Sherlock Holmes and his biographer/only friend/soul mate Watson. It's blatant enough even without the exceptionally slashy Granada TV series starring Jeremy Brett and David Burke/Edward Hardwicke. "My very intimate relationship" indeed.
Wait, wait, "Edward Hardwicke"? "Hardwicke"?!
In that vein, Decoding the Subtext, a book-length analysis of Holmes and Watson's relationship throughout the entire canon.
The Dying Detective
Holmes: "There are the wheels, Watson. Quick, man, if you love me!"
The Adventure of the Three Garridebs. Watson getting shot was Holmes' Berserk Button.
Watson: 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.
The Adventure of the Empty House
Watson: "Certainly a gray mist swirled before my eyes, and when it cleared I found my collar ends undone and a tingling aftertaste of brandy upon my lips. Holmes was bending over my chair, his flask in hand."
The Adventure of the Speckled Band
Watson: Holmes was for the moment as startled as I. His hand closed like a vice upon my wrist in his agitation.
When Holmes gets scared he holds Watson's hand. If that isn't Ho Yay I don't know what is.
Spoofed here. Holmes gets quite excited when he solves a case.
Perhaps picking up on some UST, one old Epileptic Tree was that Watson was a woman.
Another theory is that it's Holmes who was the woman... and if Watson didn't notice that he's not much good as either a detective or a doctor, frankly...
Either that or one was covering up the gender of the other in order to prevent shocking Victorian society to complete apoplexy. The thought of a woman involving herself in murders, blackmail scandals and crimes? The scandal!
Coupled with, if we still accept the UST, the thought of an unmarried man and woman living together in sin.
And don't forget that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wanted to finish his writing career right after publishing A Study in Scarlet. It was a chance meeting with one Oscar Wilde that inspired him to continue the whole Holmes business. Take that as you will.
In "The Adventure of the Norwood Builder", Watson reveals that he moved back in with Holmes because Holmes asked him to. However, Holmes used his own money and got a distant relative to secretly buy Watson's medical practice, something Watson didn't know about until years later. Holmes really, really wanted his Boswell back...
"The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton". All of it. From holding hands to a willingness to share a prison cell together, the entire case is full of Ho Yay moments.
From A Study In Scarlet, Sherlock likes it when Watson thinks he’s clever.
Watson:My companion flushed up with pleasure at my words, and the earnest way in which I uttered them. I had already observed that he was as sensitive to flattery on the score of his art as any girl could be of her beauty.
Holmes and Watson use the word "intimate" to describe their relationship no fewer than three times between "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" and "The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes." (Once when Watson describes his time with Sherlock as "the years of our intimacy", once when Sherlock calls Watson his "intimate friend"-to a client!-and another time by Watson, though I can't remember the exact wording.)
Ladies and gentlemen, may I direct your attention to Howard K. Elcock's delightfully slashy illustration at the beginning of The Illustrious Client. Holmes and Watson are pictured relaxing and smoking together after having enjoyed a Turkish bath. No, really.
Watson is often just as prone to singing the praises of attractive men as of attractive women. In particular, he seems rather taken with Holmes's eyes.
The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970)
Deliberately invoked by Holmes, who claims to be gay, and in a relationship with Watson, to get out of marrying a Russian countess. Watson is not amused, and fumes about the potential scandal, before calming down and remembering that it's only a rumor, and he has women on three continents who can vouch for him. Holmes, however, is less than forthcoming about whether there are any women who can vouch for him.
Watson: I hope I'm not being presumptuous, but there have been women in your life?
Holmes and Watson naturally get the lion's share of the attention here, since their literary counterparts might just be the most slashed characters in all of fiction. Even before the movie aired, Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law were being continually asked about/criticized for alleged homoerotic undertones, which they vehemently insisted were not their intention (Jude Law once stated something along the lines of, "They can have a horribly codependent relationship without there being something sexual involved").
Notably, they can have a romantic relationship without anything sexual going on too...
