[After the investigation of the crime scene, which included "Rache" on the wall, assumed by Lestrade, a police detective, to be an unfinished "Rachel"]
"I'll tell you one thing which may help you in the case," [Holmes] continued turning to the two detectives. "There has been murder done, and the murderer was a man. He was more than six feet high, was in the prime of life, had small feet for his height, wore coarse, square-toed boots and smoked a Trichinopoly cigar. He came here with his victim in a four-wheeled cab, which was drawn by a horse with three old shoes and one new one on his off fore-leg. In all probability the murderer had a florid face, and the finger-nails of his right hand were remarkably long. These are only a few of the indications, but they may assist you."
Lestrade and Gregson glanced at each other with an incredulous smile.
"If this man was murdered, how was it done?" asked the former.
"Poison," said Sherlock Holmes curtly, and strode off. "One other thing, Lestrade," he added, turning round at the door: "'Rache' is the German for 'revenge'; so don't lose your time looking for Miss Rachel."
With which Parthian shot he walked away, leaving the two rivals open-mouthed behind him.
A Study In Scarlet is just one big CMOA all the way through.
The Speckled Band: The villain, Dr. Roylott, visits Holmes at 221B Baker Street to threaten him, and demonstrates his strength by bending a fireplace poker into a curve. As soon as he leaves, Holmes takes the poker and casually straightens it back out, forever cementing his Badass Bookworm status.
It should be noted that straightening a bent poker would require more strength than bending it.
Holmes' duel to the death with Evil Counterpart Professor Moriarty, as described in The Final Problem and The Empty House. Bonus points for occurring entirely offscreen and still being one of the most memorable moments in the series.
And then he gets one simply by being too awesome to be put down, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is forced to bring him back to life. Truly, he is the first fictional character (before the advent of comic books anyway) to have such power over his creator. The only other hero to do so would be James Bond to Ian Fleming.
Oh, come on, everybody. It's the bar fight in The Solitary Cyclist where Holmes effortlessly wipes the floor with the local bully boy.
"I emerged as you see me [with a minor scrape]. Mr. Woodley was taken home in a cart."
Switching places with his own wax effigy to get back the stolen Mineral MacGuffin in The Mazarin Stone.
It's not in the canon, but Holmes outdoes himself in The Seven-Per-Cent Solution when he upstages a Viennese police official with little more than sheer presence, just after he hijacks a train at gunpoint. It's not quite as out of character as it sounds, and is all in the name of justice, of course.
A succinct description of The Seven-Per-Cent Solution would be that the first half is a CMOA for Watson, who tricks Holmes (albeit a deranged Holmes, and with the aid of Mycroft) and recruits Sigmund Freud to help with Holmes' detox, and the second half is a CMOA for Holmes, who averts a war, culminating in the above moment.
This quintessential Holmes exchange:
Gregory: "Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?"
Holmes: "To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time."
Gregory: "The dog did nothing in the night-time."
Holmes: "That was the curious incident."
(From "Silver Blaze")
In "The Adventure of the Empty House," Holmes disguises himself as an old book collector and visits Watson, then takes off his disguise when Watson has his back turned, causing Watson to faint for the only time in his life. This can also be seen as an example of Holmes' Magnificent Bastard tendencies, as most would agree that that's not a very considerate way to let your closest friend know you hadn't died three years previously.
The ending of The Dying Detective, where the murderer Culverton Smith has come to see the "dying" Holmes to gloat, and Holmes gets him to boast about his crimes. When Smith has made a full confession, Holmes reveals that he isn't ill at all, but simply acted the part to trap Smith.
Better yet, in His Last Bow he plays a part for two years in order to trap a German spy. His victim's reaction when he learns of the deception is priceless.
The ending of A Case of Identity when Holmes confronts Windibank over the breaking of his marrage engagement to Holmes' client:
“The law cannot, as you say, touch you,” said Holmes, unlocking and throwing open the door, “yet there never was a man who deserved punishment more. If the young lady has a brother or a friend, he ought to lay a whip across your shoulders. By Jove!” he continued, flushing up at the sight of the bitter sneer upon the man’s face, “it is not part of my duties to my client, but here’s a hunting crop handy, and I think I shall just treat myself to—” He took two swift steps to the whip, but before he could grasp it there was a wild clatter of steps upon the stairs, the heavy hall door banged, and from the window we could see Mr. James Windibank running at the top of his speed down the road.
