The show Sherlock is fond of Ho Yay, and the fans have ran with it to a huge (sometimes disturbing) extent. In season two the slashy gimmicks have been lampshaded more often than played straight (so to speak), while the Holmes/Watson relationship has grown to focus more on the closeness of their friendship, having finished the get-to-know-you phase.
John: You don't have a girlfriend, then? Sherlock: Girlfriend? No. Not really my area. John: Oh, right. Do you have a...boyfriend? Which is fine, by the way. Sherlock: I know it's fine. *stares* John: ...So you've got a boyfriend then. Sherlock: No. John: Right. Ok. You're unattached. Just like me. Fine. Good. Sherlock: John, erm, I think you should know that I consider myself married to my work, and while I'm flattered by your interest, I'm really not looking for any- John: No. I'm not asking. No. I'm just saying, It's all fine. Sherlock: Good. Thank you.
So Sherlock considers himself 'married to his work'. By the end of the episode, John is part of his work, by Sherlock's invitation, no less. Make of that what you will.
For more Ho Yay, pay close attention to John's body language in that scene. The awkward looks, the nervous gestures when he brings up the topic (also, the way he really seems to be curious about Sherlock's love life), he even licks his lips when he finds out Sherlock is single ... possibly even intentionally left ambiguous by Martin Freeman (who admitted being a shipper during interviews) as an attempt of fanservice.
Also, in the pause before Sherlock rejects John, his pupils do the shiver-thing that Benedict Cumberbatch seems to do to indicate a Sherlock Scan. So even Sherlock thinks that everything about John's body language is a come-on?
The subtext of that scene? Sherlock is practically seducing John to come and look at a crime scene with him. Nothing sexy about that? Well, just pay attention to Sherlock's voice and movements. There is something particularly sensual about them that usually isn't there. Also, there is Sally's hypothesis about Sherlock's attitude towards the crimes he solves: "He gets off on it." So ... Sherlock is basically inviting John to accompany him to something that gives him some kind of weird, borderline-sexual mental stimulation? Kinky.
Certainly doesn't hurt that everyone and their goldfish is a Shipper on Deck.
Mrs. Hudson shows John 221B for the first time:
Mrs. Hudson: There's another room upstairs, if you'll be needing two bedrooms. John: Well of course we'll be needing two. Mrs.Hudson: Oh, don't worry; there's all sorts 'round here. Mrs. Turner next door's got married ones.
Mrs. Hudson isn't the only one.
Angelo: Sherlock! Anything on the menu, whatever you want, free. On the house, for you and for your date. Sherlock: Do you want to eat? John:I'm not his date. (Sherlock doesn’t bother to correct Angelo. Later:) Angelo: I'll get a candle for the table. It's more romantic. John: I'm not his date! (Angelo ignores him and brings a candle anyway.)
Mycroft: What is your connection to Sherlock Holmes? John: I don't have one. I barely know him. I met him... yesterday. Mycroft: Hmm, and since yesterday you've moved in with him and now you're solving crimes together. Might we expect a happy announcement by the end of the week?
Eventually John comes to expect it.
John: (after Sherlock strips off John's bomb-rigged jacket and throws it away) I'm glad no one saw that. Sherlock: Hm? John: You, ripping my clothes off in a darkened swimming pool. People might talk. Sherlock: People do little else. *grins*
In "The Hounds of Baskerville" John is assumed to be Sherlock's boyfriend by two innkeepers in quick succession, followed by a psychiatrist he's taken on a date (after being referred to as Sherlock's "PA. Live-in PA" by a third party).
There's also the case of John's dating life. Sherlock is constantly shown to be putting a strain on it, ridiculing John's romantic gestures (like when he comments on John's emails) and openly insulting his girlfriends (his behaviour towards Jeanette during the Christmas party in Scandal).
John contributes by repeatedly changing his plans for Sherlock, including those he makes with his girlfriends. Jeannette breaks up with him on Christmas eve, after stating he's a great boyfriend ... to Sherlock!
John's expression during this scene doesn't help. When Jeanette says he's a good boyfriend, he looks surprised. When she adds 'to Sherlock', he just looks exasperated.
Sherlock's behaviour in "The Blind Banker" just before he crashes John's date with Sarah.
Sherlock: We're going out tonight. John: I have a date tonight. Sherlock: What? John: A date? It's two people who like each other go out and have fun. Sherlock: That's what I was suggesting. John: No, it wasn't. At least, I hope not.
Sherlock ends up inviting himself along on the date in question and seems honestly baffled that John would want to spend time on a date with someone else rather than solving crimes with him.
