When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?
~ Sherlock Holmes The Sign of the Four
Elementary, my dear Watson.
~ Sherlock Holmes' iconic, but otherwise erroneous catchphrase

Sherlock Holmes is a hero made famous in his many books, films and television series. He was created by the writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

He is a Victorian-era detective who is quite possibly the smartest man alive, using his amazing brainpower to out-think a number of villains and solve seemingly impossible cases.


2009 Film Adaptation and Sequels

In 2009 adaptations, Sherlock Holmes is portrayed by Robert Downey Jr.


Sherlock is brave, and extremely intelligent. He has his own degree of personal cunning and a slightly suave demeanour. He is focused, vengeful and rather egotistical and strong-minded. He is also devilishly enigmatic and seemed to be clever enough to surpass James Moriarty, who was himself mentally inordinately agile. He cares deeply about John Watson, enough to challenge Moriarty about it. He also thought he was more devious than Moriarty.

However, despite his brilliance, Sherlock is categorized as being selfish, narcissistic, rude, and rather crass. He sometimes appears to lack basic empathy, however he is shown to display manners, on certain occasions.

Holmes is also a master manipulator, multiple times he has tricked Watson into helping him despite Watson's protests.


Holmes' abilities lay mainly in his skills of deduction and his genius-level intellect. He is incredibly observant, noticing the tiniest details, that most would not pay attention to.

Holmes' intelligence allows him to plan attacks and deduce (often correctly) exactly how a scuffle will play out. He is also shown to be proficient in many known martial arts and boxing and had an aggressive, if not slippery, fighting style. His style also involves psychological warfare. He is an adept boxer and was able to hold his own, overwhelm and defeat opponents much larger than himself, or multiple opponents inside and outside the ring. However Holmes is not above cheating, and will often use the environment, and other distractions in order to gain the upper hand when outnumbered, or outsized. Holmes also liked donning various disguises in order to spy on or obtain specific information from different suspects. He demonstrated this skill by secretly following Irene Adler through the back streets of London from his home as a homeless beggar to see who she was working for and therefore discovering that her employer was Professor Moriarty. He demonstrated this a second time when he visited his friend and colleague John Watson as a Doctor in a Hospital after John was injured from a brief confrontation with Lord Blackwood.

Though not as skilled as Watson, he is also a proficient marksman. However, he has a habit of unwisely unloading all of his bullets into a single target.

Holmes can play the violin.

Sherlock TV Show (2010)

In the Tv Show Adaptation on BBC, Sherlock Holmes is portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch.


Sherlock has a major manipulative streak and will often take advantage of people in order to get his way. For example, knowing Molly has a crush on him, he will occasionally flatter her in order to gain access to the morgue he would not otherwise have. John, on the other hand, is sometimes subject to experiments. In one particular instance, when Sherlock needs to test out a drug, he sneaks it into John's coffee. When John tries to say "I don't take sugar," Sherlock effectively uses a 'kicked puppy' look to guilt John into finishing the drink.

He seems to have a sense of humour, though it is very sarcastic and can be quite dark. Sherlock is amused, most notably, by the stupidity of others in comparison to himself. He also often makes quips at the expense of his brother, Mycroft, usually about his dieting habits or his posh job. He is incredibly unamused, however, by John's blog. He thinks the titles John gives their cases, such as "The Geek Interpreter", or "The Speckled Blonde", are ridiculous, and he finds the fame that comes with being an 'internet phenomenon' distasteful and ridiculous. He was also deterred by the prospect of having to wear his now-iconic deerstalker in public for the cameras. In "The Lying Detective", he puts it on before heading out to have cake for his birthday, stating "I'm Sherlock Holmes. I wear the damn hat."

One quality that Sherlock lacks entirely is tact, which is one of the main reasons that he is disliked so heavily by so many people. He often doesn't notice when his accurate deductions about other people's personal lives offend them, including the implication that Anderson and Sally Donovan were having an affair - that being said, neither of them did anything to soften his opinion of them. He is incredibly antagonistic towards the officers at Scotland Yard, particularly Anderson and Sally Donovan, which is often relayed with a cutting remark from the latter. It does seem, though that, over time, Sherlock is becoming increasingly aware of his ability to affront, occasionally asking John "Not good?" when he does see that he has upset someone.

Although he puts forth a cold-hearted and abrasive exterior, Sherlock does have a kind, caring side. Despite telling John that not caring about people makes it easier to do his job, Sherlock clearly has concern for the people involved in his cases. During one of their earlier cases, when John's girlfriend Sarah was kidnapped by Chinese smugglers, Sherlock focused on saving her rather than catching the smugglers themselves, and comforted her gently while untying her, even though he had not seemed to like her much previously. And again, in one of his first confrontations with Moriarty, he seems very emotionally affected when he is unable to save the life of an old woman. A bit later, at Baskerville, he tries to talk Henry down from taking his own life. He reacted with compassion towards his younger sister, Eurus Holmes, upon learning the secret behind her childhood song. When Eurus became uncommunicative following their final game at Musgrave Hall, Sherlock visited her and played his violin for her, eventually eliciting a reaction from her. He continued visiting Sherrinford and playing for Eurus over the years, later able to hold a violin recital of the two of them for their parents and Mycroft, reflecting in Eurus some measure of mental recovery and also Sherlock's dedicated care to his newly learned sister, apparently forgiving her for her responsibility of Victor Trevor's death and the subsequent trauma.

Sherlock is the most protective towards the people he is close to, however. Even though it often seems like he takes Mrs. Hudson for granted, he is enraged when he finds that she has been roughed up by an American operative, going so far as to tie him up and throw him out the window - so many times he "lost count". Later, when John insists that she go stay with her sister for a while, Sherlock tells him that if Mrs. Hudson left Baker Street, "England would fall", while putting a comforting arm around her. This protective nature extends to all his friends, to the point that he is willing to fake his own death to save them.

John and Sherlock, however, share a unique relationship. Sherlock, clearly, cannot be considered a man with many friends; his attitude and cutting words often ward people away, but with John he makes an effort. John is intelligent, though not as intelligent as Sherlock, lacking Holmes' observational skills and his unique insight into crime. John however does have great insight in his analysis of relationships, which Sherlock may dismiss, though often does prove to come in handy. The pair seems to have very compatible senses of humor, and Sherlock does generally appear to appreciate John's love of danger and risk-taking, even confessing to John that he "doesn't have friends. [He] just has one". He never denies it when people incorrectly assume that they are romantic partners.

When John asks Sherlock to be his best man, Sherlock is stunned into silence. He later reveals, during a very long and touching speech at the wedding, that he'd never expected to be anyone's best man because he'd "never expected to be anybody's best friend."

Sherlock shares a somewhat complex relationship with his older brother, Mycroft Holmes. Mycroft does seem to worry a great deal about Sherlock, often rallying his younger brother's friends in order to ensure his safety (specifically to prevent an implied relapse), and attempting to protect Sherlock when they thought Irene Adler had died. While he does show, at times, childlike frustration with his elder brother, Sherlock never dismisses him as he does with clients or police officers he finds truly annoying or tedious. Mycroft also seems comfortable with the idea of going to Sherlock for help with issues of national security, showing once again an innate sense of trust in his younger sibling.

Though he was unaware of it, his younger sister, Eurus Holmes, had profoundly influenced Sherlock's person to the extent that, as Mycroft remarked, every choice Sherlock made, every path he ever taken, the man Sherlock is, is Sherlock's memory of Eurus. When Eurus made Victor Trevor, Sherlock's childhood best friend, disappear, Sherlock was so traumatized by the loss that he rewritten his memories of Victor and Eurus, remembering Victor as his pet dog Redbeard and forgetting Eurus entirely. Mycroft noted that, because of what Eurus did, Sherlock substantially changed in personality from the emotional child he was to the cold, deductive and logical man that he was introduced as in the series.

Irene Adler deduces that he believes in a higher power which is himself, an assertion that Sherlock neither confirmed or denied.

Sherlock runs his own website, The Science of Deduction.


Sherlock has many well-developed abilities that aid him with his detective work, including a profound aptitude for deductive reasoning. Upon meeting a person, he will often "scan" them, using elements of their appearance to arrive at astonishingly accurate conclusions about their past or personality. However, Sherlock is not infallible, as he admits "there is always something" that he misses or misinterprets.

He often uses a memory retrieval technique called "the method of loci", which he refers to as his 'mind palace'. John describes this system of storing memories as plotting them on a map of a familiar location and retrieving those memories by finding the way back to them, so as to theoretically never forget anything. To use this skill, Sherlock requires silence and space to himself to reduce outside interference.

Sherlock has also proven incredible espionage talents. Despite not having spoken to Irene Adler for months, Sherlock was able to follow her to Pakistan, pose as her executioner and save her life, keeping this a secret from (possibly) everyone.

He also shows great skill in both armed and unarmed combat. In reference to his Conan Doyle counterpart, the rules of the combat discipline Baritsu hang over his bed. He often uses his deductive reasoning to identify weaknesses of his opponents before he strikes them, only losing in fights when he is taken by surprise. Sherlock's unarmed skills are great enough that he was able to fight a professional assassin on even footing for an extended period of time.



  • Contrary to popular belief, Sherlock Holmes never uttered his iconic phrase "Elementary, my dear Watson" in any of Conan Doyle's publications. However, he has used the term "Elementary" and has referred to Dr. Watson as "My Dear Watson" several times as two separate phrases in said publications.
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