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- The Ace: In the eyes of Watson and Scotland Yard.
- Always Someone Better: To Inspector Lestrade and, to an extent, the rest of Scotland Yard.
- Ambiguous Disorder: 21st century incarnations have made this even more obvious, with the suggestion of Asperger's Syndrome. He may also suffer from some form of bipolar disorder, as Watson has at times seen his mood fluctuate between depression and mania.
- Badass Bookworm: Holmes is both strong for his size and a capable pugilist. His opponents have remarked that he would have made an excellent prize fighter if he had not devoted himself to intellectual pursuits.
- Badass Long Coat: When in London, his favoured coat is a Macfarlane cape-coat, which happens to be the city counterpart of the Inverness cape-coat, the one heís depicted with when travelling the countryside. Both coats are explicitly cut to accommodate the moves of a hand-to-hand fighter/swordsman (an Inverness even doesn't have sleeves at all, only the pellegrina), which suits the singlestick-fighting Holmes quite well.
- Beam Me Up, Scotty!: Contrary to popular belief, Holmes never actually says, "Elementary, my dear Watson" in the original books; the line came from Basil Rathbone in the 1939 film, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.
- Berserk Button: Comparing him to a fictional detective.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: One of the originals.Watson: I donít think you need alarm yourself, I have usually found that there was method in his madness.Inspector Forrester: Some folk might say there was madness in his method.
- Cane Fu: Holmes is quite the singlestick player.
- Catch Phrase: "It is simplicity itself" and "You know my methods", as well as occasionally referring to an absorbing case as, "not entirely devoid of interest."
- Celibate Eccentric Genius: Strong contender for Trope Codifier. Holmes has never shown any romantic or sexual interest in anyone. The only things that arouse his passions are intellectual mysteries and, failing that, recreational drugs.
- Celibate Hero/Chaste Hero: Holmes has been implied to have romantic feelings for one character or another a few times, but he would never dream of acting on it or even acknowledging it. He views romance and sex as a distraction.
- The Chessmaster: Holmes becomes this sometime in the middle of each story, except in "A Scandal in Bohemia", when he was beaten at his own game by a woman, Irene Adler.
- Clothes Make the Legend: Even though neither the deerstalker or cape were actually featured prominently in the stories and only ever appeared once in Sidney Paget's illustrations, it's hard to imagine Holmes without them. Future adaptations have missed the fact that the Deerstalker hat and the Inverness coat were both country wear, something that a respectable gentleman would never wear in the city.
- Doing It for the Art (In-Universe): Holmes' approach to his detective work.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: The end of "Final Problem" was intended to be Holmes' last bow. Fans were not pleased.
- Functional Addict: He uses cocaine in the early stories, although eventually Watson convinces him to drop the habit.
- Genius Slob: Watson recounts that Holmes normally leaves everything but his mind untidy. Even though he is immaculately groomed he still writes on his shirt cuffs.
- Genre Popularizer: Arguably the character that jumpstarted the detective story.
- Gentleman and a Scholar: In A Study in Scarlet he is described as a bit of a Ditzy Genius (he for instance appears unaware that the Earth revolves around the Sun and has not heard of Thomas Carlyle), but soon evolves into an example of this. Will frequently have a very apropos literary quote ready (often in the original language), be it from Flaubert, Goethe or Hafiz.
- Good Is Not Nice: He's on the side of justice and the down-trodden, and he can be a perfect gentleman to his clients but he's also an Insufferable Genius of the highest order.
- Good Old Fisticuffs: It's even lampshaded by a character in Sign of Four that Holmes would have had quite a career in the ring.
- Gray Eyes: The only way (besides height) to distinguish that he and Mycroft are brothers.
- Great Detective: The great detective. He may not have been the first of his kind, but he set the standard for every single detective to come.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Watson.
- Higher Understanding Through Drugs: Inverted, in that he only takes cocaine when he's bored. Played straight with tobacco, however.
- Insufferable Genius: Yes. He even justifies it in "The Greek Interpreter" by saying since he's a logician he must see things exactly as they are, so to underplay his brain powers would be a departure from the truth.
- In the Blood: According to Holmes himself, his observation and detective skills are hereditary, as he and his brother both possess them.
- Invincible Hero: Surprisingly averted in "A Scandal in Bohemia" and "Thor Bridge", while in "Five Orange Pips", Holmes mentions that he has been defeated four times.
- Master of Disguise: Not even Watson can identify Holmes when he's assumed another identity.
- Never Found the Body: At the end of "The Final Problem", with good reason.
- Nice Hat: As a 19th century gentleman, Holmes owns an assortment of these, ranging from a bowler over a top hat to finally the famous deerstalker. While the lattermost is never mentioned by name in the books (the illustrator of the Strand Magazine, Sidney Paget was the one to choose it), it is also the only period hat that fits the description in "The Adventure of Silver Blaze," "[an] ear-flapped travelling cap", and in "The Boscombe Valley Mystery", a "close-fitting cloth cap". The only time fashion-conscious Holmes is depicted with the deerstalker while being in the city is in "The Empty House", which is extremely unusual for Paget. And finally, he dons a Homburg hat in "His Last Bow", which hints at the changes in times and fashion.
- Non-Idle Rich: Holmes says that his ancestors were country squires, and he still managed to pay the bills while trying to establish himself as a detective. It's later said that he could have purchased 221B Baker Street outright from Mrs. Hudson. After The Great Hiatus, he also bought out Watson's old practice as an inducement for his old friend to move back in with him.
