"Don't make people into heroes, John. Heroes don't exist. And if they did, I wouldn't be one of them."
A modern-day version of Sherlock Holmes (2010-present), produced in a ninety-minute format for BBC television. Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) solves crimes through sheer intellect and his Sherlock Scan, but is a (self-proclaimed) "high functioning sociopath" barely kept in check by his friend Dr. John Watson (Martin Freeman) as he's called upon for the more baffling cases. The series incorporates 21st century forensic technology, computers, smartphones and Google searches; at the same time, it's very faithful to the original tales in style and content.A similar concept to Jekyll, another Steven Moffat produced television series based around setting a classic Victorian story in the 21st century. Not to be confused with Elementary, the American Sherlock Holmes show also set in modern times but otherwise completely different in premise and episodic structure.Has an official manga adaptation, of all things.For tropes used in specific episodes, see Sherlock episode recaps.For tropes relating to specific characters, see the Sherlock character page.
One of the books Sherlock pulls in attempting to crack the book cipher is Charles Darwin's On The Origin of Species — Cumberbatch played Joseph Hooker in the Darwin biopic Creation.
It may not be deliberate, but one of our first sights of Martin Freeman in the first episode is in a dressing gown and pyjamas. One would assume that he knows where his towel is. In the second episode, Sherlock and John are called to a meeting at Tower 42. (That's its real name, by the way - it has 42 stories, but one assumes the owners knew what they were doing when they renamed it from the NatWest Tower.)
Remember Sebastian Wilkes (Bertie Carvel) from "The Blind Banker"? According to him, he and Sherlock graduated from the same university. Watch Hawking and have your minds blown. He's not lying.
John also spends an early scene is the second season finale wearing a bathrobe with a towel slung over one shoulder.
During the "memory palace" scene in "The Hounds of Baskerville," one of the words displayed is Ingolstadt, a German city that features prominently in Frankenstein. In Danny Boyle's stage adaptation of the novel, Benedict Cumberbatch alternated the roles of Victor and the Creature with Jonny Lee Miller, who coincidentally is Sherlock Holmes in Elementary.
In Scandal, early in the jet scene, the American agent calls Sherlock sir sarcastically. Cumberbatch plays an airplane Captain in the hit radio play Cabin Pressure who is occasionally called by his first officer sir sarcastically too.
Also in Baskerville, Russell Tovey plays a character who is extremely preoccupied with a fearsome wolf-dog-beast-thing. Not that he'd have any experience with that.
Although John Watson is not socially awkward (nor does he wear glasses), this is not the first time Martin Freeman has portrayed a character who is very insistent that he is not gay.
In "The Reichenbach Fall", Sherlock tells Lestrade that "You can't kill an idea", something he should know, considering his detective work in V for Vendetta.
In the books, Holmes is a tall scarecrow of a man with a beak of a nose. Doyle often complained that most illustrations of Holmes at the time made him too handsome. In the show, he's played by Benedict Cumberbatch, who has something of a female following. Watson expresses irritation that Holmes cuts such a striking figure, what with his collar and cheekbones.
James Moriarty, an elderly, bookish math professor in the books, is re-imagined as a young, suave, snappy-dressing career criminal, who's about as Tall, Dark and Handsome as Cumberbatch. And also Ambiguously Gay.
Mycroft isn't exactly handsome but far less slovenly than generally depicted. Because Society Marches On he's shed most of the extra weight he carries in other adaptations.
Adaptational Badass: Irene Adler originally only wanted to be left alone with her new husband. Here, with a little help from Moriarty, she almost brings the British government and Royal Family to their knees.
Most notable with Sherlock himself. Although he claims to be a "high functioning sociopath," his symptoms closely resemble Asperger's or another austism disorder. Word Of God hasn't confirmed this exactly, but it was explicitly mentioned as a possibility in "Hounds of Baskerville".
He could also be manic-depressive. Although not explicitly hinted at in Sherlock canon, he does has his depressive periods - "don't talk for days on end" - as well as his manic phases, as when he's storming about the flat with a harpoon. Could also explain his ambiguous drug past; some people with mental health disorders self-medicate.
Jim Moriarty has some hints of this as well. He's obviously batshit insane, but doesn't have any symptoms that point towards any specific mental illness. Fanon usually interprets it as sociopathy or schizophrenia.
Answer Cut: In yet another situation where John ends up being the butt of a joke.
Sherlock: I'm putting my best man on to it, right now. John: Right. Good. ...Who is that?
Artistic License - Astronomy: The Van Buren Supernova is completely fictional. There is no supernova whose light reached the Earth in 1858 and was visible to the naked eye (at least not in this universe).
Artistic License Explosives: Semtex does NOT work like that. Plastic explosives are very stable and will not explode if shot by a gun. Plastic explosives will not even explode if set on fire. In Vietnam, American soldiers would burn C-4 to heat their food.
Artistic License - Geography: Over a tiny area no less; if you know Central London, occasionally things don't quite match up how they should. One egregious example occurs in The Blind Banker where the duo go from Picadilly, across the street to "That Shop There" and end up on Gerrard Street in London's China Town, which is roughly a quarter of a mile from where they started.
Artistic License - Gun Safety: Every scene where Sherlock holds a gun during the Great Game episode. Though that could just be Sherlock not really giving a damn, or rattled after his meeting with Moriarty.
He displays similar traits in "A Scandal in Belgravia". Irene, by contrast, displays scrupulously correct gun safety, keeping her finger off the trigger even while she's pointing the gun at someone.
Fans speculate that he was using the lighter gun from "A study in Pink" and was bluffing the entire time. Which is why he is so nonchalant about it.
Ascended Extra: Molly goes from That Girl at the Morgue (not a promising start for a character) in the first episode, to being invited to Sherlock's Christmas party in the next series, to having some involvement in faking his death in The Reichenbach Fall.
Batman-Gambit: Several minor ones, but the big ones take place in Reichenbach Fall. Moriarty's whole plan depended on Sherlock's tendency to always look for the most complicated, interesting solution. Sherlock's plan depended on Moriarty's need to win no matter what.
Bavarian Fire Drill: Sherlock is prone to these to get himself into places he isn't supposed to be. The absolute apex has to be "The Hounds of Baskerville." Sherlock gets himself and John into a top secret military base using Mycroft's government ID, but it's John who pulls rank on the Corporal and uses his military background to deflect the soldier's suspicion.
