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Original Arthur Conan Doyle Canon
- A Study In Scarlet: Watson meets Sherlock Holmes for the first time, in a college medical lab as the latter is squeeing over, apparently, inventing luminol.
- The list Watson makes entitled "Sherlock Holmes: His Limits".
- Watson finds out that Holmes doesn't know that the earth travels around the sun. Holmes proceeds to act patronizing and give him the memorable "brain attic" speech. The response is classic Watson:
- Watson summarizing what the newspapers had to say about the murders: each and every one of them blames the government for it (the Daily Mail even recommends keeping a closer watch on foreigners, nothing has changed in over a hundred years).
- Coupled with Hilarious in Hindsight: When he's about to introduce Watson to Sherlock for the first time, Watson's college chum remarks flippantly that he can imagine Holmes giving a friend a mild dose of poison just to see the effects firsthand - "And, to do him justice, I think he would take the same dose himself." Many, many adventures later, in the Adventure of the Devil's Foot, he is proven correct on both counts.
- "The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton:" Lestrade comes and gives Holmes a description of one of the men seen fleeing Milverton's residence the night he was murdered. Holmes laughs at the vagueness of the description and declines to take the case. "Why, that might even be a description of Watson..."
- The Red-Headed League features an in-story example; a combination of Jabez Wilson's twist of luck where the League suddenly closes on him, his showing of the sign informing of said closure to Holmes and Watson, and his absolute dead-serious face when retelling the tale proves too much for both Holmes and Watson to bear, and they burst out laughing.
- This is actually a particularly good example of Doyle's deftness with prose. Wilson's elaborately detailed and dramatic retelling of his mysterious experiences, which are punctured by a note saying nothing but the phrase "The Red-Headed League Is Dissolved." It also delves into the realm of Inherently Funny Words.
- This exchange from "A Scandal in Bohemia"—
Holmes: If this young person [Irene Adler] should produce her letters for blackmailing or other purposes, how is she to prove their authenticity?Grand Duke of Cassel-Felstein: There is the writing.Holmes: Pooh, pooh! Forgery.Grand Duke: My private notepaper.Holmes: Stolen.Grand Duke: My own seal.Holmes: Imitated.Grand Duke: My photograph.Holmes: Bought.Grand Duke: We were both in the photograph.Holmes: Oh, dear! That is very bad!
- Holmes gets a lovely little bit of snark in against the King of Bohemia later in the story, after the King declares (of Irene Adler), "Is it not a pity that she was not on my level?" "From what I have seen of the lady she seems indeed to be on a very different level to your Majesty."
- This exchange gets a small Call-Back in a later story, where a Duke comes in looking to hire Holmes to find his lost love, then brags that Holmes has "probably never had a client such as me." To which Holmes replies "Actually, this is a step down for me. My last client of this sort was a king.
- Holmes' Last-Second Word Swap in The Adventure of the Norwood Builder. "Arrest you! This really is most grati—most interesting. On what charge do you expect to be arrested?" Even funnier when you try to picture the look on his face (it isn't described so you've got free rein here)...
- Holmes' snark is legendary for a reason. Case in point, in The Boscombe Valley Mystery:
"We have got to the deductions and the inferences," said Lestrade, winking at me. "I find it hard enough to tackle facts, Holmes, without flying away after theories and fancies.""You are right," said Holmes demurely; "you do find it very hard to tackle the facts."
- At one point Holmes and Watson are heading to a concert — or "off to violin-land," as Holmes puts it.
- The opening paragraphs of "The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual," where Watson describes how Holmes lives, saying that he himself is no neat freak, but
when I find a man who keeps his cigars in the coal-scuttle, his tobacco in the toe end of a Persian slipper, and his unanswered correspondence transfixed by a jack-knife into the very centre of his wooden mantelpiece, then I begin to give myself virtuous airs. I have always held, too, that pistol practice should distinctly be an open-air pastime; and when Holmes in one of his queer humours would sit in an arm-chair with his hair-trigger and a hundred Boxer cartridges, and proceed to adorn the opposite wall with a patriotic V. R. done in bullet-pocks, I felt strongly that neither the atmosphere nor the appearance of our room was improved by it.
- The Sign of (the) Four gives us Watson's love-induced Malapropisms: he relates the story of how, upon seeing the head of a rifle poke into his tent in Afghanistan, he proceeded to shoot it to death with a tiger cub, and also recommends to the hypochondriac client to take plenty of strychnine (essentially a poison) but to caution against excessive amounts of castor oil (which is mostly harmless). Extra hilarity points for being informed of his errors only after the entire story occurs, when "he" is writing it!