It should also be added that this is a rare research error on Doyle's part, as breaking a promise to marry was actionable in civil court at the time, and Miss Sutherland (or, more likely, her stepfather) could have easily filed suit with Holmes' information and testimony in hand.
One problem. Her stepfather is Windibank. Although women were allowed to bring Breach of Promise suits by themselves; she could also have gotten Holmes to do it for her, as "by her friend".
A problem with that, too, since it was made quite clear she wasn't going to, being still completely in love with him.
In "The Noble Bachelor", Holmes' latest client is part of the titled gentry, and rather condescendingly remarks to Holmes that he must rarely see clients of such a station. Holmes' response is to casually reply that the client is in fact correct; Holmes is currently slumming it. He then proceeds to inform the outraged and surprised client that his last client was the King of Scandinavia, thus preventing any more of that kind of talk.
"The Mazarin Stone": Pretending to go off and practice the violin, then turning a phonograph on and standing in the place of the wax dummy of himself, so that the criminals walk by him with the stone and he takes it right from their hands.
He saves Holmes in The Adventure of the Devil's Foot when Holmes lights the poisonous ash, and Watson drags the stricken Holmes and himself out of the room.
Insisting on accompanying Holmes on his risky mission of breaking into Charles Augustus Milverton's home to get back the letters he's using to blackmail a client. When Holmes refuses, Watson backs up his suit by threatening to report him to the police if he doesn't include him... and Holmes knows he's not kidding!
I always enjoyed one of Watson's moments at the end of the meeting with Milverton. When Holmes and Watson attempt to relieve good ol' Chuck of his blackmailing materials, Milverton brandishes a gun and starts to walk out. Watson reflexively grabs a chairand is seconds away from bashing him over the head, and only when Holmes directs him to stop does the doctor stand down. Because dammit, there's a woman being unfairly persecuted, and John H. Watson, M.D. doesn't stand for that sort of thing.
He [Charles] stepped forward, took up his coat, laid his hand on his revolver, and turned to the door. I picked up a chair, but Holmes shook his head and I laid it down again.
The Adventure of the Three Gables: Watson's response to a street thug storming in and threatening Holmes if he doesn't mind his own business from now on is to casually pick up the fire poker, causing the visitor's manner to become obviously "less flamboyant."
He also knocks out Sir Gervase, a boxer, with a single punch then proceeds to smoothly order some breakfast in The Adventure of The Wax Gamblers (a non-canon story by John Dickson Carr). This Troper particularly enjoyed Watson being ice cool and Holmes going into full fanboy mode over * him* for a change.
Speaking of non-canonical stories, there's Stephen King's "The Doctor's Case", where Holmes' observational finesse is impaired by an allergy outbreak and Watson winds up solving the case all by himself. Granted, Holmes figures out the solution about thirty seconds into The Summation, but he lets Watson do all the explaining in order to let him have his moment of triumph.
And aren't we forgetting a trifling third or so of The Hound of Baskervilles where the good doctor does a pretty good job of investigating the mystery himself?
This is especially so as it's he who discovers a key link in Holmes' theory through interviewing Laura Lyons.
Not to mention Holmes himself outright praises Watson's efforts in the case thus far.
At the end of the novel, he explained how quickly he was able to determine who was behind the murder, and their true identity. Even before Watson left for Devonshire, Holmes had deduced much.
In "The Norwood Builder", Holmes Sherlock Scans the client, to said man's usual surprise. Watson quickly locates all the clues Holmes used to make his deduction, showing off how much he'd learned from working with Holmes.
In "The Bruce-Partington Plans", Watson has to keep watch while Holmes robs a house. He's highly doubtful about doing this until Holmes reminds him that the country is relying on them and they have no choice, prompting him to stand up and declare, "You are right, Holmes. We are bound to go." Holmes immediately jumps up, shakes his hand and says, "I knew you would not shrink at the last."
Watson manages to figure out what's going on in The Greek Interpreter (that a Greek immigrant is being forced to write over properties to the bad guy) after said interpreter's description of the happening with absolutely zero prompting from Holmes.
And from The Valley of Fear, Watson finally gets the best of Holmes in an exchange of wit:
Holmes: "You have heard me speak of Professor Moriarty?"
Watson: "The famous scientific criminal, as famous among crooks as—"
"My blushes, Watson!" Holmes murmured in a deprecating voice.
"I was about to say, as he is unknown to the public."
"A touch! A distinct touch!" cried Holmes. "You are developing a certain unexpected vein of pawky humour, Watson, against which I must learn to guard myself."