Beneath Suspicion: In one case, the murderer was a taxi driver. Sherlock even mentions that the killer has to be someone the victims trusted and was in plain sight.
Sherlock: ...All of his victims disappeared from busy streets, crowded places, but nobody saw them go. Think! Who do we trust, even though we don't know them? Who passes, unnoticed, wherever they go? Who hunts in the middle of a crowd? John: I dunno, who? Sherlock:...I haven't the faintest. Hungry?
Averted in the pilot episode (which was reshot as "A Study in Pink") where Sherlock instantly works out the killer's profession.
Season 2 begins and ends with a confrontation between Sherlock and Moriarty where the Bee Gees plays.
Also, Season 1 opens with John speaking to his therapist just before Sherlock enters his life, and Season 2 ends with John visiting her again, eighteen months after his last appointment.
The first episode of Season 1 and the last episode of Season 2 both dealt with a man driving his victim to suicide after merely talking to them. Except that, in the second case, we learn he's not quite dead, and talking to Sherlock wasn't enough—Moriarty also had to eat a bullet! Or at least, seemingly.
Sherlock's first case involved apparent suicides with no note. His last line in the series (as of Season 2) is "This call is my note. That's what people do right?"
Sherlock does a dead-on impersonation of a metrosexual yuppie to fool a woman into thinking that he lived at a posh apartment complex and let him in.
And then again in the third episode, he abandons his usual upper-crust tones for a more cockney accent, pretending to be a grief-stricken friend of the departed, but intentionally getting things wrong. He knows that people will automatically contradict any mistakes made by a stranger pretending to be a friend or relative, which means that she'll expose things that she wouldn't if he was actually an old friend of her husband.
In "A Scandal in Belgravia," he changes his accent briefly again, taking leave of his brother and other government functionaries in a more common accent and slang ("Laters!") and later pretending to be a priest who has just been mugged.
Toward the end of "A Scandal in Belgravia," Sherlock briefly adopts an American drawl to mock a CIA agent.
Moriarty seems to be putting on a generic English accent in the scene in "The Great Game" where he meets Sherlock while pretending to be "Jim from I.T.", but then reverts back to the actor's natural Irish brogue when he reveals himself.
He does it again in the "The Reichenbach Fall," switching from his Irish accent to an American one here and there, without much reason.
"Doncaster" in Baskerville.
British Brevity: Three 90-minute episodes equals one season. The original plan was 6 sixty minute stories, of which "A Study in Pink" was filmed as the first episode. This turned into a 60-minute pilot instead, with the 90-minute version being substantially different. The unusual length of each episode makes their production more like a film than a TV series, so the production time is longer even though the total running time is shorter.
Betty and Veronica: Molly and Irene, Sherlock's female "admirers", as far as you can call them that them that.
Buffy Speak: About as close as you are ever going to get, since this is Sherlock. But upon being given a cigarette: "Smoking indoors... isn't there one of those... law things?"
Bullet Time: Used in several episodes to show just how fast Sherlock's brain works - in comparison to him, everybody else thinks in slow motion. Notably in "A Study In Pink", when he explains to John how he knew about Afghanistan or Harry, and in "A Scandal In Belgravia", when he decrypts the code.
All Sherlock has to do is sniff Anderson and he was able to deduce he is having an affair (which people will get divorced over) with a co-worker (which many places will fire employees over). He probably has similar ammo against most of the people he knows, and yet, he's still the freak.
It works both ways, however, since he arrogantly and blithely antagonises and embarrasses them despite the fact that they are police officers with, as shown in the first episode, the authority to raid his flat looking for drugs, among other things which could probably get him sent to prison for a good long while if they investigated him for it. This comes back to bite him in a big way in "The Reichenbach Fall", when Moriarty finds it very easy to convince the police Sherlock is a fraud and a criminal simply because, with the exception of Lestrade, they all hate him for how he's treated them.
John's psychosomatic limp returns for a few seconds at the end of "The Great Game" when the same leg buckles at the swimming pool.
And again, very slightly, affecting his stiff military bearing as he walks away from Sherlock's grave in "The Reichenbach Fall."
Sherlock's last minute appearance with a sword in a turban in "A Scandal In Belgravia" is possibly a Call Back to Sherlock's random attacker in "The Blind Banker".
In "A Study In Pink," the murderer says he's able to get away with his crimes because no one ever pays attention to their cab driver. This comes back to bite Sherlock in "The Reichenbach Fall," when he gets in a cab and doesn't realize his driver is Moriarty.
In "The Reichenbach Fall", a group of international assassins appear around Sherlock, although initially they appear to be keeping Holmes alive. Ultimately, it is revealed they have been hired by Moriarty to kill Holmes' friends if Holmes refuses to kill himself.
The Chinese assassins in "The Blind Banker".
Cast Incest: Mentioned in John's blog post, The Aluminium Crutch, where Sherlock attends a play in which one actor was in love with his supporting actress, who played his sister, although she was dating someone else.
Everybody involved in the last scene in "The Great Game". Most notably, of course, Sherlock and Moriarty, who have quite the civilised conversation and for a while almost forget about the bomb and the gun. Though, to be fair, John is the one who has enough gumption to crack an actual joke once he's free to use his own words. Even parroting Moriarty's, however, he does wind up with a slightly sarcastic tone of voice with "stop his heart".
Picked back up again at the beginning of "A Scandal in Belgravia." Played for Laughs with Moriarty mouthing "Sorry!" to Sherlock while on the phone; Sherlock, wrinkling his nose, mouths back "It's fine!"
more commonly commenting on cases as either "Fun" or "Boring". He only takes the fun ones if he can help it.
"It's fine. It's all fine."
John also has a tendency to say some variation of "I'm not gay", "I'm not his date", or "we're not together".
John and Sherlock have their own exchange that varies around Sherlock saying "Not good?", with John's reply being "Bit not good, yeah." Later on this develops into John simply saying Sherlock's name disapprovingly.
Irene Adler has two: "I know [someone with an important job]... or at least I know what he likes" and "Let's have dinner."
Mrs Hudson: "I'm your landlady, dear, not your housekeeper."