The film was even lampshading this in the trailers. Scenes of domestic bickering between Holmes and Watson, followed by Irene Adler saying 'They've been flirting for hours'? We see what you did there.
And when the movie actually came out, well... it didn't exactly silence any critics, let's put it that way. From Holmes spending most of the movie trying to break up Watson's engagement, to the old married couple bickering about setting rooms on fire and testing anesthesia on the dog, to Holmes almost losing it when Watson gets injured in an explosion and then disguising himself in order to sneak into the hospital where Watson's being treated and treat him himself... and then being confronted by Watson's fiancé who says "I know you care for him just as much as I do", all the way down to Watson's glib comment, upon seeing Holmes again after Holmes had gone on the run from the police, that "You look gorgeous"... well, you don't have to look very far for the subtext.
Not to mention all the touching that goes on. Holmes resting his arm on Watson's thigh while sitting at his feet, trailing his hand across Watson's shoulders, standing chest to chest... just to name a few. And all the awkward silences when the topic of separation comes up.
There's also Holmes falling asleep against Watson's back, them arguing about who owns what ("our dog" vs. "THE Dog") and Holmes inviting Watson out to his brother Mycroft's estate for essentially a "fix our marriage with a weekend getaway" trip.
The "want to go to the opera?" scene. That was totally a date.
"My tongue will be completely useless to you, Watson." "Worse things could happen."
Speaking of Holmes lines begging to be taken out of context: "Be gentle with me, Watson."
Holmes:(takes off Watson's belt) Don't get excited.
The diamond ring Mary, Watson's fiancee, is wearing at the end of the film, given to her by Holmes to replace the one he dropped earlier. The implication is that its made from the jewel Holmes took from Irene Adler — so does this mean that symbolically all four characters are married now?
The part where Blackwood and Holmes are talking right before the former's execution. Blackwood is right behind Holmes, whispering in his ear when he says, "I need you.' Or something along those lines.
Don't forget how Lord Coward seems to worship Blackwood. Anytime Blackwood speaks, Coward is certain to be looking adoringly at him.
According to the trailers, sequel will be taking Ho YayUp to Eleven. The second trailer is particularly slashy.
And it does not disappoint. Between Holmes's obvious unhappiness at Watson's wedding, to the entire sequence on the train to Paris (but especially after Mary gets thrown from the train), to them slow dancing before the climax... Up to Eleven is putting it mildly.
There is a certain behind the scenes video that shows Ritchie asking Law and Downey to 'please stop queening it up' here.
It would probably be easier to list the ways in which the trailer doesn't fit this trope.
"Lie down with me, Watson."
Cue the two of them lying side-by-side on the floor, Holmes half-dressed with smeared lipstick. Andsmoking.
The way he SAYS it really tells you something.
And then the shooting starts, and what do these two manly men do? Spoon. Watson is on top, if anyone is interested ...
All the hand holding that happens when either Holmes or Watson gets injured.
Or hungover in Watson's case.
And the way they were clutching at each other while getting shot at in Germany.
Don't forget Holmes mooning about at Watson's wedding, staring at the happy couple like the friend-zoned guy watching the love of his life marry someone else.
Complete with sad music and Holmes wistfully watching them from afar. Also worth noting is that Watson's happy smile fades the moment he sees Holmes quietly leave.
Also, there's a Reaction Shot of Holmes looking particularly miserable/jealous just after Watson and Mary kiss.
Holmes and Watson dance a waltz with each other. In public. While wearing tuxedos. Yes, really.
Watson doesn't miss a beat when Holmes asks him to, either - just replies, "I thought you'd never ask."
Don't forget Holmes commenting on Watson's good dancing skills to which Watson replies that he taught him to dance.
Followed by a bashful smile and downward glance, no less.
They can't even pretend that these dance lessons were to practice for the ladies either, seeing as Holmes apparently taught him the girls' steps. And they moved seamlessly into position, no bickering (for once) about who would lead, further indicating that they've done it plently of times before.
