Film / Sherlock Holmes

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A 2009 film directed by Guy Ritchie, and starring Robert Downey, Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, and Mark Strong, that updates (or maybe restores) Holmes and Watson as thinking men of action. A sequel, A Game of Shadows, was released in December of 2011. Both films are known for their humor and for using modern-day action film techniques.

When Holmes (Downey) and Watson (Law) interrupt a dark occult ritual and save a woman from being sacrificed, they find that the culprit is Lord Henry Blackwood (Strong). He's already killed five women in a similar manner and, before he is hanged, he claims to Holmes that he will kill three more times after his death.

Soon, Blackwood's tomb is found destroyed and his body is missing, sparking rumors that he has risen from the dead. Holmes has other problems, as well: Watson is getting married and is moving out, making the Blackwood case their last case together, and Irene Adler has shown up to hire Holmes for her mysterious employer.

A sequel in 2011 titled Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows introduces Professor James Moriarty, a mathematician, former boxer and criminal mastermind behind a web of mysterious deaths and terrorist attacks across Europe. Holmes sets out to find out what he's up to but discovers Moriarty's mind is a match for his own, and a battle of wits across the continent begins as the two try to outsmart each other.

A third film has been mooted but is currently stuck in Development Hell.

This franchise provides examples of the following tropes:

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    Both films 

  • Action Girl:
    • Irene Adler.
    • Sim.
    • Generally Mary's not a person inclined to use force, but she's still not to be underestimated.
    (holding a gun on an assassin) I think it's time for you to leave [the train].
  • Adaptational Badass: Irene Adler. 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.
  • Adrenaline Time: An interesting version, as Holmes imagines at least some fights before starting, pointing out the weaknesses he'll exploit, and then we get to see the fight again in real time. This is applied interestingly later in the film; in every fight where Holmes gets his ass kicked, the Adrenaline Time sequence is absent, implying he lost because he forgot to think — or didn't have time to; formulating a rational plan is one thing when you're lurking around a corner hiding from a drunkard lookout, but more problematic when a giant Frenchman is bearing down on your arse. Essentially, it's his eponymous Sherlock Scan, weaponized.
    • Also used in Game of Shadows forest chase.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees:
    • Holmes' sunglasses are of the period, though they would have been considered medical devices rather than fashion accessories.
    • Watson's use of the word "masochist": the film is set in 1891 and the word was first recorded in 1890.
    • Holmes's showy martial arts are actually all from the time, even if they look too stylized (see Fantastic Fighting Style below).
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Jr.'s portrayal is more socially challenged than our usual Holmes, had some weird eye contact moments, and was implied to have issues with sensory integration. Guy Ritchie explains in the Blu-Ray special features that part of Holmes' social short-comings is that he can't filter out the many clues he picks up in social situations, for example his disastrous dinner in the Royale. In the second film he mentions that seeing "everything" is his curse, as a scene similar to that at the Royale is repeated at the peace conference.
  • Anachronism Stew: So much it needed its own page.
  • Attack Its Weak Point:
    • In the first film, Holmes observes that one of the mooks is partially deaf, a heavy drinker, and has a slight limp, and proceeds to bring him down with four attacks; one each to the ear, liver, and knee, plus one to the vocal chords to stop him screaming.
    • In the second, Moriarty's strategy for beating Holmes in a fistfight is to repeatedly target Holmes' injured shoulder.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: The scene in the restaurant, Holmes' forgetfulness (even though that's often a ploy to get Watson to follow after him), and the way he seems more hyperactive than other incarnations, though not all. Downey's Holmes is just as frenetic as the Jeremy Brett incarnation, who would often crawl across the floor or fling papers in the air.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: Whenever he has the time Holmes will use his famous intellect to analyze his opponents, predict their actions, and plan out, move for move, the ensuing fight. In Game of Shadows, Holmes and Moriarty play out part of a chess match and then an entire fistfight in their minds. They both realize Holmes will inevitably lose the latter because of the injury Holmes received on his right arm from torture prior to the train yard shootout in Heilbronn. Holmes realizes that his demise is inevitable, unless he takes a second option: drag Moriarty down Reichenbach Falls with him instead.
  • Badass Bookworm: This side of Holmes being brought up is a big part of this particular adaptation. Watson looks more this part than Genius Bruiser, too.
    • Watson and Moriarty also count as very well-read gentlemen who know how to handle themselves in a fight.
  • Badass Longcoat: Holmes, Watson and Blackwood got one.
  • Bash Brothers: Holmes and Watson basically all the time.
  • Bat Deduction: Averted. Sherlock's deductions are plausible and the clues to them are shown to the audience, it's just that you don't put it all together until he explains how he did so himself.
  • Batman Gambit: This is how Holmes' Awesomeness by Analysis fighting style plays out. Holmes can't account for every possibility, so he puts himself into positions where the most probable action by his opponent best suits moves where Holmes can win. The audience has the benefit of being treated to Holmes' foresight, while his opponents do not, and generally do none of the unpredictable things that could ruin his plan. We are treated to him analyzing how to carry out the fight, which is seen with the moves being played in slo-mo, then we see them again in real time.
    • It's also demonstrated to have a severe limitation; that no allies interfere in the fight. Notably, in Game of Shadows, Holmes plans out a Curb-Stomp Battle for an assassin he finds in the rafters, only for the not-so-Damsel in Distress to try and shank the guy with throwing knives. His plan thus foiled, he is forced to grab the girl and run.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: In the first, Irene gets dirty and a little bloody but her face remains unblemished, even after the explosion at the slaughterhouse almost kills Watson. In the second, Sim at least gets a bloody nose in her fight with the Cossack and again during the pursuit in the woods by German soldiers. Both of them are surprisingly clean for the Victorian-era.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Harming Irene in any way is usually this for Holmes. Remember that he let Blackwood fall to his death and was willing to sacrifice his own life to kill Moriarty.
    • Similarly, harming Mary in any way is Watson's Berserk Button. Twice in the second film: first, he's throttling Holmes after Holmes throws Mary off the train to save her from Moriarty's attack (although Holmes insists he timed it perfectly, and indeed, we see that he did) he mutely takes it when the gypsies loot his garb until one of them takes his scarf (Mary's gift). Then he punches out the perp.
    • Threatening either Watson or Mary is also this to Holmes.
    • On the evil side of things, Colonel Sebastian Moran's button is definitely when someone puts Moriarty in harm's way. When Watson drops a tower on him, the normally cool as ice Moran becomes pretty feral, threatening the German unit commander and his troops with death if Holmes, Watson and the gypsies get away. He also becomes a Determinator, charging into a hail of bullets to ensure their capture and even after being shot in the side by Watson, still trying to (and succeeding in) thin Holmes' herd by firing off a shot that picks off one of the unlucky gypsies.
  • Blatant Lies: Plenty of these by Holmes; they usually count as a Crowning Moment of Funny as well.
  • Bullet Time: In both films, notably the pier explosion in the first and the forest foot chase in Game of Shadows, in which the sequence continuously moves in and out of it. In this case, bullet time allows us to see one of Moran's bullets grazing Watson's side, and also to emphasize just how fast a round fired out of Little Hansel travels.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Holmes, as per usual.
  • Butt Monkey: Poor, poor Gladstone.
    "Holmes, how many times must you kill my dog."
  • Character Exaggeration: Irene Adler, in the Doyle canon, was just an opera singer who was known for her cleverness, and she went down as an Ensemble Darkhorse for outsmarting Holmes by stopping him from stealing back a compromising photo that she'd gotten her hands on through pure happenstance. In this movie, she's made into a full-on Femme Fatale/Action Girl and a professional thief.
  • Clock Punk/Steam Punk: Both Blackwood and Moriarty employ such devices, Blackwood building a cyanide gas spewing machine and Moriarty building time bombs.
  • The Coats Are Off: Watson removes his overcoat (keeps his suit jacket on) before every fight.
  • Combat Medic: Watson
  • Combat Pragmatist:
    • Watson. Holmes has some of this as well, being a master of calculated combat. When he uses the Sherlock Scan combo on his targets, it takes into account every reaction that the target would use; and shuts them down accordingly. The pragmatism in it is that it never lets the opponent get a hit in.
    • When Holmes is getting his butt kicked by the Chinaman, he doesn't hesitate to call on Irene to just shoot him.
    • Simza interrupts Holmes' usual calculated combat style by just throwing a knife into the guy. Which ironically allows the Cossack to play possum and escape, as he was wearing a knife-proof vest.
    • In A Game Of Shadows, Moran is in a lighthouse with a rifle, training the light down on Watson's only avenue of approach, keeping him pinned down. Then Watson realizes he's taken cover behind a naval cannon, which causes one of the best reactions from Moran.
      Moran: That's not fair!