Holmes & Watson
The Sign of the Four: Holmes and Watson get in a boat chase with the villains. Near the end, they both raise their pistols and shoot The Dragon, an Andaman tribesman. He dies and plunges into the water, though not before firing one last poison-dart.
From "The Disappearance of Lady Carfax", when Holmes and Watson are looking for Mrs Lady Carfax who was kidnapped by a Smug Snake of a conman, they realise that they won't be able to get a warrant in the next 24 hours to search the house of the conman and decide to take a more... proactive approach.
"I want to know what you have done with the Lady Frances Carfax, whom you brought away with you from Baden."
If [the hound] was vulnerable he was mortal, and if we could wound him we could kill him.
A Study in Scarlet: Jefferson Hope revealing, after being caught, his Gambit Roulette of a vengeance against Stangerson and Drebber for what they did 20 years ago.
The villain of Hound of the Baskervilles, Rodger Baskerville Jr. aka Jack Vandeleur aka John Stapleton, outsmarts Holmes by telling the carriage driver that he was Holmes. Even Holmes admits his "loss."
A villain so awesome that Doyle gave him an entirely off-screen death, eminently retconnable should he ever have wished to use him again later. As it turned out, he didn't, but still...
And the Magnificent Bitch named Irene Adler? The only woman who completely pwned Holmes in Scandal in Bohemia? No wonder Holmes has her in high regards.
The Valley of Fear: If we're talking about Gambit Roulette, how can we not mention that singular quote: "Birdy Edwards is here. I am Birdy Edwards!"
The anonymous woman who shoots and kills the Diabolical Mastermind Charles Augustus Milverton, when the most Holmes aspired to was robbing his house.
Miss Kitty Winter getting her revenge on the villain of The Illustrious Clientby throwing vitriol (aka the highly corrosive sulfuric acid) in his face!
In "The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter" (the same story in which the example directly below this one took place), the last paragraph mentions, in a completely off-hand way, how Sophy Katrides, up until that point something of a Distressed Damsel (though less so than the male client, granted) stabbed to death the two men responsible for killing her brother.
After Sherlock first introduces Watson (and the reader) to his brother Mycroft, the Holmes brothers sit in front of a large observation window and preform an epic Sherlock Scan volley on some random guy in the street.
While canonically, Mycroft cleanly outperformed Sherlock, may I point out that this is yet another moment for Sherlock. Let me explain: Sherlock deduces that the subject has a child because he is carrying a rattle home from the shop; Mycroft corrects this to "children" on observing that the subject has a picture book as well. The fact that Doyle could think of no way for Mycroft to one-up Sherlock without having Sherlock commit a totally uncharacteristic oversight demonstrates the skill of Sherlock to a degree that no solved mystery ever could.
In The Yellow Face: Grant Munro, faced with the revelation that his wife had been married to a black man (now dead) and had a young biracial daughter whom she'd been hiding from Grant since she married him, takes all this in in silence for ten minutes. At length he picks the girl up, kisses her, holds out his hand to his wife, and says, "We can talk it over more comfortably at home. I am not a very good man, Effie, but I think that I am a better one than you have given me credit for being."
This troper also thought it was neat that it was the wife who insisted he have control over all the assets (even the money that was hers pre-marriage); if not for her insistence, he would have been just fine with her controlling her own. From what I understand, that was also a remarkably liberal attitude for the time.
Holmes came to several false conclusions during this case, and his final lines are a CMOA for him, as he demonstrates his rarely-seen humility: "Watson, 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."
ColonelSebastianMoran. You only have to read how Holmes speaks of him in "The Final Problem" and "The Adventure of the Empty House". He calls Moran "the second most dangerous man in London", with only Moriarty posing more of a threat. This guy had Sherlock Holmes scared. The detective ran because that was the only option; he knew that if Moran got within rifle distance just once, it was all over. He hunted Holmes for years and across several countries, stopping only when his money ran out and rendered him unable to continue. This is clearly NOT a man you want coming after you.
But at the story's climax, of course, Holmes and Watson get their own CMOA when they get the jump on Moran (a master assassin, mind you) by rigging up a flawless decoy dummy in Baker Street, then ambushing him at his sniping position at the precise moment that he thinks he's finally killed Holmes.