Although we only hear it once or twice, we are given the impression that "freak" is a typical nickname for Sherlock from Donovan/Anderson.
Celebrity Paradox: The series is set in a 21st century where the Sherlock Holmes stories were never written and never made their significant impact on popular culture.
This was actually something of a roadblock to filming the Baker Street scenes at the actual Baker Street, due to the plethora of Holmesian landmarks on the street today, leading the production to use North Gower Street to fill in instead.
Mr. Spock from Star Trek is mentioned in the series, but in 2013 Benedict Cumberbatch had a major role in Star Trek: Into Darkness. If Star Trek exists in the Sherlock universe, someone should probably notice that the bad guy of that movie looks a lot like the famous detective.
Starting in season 2, Sherlock is a little more empathetic than he was in season 1, best exemplified with his Pet the Dog moment with Molly. He's also more caring in general, and showing a lot of vulnerability in all three episodes of season two. He seems to have officially replaced John as The Woobie.
Mycroft gets a lot in "A Scandal in Belgravia", getting significant character focus despite having not much more than a cameo appearance in the first series.
Both Molly and Mrs Hudson prove they're tougher than they look in "A Scandal in Belgravia".
Chekhov's Gag: During a scene in "Scandal", there is a Cluedo board randomly pinned to the wall with a dagger, which goes completely unacknowledged. In the next episode, John and Sherlock have an argument about Cluedo, with John vehemently refusing to ever play the game with Sherlock again (because according to Sherlock, the only possible solution is for the victim to also be the killer and the rules are clearly wrong). John must have gotten a bit worked up last time they played...
John Watson's handgun, particularly in "A Study In Pink".
Also in "A Study in Pink", Sergeant Donovan explains why none of the police (except Lestrade) like Sherlock: they figure one day he's going to grow tired of solving murders and start committing them. In "The Reichenbach Fall", this suspicion contributes directly to Sherlock's downfall.
"The Hounds of Baskerville": The Grimpen Minefield, which is prominently introduced soon after Sherlock and Watson arrive on Dartmoor (like the original story's Grimpen Mire), then forgotten about until the climax, when Dr. Frankland runs into it trying to escape... with predictable results. There is a question as to whether he forgot it was there, or decided to take his chances, like the culprit in the original story.
"The Great Game" is neatly bookended by an inverted literal Chekov's gun. The episode opens with Sherlock shooting John's gun at the wall out of boredom, but ends with him pointing but not shooting it, which is fully followed through when he fails to ever shoot it during the opening to "A Scandal in Belgravia."
Nearly inverted in "The Great Game": Sherlock's lack of knowledge about the solar system (because he doesn't consider it necessary) nearly causes him to lose the fourth "round" with Moriarty. It's only a convenient slideshow at the planetarium that clues him in on the answer he needs.
In "The Great Game", Holmes deduces that Molly's new boyfriend Jim is gay because of vague traces of make-up, subtle hints in his clothing, and slipping Sherlock his phone number.
Played with when Sherlock mentions that a prominent member of the Royal Family smokes. It's implicitly expected that he will go on a long diatribe about how he deduced the secret. Sherlock goes directly to the smoking gun by pointing out he simply noticed the ashtrays.
The entire exchange between Sherlock and Molly in "A Study in Pink" revolving around coffee and Sherlock noticing her lipstick (not because she looks nice, but because the lack of it "makes [her] mouth look smaller").
In "The Blind Banker", there's this dialogue after John gets caught with Raz's spraypaint bag:
Sherlock Holmes: You've been a while. John Watson: Yeah, well, you know how it is — custody sergeants don't really like to be hurried, do they? Just... formalities: fingerprints, charge sheet... and I've got to be in Magistrates' Court on Tuesday. Sherlock Holmes: What? John Watson:Me, Sherlock, in court on Tuesday! They're giving me an ASBO! Sherlock Holmes: Good, fine.
Sherlock's skull, so much so that he apparently needs a replacement for it when Mrs Hudson takes it from him. It's John.
Mycroft is very rarely without his brolly.
Irene's phone is her life.
Contrast Montage: Used in "A Scandal in Belgravia" to compare Sherlock and Irene. Thoroughly. First they see each other's pictures, then they prepare to meet each other, and when they finally end up in the same room one is dressed as a vicar, and the other is not dressed at all.
In The Great Game, Sherlock rips John's clothes off in a darkened swimming poolnote okay, pulls off the Semtex-strapped jacket if you're into details, to which he responds, "I'm glad no one saw that. People might talk.". In The Reichenbach Fall, Sherlock asks John to take his hand while they're on the run.
John:Now people will definitely talk.
In A Study in Pink, Mycroft offers a big amount of money for John to spy on Sherlock, yet he refuses. In A Scandal in Belgravia, John questions the fact that Mycroft doesn't trust his own Secret Service, to which he responds "Naturally not. They all spy on people for money".
Cool Old Lady: Mrs Hudson, full stop. She has to be one just to tolerate Sherlock, but getting one over on the CIA via Victoria's Secret Compartment? Sherlock puts it best: "Mrs Hudson, leave Baker Street? England would fall!"
Also played with in the Hidden Messages on Sherlock's website, although the second — while being a grid cipher — can also be treated as an anagram. The third is a pigpen cipher. It spells out: "Sherlock I have found you".
A plot point in "The Reichenbach Fall". Nothing Moriarty could steal could ever be worth more than the key that lets him steal it. That is, if it existed.
Dating Catwoman: The entire point of Sherlock's tension with Irene Adler and vice-versa. He claims he's not interested in her because he's not interested in dating anyone; she claims she's not interested in him because she's gay. Their mutual fascination despite those facts becomes a massive plot point.
While Sherlock probably snarks more often, John is certainly much more deadpan about it. It's sometimes hard to work out whether he's being deliberately snarky or not. A good example can be found in this exchange in his blog:
Ooh! A new case!! So when do I get to come and visit?!?! Harry Watson 28 March 15:02 Bit busy right now but I'm sure we'll do drinks soon. John Watson 28 March 15:05
Perfectly civil, normal thing to say- except for the bit where Harry is his sister, by his own admission he's never gotten along with her, and she's a freaking alcoholic. Damn, John.