    • Shortly after that, our heroes are trading gunfire with Moriarty's men while racing away from them through the forest. The bad guys decide turnabout is fair play, and the commander decides to deploy "Little Hansel". It's not clear what kind of gun it is, but individual shots fired out of it are powerful enough to rip trees apart.
    • Holmes and Moriarty both make liberal use of this trope during their final confrontation in A Game of Shadows; Moriarty by repeatedly attacking Holmes' wounded shoulder, and Holmes by blowing sparks in Moriarty's face so that he can Take a Third Option.
  • Cool Shades: Holmes wears a few pairs. These existed in Victorian times, but they were rare and considered to be devices for physical infirmity rather than stylish accessories.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Anytime Holmes looks like he's in trouble, he's already planned a way out of it.
  • Creative Closing Credits:
    • Images from the film are rendered as Victorian era-esque pencil illustrations. Much like the kind you might find in the occasional novel, including the original stories (illustrated by Sidney Paget).
    • A Game of Shadows also has the actual text from "The Final Problem" (the story that the film is loosely based on) appearing around the illustrations and credits themselves.
  • Cultured Badass: Holmes is quite cultured; he just refuses to live up to the image and prefers the bohemian eccentric genius lifestyle. Watson too; helps that he is a war veteran.
  • Darker and Edgier than your classic Holmes adaptations.
  • Dating Catwoman: Holmes and Irene.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Holmes and Watson often seem to be taking part in a sarcasm competition.
    Holmes: What of the coffin?
    Lestrade: We are in the process of bringing it up now.
    Holmes: I see... (looks at the constables, all of whom are firmly rooted to the ground) Hmm... Right. At what stage of the process? Contemplative?
    • Later,
    Watson: (when Irene opens fire on Blackwood's henchmen) She loves an entrance, your muse.
  • Disney Villain Death: Lord Blackwood seems set to fall victim to this with a rope and wooden planks dragging him off the bridge, but Holmes saves him. A part of the bridge's steelwork then collapses and Blackwood falls into a noose of chains.
    • Played straight with Moriarty in the sequel, as per the original confrontation.
  • The Dreaded:
    • Invoked by Lord Blackwood in first film, who deliberately cultivates an image of himself as a devil-worshipping Evil Sorcerer and Antichrist figure because his plans hinge on using fear to control others. Judging by the terrified crowd of Doomsayers that gather outside Parliament on the day when his plan reaches its climax, he did pretty well in that regard.
    • Professor James Moriarty from the sequel. He is feared by the criminal underworld and many influential politicians and businessmen all over Europe. Even Sherlock Holmes gets terrified when he has a first-hand look at his plans for causing a war that is capable of engulfing all of Europe.
  • The Dung Ages: Both films are far less idealized than previous screen adaptations, and show plainly (as in the Holmes boxing scene) the dirt and filth of poorer quarters and people of European cities. Holmes even makes a few quick references to it, when he says Lord Coward got his clothes dirty and stinky with shit in the sewers.
  • Fantastic Fighting Style: Half averted. What Holmes uses is an embellished form of "Bartitsu"note , a real life British martial art based on Japan's jujitsu and taught by one Lord Barry. However, its application onscreen is liberally mixed with Brazilian jiu-jitsu (added by director Guy Ritchie, who is a BJJ brown belt - but this being basics Bartitsu actually contained thanks to its jujitsu origins) and Wing-Chun kung fu (Robert Downey, Jr.'s primary style of martial arts, which was speculated in-universe by the choreographer of the film as due to Holmes having a book of Chinese boxing which he tested in his bareknuckle fights), as well as some serious Improv Fu. The final duel at the sequel even more closely resembles historical Bartitsu.
  • Femme Fatale: Irene Adler.
  • Friend Versus Lover: Holmes and Mary.
  • The Gambling Addict: Watson. Downplayed somewhat in that it never directly affects the plot.
  • Gentleman Adventurer: Holmes and Watson.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Even for a PG-13 rated movie, cocaine is never mentioned in the 2009 movie. However, at one point Watson looks at some bottles, picks one up and says disgustedly, "You do know what you're drinking is meant for eye surgery." Cocaine was used for anaesthetic in eye surgeries in the late 1800s. In the second movie Mrs. Hudson says that Holmes has been living on cigarettes, coffee and coca leaves. Cocaine is made from coca leaves. (Meanwhile, Holmes is shown drinking formaldehyde as Watson repeats his earlier comment, only this time reminding Holmes he's drinking embalming fluid.)
    • Though the effect of consuming coca leaves and cocaine are completely different. Coca leaves work like energy drinks and in this case makes more sense, considering Holmes energetic behaviour.
  • Go Seduce My Arch Nemesis: Again, Irene Adler (see Femme Fatale above). Hired by Professor Moriarty to, among other things, seduce Holmes. Subverted, as it's implied that Adler and Holmes were already involved in some fashion, and Moriarty just used Adler's pre-existing relationship with Holmes to further his own goals. He also makes it clear at one point that it's more a case of Go Seduce My Arch Nemesis (Who You're Already Kind Of In Love With, Or I'll Kill Him).
  • GPS Evidence: The two Sherlock Holmes films have variants of this trope:
    Sherlock Holmes: As to where I am? I was, admittedly, lost for a moment, between Charing Cross and Holborn, but I was saved by the bread shop on Saffron Hill. The only baker to use a certain French glaze on their loaves - a Brittany sage. After that, the carriage forked left, then right, and then the tell-tale bump at the Fleet Conduit.
    • In the second film, when looking at some letters that Simza's brother Rene has sent her, Holmes and Watson notice that they are of the stock used by a printing press, and are musty, as if stored in a damp place. A wine stain on one of the sheets allows Holmes to conclude that they were from a wine cellar near a printing press, which is how they locate the anarchist leader Claude Ravache.
  • Guile Hero: Holmes, of course.
  • Handicapped Badass: Watson is a very proficient and agile fighter with a war wound that gives him a limp. The limp seems to conveniently vanish in every action scene, however. (Not necessarily an error; people with limps are often able to run without the limp being apparent, depending on the nature of their leg injury/disability. Also, given the tongue-in-cheek nature of the films, this may indicate Watson's limp is psychosomatic, or maybe even exaggerated.) Plus, even if it hurts to walk or run normally, when you're in a fight for your life you may find yourself willing to ignore a little pain.
  • Hero Insurance: Played with; Holmes and Watson commit a few minor crimes (such as breaking and entering and withholding evidence) without receiving any punishment. However, after their investigation leads to the demolition of a shipyard and the earlier-than-scheduled launching (and not entirely unexpected sinking) of the ship under construction, Holmes and Watson spend the night in the pokey. This is apparently all the punishment they face. Then again, it's explicitly stated that powerful persons intervened to get Holmes out for the shipyard incident and considering that the end result of this investigation is the prevention of a gas attack on Parliament which would have killed most of the MPs and the government and a thwarted coup, it's little wonder that strings might be pulled to get him out of trouble.
    • The sequel later confirms that, as in the original stories, Holmes' brother Mycroft is "indispensable" to the British government, which would undoubtedly smooth such things over a bit.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Holmes and Watson.
  • Hyper Awareness: Holmes sees, hears and even smells everything around him.
    • Cursed with Awesome: And it's implied he can't stop. Ever, even when he wants to. No wonder the man spends weeks at a time alone in his bedroom. This has led to fan theories that he is a high-functioning autistic. This actually is a trait of Holmes in both the original and most of adaptations.
    Sim: What do you see?
    Holmes: Everything. That is my curse.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • "What was that about saving your bullets?" from the first film.
    • The second has Holmes chastising Watson for being rude to Simza, before Watson reminds him that he threw Mary from a speeding train.
    • Also from the second film, Holmes advises Watson "Whatever you do, don't let these gypsies make you drink," then takes a large swig from the bottle Simza just offered him.
    • Watson realises Holmes has forgotten (deliberately or otherwise) to organise his stag party so he can investigate a lead on Moriarty instead, and thus Watson stuck celebrating his impending marriage with Sherlock and Mycroft instead of the lads from the Rugby Club. After expressing his disapproval and storming off, Mycroft says, "He's all me, me me!"
  • I Drank What?:
    • In the first film, Holmes gets chastised by Watson for drinking a bottle of a chemical intended for use in eye surgery.
    • The sequel has a similar line when Holmes pours himself a glass of formaldehyde. Subverted in the fact that Holmes knows perfectly well what he is drinking.
  • I Know Karate: Holmes is proficient in hand-to-hand fighting. Ironically, when he fights a Chinese mook who also knows kung fu, he doesn't fare so well, apparently being used to opponents who use Good Old Fisticuffs.
