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Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sherlock Holmes is a character created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. He is a consulting detective.

In Canon[]


Classic Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson

Holmes is most famous for his amazing feats of deductive reasoning, which are fueled by his keen observations. He has profound knowledge of chemistry and criminal cases and a solid understanding of British law, anatomy, poisons, and practical geology. He is also very good with disguises, such that Watson failed several times to see through them. He is an excellent violin player.

In the physical realm, he is an expert single stick fighter, bare knuckle boxer, and swordsman. He is a good shot with a pistol, and knowledgeable in a form of martial arts called 'baritsu' in the books. This was a misspelling of an actual English self defence system, bartitsu, based on martial arts from Japan. Bartitsu is still practised in England and has made a recent comeback.

He is also a recreational user of morphine and a cocaine addict. He injects the cocaine from a seven percent solution. He is canonically not only disinterested in women, but actively and rather vehemently distrustful of all women. Watson states that Holmes has an 'aversion to women' but 'a peculiarly ingratiating way with [them].' Holmes states, 'I am not a whole-souled admirer of womankind'; in fact, he finds 'the motives of women ... so inscrutable ... How can you build on such quicksand? Their most trivial actions may mean volumes ... their most extraordinary conduct may depend upon a hairpin'. The only woman to ever garner interest from Holmes beyond the case they bring to him is Irene Adler, and even then, Holmes never goes beyond a few passing mentions of her. The author, Conan Doyle, remarked to muse Joseph Bell, 'Holmes is as inhuman as a Babbage's calculating machine and just about as likely to fall in love'. Sherlock Holmes head over heels in love with anyone is a chargeable offence.

Holmes retires to Sussex Downs around 1903-1904 and takes up beekeeping.

He was created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a Scottish author and physician. He first appeared in publication in 1887 in A Study in Scarlet. The short stories and serialized novels were published until 1927. He appeared in four novels and fifty-six short stories. The period covered by the written works ranges from about 1880 to 1907, with a final case in 1914. All but four of the stories are told by John H. Watson. Two of those are narrated by Holmes himself, and the other two are in third person. The original novel, A Study in Scarlet, includes a long section written in omniscient that neither Holmes nor Watson knew.

Dr Joseph Bell

Conan Doyle said that his inspiration for Holmes came from Dr Joseph Bell, who was the first to apply science to the detection of crime, and taught his students the Method, which was to make accurate observations, logical deductions, and finally, to find concrete proof. He would astound his students by accurately diagnosing his patients' ailments, occupations, histories, and nationalities after only a short period of observation.

Some believe that Doyle based Watson on himself, and every film and television adaption of Sherlock Holmes has included a Watson that at least somewhat resembles Doyle. Watson is portrayed in the books as competent, intelligent, physically capable, and a better shot than Holmes. He is married to Mary Morstan in 1887, but when Holmes returns from his 'death' in 1894, the doctor speaks of sad bereavement and moves back into Baker Street. Hints in the stories may indicate that Watson marries up to two more times. He is also referred to as quite the ladies' man, reporting in The Sign of Four his 'experience of women which extends over many nations and three separate continents'.


The Guinness Book of World Records has consistently listed Sherlock Holmes as the 'most portrayed movie character', with 75 actors playing the part in over 211 films. A few of the adaptions are detailed below.

  • Basil Rathbone played Sherlock Holmes with Nigel Bruce as Watson in fourteen films from 1939-1946. Nigel Bruce's portrayal of Watson as a heavyset bumbler marked the character for many years.
  • The Disney answer to Sherlock Holmes is the 1986 animated feature The Great Mouse Detective, based on the Basil of Baker Street books by Eve Titus. The Great Mouse Detective features mice versions of Sherlock Holmes (Basil of Baker Street), Dr. Watson (Dr. David Q. Dawson), Professor Moriarty (Professor Ratigan), and Mrs. Hudson (Mrs. Judson).
  • The Granada adaption: This is considered the definitive modern adaption (1984-1994) with Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes and David Burke and Edward Hardwicke playing Watson. This version largely tells the stories from the books, but details frequently differ, enough so that it should be noted whether the author of a story used the bookverse or the Granada-verse before charging.