Defrosting Ice Queen: It doesn't happen all at once, and he still has Jerk Ass moments, but over the first two seasons Sherlock's friendship with John helps him slowly learn to open up to the other people in his life. His priorities at the end of the second season are wildly different from those in the pilot, or even the end of the first season.
Depraved Kids' Show Host: One of these turns up in series 2. Jim Moriarty's cover identity as 'The Storyteller' includes kidnapping children and slowly poisoning them.
Destination Defenestration: Sherlock captures a CIA Mook who had attempted to beat Mrs. Hudson for information. He then calls Lestrade about having a break-in, and tells him to bring an ambulance because the man fell out of the window — and promptly throws the man out the window. Repeatedly.
Lestrade: And exactly how many times did he fall out of a window? Sherlock Holmes: Oh, it's all a bit of a blur, detective inspector...I lost count.
Irene Adler continuously with Sherlock, to the point where her phone password is revealed to be "I Am SHER Locked".
Sherlock seems to avert this during his first meeting with Irene Adler. It seems he's not even paying attention to it but then his normally flawless diction breaks down momentarily and he mumbles his next line when Irene says "brainy's the new sexy" (John's reaction emphasises how out of character this is). Also seems like he fumbles his sentence once Irene shows interest in John.
Dogged Nice Girl: Poor, poor Molly Hooper can't get over her attraction to Sherlock no matter how poorly he treats her.
Dramatic Drop: Done as a Rule Of Threes in "The Reichenbach Fall" when Moriarty breaks into the cabinet holding the Crown Jewels. First he takes out the CCTV cameras. The security guard monitoring them is holding a couple of coffee cups, which slop visibly as he quickly puts them down so as to call someone. Then Moriarty remotely opens the vault of the Bank of England; as the bank manager gapes at this impossibility, the cup he's holding tilts in his hand until it pours coffee into this lap. Finally someone bursts in on the Governor of Pentonville Prison to tell him that all the cells are unlocking. Cue the Governor knocking the coffee mug off his table as he leaps to his feet.
Ms. Hudson acts and dresses more like a grandmother than a middle-aged woman
Lestrade is much more impatient and petulant
Donovan is a Police Constable in uniform, not a detective, and more concerned for Watson than snarky
Anderson has a goofy beard
Mycroft doesn't even show up.
Sherlock is a little less refined - he speaks much slower during his deductions, and it seems Cumberbatch hadn't quite got hold of exactly how friendly he wanted Sherlock to be. Sometimes he comes across as more human than usual, sometimes a lot less so. The only ones who seem entirely the same are Watson and Molly.
The pilot doesn't have the super creative, lightning-fast montage style of cinematography the later episodes would adopt. It also lacks the superimposed text messages.
In the pilot, Sherlock has his iconic scarf and Badass Longcoat, but lacks the elegantly simple suits of the proper episodes.
Emotions vs. Stoicism: Sherlock's lack of emotion (and also that of his brother, Mycroft) is often shown in comparison the the more emotional Watson. Whilst Sherlock's lack of emotion helps him to solve crimes, it doesn't always endear him to people.
Epic Hail: In "Scandal", Sherlock considers firing a gun into the air a perfectly reasonable method of summoning police.
John is shown to wake up from a rather violent dream about the war, before starting to cry. Everything about his introduction — the barren apartment, his cane, the empty blog — just screams loneliness. There's also the fact that Watson keeps a gun in his drawer, meaning either he's paranoid or (as it turns out) he misses the action.
Mycroft gets a bait-and-switch moment when he kidnaps John and meets with him in a shady-looking warehouse, then refers to himself as Sherlock's "archenemy". The knowledgeable viewer assumes he's Moriarty, before finding out he's Sherlock's brother.
Lestrade walks into Sherlock's flat asking for his help on a case and admitting he doesn't want to ask, but he needs Sherlock.
Irene Adler. The very first shot is of the infamous phone in her hand; she has blood-red, claw-like fingernails and is wearing a sheer black lace body-suit and thong. With a whip in her hand, she goes into a bedroom where a young woman is apparently tied up on the bed and asks "Well then, have you been wicked, your highness?" It's pretty much the most concise introduction to a character in the whole series. (Yet.)
John Watson: For the record, if anyone out there still cares, I'm not actually gay.
Irene Adler: Well, I am. And yet, look at us both.
Everyone Knows Morse: Justified in case of Watson, as he could have been trained in it in the Army. However, it turns out to be a Red Herring, as the flashes were cause by a guy's belt being caught on the switch in his car, as he's having sex with a girl.
Although it's not really pointed at all, when John appears beside the swimming pool in an explosive vest he was forced to wear by Moriarty, he seems to be blinking SOS.
Subverted in "The Reichenbach Fall", in which Moriarty's big bluff is that his crimes involve hacking and cracking, exploiting this trope. In fact they simply rely on accomplices with inside access.
Sherlock also doesn't catch on that Moriarty is lying when the latter starts going on about having access to nukes all over the world thanks to his code. Probably his lack of knowledge about non-crime things.
Evil Plan: Basically the entirety of "The Great Game". Every case Sherlock has to solve ends up having been orchestrated by Moriarty, looking for a fun challenge. It's implied that he, as a consulting criminal, has been arranging a vast array of crimes all over the place. Subverted in that the whole thing was to distract Sherlock from the plans. Revealed that the plans were a MacGuffin, and double-subverted, when Moriarty tosses them away.
John in Episode 3, after finding a head inside the fridge.
John again, during the intensely awkward meeting between Molly, Sherlock and Jim at the beginning of "The Great Game." Molly is trying to provoke Sherlock to jealousy, Jim is unashamedly fawning over Sherlock while tripping over his own feet, Sherlock is being outrageously rude to both of them, and everyone is ignoring John. Good times.
Lestrade gives us a classic double facepalm in "The Reichenbach Fall", when Sherlock and John go on the lam.
Famous-Named Foreigner: Czech Miss Wenceslas, presumably named for Wenceslaus of Bohemia. Unfortunately, this also violates Czech naming conventions, as that name would be Václav in Czech, would be exclusively male, and would only be used as a first name.
Fire-Forged Friends: Sherlock and John. They spend most of "A Study in Pink" being pretty standoffish, but once the case has been solved they're chatting and joking like old friends.