John's romantic tastes also seem to change over time. During the first series he's dating Sarah, pretty much his own female counterpart. During the second series, and having lived with Sherlock for over a year, he's seen dating Tall, Dark andSnarky Jeannette, and later shows an interest in Dr Louise Mortimer, who might as well have been Sherlock's twin sister, cheekbones and all.
Also, Sherlock's the one who semi-accidentally set John and Dr. Mortimer up, by pushing John to interview her for the case. Sherlock's tone the next morning as he inquires how it went is very insecure; he practically hovers waiting for John's answer.
While the Mistaken for Gay jokes are more of a Running Gag than genuine Ho Yay, take a close look at John's reactions whenever people assume him and Sherlock to be a couple: Most of the time, John is quick to point out that he is "not [Sherlock's] date" or "not gay", but not once did he deny being interested in Sherlock. It gets even more obvious in the second season, when he talks to Irene and claims he is "not actually gay". He also doesn't deny being jealous, he simply says that "[Sherlock and I] are not a couple". Take that as you will.
Sherlock is a pretty interesting case, too. He is shown to be extremely nitpicky and corrects everyone around him about the smallest details, but whenever people comment on his relationship with John, he chooses to ignore the matter completely, as if to imply "Yeah, he's totally my boyfriend, he just hasn't realised it yet". Also, Sherlock is not the type for nicely letting down a person who crushes on him - just look at poor Molly. But during that scene at Angelo's, he is honestly taken aback by what he interpretes as John hitting on him. (For even more Ho Yay, keep in mind that this is Sherlock Holmes, a genius when it comes to deductions - and if you look closely, you can even see him analysing John during their exchange). Sherlock actually needs a few seconds to think his answer through before he decides to 'reject' John. It almost seems as if he honestly considers dating him for a moment. Sherlock is remarkably friendly about his answer, too. He even says he feels "flattered" by John's interest, and since Sherlock is extremely straightforward and rude most of the time, it is rather astonishing to hear him say something like that.
It's subtle, but go ahead and try to count the times when John and Sherlock gaze into each other's eyes. You'll be surprised. As one fan said, "Friends don't look at friends like that."
Very, very often. Also, they don't seem to have much of a concept of any personal space between them.
Sherlock always seems unduly pleased whenever John compliments his deductions.
John: That's fantastic! Sherlock: Do you know you do that out loud? John: Sorry, I'll shut up. Sherlock: No, it's… fine.
Irene Adler's famous flirting message to Sherlock was simply an invitation to dinner which was left ignored all along till was coldly refused at last. It’s interesting when one compares it to the Sherlock's himself prompt invitation to dinner after his first case with John. It's more notable since he made this suggestion right immediately after this newly met flat mate called him an idiot – obviously fondly of course.
Sherlock sometimes seems downright desperate for John's attention and does quite a few stupid things to get it ... like firing a gun at the wall of their flat. He claims to do it out of boredom, but in that scene, he is clearly shown to be lying on the sofa doing nothing until he hears John's footsteps in the hallway. A bit suspicious.
John's over-protectiveness of Sherlock. In A Study in Pink, he kills an elderly man in cold blood because Sherlock was in danger, in The Great Game, he throws himself at Moriarty, willing to die so Sherlock can escape. In A Scandal in Belgravia, this even expends to an emotional level as well, especially when he finds out that Irene is still alive, after all of the pain she's put Sherlock through by pretending to be dead.
No matter what situation he is in, Sherlock almost always remains completely level-headed and calculating. Unless, of course, you threaten John. Every time this happens, Sherlock breaks into panic immediately - so much, in fact, he starts to stammer and stops thinking rationally.
Amazing how fire exposes our priorities. Sherlock says this to Irene with his usual sneer. It comes back to bite him in the ass less than two minutes later, when a CIA agent threatens to shoot John in the head and Sherlock loses his composure in two seconds flat.
John is incredibly understanding and patient when it comes to Sherlock's difficult personality, mood swings and rude behaviour. He is willing to put up with a lot of stuff that is definitely not fine like being abandoned in the middle of London, being ordered around or screamed at for no reason or even being poisoned, as an experiment and still considers Sherlock his "best friend" and stays faithfully devoted to him through all the mess they get into. Sherlock, on the other hand, is far less unthankful than it might seem. He lets John's influence change him for the better, even if becoming emotionally attached to someone is dangerous for him and later becomes his Achilles Heel. There are a lot of things Sherlock does to make up for John's care and loyalty. Most are easily overlooked, but genuinely heartwarming gestures like offering to clean up the hopeless mess in their flat, paying John a compliment every now and then and cracking jokes to make him laugh. Sherlock even steals an ashtray from Buckingham Palace, just for John's amusement.
The ashtray scene was mysteriously cut from the American airing of "Scandal" on PBS, in addition to a crucial moment in which John and Mrs. Hudson discuss Sherlock's past relationships, or lack thereof. Covering up, much?