2009 Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson

  • 2009 movie: This movie has Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes and Jude Law as Watson. This version is an original story by Lionel Wigram and focuses on Holmes' more anti-social eccentricities and his martial abilities. No explicit reference to his use of cocaine is made, but it is referred to obliquely in the 'You do realize that what you are drinking is meant for eye surgery?' remark made by Dr Watson. A historical use for cocaine is as a local anesthetic for eye surgery. The Dr Watson in this movie is very physical, a good shot, a ladies' man, and a gambler. The last is taken from a reference in 'The Adventure of the Dancing Men', in which Holmes states that he has Watson's checkbook locked in his drawer for safekeeping.
    • A sequel to this movie was released in late 2011. Called A Game of Shadows, it is based off "The Final Problem".
  • 2010 TV series: This adaption is set in the present day. The plots of the first season are loosely based on the original stories, with smaller or greater parts being lifted directly from the source material. In the s

    Martin Freeman as John Watson and Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes in BBC Sherlock.

    econd season, however, they are blantantly modern adaptations of the three most famous Holmes stories (A Scandal in Bohemia, the Hound of the Baskervilles, and the Final Problem), designed to bring Sherlock in contact with three concepts: love, fear, and death. The third season's episodes are only lightly based on the source material, and show a much more humanised Sherlock Holmes. In the series, Sherlock Holmes is, according to himself, a 'high-functioning sociopath' who is 'married to [his] work'. He is played by Benedict Cumberbatch. Doctor Watson is a troubled veteran from the Afghan war, played by Martin Freeman. The series was created by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, who have both also worked on Doctor Who. So far, it consists of six 90-minute episodes. The first three were aired in 2010, and the second three were aired in 2012. A third season had been commissioned around the time of season two, and has been released in 2014.
  • 2012 TV series (known as CBS Elementary, to contrast with BBC Sherlock): This adaptation is also set in the present day, albeit in New York City rather than London. It features Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes, a recovering drug addict and consultant to 

    Lucy Liu and Jonny Lee Miller as Joan Watson and Sherlock Holmes in CBS Elementary.

    the NYPD, and Lucy Liu as Joan Watson, an ex-surgeon turned sober companion turned consulting detective. Holmes and Watson work with Captain Thomas N. Gregson and Detective Marcus Bell to solve various homicides, few of which are direct adaptations of the source material but rather have minor references to them (Silver Blaze, bloody messages on the wall, etc). CBS Elementary has, from its first announcement, had a rocky relationship with BBC Sherlock, as both are modern adaptations (and Cumberbatch and Miller worked opposite each other in an adaptation of Frankenstein where they also played the same character). The BBC fanbase has expressed concerns over the fact that Watson in Elementary is played by a woman of colour, as well as potential copycat moves since both are playing with the same source material. However, the two shows are distinctly unique, as Elementary focuses more on a slow character development (not to mention it has more episodes) and brings in a plot twist with its Irene Adler character, played by Natalie Dormer. This series explores the development of Holmes and Watson's partnership as well as Holmes's development as a character as he struggles with sobriety, amid other things. 

Non-canonical Works[]

There are many, many instances of non-canonical works based on Sherlock Holmes. Each of these should be considered their own canon, influenced by the Sherlock Holmes canon, but unable to direct their influence back onto the original.

Notable Works that Largely Disregard Canon[]

  • The Seven Percent Solution by Nicholas Meyer, wherein Holmes is a severe cocaine addict whose drug-addled mind creates the supervillain Moriarty. 'The Final Problem' and 'The Empty House' (the stories that include Holmes' supposed death and his return to London) are said in this 'verse to be complete fiction. Holmes is actually a patient of Sigmund Freud discovering the mommy issues that fuel his addiction during his three-year absence. The introduction by Watson to this work also states that 'The Lion's Mane', 'The Mazarin Stone', 'The Creeping Man' and 'The Three Gables' (all Arthur Conan Doyle–written adventures from 1927's The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes) are forged 'drivel'. It also includes a nearly random cameo by the main character from The Prisoner of Zenda.
  • Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century, which is a 26-episode animated television programme from 1999-2001. The show based some episodes on original Holmes cases, and others had very little to do with the original canon. In this story, Moriarty has been brought back to life by cloning and Holmes is brought back by cellular rejuvenation, possible because his body was preserved in honey in the basement of Scotland Yard. Watson is a compudroid owned by Beth Lestrade, a New Scotland Yard Inspector and descendant of the original Inspector Lestrade.

