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The literary canon of Sherlock Holmes consists of the fifty-six short stories and four novels written by Arthur Conan Doyle. See Sherlock Holmes for more information about the character and the various adaptations of Sherlock Holmes.


  • A Study in Scarlet: Published 1887
  • The Sign of the Four/The Sign of Four: Published 1890
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles: Serialized 1901 through 1902 in The Strand
  • The Valley of Fear: Serialized 1914 through 1915


The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Contains 12 stories published in The Strand between July 1891 and December 1892 with original illustrations by Sidney Paget.

  • "A Scandal in Bohemia"
  • "The Adventure of the Red-Headed League"
  • "A Case of Identity"
  • "The Boscombe Valley Mystery"
  • "The Five Orange Pips"
  • "The Man with the Twisted Lip"
  • "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle"
  • "The Adventure of the Speckled Band"
  • "The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb"
  • "The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor"
  • "The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet"
  • "The Adventure of the Copper Beeches"

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes

Contains 12 stories published in The Strand as further episodes of the Adventures between December 1892 and November 1893 with original illustrations by Sidney Paget.

  • "Silver Blaze"
  • "The Adventure of the Cardboard Box" (this story is included as part of His Last Bow in American editions of the canon)
  • "The Adventure of the Yellow Face"
  • "The Adventure of the Stockbroker's Clerk"
  • "The Adventure of the Gloria Scott|The Adventure of the Gloria Scott" (Holmes's first case, described to Watson)
  • "The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual" (another early case, told by Holmes to Watson)
  • "The Adventure of the Reigate Squire"
  • "The Adventure of the Crooked Man"
  • "The Adventure of the Resident Patient"
  • "The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter" (Mycroft appears for the first time)
  • "The Adventure of the Naval Treaty"
  • "The Final Problem" (Watson reports the death of Holmes)

The Return of Sherlock Holmes

Contains 13 stories published in The Strand between October 1903 and January 1905 with original illustrations by Sidney Paget.

  • "The Adventure of the Empty House" (the return of Holmes)
  • "The Adventure of the Norwood Builder"
  • "The Adventure of the Dancing Men"
  • "The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist"
  • "The Adventure of the Priory School"
  • "The Adventure of Black Peter"
  • "The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton"
  • "The Adventure of the Six Napoleons"
  • "The Adventure of the Three Students"
  • "The Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez"
  • "The Adventure of the Missing Three-Quarter"
  • "The Adventure of the Abbey Grange"
  • "The Adventure of the Second Stain"

His Last Bow

Contains seven stories published 1908–1913, 1917.

  • "The Adventure of Wisteria Lodge" (originally published simply as "A Reminiscence of Mr Sherlock Holmes," this story is made up of two parts given separate titles: "The Singular Experience of Mr. John Scott Eccles" and "The Tiger of San Pedro")
  • "The Adventure of the Red Circle"
  • "The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans" (Mycroft appears)
  • "The Adventure of the Dying Detective"
  • "The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax"
  • "The Adventure of the Devil's Foot"
  • " His Last Bow"

The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes

Contains 12 stories published 1921–1927.

  • "The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone"
  • "The Problem of Thor Bridge"
  • "The Adventure of the Creeping Man"
  • "The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire"
  • "The Adventure of the Three Garridebs"
  • "The Adventure of the Illustrious Client"
  • "The Adventure of the Three Gables"
  • "The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier" (narrated by Holmes; Watson does not appear)
  • "The Adventure of the Lion's Mane" (narrated by Holmes; Watson does not appear)
  • "The Adventure of the Retired Colourman"
  • "The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger"
  • "The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place"