John'sblog is a source of Ho Yay of the finest quality. The loads of domestic bickering alone are quite suggestive, but the way John spends a lot of time describing, complaining about or practically fanboying over Sherlock (sometimes all of the above at once) is really anything but subtle. It's especially noticable in the earlier posts, when Sherlock and John have just met. John, who has had nothing to blog about, suddenly goes on and on about the charismatic "madman" who wants him to be his flatmate. Note how John's usual dry writing style suddenly changes into incoherent ramblings and repetitive run-on sentences of breathless excitement whenever he talks about his new acquaintance. Sherlock sure must have blown his mind.
I could see the look in Sherlock's eyes - a flash of, not anger, but hurt. For a second, he looked like a little, lost child. I should have been horrified that he'd even doubt me for a second but, to be honest, it was so refreshingly human of him. He actually did value our friendship. He did, despite himself, care.
Remember that this is a life or death situation we're talking about. There is the possibility they are all going to die. What does John care about? Whether Sherlock cares about him and their friendship! Priorities, John. Priorities.
This quote also echoes a oft-referrenced passage from the canon Sherlock Holmes story "The Adventure of the Three Garridebs."
It was worth a wound—it was worth many wounds—to know the depth of loyalty and love which lay behind that cold mask. The clear, hard eyes were dimmed for a moment, and the firm lips were shaking. For the one and only time I caught a glimpse of a great heart as well as of a great brain. All my years of humble but single-minded service culminated in that moment of revelation.
Also consider how little John talks about his girlfriends on his blog. The only two girlfriends he even mentions in the blog are the two involved in cases and he really doesn't talk about them any differently than he might talk about one of Sherlock's clients. You'd think that getting a new girlfriend would be important enough for at least a mention on his blog, but he doesn't talk about any of them. Yet the very day he met Sherlock, before they had even decided to move in together, he posted a pretty detailed entry on the man that made pretty much everyone reading it question his sexuality. Hmmm...
Let's re-capture the development of John's heterosexual love life. Study in Pink: Attempt to flirt with Anthea. Who can blame him, it's ANTHEA! Blind Banker and Great Game: Sarah - but even if he spends the night at her place in the Great Game, it's pretty obvious they're not sleeping together. Belgravia ... Jeanette. And apparently many, many others before. Boy, wow. And then Irene comes and shoving the news into his face that John can be as straight as he wants, he'll still be homo-romantic for Sherlock. (Also, Sherlock's rambling about John's former girlfriends could be seen as an attempt to drive Jeanette away. Jealousy, anyone?) In Baskerville John is girlfriend-less and shows only brief attempts at flirting with a pretty woman. And this is possibly only in an attempt to get information for the case. By this point, John doesn't even deny it anymore when he and Sherlock are mistaken for a couple. Soon he'll finally stop fighting his own feelings too, the fangirl might think... By Reichenbach Falls, he has apparently been single long enough to be pronounced a 'confirmed bachelor' by the papers, and after that, well...
In The Great Game, it becomes very clear just how much Sherlock values John's company and thinks of him as a smart and competent individual rather than a mere sounding board to fill in for the skull. In one scene, Sherlock asks John to make some deductions about a pair of shoes and seems genuinely impressed, even though according to him John "missed everything of importance". Sherlock is still impressed enough to send John (his "best man", as he claims) off to investigate a case Mycroft is really persistent about. As it seems, Sherlock trusts his 'colleague' a lot and regards him as an equal. Keeping in mind Sherlock's narcissistic tendencies, this must mean very, very much to him.
From the same episode, there is this exchange between Sherlock and Moriarty:
Moriarty: I'll burn the heart out of you.
Sherlock: I have been reliably informed that I don't have one.
Moriarty: But we both know that is not quite true.
It's worth noting that within seconds of the exchange, there's a not-so-subtle shot of Sherlock glancing at John.
The slashfans had a field day with these lines and interpreted them as Moriarty referring to John as Sherlock's "heart". Confirmed later in the same scene, where a panicked Sherlock violently tears the Semtex vest from John and throws it away, all the while frantically asking John if he's alright. Confirmed again in Scandal and again in The Reichenbach Fall, when Moriarty's plan to "burn" Sherlock is to threaten his friends: John, Mrs. Hudson and Lestrade. Noticably, John is the first person to cross Sherlock's mind - in other words, the most important person in his life.
When Sherlock and John have a rather heated argument in this episode, right before the explosion happens, it is treated (in all seriousness even) like a lovers' quarrel. Mrs. Hudson even asks: "Did you two have a little domestic?" And it gets better: John ends up spending the night with Sarah ... Or rather, on her sofa. The show goes out of the way to make it clear they haven't had sex up to this point (actually, they don't even kiss on screen) and it's never implied that they eventually do. Even better? Sherlock knows. ("How was the lilo?") Hm, Sherlock, why would you care?
For the episode that supposedly introduces a female Love Interest for Sherlock, A Scandal In Belgravia is exceptionally subtext-heavy. For some reason Irene Adler suddenly is a lesbian Shipper on Deck more than anything else. She gives the viewers such lovely lines such as:
Irene: *looking at Sherlock, who's just forced John to hit him* Hmm. Somebody loves you. If I had to punch that face, I'd avoid your teeth and nose too.
And then, there's this:
John: We are not a couple! Irene:Yes you are. John: Look, who knows about about Sherlock Holmes, but for the record—if anyone still cares—I'm not actually gay. Irene: Well I am.Look at us both.
This exchange summarizes the point of John's and Sherlock's relationship: even if they're not actually having sex, they are basically a couple, and that's also why people keep mistaking them for gay.
It's also worth noting that Irene is later revealed to be in love with Sherlock. She might be implying that if a homosexual woman can fall in love with him, so can a heterosexual man.
Speaking of Irene, there is some blatant Les Yay between her and Kate, her maid.
Kate is obviously attracted to Irene, but it's unclear if the feeling is mutual.
Considering Irene's comment on how Kate is used to being unconscious, they've probably had "sessions" together. Of course on the emotional level she's about as warm as Sherlock.
More examples from Belgravia:
John's reaction to Sherlock's attire in Buckingham palace, notably the long stare toward the general area of Sherlock's groin, and asking if he's wearing anything under that sheet.
And when Sherlock's sheet slips, John's eyes go somewhere pretty low.
Sherlock immediately calls out John's name after waking up from being drugged by Irene Adler. Keep in mind that what happens before is pretty much Sherlock's version of a wet dream.
Bonus points for John grabbing Sherlock from behind and throwing him on the bed in the same scene.
In the same scene, John covers Sherlock with a sheet and pats his butt. Or his hip? Definitely somewhere suspiciously low ...
When Sherlock receives a text from Irene at the Christmas party, John just says "Fifty-seven?" Yes, ladies and gentlemen, laid-back John Watson obsessively counted every single text message Irene sent to his flatmate. This is the same guy who can't remember which one of his last girlfriends owns a dog only a couple of minutes later. Jealousy, much?
Incidentally, that one sonnet which tends to make people think Shakespeare was gay is number fifty-seven. As referenced in another show Moffat worked on.
Knowing what a fanboy Gatiss is, it probably isn't even a coincidence.
Especially since the speaker in that sonnet refers to himself as his lover's jealous slave, living only to do things for him. Does John even have a job or is he Sherlock's 24/7 caretaker?
And let's not get into John's reactions whenever he, Sherlock and Irene are in the same room together ... He doesn't seem to be very happy about all the UST-heavystaring contests between the world's only consulting detective and The Woman and tries to break the tension with snarky remarks.
Sherlock peruses through the messages in Irene's phone at the end of episode, among of which is her commenting on John's blog:
John’s blog is HILARIOUS. I think he likes you more than I do.
This is pumped Up to Eleven in the second episode of Series 2, The Hounds of Baskerville, where, in addition to a 'blink-and-you'll-miss-it' reference to John and Sherlock's hotel room having only one bed, the innkeepers of said hotel are a gay couple themselves who naturally assume as much about Sherlock and John. And, of course, there's the iconic "I don't have friends" quote from Sherlock which was seen in the promotional trailers, which viewers will now know is followed up by "I only have one," referring to John, of course. Oh, and John has indeed noticed Sherlock's cheekbones, the ones fangirls have been swooning over for quite some time; in fact, he thinks they look cool and mysterious.
It's not only the cheekbones. There are quite a few situations that suggest that John spends a lot of time observing Sherlock and his behaviour. In Hounds, it is the coat collar Sherlock turns up when he is working on a case and tries to be cool. In Reichenbach, John says Sherlock is "doing the look again". Not even Sherlock himself knows what he means, but as it turns out, John is right - seems like he is able to read Sherlock's facial expressions like a book.
The scene with "the look" in Reichenbach contains another interesting point. Sherlock is honestly baffled that John doesn't follow along with him and "know what's going on". For someone who considers everyone else to be stupid, he doesn't considers one minute that John might not be on the same page than him. He considers him his equal.
A small thing ... that isn't so small after all once you think about it. In the scene in Hounds in which John and Sherlock sit in front of the fireplace after Sherlock believes he has seen the hound, there is a heart-shaped decoration seen in the background right between them. In a series as obsessed with details as Sherlock, it is unlikely that this is a coincidence. It might seem like a humourous Fandom Nod at first, but since this is a very emotionally charged scene and a turning point in their relationship, things become a little more suggestive. To elaborate, in this scene, Sherlock breaks down completely to the point where he is close to tears and clutches onto his drink with shaking hands while he looks absolutely terrified. The reason for his distress? Not the fact that he just saw the gigantic hound Henry was talking about, but the fact that he is experiencing emotions such as fear and doubt. Emotions which are dangerous for him because they mess with his cold, detached intellect. Sherlock has shown emotion before, especially when John has been in danger, but this is the first time he realises just how vulnerable those feelings make him. Of course, Sherlock is drugged at that time but he doesn't know that. For all he knows, it is John who has opened his heart for inconvenient, dangerous emotions. Sherlock is clearly torn apart between his affection for John and detaching himself from things like that in order to protect his brilliant mind (and himself). For a moment, he tries to drive John away with one cruel sentence: "I don't have friends." However, the next morning, Sherlock changes his mind, apologises and and says that John is his friend. In other words: He chooses John over the abilities he values so much and even his own safety. Aw.
Apart from the huge amount of angst it provides, The Reichenbach Fall could very well be nicknamed Ho Yay - The Episode. It's really no wonder even the newspapersthink John and Sherlock are totally gay for each other. How about John's undying trust and loyalty for Sherlock and his complete breakdown when he thinks Sherlock is dead, including a heartfelt graveside speech? Or Sherlock's concern for John all throughout the episode? Even Molly notices and comments on it! If that is a little too platonic for you, there is also a scene where the two of them are handcuffed together and actually hold hands. Oh, and absolutely no one can blame you if you expected some tearful "I love you"s to be exchanged during that phone call ...
The escape scene is particularly interesting. Sherlock and John are on the run from the police, knee-deep in trouble and inconveniently handcuffed together, and what does John complain about? People mistaking them for gay. Apparently he spends a lot of time thinking about their relationship.
Another blink and you'll miss it moment in the handcuffs scene: After they've let go of each other's hands, when they stop to catch their breath, John is still holding on to Sherlock's coat.
The handcuffs scene seems like a harmless bit of fun at the first look, but actually serves as a covert Faux Symbolism moment that illustrates the history (however short) of John's and Sherlock's friendship. They are bonded together in a moment of need - arrested by the police; they have a dangerous and eventful journey - the escape; even when Sherlock puts barriers between them, the bond remains, and John forces him to be more human - the fence. And if you're in the mood for a Tear Jerker, Sherlock eventually finds a way to break the bond - in Kitty's flat he's the first to pick the lock on his side of the cuffs, leaving John to deal with his cuff on his own. Also, John's the one who keeps the cuffs; he puts them in his pocket.
When John returns to his therapist after 18 months due to Sherlock's death, his therapist asked him if there was anything John wished he'd told Sherlock. John agrees there was, but says he can't say it, with an expression and tone that looked like a missed opportunity at a declaration of love. As we see at the graveside, John's message was a plea for Sherlock to perform "one more miracle" and be alive.
Oh, and not just be alive, but to be alive for him.
Just for him.
And Sherlock watches the whole thing, with a fairly heartbroken look on his face.
Not to mention the fact that Sherlock jumpedfor John. When pacing the street in front of Kitty Riley's house after "Richard Brook" has escaped, Sherlock attempts to figure out Moriarty's thought process and stops dead in the street when he figures out that Moriarty's next move, the thing that will destroy Sherlock completely - even worse than being called a fraud and the world losing faith in him - is to kill John. Sherlock also uncharacteristically cuts John completely out of his next move (usually he's dragging John with him).
Some fans commented on the cruelty behind having John watch as Sherlock killed himself; early in the episode, Molly makes this comment:
Molly:(to Sherlock) You look sad when you think [John] can't see you...I know what that means, looking sad when you think no one can see you.
Sherlock:(confused) You can see me.
Molly: I don't count.
This is interesting for a couple of reasons: the first being that Molly goes from talking about John to talking about everybody, also stating that in the context of everybody, she doesn't count. In effect, she is saying that, to Sherlock, John is everyone and nobody else counts. For the second, Sherlock begs John to look at him when he is preparing to jump from the rooftop. Sherlock is about to be dead (to the world, at least) and it's entirely possible that this whole ruse could go awry; Molly might not get there in time, Sherlock might not land correctly, and Sherlock could die for real. In any event, the last thing that he wants to see before he goes through with this plan is John's face. They even hold their hands to each other. This is an Aw moment crossed with a Tear Jerker.
Kind of hard to catch, but the episode has a lot fairy tale references, obviously. Well, most fairy tales have the prince (the savior), the villain (the bad guy), and the princess (the one who needs saving). Moriarty is the villain (he even says so himself), Sherlock is the prince (he's willing to die for his friends), so who's the "princess"? That's right, it's John!
Alternatively, John isn't just 'the princess', John's Guinevere. Moriarty already went with Arthurian legends imagery and called Sherlock sir Boast-a-lot, which is obviously a play with the name Lancelot. And we all know that Lancelot was in love with Guinevere.
On another note, Sherlock seems both fascinated and smitten with Moriarty ("Why hasn’t he called?") to the point where John notices and gets upset ("I’m sure you’ll be very happy together.") Moriarty, for his part, presents his hostage-driven intellectual puzzles to Sherlock like gifts, starts off his first message to him with "Hello, Sexy", and even though he claims to have been only playing gay during their first meeting as part of his disguise ("Did you like the little touch with the underwear?"), he doesn't stop flirting with Sherlock after he's dropped the act.
Moriarty: Is that a British Army Browning L9A1 in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me? Sherlock: Both. (later) Moriarty: But the flirting's over, Sherlock. (sing song) Daddy's had enoooough nooooow!
The Foe Yay is almost blown out of proportion in The Reichenbach Falls. You could make a drinking game out of the times Moriarty gets into Sherlock's personal space, but you would probably die from alcohol poisoning halfway through the episode. His flirty-bordering-on-obsessive attitude and campy manners don't help things. At all. Also, that "I O U" looks an awful lot like "I <3 U" ...
It's subjective, but a viewer might get a feeling that Moriarty would like nothing more than to tie Sherlock down and rape him six ways to Sunday. His attitude towards Sherlock is incredibly unsettling.
Sherlock: We met twice, five minutes in total. I pulled a gun, he tried to blow me up. I felt we had a special something. (later)
Sherlock: Unless I kill myself. Complete your story. Moriarty: You gotta admit that's sexier.
Speaking of Moriarty, he's responsible for forcing Sherlock into a few rather alarmingly heartwarming moments of sentiment for John. If we don't even mention the pool, there is the rather telling scene in The Reichenbach Fall where Moriarty threatens Sherlock's friends and John's the first person Sherlock thinks of. Also, Moriarty had guns on three most important people in Sherlock's life, and if Mrs Hudson is Sherlock's mother figure and Lestrade serves as the father figure, what is John implied to be? Either a brother or - yes, a spouse.
Apart from his obvious bromance with Sherlock, John seems to give off some Even the Guys Want Him vibes. Mycroft is terribly interested in him during their first meetings (though it's left ambiguous whether it is just mutual dislike or ... something else on Mycroft's part), Connie Price's gay brother gets into his personal space and even Moriarty calls him "cute" and "adorable" (likening him to a pet, but still).
In fact, "we don't even need photoshop!" is a popular phrase on the fandom regarding this particular scene.
Another example of 'accidental' Ho Yay: In The Blind Banker, Sherlock puts John's face in both hands, tells him to close his eyes and ... well, see for yourself.
Are you the overinterpreting kind? Have some fun with Freudian imagery! In Scandal, Mycroft lights a cigarette (commonly regarded as a phallic symbol) for Sherlock. Mycroft is the one who arranged Irene and Sherlock's meeting and intended for Sherlock to give into Irene's charms. There is some Incest Subtext about this, of course, but it's actually even more than that: The single cigarette is enough to re-awaken Sherlock's partly surpressed addiction. At the beginning of Hounds, he tries to go cold turkey ... and wants John to fulfill his cravings. He practically begs for it. Twice.
Lestrade: I just don't do what your... brother tells me. (Sips beer, as if to cover his embarrassment)
It's interesting that someone with Sherlock's great intellectual and observational capacity has such a hard time remembering John's girlfriends. Only three are mentioned, and unless Sherlock were purposely forgetting or confusing them, he should be able to remember who they are. It's almost like it's a way to make them uncomfortable or emphasize just how unimportant they are.
In The Great Game, the brother of the deceased Connie Prince has no notion of personal space when it comes to John, who is slightly unnerved by it.
There are two interesting naïve reactions from Sherlock when he found himself facing offers from men (which may refer to his lack of experience in the "area" rather than his orientation). One when he assumed John was asking him out or something at Angelo’s and it took him a few seconds to process what he should say and eventually responded with an uncharacteristically uneasy tone. The second one happened when Jim from IT left him his number. Here Sherlock did not need to say anything but actually gaped for a few seconds before returning to his usual cold exterior.
It also may show the difference between when he likes or dislikes the man who offers, though both ways he seems not intersted in the offer (asexual after all?).
There are two times when Sherlock gets the upper hand dealing with Irene Adler and in both he mentions John while he neither is present nor has any significant role. It shows either John's high position in Sherlock's mind or Sherlock's particular interest to impress John above all people.