    • Double played in the sequel when Moriarty reveals he knows some Bartitsu as well aside from his boxing expertise. This allows him to turn the tide of the fight to his favor by armlocking Holmes's injuried shoulder and hitting it.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: There is an outstanding amount of "no one was hit" in both films, from both the good guys and bad. Which is exactly the way it usually is in a real firefight, especially with the era's relatively inaccurate guns. While there are more deaths in the second film, most of them are Red Shirts, and/or are at the hands of Sebastian Moran, the Cold Sniper Dragon.
  • Improvised Weapon User: Watson's weapon of choice appears to be his coat combined with whatever he can get his hands on. And he manages quite well at it too.
  • Inspector Lestrade: The actual Inspector Lestrade, too.
  • Insufferable Genius: Holmes.
  • Kicking Ass in All Her Finery: Irene Adler. Could also be said of Simza in the second film, especially after she starts wearing Watson's bowler hat.
  • Kink Meme: Inspired one that went to 8000 comments in less than ten days.
  • Leitmotif: Holmes' signature sound is the plucking of violin strings. It shows up whenever he is doing some heavy deduction.
  • Le Parkour: Holmes uses some through the films.
  • Like an Old Married Couple: This is how Robert Downey, Jr. described the relationship between his character and Watson.
  • Literary Agent Hypothesis:
    • Not invoked by the film itself, unless you count Mary's comment that Watson's journals would make interesting reading, but the film's divergences from the Canon can be handily explained by applying the standard theory that Watson's published accounts were somewhat fictionalized (with the film, by this hypothesis, showing the actual reality). Considering what happened to Blackwood's poison gas device (confiscated by the military), it's possible that Holmes and Watson were sworn to secrecy for reasons of national security. Hence, Watson couldn't publish this one. This would explain why he ends up sneaking bits of dialogue into other stories (see Mythology Gag).
    • The second film opens and closes with him writing "The Final Problem", the actual short story that A Game of Shadows is loosely based on.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: Watson to Holmes.
  • Logical Weakness: The title character is a significantly less capable combatant without time to think about his moves and/or Sherlock Scan his opponent.
  • Logo Joke:
    • In the first film, the Warner Bros. shield, Village Roadshow W, and Silver Pictures square appear as metal-worked sewer covers on a cobblestone street; the camera pulls back to reveal the street as part of the movie's opening chase.
    • In A Game of Shadows, the Warner Bros, Village Roadshow, and Silver Pictures logos, plus the opening title, appear in the pages of Dr. Watson's manuscript.
  • Meta Casting: Just like Tony Stark in Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr., a guy known for being a brilliant but (at least in his younger years) troubled addict plays... a brilliant but troubled addict.
  • The Muse: Watson claims Irene is this for Holmes.
    Watson: (after Irene breaks cover, guns blasting) She loves an entrance, your muse.
  • Mythology Gag: So many to the original canon and other versions that they were given their own page.
  • Passing the Torch: It's subtle, but throughout both movies Holmes is often training Watson in his methods, like a school teacher with a student—note how many times Holmes lets Watson take first crack at a deduction, and in the climax of Game of Shadows, even leaves the final question up to Watson while he's out of the room. Likely, Holmes wasn't entirely confident of surviving Moriarty, and wanted to make sure someone could work in his stead.
  • Perma Stubble: The first time Sherlock Holmes has ever been depicted with it. You'll notice Holmes is somewhat more cleaned up after someone tells him to clean up. During the dinner with Watson and Mary, he is nearly clean-shaven... but not quite. In fact, his Perma Stubble may be constantly on his face, but it is done realistically.
  • Private Detective: But of course.
  • Promoted to Love Interest: Irene Adler... in the tradition of every single Holmes adaptation ever.
  • Public Domain Character
  • Room Full of Crazy: Blackwood covers the inside of his cell with mystical runes and imagery. Holmes is less-than-impressed.
    • Holmes gets such a room for himself in both films.
  • Running Gag:
    • Holmes insulting Lestrade. After it's revealed Lestrade is part of the conspiracy, he punches Holmes. "I've wanted to do that for years." However, since he was actually working with Holmes...
      "You know Holmes, in another life you'd make an excellent criminal."
      "Yes, and you an excellent policeman."
    • Related to this; Holmes will frequently ask to borrow something from Lestrade (such as a pen or a handkerchief), use it to do something rather unpleasant (such as poking at a corpse or messily blowing his nose) and blithely hand it back, much to Lestrade's disgust.
    • Holmes twice attempts to stealthily break into somewhere, only for someone to abruptly interrupt him by opening (or kicking down) the door.
    • Holmes drugging Watson's dog.
    • One that spans over two movies "Get that thing out of my face." "It's not in your face, it's in my hand." "Get what's in your hand out of my face."
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: Constable Clarky and Lestrade trust Holmes more than their chief officers.
  • Sequel Hook:
    • The first film has Adler revealing she was working for Moriarity.
    • The second film has Holmes typing a suspicious question mark after Watson's "THE END".
  • Sherlock Scan: Holmes himself is in top form, of course, though one of his scans does get him in trouble with Mary towards the start of the movie. In the first film he makes a mockery of a Blindfolded Trip by completely ruining the Masons' attempt to disguise their identity and present location. Watson shows how much he's learned as Holmes's partner by pulling off several himself. Holmes even manages to weaponize his scans: in his first Awesomeness by Analysis scene, as noted above, he notes that his opponent is a "heavy drinker" and aims a shot at his bloated liver.
  • Shirtless Scene
  • Shout-Out:
    • To other Holmes adaptations:
      • Combined with Continuity Nod, the Establishing Shot of Baker Street in the first film is almost exactly the same shot that opened the Granada Sherlock Holmes series with the seminal Jeremy Brett.
      • In the second film, take a close look at Moriarty's little red notebook. Then go watch the Granada version of "The Final Problem" - specifically, the scene where Moriarty visits Holmes in Baker Street and consults his notebook about when Holmes first crossed his path.
      • When Watson comes to find Holmes after his boxing match in the first movie, Holmes' experiment with his violin and a jar full of flies is a recreation of a similar scene in the Basil Rathbone film The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.
      • "Dredger" bears some resemblance to Rondo Hatton, who played a similar hulking villain in the 1944 Holmes film The Pearl of Death.
      • The scene where Watson tries to interest Holmes in some seemingly bizarre cases that people have written in to him about, only for Holmes to curtly reveal he's deduced the actually-very-mundane solutions from simply reading the letters, harkens back to a similar scene in Billy Wilder's The Private Life Of Sherlock Holmes.
    • To other works:
      • A line from Henry V, Act III while leaving the cemetery:
      Watson: "Follow your spirit..."
      Holmes: (joining) "And upon this charge, cry God for Harry, England, and St. George!"
      • Of course, the most important part of this quote is the first line: "The game's afoot"...
      • A rather far-fetched Shout-Out is the newspaper a certain character reads at one point. The headline says "Panic in the streets." It's a London newspaper. Does Guy Ritchie like the Smiths?
  • Sliding Scale of Shiny Versus Gritty: The depiction of London skews very strongly on the side of gritty, although even then, it's cleaner than real-life Victorian London would have been.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: Oh yes. Most conversations between Holmes and Watson are filled with snarky back-and-forth banter.
  • Spirited Competitor:
    • This is implied to be Holmes's general outlook, that he enjoys the chase and the intellectual challenges his work provides, and rejects cases that don't stimulate him. "My mind rebels at stagnation, give me problems, give me work."
    • Further emphasized in A Game of Shadows, at Holmes' funeral, where his epitaph reads: "He Played The Game For The Game's Own Sake"
  • Steel Ear Drums: Averted in both films. In the first, after the explosions on the dock, everyone's ears are shown to be ringing and Sherlock seems extremely dazed and barely able to stand, indicating possible damage to his inner ear. In the second, Watson takes care to put on ear mufflers before firing the cannon. Later on, it's shown in a first-person slo-mo shot that everyone is having trouble hearing, even their own yells, as they run through the forest trying to dodge the cannons and gunfire, and the men firing "Little Hansel" it are shown covering their ears.
  • Stylistic Suck: Played With. All the music in the series is played quite elegantly on deliberately out-of-tune instruments.
  • The Summation: Holmes does this at the end during his final confrontation with Blackwood.
  • Super-Detailed Fight Narration: Courtesy of his Awesomeness by Analysis and Adrenaline Time.
  • Super Senses: Holmes's observations often seem like this.
  • Sword Cane: Watson's.
  • Trigger Happy:
    • Irene Adler's idea of an entrance is to start shooting and knocking people out.
    • Holmes could also be considered this too. Early in the film he was trying to construct a silencer and later in the film he empties his whole gun just moments after telling Watson to "save your bullets". Watson calls him on it.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: Holmes and Watson with Irene in the first film and Sim in the second.
  • Victorian London
  • Video Credits
  • Waistcoat of Style: All over the place.