First Name Basis: As part of the setting update, the men who would have been almost exclusively called Holmes and Watson in their original incarnations are now called Sherlock and John. Oh, and Jim.
Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Zig-zagged. Aloof Big Brother Mycroft has a stable career in politics, maintains reasonable social skills (read: knows how to influence and manipulate people), remains calm and more or less rational in the face of argument, and insists that he merely wants to help and protect his brother while Sherlock is perpetuating a ‘childish feud’ between them. Sherlock has a much more unstable career as a consulting detective, displays almost No Social Skills at times, flares up in anger more often than Mycroft, not infrequently acts in a rash and reckless manner, and indulges in various types of childlike behaviour, such as using his powers of observation to embarrass police officers and insult John’s girlfriends. However, Sherlock also manages to create and maintain several more or less good relationships with people (John, Mrs. Hudson, Lestrade, Molly) and learns to value them, keeps his career successful enough to pay the rent (although John’s blog and Mrs. Hudson’s leniency probably help), and is clear-headed enough to keep his cool in dangerous and difficult situations and therefore get himself and others out of them. Mycroft, on the other hand, is less energetic, seems to have zero personal life, and is practically an Overprotective Dad to Sherlock by trying to monitor him with security people, while at the same time managing to put his brother in danger by making a couple ofmassive screw-ups. So while it’s clear that Mycroft thinks he’s the Responsible Sibling of the two, they end up on more or less even footing, with Sherlock at perhaps only a slight disadvantage due to his risky behaviour and all the people he gleefully pisses off.
Footnote Fever / Fun with Subtitles: The visible text messages and emails. The creators have noted this is a handy way to avoid clogging the show up with shots of peoples' phones.
Foregone Conclusion: As anyone remotely familiar with Holmes canon is well aware, John and Sherlock will be reunited after the events of "The Reichenbach Fall". The only questions left are: 1) How long is this incarnation of The Great Hiatus going to be? 2) How hard is John going to punch Sherlock when they're reunited? and 3) How in the hell did Sherlock pull it off??
Foreign Money Is Proof of Guilt: Justified. Sherlock suspects a car dealer of having lied about travelling overseas. He sneaks a peek in the man's wallet and sees a Colombian banknote, the final clue he needs to solve the case.
In A Scandal in Belgravia, Mycroft comments that it would take nothing less than Sherlock's expertise to convince him that Irene Adler is notFaking the Dead. This provides an allusion towards the ending, in which they think she really is dead this time, yet The Stinger shows Sherlock rescuing her from her executioners.
The Hounds of Baskerville has heaps of it for The Reichenbach Fall. This line in particular becomes exceptionally chilling on a rewatch:
Henry (to Dr. Frankland: Why didn't you just kill me?
Sherlock: Because dead men get listened to! He needed to do more than kill you; he had to discredit every word you ever said...
These two lines:
The cabbie: "I'm not going to kill you, Mr. Holmes. I'm going to talk to you, and you're going to kill yourself."
Sally: "One day we're going to stand around a body and Sherlock Holmes is the one who put it there."
Also from "A Study In Pink", Sherlock talking about how no one ever pays attention to the cab driver. It takes on a whole new meaning in "The Reichenbach Fall", when Moriarty drives Sherlock around in a cab for several minutes without Sherlock realizing.
Friendly Enemy: Moriarty and Sherlock. Each has the other in their line of sight, ready to kill each other, when Moriarty asks to answer his phone. While he's talking, we get this gem:
Moriarty: *mouths* Sorry!
Sherlock: *mouths* It's fine!
Friends Rent Control: Mrs Hudson is apparently letting Sherlock and John rent 221B at a discount as a favour to Sherlock. Since Mrs Hudson lives alone in 221A and cannot rent out 221C because of the damp, one wonders how she can afford to pay the dues on what is clearly expensive prime London real-estate when her only tenants are strongly suggested to be getting an audaciously cheap ride of it. It's worth noting that Sherlock's bedroom is roughly the size of an Olympic stadium.note Of course, this is no doubt because the space is much easier for a film crew to set up and film in; also, at one point, there needed to be enough space for Cumberbatch to stage a fall on the floor without braining himself on the furniture.
In the pilot, Watson discovers during the dinner stakeout that Holmes does not eat when he's on the job and the pilot ends with him getting Holmes to eat an actual meal.
Cumberbatch mentioned in one interview that one thing he did to prepare for the role was to lose a small amount of weight to get that "so focused I forget to eat" look. Since it gave us those cheekbones, no one's complaining.
In "The Blind Banker", Sherlock tells Molly he doesn't eat when he's working, as digestion only slows him down.
Cumberbatch appears to have put on those same few pounds he lost for the role between seasons to represent the fact that Sherlock now basically has a live-in physician. It also seems to track with the character becoming a bit warmer and more human-like, so the trope is currently being employed in reverse.
Genre Savvy: Moriarty is able to get one over on Sherlock largely by being more Genre Savvy than him.
Sherlock: Where are you taking her? Watson: Uh, cinema. Sherlock: Dull, boring, predictable. Why don't you try this [the circus that pertains to the case]? In London for one night only. Watson: Thanks, but I don't come to you for dating advice. [cut to:] Sarah: It's years since anyone took me to the circus.
Also, from "The Reichenbach Fall":
Judge: You've been called here to answer [the lawyer's] questions, not to give us a display of your intellectual prowess! Keep your answers brief and to the point. Anything else will be treated as contempt! Do you think you can survive just a few minutes without showing off?! Sherlock: (opens his mouth, prepares to speak...) [cuts to Sherlock being led into a holding cell.]
And a second instance, also from "Reichenbach":
[Sherlock has just been arrested. The Chief Superintendent is wandering around the flat]
Chief Superintendent: Looks a bit of a weirdo if you ask me. They usually are, these vigilante types. [John stares at him] What are you looking at?
[Cuts to the Chief Superintendent nursing a bloody nose. John is slammed up against a police car next to Sherlock]
Sherlock Holmes: Joining me?
John Watson: Yeah, well, apparently it's against the law to chin the Chief Superintendent.