The Five Orange Pips. Basic summary: Holmes' latest client believes he's being hunted, as he has recieved a letter with five orange pips, just as his father and uncle did before their deaths. When he leaves, Holmes tells Watson that this is the calling card of the Ku Klux Klan, who send these pips as a warning to their next target. Before he can help the man, however, a Klansmen orchestrates the death of Holmes' latest client, mere minutes after he had just gone to Holmes for help. Angered by this, Holmes leaves his apartment, returning a good while later hungry. Watson asks where he's been, so he reveals that he tracked down the name and current location of the Klansmen responsible and finds that he and his crew, who are all likely in on it or helped, have just left England to return to America. Instead of trailing after them, he sent them a letter with five orange pips, resulting in them believing that another member has ordered their death and causing them to refuse to return to land, dying at sea along with his crew. In summary, Do. Not. Fuck. With. Sherlock. Holmes.
Granada TV series
Granada's adaptation of "The Dying Detective" has Sherlock Holmes give a sterling tirade against Culverton Smith, helped immensely by the ominous music accompanying it:
"Smith! SMITH!(spots him in a window) Ah! It is a singular coincidence, is it not, that you should inherit so much from the man who died of a disease upon which you are the sole expert? Well?! (eyebrow raise) Coincidence bordering upon the unbelievable! Let me tell you: The doors of your profession, which have been closed to you, will now be locked and bolted against you! It is my mission."
The Granada TV adaptation of "The Illustrious Client" had one for the man Holmes assigned to protect Kitty. Holmes had been beat up by two thugs hired by the villain, and the same pair of thugs go after Kitty. He hands their asses to them on a plate.
The writers who wrote the adaptation should get a CMOA also. The original story never specifies how Kitty was ruined by the villain. In the Granada adaptation, Kitty was scarred by vitriol being thrown on her. Her method of revenge is thus explained and justified.
Guy Ritchie film series
Holmes manages, within a matter of moments, to completely disguise himself with things he picks up while busy trailing Irene through a carnival, then catch up to her coach and even catch a tiny glimpse of her employer.
When Irene is almost mugged in an alley, she manages to beat the muggers and steal their wallets.
The entire sequence of Blackwood's men versus Holmes and Watson in the "ginger midget's" lair. Also doubles as a Crowning Moment of Funny.
The Summationwhere Holmes has Blackwood dangling off Tower Bridge and proceeds to reveal everything he'd effortlessly deduced over the course of the entire movie, casually finishing the complete demolition of Blackwood's supernatural pretensions and then saving Blackwood's life so that he can rightfully go to the gallows should be enough to persuade any skeptic that this really is Sherlock Holmes we're watching.
Lord Coward turning to shoot Holmes, only to find that while he wasn't looking, Holmes had closed the flue in the fireplace and is now hidden in a billowing cloud of smoke. Holmes baits Coward with a bit of misdirection in the smoke while the villain searches until it clears and we see Holmes is jauntily sitting in a chair behind the villain.
The best part is that, at the beginning of the scene, it looks like Coward is being Dangerously Genre Savvy, getting ready to kill Holmes the second he's got him prisoner. And Holmes still outmaneuvers him.
Awesome Music: The only way to make that scene even more awesome is to play "Rocky Road to Dublin" over it.
Holmes is kidnapped by a leader of the secret society, who smugly assumes that Holmes is wondering where he is and who he's dealing with, having been blindfolded for the whole trip. Except Holmes was able to use various auditory and physical clues to deliver a turn-by-turn account of the trip and divined his "host's" name from correspondence in the room, and asks why they even bothered to blindfold him. Also a Crowning Moment of Funny.
"Yes. Well. Standard procedure I Suppose."
The opening sequence itself; it had been many moons since a wide-release, mainstream Holmes had been in theaters and the movie wastes no time setting the tone for this new vision, with an action-packed prologue that shows off the duo's melee skills, snarkery, and the good old Sherlock Scan.
Also, Holmes stopping Watson from going into Blackwood's Blade Below the Shoulder, which is shown to us at an angle to project how Watson sees it (or doesn't, as the glass doesn't show up at that angle), then the camera moves just a bit and reveals the glass blade.
Holmes pulls out an elaborate lock-picking kit and begins testing the lock carefully in order to break into the Ginger Midget's lab. Watson turns up behind him and simply kicks the door down without preamble, telling Holmes that he's in a hurry and needs to leave to see Mary's parents in ten minutes.
Watson getting blown up is mostly an Oh, Crap moment, but it doubles as a CMOA given that, when he realizes he's just tripped a bomb wire and is going to die in about five seconds, his only action is to immediately whirl around and shout for Holmes to not come any closer.