  • Absence of Evidence:
    • In the story "Silver Blaze", Sherlock Holmes points out the vital non-clue of a dog failing to react to a mysterious visitor... when a guard dog doesn't bark at an intruder it generally means it's someone he doesn't think is an intruder at all.
    • The absence of certain valuable deeds is a vital clue in The Norwood Builder.
  • Actually Not a Vampire: "The Tale of the Sussex Vampire."
  • Affably Evil: Professor Moriarty.
  • All There Is to Know About "The Crying Game": The solution to "The Five Orange Pips" has become something like this thanks to a century of Eagleland Osmosis. Once the initials on the letter are revealed to be K.K.K., readers can work out the rest by themselves.
    • "The Adventure of the Lion's Mane" is a gift to zoologists: the murderer is a jellyfish, and the injuries of the dead man plus the title leave no room for doubt.
  • Arc Words: "The Second Stain" was mentioned several times before its publication.
  • Aromanticism: Holmes is considered the archetypal aromantic character; as mentioned by Watson in "A Scandal in Bohemia", the famous detective "as a lover...would have placed himself in a false position. He never spoke of the softer passions, save with a gibe and a sneer."
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: in "The Adventure of the Empty House", Holmes explains his apparent return from the dead and escape from Moriarty as due to his knowledge of "Baritsu, or the Japanese system of wrestling". No such word exists in Japanese. It is either an accidental misremembering or purposeful misspelling of Bartitsu, a briefly popular style during the turn of that century. Unfortunately, said style was invented several years after 1891 and furthermore relies heavily on the use of walking sticks.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • The title character of "Charles Augustus Milverton", who is so unsympathetic that Holmes and Watson allow his killer to get away; also seen in "Black Peter" with a victim who was abusive towards his family and an all around nasty piece of work. The rest of the stories provide plenty more examples. This shows up in "The Boscombe Valley Mystery", "The Cardboard Box", "The Crooked Man", "The Resident Patient", and "The Abbey Grange", not to mention the first story, A Study In Scarlet.
    • Subverted/Exaggerated in "The Norwood Builder". The asshole in this story turned out not be a victim at all, but had merely framed an innocent guy for his murder in order to get revenge on the guys mother.
  • Awesome By Analysis: Holmes lives, breathes and sleeps this trope. Watson has a few examples too.
  • Badass Bookworm: Holmes is not only a brilliant detective, but also an innovative forensic scientist, good violinist, and a formidable martial artist who is strong enough to bend an iron poker with his bare hands -- and unbend it again afterwards, the harder task. In The Beryl Coronet, he actually mentions that he has exceptional strength in his fingers.
  • Batman Gambit: Holmes continually employs these on criminals and clients alike to get what he needs. He's even done it to Watson, counting on the good doctor's sincerity and guileless nature to lure a murderer into a trap in The Adventure of the Dying Detective.
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty:
    • In the original novels, Holmes never actually uttered the exact phrase "Elementary, my dear Watson". He uses the phrase 'elementary' on occasion, and often refers to Watson as 'my dear Watson' but never combines the two. The phrase actually comes from a PG Wodehouse novel.
    • Nor did he ever cry, "Quick, Watson, the needle!" That phrase originates in Victor Herbert's comic operetta The Red Mill, where it's used by a character who's impersonating Holmes.
    • Likewise, the deerstalker cap and Inverness coat are never mentioned in the stories proper, and while Sidney Paget did at times draw him wearing one or the other[1], he never put them both together. Nor would Holmes, despite his recurrent flakiness, have worn such a countrified outfit in the middle of London.
    • Lampshaded in the recent Sherlock Holmes Versus Jack the Ripper game, in which at one point Sherlock asks Watson to "bring [him] that old deerstalker [he] never wear[s], but everyone seems convinced [he] wear[s] all the time".
    • And played with in the second season of Sherlock BBC, where Sherlock pulls on a deerstalker cap in an attempt to avoid paparazzi, and merely ends up with the press considering him the "man with the funny little hat" with pictures to back it up.
  • Berserk Button: Don't compare Holmes to any other detective, even a fictional one. And more heartwarmingly, don't even attempt to do any harm to Watson in front of Holmes. Holmes also appears to really, really despise blackmailers; most of the Asshole Victim characters whose murderers he refused to expose unless he needed to save an innocent were blackmailers, the remainder mostly being abusive drunks.
  • Big "What?": "Sherlock Holmes sprang out of his chair as if he had been galvanized. "What!" he roared."
    • For reference, the above is from The Man With the Twisted Lip. Holmes has concluded that a young man has most certainly been killed, and arrives to deliver the bad news to his widow, in his most businesslike and sympathetic fashion. Then he learns that she just received a letter from him. His whole reaction is justified (and priceless). Also a case of Not So Stoic.
  • Blindfolded Trip: In both "The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb" and "The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter", Holmes' client was bundled into a carriage that they could not see out of and driven to an unknown destination.
  • Blow Gun: In The Sign of the Four, Tonga uses poison blow darts.
  • The Book Cipher: In The Valley of Fear, Holmes decrypts a message enciphered with a book cipher by deducing which book had been used as a key text.
  • Book Ends: The Sign of Four begins and ends with Holmes injecting himself with a seven-per-cent solution of cocaine.
  • Brain Fever: Used in several Sherlock Holmes stories, including "The Copper Beeches," in which a girl's stepfather pesters her about her inheritance until she gets brain-fever; "The Adventure of the Naval Treaty," in which a man is ill for nine weeks after a treaty is stolen from under his nose; and "The Crooked Man", where the dead man's wife is conveniently rendered insensible after witnessing her husband's sudden death.
  • Break-In Threat: In "A Study in Scarlet", John Ferrier is being threatened by a Mormon cult, and walks up one morning with their sign painted on his chest.
  • Breakout Character: Mycroft Holmes and Irene Adler come up more times in adaptations than they ever do in the actual stories: Mycroft only appears in three (The Greek Interpreter, The Final Problem and The Bruce-Partington Plans) whereas Irene only appears in A Scandal in Bohemia and is referenced indirectly in a Continuity Nod in The Five Orange Pips.
  • Breakout Villain: Professor Moriarty is a classic.
  • Brilliant but Lazy: Mycroft is not only an Aloof Big Brother to Sherlock, he's an even better detective. Subverted in that, while Mycroft is physically lazy, he's actually an extremely hard-working civil servant whose encyclopedic knowledge frequently decides British national policy. Mycroft could easily have been a detective himself, but as he explains in The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans he loathes the idea of doing the legwork needed to actually gather the facts he'd need to make his deductions. Sherlock himself indulges in long periods of lethargy and substance abuse when there's no case to be solved.
    • Some qualification: Mycroft is better at observation and reasoning, but stinks as a detective. His manner of handling the Greek Interpreter case tips off the bad guys big time, who then come back and try to torture the client to death. The point of the story seemed to be that figuring out someone's profession by their left pinky is a cute trick, but it does not a detective make.
  • Bunny Ears Lawyer: Holmes is a fairly messed up genius and in early stories was Book Dumb in an odd way -- knowing minute details about criminal history and the topics of his monographs but barely knowing how to read a map and uninformed about a variety of other topics. He actually has a logical (even if said logic does hail from the moon) explanation for this-he considers the mind to be like an attic, possessed of a limited amount of space and therefore useless if you throw just any old shit in there. So interesting-but-functionally-useless factoids like "the Earth revolves around the sun" have no place in the mind of a consulting detective, but some of the more eclectic applications of chemistry with little practical day-to-day use may well occupy the forefront of his mind for weeks at a time if he thinks it'll solve a case.
  • Busman's Holiday: The Reigate Squires and The Devil's Foot.
  • Captain Ersatz: August Derleth's Solar Pons.
  • Catch Phrase: "It is simplicity itself." and "You know my methods."
  • Celibate Eccentric Genius: Holmes one of the most famous examples in English-language media.
    • Mycroft as well.
  • Chairman of the Brawl: Watson has his moment in The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton.
  • Chaste Hero or Celibate Hero: Holmes. Just don't tell it to the fanbase.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: There is a literal example in "Charles Augustus Milverton". In the beginning, a passing reference is made to one of the titular blackmailer's victims whose marriage had been called off and career destroyed because of the villain. We forget about this person entirely until Holmes and Watson witness that same victim pump Milverton full of lead.
  • The Chessmaster: Moriarty and Sherlock
  • Clear Their Name: Ends up happening in roughly a quarter of the stories.
  • Clothes Make the Legend: Even if the cape and hat were not really in the stories, it's hard to imagine Holmes without them. Oddly, in Der Mann der Sherlock Holmes war one character is assumed by everybody to be Holmes because he smokes a pipe, he wears a flat tweed cap, and his companion carries a violin case.
  • Combat Medic: Watson acts as both doctor and combat support for Holmes.
  • Combat Pragmatist: An interesting case: Holmes isn't above breaking the law for a good cause, but still averts this trope - the rules of boxing are sacred. Only on one occasion, when dealing with one really nasty scoundrel, does he take out a riding crop and threaten to give him a good thrashing 'round the ears. On the other hand, Watson, who only breaks society' rules in extreme scenarios (which, living with Holmes, has made them not that rare) will just grab a chair or a fire poker and threaten, with complete intent to use it on his opponent.
    • Milverton would also qualify, he carries a gun around to every negotiation to avoid any physical confrontation.
    • Moriarty is the King of unfair. He doesn't do anything himself, instead dispatching an army of professional killers to pick off his victims in the most sudden, unexpected, and brutal ways. Typically they don't even see it coming. Until, of course, in the final scenes of 'The Final Problem' when he's lost everything. He just lunges at Holmes - no weapon, no nothing - with the sole intention of sending Holmes, and probably himself as well, over the Falls.
  • Compromising Memoirs: A note at the start of one of short stories indicates that there are plenty of people who do NOT want Watson to write these stories. Many others live short lives after Holmes helps them. Conveniently letting Watson tell his tales with impunity.
  • Couldn't Find a Lighter: The first time Watson meets Holmes in A Study in Scarlet, Holmes is using a hot coal from the fireplace to light his pipe.
  • Curb Stomp Battle: In "The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist," the local bully makes the mistake of picking a fight with Holmes while he is gathering information at the pub. Holmes ignores him until the man backhands him. It doesn't end well for the bully.