- Not So Stoic: Has a moment of this in "The Man With the Twisted Lip" that concludes with a Big "WHAT?!". Other moments are sprinkled sparingly throughout the stories. One of the more famous among the fanbase (particularly Holmes/Watson fans) is Holmes's reaction to Watson being shot in "The Three Garridebs".
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Holmes will sometimes use this to his advantage when interrogating a suspect.
- Private Detective: Or to use Holmes' precise words, "Consulting Detective".
- The Quiet One: Whenever someone relates to him a case, Holmes is reservedly quiet (signifying that his calculating mind is in action) and after the client(s) leave, Watson notes that Holmes will normally sit for a few hours in his armchair and go over the case.
- Reckless Gun Usage: During his first meeting with Moriarty in "The Final Problem", he is fingering the trigger of a gun inside his pocket. Moriarty points out the danger of this and remarks that he expected Holmes to be smarter than that. And then there's the fact that he shot a patriotic insignia into the living room wall with bullet-marks.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: Since he's not a police detective, things like warrants don't worry him.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: He's helped the police enough, and done countless services to the Government and the Royal Family (At the end of "The Bruce-Parington Plans he was offered - and declined - a knighthood) that the few times someone does complain about him breaking into their house he doesn't have to worry.
- Sherlock Scan: Holmes' trademark. He can tell a lifetime's worth of information about a person by just looking them over for a few moments which, of course, normally leaves everyone else in the room baffled.
- The Spock: Holmes is quite adamant that emotion has no place in his line of work, only science, empiricism, and logic.
- The Stoner: Holmes is a regular cocaine user, at least until Watson gets him to drop the habit.
Dr. John H. Watson
- Author Avatar: For Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself.
- A Day in the Limelight: Some fans consider "The Hound of the Baskervilles" to be this for Watson, as Holmes is "offstage" for six of the novel's fifteen chapters.
- Flanderization: Over time, incarnations of Watson made him obese and rather bumbling, despite the fact that Watson is portrayed in the stories as of around Holmes' build and extremely intellectual (he is a bit slow compared to Holmes, but virtually everyone is as well, and he is consistently depicted leagues ahead of most everyone else in the regular cast). 21st century adapations (film and live action TV) have rectified this.
- The Gambling Addict: To the point where he has asked Holmes to keep his checkbook safely locked away so that he cannot wager more than he can afford.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Holmes.
- The Lancer: To Holmes.
- Love at First Sight: With Mary Morstan, almost instantaneously.
- Official Couple: With Mary Morstan at the end of The Sign of the Four.
- The Stoic: Mary seems to have died sometime between Holmes's disappearance and return. Watson doesn't talk about it and Holmes doesn't press the issue, implying that he probably maintained a stiff upper lip despite his loss.
- Supporting Protagonist: Sort of; the stories are told from Watson's point of view, but they focus on Holmes' adventures.
- Unreliable Narrator: Holmes sometimes accuses Watson of being this; adaptations occasionally toy with this aspect of the Holmes legend.
- Flanderization: Lestrade is quite subdued when placed alongside Holmes' quick wit, but the Universal films in the 1940s turned him into The Ditz. This was ironically inverted as time went on, since in The Hound Of The Baskervilles Holmes declares him to be "the very best of the professionals." In "The Cardboard Box", Holmes also praises Lestrade's tenacity, which is what enabled him to come as far as he has at the Yard.
- Fake Ultimate Hero: Takes the credit for many of Holmes's successes and gets glowing reviews in the press.
- Nice Hat: His standard is a black bowler.
- The Rival:
- Tries to be this to Holmes, but is ultimately too slow to pull it off.
- Has this with Inspector Gregson as well.
Professor James Moriarty
- Affably Evil: He politely waits for Holmes to write a farewell note to Watson before the final showdown.
- Always Someone Better: He's almost as good as Holmes, but not quite. For all Moriarty's skill, Holmes remarks that there are limits to his intelligence. At some point, he made a very small, but ultimately fatal, error that allowed Holmes to bring down his entire empire.
- Animal Motifs: Holmes describes the "reptilian" way that Moriarity moves his head. He also compares Moriarty to a giant, malevolent spider, sitting at the centre of a web of crime, aware of even the slightest touch on its threads.
- Badass Bookworm: According to Holmes, Moriarty's book The Dynamics Of An Asteroid ascends to such high levels of mathematics that it almost boggles the mind.
- Badass Grandpa
- Breakout Villain: Though only featured in one story and passively in another, Holmes' mention of his ominous reputation in later stories and adaptations of the character have made him a hallmark of the Evil Genius archetype.
- Character Tics: A 'curiously reptilian' way of moving his head.
- The Chessmaster
- Dangerously Genre Savvy
- Determinator: A villainous example. Holmes described Moriarty as "inexorable" in chasing the detective across Europe, caring more about revenge than his life in his last rush at the detective.
- Evil Counterpart: To Holmes.
- Evil Genius: Credited by Holmes himself as "a genius, a philosopher, an abstract thinker." His scientific literature is peerless, and his genius in crime is what takes Holmes so long to catch him (and hard to escape him).
- Generic Doomsday Villain: Moriarty was created to kill off Holmes in "The Final Problem", but became much more popular as time went on.