Holmes and Moriarty playing a game of chess without looking at the board, knowing exactly where every piece is, and at the same time discussing their plans.
Moriarty sticking a fish hook into Holmes and spinning him round and round while singing along to a German opera about a man who wanted to catch a fish, or something like that. A moment of surreal brilliance. Made doubly awesome by the fact that Holmes stole Moriarty's notebook during the scene and put the illustration mentioned below into it.
Moriarty's The Reveal to Irene Adler in the dining hall. If you simply must know, Irene is drinking tea in plain sight whilst Moriarty sits behind a red curtain, continuing the motif of the faceless character from the first film. They are chatting when Moran, nearby, clangs a cup twice, and the ENTIRE dining hall clears out except for Irene and Moriarty. It is at this point Moriarty reveals himself.
The opera scene is where Moriarty firmly establishes himself as a Magnificent Bastard. Holmes has followed a trail of clues leading him to a bomb Moriarty has planted at an opera house. Holmes gets backstage, reaches a platform beneath the stage...and there's no bomb. Instead, there's a chess piece (a king) sitting in one corner, and when Holmes picks the piece up, he looks through a hole in the platform and has a direct line of sight to Moriarty's seat, where the Professor just smiles at him. Meanwhile, the actual bomb, planted at a diplomatic conference at a hotel, detonates.
Moriarty taunts Holmes that all of his efforts have not really accomplished anything in the end. Holmes counters by revealing that he not only allowed Moriarty to torture him earlier in the film purposefully in order to get a chance to steal the pocket notebook in which his assets are documented, he also figured out how its contents were encoded and passed it all on to Lestrade, who is already in the process of confiscating much of Moriarty's wealth. Checkmate.
Oh, come on, no mention of Holmes' flipbook? Especially since it's a direct nod to earlier in the film when Moriarty asked Holmes who was the fisherman and who was the fish...and the flipbook shows a fisherman getting eaten by his own catch: a shark. It ends with the shark quipping "Be careful what you fish for!"
The awesome and ironic point that Moriarty, whose plans were to profit from a war that HE would cause, lost his fortune to a charity benefiting wives and orphans of war victims.
The last scene...Holmes disguised as a chair in Watson's own house, sneaking a peak at the emotional tribute Watson is penning about him! You just know he's about to crash the second honeymoon trip.
Possibly even one-upping his own literary canon counterpart by sending Watson an anonymous package containing Mycroft's breathing device, just knowing that Watson will recognize it immediately. And as Watson runs off asking Mary if the postman looked unusual, Holmes suddenly pops up off the chair to add his singular punctuation mark to Watson's manuscript...
Watson. Cannon. That is all.
"That's not fair."
Mary, of all people, pulling a gun on one of the assassins on the train.
I think it's time for you to leave.
Another small one for Mary: close to the end of the film, she, along with Scotland Yard, use the information given to them by Holmes to gain more evidence behind Moriarty's plan. Mary helps by putting her governess education skills in practice to decode Moriarty's notebook.
This cannot possibly be emphasized enough: in the end, Moriarty's entire operation is dismantled by Inspector Lestrade and Mrs. Watson.
Cue the scene where boxes and boxes of money are stacked in the offices, and then Mary just smiles and says "That's the end of page two. Page three..."
As Holmes, Watson, and Sim are fleeing from Moriarty's weapons factory, they are pursued by Moran and several Mooks. At one point, Holmes dodges a near-point blank shot from one mook, grabs his rifle, and knocks him out while chambering a new round in said rifle and passing it to Watson, who then non-fatally snipes Moran. Made especially impressive by Holmes having a large wound in his shoulder, and having just been pulled from a collapsed building.
The entire factory and forest escape is one giant CMOA, filled with slow-motion destruction and as much gun porn as you'd ever want.
In keeping with his role as badassex-militarymarksman and second-in-command to Moriarty, Sebastian Moran gets several. The most prominent is probably when, after chasing Holmes, Watson and Co. hell-for-leather through a forest (managing to take down multiple moving targets with his rifle without breaking stride) and being knocked to the ground by a bullet, he gets back up with a deadly gleam in his eye, steadies his hands, steadies his breathing, and picks off the unlucky fellow bringing up the rear with a single perfect shot, apparently purely in revenge for daring to shoot at him, since the escape was already assured at that point.
Watson, at the summit, makes a Sherlock Scan to find the imposter and saves the day while Holmes is outside playing chess.