 Holmes: I emerged as you see me. Mr. Woodley went home in a cart.

  • Curtain Camouflage: In the adventure "Charles Augustus Milverton," Holmes and Watson break into a blackmailer's house and duck under a curtain when they hear Charles coming in.
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: Holmes himself is a rare heroic example. Also Moriarty and his right hand man Col. Moran seem to be the only Sherlock Holmes villains smart enough to try to attack him in Baker Street. It would have probably worked on anyone else but they were messing with the Master.
    • Baron Gruner in The Illustrious client almost manages where Moriarty failed. But then, Holmes himself says he is an enemy of Moriarty's potential and danger.
  • Deadpan Snarker: In every single incarnation, this has been Holmes' trademark. However, it's not arrogance or annoyance on his part, that's just how he honestly acts. Well... there's an element of both arrogance and annoyance in it. And as for the most recent BBC version of Sherlock, arrogance and annoyance are his modus operandi.
  • Detectives Follow Footprints: In fact, Holmes has perfected it to a science and claims to have published several papers on the subject.
  • Dirty Coward: The true criminal in The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle is scared enough of the consequences of his theft that when an innocent man is accused of the crime he's willing to let the man go to prison. Holmes later exploits this by letting the man go, noting that the case against the innocent man will collapse now that the carbuncle has been found and the true thief is too frightened to ever commit a crime again.
  • Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: Sherlock frequently smokes a pipe.
  • Doing It for the Art: Holmes' approach to his work. Monetary rewards are unimportant, and he often allows the official police to take the credit. What he loves is having a challenge to his skills and intellect. However, he is on occasion paid very handsomely for his work. In "The Adventure of the Final Problem", he states that he could comfortably retire on the payments he had received from the government of France and the royal house of Scandinavia.
  • Don't Sneak Up On Me Like That: In "The Valley of Fear", McMurdo's girlfriend sneaks up on him while he's writing a letter:

  If she had expected to startle him, she certainly succeeded; but only in turn to be startled herself. With a tiger spring he turned on her, and his right hand was feeling for her throat.

  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: In "The Crooked Man", a tortured and crippled soldier avoids his old love for fear of her pity.
  • The Dragon: Colonel Sebastian Moran to Moriarty, as well as most of his associates.
  • Dull Surprise: "'A wooden-legged man?' said Holmes, with bland surprise."
  • Dying Clue: In "The Adventure of the Speckled Band", the last words of a woman who died under mysterious circumstances (an apparently nonsensical rant about the titular speckled band) is the first clue revealed in that case.
  • The Edwardian Era: Some of the late mysteries happened in the early 20th century.
  • Engineered Public Confession: Done twice. Once to get a murder confession in Dying Detective, once to get the location of a stolen gem in Mazarin Stone.
  • Evil Laugh: Wilson Kemp's high-pitched giggle that he punctuates every other sentence with in "The Greek Interpreter" fits the bill.
    • "I have not heard him laugh often, and it has always boded ill to somebody." -- Watson on Holmes in The Hound of the Baskervilles
  • Females Are More Innocent: This could be the Trope Codifier, Sherlock Holmes never brought any woman to justice. He would always either allow them to escape or make sure no charges were filed against them. He would also come up with sometimes ludicrous explanation on why it was not her fault like something must have hit her hand causing the load stone of a structure to collapse killing her ex-fiancé and she just took is money because she might be pregnant. This courtesy was sometimes extended to men if they had a female accomplice.
  • Femme Fatale: Somewhat true of Irene Adler; also, in both "The Hound of the Baskervilles" and "The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb" there is a female character involved with the villain who ends up helping the heroes.
  • Finger in the Mail: "The Adventure of the Cardboard Box" has a pair of ears placed in a box but delivered to the wrong person.
  • Flanderization: Inverted in the sense that the official police detectives were often portrayed as inept bunglers in the early stories, but later cases recognized their own merits and otherwise had them contribute to the case in their own ways. Sadly, many adaptations reverse this process, especially on poor Lestrade.
  • Follow the Leader: Many later detective characters -- Hercule Poirot, Nero Wolfe, Inspector Morse, etc. -- were influenced by Holmes in one way or another. Of course, Holmes himself was inspired in no small measure by Poe's Dupin. This is even lampshaded by Watson in the first novel, although Holmes dismisses the resemblance with characteristic smugness. There's also a possible Shout-Out in the new movie, where Watson's fiancée mentions that she likes detective novels and lists Poe as one such author.
  • Forehead of Doom: Moriarty has one, and given the contemporary belief in phrenology he mocks Holmes for not measuring up.
  • Forgets to Eat: Holmes occasionally gets so wrapped up in a case that he doesn't bother to stop for food, and in one, he deliberately starves himself for several days in order for a plan to work properly, leading to his occasionally being described as lean.
  • Fright Deathtrap: How Sir Charles of Baskerville was killed.
  • Geek Physiques:
    • Holmes is thin as a rake.
    • Mycroft Holmes is the other extreme to his brother, being very fat with hands like flippers.
  • Genius Bruiser: Holmes, while being a practiced marksman, swordsman and fist-fighter (but also a few other combat sports, such as Singlestick), also does not lack good old brute strength either. On one occasion, a client's relative threatens Holmes and Watson to back off an assignment. To intimidate them, he grabs an iron wrench from the chimney, and bends it with his bare hands. After he left, Holmes takes the iron cane and bends it back into shape!
  • Genre Popularizer: Other detectives had come before, but Holmes is arguably responsible for popularizing the detective story in its modern, standalone form.
  • Genre Shift: The first half of A Study in Scarlet is a bona fide mystery story. The bits set in Utah, on the other hand, are much more like a western. The same occurs with The Valley of Fear, except the antagonists are a secret society like Freemasons instead of Mormons.
  • Gorgeous Period Dress: Special detail is always given to Irene Adler's clothing in the adaptations, and to a lesser extent Holmes and Watson's as well.
    • The Sign of the Four gives a rather meticulous description of Mary Morstan's dress.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Holmes isn't a bad guy, but boy he can be an ass. Made particularly clear in most adaptations.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: Holmes demonstrates in A Study in Scarlet.