- Extra points too for stelath scatology: castor oil is a laxative.
- Also, Toby the dog, while leading Holmes and Watson on the trail of creosote (because the suspect they're following stepped in it), accidentally latches onto the trail of a creosote merchant and instead leads them to an entire stockpile of the stuff in a back alley. The incredibly proud look he gives them, complete with eagerly wagging tail, when he finds it sends both men into hysterical laughter.
- When Watson and Holmes discover the murder, the reaction of the police inspector summoned to the scene is to arrest everyone else in the household, on the mere assumption that someone had to be in on it. Reading about this in the paper the next day, Watson snarks that it's a wonder the two of them weren't arrested too, and Holmes tells him not to rule it out. Then there's a ring at the door and Watson has a brief Oh, Crap!.
- In "The Veiled Lodger," Watson writes a decidedly miffed statement to his readers regarding attempts to steal unpublished case notes, and blackmails some unnamed individual by threatening to reveal "the story of the politician, the lighthouse, and the trained cormorant," if the theft attempts continue, sternly warning, basically, "you know who you are!"
- In the beginning of "The Adventure of the Dancing Men," Holmes, after some long hours wrapped up in a chemical experiment, suddenly notes that Watson does not intend to invest in South African securities. When Watson reacts with shock, Holmes wheels on him and demands that he admit to being entirely taken aback and goes so far as to say he ought to make Watson put it in writing, as once Holmes explains himself, Watson will declare the matter as absurdly simple. Watson insists that he'll do no such thing, and so Holmes leads him through the inferences that led him to the revelation. Watson's response?
"How absurdly simple!"
- In "The Adventure of the Empty House" Holmes struggles to say something complimentary about Lestrade's performance while he's been gone:
Holmes: [Y]ou handled the Molesey Mystery with less than your usual—that's to say, you handled it fairly well.
- The note that brings Holmes into "The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire" might be, as Holmes says, a perfect blend of "the modern and the medieval [and] the practical and of the wildly fanciful", but it's also possibly the most bemused Victorian middle-class English way of saying "we think this guy's batpoop crazy so we're foisting him off on you" ever put in writing:
Our client, Mr. Robert Ferguson, of Ferguson and Muirhead, tea brokers, of Mincing Lane, has made one inquiry from us in a communication of even date concerning vampires. As our firm specialises entirely upon the assessment of machinery the matter hardly comes within our purview, and we have therefore recommended Mr. Ferguson to call upon you and lay the matter before you.
- In The Noble Bachelor, Lord St. Simon rather pompously asserts that no doubt Holmes has never had a client of his particular station in life before. Holmes genially agrees, and remarks that he’s descending — his last client was the King of Sweden.
- To which further Hypocritical Humor is added; Lord St. Simon, having made a big deal about how he guards his privacy very jealousy, does not trust placing his secrets in the hands of a mere hired detective, and will not look favourably on any hint of scandal arising from his dealings with Holmes, immediately becomes very interested in exactly what the nature of Holmes's work for the King of Sweden actually was. Holmes chidingly points out that Lord St. Simon can hardly expect him to betray the confidentiality of one of his clients.
Granada TV series
- The opening credits. A group of young boys are at a shop window pulling faces at a salesman in the middle of serving a customer. The one at the front gets so involved in it that he doesn't notice a policeman march up behind them until it's too late, and receives a clip around the ear for his troubles.
- After Holmes punches the hell out of Woodley in "The Solitary Cyclist", the tavern patrons treated to the display of pugilistic perfection respond by applauding.
- At the end of "The Copper Beeches", this conversation that follows Watson reading aloud his canonical journal entry:
Watson: There, Holmes. Your verdict?
Holmes: An admirable account, Watson.
Watson: Oh, you don't think I've put too much color and life into it?
Holmes: *turns around in his seat to face Watson* Oh, my dear friend, I humbly defer such considerations to your excellent literary judgment. *turns back to the camera so that Watson cannot see his face*
Watson: *proudly smiles* Good!
Holmes: *gives a sarcastic, Fascinating Eyebrow look to the camera*
- "You are always in a disputatious mood when you choose that pipe!"
- Jeremy Brett's depictions of Holmes as a hyperactive misfit in general (i.e. jumping over the sofa to call Watson back into the room during "The Red-Headed League"). Portraying Holmes as quirky is nothing new, but Brett's were incredibly well done.
- At the end of another episode Holmes is so hyped up at having solved a case neatly that he actually jumps for joy shouting "Wha-hey!"
- In "The Resident Patient", Holmes tears his office up and flung papers all around trying to find some information. Watson comes in and with aplomb goes to a file box and picks out the paper Holmes was looking for.
- Even more funny is the implication that he might have trashed his office on purpose. As he and Watson are heading out to return to the crime scene, Mrs. Hudson stops them to praise Watson's craftsmanship (he was in the process of building a model ship), and Holmes conspicuously doesn't look at her as he departs. It's not out of the question to believe that he was still miffed about being chased out of his apartment by her housecleaning, and so deliberately undid all her hard work out of spite.
- In "The Greek Interpreter", when Holmes, Watson, and Mycroft are rushing to catch the train the murderers are on, the following exchange occurs:
Mycroft: I'm not built for running, Sherlock!
- And then, a moment later when they're in the compartment, Sherlock is calmly smoking a cigarette... right next to the sign that says "Smoking is Strictly Prohibited in this Compartment."
- At the beginning of "A Scandal in Bohemia" Watson offered his hand to the king-in-disguise and was ignored. At the end of the episode, the King offers his hand to Holmes, who turns away — and Watson steps in, gives a sharp shake and a very polite nod, and waves the man out.
- In "The Six Napoleons", Lestrade is waiting in the sitting room for Holmes and Watson to return, looking bored out of his mind...until he catches sight of the papers on the table beside Holmes' chair and so nonchalantly starts to finger through them...and while this is going on Holmes watches him through the half-closed doorway, waves Watson over so that he can see, and then Holmes and Watson quickly duck back down the hall and "enter" loudly, giving Lestrade the chance to stop snooping and act all innocent when they come in.
- Holmes giggling when he hears Shinwell Johnson's nickname "Porky" for the first time in "The Illustrious Client".
- The bit during "The Red Headed League" when Holmes and Watson both double over laughing at the client for his seemingly ridiculous story. Bonus points for Holmes's attempts to shush Watson and keep his own poker face, both of which fail miserably.
- From The Master Blackmailer. Poor Mrs. Hudson has so much to put up with—
Holmes: Mrs. Hudson, why did you tidy up for me? Where the hell are my shoes?!?
- The end of "Shoscombe Old Place", which concerns some dodgy dealings surrounding a racehorse. Watson's reading about the horse's victory in the paper and tut-tutting about how disgraceful the situation is... before Holmes 'innocently' inquires about how much money Watson made betting on said horse (with what was implied to be a certain amount of insider knowledge about what was going on thanks to following Holmes on the case). Much to Holmes' amusement, Watson is forced to sheepishly admit that it was a pretty tidy sum, actually.
- Holmes accidentally setting some newspapers on fire after tossing a lit match aside after lighting his pipe in "The Second Stain".
- At the beginning of "The Boscombe Valley Mystery", Watson is enjoying a few days away from Baker Street and indulging in some fishing when Holmes shows up to drag him along to the case of the week. While Holmes is explaining the details, Watson spies a nice big fish nearby and tries to lure it in. Holmes invites him along. Watson, of course, genially agrees. Holmes then casually remarks that they'd better hurry, since the train leaves in thirty-five minutes... thus bringing Watson's holiday to a rather more abrupt end than he was anticipating.
- In "The Solitary Cyclist" Watson is sent by Holmes to do some investigating. However, he doesn't do as well as Holmes wanted and after a harsh critique of Watson's sleuthing skills this exchange happens:
Watson looking like a hurt child: "Holmes... did I really do that badly?"Holmes looking like a disappointed parent: ".....Yes."
- In "The Blue Carbuncle," Holmes makes up a fictitious bet with Watson to get information about an uncooperative goose-seller. Then Holmes makes a bet of a sovereign with the seller so that he'll show them who supplies his geese and what they're fed—the man smugly shows off his records, which prove him (and Holmes' suspicion) right, and Holmes flips him the coin. But as they turn to go, the seller isn't satisfied:
Seller: What about this gentleman's fiver?!
[Watson looks smug as hell as Holmes, taken aback, has to fish out his wallet. Though Watson hands the note back as soon as they're out of sight.]
- Earlier Holmes and Watson are at the Alpha Inn. Holmes buys a couple of beers as a prelude to inquiring about the geese. Holmes leaves as soon as he has the information, to Watson's disappointment.