First when he has deciphered the email for Irene and John has left him alone with her (the womaan who has some potential intensions to have Sherlock right on the desk) for a couple of hours and what Sherlock does is talking to John who is NOT there and totally ignoring the presence of the woman.
The second time is when Sherlock has deduced the password of the phone during which only Mycroft and Irene are present. Here he begins his deduction with mentioning what John Watson believes about love in his (Sherlock's) opinion and then goes on to explain his true one (which is so brilliant and so scientific).
In The Sign of Three when Sherlock and John are playing the guessing game after they've gone out drinking John leans forward and puts his hand on Sherlock's knee. He takes it away after a second but then shrugges it off and Says "I don't mind." If drunk words truly are sober thoughts then John is basically saying he doesn't mind touching Sherlock in such an intimate way. Not to mention Sherlock doesn't seem to mind either. Prior to that, after coming home early from the stag night, they're both lying side-by-side on the staircase.
In The Sign of Three, John repeatedly places Sherlock on the same level in his affections as his wife-to-be — he refers to Sherlock as one of the two people he loves and cares most about in the world, the other being Mary. In their conversation at the bench, he describes how Mary has completely changed his life and there's only one other person that's ever done that and how nothing in his and Sherlock's relationship is going to change because he's getting married.
In The Empty Hearse:
One interpretation of the famous "What life? I've been away." is that Sherlock was actually trying to convince himself of that.
When John attacked Sherlock, he didn't fight back and just lied there taking it. He was on the verge of tears at that point. Notice how Sherlock used humor as a defense mechanism more frequently in the entire season 3. One possible explanation of his failure to deduce Mary is that his heart were messing with his head.
Sherlock heard John criticizing him in his head and he responded to it. There's no way we could know how long Sherlock had the hallucination during the course of his 2-year absence.
When John was being burned in the bonfire, Sherlock immediately dived into the fire whereas Mary, his wife was standing around shouting "Sherlock, no!" after she got burned. He was more affected by it than said burning person's wife. The shot clearly shows us that Sherlock was definitely burned and he continued on in spite of that.
At the end of the train scene, Sherlock's sobs and laughs could be of a hysterical nature. He didn't think that he was going to be forgiven at all.
Series Three, if possible, almost overdid it with the shipping. Sherlock gets almost soppy with John, which is fairly consistent with his literary counterpart, who softened up a bit after his faked death, as well as his renewed happiness with companionship/John after two years basically in exile, and his not unjustified fears that once John marries, their friendship will be on the back burner. At some points it's almost a negative- Sherlock makes some basic deductive errors because of bias towards John and Mary, with emotion clouding his intellect and professional abilities. Just a sampling of moments:
Asking after John almost first thing after getting hauled out of Serbia and cleaned up.
Telling Mycroft that he should try having friends too. It's like that confirmed bachelor who finally falls hard for someone, and tries to sell his confirmed bachelor friend on the idea of relationships.
Getting Molly to fill in for John. Tells her she's "not being John [but] herself." Proceeds to call her John. Then proceeds to get up close and husky voiced with her after a case, before commenting on her engagement and kissing her cheek.
As mentioned above, hallucinates John's voice in his head. During their time apart in Hearse it seems almost like Sherlock is barely functioning without John, and Mr. Verbal Diarrhea Deduction is very tight-lipped to others about their rift.
Goes relatively hysterical upon finding out John is in trouble, hijacking a motorcycle and then sprinting to the bonfire to get to him.
Apologizes overandoverandover to John for hurting him, and sounds quite sincere. There's a very pained look on his face when John hails a taxi and leaves the first night Sherlock is back, and it doesn't seem like it's just because of the broken nose.
Even Mary is a Shipper on Deck, and she's in love with one of them! "You should get that printed on a T-Shirt."
According to Word of God, failed to discover key things about Mary because he really wanted to like her because he wanted John to be happy.
Puts John in a fake life or death situation just to get John to finally forgive him. John is later aware that he was manipulated...but doesn't seem that bothered by it on the whole.
"I asked for you to not be dead." Sherlock meets John's eyes and speaks very gently. "I heard you."
Treats John and Mary's wedding like a case, and is rather obsessed over it. Including a looooong sappy speech with passages about how John's the best man he's ever met (is there a trope for the crying groomsman at a wedding?)
After he and John get trashed from his stag do, they're lying veryclosely side by side on the stairs at Baker Street.
Is openly jealous when hearing that John has another very old, very antisocial friend, and is comforted by Mary that "there were others before us, you know." Also implying that Mary and Sherlock have and do occupy very similar roles in John's life.
Talks Sholto out of committing suicide saying that neither of them would hurt John Watson that way.