Notable Works that Seek to Expand Canon[]

By focusing on other characters:
  • Enter the Lion by Michael P. Hodel and Sean M. Wright focuses on Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock's elder brother.
  • Books by Gerard Williams focus on Dr James Mortimer, a character from Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles.
  • The Irene Adler Adventures series by Carole Nelson Douglas focuses on Irene Adler, a character from Doyle's 'A Scandal in Bohemia'. The first book, Good Night, Mr Holmes, retells 'A Scandal in Bohemia' from Irene's point of view. The series is narrated by Adler's companion, Penelope Huxleigh, in a role similar to that of Dr Watson.
By introducing new characters:
  • The Mary Russell series by Laurie R. King recreates Sherlock Holmes (starting with The Beekeeper's Apprentice), set during the First World War and the 1920s. Her Holmes is (semi) retired in Sussex, where he is literally stumbled over by a teenage Russell. Recognising a kindred spirit, he gradually trains her as his apprentice. As of 2009, the series includes nine full-length novels and a novella tie-in with a book from her Kate Martinelli series, The Art of Detection.
  • The Final Solution is a 2004 novel by Michael Chabon. The story, set in 1944, revolves around an unnamed 89-year-old long-retired detective (who may or may not be Sherlock Holmes but is always called just 'the old man'), now interested mostly in beekeeping, and his quest to find a missing parrot, the only friend of a mute Jewish boy.
  • A number of young adult and children's series, notably Tracy Mack's Sherlock Holmes and the Baker Street Irregulars (2006-present), Robert Newman's Case of the Baker Street Irregular (1984), and Steven Elliot-Altman et al's Dark Horse comic The Irregulars (2005) focus their attention on the Baker Street Irregulars, Holmes' band of street-urchin informants. These vary in genre from quite accurate historical fiction to science fiction.
By expanding on cases, either those mentioned in canon but never written by Doyle or new ones that attempt the same tone as the originals:
  • The Exploits of Sherlock Holmes by Conan Doyle's son Adrian Conan Doyle with John Dickson Carr.
  • The Lost Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Ken Greenwald, based rather closely on episodes of the 1945 Sherlock Holmes radio show that starred Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce, and for which scripts were written by Dennis Green and Anthony Boucher.
  • Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective contains five new Holmes stories by Andrew Salmon, Van Allen Plexico, Aaron Smith and I.A. Watson.
  • 'Sherlock Holmes and the Giant Rat of Sumatra' (mentioned in 'The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire') has been used as the basis for at least six novels.
By exploring periods in Holmes' life unexplored in canon:
  • The film Young Sherlock Holmes explores youthful adventures of Holmes and Watson as boarding school pupils. The two did not meet in canon until they took rooms together at Baker Street, so this could arguably be included in the 'disregards canon' section.

By using the Sherlock Holmes mythos in different genres:

  • The Cthulhu mythos seems to be a popular crossover genre, with at least two short story collections mixing the two worlds with varying success. Neil Gaiman's short story "A Study in Emerald" (2003), for example, frames "A Study in Scarlet" in a British Empire ruled by the Old Ones.
  • Colin Bruce uses Sherlock Holmes as the framing device to teach logic and popular science in his books, The Strange Case of Mrs. Hudson's Cat: And Other Science Mysteries Solved by Sherlock Holmes (1997) and Conned Again, Watson!: Cautionary Tales of Logic, Maths and Probability (2001).
  • Fantasy/sci-fi Holmes stories include Ronan Coghlan's Sherlock Holmes and the Heir of Albion (2007), a fantasy that sets Holmes, Moriarty and the Giant Rat of Sumatra against reptilian beings in human guise, and Manly W. Wellman's Sherlock Holmes' War of the Worlds, a crossover with H.G. Wells's science fiction classic featuring the Martian-occupied London.

In Badfic[]

Bookverse (and Granada-verse)[]

Bookverse and Granada-verse (which is posted in the book section at FF.net) is subject to the standard array of slash, love interests to the asexual character of Holmes, and 'fell through time' stories, although none of them stand out as particularly prevalent. Compared to many fandoms, the overall quality of writing on FF.net's Sherlock Holmes book section is unusually high.

The Great Mouse Detective (Disney)[]

Bad fanfiction in the GMD fandom primarily consist of Mary Sues in the form of potential clients for Basil. There is also a lot of Basil/Olivia Flaversham, which is squick potential since Olivia is only a child at the time of the film.

2009 Film[]

The 2009 film stirred up the slash writers. The 'fell through time' plot is pretty common, also, usually with the girl that went back in time being a love interest to Holmes.

Bad slash is usually between Holmes and Watson, with bad slash authors frequently either ignoring or vastly exaggerating the popular attitude of the time toward male/male relationships. Possession often woobifies Watson or forces Holmes to become emotional and demonstrative, both of which are of course extremely OOC. Mary Watson may be dropped into a plothole or turned into a Token Homophobic Jerk.

However, a great deal of good slash exists, and the Sherlock Holmes canon easily accommodates it, since Watson's obvious affection for Holmes and Holmes's evident dislike of women have both been established. Holmes can also be written as asexual, with or without platonic romance; he is one of the few well-known characters whose canon leans more toward asexuality than any other orientation.

BBC Sherlock[]

Main article: Sherlock (BBC TV series)

Due to the on-screen chemistry between Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, fanfiction written for the BBC Sherlock series primarily focus on their relationship. With a Canon that blatantly teases its audience about the sexual orientation of both Watson and Holmes, it is only natural for the fanfiction to be full of "Johnlock" slash. Other prominent ships include Mycroft/Lestrade ("Mystrade"), Watson/Lestrade (often revolving around bonding over dealing with Sherlock's eccentricities) and Moriarty/Moran ("MorMor"), even though Moran has yet to make an appearance in the series. (There is fandom speculation that Moran is one of the assassins in the second series, but that is, as yet, unconfirmed.)

The Sherlock fandom has the same types of badfic as its 2009 film counterpart, with bad slash between Sherlock and John (and other pairings). While there has been concern about Twu Wuv fics between Sherlock and Irene Adler, the new series has largely defused those fears while escalating the Johnlock potential.

BBC Sherlock also (rather unsurprisingly) harbours a goldmine of Mary Sues. They are often related to canon characters (siblings of Sherlock, nieces of John, etc) or the new tenant in 221C. Most Sherlock Sues are extremely insidious, hiding in stories with decent grammar and only tagging along with the plot of the series. However, like all Sues, they tend to warp canon personalities, and Sherlock Holmes often gets the brunt of it.

Boarder Lily Winterwood has written a list of warning signs of the presence of Stulock Holmes, or the character replacement of Sherlock Holmes. It's also said that once he is character-replaced, BBC-verse Sherlock Holmes becomes extremely aware of his situation and of the PPC, and has been known to recognise agents who regularly work in his 'verse. This can be alleviated through Bleeprin and neuralyzation, although those are only temporary measures until his next replacement.

Sherlock Holmes and the PPC[]

Sherlock Holmes minis are mini-Hounds of the Baskervilles. They serve as enforcement at two separate OFUs. The original, the Baker Street Fanfiction Academy, was started by Juliet Norrington, and later adopted by Lux Piper. It is currently discontinued, but can still be found here. It primarily covered the original Doyle canon.

There is also a Modern London Campus of the BSFA, written by Lily Winterwood. It specifically focuses on the BBC's Sherlock.

Agents Native to Sherlock Holmes[]

Missions in this Continuum[]

All reports are listed alphabetically by agent name, in the case of agents with multiple missions, or by mission name.

Agents Specialised in this Continuum[]

Agents are considered specialised in a continuum when they have handled at least three missions in the canon. Most of these agents are also active/specialised in other continua. It is often not the agents who decide where their specialty lies, but the Flowers that keep assigning missions to them.

Agents Not Yet Specialised in this Continuum[]

Agents with fewer than three missions in this continuum are not specialised, yet. They probably soon will be.