 "The whole thing occurred in a moment, so quickly that I had no time to realize it. I have a vivid recollection of that instant, of Holmes' triumphant expression and the ring of his voice, of the cabman's dazed, savage face, as he glared at the glittering handcuffs, which had appeared as if by magic upon his wrists."

    • This trope makes a comeback in Black Peter, The Solitary Cyclist, The Naval Treaty, and The Final Problem. In The Sign of (the) Four a professional boxer remarks that Holmes could have quite a career in the ring.
  • GPS Evidence: Hey, Holmes wrote that monograph on the many types of tobacco ash for a reason. He put that special sort of attention to detail to use, too; he could tell exactly where mud on someone's shoes came from, and used the info.


  • Had to Come to Prison to Be a Crook: Mentioned in "The Blue Carbuncle", when Sherlock decides to release the man who stole the title gem: "This fellow will not go wrong again; he is too terribly frightened. Send him to jail now, and you make him a jail-bird for life."
  • Have a Gay Old Time:
    • Watson ejaculates in a couple of the books. Back then it just meant to interject a comment into a conversation.
    • Watson's friend Percy ejaculates every third paragraph in The Summation of The Naval Treaty.
    • In The Second Stain, Lestrade warns one of his officers that he would find himself "in Queer Street." This meant he would be in financial trouble back when it was written, but those unfamiliar with hundred year old British euphemisms might take that comment in a whole different direction.
    • "The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place" does one better. Watson describes a suspect thusly: "a boxer, an athlete, a plunger on the turf, a lover of fair ladies, and, by all account, so far down Queer Street that he may never find his way back again.” For what it's worth, a "plunger on the turf" was a reckless gambler who preferred to bet on the horses.
    • "So sorry to knock you up, Watson." - The Speckled Band
    • "She pulled a little handkerchief out of her muff" - A Case Of Identity.
  • Heterosexual Life Partners: The ultimate example (although Holmes is probably just asexual.)
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: In 'The Creeping Man,' the professor ordered some 'medicine' through the mail that promised to restore his 'virility.' He heard about it through some hilariously-badly spelled and poorly-worded letters from some guy in Eastern Europe claiming to be a doctor, who made medicine out of special animal extracts. Arthur Conan Doyle frequently predicted the future in race relations, detective techniques and human nature, but this would be downright creepy if it weren't so freakin' hilarious.
  • Historical Domain Character: Sort of. While Doyle rarely used real characters, Holmes does admit that his "grandmother was the sister of Vernet, the French artist." Thought a vague and fictional reference for decades, it turns out that this certainly could've been Emile-Jean Horace Vernet - who did, in fact, have a sister, Camille Vernet. She married the very real and very famous French painter Hippolyte Lecomte, making him Holmes' grandfather, and his son, Charles Emile Hippolyte Lecomte-Vernet, Sherlock's uncle (or illegitimate father). They're a good fit, too. The Vernets and Lecomtes were an eccentric, highly talented bunch, who produced detailed paintings of the exotic and foreign. And if you look at Horace Vernet's painting and take away the 'stache, he matches the description of Holmes perfectly.
  • Historical In-Joke: The second half of A Study In Scarlet (which is itself a completely different story explaining the motive for the murderer from the first half) takes place around the time the Mormons were migrating to Utah. In real life, this is because they were chased out of every other part of the country (and, considering the size of America at the time, several places besides) by non-Mormons who didn't want them around.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Brigham Young in "A Study in Scarlet" is a mild case. He doesn't serve as an antagonist for Holmes, but he's portrayed as a crazed religious zealot with zero sympathy for anyone outside of his devoted group of followers, and he turns out to be directly responsible for the events motivating the sympathetic vigilante who commits the murders in the book.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • In The Adventure of the Speckled Band, Dr. Grimesby Roylott is bitten by the poisonous snake he intended to murder his stepdaughter Helen.. Holmes plays an indirect role in Dr. Roylott's death, but notes that he's unlikely to feel much remorse over it.
    • In The Adventure of the Copper Beeches, when Jephro Rucastle is maimed by the starved mastiff he releases to kill his imprisoned daughter. Particularly appropriate, as he was the one who ordered the dog starved and imprisoned the girl.
  • Hyper Awareness: One of the ways Holmes takes after Dupin is his belief in the powers of real observation, and as such, typically nothing gets past him.
  • Inner Monologue Conversation: Holmes does the Dupin version (deducing someone's inner monologue through observing their body language) once just to prove that he's as good as Dupin, though he describes it as "showy and superficial".
  • Inspector Lestrade: The Trope Namer, if not the Trope Maker.
  • Insufferable Genius: While rarely outwardly rude, Holmes wasn't exactly big on humility.
  • Intelligence Equals Isolation
  • Inter Class Romance: A Scandal in Bohemia has the "rich guy, common girl" romance with the Prince of Bohemia and Miss Irene Adler. Used to show how superior the resourceful and clever Miss Adler is to her 'superior':

 "From what I have seen of the lady, she seems, indeed, to be on a very different level to Your Majesty," said Holmes, coldly.