- Gray Eyes: Another attribute he shares with Holmes.
- Lean and Mean: He is described as "extremely tall and thin" by the tall and thin Holmes himself.
- Sharp-Dressed Man
- Villain with Good Publicity: He is a well-respected professor who to, all intents and purposes, seems like a humble, soft-spoken man. Only Holmes knows that Moriarty is a crime lord, but he can't prove it. And when Sherlock Holmes can't prove something, you know the bad guy is very good at what he does.
- Almighty Janitor: He's indispensable and influential despite his low position.
- Always Someone Better: Zigzagged. Mycroft is indisputably better than Sherlock when it comes to analytical skill. On the other hand, Sherlock outdoes Mycroft when it comes to determining how to tactically approach a case. When the title character of "The Greek Interpreter" asks Mycroft to help him with a case, Mycroft's first act is to put an ad in the newspapers asking for the number of the cab that picked the interpreter up. All this does is make the criminals realize that the Greek interpreter ratted them out.
- Brilliant, but Lazy: Even Holmes admits that Mycroft is better in observation and reasoning than himself, but says that he would not make a good detective, since he lacks the energy and ambition to apply these skills as anything more than a hobby for his amusement.
- Creature of Habit: So much so that deviation from his usual routine is likened to a tram going off the rails and making it's way down a country lane.
- Ditzy Genius: Puts lives at risk in The Greek Interpreter.
- Good with Numbers: Has 'an extraordinary faculty for figures.'
- Gray Eyes: Just like his brother.
- Geek Physiques: Of the portly variety
- Elegant Classical Musician: Opera singer
- Flanderization: Treated as a Femme Fatale in a Dating Catwoman relationship with Holmes in just about every appearance except her canonical one, where her only "crime" is legally possessing a photograph an ex-boyfriend fears she will use to blackmail him (which she never does).
- Promotion To Love Interest: Post-canon incarnations have made her a Love Interest for Holmes.
- Worthy Opponent: To Holmes. The only woman to outfox him and get away with it.
Charles Augustus Milverton
- Antagonist Title: The only villain in the Holmes canon to have his story named after him; other titles at most allude to them. Even Moriarty never got that honour.
- Asshole Victim: He is shot by an unknown woman near the end of the story, another victim of his blackmail schemes. One fan theory is that Holmes himself is the one who shot Milverton and Watson made the woman up to protect his friend.
- The Bad Guy Wins: Downplayed. Defeating him seems so hopeless that Holmes hasn't even been hired to stop him- he was hired to negotiate the best possible terms, and even in that, he fails utterly. Holmes, for perhaps the first time in his career, has to go to highly unethical and outright illegal means to win, and even that only involves stealing back the incriminating letters, not actually trying to bring Milverton down.
- The Dreaded:Everything that is in the market goes to Milverton, and there are hundreds in this great city who would turn white at his name.
- Evil Genius: Holmes concedes that Milverton is far too crafty to be caught by legal means (even saying he is "as cunning as the Evil One"). He can hold onto an incriminating document for years because he is patient enough to wait for the time it can cause maximum damage to profit from it, and has destroyed prominent families with only a few lines on a note.
- Faux Affably Evil: While he quite polite and jovial in his meeting with Holmes and Watson, he is also clearly enjoying how repulsive Holmes finds him and how little they can do to stop him. He tells them that he doesn't care if the client Holmes works for would be financially ruined if she paid him the money he is asking for, and remarks before leaving that he has two other "interviews" to get to and is blackmailing several other victims simultaneously.
- Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Wears "broad, gold rimmed glasses" behind which are the "hard glitter of those restless and penetrating eyes".
- Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: When Holmes and Watson break into his house they nearly run into him and watch as he is smoking a long black cigar whilst reading yet another blackmail document at his leisure.
- Jerkass: The "King of Blackmailers" who comes into possession of sensitive letters and information by encouraging housemaids and servants to rob their employers or even criminals to flat out burgle or mug people in return for payment. He shows zero remorse and even takes sadistic delight in threatening and ruining the lives of vulnerable men and women and is indifferent to whether they can afford to actually pay him or not, reasoning that he can at least make an example out of them to encourage future "clients" to pay up. Holmes calls him "the worst man in London" and remarks that he finds him more disgusting than any of the fifty murderers he had dealt with in his career (which presumably includes Moriarty).
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: A disguised Holmes gets himself engaged to Milvertons' housemaid in order to break into his house and steal back blackmail letters. Watson is aghast, but goes along anyway. Later on, the pair witness the murder of Mllverton and agree to stay quiet on that as well, perverting the course of justice because the bastard had it coming.
Warner Bros. Films
Played By: Robert Downey, Jr.A bohemian scientist and eccentric detective-for-hire. Despite his quirks, he has come to be recognized as one of the foremost authorities in London in the field of criminal deductive reasoning and investigation. Always a man who yearns for a challenge, he takes cases that excite his deductive reasoning ability for the sport, not for personal gain.
- Adaptational Wimp: Unexpectedly, despite the film's notorious increase in action scenes over most adaptations. While the movie's version gets into a lot more fights and makes more gratuitous use of martial arts, he lacks the original's prodigious strength and often needs to use his cunning as much as his skill to stay just ahead of his opponents. Conan Doyle's Holmes was a skilled enough boxer and martial artist to never need to stoop to combat pragmatism, preferring Good Old Fisticuffs, and was able to beat an extremely skilled boxer in a fair fight.