  • The Watson: Watson performs his traditional service here, though the first film begins after many of their adventures, so Watson is allowed to make deductions of his own, told to Holmes.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Irene and Holmes to an extent.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Holmes is a master, pitted against Blackwood's Magnificent Bastard and Moriarty's Chessmaster.
  • You Can't Thwart Stage One:
    • The Big Bad says early on that he will kill three people and Holmes will fail to save any of them. He succeeds in doing so, but Holmes thwarts his plan before he can attack his fourth and final target.
    • Likewise in the sequel, the Big Bad Moriarty is always one step ahead of Holmes, managing to pull off his schemes without a hitch while distracting and misleading the good detective at every turn. By the end of the film, with minutes left to go, it looks like The Bad Guy Wins — until Holmes reveals the fruition of his Batman Gambit to get Moriarty's notes, which allow the police to dismantle his financial empire. Even at this stage, Holmes's Awesome by Analysis fighting style (which Moriarty is also capable of) predicts that he will be on the receiving end of a Curb-Stomp Battle from Moriarty unless he performs the iconic Heroic Sacrifice over Reichenbach Falls.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness:
    • In the first film, Holmes deduces that Riordan was killed as soon as his experiments were successful, for this reason.
    • Moriarty knows one simple rule: no loose ends. Which is why Rene is shot with a poison dart by Moran after his assassination attempt is stopped, and is also how Moriarty got Claude to kill himself right in front of Holmes, Watson and Simza.
    • Quoted by Moriarty in the second film when he "dismisses" Irene from their lunch engagement, though on-screen Never Found the Body by Holmes, so who knows (see greenlighted sequel above).
  • Younger and Hipper: The films have been called this, though the actors are actually a good ten to fifteen years older than Holmes and Watson would have been when their partnership began (Sherlockians generally place Holmes and Watson in their late twenties to early thirties at the start of A Study in Scarlet) and just a couple of years younger than Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce when they started in their roles.

    Sherlock Holmes 

  • Action Prologue: The movie starts with Holmes, Watson, and the Yard capturing Lord Blackwood after he murders five girls, and thwarts his murdering a sixth.
  • Affably Evil: Dredger — considering his interactions with Holmes generally involve them trying to beat the crap out of each other, he's unfailingly polite.
    Holmes: (in French) One moment, please.
    Dredger: (in French) I'm in no hurry. (And while he advances after saying so, he did let Holmes climb to his feet and speak.)
    • Blackwood is also quite polite, not to mention charismatic. Which is of course part of his scheme, that he's a showman who makes his scientific feats look like magical conjurations.
  • Almost Kiss: Sherlock leans forwards as if to kiss Irene at the end, then removes her stolen necklace instead. Before he leaves he quickly kisses her on the forehead.
  • Always on Duty: Constable Clark shows up in any scene involving the police force, no matter if day or night.
  • And the Adventure Continues: Holmes, Watson and Mary are relaxing after the case is over when P.C Clark comes by with a summons from Lestrade: a police officer has been murdered and a vital element of Blackwood's device stolen, and Holmes recognizes the M.O as belonging to a certain professor who's recently been brought to his attention.
    Holmes: Clarkie... case re-opened.
  • Animal Motifs: A crow is always seen whenever Blackwood is about to kill someone. So at the end, when Blackwood really does die for real, it flies away. The crow turns out to be nothing more than a normal crow.
  • The Antichrist: Blackwood deliberately invokes all the tropes associated with The Antichrist — witchcraft, raising from the dead after three days, grand plans for World Domination, disciples, etc. In one scene, he's reciting from the Book of Revelation about the biblical Beast. Holmes cautions him during their final encounter that despite Blackwood's lack of genuine dark sorcery, the rituals he performed along the way were done to a tee, with the exception of the final offering of a soul... and thus he had better hope that what he was getting himself into was just superstition.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Holmes briefly uses a powerful electrode as a weapon which apparently needs to be charged with a hand-cranked generator.
    Watson: Holmes, what is that?
    Holmes: Je ne sais pas! [subtitle: "I don't know!"]
    • To be more precise, this shocking device is perfectly possible (a powerful capacitor with two terminals), but well beyond the technology of the period.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Lord Blackwood.
  • Artistic License Martial Arts:
    • In order to incapacitate the first mook of the film, Sherlock manually sweeps his leg and punches the side of his kneecap to blow the limb. While this is not terribly unrealistic, a punch to the side of a knee would be difficult to pull out and would not do as much damage as, say, a kick, to the point that it would need a freakishly good striker (as Sherlock is supposed to be in the film, anyways). Needless to say that you better don't attemp to punch an aggressor's knee in real life.
    • Bareknuckle boxing matches from the time had a more open ruleset than modern day boxing, including wrestling and some striking variety as portraited in the film, but a boxer finishing off his opponent with a kick should have made the judges scratch their heads. Presumably justified because they are too shocked (and intimidated) with Holmes's quick victory to notice the fact.
  • Art Major Biology:
    • Two weird points are when Holmes knocks out the first mook. During his Sherlock Scan, he plans to attack the liver through the floating ribs, but in human biology, the liver isn't behind the floating ribs, but the false ribs. Then comes the most jarring thing, as he follows his gameplan during the fight, but he hits the left side of the mook's chest, while the liver is actually located to the right.
    • If someone is hanged there are physical signs — a broken neck or deep ligature marks from strangulation, bulging eyes, bowel failure, etc. Watson should have been just a little suspicious of Lord Blackwood's completely unmarked neck, at least.
    • Also the scene where Holmes blocks the chimney while talking with Lord Coward, slowly filling the room with smoke to escape. Both he and Coward keep speaking casually, even though with that much smoke around both should have been coughing their lungs out despite neither of them being in the smoke cloud itself, with Coward at the far end of the room and Holmes ensconced in a nook beside the door, just out of sight. Not to mention that Coward would have smelled the smoke sooner than he saw it.
  • Ascended Extra: Irene Adler only appeared in one of the original Doyle stories ("A Scandal in Bohemia", where she was the antagonist), and Holmes only briefly encounters her in it. Here, she's upgraded to a major supporting character with hints of a romantic interest in Holmes.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Averted. Robert Maillet, who plays Dredger, is French-Canadian, specifically from Acadia. Incidentally, Dredger is also supposed to be French-Canadian—Maillet's accent may have inspired this coincidence of nationality.
  • Back from the Dead: Subverted. Lord Blackwood, after being hanged and declared dead by Dr Watson, comes back from the dead and wreaking fear and panic all across England. Turns out he had actually faked his death.
  • Bastard Bastard: Blackwood was conceived out of wedlock during a "magical" ritual.
  • Batman Cold Open: The opening action sequence.
  • Batman Gambit: Blackwood's attempt to scare everybody into thinking he had great magical powers and thus he would rule England / the world. Of course, they may all be a part of the Evil Plan of Professor Moriarty by exploiting the confusion caused by Blackwood's plan.
  • Berserk Button: Blackwood needs Standish to try and shoot him so he'll become a self-inflicted victim of Kill It with Fire, so he drops a few threatening lines about conquering America while referring to it as a colony. Blackwood knows that Standish is a firm believer in Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?, and it works perfectly. Although this doubles as a Xanatos Gambit, since if Standish submits, it'll be taken as a sign that Blackwood is the one true leader.
    • Never, ever spit on Sherlock Holmes.
  • Bifauxnen: Irene Adler dresses in men's clothing in some scenes, probably referencing how she managed to get past Holmes in "A Scandal in Bohemia", where she says that she dresses as a man to enjoy the liberties to which she was otherwise not entitled in Victorian England. She even calls her men's clothing her walking clothes. (Though she doesn't bother to hide her figure or remove her make-up at all - she'd never be taken for a man.)
  • Bitter Almonds: How Holmes discovers the nature of Blackwood's toxic gas weapon.
    Holmes: Note the blue discoloration, the faint smell of bitter almonds.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: Blackwood has a glass blade hidden in the sleeves of his robes, and attempts to stab Watson with it in the film's opening scene.
  • Blindfolded Trip: Holmes has his head covered and is taken to a secret location... however, being Sherlock Holmes, he easily reconstructs a turn-by-turn account of their route.
  • Blown Across the Room: The giant mook Holmes engages in fisticuffs is sent flying across the room via electrocution.
  • Board to Death: What Blackwood intended to do to Parliament
  • Bookcase Passage: Holmes discovers a secret room in the house of Blackwood's father.
  • Brick Joke: In the beginning, after Blackwood has supposedly come Back from the Dead, Holmes says they have to investigate it to preserve Watson's professional integrity as "No woman wants to marry a doctor who cannot tell if a man's dead or not." It goes unmentioned until the final scene where Holmes is doing the summation of how Blackwood faked his death, and begins his explanation of how he didn't have a pulse by saying he will now restore Watson's doctoral reputation.