    • Worse, as the story had been written at some time in 1888, the former King of Bohemia (date of death 1875, who enjoyed royal residence, wealth and prestige even as the royal title had been removed from him) was the "imbecile Emperor" Ferdinand of Austria, while the description of the King and the fact he had a female artist as a lover matches Ludwig I of Bavaria, who had a scandalous relationship in the late 1840s. For Victorian Britain readers, the double irony was easier to understand.
    • Watson is relieved when the client's unexpected inheritance is lost in Sign of the Four because it caused this to be averted.
  • Intercontinuity Crossover: And how! The first time was before Holmes became a Public Domain Character with Arsène Lupin. However, Conan Doyle's lawyers complained so Maurice LeBlanc was allowed to use the name Sherlock Holmes only once, but went on to use the character many more times, changing his name to Horlock Sholmes or Herlock Shears (depending on the publisher) Recent English editions usually change it back to the original name, but never in the French editions. Also notable are Holmes' crossovers with detective, scifi and Gothic characters such as Dracula, Doctor Who, Batman both in comic and animated form (in the latter he and Watson suffered through many layers of Flanderization), C. Auguste Dupin, Eugine François Vidocq (Real Life detective), the H.P. Lovecraft mythos, Professor Challenger, The War of the Worlds, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, etc. and sometimes pitted against real life Serial Killers like Jack the Ripper or H.H. Holmes. And of course his brief appeareance but tremendous influence in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
  • In the Blood: Holmes states that his amazing deductive skills and genius is hereditary, he and brother both possessing them. He theorized it might have been because they were descended from the famous Vernet line of French painters. Interestingly, Vernet really did have a sister, who did have a few children, one of which would've had to have been a Holmes parent, legitimately or otherwise.
    • Holmes also believes that Moriarty turned out evil because of "hereditary tendencies of the darkest kind" magnified by his incredible natural genius. The villain of the Hound of the Baskervilles has a similar theme going on.
  • I Should Write a Book About This: And Holmes berates Watson for doing so.
  • I Will Wait for You: Deliberately invoked in A Case of Identity.
  • Invincible Hero: Averted, surprisingly. Holmes didn't always win. In The Five Orange Pips, Holmes freely confesses that he has been beaten four times; three times by men, and once by a woman (which is a Continuity Nod to A Scandal In Bohemia). And this was still early in his career. Presumably, those are just the ones where he knew who outsmarted him. In the Problem of Thor Bridge, Watson mentions his records contain many utter failures. "The Yellow Face" is a whole case about how Holmes nearly screwed the pooch. He ends the case by asking Watson to remind him of this case if it ever seems like he's phoning it in again.

 "Watson," said he, "if it should ever strike you that I am getting a little over-confident in my powers, or giving less pains to a case than it deserves, kindly whisper 'Norbury' in my ear, and I shall be infinitely obliged to you."

  • It Will Never Catch On: In the first Holmes story, A Study In Scarlet, Watson praises Holmes for having brought detection "as near an exact science as it ever will be brought in this world". Even leaving aside the current flood of forensic advancements, Scarlet was written when fingerprinting was just starting to come into use as an identification method: a technique Holmes, himself, wouldn't make use of until The Norwood Builder.
  • Insistent Terminology: Private Consulting Detective.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He keeps it well hidden behind a cold, logical exterior, but Holmes isn't entirely without a heart; it usually expresses itself through his friendship with Watson. Just look at The Three Garridebs.
  • Karmic Death: Many throughout the stories, but notably the murder of the blackmailer Charles Augustus Milverton. Both Holmes and Watson saw it happen and decided to protect the murderer, who was one of Milverton's victims.
  • Kuudere: Holmes is sometimes interpreted as one.
  • Leave Behind a Pistol
  • Let Off by the Detective: Holmes sometime does this, reasoning that his job is simply to find a solution to a crime. Since he's not technically a member of the police or the courts, he doesn't feel obliged to turn someone over if he thinks their motive was noble.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: Watson to Holmes, according to some interpretations.
    • Reversed, in the very first novel. Watson spends much of A Study In Scarlet a physical and emotional wreck after his disastrous experiences in Afghanistan (he clearly would've been diagnosed with PTSD by modern standards), alone, penniless, depressed, and miserable. His adventure with Holmes can be viewed as a much-needed re-introduction to the land of the living.
  • London Town: 221B Baker Street did not exist at the time (the house numbers only went up to 100 there). Later 221 would be assigned to the Abbey National Building Society (who had to hire a full-time clerk specifically to deal with Sherlock-related fanmail), which has now vacated that office. 221B is allocated to the museum, located between 237 and 241 Baker Street.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: ...or maybe just karma. Either way, the murderers of "The Five Orange Pips" meet an sudden end, shortly after Holmes vows revenge.
  • Magnum Opus Dissonance: Conan Doyle respected Holmes enough to avert dropping a bridge on him in The Final Problem, feeling the character deserved to go out with a bang. He did, however, resent that the character was so large that nothing he, Doyle, ever wrote would ever be able to crawl out from under Holmes's shadow.
  • Mainstream Obscurity: Not many people have read the novels themselves. However, everyone has a general idea who Sherlock is.
  • Master of Disguise: Holmes often disguised himself for his investigations, and in most instances not even Watson recognized him. Notably, Watson can't see through Holmes's disguise when he first returns to London after pretending to be dead. Watson faints when Holmes takes off his disguise..
    • Irene Adler's claim to fame, canonically, is that she actually noticed Holmes' ploy, saw through his disguise, deduced who he was - and then, just to be sure, disguised herself as a man, sped to his address in time to watch him laughing his way up the steps into 221B Baker Street, still in the disguise he'd just used on her. She then walks past, wishing him good night and using his name. Holmes himself, still drunk on how smart clever he is, fails to realize he's in disguise and a stranger on the street just called him by name. A fandom was born.
    • Note that Holmes' ability to see through other peoples' disguises wasn't always consistent with his usual perceptiveness. Many fans choose to believe that he did see through disguises, every time: he just didn't let on unless it suited his plans to do so.
  • Minion with an F In Evil: In the Valley of Fear, Morris is a member of the Scowrers, but only joined because he was discovered to be a Freeman once he moved to the Vermissa Valley. He is the only member who tries to tone down the amount of killings and bloodshed the gang commits, and warns the protagonist John Mc Murdo to find a way out.
  • Money, Dear Boy: One of the reasons Doyle eventually brought Holmes back was because of the enormous sums of money editors were offering him.
    • Also, Holmes' primary motivation for becoming the King of Bohemia's henchman, in 'A Scandal In Bohemia.' God knows there wasn't a shred of honor in it.
  • Moon Logic Puzzle: While readers may be alerted that some piece of evidence is important, the nature of the evidence might not be known until near the end of the story. Of course, this could be dismissed as an Unreliable Narrator who tells the story from their point of view rather than getting the information from Holmes.
  • Muscles Are Meaningless: Not entirely, but Holmes is very thin yet surprisingly strong.
  • My Card: Common due to the Victorian setting.
  • My Greatest Failure: In "The Yellow Face"
  • Mysterious Past: Sherlock Holmes himself. Watson often wondered what set of circumstances could've produced Holmes, and Holmes never gave away anything about his history, larger family (except his brother), or education. We only know he's descended from French artists and British country squires, he went to University for two years, and has a brother, which doesn't even begin to explain all his weirdness. Then again, we actually learn even less about Watson - but then again, Holmes has way more strangeness to account for. Explaining Holmes' mysterious past is a common topic in pastiche and fanfiction.
  • Never Found the Body: The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Final Problem (both Holmes and Moriarty).
  • Nice Hat: Contrary to what now is popular belief, Holmes did wear a deerstalker. But never in the city, always in the country. In the city he sometimes wore a Top Hat, when not undercover of course. This is according to the original Sydney Paget illustrations, that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle approved himself (and he usually requested Paget as his artist), so it's canon, or at least more canon that interior illustrations tend to be.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: In his tongue-in-cheek biography, William S. Baring-Gould suggests that The prince of Bohemia from "A Scandal in Bohemia" was actually Albert Edward, then Prince of Wales. A common theory also names Edward as the title character of "The Illustrious Client".
    • A more certain one: Charles Augustus Milverton is based off of a real life (alleged) blackmailer, Charles Augustus Howell.
  • Noodle Incident: Several cases are referred to by name, but never explained. For example, "the shocking affair of the Dutch steamship Friesland, which so nearly cost us both our lives," and "the giant rat of Sumatra, a story for which the world is not yet prepared."
    • Gilbert Adair, in the somewhat bizarre finale 'And then there was no one' to his trilogy of murder mystery pastiches, actually gives the full story of 'The Giant Rat of Sumatra'. And it's surprisingly Doyle-like.
    • Holmes also frequently says he's considering several possible explanations for a case, but rarely reveals what the rejected hypotheses were, once the real solution comes to light.
  • No Pronunciation Guide: Holmes' name is supposed to be pronounced with an audible l, not "homes" as it usually is.
  • Not So Stoic: Holmes in "The Three Garridebs", after Watson gets hurt.

