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Characters: Sherlock Holmes
The characters of the Sherlock Holmes novels and 2009 film series.

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     The Books 

Sherlock Holmes

Dr. John H. Watson

Inspector Lestrade

  • Clueless Deputy
  • Flanderization: Lestrade is quite subdued when placed alongside Holmes' quick wit, but the Universal films in the 1940s turned him into The Ditz.
    • 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.
  • Genre Blindness
  • Inspector Lestrade: The Trope Namer.
  • 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

Mycroft Holmes

  • Almighty Janitor: He's indispensable and influential despite his low position.
  • Aloof Big Brother
  • 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.
  • Breakout Character
  • 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.
  • Celibate Eccentric Genius
  • 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
  • Hyper Awareness
  • Sherlock Scan: Even better than the Trope Namer.
  • Super Intelligence: His job.

Irene Adler

Warner Bro Films

     Both Films 

Sherlock Holmes

"The game is afoot!"

A bohemian scientist and eccentric detective-for-hire.

Dr John Watson

"Ive been going over my notes of our exploits over the past seven months. Would you like to hear my conclusions? I am psychologically disturbed."
Played By: Jude Law

Irene Adler

"Ive never been in over my head."
Played By: Rachel McAdams

Inspector Lestrade

Played By: Eddie Marsan

"In another life, Mr. Holmes, you would have made a excellent criminal."

Mary Watson (ne Morstan)

Played By: Kelly Reilly

"It does seem a little far-fetched, though. Making all these grand assumptions based on such tiny details..."

Mrs Hudson

Played By: Geraldine James

"What will I do when you leave, doctor? He'll bring the whole house down!"


  • 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.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Holmes really did kill Watson's bulldog in A Study In Scarlet, though that dog was so old and infirm that his owner would have put him down soon anyways.

     Sherlock Holmes 

Lord Henry Blackwood

"You and I are bound together on a journey that will twist the very fabric of nature."
Played By: Mark Strong

Lord Coward

Played By: Hans Matheson

"How terrible is wisdom, when it brings no profit to the wise."

Sir Thomas Rotheram

Played By: James Fox


Played By: Robert Maillet

"Cours, petit lapin, cours."

Ambassador John Standish

Played By: William Hope

     A Game of Shadows 

Professor James Moriarty

"The laws of celestial mechanics dictate that when two objects collide, there is always damage, of a collateral nature."
Played By: Jared Harris

  • 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 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.
  • Always Someone Better: In the finale, Moriarty demonstrates that he has this same ability, and stays one step ahead.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil
  • 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
  • The Bad Guy Wins: He actually arrives to set up WWI before probably dying at the Reichenbach Waterfalls. True, it doesn't happen at the right time as he intended, but it's still a victory.
  • Beard of Evil
  • Berserk Button: Don't question this nutcase's sanity.
    • Or simply don't spoil his plans.
  • Big Bad
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing
  • Boxing Battler: Relies on straightforward boxing techniques when fighting, in comparison to Holmes' modified Bartitsu fighting style.
  • Charm Person
  • 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.
  • Complexity Addiction
  • Cruel Mercy: Having a sort of twisted grudge - respect towards Holmes, instead of simply kill him he targets his friends and all his allies probably in the hope to break him.
  • 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 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 sociopath monster inside.
  • The Faceless: In the first movie.
  • 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.
  • Killed Off for Real: Maybe
  • Knight of Cerebus: Moriarty is on the same level of Blackwood. Or 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.
  • Manipulative Bastard
  • Narcissist
  • 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
  • Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant
  • 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 into the waterfall below. He just can't believe this gumshoe has beaten him in a matter of weeks.
  • Psychotic Smirk
  • Revenge by Proxy
  • 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.
  • The Sociopath
  • Soft-Spoken Sadist
  • 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.
    • Well, it actually seems like Moran is the only ally Moriarty really cares and treat with respect.
      • Though Moran is shown to possess true loyalty to Moriarity, most people we seen working for Moriarty are either paid-off people or people forced to do it, who would easily squeal given the right amount of money or to get revenge on Moriarty for taking their family hostage.

Madame Simza Heron

Played By: Noomi Rapace

Simza is a tag-along protagonist to Holmes and Watson. 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 well in 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.

Mycroft Holmes

Played By: Stephen Fry

"Good evening, Mrs Watson. I'm the other Holmes."

Sherlock's elder brother.

Colonel Sebastian Moran

Played By: Paul Anderson

  • 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.
  • Beard of Evil
  • Berserk Button: He takes exception to people who try to harm Moriarty.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Karma Houdini
  • 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.
  • Oh Crap: Has one when he realizes that Watson is pointing a cannon at him.
  • Professional Killer
  • Psycho for Hire
  • The Determinator: The Heilbronn shootout.
  • Undying Loyalty
  • 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."
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