    • Also, during the Action Prologue, Watson gets the drop on a Mook about to strike Holmes and covers his nose to render him unconscious. After a moment or so, Holmes remarks that Watson is a doctor after all. Near the end, Watson has Dredger in a choke-hold and says "Relax... I'm a doctor" before Dredger finally loses consciousness.
  • Bulletproof Human Shield: Happens during the first fight scene, when Sherlock spots a henchman coming towards him with a revolver and uses some fancy martial arts technique to maneuver the henchman he is currently fighting into taking the bullet for him.
  • Cane Fu: Holmes, Watson and Blackwood are all proficient.
  • Captain Obvious: Blackwood's coffin is opened to reveal the midget's corpse.
    Lestrade: That's not Blackwood!
    Holmes: (closing his eyes in exasperation) Well, now we have a firm grasp of the obvious.
  • Carriage Cushion: The 19th century version. A burning Standish falls out of a window on top of a horse-drawn carriage.
  • Casual Danger Dialog: During the Action Prologue, one of Lord Blackwood's men attempts to sneak up on Holmes, only to be ambushed and put into a choke-hold by Watson. As Sherlock grabs and holds the man's nose to keep him from breathing further, Holmes and Watson have a rather pleasant conversation.
  • The Cavalry Arrives Late: At the start, Inspector Lestrade and the police arrive in time to arrest the villain and his mooks, after Holmes and Watson have defeated the mooks and unmasked the villain.
  • Chained to a Bed: Holmes, in a Crowning Moment of Funny.
  • Chekhov's Armoury: In the Evidence Dungeon that is the "Ginger Midget's" lab, Holmes finds clues that give him flashes as he looks around. Arguably, with Holmes, the entire film.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The mentions of the bridge that's being built at the beginning.
    • Also Lord Coward's shoes.
    • The rat's tail that Holmes snips off at Blackwood's factory.
  • Choke Holds: A thug sneaking up on Holmes is put in a blood choke by Watson. To prevent the guy from screaming, Holmes immediately pinches off his nose and mouth. They chat for a bit even as Watson chokes the guy into unconsciousness, and once the thug has passed out, move on. At the end of the film, Dredger has to be slowly air choked because he's just too darn big for anything else.
  • Climbing Climax: The final fight between Holmes and Blackwood on the half built Tower Bridge.
  • Clipboard of Authority: Watson uses one to infiltrate a factory.
  • Cloth Fu: Holmes, during a pit-fighting match, grabs a handkerchief off the wall of the pit and flings it into his opponent's face as part of a planned attack sequence.
  • The Coats Are Off: Both Dr Watson and Dredger take their coats off before the fight in the laboratory.
  • Concealing Canvas: Sherlock quickly checks the safe behind his painting is still locked after waking up to find Irene Adler in the room.
  • Connect the Deaths: In its use of this trope, it's a better adaptation of Alan Moore's From Hell than the actual movie From Hell.
  • Construction Zone Calamity: The climatic fight between Holmes and Blackwood on the half-built Tower Bridge.
  • Conveyor Belt-O-Doom: The slaughterhouse scene.
  • Creepy Ravens: A raven is seen perching nearby every time someone is killed or implied to be killed.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: The Evil Genius has developed a method of radio control seven years before it was invented by Nikola Tesla. Blackwood uses his remarkable invention to pretend to have magical powers and kill opposing politicians). Subverted when Moriarty sees the real value in the device and steals it.
    • The whole Blackwood plot, although haphazard at first, has a very practical goal: a coup d'état installing Blackwood's supporters in the highest seats of power.
  • Cutting the Knot: Holmes is trying to open a locked door with an array of lock picks. Watson merely kicks the door open.
  • Dark is/Not Evil: Everything connected with Blackwood is always associated with pure darkness. Also, Blackwood is always seen wearing a wicked-looking black leather trenchcoat while his minions wear dark cloaks. However Holmes himself is Tall, Dark and Snarky, and also dresses in gloomy black, complete with Sinister Shades.
  • Dark Messiah: Lord Blackwood would very much like to be thought of as one of these, and goes a long way towards convincing the entire country he is. But then, in the end, he actually isn't...probably.
  • Day Hurts Dark-Adjusted Eyes: Holmes has been vegetating in a dark room with the curtains drawn for weeks; Watson comes in and tears the curtains aside to let in the sunlight, eliciting a yell of pain from Holmes.
  • Deadly Bath: Sir Thomas is murdered in his bath.
  • Deadly Gas: Blackwood's plan involved gas-poisoning people at the Parliament.
  • Death by Childbirth: Blackwood's mother is revealed to have died giving birth to him.
  • Death Trap: Several... one for Irene, one for Parliament, one for Standish, etc.
  • Diabolical Mastermind: Blackwood and later revealed Moriarty.
  • Diagnosis from Dr. Badass: Sherlock Holmes makes a habit of mentally running through the intended physical effects of a series of precise blows to an opponent, just before he actually makes his attack.
  • Disney Villain Death: Blackwood, in an entirely gratuitous falling off of tall stuff after the fight scene example.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: In the pit-fighting scene, Holmes gives up and walked away...at which point his opponent spits at the back of his head. The following No-Holds-Barred Beatdown/Curb-Stomp Battle is performed solely so that the opponent couldn't spit at him again. The fact that Holmes has spied Irene in the audience a few moments before was almost certainly his inspiration for doing so; he'd never hear the end of getting one-upped like that in front of her.
  • Diving Save: Watson dives for Holmes when the ship on the wharf rushes on.
  • Doing In the Wizard: At the end of the movie, Holmes beautifully deconstructs Blackwood's every known act of sorcery, explaining exactly how each was done via friends in high places, applied science, and plain old theatrics. He also notes that Blackwood had better hope the occult parts were all baseless superstition, since he did the rituals perfectly, save for the last soul he planned to offer...
  • Doomsayer: Crowds of of these are seen being broken up by mounted police outside the Houses of Parliament, indicating the "Panic, sheer bloody panic!" inspired by Lord Blackwood's return from the dead. One man really goes to town describing the terrible events to come.
    "The end is nigh! Blackwood's come back from Hell, and laid a curse upon this land! He walks in every shadow, and every puff of smoke! Behold, he cometh with clouds, and every ene shall see him and every soul shall wail because of him! You cannot stop him! No one can!"
  • Dramatic Necklace Removal: After the Final Battle on Tower Bridge, Holmes rips Irene's stolen necklace off her neck.
  • Lady, He's, Like, In a Coma: Irene kisses Holmes after he passes out from the drug she slipped into his wine. She also strips him naked and chains him to a bed while he's in the same unconscious state.
  • Eloquent in My Native Tongue: Dredger.
  • The Ending Changes Everything: During the final sequence atop the Tower Bridge, Holmes pulls back the curtain on all of Blackwood's supposed dark magic from his resurrection to his ability to "conjure" magic. See Once More with Clarity below.
  • Even the Dog Is Ashamed: The scene where Dr Watson realizes that Holmes deliberately forgot his gun to get him to come along, then almost immediately heads off after Holmes; cue Animal Reaction Shot.
  • Everything Sounds More Sophisticated In French: The various fight scenes with "Dredger"
  • Evil Sorcerer: Lord Blackwood. Although he does not actually have any powers, just common sense, sleight of hand, and a well-tuned sense of theatricality.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Dredger, the giant French henchman.
  • Exploited Immunity: Blackwood plans an attack on the Houses of Parliament that involves gassing everyone inside with cyanide, leaving his opponents dead and his supporters alive, allowing them to seize power for him while reinforcing his image of being an Evil Sorcerer who protects those loyal to him with dark magic. He secretly immunises his supporters against cyanide poisoning the night before the attack by having them drink a toast in his honor.
  • Eye-Obscuring Hat: The thug working for Lord Blackwood who tries tries to shoot Watson in the opening temple fight. Likely a sign that he's a Professional Killer (the hat pulled down is to obscure his face from witnesses).
  • The Faceless: Professor Moriarty
  • Failed a Spot Check: Holmes is so busy trying to analyze the strange smell in Reordan's place, he doesn't notice two thugs have sauntered through the door, one eating a toffee apple, the source of the smell.
  • Faking the Dead: Blackwood faked his death as described by Holmes in his summation.
  • Faux Symbolism: Invoked in-universe. Blackwood killed the five girls in locations that form a pentagram on a map when lines are drawn to connect them. The four victims he claims (or attempts to claim) during film form a cross through the pentagram. Further, each victim is connected to one of the four animals that make up the parts of the sphinx and is killed in a manner invoking one of the four elements. However, it's all for show — Blackwood has no magical powers (it seems) and is using the symbolism of his crimes to reinforce the idea he does have powers, making it easier to inspire loyalty and obedience through fear. Sherlock calls out that the ritualistic elements to his crimes are a ruse during the climax.
  • Fiery Cover Up: Two mooks arrive at Reordan's quarters as Holmes and Watson are investigating them. Holmes recognises the gear they're carrying as an arsonist's toolkit and guesses Blackwood has ordered them to torch the place.
  • Fight Clubbing: Sherlock is competing in a fight club in one scene.
  • Fire/Water Juxtaposition: Used to contrast two of the most dramatic onscreen murders, both of which occur at the midpoint of the film when Lord Blackwood's plan is coming together. We see Blackwood drown Sir Thomas Rotheram in his bathtub about 15 minutes before he burns Ambassador Standish alive.
  • Five-Bad Band: Split into two competing groups but otherwise fitting their roles.
  • Flashback Effects: Holmes' flashbacks during his summation fade out with an overexposure effect.
  • Food Slap: When Sherlock implies that Mary is only in a relationship with Watson for his money, she splashes her wine on him.
  • Foreseeing My Death: Watson claims to have met a man in India who predicted the circumstances of his death, down to the number of bullets it would take to kill him and where each of those bullets would hit him.
  • Fortune Teller: Played for fun. Holmes pays a Gypsy woman so she would hand-read a bleak future for Watson and his wife. Holmes solemnly echoes everything she says, and Watson realizes this was a huge setup on Holmes's part.
  • Four Element Ensemble: The four murders planned by Blackwood correspond to the four classical elements:
    • Earth: Reordan is buried in Blackwood's dirt-filled coffin after being killed.
    • Water: Sir Thomas is drowned in his bath when Blackwood sneaks a paralytic chemical into it.
    • Fire: Standish is burned to death when his pistol backfires.
    • Air: Everyone in Parliament is nearly killed by poison gas. Instead, Blackwood ends up hanging himself from a very high place.
    • This is never mentioned, at all. Presumably they wanted to be careful around another recent movie that had coincidentally pulled exactly the same trick.
    • Additionally, the elements are paired with their opposites for each murder.
      • Earth: Reordan is Buried Alive and dies from a lack of air.
      • Water: Sir Thomas dies submerged in water that is heated by fire.
      • Fire: Standish is immolated by fire, hastened by the fact that he was soaked in a chemical he took to be water.
      • Air: Parliament would have been killed by poison gas pumped in from beneath the earth. Blackwood dies from a fall, denied the safety of solid ground.
    • In addition, the four murders also correspond to four animals: the man, ox, lion, and eagle, which have various significances:
    • In The Bible, cherubim are described in the book of Ezekiel as having the faces of these four animals.
    • In early Christian thought, they represent the authors of the four Gospels.
    • They also represent the four classical elements, though their traditional attributions don't quite match up with the movie's elemental correspondences; namely, the eagle traditionally represents Water, but the victim in the movie who corresponds to the eagle is the Fire murder. Of course, since the eagle is also a symbol of America, it makes sense that the writers would have the American victim be the eagle, so that little bit of artistic license is pretty well justified.
  • Gallows Humor: A very literal example at the end, when Holmes hangs himself as a forensic experiment, but never stops wisecracking.
  • Gambit Roulette: Lord Blackwood's plan to kill Ambassador Standish would have failed if it hadn't been raining that day (since it required that Standish be doused in oil without realizing it). However, it is England, so it's less of a gamble than it might initially seem.
  • Genre Savvy: Watson at the very end, who enters his lodgings to find that Holmes has apparently hanged himself. While his fiancée Mary is shocked, Watson just rolls his eyes and snarks a little. By this time, he (and the viewers) knows enough to recognize this as yet another Sherlock Holmes experiment.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: See Orphaned Punchline and Holding the Floor below, and keep in mind that Holmes tells this joke in jail.
  • Giant Mook: "Dredger," Blackwood's giant French enforcer.
  • Godly Sidestep: Holmes claims that his experimenting with one of the Hermetic rituals used by the Temple of the Four Orders has allowed him to reconcile nearly 2000 years of theological disparity... unfortunately, it's a story for another time, since stopping Blackwood from toppling Parliament is a more pressing concern.
  • Go-Go Enslavement: Beneath this pillow lies the key to Sherlock's release.
  • Go Look at the Distraction: Holmes sends the officers to find where Sir Thomas kept his bath salts while he looks for Thomas's occult paraphernalia.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: When Blackwood makes his short drop for real at the end, we are indicated that he's dead not by seeing him hit the sudden stop directly, but by seeing the chain that ended up around his neck going suddenly taut.
  • Government Conspiracy
  • Groin Attack: Holmes kicks the giant mook in the nuts during their climactic fight.
  • The Group: The Temple of the Four Orders is an exclusive secret society that supposedly rules the British Empire and manipulates much of the rest of the world. Blackwood takes over and uses it to attack Holmes. Possibly subverted in that the group is likely not as powerful as it likes to think, given the failure of the parliamentary coup and the death of several of its members. Something of a deconstruction as well; the supposedly all-powerful and omnipotent secret society is ultimately revealed to be little more than a bunch of superstitious and ineffectual old men who'll let any old charlatan with a theatrical manner and some admittedly impressive conjuring tricks seduce them with dreams of power and glory.
  • Gut Feeling: How Holmes expected Blackwood's Blade Below the Shoulder attack: "I was looking for it."
  • Hairpin Lockpick: Played straight as an arrow. Holmes pulls a pin from Irene's hair to open her handcuffs after the Slaughterhouse Fight. Badass as he is, Holmes doesn't even look down at the lock while picking it open.
  • Hannibal Lecture: Blackwood tries this on Holmes before his execution.
  • Hat Damage: Twice.
    • During the Slaughterhouse Fight, Holmes comes dangerously close to a rotating chainsaw on the Conveyor Belt-O-Doom. His hat doesn't survive the encounter.
    • Irene Adler shoots Dredger clean through the bowler hat. It just misses the top of his head inside the hat, prompting the punny one-liner, "Did you... miss me?"
  • Herr Doctor: Holmes disguises himself as a German-accented doctor after Watson gets caught in one of the villain's traps and winds up in hospital.
  • Hikikomori: Sherlock spent two weeks without leaving his room. That's a very hikki thing.
  • Hit Stop: Used a few times while Holmes is going through his fight moves in his head. The actual fight is then shown in real time to prove that Holmes' moves worked.
  • Holding the Floor: When left in prison, Holmes avoids getting beaten up by fellow inmates by telling jokes.
  • Hollywood Silencer: Holmes is trying to build one early in the film, much to the annoyance of Watson and Mrs. Hudson. Somewhat subverted, since the silencer does not work. At all. Of note is that the creators have Shown Their Work here, he's using a Nagant, which forces the cylinder forward to seal the chamber, making it the only revolver that can actually be suppressed.
  • Homage Shot: The Establishing Shot of Baker Street is very clearly modeled after the opening credits of the Granada TV series starring Jeremy Brett.
  • Hotter and Sexier: Robert Downey, Jr.. and especially Jude Law, who cuts a very different profile from the typical image of Watson. Of course, when you think about it, he couldn't have been drawing in women on moustache alone...
  • I Kiss Your Hand: Holmes does this to Watson's wife-to-be Mary upon meeting her. It's probably intended on his part to be a bit unsettling, given that he spends the entirety of their meeting trying to drive her and Watson apart.
  • Inherently Funny Words: Ginger Midget. Repeat as necessary.
  • Insistent Terminology: Reardon is a midget, not a dwarf. Holmes is correct about there being a technical difference, a midget has the same body proportions as the norm and a dwarf does not. For the time the movie is set this is correct usage. "Midget" being used as a disparaging term and applied to all small people was a later evolution of language.
  • Inter Service Rivalry: Very mild, subtle example: Dr. Watson and Captain Tanner (captain of the tugboat Holmes charters) are constantly bickering in the scenes they appear together in. Watson is, of course, an old army man, and Tanner was in the navy...
  • Jack the Ripper: It is subtly hinted that Blackwood may have been somehow involved. ("Those five girls were not the first to be butchered... no one could prove anything, but we all knew.")
  • Karmic Death: Lord Blackwood's entire scheme hinges on him cheating the gallows and escaping a well-deserved hanging. Guess what happens to him at the end...
  • Kill It with Fire: Sort of. Lord Blackwood tricks one of his enemies into killing himself with fire.
  • Last Request: Blackwell's request to see Holmes again before his execution is granted.
  • Left the Background Music On: A minor example where Holmes is shown following Irene Adler and the music played during this scene is revealed to be him playing his violin.
  • Left Your Revolver Behind: Invoked. Watson is furious when Sherlock leaves without his revolver, knowing he did it deliberately so his friend will feel obliged to chase after him.
  • Local Reference: The villain mentions during his Evil Gloating that he has plans to take over America as well as Britain. Amazingly, this is actually an in-universe Invoked Trope because Blackwood really needed to push the Berserk Button of the American ambassador. Whether he meant to follow through on the threat is iffy.
  • Magic from Technology: Blackwood isn't really an Evil Sorceror. He's just aware of Clarke's Third Law and has a fine sense of theatrics.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Prof. Moriarty, for Irene Adler and Lord Blackwood for Lord Coward.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Blackwood's entire plan is more or less to inspire terror in all of London so he can use their fear of him to control them.
  • A Man Is Not a Virgin: Partly played straight and partly averted. While there's much flirtation and some hint of a sexual history between Holmes and Irene Adler, their de rigueur sex scene in the original script (complete with literal Slap-Slap-Kiss foreplay) was mercifully cut from the finished film. Except for a kiss forced on him while drugged, Holmes never sees any action during the movie. Neither does Watson, though he does have a fiancée.
  • The Man They Couldn't Hang: Lord Blackwood lives through hanging the first time. Though it turns out that he didn't survive through any sort of toughness or special powers, but because his execution was staged.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Blackwood's death. "You had best hope it's not real, because you performed the ritual perfectly. The devil's due a soul, I think." The raven - normal bird that coincidentally keeps appearing, or something keeping an eye on Blackwood?
    • Blackwood's death involves having his ankle tangled in a rope tied to a heavy board that for some reason decides to fall at that precise moment. When Holmes cuts him loose, a crane randomly breaks away and tangles his neck, hanging him as he was supposed to be hanged. The raven flies away and is never seen again...
  • Meaningful Name: Something of a Genius Bonus, which may very well have been accidental - Blackwood's name brings to mind Blackwood's Magazine, one of the chief competitors to The Strand, the magazine in which almost all of the original Holmes stories were serialized.
  • Men Can't Keep House: The first time we see Holmes' apartment, it is a darkened dishevelled mess, complete with bullet holes in the walls. This trope is indirectly discussed when Mrs. Hudson enters and Holmes teases her for not making her rounds more frequently.
  • Misplaced-Names Poster: The poster in the page image doesn't qualify, but this one does.
  • The Mockbuster: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes by The Asylum (The Asylum specialize in mockbusters), released in 2010 with Ianto Jones as Watson and Dominic Keating as Spring-Heeled Jack. Featuring Holmes fighting giant monsters.
  • The Mole: Irene is working for Professor Moriarty. The trope doesn't come into full effect until she teams up with Sherlock and Watson in the third act after trying (and failing) to call it quits.
  • Monumental Battle: Atop the incomplete Tower Bridge.
  • Mood Whiplash: Noted by many a reviewer. The film's pacing is a little odd, so at times it suffers from this.
  • Mugging the Monster: Two thugs try to rob Irene. You can guess how that turns out.
  • My Death Is Just the Beginning: Invoked by Lord Blackwood before his execution. His death was faked, of course. His real death actually is a beginning, just not the one he planned for - shortly after he dies we get a Sequel Hook featuring Holmes true nemesis Moriarty.
  • Mysterious Employer: Moriarty, but of course.
  • Naked People Are Funny: When Holmes is Chained to a Bed.
    Holmes: Madam, I need you to remain calm. And trust me, I'm a professional. Beneath this pillow lies the key to my release...
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: If your title is Lord Blackwood, it's almost a requirement that you'll be involved in the dark arts. Also, Lord Coward. To the general public, a funny, jovial guy. And neither does Standish's name sound very antagonistic, in comparison to Coward's.
  • Near Villain Victory: Blackwood had pushed the button that would seal the fate of the British Parliament. Irene and Holmes had found the device but were struggling with how to actually stop its operation. Furthermore they had to deal with Blackwood's henchmen guarding the device, any of whom could have possibly stopped them right at the critical moment.
  • Never a Self-Made Woman: Holmes' Love Interest, Irene Adler, who is demoted from being one of the few people ever to outwit Sherlock to being Moriarty's lackey.
  • Never Trust a Trailer:
    • The trailers led us to believe that Irene was warning Holmes about Blackwood instead of Moriarty. And that there would be actual dark forces involved.
    • The warehouse explosion scene in the trailer is cut in such a way that the implication is that Watson has just seen something dangerous happening to Holmes and is doing a Futile Hand Reach.
  • New Era Speech: Blackwood gives one at the Parliament.
    Blackwood: I will create an empire that will endure for millennia...indestructible...and eternal. [...] The new order...begins now.
  • Newspaper-Thin Disguise: Pulled by Moriarty in the train car.
  • Non-Fatal Explosions: The film features three leading characters all caught smack in the middle of a cluster of fiery debris-scattering explosions. Some minor skin loss and smudges are suffered, but everyone keeps their pretty faces, hair, eyes, ears, and bones intact, and soon shake it off. Watson winds up in the hospital for a bit, but he's fine by the end of the film.
  • Noodle Incident: Apart from various Mythology Gags, there's also the second time Irene Adler outsmarted Holmes (assuming the first was a reference to A Scandal in Bohemia). Whatever happened apparently involved a stolen diamond and led to Holmes and Adler sharing a room in the Grand Hotel. The fact that Holmes prepares to defend his life when Adler reaches inside her Victoria's Secret Compartment indicates that things didn't turn out well.
  • Noose Catch: Lord Blackwood falls and is hanged by chains.
  • Nothing Up My Sleeve: Professor Moriarty's signature weapon is a hidden gun in his sleeve.
  • No, You: A Lame Comeback by Holmes.
    Watson: Dinner at eight. Wear a jacket.
    Holmes: You wear a jacket.
  • Oh Crap!: The look on Holmes and Watson's faces when Dredger walks into the midget's lodgings.
    Holmes: (points to Dredger) Meat...(points to two other mooks with Dredger) Or potatoes?
    Watson: My 10 minutes are up. (cue awesome fight scene)
  • Oh, No... Not Again!: "He's killed the dog...again!"
  • Once More with Clarity: Holmes explains all of Blackwood's sorcery at the end with accompanying scenes that show the real "magic" at work.
  • Orphaned Punchline: "...to which the barman says, 'May I push in your stool?'"
  • Outrun the Fireball: Averted. As Team Holmes leaves a slaughterhouse, Watson pulls ahead and accidentally hits a tripwire. He realizes what's going on and tries to warn Holmes, so Holmes gets to watch his best friend get blown up. Then Adler. He then grabs a tray to use as a shield, and heads back to Irene while his shield is destroyed by the explosion. He picks her up, and they try to outrun the blast and save Watson, but get about two steps before they're both caught in it and knocked off their feet. All in glorious bullet time. And followed up by Shell-Shock Silence.
  • Paying for the Action Scene: Holmes engages in a pit fight in a dingy pub and eventually knocks his opponent through the wood wall. He collects his winnings and leaves some of it on the bar counter, apparently as payment for the wall and the extra bottle he takes from the bar.
  • Plummet Perspective: Irene tries to cross a bridge at the climax only to find just in time that it hasn't been completed yet. A length of chain falls off the gap in her stead.
  • Porky Pig Pronunciation: Inspector Lestrade has trouble saying that a witness is cata... cata... ("Catatonic, sir.").
  • Posthumous Character: The Ginger Midget is dead before we even get to meet him, but the things he does in his experiments for Blackwood lie at the core of the film.
  • Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...: Holmes vs. Dredger. It somehow manages to be played straight, subverted, and averted throughout the entire course of the film.
  • Race Against the Clock: Literally; Lord Blackwood announces that when Big Ben chimes twelve, everyone in Parliament who's not part of his cult will die. In the sewers below, Holmes and Watson are struggling with Dredger while Irene Adler tries to defuse a Steam Punk Deadly Gas device.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Tower Bridge is designed so well to blend in with much older nearby buildings (like the Tower of London) that some viewers were shocked to see its half-completed steel skeleton form the setting for the final confrontation with Blackwood.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Both Clarkie and Lestrade continue to trust Holmes after a warrant is issued for his arrest; Clarkie makes sure he escapes the police at the slaughterhouse, and Lestrade slips him the key to his handcuffs.
  • Red Herring: You know that sinister-looking black bird? The one that manages to show up and hang around whenever Lord Blackwood kills someone by seemingly supernatural means? It's a perfectly ordinary raven, similar to those commonly found all over the UK.
  • Relationship Sabotage: Sherlock Holmes went out of his way to try to get Dr. Watson to not get engaged to Mary since he wanted to keep him for himself. He insulted Mary with a deduction and he paid a fortune teller to plant seeds of doubt into Watson's head. He eventually did give his consent.
  • Romanticism Versus Enlightenment: Undertones in the main hero and main villain. Sherlock is very much Enlightened; believing in rationality and science, expressing awe and appreciation in the power of industry and believing in justice. Blackwood is very Romantic, having strokes of Ubermensch-ness, belief that Democracy Is Bad, and being very steeped in the occult. Seeing that the hero of the story is Sherlock, the movie seems to come off as pro-Enlightenment.
  • Save the Villain: Holmes saves Blackwood from being dragged off the bridge, if only so he can be properly hanged this time around. After Blackwood tries to kill him again, though, Holmes lets the hanging take place sooner than Blackwood had hoped.
  • Say My Name: Watson, while running after the villain with Holmes following a couple hundred feet behind him, trips a bomb wire, hears ticking, and in (what he thinks is) his last living moment, has the presence of mind to turn around with his hand thrown out in the universal "stop" gesture and scream "HOOOOLLLMMES!" to warn Holmes not to come any nearer, as he's about to get blown up.
  • Scooby-Doo Hoax: The truth about the strange phenomena around Lord Blackwood.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: When the Order approaches Holmes to clear up the mess they ended up creating with Blackwood and offers to allow him to name his price, Holmes coolly remarks that the advantage of being a consulting detective means he gets to pick and choose his clients. He agrees to stop Blackwood... "But not for you. And certainly not for a price."
  • Secret Circle of Secrets: The opening sacrifice scene.
  • Sequel Hook: Irene's employer? None other than Professor Moriarty. Downplayed in that Moriarty's reason for being involved is not brought up in the sequel.
  • Shell-Shock Silence: Happens after the warehouse explodes.
  • Shoot Him, He Has a Wallet!: When Irene first shows up to ask for Holmes' help and he reflexively grabs her wrist to stop her from pulling something out of her jacket pocket. Turns out, she only wanted to produce an envelop.
  • Sleep Cute: Holmes falls asleep against Watson after spending the night in a prison yard.
  • Slipping a Mickey: When Holmes goes to see Irene, she offers him a glass of wine from an unopened bottle. Then, after Holmes drinks it and collapses, we get to see a short flashback — of her doctoring the bottle with a syringe, and resealing it.
  • Slow Electricity: When Holmes is fighting the giant man in an abandoned warehouse with the aid of an electric cattle prod. At one point his opponent is hanging on to a pipe on the wall for support, and Holmes touches the far end of the pipe with the cattle prod. Although it moves quickly the movement of the electricity (well, the magic blue sparks showing where the electricity is) as it races down the pipe is clearly visible.
  • Smug Snake: Lord Coward, who is admittedly working with genuine Magnificent Bastard Blackwood. Even taking this into account, however, he seems to spend most of the movie doing little more than standing around looking rather smug; he does attempt to avert Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?, but fails miserably.
  • Snipe Hunt: Variation, in that Holmes sends the police to go find something that actually is there, but still used to get them out of the way so he can do his thing. And steal evidence.
  • Spontaneous Human Combustion: Ambassador Standish bursts into flames when he attempts to shoot Lord Blackwood. This is intended to be taken as a magical occurrence, displaying the dark powers Blackwood has protecting him from those who oppose him, but in the end a clear, external cause is revealed by Holmes that has nothing at all to do with magic.
  • Stopped Clock: Watson reminds Holmes that he forgot to determine the midget's time of death by checking the broken pocket watch.
  • A Storm Is Coming: Subverted. The storm is coming line is AFTER the finale, and everything being resolved... Unless it was about Moriarty...
  • Stunned Silence: Holmes' No-Holds-Barred Beatdown of the boxer who made the mistake of spitting at the back of his head reduces the crowd of spectators from howling for blood into stunned, meek silence within seconds — except for one chap who blurts out "where the hell did that come from?!" (Not too loudly, though, presumably in case Holmes took exception.)
  • Super-Detailed Fight Narration: The film has two scenes wherein Sherlock plans a beatdown out in advance before delivery. Assisted by Robert Downey Jr's real-life knowledge of Wing Chun.
  • Take Over the World: Blackwood's goal as mentioned during his New Era Speech at the Parliament.
  • Tap on the Head: Averted in the opening where Holmes takes out a man by breaking his leg, causing him to lose consciousness from the shock, and quickly afterwards suffocating another man to unconsciousness.
  • Television Geography: In the climax, characters somehow manage to run from the sewers of the Houses of Parliament to the top of the newly constructed tower bridge within minutes. The two land marks are miles apart.
  • Tempting Fate: Blackwood's "It's a long journey from here to the rope..." at the end of the movie. Turns out it isn't so long as all that.
    • After Holmes meets with Sir Thomas, he asks Sir Thomas how long he expects to live if the rest of Blackwood's family has been killed, and tells him to consider it as food for thought. It's Harsher in Hindsight given that Blackwood drowns him in his bathtub that night.
  • That Came Out Wrong: Holmes, of course, gets the best one. Of course, It Makes Sense in Context.
    Holmes: Beneath this pillow lies the key to my release.
  • Throw a Barrel at It: Dredger throws a barrel at Holmes.
  • Toplessness from the Back: Irene drops her clothing while walking away during Holmes's visit.
  • Trust Me, I'm an X:
    • First, the famous chained-to-the-bed scene:
      Holmes: Madam, I need you to remain calm. And trust me, I'm a professional. Beneath this pillow, lies the key to my release.
    • When Watson is choking Dredger, he reassuringly tells him, "Relax, I'm a doctor."
  • Unfortunate Names: "Lord Blackwood" is one thing, but if you had to live with a name like "Lord Coward", you might have turned to villainy, too.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Between Irene and Holmes.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee:
    • Averted in the boxing match to show Holmes' Awesomeness by Analysis: Holmes meticulously plans his beatdown of his opponent step-by-step, and it goes exactly as he planned it. Then again, it was all in internal monologue so never actually spoken.
    • Lestrade arrests Holmes, and seems to enjoy the thought of turning him in to Lord Coward. However, he was shown to be working with Holmes the entire time, even slipping him the key to his handcuffs to facilitate his escape.
  • Unwitting Pawn:
    • As we learn at the end, Lord Blackwood himself.
    • Irene, who ignores Moriarty's Kansas City Shuffle about what component of the machine he is actually seeking.
    • Holmes himself; while he ultimately solves the plot through sheer genius and tenacity, the first two thirds of the movie has him falling into Blackwood's plan and pretty much doing as Blackwood expected. And he ultimately falls for the distraction that allows Moriarty to get what he wanted.
  • Use Your Head: Holmes gives the giant French henchman a headbutt but the latter seems underwhelmed by it.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: Coward's motivation for supporting Blackwood's scheme is "to provide the weak masses with a strong shepherd."
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment:
    • Inverted as Holmes drops the handcuff key down between Irene Adler's breasts to have her to get someone else to fish around in there for it, as she is handcuffed behind her back. Just like she did to him earlier.
    • Also played straight with the 'Maharajah's Diamond' and, earlier, the 'deadly' envelope.
  • Weapon Stomp: During the fight in the basement of the Parliament, Holmes lies on the floor and tries to reach for an ax, but the giant mook prevents this by stepping on his arm.
  • Wedding Ring Removal: Played with: Holmes does a Sherlock Scan on Watson's fiancée Mary and observes that she has a lighter spot on her ring finger, leading him to the assumption that she was engaged before but left her fiancée for not having enough Gold Digger potential. Mary is outraged and splashes her wine on Holmes. Then she reveals she removed her engagement ring because her former fiancée died.
  • Westminster Chimes: Can be heard during Blackwood's New Era Speech at the Parliament.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The very end features Moriarty stealing a wireless-control-mechanism. Holmes alludes to this as important, but it is not even given a passing mention in the sequel.
  • When the Clock Strikes Twelve: Blackwood's device is set to detonate on the twelfth chime of Big Ben.
  • Why Can't You Say Good Night?: Line by Irene Adler after drugging Holmes:
    Irene: I told you to let it breathe.
  • Wig, Dress, Accent: Holmes disguises himself with a false nose, hat, eye patch, and some stones in his mouth when following Irene Adler.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Blackwood hits Irene during the climatic fight on Tower Bridge.
  • Xanatos Gambit/Kansas City Shuffle: The second is part of the first. Everyone assumes that Irene's employer wants the gas, and indeed, her mission is to steal it for him. But it ultimately doesn't matter at all to Moriarty whether the gas is used against Parliament or not, or whether Adler succeeds in stealing the canister. He's really after the first-of-its-kind radio transmitter, a far rarer artifact (yet more versatile) than poison gas, something that would be quite easy to come by in industrial London. Everything she does serves only to distract Holmes and Blackwood.
  • You Got Spunk: Holmes' reaction to seeing Irene's response to being mugged.
    Holmes: That's the Irene I know.
  • You Just Told Me: "I don't care much what you think. I just simply wanted to know the location of Blackwood's final ceremony. And now you've given it to me. "

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