This crosses over directly into Tear Jerker territory: this dance was Holmes's and Watson's goodbye.
Even better is that the argument comes completely out of nowhere. They derail a perfectly normal conversation about hedgehog goulash into an argument about repression for no apparent reason. They just can't contain their need to bicker.
Specifically, Holmes's line is, "Unlike you, Watson, I repress nothing." The barely subtextual dynamic of their relationship in the film is that Watson seems to be in denial about his love for Holmes, while Holmes would be happy to embrace it.
And the way Simza gives them these curious looks several times, like she's figuring out what's going on, especially during the repression argument and on the train just after Holmes nearly died.
"You're not dying on me, you selfish bastard!"
How about the symbolism of Watson using his wedding gift to save Holmes?
How about Watson almost losing it so completely Simza has to hold him back?
The scene in the beginning Holmes appears to be flirting with Watson when they meet up with one another. Holmes even asks Mrs. Hudson to leave so they could be alone.
In fact he looks incredibly annoyed by her interruption, which came just as he and Watson were leaning quite close together, staring into each others eyes...
Or possibly seducing him since he invades his space while wearing a skin tight outfit.
Watson stays in the room while Holmes changes clothes.
The ending when Watson is finishing typing his last Sherlock Holmes story with a very heart felt voice over, just like the ending to another movie.
The fact that Holmes really doesn't dwell much on Irene Adler's death, but goes to extraordinary lengths to ensure Watson's safety.
Moran looked and sounded very upset when Moriarty got hurt.
Holmes still tries to talk Watson out of marriage before his stag party.
The way he goes on about dying alone if Watson gets married is also interesting, given that he's supposed to have feelings for Irene and he doesn't know she's dead yet.
Holmes calling off the other chairs to be alone with Watson.
The way Holmes looks at Watson after he shows up, when he's done fighting together with Sim for the first time, and he sees just how drunk his friend is can only be described as fond.
There's another odd moment when, given that Holmes and Watson have a few moments to kill for the first time in the entire movie, Holmes abruptly asks Watson if he's as happy with him as he would have been on his honeymoon with Mary. Holmes actually appears to get teary eyed when Watson won't answer him. In fact, just about every time Holmes gets a quiet moment with Watson and the subject of their relationship ("Okay— 'Partnership'") is brought up, he gets an incredibly pained look on his face, and there's a genuine sense that he's about to break down and cry.
Also, Holmes refers to Paris as a more desirable honeymoon spot than the one Watson had chosen... with no Mary in sight...
Once this game is afoot, it seems too large to be contained by the eccentric investigator of 221B Baker Street and Watson, his intimate. (I am using "intimate" as both a noun and an insinuation.)
Reviewer on British show 'Film 2011' pronounced that where the first film had gay subext, the sequel has done away with that and just has gay text.
A Canadian film magazine showcasing Downey and Law on the cover had the rather amusing blurb of "This holiday's hottest couple''".
Even the plot ships it. Look at it this way: Holmes seems to have a romantic affair with Adler at the beginning of the movie, but she gets killed off and Moriarty then tries to kill Watson. In this type of plot, the first victim usually is an example, less important to the hero than the second, real victim. (eg: the villain will bomb a small city before trying to do the same with the metropolis, to be sure the hero take him seriously.) In this movie, the side-victim is Irene, and the real victim, more important in Homes' eyes, is Watson. In short, even if we accept that Holmes was in love with Adler, we can't deny the plot suggest that he loved Watson even more.
Plot doesn't just ship it, plot rests upon it. Consider this: Holmes would probably go after Moriarty, but it's only after Moriarty outright threatens to hurt Watson that Holmes goes to interrupt Watson's honeymoon and drags John with him. Also, at the end of the movie, Holmes seems completely content with destroying Moriarty's empire and letting Moriarty himself go. Only after Moriarty threatens Watson again does Holmes decide to fight Moriarty and ultimately sacrifices himself. Not to mention the fact that Holmes very clearly states to Moriarty that Watson is married now and therefore out of the equation, which has to make us consider: if there wasn't the threat of Moriarty, would Holmes still have let Watson leave him? Long story short, Holmes didn't need to kill Moriarty to keep Europe safe, since he had already dismantled his empire and had enough evidence to convict him, which means that he sacrificed himself just to keep Watson safe.
