Complimentary, my dear Watson!
For over a century, Sherlock Holmes
has been one of the icons of English-language mystery fiction, and the character's popularity has spread around the world and through multiple media. Not surprisingly for such an influential character, Holmes has become a Fountain of Expies
. Most post-Holmes Great Detectives
have some Holmesian influence, but in the case of the Sherlock Homage this is particularly blatant.
Sherlock Homages are intelligent, cerebral, eccentric characters who solve mysteries and are very good at it. They may be heroes or antiheroes, but are never outright villains. While they often have a keen understanding of human behavior in a Guile Hero
sort of way, the typical Sherlock Homage is not a people person - whether due to introversion, Intelligence Equals Isolation
, or being a bit of a jerk. Sherlock Homages favor logic over emotion, and if they do have unexpected reserves of feeling
they tend not to be gushy about it. They often have other traits inspired by aspects of Sherlock Holmes' character, such as:
In series in which the original Sherlock Holmes stories exist, the Sherlock Homage may be an Ascended Fanboy
and fully aware of their similarities. It isn't rare for a character who's not a Sherlock Homage all the time to spontaneously adopt Holmesian traits if the plot ever requires them to solve a mystery.
Parodies of this trope, in which a character has the appearance of a Sherlock Homage but the skills of a Clueless Detective
, are also common.
Anime and Manga
- L in Death Note is his world's greatest detective. (Also second and third best, via aliases.) He's an eccentric, unsociable, Badass Bookworm genius with an Ambiguous Disorder.
- The main character of Detective Conan (aka Case Closed) is Jimmy Kudo, a teen detective who is forcefully given a poison that reverts him into a child rather than killing him, is this in spades. He is a snarky teen detective with an insanely keen eye for detail, who uses alcohol to temporarily revert back to his adult form on occasion, and has an extensive amount of otherwise esoteric knowledge. Hell, most of the promotional art for the series has him wearing a deerstalker cap and pipe◊. Also, his pseudonym as his child self is Conan Edogawa, a combination of the names Sherlock author Arthur Conan Doyle and Edogawa Ranpo, who was arguably his Japanese equivalent.
- In episode 5 of Mnemosyne, Mishio Maeno assumes a Holmes-like persona while investigating Rin, using the catchphrases like "Elementary!" and referring to an imaginary Dr. Watson in inner monologues.
- Victorique in Gosick is an undersocialized, snarky, Insufferable Genius Badass Bookworm and a brilliant detective. She even spends time with a Nice Guy Audience Surrogate who functions as her Watson. Unusually for the trope, she's a cute, petite teenage girl.
- Tintin: Tintin shares many similarities with Holmes by being an intelligent Chaste Hero and Badass Book Worm solving crimes, while Captain Haddock is somewhat of a Watsonian sidekick. Hergé was a Sherlock Holmes fan too.
- Suske en Wiske: Lambik dresses up as Sherlock Holmes in De Woeste Wespen, with Jerom taking the role of his sidekick Watson. Naturally Lambik's detective skills are extremely bad.
- Nero: Detective Van Zwam is clearly derived from Holmes. He is super intelligent, has senses that nobody else has (for instance: he is able to discover all kinds of absurdly detailed information about suspects from just looking at a cigarette stub) and much like Holmes he once died during a story, "De Gouden Patatten", but was revived by readers' support. In the color albums creator Marc Sleen also gave him a Sherlock Holmes hat at one point.
- Jo Zette Et Jocko: In one album a maharadjah asks for a detective to solve a case. When the man enters he refuses to believe that he is a real detective for he is not dressed up like Holmes, forcing the detective to do so in order to convince him.
Live Action TV
- Daryl Zero in Zero Effect is a clear Sherlock Holmes expy, and the film itself is a Whole Plot Reference to "A Scandal In Bohemia." Zero is extremely eccentric and socially awkward but a brilliant detective, and, like Holmes, uses drugs and plays a stringed instrument.
- The Great Mouse Detective: Basil is a detective mouse living beneath Holmes' appartment in Baker Street, London. His sidekick Dawson is, of course, an anagram of Watson. See lit entry below.
- Shanghai Noon: While Chon Wen and Roy O' Bannon are waiting in front of Arthur Conand Doyle's door they are dressed in similar clothing as Holmes and Watson. As Doyle sees their silhouettes he is stunned.
- Gregory House of House is not technically a Great Detective, but he does solve medical mysteries. House also has the snark, the genius, the substance abuse issues, and a nicer Heterosexual Life Partner who's a doctor. Bonus points for House and Wilson's surnames being a Shout-Out to Holmes and Watson.
- Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor throws on a deerstalker cap and greatcoat in such an homage in "The Talons of Weng-Chiang", as he tries to solve the mystery. Clearly he had other Holmes tendencies going for him: the intelligence, the eccentricity, the snarkiness, having a quirky sidekick...
- Sesame Street's Sherlock Hemlock, a Holmes Expy on a kiddie level.
- Hemlock is also a parody of this trope, as a Holmes homage who is also a Clueless Detective.
- Monk. Adrian Monk has excellent observational and deductive skills, but also has severe OCD, germophobia, and several other phobias which all make him very socially awkward. His Watson-analogue is a nurse/caretaker (Sharona in the first season, Natalie in later seasons) primarily concerned with helping Monk function in society. Captain Leland Stottlemeyer is the Lestrade-analogue, a by-the-book cop who makes the actual arrests, who often doubts Monk's logic and pursues the wrong suspects until the episode's end proves Monk correct. (As the series went on, Stottlemeyer came to trust Monk more.) There's even a Mycroft-analogue—Adrian's brother Ambrose, who's agoraphobic and hasn't left his house in years—and a Moriarity analogue (sort of)—Dale "The Whale" Biederbec.
- Samson En Gert: In one episode the character Octaaf said he would investigate a case, because he is an expert amateur detective. As he leaves Gert tells Samson: People still think that by wearing a Sherlock Holmes outfit they are automatically eligible to be a great detective. Cut to the next scene, where Octaaf re-enters the house, dressed up as Holmes!
- Alanik Ray, an elf detective from Darkon, is the Ravenloft D&D setting's Holmes Expy.
- Zohls, the Empyreal Lord of determination, investigation, and truth, in the Pathfinder campaign setting. She is perceptive, logic-driven, and suffers from Intelligence Equals Isolation. The creators' notes even describe her as "Sherlock Holmes, the deity!"
- Looker from Pokémon. His general design is similar to Sherlock, he shows Hyper Awareness, and while he's not a private detective (he's a police agent) but he uses it as a cover-up at least once.
- Looker also shares several traits with the Tenth Doctor from Doctor Who.
- Epic Rap Battles of History: Holmes and Watson are pitted against Batman and Robin in one episode. The rap battle features several homages to the Sherlock Holmes franchise in the lyrics.
- Super Snooper and his sidekick Blabbermouse on the Quick Draw McGraw show.
- In the Peanuts animated special It's a Mystery, Charlie Brown Snoopy dons a deerstalker hat and Meerschaum Bubble Pipe to play detective in order to find Woodstock's missing nest.
- On Arthur Fern imitates her favorite mystery detectives, mostly Sherlock Holmes along with Agatha Christie's Marple and Poirot, when called upon to solve a mystery or crime. Meanwhile Buster goes for the Film Noir Hardboiled Detective angle instead.
- In one episode of Babar, Zephyr puts on a deerstalker hat and walks around with a magnifying glass when he helps Babar find his stolen crown.
- Sheerluck Holmes in VeggieTales is a parody of this trope. He's not terribly competent without his Watson-analog.
- Looney Tunes spoofed Holmes in "Deduce You Say", with Daffy Duck as Clueless Detective Dorlock Holmes and Porky Pig as his Hyper Competent Sidekick Watkins.
- Cyril McFlip, Russell's Secret Identity in Littlest Pet Shop (2012).
- The Great Piggy Bank Robbery': While investigating a case Daffy Duck encounters Sherlock Holmes and quickly tosses him aside, because I'm on the case!
- The Simpsons: In the second part of the Who Shot Mr. Burns? episode Sideshow Mel reaches the conclusion that Smithers must be innocent. While he ponders over the clues he lits a Holmesian pipe and orders Krusty (the Watson in this case) to come along with him to the police station.