- Ambiguously Bi: Holmes' vocal disapproval of Watson's engagement and his attempts to sabotage the relationship come across as romantic jealousy as much as a desire to hold on to a valued and long-standing friendship. However, Holmes has some Ship Teasing with Adler and is genuinely sad to hear that Moriarty killed her.
- Ambiguous Disorder: Asperger's? ADHD?
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: A byproduct of his Hyper Awareness, which he seems unable to turn off.
- Awesome by Analysis: Goes hand-in-hand with the Hyper Awareness and Sherlock Scan.
- Badass Bookworm: While he may be seen as an Adaptational Wimp for his use of combat pragmatism, he's still a highly skilled fighter and a brilliant detective.
- Badass Longcoat: Often seen wearing a trench coat in public.
- Bash Brothers: With Watson.
- Berserk Button: Do not harm Irene or Watson or Mary. Just don't.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: As always, Holmes is both a brilliant detective and a peculiar individual, and you must put up with the latter if you want the benefit of the former.
- Combat Pragmatist: He'll do anything he must to win a fight, including using distractions and Improvised Weapons.
- Crazy Jealous Guy: Has shades of this towards Watson and his engagement to Mary.
- Cursed with Awesome: Sherlock's eponymous Sherlock Scan apparently has no figurative off-switch, as shown in the restaurant scene in the first movie, and is explicitly called a curse by him late into the second.
- Dating Catwoman: Played with; Irene's alignment is ambiguous, and while there seems to be mutual attraction it's as though they're too busy one-upping and outwitting each other to act upon it.
- Deadpan Snarker: Particularly to Lestrade, Blackwood and andy of Watson's love interests.
- Extreme Omnivore: Is shown in the sequel happily drinking formaldehyde despite Watson pointing out it's highly toxic.
- Genius Bruiser: He uses his Sherlock Scan to completely and meticulously savage an opponent. Only an opponent capable of doing the same can really counter him.
- Genius Slob: Watson bemoans his lack of hygiene during his "Reason You Suck" Speech in the jail from the first film. His room in Baker Street is intimidatingly cluttered with half-completed experiments, paper, models, pictures, and miscellaneous bric-a-brac.
- Good Is Not Nice: Despite being solidly heroic in his actions, he comes across as a jerk, often because he notices everything about a person, including their flaws and vices, and has few filters when describing what he observes.
- Great Detective: Since he is Sherlock Holmes, it's elementary.
- Guile Hero: While he is a skilled combatant, his real gifts are in observation and deduction.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Watson.
- Hyper Awareness: A Holmes staple, required for his iconic Sherlock Scan. He can determine intimate details about a person by instantly observing and analyzing things that most people wouldn't even notice.
- I Know Karate: Baritsu, the British offshot of Jujitsu, to be precise.
- Insufferable Genius: He's not a people person.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He initially disliked Mary, but soon warmed up to her.
- Lack of Empathy: Toyed with, but ultimately downplayed. Holmes appears to be interested in solving problems and stopping criminals mainly because he enjoys the challenge, and he also admires and respects the cunning and intelligence of the main villains in both movies despite the nature of their crimes. However, he also specifically points out to Blackwood that he wishes he could have caught him sooner in order to save innocent lives, and to Moriarty that he finds his scheme to be both impressive and horrific. Furthermore, while he lacks tact, he's also quite devoted to keeping his friends and companions safe.
- Large Ham: Most because his facial expressions and his gravely voice complete with a fake English accent.
- Mad Scientist: Always tests his drugs on poor Gladstone.
- Manipulative Bastard: A Nice Guy version.
- Nice Hat: Instead of the deerstalker seen in most adaptations, here it's a Fedora of Asskicking.
- Master of Disguise: He's so good he can do it on the fly.
- Mr. Fanservice: In the first movie in particular he has a fighting Shirtless Scene where he shows his well-built torso.
- One-Man Army: An extremely competent martial artist, capable of taking down almost any opponent as long as he has a few seconds to analyze them before the fight.
- Perma Stubble: Almost always has a few days' growth of beard, unless he shaves or sculpts it for a disguise.
- Private Detective: Not employed by the police, but often consulted by them for his unique abilities.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Blue to Watson's Red and Red to Moriarty's Blue.
- Sherlock Scan: As with every adaptation, this is his signature ability. Here it's even applied to combat, as he analyzes his opponent thoroughly enough to predict and counter every move they will make. It's also implied that he's occasionally overwhelmed and resentful that he can't turn it off. Probably goes a long way toward explaining why he has a hard time making friends, as shown when he first meets Mary Morstan.
- Spirited Competitor: Needs to have a challenge or problem to work on. Without one, he becomes reclusive and resorts to drugs and bizarre experiments to occupy his mind.
- The Spock: He rarely expresses any form of emotion.
- Tranquil Fury: His usual way of getting angry. In the fighting ring, utterly destroys his opponent in retaliation for the latter spitting at him. However, his first thought while playing out the fight in his head is, "This must not register on an emotional level."
Dr John Watson
Played By: Jude LawArmy wartime veteran and medical doctor, Watson is Holmes's closest confidant and field assistant with a deductive reasoning that has been sharpened with years on the road with the detective. However his impending marriage may see him move away from the crime-solving world.
- Bash Brothers: With Holmes.