Beside the fact that, as Watson said in the first movie, "Suicide is not in his repertoire, he's far too fond of himself for that."
The film in general resembles a really well-done, big-budget slash fic (general disregard for canon, conveniently removing female love interests from the equation early on etc.). Possibly the most blink-and-you'll miss it examples is both times when Holmes appears to have died. We see him looking at Watson, and then smiling and closing his eyes. The second time, as he goes down the waterfall, there is a very deliberate shot of him keeping his eyes closed all the way down. He's making sure Watson's face is the last thing he sees.
The look on Watson's face when he does this.
Watson sits away from his wife at Holmes' funeral, curled up on the floor, no less.
In fact, one could argue that the subtext is blatant enough to be complete and utter text.
Watson: Will your beard be with us the whole night? Holmes: Don't worry, I'll remove it once we reach the Trafalgar Square.
A rather blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment of Ho Yay occurs when Holmes embraces Watson, upon which Watson remarks that he's lost a few pounds. Holmes responds that Watson has gained a few. This exchange passes by very quickly, but the fact remains: a person needs to quite frequently hug another person to be able to determine their weight loss/gain by the means of a rather quick and awkward hug.
You'll note that in the books Holmes can tell Watson has gained a few pounds just by looking at him. Holmes just likes looking at Watson.
Certainly. You'll also note that Watson, not Holmes, was the one to point it out first. He also did it right after the hug.
Let us not forget the hook scene, which has Freudian symbolism galore. While Moriarty is busy emasculating Holmes with a phallic symbol, Moran uses another phallic symbol to keep Watson away. And how does Watson respond to this? He pulls out a very large phallic symbol. (So big, in fact, that Moran complains that it isn't fair.) With said phallic symbol, Watson puts down the biggest phallic symbol in the scene, symbolically destroying Moriarty's erection. And when Holmes is rescued, he clings to Watson like a Damsel in Distress and shakily remarks that's always nice to see him. Their reunion smiles are incredibly tender.
... I think its enough internet for you, son, go to your room.
Of course there's enough Ho Yay between the main characters, but the club in which Watson stag party takes place also qualifies, especially with its crossdressing women.
There is no romance/sexual tension between either male character and Simza, that's Noomi Rapace and they're like "yeah, whatever - lets bicker and cling to one another."
Despite being one of the most faithful adaptations ever filmed, the show does make one large alteration to the canon: Watson never gets married. There are practical reasons for doing this, namely allowing the show to adapt whichever stories it liked, in whichever order it liked, without having to keep track of which ones Watson was married in or not. (Not that this bothered Doyle much.) However, the practical upshot is that, in the show, Watson remains a “confirmed bachelor”, living with Sherlock Holmes his entire life. Aw!
I dare you to watch Jeremy Brett as Holmes and say that he's not absolutely smitten with both of his Watsons.
In The Norwood Builder, when Holmes disguises himself as a tramp and talks to the ex-army sergeant living rough in the woods near the house. The sergeant tells him all about the ex-sailor who "shared his billet" and then disappeared after telling him about the warm welcome he got at the builder's house, and acts more like a spurned lover than an abandoned friend.
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson
The Soviet Holmes series is slash catnip. The first two episodes alone have: Holmes asking Watson on a date, Watson telling Stamford "there is much attractive about Sherlock Holmes" (despite suspecting Holmes of being a criminal mastermind at the time), the infamous Underwear Boxing Scene, and Holmes and an injured Watson cuddling in a cab.
In "The Devil's Foot", when Holmes and Watson are near death from the drug, their hallucinations apparently involve reciting Wagner's Tristan und Isolde to each other: