", Sherlock asks John to take his hand while they're on the run.

John:Now people will definitely talk.

  • Contrast Montage: Used in "A Scandal in Belgravia" to compare Sherlock and Irene. Thoroughly. First they see each other's pictures, then they prepare to meet each other, and when they finally end up in the same room one is dressed as a vicar, and the other is not dressed at all.
  • Cool Old Lady: Mrs. Hudson, full stop. She has to be one just to tolerate Sherlock, but getting one over on the CIA via Victoria's Secret Compartment? Sherlock puts it best: "Mrs. Hudson, leave Baker Street? England would fall!"
  • Criminal Mind Games
  • Curse Cut Short: John. Frequently. He gets in an epic one in "The Great Game":

John [opens fridge innocently, sees human head, slams fridge door shut]: Oh FFFFF—!

    • John also, in "The Great Game", never quite finishes his reaction of "Aw sh-" when he realises he hasn't got his gun on him, when he and Sherlock go after the Golem.
    • In "The Hounds of Baskerville", John cuts himself off before he can say "fuck" when things get weird in the lab.
  • Cypher Language: The code from "The Blind Banker".
    • Also played with in the Hidden Messages on Sherlock's website, although the second — while being a grid cipher — can also be treated as an anagram. The third is a pigpen cipher. It spells out: "Sherlock I have found you."
    • A plot point in "The Reichenbach Fall". Nothing Moriarty could steal could ever be worth more than the key that lets him steal it. That is, if it existed.
  • Deadpan Snarker: All over the place.
    • Sherlock. And how.
    • John, given the actor who plays him, is also a candidate, especially in his first meeting with Mycroft. See Hypocritical Humor.
    • Lestrade, Mycroft and some of the criminal fraternity also get in on the act. You might say the series is rife with Deadpan Snarkiness.
    • While Sherlock probably snarks more often',' John is certainly much more deadpan about it. It's sometimes hard to work out whether he's being deliberately snarky or not. A good example can be found in this exchange in his blog:

Ooh! A new case!! So when do I get to come and visit?!?!
Harry Watson 28 March 15:02
Bit busy right now but I'm sure we'll do drinks soon.
John Watson 28 March 15:05

      • Perfectly civil, normal thing to say- except for the bit where Harry is his sister, by his own admission he's never gotten along with her, and she's a freaking alcoholic. Damn, John.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: It doesn't happen all at once, and he still has Jerkass moments, but over the first two seasons Sherlock's friendship with John helps him slowly learn to open up to the other people in his life. His priorities at the end of the second season are wildly different from those in the pilot, or even the end of the first season.
  • Destination Defenestration: Sherlock captures a CIA Mook who had attempted to beat Mrs. Hudson for information. He then calls Lestrade about having a break-in, and tells him to bring an ambulance because the man fell out of the window — and promptly throws the man out the window. Repeatedly.
  • Diagonal Billing: For Cumberbatch and Freeman.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: What Sherlock lacks or hides, John makes up for in spades. Most clearly seen in "A Scandal in Belgravia".
    • Also in "The Hounds of Baskerville", John is reluctant to interview their client's therapist until Sherlock sends him a photo of her.

John: (with characteristic deadpan snark) Oh, you're a bad man.

    • Irene Adler continuously with Sherlock, to the point where her phone password is revealed to be "I Am SHER Locked".
    • Sherlock seems to avert this during his first meeting with Irene Adler. It seems he's not even paying attention to it but then his normally flawless diction breaks down momentarily and he mumbles his next line when Irene says "brainy's the new sexy" (John's reaction emphasizes how out of character this is). He later confirms that he had at least noticed Irene's body when he is able to crack the password on her safe, which was her measurements.
      • Also seems like he fumbles his sentence once Irene shows interest in John.
  • Dogged Nice Girl: Poor, poor Molly Hooper can't get over her attraction to Sherlock no matter how poorly he treats her.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The one-hour pilot is very different from the full 90-minute first episode. 221B is an entirely different apartment; Mrs. Hudson acts and dresses more like a grandmother than a middle-aged woman; Lestrade is much more impatient and petulant; Donovan is a PC in uniform, not a detective, and more concerned for Watson than snarky; Anderson has a goofy beard; and Mycroft doesn't even show up. Even Sherlock is a little less refined - he speaks much slower during his deductions, and it seems Cumberbatch hadn't quite got hold of exactly how friendly he wanted Sherlock to be. Sometimes he comes across as more human than usual, sometimes a lot less so. The only ones who seem entirely the same are Watson and Molly.
    • In addition to that, the pilot doesn't have the super creative, lightning-fast montage style of cinematography the later episodes would adopt. It also lacks the superimposed text messages.
    • While in the pilot, Sherlock has his iconic scarf and Badass Longcoat, he isn't sporting the elegantly simple suits of the proper episodes.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Sherlock (only because Benedict Cumberbatch dyed for his art) and Irene.
  • Emotions vs. Stoicism: Sherlock's lack of emotion (and also that of his brother, Mycroft) is often shown in comparison the the more emotional Watson. Whilst Sherlock's lack of emotion helps him to solve crimes, it doesn't always endear him to people.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Done to present each character in a way suitable to his or her personality.
    • John is shown to wake up from a rather violent dream about the war, before starting to cry. Everything about his introduction — the barren apartment, his cane, the empty blog — just screams loneliness. There's also the fact that Watson keeps a gun in his drawer, meaning either he's paranoid or (as it turns out) he misses the action.
    • Sherlock is first seen peering into a body bag at the morgue. He then proceeds to beat the body with a riding crop, rather... passionately.

Sherlock: How fresh?

    • Not to mention Sherlock's immortal line: "We've got ourselves a serial killer, I love those, there's always something to look forward to!"
    • Mycroft gets a bait-and-switch moment when he kidnaps John and meets with him in a shady-looking warehouse, then refers to himself as Sherlock's "archenemy". The knowledgeable viewer assumes he's Moriarty, before finding out he's Sherlock's brother.
    • Molly Hooper's first appearance consisted of her awkwardly attempting to ask Sherlock on a date, only to be completely misunderstood and dismissed.
    • Lestrade walks into Sherlock's flat asking for his help on a case and admitting he doesn't want to ask, but he needs Sherlock.
    • Irene Adler. The very first shot is of the infamous phone in her hand; she has blood-red, claw-like fingernails and is wearing a sheer black lace body-suit and thong. With a whip in her hand, she goes into a bedroom where a young woman is apparently tied up on the bed and asks "Well then, have you been wicked, your highness?" It's pretty much the most concise introduction to a character in the whole series. (Yet.)
  • Everything Is Online: Subverted in "The Reichenbach Fall", in which Moriarty's big bluff is that his crimes involve hacking and cracking, exploiting this trope. In fact they simply rely on accomplices with inside access.
  • Evil Plan: Basically the entirety of "The Great Game". Every case Sherlock has to solve ends up having been orchestrated by Moriarty, looking for a fun challenge. It's implied that he, as a consulting criminal, has been arranging a vast array of crimes all over the place.


F-J[edit | hide]

  • Face Palm:
    • John in Episode 3, after finding a head inside the fridge.
    • John again, during the intensely awkward meeting between Molly, Sherlock and Jim at the beginning of "The Great Game". Molly is trying to provoke Sherlock to jealousy, Jim is unashamedly fawning over Sherlock while tripping over his own feet, Sherlock is being outrageously rude to both of them, and everyone is ignoring John. Good times.
    • Lestrade gives us a classic double facepalm in "The Reichenbach Fall", when Sherlock and John go on the lam.
  • Faking the Dead: Irene Adler. Even subverts the usual tropes by providing a body. And then she does it again at the end of the episode, with Sherlock's help, and is so convincing that even Mycroft buys it.
    • Although it's never explained or shown how it was done, Sherlock himself manages to do it in "The Reichenbach Fall".
      • There is one hint given: Sherlock finally asks Molly to "do something" for him. She's a coroner, with access to blood and medicine, as well as a convenient body for burial purposes.
      • The real question isn't who was buried, it's how Sherlock survived a fall onto concrete.
        • Visit Tumblr, they have innumerable theories, most of which involve a lorry carrying rubbish.
  • Famed in Story: Sherlock eventually becomes this. John lampshades it.
  • Famous-Named Foreigner: Czech Miss Wenceslas, presumably named for Wenceslaus of Bohemia.
    • Unfortunately violating Czech 101, as that name would be Václav in Czech, would be exclusively male, and would only be used as a first name.
  • Fan Service: "A Scandal in Belgravia" might as well be called "Fan Service: The Episode" as it includes Holmes naked, Adler naked, and some Absolute Cleavage thrown in to boot.
    • A lot of fans have noted that Sherlock's shirts are always very tight.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Sherlock and John. They spend most of "A Study in Pink" being pretty standoffish, but once the case has been solved they're chatting and joking like old friends.
  • First-Name Basis: As part of the setting update, the men who would have been almost exclusively called Holmes and Watson in their original incarnations are now called Sherlock and John. Oh, and Jim.
    • Lestrade's first name — Greg — makes its first in-universe appearance in "The Hounds of Baskerville", when John greets him. Sherlock, who's always called him "Lestrade", is genuinely confused and assumes "Greg" is some sort of alias.
      • Giving Lestrade the first name Greg, which is not Canonical, is most likely a reference to Inspector Gregson, a character from the original stories who often competed with Lestrade and shows up in very few, if any, of the recent retellings.
  • Footnote Fever/Fun with Subtitles: The visible text messages and emails. The creators have noted this is a handy way to avoid clogging the show up with shots of peoples' phones.
  • Foregone Conclusion: As anyone remotely familiar with Holmes canon is well aware, John and Sherlock will be reunited after the events of "The Reichenbach Fall". The only questions left are: 1) How long is this incarnation of The Great Hiatus going to be? 2) How hard is John going to punch Sherlock when they're reunited? and 3) How in the hell did Sherlock pull it off??
  • Foreign Money Is Proof of Guilt: Justified. Sherlock suspects a car dealer of having lied about travelling overseas. He sneaks a peek in the man's wallet and sees a Colombian banknote, the final clue he needs to solve the case.
  • Foreshadowing: In "A Scandal in Belgravia", Mycroft comments that it would take nothing less than Sherlock's expertise to convince him that Irene Adler is not Faking the Dead. This provides an allusion towards the ending, in which they think she really is dead this time, yet The Stinger shows Sherlock rescuing her from her executioners.
  • Friendly Enemy: Moriarty and Sherlock. Each has the other in their line of sight, ready to kill each other, when Moriarty asks to answer his phone. While he's talking, we get this gem:

Moriarty: *mouths* Sorry!
Sherlock: *mouths* It's fine!

  • Friends Rent Control: Mrs Hudson is apparently letting Sherlock and John rent 221B at a discount as a favour to Sherlock. Since Mrs Hudson lives alone in 221A and cannot rent out 221C because of the damp, one wonders how she can afford to pay the dues on what is clearly expensive prime London real-estate when her only tenants are strongly suggested to be getting an audaciously cheap ride of it. It's worth noting that Sherlock's bedroom is roughly the size of an Olympic stadium.[3]
    • Mrs. Hudson's late husband was executed in Florida (and apparently deserved it). It's a popular retirement state; presumably she inherited his savings.
  • Geek Physique: Sherlock. In the pilot, Watson discovers during the dinner stakeout that Holmes does not eat when he's on the job and the pilot ends with him getting Holmes to eat an actual meal.
    • Cumberbatch mentioned in one interview that one thing he did to prepare for the role was to lose a small amount of weight to get that "so focused I forget to eat" look. Since it gave us those cheekbones, no one's complaining.
    • In "The Blind Banker", Sherlock tells Molly he doesn't eat when he's working, as digestion only slows him down.
    • Cumberbatch appears to have put on those same few pounds he lost for the role between seasons to represent the fact that Sherlock now basically has a live-in physician. It also seems to track with the character becoming a bit warmer and more human-like, so the trope is currently being employed in reverse.
  • Gender Blender Name: John's lesbian sister Harry, short for Harriet.
  • Gender Flip: Harry is based on the original Watson's brother, "H.W.".
  • Genre Savvy: Moriarty is able to get one over on Sherlock largely by being more Genre Savvy than him.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: A staple of Steven Moffat.

"And I assumed she also scrubbed your floor, judging by the state of her knees."

    • Not to mention: "I'm not hungry. Let's have dinner."
  • Gibberish of Love: Sherlock did this when Irene said brainy being the new sexy. John's face after Sherlock's verbal keyboardsmash is priceless.
  • Gilligan Cut:

Sherlock: Where are you taking her?
Watson: Uh, cinema.
Sherlock: Dull, boring, predictable. Why don't you try this [the circus that pertains to the case]? In London for one night only.
Watson: Thanks, but I don't come to you for dating advice.
[cut to:]
Sarah: It's years since anyone took me to the circus.

    • Also, from "The Reichenbach Fall":

Judge: You've been called here to answer [the lawyer's] questions, not to give us a display of your intellectual prowess! Keep your answers brief and to the point. Anything else will be treated as contempt! Do you think you can survive just a few minutes without showing off?!
Sherlock: (opens his mouth, prepares to speak...)
[cut to Sherlock being led into a holding cell.]

    • And a second instance, also from "The Reichenbach Fall", where John gets rather... protective of Sherlock being called a "weirdo" by Lestrade's boss. It ends poorly for the boss's nose.
  • The Glorious War of Brotherly Rivalry: Oh, guess. Between Mycroft's constant meddling in Sherlock's life and Sherlock's constant needling about Mycroft's weight, they come off as a couple of schoolgirls. Escalated to 11 in "A Scandal in Belgravia" with their tug-of-war over Sherlock's Modesty Bedsheet.

Mycroft: This is a matter of national importance. Grow up!
Sherlock: Get off my sheet!
Mycroft: Or what?
Sherlock: Or I'll just walk away!
Mycroft: I'll let you.
John: Boys, please. Not here.

    • Not to mention, shortly after:

Mycroft: [before pouring the tea] Shall I be Mother?
Sherlock: Oh, and there's our whole childhood in a nutshell.

  • Good Is Not Nice: I may be on the side of the angels, but don't think for one second that I am one of them.
    • Another Moffat staple, as both the tenth and eleventh Doctor have practically said this verbatim on prior occasion.
  • Guys Are Slobs: Co-creator Steven Moffat has remarked that beyond being a crime show, a great deal of what Sherlock is about is two bachelors living together, behaving badly, being slobs, and "putting horrible things in the fridge". Sherlock, of course, is the main culprit, especially when his depredations extend to leaving human body parts around the homestead. By Series 2, John has largely stopped bitching about the mess, though since a good 99% of the main living area items are Sherlock's, it's not clear whether John's contributing to the state of the place or just tolerating it.
    • Seeing as John has a military background and his reaction of "it'll look good once we clean out the mess" in Episode 1, it's most likely that John has simply given up hope of things getting better.
  • Hannibal Lecture: Subverted in "A Study in Pink". Played Straight in "The Great Game".
  • Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: John to Irene in "A Scandal in Belgravia". Although he finally gives up that ghost an episode later. See He Is Not My Boyfriend and Mistaken for Gay below.
  • He Is Not My Boyfriend: When the pair have a stakeout at a restaurant (in "A Study in Pink") while waiting for the murderer to appear, the waiter refers to John as Sherlock's 'date', which he immediately denies. The waiter pays no attention to this and brings a romantic candle for the table.
    • This happens so frequently to John that by "The Hounds of Baskerville", he seems to have given up on correcting people.
    • In "The Reichenbach Fall", Sherlock walks out on an investigative reporter badgering him for an interview. As he heads for the door she shouts "So, you and John Watson, just platonic? Shall I put you down for a no on that too--" and that's when Sherlock rounds on her.
  • Held Gaze: Sherlock and Irene Adler share intense, passionate gazes with each other at least twice in under five seconds, causing John Watson to snark out baby names to remind them of his presence.

John: Hamish. John Hamish Watson. In case you were looking for baby names.

    • Sherlock and John share one in "A Study in Pink", when John is disbelieving of the fact that Sherlock uses drugs, and Sherlock is trying to shut him up.
  • Heterosexual Life Partners: Sherlock and John. It's a Sherlock Holmes adaptation, after all, although the title character is likely just asexual.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Donovan worries that Sherlock will become this; one day he'll get bored with solving crimes and start committing his own.
    • Becomes a Chekhov's Gun in "The Reichenbach Fall": Moriarty uses Donovan's suspicion of Sherlock to change everyone's perception of him from genius detective to sociopathic murderer and fraud.
  • Hidden Depths: Mrs. Hudson turns out to be quite impressive in her own right...
  • Hollywood Hacking: Subverted in "The Reichenbach Fall". Moriarty appears to have written a small string of computer code (ridiculously small, if he can give it to Sherlock by tapping his fingers) that can hack any system on the planet. He demonstrates this at the beginning of the episode by breaking into the three most secure spots in London simultaneously, using a few smartphone apps. However, it is revealed at the end that Moriarty was making it all up: the mobile apps merely alerted his men on the inside, and there is no code. Which is good, because if this had been played straight, it would have been one of the most egregious examples out there.
  • Hope Spot: See Mood Whiplash.
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming:

Mycroft: Oh, shut up, Mrs. Hudson.
Sherlock: Mycroft!
[John and Sherlock glare]
Mycroft: [reluctantly] Apologies.
Mrs. Hudson: Thank you.
Sherlock: Though do in fact shut up.

Mycroft: [after showing Watson he can control all the cameras in London and taking him to a secluded location via limo] He [Sherlock] does so love to be dramatic.
John Watson: Well, thank God you're above all that.

  • Idiot Ball:
    • The plot of "The Blind Banker" depends on the villains being complete morons throughout the episode: from assassinating the smugglers who could've given them vital information, to assuming John was Sherlock just by his sarcastically quoting him out loud, to using Moriarty to get into the country rather than hire him to steal back the Empress Pin outright. It's hard to imagine exactly how they were planning to accomplish anything.
    • Not to mention John and Sherlock leaving Soo Lin by herself in a museum with a hired assassin on the loose who only came there to kill her. Naturally, the assassin succeeds in killing her. The Idiot Ball really gets thrown between Sherlock, John and Soo Lin herself in this scene. Sherlock starts off by running OFF instead of waiting, when the assassin would have come to them- he also makes absolutely no attempt to keep close to cover, instead running across the most open ground he can find while being shot at. John then takes up the Idiot Ball when he leaves Soo Lin (though he has enough common sense to keep cover). He tells Soo Lin to bolt the door after him. Perhaps because she's fatalistic about being murdered, or because she's an idiot, she apparently doesn't. The killer seems to get to her unobstructed.
    • In "The Reichenbach Fall", Donovan and Lestrade are left holding the Idiot Ball when some completely circumstancial evidence leads them to believe that Sherlock kidnapped and poisoned two children. Anderson even speculates that Sherlock may have committed twenty or thirty crimes that he had helped the police investigate in the past, despite the fact that this makes absolutely no sense. Of course, if these assumptions were correct, it would have meant that Sherlock had the Idiot Ball, since among other things, he went in person, undisguised in any way, to interview a child he apparently kidnapped, who recognised him immediately and screamed her head off. If they'd thought about it for five minutes, they would have realised how stupid the allegations were.
      • The best part about this is that if it were true, and Sherlock was a fraud, then he would be some sort of absolutely terrifying monstrous genius that got off on poisoning people, murdering children, stealing things, and then had an army of stalkers watching the police and all his acquaintances to report back to him. Him being a fraud makes him even more brilliant and terrifying than merely being a good detective. This never seems to dawn on anyone.
    • Also in "The Reichenbach Fall", and if you believe the events to have played out exactly as explained as of the end of Series 2, then Mycroft of all people has the Idiot Ball when he decides to let Moriarty- who apparently has a secret computer code that can get into anything, a creepy obsession with Sherlock and murderous plans against him, and Sherlock's entire life story- out of his jail cell. Oh, and not bother to tell Sherlock, or tell him that it was he who gave Moriarty Sherlock's details. WHAT.
      • One assumes Moriarty wouldn't have let himself be thrown into a secret government prison without being able to pull the strings to get himself released; as long as Moriarty didn't crack under torture Mycroft would have had to release him eventually.
  • Idiot Hero: Played with. Sherlock gets off on solving unusual criminal cases and always wants a good challenge. It's what he lives for. He will place himself in dangerous situations which would violate common sense. Then again, this is Sherlock Holmes we're talking about. Since when did he have "common" sense?

John: It's how you get your kicks, isn't it? You risk your life to prove you're clever.
Sherlock: Why would I do that?
John: Because you're an idiot.

  • If It's You It's Okay: "A Scandal in Belgravia" runs on this. Not only are these explicitly the feelings of self-identified lesbian Irene Adler toward Sherlock Holmes, there's also the insinuation that John's feelings toward Sherlock are comparable to Irene's; both points round out the expected ambiguity over the nature of Sherlock's interest in Irene in light of his asexuality. It's complicated.
  • Improvised Weapon/Improvised Armour: In the second episode. Sherlock, while investigating backstage during a circus performance, is attacked by a masked, knife-wielding assassin and defends himself using a can of spray paint.
    • He uses another aerosol can as an impromptu weapon in "A Scandal in Belgravia".
  • Incompatible Orientation
  • Informed Ability: For lack of a better term. This trope is somewhat enforced, for while Sherlock can play the violin, Benedict Cumberbatch certainly can't. To be fair, he's got proper posture and acts the violinist very well (he holds it in a lazier version of the orchestral rest position at times, and tunes it in the same way in one scene) but fact that the actual music is dubbed is obvious to anyone who's ever played the instrument themselves. The bowstrokes don't quite match up all the time, and we never see him use vibrato, despite hearing it on the soundtrack. Still one of the better cases of instrument dubbing, as you usually won't see the inconsistency unless you're looking.
    • Is this a case of Talent Double? (No, the musician hired was named Eos Chater, a member of the classical-pop crossover quartet Bond. It's her music on the soundtrack, and she mentioned later some of the more bizarre ways they kept her just off camera so Benedict could mimic her movements, including at one point having her positioned outside the window on a crane.)
  • In Harm's Way: Both the main characters, in their own way.
  • An Insert: Often used during Sherlock's Scans.
  • Insistent Terminology: Doubles as I Resemble That Remark.

Sherlock: I'm not a psychopath, Anderson, I'm a high-functioning sociopath; do your research.

    • John's insistence that he's Sherlock's "colleague" when referred to as a "friend" in "The Blind Banker". This is a Call Back to "A Study in Pink", where Sherlock introduces John to Sally Donovan as a "colleague".
  • Inspector Lestrade: Trope Namer Inspector Lestrade goes to Sherlock Holmes when he has cases that he is unable to solve himself.
  • Irony: In the opening of the third episode, Sherlock expressed his disdain for astronomy because it is useless as a forensic tool, only to find that one of Moriarty's puzzles revolves entirely around historical astronomy.
  • It Always Rains At Funerals: We don't see the funeral itself in "The Reichenbach Fall", but it's pouring down buckets outside the window while John is pouring out his grief to his therapist. The next scene is at the graveside, and the sky is overcast.
  • It Came From the Fridge:
    • "A severed head!"
    • "Well, where else was I supposed to put it?"
    • "Oh, dear! Thumbs!"
    • Sherlock, in John's blog, mentions that he bought him some beer and it's in the fridge, "next to the feet."
    • And every time anyone opens the fridge at 221B, it's implied that even the actual food in it is horrifying.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Used by Sherlock in a final desperate attempt to get the name of his antagonist out of the villain in "A Study in Pink".
  • Juggling Loaded Guns: Sherlock fires John's gun at their flat's wall out of boredom and later, uses it to scratch his head after the pool scene in "The Great Game".


K-O[edit | hide]

  • Kick the Dog: Sherlock does this with Molly a few times. Well, he skirts the line, but what he does at the Christmas party crosses the line.
  • Kink Meme: Oh, yes. With at least eight new pages of prompts every day, as well, ambiguous asexuality notwithstanding!
  • Knighting:
    • In "The Great Game", Sherlock claims to have turned one down. Again.
    • In "A Scandal in Belgravia", however, he seems quite chipper about having "the knighthood in the bag" for apparently successfully retrieving Irene's phone without much of a fuss.
  • Land Mine Goes Click: In "The Hounds of Baskerville", the eponymous Baskerville research station is surrounded by land mines of this type.
  • Large Ham:
    • Mark Gatiss as Mycroft.
    • Moriarty. Could be the explanation for his seemingly ever-shifting accent. And decking yourself out in the crown jewels?
    • Sherlock himself. Check out his flouncing and pouting during "The Great Game". Made better by the fact that Benedict Cumberbatch is fairly good at subtlety, as actors go.
  • Laser Sight: In "The Great Game", the visible dots are used to intimidate the hostages and later John and then Sherlock himself. These were also foreshadowed in the dénouement of "The Blind Banker".
  • Late Arrival Spoiler: The promos for Series 2 show who Moriarty is when The Reveal was part of the cliffhanger at the end of Series 1.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • Moriarty seems to be able to see the text messages superimposed on the screen in "A Scandal in Belgravia".
    • In "A Scandal in Belgravia", John could be addressing the show's fandom itself when he says, "Who the hell knows about Sherlock Holmes, but for the record — if anyone out there still cares — I'm not actually gay."
    • The first series ended on a massive cliffhanger and the fans had to wait forever for the second series to reveal what happened; then this shows up on John's writeup of the incident on his blog: "I held my breath for what seemed like months."
    • This exchange in "A Scandal in Belgravia" seems to reference that particular episode's emphasis on Sherlock's more human, fallible side:

John: People want to know you're human.
Sherlock: Why?
John: 'Cause they're interested.
Sherlock: No they're not, why are they?

  • Lipstick and Load Montage: Irene Adler goes through one as she is waiting for Sherlock to arrive in "A Scandal in Belgravia". Juxtaposed with Sherlock's own, more unorthodox, preparations, which involve getting Watson to punch him in the face.
  • Living in a Furniture Store: Averted with 221B Baker Street, which is strewn with so many utterly realistic items — everything from magazines stacked on the floor to grungy coffee cups left on the table to bills piling up near the phone — that you'd swear blind that people actually lived there.
    • Irene's house, on the other hand, invokes this trope, especially when she and Sherlock find themselves in an enormous pristine room, with what seems to be very little other than a posh sofa and a fireplace/mirror.
      • The chances are that it's her workplace, not her actual home.
      • Mycroft says of her "She's in London, apparently, staying at..." indicating that she spends a lot of time abroad and the house is a rental.
  • Logging Onto the Fourth Wall: Most notably, Sherlock's website, and John's blog.
    • Molly Hooper has her own blog, and there's a a fansite for a murder victim from "The Great Game".
    • There's some absolute gold on Sherlock's forums.
    • John Watson's blog has some expansions on character that are priceless, and all three — John's blog, Sherlock's website and Molly Hooper's blog — hold some clues as to the outcome of the Mexican Standoff ending of "The Great Game".
    • As of "The Reichenbach Fall", try emailing Richard Brook — the storyteller who may or may not have been Jim Moriarty — at "richard@r-brook.co.uk" with nothing in the subject line but I believe in Sherlock Holmes, Moriarty was real in the body of the letter. What arrives in your inbox a few minutes later is downright spooky — or if you know how hardcore the trolling creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss are when it comes to trolling the fandom, downright cruel.
  • Love Is a Weakness: One of the running themes in Series 2 is that, while learning to care about people might make Sherlock a better person, it also makes him vulnerable.

Sherlock: (As he and Mycroft watch a grieving family from afar) Look at them. They all care so much. Do you ever wonder if there's something wrong with us?
Mycroft: All lives end. All hearts are broken. Caring is not an advantage, Sherlock.

  • Mad Bomber: The plot of the third episode, although it ends up being less mad and more part of a Evil Plan.
  • The Man Behind the Man: In "A Study In Pink", the killer was "sponsored" by Moriarty, and in "The Blind Banker", it's revealed at the end that he helped the Chinese gangsters that served as the episode's antagonists as well. Finally, in "The Great Game", it's revealed that it goes so far back that Moriarty committed the first murder Sherlock tried to solve, all the way back when they were both teens.
  • Manipulative Bastard:
    • Sherlock, like many sociopaths, is a skilled manipulator. He's a very good actor (he can cry on cue) and he knows what parts he needs to play in order to get someone to do what he wants. This includes rather shamelessly exploiting Molly's crush on him in "The Blind Banker" to prove a point to Lestrade's replacement for the episode.
    • Also the serial killer in the first episode. He first talks Holmes into his Xanatos Gambit without even using his gun by manipulating Holmes's arrogance and curiosity. Then, once Holmes reveals that the gun is a fake in any case and he has no need to take a pill at all, he gets him to take it anyway to prove that he's really the smartest. He's only stopped by a well-placed shot from John.
      • Interestingly, the serial killer in the pilot version of the story was not this way at all: the cabbie simply drugs Sherlock in public (with everyone around assuming thanks to his acting that he's simply drunk), drags him back to his home, and presents him with the pill game when Sherlock is still too drugged to really fight him off. He even threatens to simply force the pill down his throat if Sherlock refuses. The cabbie only tries manipulating him after the police have arrived outside, thanks to John noticing something was off.
    • Moriarty is also a master manipulator. He's particularly good at playing Sherlock himself -- as illustrated to a devastating effect in "The Reichenbach Fall".
  • Memetic Outfit: Played for laughs. Sherlock picks up the iconic deerstalker completely at random, intending to hide his face from reporters who have gotten wind of his existence. The public assumes it's his usual look; cue an exasperated Sherlock having to fend of compliments from people about his Nice Hat. In "The Reichenbach Fall", he rants at length at a deerstalker he received as a gift about how it's a hat that makes no sense.

Sherlock: It is NOT my hat!

    • Plus John saying that, because of peoples' association of him with the hat, "this is now no longer a deerstalker; it's a 'Sherlock Holmes hat.'" (Come on, admit it--you called it a Sherlock-Holmes hat long before you knew there was a real name for it.)
  • Mexican Standoff: The Series 1 finale ends with half a dozen of Jim Moriarty's snipers aiming at Sherlock and John, while Sherlock is himself aiming at an explosive-laden jacket at Jim's feet.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Guess who. It's a running gag.
    • In one conversation, Sherlock and John both seem convinced the other is gay. The waiter of the restaurant they go to also thinks this, calling John a date and bringing them a romantic candle. Mycroft and Mrs. Hudson also get in on it, too.
      • Although Mrs. Hudson and the waiter seem to genuinely believe John and Sherlock to be dating and are happy for them, Mycroft's comments are probably more to needle John. Apart from the comment "might we expect a happy announcement by the end of the week?" in "A Study in Pink", Mycroft also pauses significantly before using the word 'pals' in "The Great Game". It might imply homosexuality again, or Mycroft, knowing John slept rough on Sarah's sofa the night before, may have deduced that Sherlock was driving John absolutely insane by this time and that their relationship had cooled from "friend" to "flatmate".
    • Also happens to Moriarty by Sherlock, of all people. Granted, Moriarty was trying to trick him, and it's not clear just how much of it was an act to begin with.
    • Played with in the first episode of the second season — as Irene hints, John can be as straight as he likes, he and Sherlock are still a couple.
    • John seems to have given up denying it by "The Hounds of Baskerville". One half of a gay couple running the local pub remarks how his partner snores and asks John, "Is yours a snorer?" John just asks for crisps.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • The ending of the third episode does this quite spectacularly, starting with Jim Moriarty leaving in quite an overdramatic fashion as Sherlock points a gun at him. After that, John shares a quip about Sherlock stripping his clothes off in a darkened pool room. A light round of laughter and — oh, crap. Jim's back again. And he has snipers aiming at John and Sherlock.
    • Done again at the beginning of "A Scandal in Belgravia", which picks up where the tense cliffhanger left off. Tense, that is, until Moriarty's phone goes off, playing the chirpy disco tune "Stayin' Alive" — and he apologetically asks Sherlock if he minds if he takes the call. Sherlock tells him to go ahead. Moriarty answers the phone quite politely and calmly, then goes from genial to roaring down the line in two seconds flat, telling his caller that if they're wrong or lying, he's going to skin them and turn them into shoes.
    • Moriarty, as a character, is prone to this. Even when you know it's coming, his sudden changes in temperament can be genuinely scary.
    • Even done at Sherlock's grave when Mrs. Hudson begins ranting about Sherlock's odd habits, the body parts in the fridge and shooting in the flat at one in the morning. Bonus points for John's plea for Sherlock not to be dead immediately afterwards.
    • During arguably the most tense, depressing part of the entire series we get this:

Sherlock: You're insane.
Moriarty: You're just getting this now?

    • Also rather Mood Whiplashy, "The Reichenbach Fall" starts with John telling his therapist that Sherlock is dead and then immediately cuts to the upbeat title sequence.
  • Morality Pet: Moriarty calls John this for Sherlock.

"Oh, he's sweet. I can see why you like having him around. But then, people do get so sentimental about their pets."

    • Molly also appears to be one for Sherlock. After making some scathing comments by deducing Molly's got herself a new paramour because she is dressed to the nines and has one fancily-wrapped gift amongst messy ones, he then discovers that the present is actually for him. Molly calls him on his repeated hurtful comments to her and Sherlock actually offers a genuine apology for his behaviour.
    • Mrs. Hudson as well. Sherlock even apparently agreed that he has to be nice to her at Christmas.
  • Must Have Nicotine: Sherlock. In Series 1, he was kept in check by insane amounts of nicotine patches. In "The Hounds of Baskerville", he's going cold turkey, causing him to scream, throw things about, threaten people with antiquated maritime weaponry and perhaps most chillingly of all, abjectly beg John to get him some cigarettes. Please. Once he begins investigating the Baskerville case, though, the symptoms (temporarily) disappear.
    • Possibly because he's got his fix of crime and mystery, which he'd been complaining about craving at the same time.
  • My Sensors Indicate You Want to Tap That: In "A Scandal in Belgravia", Sherlock realizes that Irene Adler's feelings for him are genuine because he Sherlock Scanned her biological reactions to him (pulse and pupil dilation) on multiple occasions, which allows him to finally figure out the code on the phone.
  • Mythology Gag: The following list is very long and likely to get much longer, as Steven Moffat has openly admitted that he's having "endless fun" with finding modern parallels for aspects of the original stories.
    • In "A Study in Pink", a character who is a Red Herring for being the murderer is an American visiting London for the first time. This is a nod to the original A Study in Scarlet, in which the murderer was an American visiting London for the first time. In both, the killer is a cabbie.
    • In the Sherlock Holmes story A Study in Scarlet, the police assumed that the person writing Rache was trying to write the name "Rachel", and Holmes poo-pooed this by advising them that "Rache" is German for "revenge". However, this is completely inverted in "A Study in Pink".
    • John reveals that he was actually shot in the shoulder, not the leg, referencing Doyle's habit of forgetting where exactly his wound was in the books.
      • In both cases he was shot in a recent Afghanistan War, though...
    • Mycroft is the British government, according to Sherlock.
    • John finds Sherlock lying down on the sofa moving his arm in a way that made it look (from the audience's POV) as if he had just treated himself to a ringer of cocaine.
    • It's a three-patch problem. = It's a three-pipe problem.
    • Mrs. Hudson's neighbour's name, Mrs. Turner, is a particularly obscure reference to "A Scandal in Bohemia".
    • Sherlock's deductions from John's phone are based on his deductions from Watson's pocket watch in The Sign of the Four.
    • When Sherlock is standing, the shock blanket looks suspiciously like his Memetic Outfit.
    • There's a brief shot in 221b Baker Street of Sherlock pinning some papers to the mantelpiece with a small knife. In the books this is exactly how Holmes keeps his unanswered correspondences.
    • On John's blog, he reveals that Sherlock apparently doesn't know the Earth goes around the Sun, as mentioned in A Study in Scarlet. This is also referenced in Episode 3.
      • Sherlock's explanation for why he doesn't memorize "useless" facts is updated from his head being an "attic" with limited space to a "hard drive".
    • Sherlock decorating the walls with gun shots. In this case, it's a happy face (painted on with what looks suspiciously like the yellow spray paint from last week.)
      • It has been established that Holmes uses the drawing room for target practice with a pistol.In the books, with "VR" for "Victoria Regina". The modern equivalent would be "EIIR" (for "Elizabeth (The Second) Regina"), which does SORT OF look like a smiley face, if you turn your head and squint.
    • "The Great Game" is full of these. The scene with the stationery is "A Scandal in Bohemia", the pips are a sly nod to "The Five Orange Pips", the Bruce-Partington plans are a subplot of sorts...
      • "Domestic bliss must suit you Molly, you've put on another three pounds since I last saw you." "Two and a half." "No, three." From "A Scandal in Bohemia" (though it's Watson, and seven and a half pounds).
      • Sherlock repeatedly refers to the Czech Republic by the anachronistic name "Bohemia", just to make sure we get the reference.
      • "Any ideas?" "Seven, so far..." From "The Adventure of the Copper Beeches".
      • Sherlock's network of homeless people is a deliberate update to the Baker Street Irregulars, a gang of street kids Holmes would pay to spy on people for him.
      • "I'd be lost without my blogger" is from "A Scandal in Bohemia" again, where it's "Boswell".
      • "You do see, you just don't observe!" Also from "A Scandal in Bohemia", but delivered to Lestrade instead of Watson this time around.
    • Sherlock makes several digs about his brother's weight. Mycroft is traditionally portrayed as extremely fat and sedentary, though Gatiss is surprisingly trim for the role.
    • Mrs. Hudson says several times in the first episode "I'm not your housekeeper, you know..." Indeed she isn't, but many people miss that the books refer to her as Holmes's landlady.
    • The book code in "The Blind Banker" is similar to the one in The Valley of Fear.
    • John is instructed to keep a blog, which he doesn't actually use until he signs up with Sherlock, at which point he records their mystery solving. It's very popular. Traditionally Watson publishes books about his and Holmes's mystery solving, and those were also rather popular.
    • Sherlock whipping the corpse in his first scene is a shout out to a reference in A Study in Scarlet in which Stamford tells Watson that he saw him "beating the subjects in the dissecting-rooms with a stick."
    • A few nods to the canon only appeared in the pilot version of "A Study in Pink":
      • Since the Mycroft subplot didn't appear in the pilot, an e-mail to "mycroft@dsux.gov" is intended to be this.
      • The e-mail to Mycroft is simply "When you have eliminated the impossible whatever remains must be the truth". This line first appeared in The Sign of the Four and is a common phrase of Holmes throughout the original canon. The pilot has Sherlock saying it in some form repeatedly. (This also comes up if you Log Onto The Fourth Wall on Sherlock's homepage: When I've eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how mad it might seem, must be the truth.)
      • The location in which Mike Stamford and Watson dine in the pilot is the real Criterion Bar, in which they first met in the original A Study in Scarlet which led to Watson and Holmes sharing a flat. The 90-minute version showed them having coffee in a park instead, but ensured that the viewer saw the cups bearing the name "Criterion" to retain the reference in spirit.
    • Both versions of "A Study in Pink" have John's phone being used to text the dead woman's phone because Sherlock's number is on his website and might be recognized. A Study in Scarlet had a newspaper advertisment in Watson's name because Holmes had gained some minor credit in the press from previous cases and so his name might have been recognized.
    • Also from "A Study in Pink", remember one of the victims was a guy walking along in a downpour, who told his mate to go on without him while he popped back for his brolly? In "The Problem of Thor Bridge", Watson mentions some of the cases he hasn't written up yet, one of which "...is that of Mr. James Phillimore, who, stepping back into his own house to get his umbrella, was never more seen in this world."
    • Moriarty's line to Sherlock near the end of "The Great Game": "I mean, I'm gonna kill you anyway, someday..."
    • The hilarious stance Sherlock briefly adopts during his fight with the Golem might be a reference to the Victorian Sherlock Holmes' boxing skills. Or, a Shout-Out to Jeremy Brett's version, as Brett would adopt the same pose in fight scenes.
    • In "A Study In Pink", Watson has no luck at all getting the attention of Mycroft's female aide. In the books, Watson was reputed as something of a ladies man.
    • In "The Great Game", Sherlock asks John to make deductions about the pair of shoes, and then congratulates him before saying he missed out almost everything of importance. He does the same in "A Case of Identity".
    • In "A Scandal in Belgravia", Sherlock throws on a deerstalker cap to try and disguise himself from a throng of new-found fans. And much like his real-world fans, these fans get the impression that he wears it all the time.

"This isn't a deerstalker anymore, it's a Sherlock Holmes hat."

      • In that scene, Watson also grabs a hat: a flat cap similar to the one worn by Nigel Bruce (The Watson to Basil Rathbone's Holmes).
      • This conversation at Christmas, with Sherlock obsessing over John's blog:

Sherlock: You've got a photograph of me wearing that hat?!
John: People like that hat.
Sherlock: No they don't, what people?

    • Sherlock's inability to tell John's girlfriends apart in "A Scandal in Belgravia" calls back to the fans' confusion over Watson's many wives in the original novels.
    • A fairly minor plot point in "A Scandal in Belgravia" is that John's blog's hit counter is stuck at 1895. This is because it's an image file.
    • In "The Hounds of Baskerville", Mycroft is seen briefly sitting alone in a place that seems awfully similar to The Diogenes Club. It is later established that the Diogenes Club does in fact exist in the show's universe.
    • Sherlock and Jim's final exchange in "The Great Game" exactly mirrors the opening of their first exchange in "The Final Problem":

Moriarty: All that I have to say has already crossed your mind.
Holmes: Then possibly my answer has crossed yours.

    • In "The Reichenbach Fall", Sherlock attempts to track down the hostages from traces of dirt from a building site by visualising a map of London and identifying possible locations. One place he briefly highlights is Norwood, a reference to "The Adventure of the Norwood Builder".
    • In the very first episode, Sherlock exclaims, "the game, Mrs. Hudson, is on!" Doubtlessly a modernized version of "the game's afoot!" no?
    • Probably unintentional, but the inclusion of a character named Molly has gotten some children of The Nineties thinking of The Adventures of Shirley Holmes. It may have also fueled some of the WMGs that Molly is Moriarty or is involved with him.
  • Naked First Impression: Irene Adler does this on purpose. It throws off John, and completely flummoxes Sherlock's scan because he's got nothing to read. Except her measurements. Which wind up coming in handy.
  • The Nameless: Mycroft's Sexy Secretary/PA, who introduces herself as "Anthea" to John, but later, tells him that isn't her name. It's implied she changes it when she gets bored.
  • Narrowed It Down to The Guy I Recognise/Not-So-Small Role: Some viewers saw the identity of Moriarty coming due to this trope.
  • Never Suicide:
    • What look like suicides in "A Study In Pink" turn out to be the work of a Serial Killer, albeit one that makes his victims kill themselves (by telling them they will be shot, unless they take the 50:50 chance on survival by choosing between a poisoned and harmless pill) rather than killing them himself.
    • And in "The Blind Banker", there is the case of the first victim. Shot in the right side of the head, despite the victim being left-handed. Sherlock quickly points this out.
    • Again in "The Great Game". with the presumed train jumper actually killed by accident by his future brother-in-law.
    • And of course in "The Reichenbach Fall", Sherlock's suicide was not one at all. The media certainly believes it is, but it remains to be seen whether John fell for it.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The Korean advert. The second one, too.
  • Nerves of Steel: Both John and Sherlock display this. in "A Study in Pink", Sherlock actually uses the phrase 'nerves of steel' to describe the person who shot the cabbie, just as he realises it was John.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • The elusive graffiti artist, spraying a black and white stencil of a policeman on a London wall, is in no way Banksy. Because there's a guy who would sue your arse off for illegal use of his image.
    • "A Scandal in Belgravia" drops hints that one of Irene Adler's clients was a young, prominent and married female royal.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • The Science of Deduction website includes a dummy archive of Sherlock's past cases, which all have intriguing titles (some of them referencing John's untold stories from the canon, such as Isadora Persano and the worm unknown to science, or "the dreadful business of the Abernetty family").
    • What led up to Sherlock being attacked in his flat by a guy with a sword?
    • This was started at the very beginning, when Watson looked up Sherlock online and said, "You said you could identify a software designer by his tie, and an airline pilot by his left thumb?"
    • Not to mention the real human skull on the mantlepiece at 221B. Sherlock sheepishly explains to John that it belongs to a friend- "... When I say 'friend'..." And that's it.
    • The criminal in Belarus is either this, a What Happened to the Mouse?, or maybe a Batman Cold Open.
    • At the beginning of "The Hounds of Baskerville", Sherlock returns to the flat wearing blood-spattered clothing and carrying a harpoon longer than he is tall. Apparently there was a pig involved? And that's all we get...
      • Presumably alluding to the Doyle story "The Adventure of Black Peter", in which Holmes casually strolls to the breakfast table with a harpoon and starts chatting about how hard it is to spear a dead pig.
    • 1972 at The Diogenes Club, wild times. Apparently.
  • No Smoking: Updated, considering the character in question had a notorious pipe smoking habit. It's lampshaded that "it's impossible to sustain a smoking habit in London these days." This leads both Sherlock and Lestrade to use nicotine patches instead.
    • Both "A Scandal in Belgravia" and "The Hounds of Baskerville" address Sherlock's struggles with his smoking habit; in "A Scandal in Belgravia", he and brother Mycroft are seen lighting up a cigarette during moments of high stress (Mycroft tells John that his own smoking habit is more or less a secret between the two of them). In "The Hounds of Baskerville", Sherlock is on a major detox downswing and outright begs John for a cigarette.
    • Lampshaded when Mycroft hands Sherlock a cigarette in the morgue corridor:

Sherlock: Smoking indoors... isn't that... isn't that one of those... law things?
Mycroft: We're in a morgue. There's only so much damage you can do.

  • Not a Date: John is not Sherlock's date, thank you. See also Mistaken for Gay above.
  • Not Now, Kiddo: Sherlock to Mrs. Hudson, regarding the taxi.
  • Not So Different:
    • Part of the supervillain-cliche interchange between Mycroft and Sherlock, which leads us to believe he's actually Moriarty until the reveal.
    • The actual Moriarty tries something similar in "The Great Game". Sherlock acknowledges this in the climax of "The Reichenbach Fall".
    • Sherlock and John. Sherlock gets off on the mystery of the crime. John gets off on the danger.
  • Not So Stoic: Sherlock; see Post Dramatic Stress Disorder below.
    • Mycroft gets this combined with Break the Haughty in "A Scandal in Belgravia". He's actually shown shaking in fear and despair after realizing the Bond Air mission had been compromised due to his own hubris.
    • Sherlock a few times in the "The Reichenbach Fall". Notably when he death-glares Moriarty during his Wounded Gazelle Gambit and practically screams at him to stop. And then again while giving John his suicide "note". There were tears dripping onto his coat.
  • Not That There's Anything Wrong with That: After Sherlock declines having a girlfriend, John asks him "Do you have a boyfriend? Which is fine by the way." Sherlock answers simply "I know it's fine." and keeps staring unmovingly at John, needing another repeated prompt to actually answer "No." to the question.
  • No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: A partial inversion: Sherlock knows Moriarty is coming to find him, so he makes tea for two and settles in with his violin to wait. The confrontation ends peacefully, albeit creepily.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Moriarty, with a side of obfuscating sexuality thrown in. His obfuscating stupid/gay fake persona makes a seemingly pitiful attempt at obfuscating clumsiness. Which may make this a very rare case of ObfuscatingObfuscation.
  • Oh Crap:
    • In "A Study in Pink", when John realises that the phone must have been on the taxi driver Sherlock left with.
    • The look on Sherlock's face when John steps out in the swimming pool.
    • In "The Blind Banker", when he sees the cipher on the windows and realizes that John and Sarah are gone.
    • "Of course. Obvious. He's still here."
    • Sherlock, John and Lestrade in "The Great Game", when the child's voice is first heard over the phone at the art gallery, giving a ten second countdown. Lestrade and John completely freak out, while trying not to distract Sherlock; Lestrade ends up screaming at him to just stop dicking around and solve the puzzle, and John is so relieved after that he's actually gasping for breath.
    • In "A Scandal in Belgravia", the captured CIA agent is glaring angrily at Sherlock while he is calmly calling DI Lestrade about an intrusion. And then he turns pale when he realises that Sherlock is describing really bad injuries on him which have not happened yet.
    • Also in "A Scandal in Belgravia", the general reaction to "On the count of three, shoot Dr. Watson." John blurts out "WHAT?!" and Sherlock starts shouting in a panic that he doesn't know the code.
    • In "The Hounds of Baskerville", Sherlock is trying hard to tell the hysterical and suicidal Henry Knight that the hound is actually a figment of their imagination brought on by hallucinogens, so none of it is real. Except a howl is suddenly heard again...
    • Sherlock gets several in "The Reichenbach Fall". To be a little more specific, his reaction when Jim Moriarty commits suicide, totally unexpectedly and inches away from his face, is an Oh Crap of frankly epic proportions. Especially since Sherlock has spent so much of two seasons being almost totally without emotions like panic or horror.
      • Second only to that, earlier in the episode when Sherlock Holmes and Richard Brook (aka Jim Moriarty) meet unexpectedly. The sense of panic in the room is palpable, and the look on their faces is priceless.
    • Also in "The Reichenbach Fall", when Sherlock catches a taxi, at the end of Moriaty telling the story of Sir Boast-A-Lot and Sherlock realising what it means.
    • In "The Reichenbach Fall", there's also John's very quiet "oh no" when he turns around to see Sherlock standing at the edge of the roof. The look on his face gets worse as the scene goes on, culminating in Sherlock's jump.
  • One Head Taller: Sherlock and John.
    • In "A Scandal in Belgravia", Sherlock lampshades this when someone remarks he looks taller in his photographs. He responds that he simply makes good use of "a good coat and a short friend." John seems unimpressed — as if he's only just realised he's 5'7.
      • Or like the thought had suddenly struck him that Sherlock only asked him to hang around in the first place because he would make him look tall and imposing by comparison.
  • Only One Name:
    • Lestrade, whose first initial ("G") was given in the canon but never his full name. Worth noting since the shift to First-Name Basis is one of the most striking aspects of this adaptation. However, we find out in "The Hounds of Baskerville" is that this iteration of Lestrade is named "Greg", which might be yet another Mythology Gag, referencing Inspector Gregson (the "other" detective from A Study in Scarlet).
    • Mrs. Hudson. We never learn her first name, and Sherlock never deviates from addressing her as "Mrs. Hudson", though in the Christmas scene in "A Scandal in Belgravia", John addresses her affectionately as "Mrs. H." He also does this on his blog occasionally.
    • Obnoxious crime scene tech Anderson's first name isn't ever mentioned either.
      • Word of God says his name is Gillian.
      • ...pretty sure Mark Gatiss saying it was Gillian was just a joke, and a reference to the actress Gillian Anderson. Especially since Gillian is a female name...
      • Word of Moff says his name is Sylvia.
  • OOC Is Serious Business:
    • Many of Sherlock's uncharacteristic moments are signs of affection, and consequently are listed on the Crowning Moment of Heartwarming page, but one example that doesn't fit there is during Sherlock's first meeting with Irene in "A Scandal in Belgravia". When she says "Brainy's the new sexy" his normally perfect enunciation fails for a second and he mumbles his next sentence. John's expression shows how big a deal this is. Sherlock might have done it intentionally, suspecting that Irene might have feelings for him and wanting to draw her in by pretending to reciprocate so that he could manipulate her later if need be. It's hard to tell with Sherlock.
    • His apology to Molly was also OOC, but probably not an act; John reacts with shock to that, as well.
    • In "The Great Game", John learns the hard way that when Sherlock offers to buy milk',' there's something odd going on and it would be a bad idea to leave the flat.
    • And then in "The Hounds of Baskerville", Sherlock voluntarily makes him a cup of coffee. Sherlock never makes coffee. It doesn't end well.
    • In "The Hounds of Baskerville", it's a huge deal to see Sherlock and, to a slightly lesser extent, John, experiencing and expressing devastating levels of fear:

Sherlock: (tearfully clutching a straight whisky for dear life and shaking badly): Look at me, John. I'm afraid.

    • Sherlock lets the audience know that shit just got really real with this line from "The Reichenbach Fall":

Sherlock: You were right. I'm not okay.

    • Then the ultimate example of this trope occurs when Sherlock is standing on the hospital roof, saying goodbye to John on the phone and tears are running down his cheeks. The breakdown in "The Hounds of Baskerville" can be excused by the effects of the drug but this is 100% genuine emotion.
  • Open Mouth, Insert Foot:

Molly: How's the hip?
Mrs. Hudson: Oh, it's atrocious. But thanks for asking.
Molly: I've seen much worse. But then I do post-mortems.

    • Then there's this, from "A Study in Pink":

Stamford: I heard you were abroad somewhere getting shot at- what happened?
John: ...I got shot.

  • Overshadowed by Awesome:
    • Sherlock's uncanny abilities and intelligence lead people to forget that Watson is both tough enough to be a soldier and smart enough to be a doctor.
    • In "A Scandal in Belgravia", Sherlock Holmes himself is overshadowed by the awesome that is his older brother Mycroft. Here, and in one scene in particular, he's reduced to a "naïve, lonely man desperate to show off", revealed to not be Moriarty's main target at all, played for a sucker with a classic Damsel in Distress ploy that Mycroft describes as "textbook" and referred to in all sorts of ways that range from the dismissive to the insulting: "Mr. Holmes, the Younger", "Junior", "the clever detective in the funny hat", "The Virgin". Heck, even a case he spent some time on was solved by the brilliant Mycroft in seconds, and another case, that of the Düsseldorf air crash and the missing victim, was actually part of something orchestrated by Mycroft.
      • This is on par with the books, where he is described as Holmes' much smarter brother.


P-T[edit | hide]

  • Passive-Aggressive Kombat: Between Mycroft and John, in four of six episodes so far. They're rarely downright rude to one another, and usually resign themselves to working together for Sherlock's good, but they're not friends and things can get awfully snarky and hostile at times. And that isn't counting their last showdown in "The Reichenbach Fall", which is just out and out aggressive kombat.
  • Phone-in Detective: Well, Skype-In Detective, anyway. After achieving internet fame via John's blog, Sherlock decides he isn't leaving the flat for "anything less than a seven." John is left to do all the legwork, so that Sherlock can solve crimes that happened in rural locations without even having to put clothes on.
  • Ping-Pong Naivete:
    • Sherlock in particular. In "A Study in Pink", he remarks that the abandoned partner in a breakup will keep things for "sentiment", but in "The Hounds of Baskerville", five episodes later, John has to explain what sentiment is. Similarly, in "The Blind Banker", he understands from subtle cues that a victim was sleeping with his PA, but in the same episode, John has to explain to him what a date is. And even then he doesn't know better than to crash one of John's. In "The Blind Banker", he deliberately charms Molly Hooper to manipulate her. It seems from this that he's aware she has a crush on him; in "A Scandal in Belgravia", he appears to be genuinely gobsmacked when he realises in the middle of a Christmas party that she does have a thing for him, meaning that although he's the world's most observant person, he's missed that she's been throwing herself at him for four episodes straight.
    • In "The Hounds of Baskerville", Sherlock tells John "when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth." John looks puzzled, as if he's never heard this before, and asks what it means. Which is odd, because a form of the expression is on the front page of Sherlock's website, which John has been to on dozens of occasions.
  • Please Put Some Clothes On:
    • John to Irene, understandably. Even a napkin would do.
    • And Mycroft to Sherlock, when the latter turns up at the official residence of the British monarch clad only in a bedsheet.

Mycroft: Sherlock Holmes, put your trousers on.

  • Poisoned Chalice Switcheroo: The serial killer has two identical bottles of pills, one poisonous and one completely harmless, and forces his victims at gunpoint to choose one while he takes the other. Sherlock realizes the gun is fake and is about to simply walk away, but the killer challenges him into playing anyway. However, before they can actually take the pills, Watson shoots him, and we never do find out which was which.
  • Porn Stash: Sherlock claims John has pictures of "naked women" on his laptop; it's pretty heavily implied that they aren't artistic nudes either.
  • Post Dramatic Stress Disorder: John almost collapses on the spot after Sherlock rips the bomb vest off him in "The Great Game". Perfectly understandable reaction, though, and it doesn't diminish the moment.
    • I would say it makes the moment. It makes John's stoic command of himself during the stand-off all the more impressive. It's clear that he's not unafraid or unaware of the danger -- he just manages to hold himself together until Moriarty leaves.
    • Also a rare moment of vulnerability from Sherlock: His panicked "Are you all right? ARE YOU ALL RIGHT?!" to John after his "Catch... you... later" swagger to Jim. Followed by him distractedly pacing, and trying to stammer out a thanks to John, while he scratches the back of his head with a loaded gun.

Sherlock: That -- uh -- thing that you did -- that you offered to do -- that was -- um -- good.

[Silence]
Sherlock: Shut up.
Lestrade: I didn't say anything.
Sherlock: You were thinking. It's annoying.

  • Reckless Gun Usage: Sherlock has no concept of gun safety.
    • The way Sherlock was swinging John's gun around at the end of "The Great Game", the series could very well have ended with Sherlock accidentally shooting himself in the head before Moriarty got the chance to come back and finish the job. He rubbed his temple with the barrel of a loaded gun!
      • He also waves it at John as a careless gesture as he's trying to blurt out a thank you to him.
    • Another example can be found at the beginning of the same episode where Sherlock is so bored he's using a handgun to shoot holes into the wall forming a smiley face. This is incredibly reckless and dangerous because it would only take one resilient bullet to make it through that wall and hit someone on the other side — one of the reasons you are not allowed to practice shooting in a residential area outside of a shooting range.[4]
    • He does it again in "A Scandal in Belgravia", randomly firing shots into the air in a residential neighbourhood to attract the attention of police.
    • In "A Scandal in Belgravia", he disarms an assailant and holds it to the perp's head with his finger on the trigger.
    • The climactic scene of "The Hounds of Baskerville" combines loaded guns with a group of men hopped up on a paranoia-inducing hallucinogen in a forest in the middle of the night.
    • Not to mention when they run out of the hollow and through the dark forest after Dr Frankland, Sherlock leads the way- which is fine, except John is right behind him holding a loaded gun in his hand. Presumably John, who's seen as being very gun-responsible, is smart enough to not have his finger on the trigger at the time, but it's still never safe to get in the path of someone holding a loaded gun.
    • In "The Reichenbach Fall", Sherlock, pretending to take John hostage, points a loaded gun at his head — with his finger on the trigger.
  • Red Herring:
    • The first episode "A Study in Pink" does a great job of making you think that the sinister, all-controlling gentleman who calls himself Sherlock's arch-enemy, and who Sherlock tells Watson is the most dangerous man he'll ever meet, is Moriarty. It's actually his brother Mycroft.
    • And the "Rache" red-herring in "A Study in Pink", as mentioned above (see Fandom Nod in the Trivia section for the full details).
    • "The Hounds of Baskerville" throws one at John in the form of the Morse code he picks up. Given the way this series has loaded up on Chekhov's Gun, people probably weren't expecting it to turn out to lead him to a dogging site.
    • "The Hounds of Baskerville" also gives one to any audience members familiar with the original novel; Dr. Stapleton had nothing to do with the crime (besides Bluebell's disappearance) and was actually helpful with the investigation.
      • Barrymore isn't actually up to anything, either.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Moriarty's "Crime of the Century" in "The Reichenbach Fall" -- he breaks into the Tower of London, the Bank of England and Pentonville prison, three of the most secure locations in England, in one day, then is apprehended wearing the crown jewels. He's then acquitted, despite being caught red-handed and offering literally no evidence in his favour. This actually has very little to do with his endgame in the episode; it's almost entirely about showing off and making Sherlock look foolish.
  • Reinventing the Telephone: Mycroft does this in the pilot, to get in touch with John.
  • Rooftop Confrontation: The climax to "The Reichenbach Fall".
  • Running Gag: A few.
    • Everyone assuming Sherlock and John are gay... and being okay with it.
    • Mycroft inconveniencing or confusing John to get his attention, only for his car to pull up moments later.
    • Sherlock's disdain for that hat.
    • The orgasmic moan that Irene Adler programs onto Sherlock's phone as her personalized text alert in "A Scandal in Belgravia". Doubles as a Chekhov's Gun.
  • Samus Is a Girl:
    • General Shan.
    • And John's sister Harry.
  • Sarcasm Mode: Holmes is prone to doing this quite often, usually when confronted with an explanation he dislikes. Watson engages in it from time to time when he's upset.
  • Say My Name:
    • A fairly panicked yell of "SHERLOCK!" once John sees that Sherlock is with the murderer and looks as though he's about to take a pill. It's muffled through a window, which lessens the impact, but the fact that there's a dramatic echo (as well as an appropriate choice in soundtrack) helps.
    • In the unaired pilot, when the cabbie drugs and stuffs Sherlock in the cab, Sherlock makes an attempt at calling for help with a slurred "John!". It seems to pass unheard as John doesn't realize the full extent of the situation until the cab takes off.
    • In the second episode, when Sherlock is being strangled in Soo Lin's flat, you can hear him choking out "John" a few times, before passing out for a few moments.
    • Near the end of "The Reichenbach Fall", John screams Sherlock's name as Sherlock steps off the roof.
  • Scarf of Asskicking: Sherlock, of course.
  • Scenery Censor: Done in "A Scandal in Belgravia", when Irene Adler decides to recieve Holmes and Watson totally naked.
  • Scenery Porn: Steven Moffat commented on a DVD commentary that the adventures worked best when contrasted against an almost fetishised picture of modern London.
  • Screw Discretion I'm A Senior: The old woman in the third episode who blurts out some info about Moriarty before he blows up her and twelve other people. May have been a Take That or Heroic Sacrifice on her part.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules: Mycroft tries to bribe John into spying on Sherlock. In true sociopathic fashion, Sherlock doesn't see a problem with this.

Sherlock: Pity, we could have split the fee, think it through next time!

  • Selective Obliviousness:
    • Sherlock, as of the end of Series 2, has consistently and completely ignored every insinuation or outright remark about the nature of his relationship with John. The only scene that has ever spoken to it is when he turns on Kitty Reilly in "The Reichenbach Fall", seconds after she has implied she'll be running a story on how his relationship with John is "not just platonic". But it's not clear that this is specifically what's caused his response; on every single other occasion Sherlock has patently ignored the assumptions of others, even while John is still protesting that he's not gay.
    • Lestrade does a lot of this. In "A Study in Pink", he makes it clear that he's got no intention of investigating who shot the cabbie. It's somewhat implied that he already knows, especially after Sherlock figures it out as well in the most obvious and unsubtle fashion ever. Otherwise, we have to conclude that Lestrade honestly thought this guy must have been shot by "an enemy", possibly an even bigger crazy lunatic than himself, but shrugs it off with "eh, well, got nothing to go on." In "A Scandal in Belgravia", he makes a point of simply walking away from an incident where Sherlock beats a CIA agent within an inch of his life and throws him out a window.
    • Sherlock, until "A Scandal in Belgravia", seems to have had no idea that Molly had a massive crush on him.
  • Self-Destructing Security: In the episode "A Scandal in Belgravia", Irene Adler's phone, containing lots of politically-sensitive data, contains miniature explosives that will destroy it if anyone attempts to physically remove the hard drive.
  • Setting Update: To 21st century London.
  • Sexy Secretary:
    • Mycroft's PA, Anthea. Not that that's her real name.
    • And Irene Adler's PA Kate.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Both of the Holmes brothers qualify, Lestrade as well. While John is no slob, the former three are always in suits.
    • Amusingly, in the commentary for "The Great Game", Benedict Cumberbatch bemoans the fact that he can't talk about the designer clothes he wears in the show since the names haven't been cleared.
    • Moriarty in his Westwood is quite an appearance.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Molly at the Christmas party in "A Scandal in Belgravia". You can clearly see Lestrade ogling.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: John subverts and inverts this trope. You'd expect him to be traumatized given his situation, but he actually misses the danger. His hand shakes when he's not thinking about the war! Hence his enthusiasm to help Holmes. Even an exploding mine barely fazes him.
  • Sherlock Scan: With visual aids to help the audience follow Sherlock's thought processes, even!
    • Discussed when Sherlock meets with an old friend, after Sherlock appears to scan him. Seems initially to be subverted, since Sherlock tells him that he actually knew about the guy travelling from talking to his secretary. John later questions this, resulting in it becoming double subverted when Sherlock admits that yes, that was a lie, and he really did deduce the travelling from the man's watch.
    • Moriarty is actually able to fool Holmes' initial scan of him, by placing subtle but key clues in the way he dressed, his appearance and behavior. Holmes did seem rather perturbed when he finds out he was duped.
    • Irene Adler is able to foil Sherlock's scan as well, but rather than doing so by placing him red herrings (à la Jim), she simply gives Sherlock no clues at all.
  • Shipper on Deck: Almost everyone ships John/Sherlock apart from Sherlock and John themselves. Mrs. Hudson falls just short of having a "Hi, Slash Fans!" sign above her head.

John: Now people will definitely talk!

    • Even Mycroft likes to insinuate, and he knows Sherlock better than anyone / has cameras in the flat.
    • In "A Scandal in Belgravia", Irene Adler teases John about being jealous of Sherlock's apparent interest in her, although it's implied she knows that John and Sherlock aren't sleeping together.
  • Shoot the Dog: Very much so, especially in "A Study in Pink". Although it was awesome, and perhaps the only thing that saved Sherlock's life, John shoots an unarmed man who never even knew he was there. Sherlock was voluntarily taking the pill, and although John may not have realised Sherlock was not a hostage as such and free to leave, he should have noted that Sherlock was not being physically intimidated, held at gunpoint, etc. The only purpose the shooting served was to disrupt the proceedings and alarm Sherlock enough that he dropped the pill on the floor. Even worse, Sherlock decides to finish the job with some good old-fashioned torture. Ramped up so that even though we're talking about violence done to a four-times serial killing psycho, it's still difficult to watch the show's protagonist being so incredibly vicious.
  • Short Distance Phone Call: Sherlock is fond of these, just to show off and make an impression. He calls Eddie Van Coon's mistress in "The Blind Banker" as he's walking up to her desk, and calls the cabbie in the unaired pilot from about three feet away.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In the third episode, a shout out to Jim'll Fix It.
    • Both the Establishing Shot of Baker Street in the first episode and the layout of Sherlock's flat are essentially a modern day versions of their counterparts in the Jeremy Brett series. In the case of the apartment it's right down to the arrangement of the furniture.
    • In the pilot, while Sherlock checks his e-mail, he responds in regards to a church bell theft that "Davies is your man". Also possibly one to Mark Gatiss who starred in the Doctor Who episode, "The Lazarus Experiment", where he played a scientist-turned-monster that was defeated by church bells.
    • In "A Scandal in Belgravia", the 1,895 hits that John's blog gets stuck on is a Shout Out to Vincent Starrett's poem "221B," which ends with the words "and it is always eighteen ninety-five". Particularly appropriate to a TV series that's reimagined the characters in modern times, given that the poem is about how Holmes and Watson are timeless.
    • At one point in "A Scandal in Belgravia", John Sherlock and Irene are in 221B, and Sherlock says that he put her phone into a safe-deposit box. John's suggestion that "Molly can get it, and then have one of your homeless network members bring it here" is reminiscent of the final act of The Maltese Falcon, when Sam Spade leaves the titular artifact in a safe-deposit box, mails the ticket to another box, and then calls his secretary to get first one than the other, and bring it to his office, where he and the other principal characters are waiting.
    • Mycroft's three-piece suit and ever-present malacca-handled umbrella could be a nod to John Steed. Mycroft often strikes a similar pose to Steed's, leaning on the umbrella with one hand, and with one leg crossed behind the other.
    • At the beginning of "The Reichenbach Fall", Watson's statement that "My best friend, Sherlock Holmes, is dead." sounds very familiar to Rose Tyler's "This is the story of how I died."
    • Moriarty's claim to be an actor hired by Holmes echoes Without a Clue. Moriarty's so Genre Savvy, he's probably seen it.
    • During "The Hounds of Baskerville", Sherlock (while under the effect of a fear-inducing drug) explains his usual disregards to sentiments. Watson calls him Spock as a response. Bonus points for the nickname coming a few lines after Sherlock reminds us of his famous phrase, "when you have eliminated the impossible", a line also used by Spock during Star Trek VI. It's a Mobius strip shout-out !
      • Another Star Trek reference is when Captain John Watson, at Sherlock's 'grave' in "The Reichenbach Fall", makes a speech calling him the "Most human human being that [he's] ever known." This bears a striking resemblance to Captain Jim Kirk's speech at Spock's funeral at the end of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, saying that "of all the souls [he] have encountered in all of [his] travels, [Spock's] was the most human.
    • Also in "The Hounds of Baskerville", Sherlock analyzes words like John Anderton analyzed dreams in Minority Report.
    • In "A Study in Pink", Sherlock and Watson walk past a hair salon on Charlotte Street en route to a cafe where they plan to stake out the killer. This places the cafe on Rathbone Street, which they must then run down in a chase scene. Basil Rathbone played Sherlock Holmes in over a dozen films.
    • One of newspapers on screen after Moriarty's trial in "The Reichenbach Fall" has a line in it that read '"n a twist worthy of Conan Doyle." Arthur Conan Doyle is of course, the creator of Sherlock Holmes.
  • Shown Their Work: It has been pointed out by Moffat and Gatiss that, save for the actual setting, you will never see a more faithful adaptation of Sherlock Holmes put to screen, because the showrunners are a couple of Holmes fanboys themselves. Even the setting update itself is more authentic than fans think; at the time the stories were written, Sherlock Holmes was a modern man on the cutting edge of science and technology, as he is in this series. Sherlock viewers are getting essentially the same experience the original readers did when the stories were first published.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Sherlock and Mycroft.

John: So when you say it's a childish feud, it really is a childish feud?
Mycroft: Mmmm, you can imagine the Christmas dinners.

  • Silver Fox: Lestrade.
  • Single Tear: Irene in "A Scandal in Belgravia" after Sherlock finally figures her out.
  • Speak Friend and Enter:
    • John discovers the code that Sherlock has been searching for. He runs back, fetches his pal and... finds that the code has been painted over. Sherlock starts spinning John around in a circle in some odd attempt to sharpen his memory, ignoring John's protests that he can remember all of the code and waxing lyrical about the limitations of the (non-Sherlockian) human memory. John, meanwhile, is trying to get the detective to stop messing him around so that he can reach his phone, on which is stored a photo he had taken of the entire wall.
    • Also in "A Scandal in Belgravia", the passcode to Irene Adler's mobile phone. After finally realizing that Irene is genuinely attracted to him, Sherlock types in the correct passcode of "SHER". It Makes Sense in Context. The lock screen reads "I AM ___ LOCKED", so with the password in, it reads "I AM SHER LOCKED".
  • Squick: Invoked. The reaction to Sherlock's experiments by pretty much everyone but Sherlock. For example, Donovan finding human eyes in the microwave in Episode 1 and John finding a severed head in the fridge in Episode 3.
  • Sticky Fingers:
    • Sherlock mentions in "A Study in Pink" that he regularly pickpockets Lestrade when he gets annoying, hence why he has Lestrade's badge to flash. He also apparently has several more back at his flat that he's nicked .
    • In "A Scandal in Belgravia", Sherlock decides, on John's joking suggestion, to swipe... an ashtray. From Buckingham Palace.
    • Sherlock is not even above pickpocketing his own brother! In "The Hounds of Baskerville", it's Mycroft's clearance ID, which seemingly comes in handy at military bases... with the implication he DOES attend inspections.
  • Take a Third Option: The serial killer in the first episode forces people at gunpoint to choose one of two pills, identical but one deadly and one safe. When he gives Sherlock the choice, Sherlock chooses the gun, which he recognized as a fake. Real guns are expensive and this guy's just a cabbie.
  • Taking You with Me: Carried over from the original story "The Final Problem" where Holmes decides that killing Moriarty is worth his own death. Inverted here in that Moriarty kills himself as part of a plan to utterly destroy Sherlock Holmes.
  • Tall, Dark and Snarky: The Holmes brothers. It devolves into a hysterical genderflip of The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry.
  • Tan Lines: Used in Sherlock's deductions on a couple of occasions, particularly in Sherlock's initial scan of John.
  • Technicolor Science: Narrowly averted. There are colorful liquids, but none all too unusual for a laboratory.
  • They Look Just Like Everyone Else: Played straight in the first and, to an extent, third episode.
  • A Tragedy of Impulsiveness: Watson ditching Soo Lin, who knew the code, in the dark museum, knowing she was marked for death by trained assassins who were most likely in the building. May have been to protect his Asexual Life Partner or serve his own Blood Knight tendencies.
    • More than likely, the first option. He does not hesitate to get Soo Lin to as safe a place as possible and remain with her. Then he hears Sherlock being shot at, and tells Soo Lin, "I have to go and help." See the entry above under Idiot Ball.
  • Tranquil Fury: When Mrs. Hudson is hurt by the Americans in "A Scandal in Belgravia", Sherlock gives no outward sign of his anger, seeming just as cold as he usually does, but is in reality Sherlock Scanning to decide which of the assailant's pain centres to attack.
  • TV Telephone Etiquette: Whether they're talking to a terrified hostage, or talking to the villain, or are the villain, people in this show are terribly polite and almost invariably answer the phone with "hello". Saying something along the lines of "goodbye" at the end, not so much.


U-Z[edit | hide]

  • Understatement: Mrs. Hudson's reaction when she finds out that Irene changed Sherlock's ringtone to an orgasmic moan:
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: Mrs. Hudson was keeping Irene Adler's phone there while being interrogated by CIA thugs. Sherlock said it best: Mrs. Hudson leave Baker street? England would fall!
  • Visual Pun: After John berates Mycroft, actually Irene Adler for kidnapping him again instead of just phoning him because of his "bloody stupid power complex", we then see John was driven to the disused Battersea Power Station.
  • The War on Terror:
    • John Watson, like the original, was invalided out of the Army after being injured in Afghanistan. The more things change...
    • Also part of the plot in "A Scandal in Belgravia".
    • The researcher in "The Hounds of Baskerville" mentioned that a lot of their study is to allow the country to be prepared for an event of biological warfare.
  • Wasn't That Fun?: Sherlock and John have an important one of these after a chase, as John realizes his limp actually is psychosomatic and going on Sherlock's little adventures makes him forget the pain. The moment doesn't last long.
  • We All Die Someday: Used often. From "The Great Game":

John: Try to remember there's a woman in there dying.
Sherlock: What for? This hospital is full of people dying, doctor. Try crying by their bedsides, see what good it does them.

    • Later, by the pool:

Sherlock: People have died.
Jim: That's what people DO!

    • And again in "A Scandal in Belgravia", emphasizing the Holmeses' collective sociopathy:

Sherlock: Look at them. They all care so much. Do you ever wonder if there's something wrong with us?
Mycroft: All lives end. All hearts are broken.

  • Wham! Episode:
    • The Cliff Hanger ending of "The Great Game" with Sherlock, John, and Moriarty locked in a Mexican Standoff at the pool.
    • The only reason "The Reichenbach Fall" hadn't been added to this thread yet is because everyone else in the fandom was too busy reeling.
  • Wham! Line: When Sherlock arranges to meet Moriarty:

Watson: Evening. This is a turn-up, isn't it, Sherlock?
Holmes: John! What the hell --
Watson: Bet you never saw this coming!

    • But no, he's been rigged with a bomb vest. And then the real Moriarty announces himself:

Jim Moriarty: I gave you my number. I thought you might call!

    • At the beginning of "The Reichenbach Fall":

John: My best friend, Sherlock Holmes, is dead.

    • When Sherlock and John are at Kitty Riley's flat to ask who Richard Brook is and out steps Moriarty.

Kitty: Of course he's Richard Brook. There is no Moriarty.

    • In "A Scandal in Belgravia", this one from Sherlock, who has just returned home to Baker Street to find Mrs. Hudson has been taken hostage by some CIA agents, who have beaten her up and now have a gun to her head. She sobs his name on seeing him, and he responds:

Sherlock: Don't snivel, Mrs Hudson.

      • Of course, this is evidently all part of his act, since after taking out the perpetrator, Sherlock kneels down in front of her, caresses her face and asks gently if she's all right.
    • Mycroft and John are discussing Irene being in witness protection when this happens:

(John comments to the effect that Sherlock will be okay with never seeing Irene again, as she's in witness protection)
Mycroft: I agree. Which is why I've decided to tell him that.
John: Instead of...?
Mycroft: She's dead.

Mycroft: Either way, we'd better upgrade their surveillance status. Grade 3 active.
Anthea: Sorry, sir -- whose status?
Mycroft: Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.

    • The taxi chase in "A Study in Pink", somewhat.
    • Sherlock can't understand why John's blog is more popular than his website, with its description of 240 types of tobacco ash.
      • "243." Lights blowtorch.
    • Also, Shan's "From the moonlit shores of NW1..." speech can come across as this.
    • The fight in the planetarium, what with the garbled recordings in the background accompanied by Mars from "The Planets" and the flashing colourful lights and all. Then again, the fact that the lights are also flickering when The Golem sneaks up behind Sherlock makes it somewhat Nightmare Fuelish.
    • Sherlock makes a pot of tea.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Though some of them are probably better left unexplained.
    • Watson's ASBO is unheard of after the second episode, though Inspector Lestrade and/or Mycroft probably have enough experience working with Sherlock to guess what really happened and quietly get it overturned.
    • What was up with that head in the fridge in "The Great Game"?
      • Sherlock explained that he was experimenting on some effects of saliva from the deceased head. Probably how long cold saliva takes to break down, considering most of his knowledge comes from body farm style exhibits.
    • Also from "The Great Game", The Golem gets away.
    • We never did find out what kind of experiment involved Sherlock keeping human eyes in the microwave.
    • A minor one. In "The Great Game", Sherlock and John exit the garage, lights closing dramatically behind them as they walk off. Only thing is, Lestrade is still in there.
    • In "The Reichenbach Fall", we never find out how Moriarty got the girl to scream when she saw Sherlock.
      • It can be deduced from a scene near the end of "The Hounds of Baskerville" that Moriarty used the HOUND gas for instilling a fear of Sherlock into them.
  • With Friends Like These...: There's probably a reason John keeps insisting he's Sherlock's "colleague" and not his "friend" -- friends aren't supposed to leave you standing holding objects used in a crime and then leave you explaining yourself to the police.
    • Or test hallucinogens on you because they wanted to see the effect on an "average mind".
    • Despite the Insistent Terminology of "colleague" instead of "friend", when Sherlock jumps from the hospital roof, John shouts, "Let me through, I'm a doctor, he's my friend...". More Tear Jerker.
  • X Meets Y: An advance review of the show described it as "The Bourne Ultimatum meets Withnail and I".
  • You Just Told Me: How Sherlock learns where the photos Irene Adler keeps in "A Scandal in Belgravia" are.
  • Zero-Approval Gambit: Sherlock, who, despite being a self-confessed sociopath, fakes his own suicide and allows his entire reputation as a consulting detective to be completely destroyed, along with being framed for murder and kidnapping, in order to call off snipers trained on his only three friends in the world. He even goes so far as to call John and make a fake confession, attempting to convince him of his guilt before forcing him to watch the faked suicide, so that the grief would be genuine enough to call off the snipers. More Tear Jerker.
  1. "Is that three patches?"; "It's a three-patch problem."
  2. okay, pulls off the Semtex-strapped jacket if you're into details
  3. Of course, this is no doubt because the space is much easier for a film crew to set up and film in; also, at one point, there needed to be enough space for Cumberbatch to stage a fall on the floor without braining himself on the furniture.
  4. This was, of course, a call back to the original Sherlock Holmes stories, in which a bored Sherlock used his pistol to spell out "VR", meaning "Victoria Regina", on his wall.