Apparently Sherlock taught John to waltz. "Behind closed curtains." Mrs. Hudson walked in on them.
Sherlock appears to have come to some kind of epiphany regarding his feelings towards John during the wedding.
Sherlock: YOU. It was always you. John Watson, you keep me right.
After Sherlock reveals to John and Mary that Mary is pregnant, the three of them share a laugh and Sherlock and John share a very long, intense look. Right after he sends them off to dance, Sherlock leaves the wedding, visibly upset.
In Vow Sherlock brings himself back to life to help John. Complete with dramatized Dead!Sherlock hauling himself up a flight of stairs, screaming John's name.
In Vow Sherlock very much puts his life at risk, and most definitely his career and reputation, to protect the Watsons.
Magnussen calls Sherlock out on his attachment. "It's hard to find a pressure point on you. But look at how you care for John Watson. Your damsel in distress." It comes out that he specifically had his goons put John in the bonfire back in Hearse- without the intention of seriously harming him— just to verify that John is indeed Sherlock's "pressure point."
John gives almost as good as he gets through Series Three as well:
Repeatedly lashing out violently at Sherlock in Hearse. He's very angry, but it's over the massive pain he went through losing him, and the hurt he feels for not being in the loop while others did know that Sherlock was alive.
Everyone hates the mustache. When Sherlock hates the mustache, John shaves it off. This doesn't escape Mary's notice.
Talking about how Sherlock is the "best and wisest man he's ever known," then concluding "of course I forgive you" in Hearse.
Visibly missing Sherlock during his doctor montage, even thinking one of his patients was Sherlock in disguise.
A Shout-Out to Holmes's disguise as a book-collector offering Watson a few books in the original story.
He was plainly still very broken up about Sherlock's "death" even two years later, visiting his grave and telling Mrs. Hudson he couldn't call her because he "let everything slide."
Even Mary exclaims at Sherlock "Do you realize what you've done?!" suggesting that she knows how affected John was by his "death."
In Three as mentioned above, John tells Sherlock he's one of the two most important people in his life, is absolutely his best friend, and tries to reassure him that getting married will change nothing. He also hugs Sherlock during his best man speech. He's also desperate to get away from wedding planning and out on a case with him.
In Vow, John is asleep next to his wife, dreaming about Sherlock.
He is upset when he notices Sherlock has removed "his" chair from the living room, even though he hasn't lived there in ages.
When Sherlock gets shot, Watson seems to be the "go-to" person for others inquiring about his care. He's suggested to be spending a lot of time at the hospital while Sherlock recuperates, and drops everything to find him when he disappears.
When Sherlock starts bleeding internally, John starts holding him up to support him, but doesn't let go even after the paramedics arrive and start holding him up to put on a gurney.
He goes with Sherlock to Magnussen's even though Sherlock just drugged his pregnant wife.
Notable because the slash community started up very quickly, and managed to keep up the pace during an 18 month wait for the second season. The cast and crew are wellaware of the ridiculous amounts of porn being produced.
And the apparent fact that Mark Gattis, Steven Moffat, and Martin Freeman either ship it or make comments about the "love story" between Sherlock and John. Martin Freeman even once commented that the two are "absolutely two halves," which brings another ridiculously bromantic BBC show to mind.
At the 2010 Crime Thriller Awards ceremony:
Marcus Brigstocke:[Sherlock is a] series that not only sees the twisted strands of criminal ingenuity unravelled, but also explores the seething sexual tension between the two leads, Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman- will they ever get it on? - just kiss him!
Just ... just touch him, Sherlock. You know you want to. You're so lonely, and he loves you. Just touch his mouth.
It's pretty amazing how many people are shipping Jim with his second-in-command from the books, Sebastian Moran, seeing as Moran has yet to actually appear on the show.
Possibly maybe untrue, considering Conan Doyle's Moran has a reputation as a great sniper, and there's... what... one time in the entire series where Moriarty shows up without a sniper on hand? Maybe he wants to keep his Sebastian nearby...
In pretty much all the promo pictures for the second series, John is looking at the camera while Sherlock is staring directly at him. Ho Yay Shipping getting out of control, anyone?
According to this new American trailer for the season 2, Americans are shipping it hard and being completely shameless about it. Nobody's complaining.
By this point, the amount of Ho Yay is so ridiculous that either it'll be confirmed in the next series (circa late 2013/14) or they'll just be pissing a lot of people off.
Sometimes they're few and far between, but the Sherlock/Moriarty shippers definitely exist, and have quite a lot to go off of. Even without shipping it, the relationship is an intriguing one to analyze.
Mycroft/Lestrade, despite not appearing on screen more then twice (and those were both very short occasions) have risen to be one of the biggest ships in the fandom, they just happen to appeal to the fanbase.