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Series 1

A Study in Pink

  • Lovely, kind-hearted Mrs Hudson's husband was such an awful person, and apparently committed such a heinous crime, that she loves Sherlock forever for ensuring the man was executed.
  • The kidnapper. Just because you took the wrong cab you're going to be forced to kill yourself.
    • There's something that's simply... off about him. His body language is utterly creepy and he even sneaks into the flat with a police group and Sherlock still in there.
    • Worse still is how casually he talks about the things he's done. He very clearly doesn't give a damn about them! If anything, he's pleasantly amused by how easily he managed to ensnare them into his traps. It's really not that difficult to see why Moriarty decided to work with him.

The Blind Banker

  • At the ending, General Shan is talking into a webcam to none other than Moriarty himself - he responds with text, rather than his own voice, so Nothing Is Scarier. Shan tries to justify her failure, and promises that she will never reveal his identity. His response? "I am certain." and an ominous red dot inches towards Shan's forehead, as she looks up into the reticule of a sniper...

The Great Game

  • Holmes and Watson's first encounter with the Golem. The guy is freakishly large and all you see of him is his shadow, lurking behind a corner in an underground tunnel; then there's a vague shot of him running to his car in the creepiest way possible, magnified by that freaking shadow.
    • His shadow is also reminiscent of the Slender Man
    • The moment when the Golem creeps up on Sherlock from behind in the Planetarium is pretty unsettling too, especially with the flashing lights and garbled audio.
  • All those poor people in The Great Game. The palpable fear. The sobbing breaths. The things they were forced to say. The laser sight trained on them. The little boy.
      • The little boy who, incidentally, is Moffat's son. Brr. "Okay, kiddo, act scared for Daddy." Brr.
    • In particular: "Hello, sexy." The dissonance between those words and the woman's sobbing is horrifying. Also "this stupid bitch is reading it out."
      • Even worse is that Moriarty has the woman murdered just for describing him. Her description? "His voice. He sounded so soft..."
    • This: "I can stop John Watson too...". It's the only time John has any difficulty calmly relaying what he's being told to say. The other hostages knew they were in danger and made much more obscure references to the consequences of Sherlock not solving the puzzle, things like "I'm going to be so naughty" or "I can soon stop that"--but Moriarty forces John to relay the threat using his own name. A completely chilling thing to force a hostage to say.
    • The revelation that young Moriarty murdered Carl Powers by poisoning his eczema powder, so he experienced a seizure and drowned in a swimming pool. It's never mentioned just how young Moriarty was when he did this, but it's still a chillingly calculating way of committing murder for a child. What's worse? Moriarty's justification for doing so: "Carl laughed at me...so I stopped him laughing."
  • One could almost say that Sherlock himself was working towards nightmare fuel in The Great Game. Especially at the very end, with Sherlock grinning most of the time the little boy is being held hostage; he has a nice little moment of swagger and egotistical pleasure before finally giving the answer that saves the child's life. Remember that the previous victim -- and eleven other people -- died.
  • The moment at the end of The Great Game when Moriarty gives the first real flash of what he really is -- with just a single word at the end of a four-word sentence. Give the actor a gold star.

 Sherlock: People have died.

Jim: That's what people DO!

Series 2

A Scandal in Belgravia

  • Irene stabbing Sherlock with a hypodermic needle that causes him to collapse, completely weak and helpless on her bedroom floor, eventually becoming a delirious babbling mess [1]. She then tells John to see that Sherlock doesn't choke on his own vomit. With Irene half-naked while whipping Sherlock with a riding crop and John not seeming all that concerned, the scene is played more for Fetish Fuel. But just think of how it must feel to be drugged against your will, your body basically paralysed and unable to speak, to say no.
  • Mycroft threatens to have Irene tortured for the password to the phone: "You have a pass-code to open this. I deeply regret to say that we have people who can extract it from you..."
    • Even more horrifying, Sherlock's objection is not that torturing people is horrible and wrong, but that to torture Irene would simply prove ineffectual as there are likely two pass-codes. The Holmes brothers have a lack of empathy that is often Played for Laughs or otherwise causes offence to those around them with no real harm done, but here they're discussing whether or not they're going to torture Irene and decide not to for practical reasons only.
  • This episode gives the audience a good look at a truly vengeful Sherlock. When Mrs. Hudson is attacked, and Sherlock deduces how it took place, he dons a mortifying Kubrick Stare before going up the stairs to face the Americans. When he actually walks into the room, he's completely calm and typically snarky, but you can tell that, inside, he's thinking 'Hello. My name is Sherlock Holmes. You hurt my landlady. Prepare to die..." It's pretty damn scary, given Sherlock's usually stoic, detached nature.
    • Well, not so much 'Prepare to die' as 'Prepare to fall out of a window. Again...and again...and again...I may lose count, you know." which isn't any less frightening.
  • The plane full of corpses. Oh God.
  • In this scene the mood whiplashes so fast your head will spin:

 Jim: SAY THAT AGAIN!! ... Say that again, and know that if you're lying to me, I will find you, and I will ssssskiiiinnnnn you...

    • ... His face. Holy crap. And he probably would very literally skin someone. And wear the resulting shoes with his Westwood suit!

The Hounds of Baskerville

  • The Hound of The Baskervilles has always been one of the most chilling of Holmes' adventures. Updating it to the modern day setting of the series does little to change this. Especially when the end leads one to believe there isn't an actual hound. And then the damn thing turns up anyway. Sure, the hallucinogens in the mist made the characters see it differently from what it actually was... but what they saw (and subsequently what we see) is terrifying.
    • Especially when you take into account that all four of them -- Sherlock, John, Henry and Lestrade -- they are all seeing something a little different. They're all presumably seeing an enormous black dog with huge teeth and red eyes, but the details are totally subjective. They're all seeing whatever scares the hell out of each of them individually.
    • In a similar way, the sequence with John locked up in the lab works on the premise that what was scaring John the most was not just in his own mind -- it was his own mind. This whole episode is fuelled by the psychology of fear and that's what makes it great.
    • Not to mention that it's totally unnerving to see three characters in particular who normally have nerves of steel -- the sociopathic detective, the war veteran and the DI from Scotland Yard -- totally freaked out over something that doesn't technically exist.
  • Those bloody flood lights. Nothing Is Scarier indeed.

 Shunk. Shunk.

  • The whole fandom is glad that The Hounds of Baskerville wasn't written by Steven Moffat. We wouldn't have survived.
  • Sherlock's hallucination of Moriarty.
  • The information they find on the H.O.U.N.D hallucinogen using the Major's password. We never get details, but the photographs and snatches of headlines like "blood-brain" "severe frontal lobe damage" "gross cranial trauma" and "multiple homicide" projected across Sherlock's face are incredibly creepy. Then in retrospect we find out our heroes have all been hanging out in a mist full of this stuff.
  • Dr Stapleton is chillingly matter-of-fact when she agrees with John that she has very little compassion (toward her own daughter), and that sometimes she hates herself.
  • The death of Henry Knight's father. His traumatised memories of the event are bad enough, as we hear his father screaming as he's mauled, but the reality is actually even worse. A man wearing a creepy gas mask with red lenses and Vader Breath brutally battering Mr Knight to death, then slowly turning and staring at young Henry.
  • The Room Full of Crazy at the end. Moriarty scratched Sherlock's name all over his cell. Judging from the one he wrote on the one way glass, he knew that Mycroft was watching. Either he did it to freak out Mycroft or he now has a very creepy thing for Sherlock. Probably both. Mycroft lets him go.