- Berserk Button: Harming women in general tends to piss him off, as he demonstrates in the very first scene with Blackwood. Also, don't harm or threaten his fiancee/wife Mary. Don't harm or threaten Sherlock Holmes either. This is your last warning.
- Cane Fu: He needs the cane due to being a Handicapped Badass, and is more than willing to use it in a fight.
- Combat Medic: A doctor who can put you in the hospital.
- Combat Pragmatist: Even more so than Holmes. (Consistent with the books!)
- Deadpan Snarker: He is more than willing to put Sherlock in his place.
- Handicapped Badass: Watson is a very proficient and agile fighter with a war wound that gives him a limp.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Holmes.
- Living Emotional Crutch: To Holmes.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Red to Holmes's Blue.
- The Watson: Downplayed, as Holmes and Watson have both hit their prime after long experience. Watson is himself a decent investigator, though not naturally inclined to be as such.
Played By: Rachel McAdamsA cunning and crafty woman with unclear intentions. She and Holmes have acquainted in the past and share a deep relationship. Holmes always has her motives in question when she is involved in his work.
- Adaptational Badass: In the books, she was nothing more than an unusually clever opera singer who happened to get her hands on a compromising photograph, and was smart enough to prevent Holmes from stealing it back. Here's, she's a full-on professional thief and a Femme Fatale who's able to best Holmes in a fight and has outsmarted him on two previous occasions.
- Anti-Hero: Works for Moriarty, but helps Holmes stop Blackwood.
- Back for the Dead: she briefly appears in the sequel's opening scene, only to be killed off by Moriarty.
- Femme Fatale: Attractive, but very dangerous.
- Sacrificial Lion: Was killed because of her feelings for Sherlock.
- Trigger Happy: "She loves an entrance, your muse..."
Played By: Eddie Marsan
"In another life, Mr. Holmes, you would have made a excellent criminal."An inspector at Scotland Yard whose cases often intertwine with Holmes.
- Bad Cop/Incompetent Cop: Averted in the sequel, however, where he helps expose Moriarty's plans.
- Demoted to Extra: In the sequel. In fact, he's only briefly seen a couple of times towards the end.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: He rightfully questions Holmes' methods of investigating his cases.
Mary Watson (née Morstan)
Played By: Kelly Reilly
"It does seem a little far-fetched, though. Making all these grand assumptions based on such tiny details..."John Watson's fiance. Not all that fond of Holmes, although she puts up with him for the sake of Watson.
- Alliterative Name: Before her marriage to Watson.
- Deadpan Snarker:Holmes: ...Take Watson—Mary: I intend to.
- Demoted to Satellite Love Interest: She's a central character in The Sign Of Four, and marries Dr. Watson at the end of the book. After that, she's mentioned by Watson once in a while, typically as "my wife" rather than by name. She eventually dies off-page in the interval between two books.
- Happily Married: Despite Holmes hijacking their wedding.
Played By: Geraldine James
"What will I do when you leave, doctor? He'll bring the whole house down!"
- Servile Snarker: Like Watson, Mrs. Hudson is able to combat Sherlock's snark with her own.
- Butt Monkey: He's Watson's dog, and as a result he keeps being injected with paralytics and potentially poisoned a lot by Holmes. Lampshaded in A Game Of Shadows when Watson shouts at him to stop killing his dog.
- Not Quite Dead: A result of several of the compounds he's injected with.
- Phrase Catcher: Watson: "What have you done to Gladstone now!?"
Lord Henry Blackwood
Played By: Mark StrongA disgraced member of England's House of Lords. Suspected in recent times of committing the murders of five young women across London. However after his capture, he seemingly rises from the grave, intent on establishing himself and his order as the sole governing body of England and possibly beyond.
- The Antichrist: He deliberately cultivates this image of himself.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: He's not as good as Holmes in a fight, but he's by no means helpless.
- Badass Longcoat: Likes wearing long leather trench coats
- Bastard Bastard: Conceived out of wedlock during a magical ritual.
- Big Bad: of the first film. It's his machinations that Holmes has to stop.
- Dark Messiah: Either seriously desires to be one to the people of Britain or simply just use the perception that he is one to establish absolute power. Either way he plays it up convincingly.
- The Dreaded: His influence is so strong that he causes rioting outside Parliament in the final scenes.
- Evil Brit: Averted. He is evil, but being British has nothing to do with it. Everyone here is British except for Robert Downey Jr.
- Evil Hair: A subtle example, his hairdo after ressurection (first seen during the Temple secret meeting) is closer to modernity by at least 4 decades. Because it's a style popular for high-ranking officers during the Third Reich. This fits with Hitler-like speech on world conquest.
- Evil Plan: Fakes his own death to convince others that he has supernatural dark power and assassinate Parliament.
- Evil Sorcerer: Invoked but he can only fake it.. He talks the talk and uses the imagery, but his "powers" are nothing but smoke and mirrors. Though that reoccurring crow and those prophecies coming true are a bit suspect.
- Jack the Ripper: It's implied he could be him or at least have something in common.
- Karmic Death he faked a formal execution by hanging and then inadvertently hanged himself.
- Knight of Cerebus: The movie seems to turn into an horror genre everytime he's present.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: An odd number of coincidences could be seen as repercussions of his dark magic, and there's this crow that seems to be following him.
- My Death Is Only The Beginning: Vows to Holmes that three more will die despite the fact he is meant to be hanged in the coming days. However his death is faked, which allows him to build up the perception he holds otherworldly power.