 (Holmes speaking) "You're not hurt, Watson? For God's sake, say that you are not hurt!"

It was worth a wound--it was worth many wounds--to know the depth of loyalty and love which lay behind that cold mask. The clear, hard eyes were dimmed for a moment, and the firm lips were shaking. For the one and only time I caught a glimpse of a great heart as well as of a great brain. All my years of humble but single-minded service culminated in that moment of revelation.

  • Not with Them for the Money: Watson to Mary Morstan in The Sign of the Four--to the point where he resolves not to even bother wooing her if the money Holmes is searching for turns up, not wanting to be thought of as a Gold Digger. He doesn't tell her his true feelings until the treasure box is found, empty.


  • Old Friend: After being essentially absent for 6 books, Tobias Gregson treats Holmes like one when they meet up in The Red Circle.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Subverted. Doyle (unsurprisingly given that he was a doctor) accurately treats Watson's wound in Afghanistan as highly physically debilitating. Unfortunately, he could rarely remember exactly where the wound was...
    • And then there's the time in "The Three Garridebs" when it was only a flesh wound, giving us a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming when we see Holmes really and truly frightened at the thought of Watson being hurt.
  • Only Friend: Holmes's idiosyncracies and general lack of interest in other humans except as puzzles ensures that Watson is his entire social circle.
  • Orgy of Evidence: In The Adventure of the Norwood Builder, there is already considerable evidence incriminating the suspect in the eyes of the police, but the clincher is a bloody thumbprint of the suspect on the wall. Holmes finds this suspicious, especially as he had carefully searched that hall the day before, and there had been no bloody thumbprint there, making the clue in his eyes proof that it was a setup.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire involves a client who thinks his wife has become a vampire after seeing her suck the blood of her newborn son. Holmes dismisses the notion as ridiculous, and soon ferrets out the truth.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Watson, who is intelligent and capable in his own right; he just pales in comparison to Holmes.
  • Paranormal Investigation: The Hound Of The Baskervilles.
  • Perma Shave: In Hound of the Baskervilles.
  • Playing Drunk: The villain in A Study in Scarlet plays drunk to allay suspicion after returning to the scene of the crime.
  • Police Are Useless: In the early stories, the men of Scotland Yard were a collection of incompetent dullards who'd have trouble catching a cold, much less a criminal. In The Sign of Four Holmes proclaims "I would rather have the help of Toby (a dog) than the entire detective force of London!" Holmes' dim view of the police was actually Truth in Television at the time, such as fouling up the investigation of the Jack the Ripper murders, and as the real-life police took steps to improve their investigative techniques, their depictions in the stories also improved to the point where Inspector Gregson was praised for his courage and Inspector Lestrade was a more thorough investigator who simply lacked Holmes' Hyper Awareness. The police were also generally portrayed as having their own merits and being capable of solving the everyday cases that were beneath Holmes' notice. However, in Wisteria Lodge, the country detective Baynes is nearly up to Holmes' standard for observation (finding and analyzing the crumpled note in the fireplace) and tactical cleverness (the false arrest). Holmes handsomely congratulates him, saying "You will rise high in your profession."
  • Private Detective: One of the first to popularize the genre.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: In "The Solitary Cyclist", a man in love with Holmes's pretty, young client interrupts the story's villain forcing the girl to marry him.

 Villain: "You're too late. She's my wife."