The Reichenbach Fall

  • Kidnapped children are nightmarish by definition, but Moriarty's not content with that. He locks the terrified brother and sister alone in a dark factory, where they will starve to death unless they eat the chocolates he has left for them. The wrappers are painted with mercury.
  • Sherlock's chilling re-enactment of the kidnapping of the children. "Help us" glowing eerily on the wall. Sherlock's silhouette at the door, hand held like a gun. The details of the boy on tip-toe with a gun to his head. The little girl being grabbed around the neck. Holy shit, no wonder they thought he did it.
  • Moriarty smirkingly asks a young female police officer to fish into his pocket for a mint and put it on his tongue at his trial. The way he does it takes his character into the new and terrifying implications of his also potentially being a sex offender.
  • When Moriarty's team offers no defence at his trial, he looks up at John in the gallery and smirks. John is visibly upset by this. Sherlock described his standoff with Moriarty as "five minutes... I pointed a gun at him, he tried to blow me up." But for John, the ordeal went for hours. He was knocked unconscious, unarmed, totally unable to defend himself, and he was the one actually wearing the bomb. He has impressive nerves, and considerable loyalty to Sherlock, to bring himself to be in court at all.
    • The series itself never tells us what happened between John leaving the apartment for Sarah's and Sherlock arriving at the pool some hours later. John later blogged a basic outline --he was bundled into a car and knocked unconscious-- but most of the details are missing. It was clearly extremely traumatic for him; in terms of his blog, he posts that he took some time away from guns and bombs and maniacs after that incident. In the actual series itself, the effect that being Moriarty's hostage had on him is hinted at earlier than the trial. When John intercepts Jim's text on Sherlock's phone, and tries to bring it to Sherlock's attention, he looks like he's about to pass out. Not a reaction we've come to expect from someone who developed a hand tremor because he missed being in constant danger. It's highly implied that there are some details of his hostage experience prior to Sherlock appearing that he's unwilling to share, because they are really, really bad.
  • Moriarty pretending to be Richard Brook, a scared actor who was 'hired' by Sherlock to be Moriarty in an attempt to take Sherlock down. He's so convincing that he can almost (maybe even completely) make you believe it, that Sherlock is the bad guy.
    • Also known as: the moment where everyone in the fandom doubted their entire existence.
  • Moriarty threatening not just John (which is expected at this point), but everyone Sherlock has ever cared about, in order to convince the detective to leap off a building to his death. If Moriarty's words alone don't do it for you, the sick, ferocious glee with which he says them probably will:

 Moriarty: Ok. Let me give you a little extra incentive... your friends will DIE if you don't.

Sherlock: ...John.

Moriarty: Oh, not just John. Everyone.

Sherlock: Mrs. Hudson?

Moriarty: EVERYONE.

Sherlock: Lestrade?

Moriarty: Three bullets. Three gunmen. Three victims. There's no stopping them now.

  • And after that, "Pleeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaase?"
  • Moriarty suddenly pulling a gun on himself, and the psychotic grin on his face as he lay in a puddle of his own blood was incredibly unnerving.
    • Agreed. Especially considering the "you'd do anything to not feel bored" comment the Cabbie directed at Sherlock in the pilot.
    • There's also something absolutely chilling about his words to Sherlock when he arrives on the roof about "staying alive" and "All my life I've been looking for a distraction." Because he freaking means it. He's not thrilled that he thinks he's beaten Sherlock Holmes. He's suicidal because he thinks he's beaten Sherlock Holmes. As Sally Donovan pointed out in A Study in Pink, psychopaths get bored. They tend to commit suicide in prison because of it. Jim's realisation that he could commit suicide to solve the problem of "staying alive" and scupper Sherlock's chances of beating him makes perfect, horrible sense.
    • A less internal detail, but if you look closely you can see pieces of Jim's brain floating on the edge of the blood.
    • All this to prove just how The Unfettered can get deconstructed. Jesus...
  • John unknowingly in the crosshairs of a sniper rifle. Sherlock's 'suicide' saved his life by mere minutes.
  • The idea of Moriarty having his own kid's show. The guy has strapped bombs to children. He has poisoned children with mercury (symptoms include losing hair, teeth and nails, kidney dysfunction, itching, burning, pain, light sensitivity and ...you know... death). Not to mention the crap he pulls on adults. He's the storyteller on TV. Small children trust him. What could possibly go wrong with that?
  • Fake death or not, John witnessed his best friend fall from a building and saw his head smashed in on the ground, blood pooling everywhere, felt his non-existent pulse and saw the lifeless eyes on Sherlock's 'dead' face. It doesn't matter how many dead bodies John has seen in his life, which no doubt is a lot, this was someone he cared passionately about. It wouldn't be surprising if Series 3 mirrored Series 1's opening by showing us John reliving that moment in a nightmare.

Blogs/Other

  • Moriarty breaking into 221B while Sherlock and John are out and recording his whispered observations on a shaky video camera, then posting the whole thing to John's blog? Very creepy. The fact that he did it while Mrs. Hudson was home? HEAPING BUCKETS OF NIGHTMARE FUEL.

Notes

  1. Apparently so 'hilarious' that it deserved to be filmed: thanks, Lestrade
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