- Obviously Evil: The name alone is a pretty clear sign he is to be feared ("Lord Blackwood" makes for a pretty standard evil mastermind name) but also his standard mode of dress is an ominous leather coat. His hair also has a slicked-back look and a Widow's Peak to complete the sinister imagery.
- Red Right Hand: One of his front teeth is badly crooked, mirroring the nature of his character. It's also his first recognisable feature shown to the viewer in a close-up.
- Self-Made Orphan: He kills his father, Sir Thomas Rotheram, by forcing him to drown, and his mother died after giving birth.
- Serial Killer: It's more like a case of Serial Killings, Specific Target.
- Sword Cane: He has one during the climax.
- Take Over the World: Certainly Great Britain, with the British Empire at the height of its power at the time. He also makes reference to extending his reach to the Americas, though he may have only said this in order to incite Standish to ignite himself with his gun.
- Villainous Breakdown: When he's about to fall off the bridge, he loses it, shouting for Holmes to cut him loose.
Played By: Hans Matheson
"How terrible is wisdom, when it brings no profit to the wise."A British Parliamentary member who reaches out to Holmes in order track down Lord Blackwood. In actuality, though, he is Blackwood's closest advocate and is simply putting the pieces in place in order to bring about Blackwood's new world order.
- Dirty Coward: The word "coward" is a part of his name.
- The Dragon: To Blackwood, as well as being his main connection to the British Parliament.
- Genre Savvy: To his credit, he tries to kill Holmes when he has the opportunity, but Holmes is just too good for him to kill.
- Meaningful Name: I'm surprised they didn't call Lord Blackwood Lord Jerkass.
- Obviously Evil: Maybe someone wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt, but c'mon, Lord Coward?
Sir Thomas Rotheram
Played By: James FoxLord Chief Justice, but actually the leader of the Temple of the Four Orders, an ancient organization that claims to have guided the world forward for eons.
Played By: Robert Maillet
"Cours, petit lapin, cours."A large French thug working in the employ of Blackwood.
- Affably Evil: He is very cordial with his adversaries and speaks as though he means them no ill will, merely business.
- An Axe to Grind: Brings an axe with him to the second fight.
- Catchphrase: ARGH!
- Drop the Hammer: Uses a massive hammer during his fight with Holmes at the shipyard.
- French Jerk: He's Affably Evil, but he's still a bad guy. His actor is actually part Canadian and part French.
- Giant Mook: Stands about 6'11" and can take a hammer being thrown at his chest without flinching.
- Made of Iron: Takes three electrical shocks to the chest and gets up after each one (and after the third one he even manages to grab and destroy the thing that was shocking him).
- Not So Invincible After All: During the first fight, Holmes briefly manages to drive him down to one knee by whacking his leg with some large object. And during the second fight, he — just like anyone else — goes down hard when taking a Groin Attack via sledgehammer, Holmes is able to break his arm via submission hold, and then Watson is ultimately able to choke him out via necktie.
Ambassador John Standish
Played By: William HopeAn American member of the Temple of the Four Orders and another party interested in the capture of Blackwood.
- Berserk Button: Threatening America.
- Kill It with Fire: When Standish tries to shoot Blackwood, he ignites a compound Blackwood sprayed on him disguised as rain and the sparks from the gun set him on fire.
A Game of Shadows
Professor James Moriarty
Played By: Jared HarrisA mathematics professor at Cambridge University and a man of high regard in the global political community. Despite his accolade, he conceals a more sinister side that even Sherlock Holmes is wary of...
- Abstract Apotheosis: He chides Holmes for expending such energy trying to take him down, when there are a hundred other warmongers hiding in the woodwork — so what's the fuss?"You're not fighting me...so much as you are the human condition."
- Adaptational Badass: Unlike Holmes or Watson, Moriarty wasn't noted to be a man of action. The movies gives him an extensive boxing background.
- In Doyle's original version, Moriarty was more or less blackballed following a scandal at his university. He was "compelled" to relocate to London, where he held a job as an army coach (a sort of private tutor) despite his obvious mathematical brilliance. In the film, however, not only is Moriarty at the height of his academic prestige, he' s an advisor to nations, as well.
- Heck, even his credentials have seen an upgrade. Classic Holmes mentioned Moriarty's former base of operations being one of England's "smaller" schools, possibly Leeds. Now it's Cambridge.
- Adaptational Villainy: Moriarty was a bad guy in the books too, but he never plotted to start wars, and his better qualities were far more genuine.
- Always Someone Better: In the finale, Moriarty demonstrates that he has the same Awesomeness by Analysis as Holmes, and stays one step ahead.
- Ax-Crazy: A rare cold-blooded and collected one.
- Awesomeness by Analysis: His entire criminal scheme is working like one.
- Badass Bookworm: Of the pure evil kind.
- Badass Grandpa: Well, he's wrinkled and his hair is graying and thinning, so he looks almost past retirement age. But he moves like a man half that.
- Badass Teacher: A professor at Cambridge, with a boxing background.
- Beard of Evil: Undeniably evil, with a full, thick beard.
- Berserk Button: Don't question this nutcase's sanity. Or simply don't spoil his plans.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Manages to keep up the facade of a gentlemanly scholar and intellectual, but Holmes knows that he's a deadly criminal mastermind and quickly learns that he's certainly no gentleman.