Admirer: "No, she's your widow." And then shoots him. Subverted in that the villain survives.

  • Psycho Serum: Involved in "The Creeping Man"
  • Public Secret Message: Multiple examples. Conan Doyle seemed to like this one.
    • In "The Adventure of the Red Circle", someone places ads in the London Daily Gazette' "agony column" to send secret messages.
    • "The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans" also features messages in an agony column as a clue, this time in the Daily Telegraph.
    • In "The Adventure of the Dancing Men", a series of dancing stick figures appeared in several locations visible to anyone who passed by. Holmes decides the figures represent letters and decodes the message.
  • Purple Prose: Holmes accuses Watson's writing style of being this.
  • Rail Enthusiast: Watson can recite the rail schedules off the top of his head.
  • Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic: Of the Spontaneous Eloquent Monologue type.
  • Retcon: Remember that for seven years after "The Final Problem" was published, Holmes was dead, then the fandom bugged Arthur Conan Doyle enough that he wrote "The Empty House"
  • Ripped from the Headlines: A few stories were based on actual crimes, such as "The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton"
  • Roman Nose: In one of the Basil Rathbone movies, Holmes decoys an assassin by using a bust of Julius Caesar to produce a similar silhouette in his window. He quips: "Throughout history, Watson, prominent men have had prominent noses."
  • Sacrificed Basic Skill for Awesome Training: In the first story, it's revealed that Holmes has no literary knowledge beyond modern crime literature, and when Watson explains the makeup of the solar system to him, he is interested, but immediately comments that he will "do his best to forget it." Why? Because Holmes reasons that there is only so much you can hold in your head, and he needs only what is required for his profession. This tends to be ignored by other writers.
    • As it was by Doyle himself almost straight away. Despite apparently having nil knowledge of literature, Holmes is able to quote Goethe in the original and is familiar with Thomas Carlyle. Perhaps Holmes just had one of those "famous quote each day" novelty calendars?
  • Scare'Em Straight: This trope is Lampshaded by Holmes when he lets James Ryder go in The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle. Holmes notes that Ryder is already a nervous wreck after everything he's been through, and that he's too scared to ever commit a crime again. Putting Ryder in jail would only making him a jailbird for life, but letting him go after very nearly being ruined will keep him from ever doing wrong again. In any event, the greater good would be served since Holmes would be able to ensure the man Ryder framed would be found innocent of the crime.
  • Science Marches On: In "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle", Sherlock determines that a man is intelligent by his hat size, reasoning that a man with a big head has a large brain, and therefore is smarter than averge. We now know that there is no connection between brain size and intelligence.
    • Brain Fever appears in several stories, which is not a real condition.
    • In several stories Holmes attributes things like personality and interests to genetics.
    • The science in "The Creeping Man" is flawed, to say the least.
      • Unless you consider the effects of the 'potion' to be psychosomatic, and Professor Presbury a highly suggestible lunatic.
    • Sherlock refuses to learn things not related to criminology because he thinks the brain is like an attic with a limited space for knowledge.
      • This explanation is used in several modernization-adaptations as well, because the quantity of information readily available in the brain is actually limited, so for all pragmatic purposes, Sherlock was right.
  • Scooby-Doo Hoax: Every single time Holmes encounters a "supernatural" phenomenon, he will use his deductive powers and knowledge of esoteric elements to determine that it was not only a hoax, but exactly how it was done. "The Hound of the Baskervilles" is perhaps one of the most famous examples.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: Holmes LOVES this trope. Made particulary clear in The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax where he convinces someone to wait for the Police (which would take 24 hours to get a warrant) before breaking and entering the house of a Conman in search of his kidnapped loved one... only for him and Watson to arrive to the Conman's house and hold him at gun point while they search for the kidnapped person.

 "Where is your warrant?"

Holmes half drew a revolver from his pocket. "This will have to serve till a better one comes."

"Why, you are a common burglar."

"So you might describe me," said Holmes cheerfully. "My companion is also a dangerous ruffian. And together we are going through your house."

    • His treatment of Jack the Ripper in the Frogwares game, leaving him as a prisoner of his own community.
  • Secret Other Family: The expense of maintaining one is the motive in Silver Blaze.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Holmes liked to dress well and, as noted above, in the books would never wear countrywear in the city.
  • Sherlock Scan: The Trope Namer, - Sherlock's favorite marketing shtick, a perfect means to impress potential clients as to his skills.
  • Shipper on Deck: (The Adventure of the Copper Beeches)Watson has brief hopes for his friend and Violet Hunter, an independent-minded governess with a remarkable knack for observation. He's disappointed when Holmes loses all interest in the woman after the case is solved.
  • Show the Forehead: Holmes in the Paget illustrations.
  • Snakes Are Evil: Holmes compares Moriarty's shifty gaze to that of a snake.
  • Spanner in the Works: The Adventure of the Naval Treaty features Joseph Harrison, the brother of Percy Phelps' fiancee stealing an important treaty. He hides it under the floorboards in his bedroom, intending to sell it to the French or Russian Embassies later, but before he can Percy comes home after suffering a nervous breakdown over the treaty's theft. Joseph ends up kicked out of his own room, where Percy goes to rest, and the treaty remains hidden under the floorboards where Joseph can't reach it. This prevents the treaty from being sold long enough for Percy to recover from his fever and enlist the help of Holmes.
  • Spin-Off: Recurring characters Mycroft Holmes, Irene Adler and Lestrade all have their own authorized series of non canonical books, with varying degrees of success.
  • Stealth Insult
  • The Stoner: Cocaine, naturally.
  • Suspicious Spending: The Valley of Fear had Holmes mention that Professor Moriarty owned a painting worth many times over his legitimate annual income. At the time, this was the most tangible piece of evidence Holmes could find against Moriarty.
  • That's What I Would Do: In one of the short stories, Holmes matches his wits against an unusually clever criminal (no, not Moriarty). Afterwards, he tells Watson it was one of his easier cases; normally he has to adjust his deduction of what the criminal would do, since most people are significantly less smart than himself, Holmes. But in this case, what the criminal did is exactly what Holmes himself would have done, making it easier for Holmes to follow him!
  • They Have the Scent
  • Title Drop: "The Speckled Band" is spoken in-story as part of a woman's last words.
  • Total Party Kill: The fate of all the honest crew on the Gloria Scott and then a second time shortly afterwards, with the mutineers, as well as the entire ship.
  • Treasure Map: The Musgrave Ritual. However, given that the map's directions gave the starting point derived from the shadow of one tree when the sun was above a second tree as they were nearly two and a half centuries before the map was used (They would have grown, changing both the angle of the sun and the length of the object casting the shadow - given that they weren't the same kind of tree, they might not have grown at the same rate, further complicating the issue), and the directions were given in the highly inaccurate paces (Holmes has noted that the length of a man's pace is directly related to his height many times, and the idea that Holmes' legs are the same length as the legs of the man who made the map is a bit of a stretch), the fact that they actually found the treasure is rather surprising.
  • Trouble Magnet Gambit: Happens by accident in The Hound Of The Baskervilles, in which the escaped convict Seldon is secretly given some old clothes of Sir Henry's. The titular hound is set on the trail by the smell of Sir Henry's boot, and understandably mistakes Seldon for its real target because of the clothes' odor.
  • Truth In Literature: Doyle himself would go on to investigate, Sherlock Holmes style, the cases of two men who had been wrongly imprisoned and found the evidence to set them free.
    • The examination of a victim's clothes for clues and the use of plaster to make impressions of marks on the ground was first done in the stories and later became real.


  • Unexpected Inheritance: A major part of The Sign of the Four and The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist. A fake one is used in The Adventure of the Three Garridebs.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Holmes accuses Watson of being one to some extent.
    • Considering Watson openly admits to having mixed up narratives in ordinary conversation at a tense moment (e.g. firing a tiger cub at a double-barreled shotgun rather than vice versa), it could be argued that he accuses himself of being one, too.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Setting up culprits to incriminate themselves, Holmes never lets Watson or the police in on what he's planning. Often, they (and readers) don't even have any idea which culprit he's expecting will show up.
    • Note that "A Scandal in Bohemia," Holmes' most well-known failure to catch a culprit, involves Holmes telling Watson and his client his plan in exact detail, only for it to be foiled.
  • The Uriah Gambit: "The Crooked Man", also discussed at the end.
  • Unbuilt Trope: By now, even ardent fans of the series are used to the classic image of Holmes as the genius "superhero detective" who stands up for justice and battles criminals and evil geniuses. The series shows many tropes that are now familiar to people in the fiction genre.
    • Asshole Victim - Appears in the first work Holmes appears in. In contrast to modern works where murder is considered inexcusable even the suspect has been harmed in major ways by the victim the murderer that he apprehends turns out to be a wholly sympathetic vigilante who was just trying to avenge his dead wife, but dies at the end anyway. The closest thing that the novel has to actual "villains" are the murder victims themselves.
    • Defective Detective - Holmes eccentricities are portrayed very differently from more modern depictions of the detective. While the modern Defective Detective can credit much of their forensic skills to their eccentricities, they also at times hinder the detective.
  • The Unsolved Mystery: In The Problem of Thor Bridge The Watson makes a mention of at least three cases even SherlockHolmes could not solve. He even justifies not publishing them because: A problem without a solution may interest the student, but can hardly fail to annoy the casual reader. And of course, the third of these sounds so fascinating to make a FanFiction of it.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: The Swiss messenger who lures Watson away in "The Final Problem" was formerly the trope namer.
  • Victorian London: the setting for most of the original mysteries.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: No one could believe Moriarty was a Master Criminal even by the time The Final Problem was published. According to Watson he only published an account of his dear friend's death because, thanks to Moriarty's brother, people still didn't believe he was guilty. Moriarty was described by an Inspector as being "a very respectable, learned, and talented sort of man" and even went as far as saying that "When he put his hand on my shoulder as we were parting, it was like a father's blessing before you go out into the cold, cruel world." Holmes couldn't help but chuckle at the irony.
  • The Von Trope Family: Von Bork of His Last Bow.
  • The Watson: The Trope Namer.
  • Watsonian Versus Doylist: Another Trope Namer.
  • We Help the Helpless: Holmes sells his services to anyone and everyone, from the poorest pawnbrokers to the wealthiest kings. Helping some of his university classmates with their dilemmas inspired Holmes to do it for a living.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The Baker Street Irregulars are called on in the first two novels, and are never seen again.
    • Toby the dog, whose tracking abilities Holmes valued above the skills of all Scotland Yard, appears only once.
  • Where Are They Now? Epilogue: At the end of "The Adventure of the Copper Beaches".
  • Whole-Episode Flashback: The Musgrave Ritual and Gloria Scott. Three out of the four novels also feature this, namely Study In Scarlet, Sign Of Four, and Valley Of Fear. This is mostly the reason why Hound of The Baskervilles became the most filmed Canonical story ever and consequently the most famous.
  • With Friends Like These...: Arguably, Holmes and Watson.
  • Word of Dante: Holmesian fanon (known amongst fans as The Game, since long before the existance of the internet) is varied and has many varied sources from many mediums. The three main sources, however, are William Stuart Baring-Gould's The annotated Sherlock Holmes, Leslie Klinger's The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes and The Granada tv series starring Jeremy Brett as Holmes and David Burke (Series 1 and 2) and Edward Hardwicke (series 3 - 7) as Watson.
    • Irene Adler is now frequently considered to be Holmes' Love Interest thanks to this trope and Promoted to Love Interest.
    • Similarly, Mycroft Holmes and the Diogenes Club have been expanded by later pastiches (notably The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes) into the Head of the Secret Service and one of its fronts respectively, when in the original canon they're little more than what Doyle presents them as (a Brilliant but Lazy civil servant and a club for reclusive eccentrics).
  • World War One: The last hurrah of the original canon (stories written by Doyle himself) deal with this and the struggle against German intelligence trying to destroy the Allies.
  • Year Zero: Holmes is revealed to be 60 years old during 1914 which effectively gave him a birth year (1854) and an age (27) during A Study in Scarlet.
  • You Have Waited Long Enough: In "The Adventure Of the Noble Bachelor", a woman vanished immediately after her wedding. Holmes speaks of recognizing it from comparison with past cases, and tracks down the bride and her first husband, whom she had just learned was still alive.


  1. a deerstalker in "Silver Blaze", an Inverness coat in "The Blue Carbuncle"
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