- Boxing Battler: Relies on straightforward boxing techniques when fighting, in comparison to Holmes' modified Bartitsu fighting style.
- The Chessmaster: Chess motifs at the climax.
- Combat Pragmatist: In their final confrontation, his strategy is very simple: he brutally and repeatedly attacks Holmes' wounded shoulder.
- Cruel Mercy: Having a sort of twisted grudge/respect towards Holmes; instead of simply killing him, he targets his friends and allies most likely with the hope of breaking him.
- Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Moriarty is already a rich genius and can invest in the capital which will be used to fuel the next war without killing off the existing management. By his own admission, he doesn't even need to go about having people killed to make the war happen sooner. He's already loaded and has the power to advise the British government itself. He could have legitimately gained everything he covets without committing a single crime.
- Dangerously Genre Savvy: For one thing, he can catch and plan around Sherlock's Sherlock Scan.
- Darker and Edgier: Jared Harris is one of the evilest and creepiest versions of Moriarty in fiction.
- Diabolical Mastermind: Of the first World War. He also demonstrates an almost supernatural control over the inner workings of London.
- Disney Villain Death: Perhaps.
- The Dreaded: Holmes notices how Irene is genuine frightened by him.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: During his final confrontation with Holmes, the one aspect of the encounter he fails to take into account is Holmes' willingness to perform a Heroic Sacrifice, if it means that Moriarty will die with him..
- Evil Counterpart: To Holmes himself. It's even mentioned in the first by movie by Adler.
- Evil Genius
- Evil Teacher: Although not towards his students - in fact he's shown to be quite kindly towards them. However when he's not teaching, he soon reveals the sociopathic monster inside.
- The Faceless: In the first movie he is only seen from behind or in shadow, to preserve his mystery as a Sequel Hook.
- Faux Affably Evil: He's quite polite, he's also a sociopathic mastermind who was planning and actually set up the conditions for WWI.
- For the Evulz: You can see a look of pure fiendish glee when he tortures Holmes on meat hooks.
- Genius Bruiser: Was Cambridge's boxing champion in his youth.
- He Looks Just Like Everyone Else: Part of his redesign from the first movie, where he was an ominous, shadowy figure. When you see him in the sequel, he's obscured by the shadows of some blinds. But he pulls them back to look at Irene face to face, and we are introduced to... an ordinary man. An ordinary Moriarty who manipulates, tortures, and kills untold numbers of people without a second thought.
- Hero Killer: After killing Irene. Every time he runs into one of the main cast, he either kills or horribly injures someone.
- Knight of Cerebus: Moriarty is on the same level of Blackwood, or maybe even worse.
- Lack of Empathy: Holmes quickly writes him off as "morally insane", a neurological term of the day. Basically, his mind is sound, his methods totally insane.
- Lightning Bruiser: Seriously, witness his fight against Holmes. The man moves like a bullet.
- Loves the Sound of Screaming: He wears a soft, contented smile while dangling Holmes from the ceiling on a meathook, and even sets up a speaker system to broadcast the sounds throughout his factory.
- The Man Behind the Man: Moriarty orchestrated the theft of Blackwood's radio wave device, which he likely puts to use with his bombs.
- A Nazi by Any Other Name: The German-speaking, Schubert-loving mathematician is plotting to assassinate a foreign diplomat at close-range and blame the Anarchists for it. Things don't go quite according to plan... But Moriarty assures Holmes that there are many more men like him. Although it's a German diplomat he intends to have killed.
- Never Found the Body: He goes over the falls with Holmes and is presumed dead, but then again, Holmes survived...
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: After Holmes reveals that he's utterly ruined his organization, the final battle is waged... in his imagination. Holmes thinks he can just paste this nerd in the jaw and be done with it, but Moriarty instantly recovers and clamps on Holmes' bad arm like a cobra. It's downhill from there.
- No Sell: Sherlock's fight analysis/planning is useless against him because Moriarty can think as fast and fight even faster. They both conclude in their Sherlock Scans that Moriarty would tear Holmes a new one (in part due to Holmes' injury).
- Oh Crap!: His expression when Holmes tackles him into the waterfall below. He just can't believe this gumshoe has beaten him in a matter of weeks.
- Revenge by Proxy: Plans on killing Watson and Mary even though they were not going to be part of Holmes' investigations. See the character quote above.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: War with Germany is inevitable - that's why the British government will always come to Moriarty's aid in the end. They need arms dealers like him.
- Sore Loser: How does Moriarty react to Holmes completely checkmating him? He threatens to kill Holmes and then find a creative of endings for the Dr. and Mrs. Watson. Though he's very cordial as he says it.
- Tranquil Fury: Sherlock didn't foresee this, and as such had no real advantage over Moriarty in their fight.
- Villain with Good Publicity: To everyone except Holmes and his allies, Moriarty is a kindly and respected professor of mathematics at Cambridge University, and a personal friend to the Prime Minister. The British government even invite him to the peace summit, not realising that it's Moriarty's fault France and Germany are at each other's throats in the first place.
- Villainous Breakdown: An extremely subtle one, more to do with his actions than any expression or anger. His rage is restrained, but he makes the decision to go all-out on Holmes. And then that goes out the window after Holmes pulls off his Taking You with Me Heroic Sacrifice. His facial expression as he plummets to his death is of impotent rage.
- Villainous Friendship: Type one with Colonel Moran.
- Villains Out Shopping: He takes time out of his villainous schemes to feed the pigeons and attend a performance of Don Giovanni.
- War for Fun and Profit: Utilizing a variety of shell companies, the Professor is arming France and Germany for the war to end all wars. He's also buying bandages to patch everyone up (at considerable cost, no doubt), so Moriarty is going to profit one way or another.
- Visionary Villain: Moriarty foresaw the rise of the war economy, and is angling to occupy the ground floor.
- Wicked Cultured: Has an appreciation of Opera, particularly the work of Schubert, which he sings during the torture scene. Also, attending Don Giovanni right before the Meinhart shooting.
- Worthy Opponent: Holmes admits respect but can barely hide the great hate he feels towards him.
- You Cannot Kill An Idea: He barely bats an eyelash when Watson derails his plans, because the framework he put in place still exists. War will come, and it will become a business.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: To the point where it's odd that anyone agrees to work with him. You have to wonder what Moran's pension plan is.
Madame Simza Heron
Played By: Noomi RapaceA French gypsy who eventually becomes acquainted Holmes and Watson due to their investigation into Moriarty. Holmes runs into her when he intercepts a letter that was intended to go to Moriarty.
- Action Girl: Though she's a bit outclassed, she nevertheless is far from helpless. It really does her good during her and Holmes's fight with the Cossack assassin.
- Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Doesn't look tarnished after the Heilbronn shootout and chase.
- Bomb-Throwing Anarchists: Simza and her brother counted as these a long time ago, but she managed to get out of the job, while Rene was blackmailed into working for Moriarty.
- Hot Gypsy Woman: Naturally.
- Skyward Scream: Lets out one when Rene dies in her arms.
Played By: Stephen Fry
"Good evening, Mrs Watson. I'm the other Holmes."Sherlock's elder brother. A man of deep importance to British politics, although it is difficult to ascertain his role therein.
- Almighty Janitor: Mycroft is indispensable to the British government, even though no one knows what he exactly does.
- Ambiguously Gay: Finds nothing wrong with walking around naked with his butler and other men, but is taken aback at the notion that women (i.e. Mary) are creatures to be admired. He even tries to hit on her using this logic, but it fails spectacularly.
- Ass in Ambassador: The government must really need him if they invited this streaker to Switzerland.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Nudist, unsocial, lazy, brilliant, Mycroft is clearly something a weirdo, much like his brother.
- Emerging from the Shadows: His first entrance.
- Handshake Refusal: He doesn't shake hands as Watson finds out.
- Naked People Are Funny: Walking stark naked in a casual way around his house, which his servants don't even bat an eye at.
- OOC Is Serious Business: Watson knows something important must be going on if it forces Mycroft to miss an appointment to dine on potted shrimp at the Diogenes Club.
- The Stoic
Colonel Sebastian Moran
Played By: Paul AndersonAn ex-military sniper of great renown for his impeccable aim. Veteran of the same war (Afghanistan) that John Watson served in. Following a dishonorable discharge, he became a hired assassin.
- Bad Boss: Shoots one of his own men to get a clear shot at Watson whilst sarcastically "warning" the man to back away far out of earshot. Then later, when Sherlock and company attempt to make an escape, he tells the commander of several mooks that if he fails to kill or capture them, he'll be killed for his failure.
- Berserk Button: He takes exception to people who try to harm Moriarty.
- Cane Fu: Moran has an unorthodox example; instead of being used as a blunt weapon, Moran's cane conceals a poison dart gun.
- Cold Sniper: Moran uses both a poison dart gun concealed in a walking cane, and a good sniper's rifle.
- Colonel Badass: He's one when shouting orders to the German soldiers in the train yard during the Heilbronn shootout.
- The Dragon: To Moriarty.
- Evil Counterpart: To Watson.
- Hero Killer: Watson describes him as the best marksman in the British Army. He is responsible for the deaths of Hoffmanstahl, Meinhard, Andrzej, Marko and Rene and almost kills Watson twice.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: He can hit a target at a 650 yards range with a 7-8mph wind, a feat which Watson claims could only have been reliably pulled off by about half a dozen men in Europe. He proves pretty good on the fly, too, taking a crack shot at Watson with a rifle he scooped up while running and missing by only the slightest degree, and later shooting a Gypsy from a fair distance while suffering from a bullet wound himself.
- Kick the Dog: He shoots a random German soldier who happened to be standing in front of Watson, sarcastically "warning" him to move while lining up his shot.
- Made of Iron: Takes a shot to the gut from Watson during the forest chase and manages to gun down Marko as the gypsy boards the train. Moran is seen perfectly fine about a week later
- Oh Crap!: Has one when he realizes that Watson is pointing a cannon at him.
- Stealth Hi/Bye: Does this to Holmes when he kills Hoffmanstahl.
- The Determinator: The Heilbronn shootout.
- Villain Exit Stage Left: After killing Rene.
- Villainous Friendship: With Moriarty.
- Wicked Cultured: At the Paris book signing, when Moriarty informs Moran that he won't need his opera ticket, Moran says, "It's a shame, professor. I was looking forward to Don Giovanni."
- You Have Failed Me: Shoots Rene with a poisoned dart when the latter fails to kill the German ambassador.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Throughout the film, he kills those who are no longer useful to Moriarty, such as Dr. Hoffmanstahl, Alfred Meinhard, and Rene Heron