The Glorious War of Brotherly Rivalry: Oh, guess. Between Mycroft's constant meddling in Sherlock's life and Sherlock's constant needling about Mycroft's weight, they come off as a couple of schoolgirls. Escalated to 11 in "A Scandal in Belgravia" with their tug-of-war over Sherlock's Modesty Bedsheet.
Mycroft: This is a matter of national importance. Grow up!
Sherlock:Get off my sheet!
Mycroft: Or what?
Sherlock: Or I'll just walk away!
Mycroft: I'll let you.
John: Boys, please. Not here.
Not to mention, shortly after:
Mycroft: [before pouring the tea] Shall I be Mother?
Sherlock: Oh, and there's our whole childhood in a nutshell.
Guys are Slobs: Co-creator Steven Moffat has remarked that beyond being a crime show, a great deal of what Sherlock is about is two bachelors living together, behaving badly, being slobs, and "putting horrible things in the fridge". Sherlock, of course, is the main culprit, especially when his depredations extend to leaving human body parts around the homestead. By Season 2, John has largely stopped bitching about the mess, though since a good 99% of the main living area items are Sherlock's, it's not clear whether John's contributing to the state of the place or just tolerating it. Seeing as John has a military background and his reaction of "it'll look good once we clean out the mess" in episode 1, it's most likely that John has simply given up hope of things getting better.
This happens so frequently to John that by "The Hounds of Baskerville" he seems to have given up on correcting people.
In "The Reichenbach Fall", Sherlock walks out on an investigative reporter badgering him for an interview. As he heads for the door she shouts "So, you and John Watson, just platonic? Shall I put you down for a no on that too—" and that's when Sherlock rounds on her.
Harsher in Hindsight/Hilarious in Hindsight: An in-universe example. In "The Great Game", Moriarty mockingly feigns an expression of shock, after commenting that if Sherlock did decide to shoot him in the face, all he'd get to enjoy is his look of genuine surprise. In "The Reichenbach Fall", Moriarty adopts the same expression when he decides to spite Sherlock, by turning his gun on himself.
Higher Understanding Through Drugs: The series riffed on the Sherlock's "three-pipe problem" (see the entry in the original series) with him wearing three nicotine patches because the case was "a three-patch problem".
Hollywood Hacking: Subverted in "The Reichenbach Fall". Moriarty appears to have written a small string of computer code (ridiculously small, if he can give it to Sherlock by tapping his fingers) that can hack any system on the planet. He demonstrates this at the beginning of the episode by breaking into the three most secure spots in London simultaneously, using a few smartphone apps. However, it is revealed at the end that Moriarty was making it all up: the mobile apps merely alerted his men on the inside, and there is no code. Which is good, because if this had been played straight, it would have been one of the most egregious examples out there.
Homoerotic Subtext: Ooohhhhh boy. Sherlock and John are constantly Mistaken for Gay, and even when they deny it (John isn't gay, Sherlock is Married to the Job and doesn't discuss his sexuality) it's absolutely through the roof in every single episode. Pretty much everyone involved in creating the show ships John/Sherlock. Moriarty also takes great delight in flirting with Sherlock, despite not being gay either — addressing him as "honey" and "sexy" and getting all up in his personal space.
There are also gay couples in every other episode: Harry and her ex-wife, Mrs. Turners married ones, Connie Prince's brother and one of her staff, Irene Adler and her maid (and others) and inn keepers at Baskerville.
Hope Spot: Sherlock often seems to have solved the case and beat the criminal, only for everything to suddenly go haywire at the last second. These happen like clockwork at the middle of every episode.
Hypocritical Humour: Mycroft uses a phone booth and CCTV cameras to threaten John into being driven to a non-disclosed location, then says that Sherlock loves to be dramatic. John replies "well, thank God you're above all that."
Later in the same episode, Sherlock convinces John to join him on a mission so he can talk to him about his revelations. The next scene, he remarks of the serial killer "that's the frailty of genius, it always needs an audience"; John is quick to agree.
Iconic Outfit: Played for laughs. Sherlock picks up the iconic deerstalker completely at random, intending to hide his face from reporters who have gotten wind of his existence. The public assumes it's his usual look; cue an exasperated Sherlock having to fend of compliments from people about his Nice Hat. In "The Reichenbach Fall" he rants at length at a deerstalker he received as a gift about how it's a hat that makes no sense.
Sherlock: It is NOT my hat!
Plus John saying that, because of peoples' association of him with the hat, "this is now no longer a deerstalker; it's a 'Sherlock Holmes hat.'" (Come on, admit it—you called it a Sherlock-Holmes hat long before you knew there was a real name for it)
Mythology Gag aside, Sherlock's blue scarf and his black trenchcoat with the upturned collar are shaping up to be this for Cumberbatch's take on the character. For certain people in the fandom, they're just as iconic as the deerstalker and the Inverness cape.
The plot of The Blind Bankerdepends on the villains being complete morons throughout the episode: from assassinating the smugglers who could've given them vital information, to assuming John was Sherlock, to using Moriarty to get into the country rather than hire him to steal back the Empress Pin outright.
John and Sherlock leaving Soo Lin by herself in a museum with a hired assassin on the loose who only came there to kill her. Naturally, the assassin succeeds in killing her.
In The Reichenbach Fall, when some extremely circumstancial evidence leads Donovan and Lestrade to believe that Sherlock kidnapped and poisoned two children. Anderson even speculates that Sherlock may have committed twenty or thirty crimes that he had helped the police investigate in the past, despite the piles of hard evidence that discount such a theory.
Also in The Reichenbach Fall, Mycroft tells Moriarty Sherlock's entire life story in attempt to get info on the MacGuffin, and then refuses to tell his brother what he's done, despite now knowing Moriarity has an Evil Plan centering around Sherlock.
If It's You, It's Okay: "A Scandal in Belgravia" runs on this. Not only are these explicitly the feelings of self-identified lesbian Irene Adler toward Sherlock Holmes, there's also the insinuation that John's feelings toward Sherlock are comparable to Irene's.
In the second episode. Sherlock, while investigating backstage during a circus performance, is attacked by a masked, knife-wielding assassin and defends himself using a can of spray paint.
He uses another aerosol can as an impromptu weapon in "A Scandal in Belgravia".
Incompatible Orientation: There's actually a weird love triangle from it in "A Scandal in Belgravia"; Watson isn't gay but is often remarked to be essentially Sherlock's boyfriend, Irene Adler is gay but there seems to be some mutual attraction, and Sherlock is completely disinterested in sex.
In Harm's Way: Both the main characters, in their own way. Mycroft tells John as much in their first meeting, noting that while under great stress, he's shown no symptoms consistent with his psychiatrist's diagnosis of PTSD:
"You're not haunted by the war, Doctor Watson. You miss it."
Insane Troll Logic: In A Study in Pink, the killer claims that he committed no murders and that his victims all committed suicide because he gave them two pills: one poisoned, one not, and forced them at gunpoint to choose one, and every victim chose wrong, which makes the killer innocent of murder. Sherlock defeats him by choosing the gun, deducing that the killer cannot bring himself to commit direct murder since he prided himself on fooling his victims into killing themselves. Naturally the gun turns out to be fake. note Legally, that's still murder, by the way. Threatening with an object that the victim assumes to be a weapon is equivalent to threatening with a real weapon.
Sherlock: I'm not a psychopath, Anderson, I'm a high-functioning sociopath; do your research.
It's a funny line but Sherlock is categorically not a sociopath Not even close. It sounds a lot neater than "I have low spectrum autism" though. Which is a more likely diagnosis.
John's insistence that he's Sherlock's "colleague" when referred to as a "friend" in "The Blind Banker". This is a Call Back to "A Study in Pink", where Sherlock introduces John to Sally Donovan as a "colleague".
Irene Adler is particular about several words. Among them "protection" (instead of "blackmail")
She knows certain people. Well, she knows what they like.
Mycroft occupies a minor position in the British government. (Certainly it would be inaccurate to say he is the British government.)
Irony: In the opening of the third episode, Sherlock expressed his disdain for astronomy because it is useless as a forensic tool, only to find that one of Moriarty's puzzles revolves entirely around historical astronomy.
Sherlock: People have died. Moriarty: That's what people DO!
From "The Reichenbach Fall":
Sherlock: This call is my note. It's what people do, right?
It Always Rains at Funerals: We don't see the funeral itself in "The Reichenbach Fall", but it's pouring down buckets outside the window while John is pouring out his grief to his therapist. The next scene is at the graveside, and the sky is overcast.
Juggling Loaded Guns: Sherlock fires John's gun at their flat's wall out of boredom and later, uses it to scratch his head after the pool scene in "The Great Game".
Kick the Dog: Sherlock does this with Molly a few times. Well, he skirts the line, but what he does at the Christmas party crosses the line. He does have the nous to realize that he's done it - possibly John's influence? - and the basic decency to look a little bit ashamed about it.
Kink Meme: Oh, yes. With at least eight new pages of prompts every day, as well.
In The Great Game, Sherlock claims to have turned one down. Again.
In A Scandal in Belgravia, however, he seems quite chipper about having "the knighthood in the bag" for apparently successfully retrieving Irene's phone without much of a fuss. It's very likely, however, that he is being sarcastic.
Kudzu Plot: "The Reichenbach Fall", and entirely deliberate on Moriarty's part to ensure only Sherlock will be smart enough to figure out what's really going on, and to make sure he figures it out too late.
Land Mine Goes Click: In "The Hounds of Baskerville", the eponymous Baskerville research station is surrounded by land mines of this type. One ends up pureeing Frankland when he steps on it while running away from our heroes.
Moriarty. Could be the explanation for his seemingly ever-shifting accent. And decking yourself out in the crown jewels?
Sherlock himself. Check out his flouncing and pouting during "The Great Game". Made better by the fact that Benedict Cumberbatch is fairly good at subtlety, as actors go.
Laser Sight: In "The Great Game," the visible dots are used to intimidate the hostages and later John and then Sherlock himself. These were also foreshadowed in the dénouement of "The Blind Banker". A few of these have angles that are obviously impossible, since the long shots show a wall two feet away in that direction.
Moriarty seems to be able to see the text messages superimposed on the screen in "A Scandal in Belgravia".
In Scandal, John could be addressing the show's fandom itself when he says, "Who the hell knows about Sherlock Holmes, but for the record — if anyone out there still cares — I'm not actually gay."
The first series ended on a massive cliffhanger and the fans had to wait forever for the second series to reveal what happened; then this shows up on John's writeup of the incident on his blog: "I held my breath for what seemed like months."
This exchange in "A Scandal in Belgravia" seems to reference that particular episode's emphasis on Sherlock's more human, fallible side:
Sherlock composing Irene Adler's leifmotif throughout "Scandal in Belgravia".
Lipstick and Load Montage: Irene Adler goes through one as she is waiting for Sherlock to arrive in "A Scandal in Belgravia". Juxtaposed with Sherlock's own, more unorthodox, preparations, which involve getting Watson to punch him in the face.
Averted with 221B Baker Street, which is strewn with so many utterly realistic items — everything from magazines stacked on the floor to grungy coffee cups left on the table to bills piling up near the phone — that you'd swear blind that people actually lived there.
Irene's house, on the other hand, invokes this trope, especially when she and Sherlock find themselves in an enormous pristine room, with what seems to be very little other than a posh sofa and a fireplace/mirror. The chances are that it's her workplace instead of (or in addition to) her actual home, so it makes sense that she'd want to present this facade.
John Watson's blog has some expansions on character that are priceless, and all three — John's blog, Sherlock's website and Molly Hooper's blog — hold some clues as to the outcome of the Mexican Standoff ending of "The Great Game".
As of "The Reichenbach Fall," try emailing Richard Brook — the storyteller who may or may not have been Jim Moriarty — at "firstname.lastname@example.org" with nothing in the subject line but I believe in Sherlock Holmes, Moriarty was real in the body of the letter. What arrives in your inbox a few minutes later is downright spooky — or if you know how hardcore the trolling creatorsSteven Moffat and Mark Gatiss are when it comes to trolling the fandom, downright cruel.
Love Is a Weakness: One of the running themes in series 2 is that, while learning to care about people might make Sherlock a better person, it also makes him vulnerable.
Sherlock: (As he and Mycroft watch a grieving family from afar) Look at them. They all care so much. Do you ever wonder if there's something wrong with us? Mycroft: All lives end. All hearts are broken. Caring is not an advantage, Sherlock.
Mad Bomber: The plot of the third episode, although it ends up being less mad and more part of a Evil Plan.
The Man Behind the Man: In "A Study In Pink," the killer was "sponsored" by Moriarty, and in "The Blind Banker," it's revealed at the end that he helped the Chinese gangsters that served as the episode's antagonists as well. Finally, in "The Great Game," it's revealed that it goes so far back that Moriarty committed the first murder Sherlock tried to solve, all the way back when they were both teens.
Sherlock is a skilled manipulator. He's a very good actor (he can cry on cue) and he knows what parts he needs to play in order to get someone to do what he wants. This includes rather shamelessly exploiting Molly's crush on him in "The Blind Banker" to prove a point to Lestrade's replacement for the the visible dots are used to intimidate the hostages and later John and then Sherlock himself. These were also foreshadowed in the depisode.
Also the serial killer in the first episode. He first talks Holmes into his Evil Plan without even using his gun by manipulating Holmes's arrogance and curiosity. Then, once Holmes reveals that the gun is a fake in any case and he has no need to take a pill at all, he gets him to take it anyway to prove that he's really the smartest. He's only stopped by a well-placed shot from John.
Interestingly, the serial killer in the pilot version of the first story was not this way at all: the cabbie simply drugs Sherlock in public (with everyone around assuming thanks to his acting that he's simply drunk), drags him back to his home, and presents him with the pill game when Sherlock is still too drugged to really fight him off. He even threatens to simply force the pill down his throat if Sherlock refuses. The cabbie only tries manipulating him after the police have arrived outside, thanks to John noticing something was off.
Moriarty is also a master manipulator. He's particularly good at playing Sherlock himself — as illustrated to a devastating effect in "The Reichenbach Fall".
Mexican Standoff: The series 1 finale ends with half a dozen of Jim Moriarty's snipers aiming at Sherlock and John, while Sherlock is himself aiming at an explosive-laden jacket at Jim's feet.
In one conversation, Sherlock and John both seem convinced the other is gay. The waiter of the restaurant they go to also thinks this, calling John a date and bringing them a romantic candle. Mycroft and Mrs. Hudson also get in on it, too.
Although Mrs Hudson and the waiter seem to genuinely believe John and Sherlock to be dating and are happy for them, Mycroft's comments are probably more to needle John. Apart from the comment "might we expect a happy announcement by the end of the week?" in "A Study in Pink," Mycroft also pauses significantly before using the word 'pals' in "The Great Game." It might imply homosexuality again, or Mycroft, knowing John slept rough on Sarah's sofa the night before, may have deduced that Sherlock was driving John absolutely insane by this time and that their relationship had cooled from "friend" to "flatmate".
Played with in the first episode of the second season — as Irene hints, John can be as straight as he likes, he and Sherlock are still a couple.
John seems to have given up denying it by "The Hounds of Baskerville." One half of a gay couple running the local pub remarks how his partner snores and asks John, "Is yours a snorer?" John just asks for crisps.
The ending of the third episode does this quite spectacularly, starting with Jim Moriarty leaving in quite an overdramatic fashion as Sherlock points a gun at him. After that, John shares a quip about Sherlock stripping his clothes off in a darkened pool room. A light round of laughter and — oh, crap.Jim's back again. And he has snipers aiming at John and Sherlock.
Done again at the beginning of "A Scandal in Belgravia," which picks up where the tense cliffhanger left off. Tense, that is, until Moriarty's phone goes off, playing the chirpy disco tune 'Stayin' Alive' — and he apologetically asks Sherlock if he minds if he takes the call. Sherlock tells him to go ahead. Moriarty answers the phone quite politely and calmly, then goes from genial to roaring down the line in two seconds flat, telling his caller that if they're wrong or lying, he's going to skin them and turn them into shoes.
Moriarty, as a character, is prone to this. Even when you know it's coming, his sudden changes in temperament can be genuinely scary.
Even done at Sherlock's grave when Mrs. Hudson begins ranting about Sherlock's odd habits, the body parts in the fridge and shooting in the flat at one in the morning. Bonus points for John's plea for Sherlock not to be dead immediately afterwards.
During arguably the most tense, depressing part of the entire series we get this:
Sherlock: You're insane.
Moriarty: You're just getting this now?
Also rather Mood Whiplashy, The Reichenbach Fall starts with John telling his therapist that Sherlock is dead and then immediately cuts to the upbeat title sequence.
"Oh, he's sweet. I can see why you like having him around. But then, people do get so sentimental about their pets".
Molly also appears to be one for Sherlock. After making some scathing comments by deducing Molly's got herself a new paramour because she is dressed to the nines and has one fancily-wrapped gift amongst messy ones, he then discovers that the present is actually for him. Molly calls him on his repeated hurtful comments to her and Sherlock actually offers a genuine apology for his behaviour.
Mrs Hudson as well. Sherlock even apparently agreed that he has to be nice to her at Christmas.
Motor Mouth: Sherlock goes absolutely supersonic once he goes into Sherlock Scan mode and starts thinking aloud...well, actually we mean relativistic speeds here.
Sherlock can't understand why John's blog is more popular than his website, with its description of 240 types of tobacco ash.
Sherlock: 243. *Lights blowtorch*.
Also, Shan's "From the moonlit shores of NW1..." speech can come across as this.
The fight in the planetarium, what with the garbled recordings in the background accompanied by Mars from "The Planets" and the flashing colourful lights and all. Then again, the fact that the lights are also flickering when The Golem sneaks up behind Sherlock makes it somewhat Nightmare Fuelish.
Sherlock makes a pot of tea.
Must Have Nicotine: Sherlock. In Series One he was kept in check by insane amounts of nicotine patches. In "The Hounds of Baskerville" he's going cold turkey, causing him to scream, throw things about, threaten people with antiquated maritime weaponry and perhaps most chillingly of all, abjectly beg John to get him some cigarettes. Please. Once he begins investigating the Baskerville case, though, the symptoms (temporarily) disappear. Quite likely because he's got his fix of crime and mystery, which he'd been complaining about craving at the same time. This is consistent with the original stories where Sherlock's worst bouts of substance abuse came between cases in his attempts to stave off the boredom.
My Sensors Indicate You Want to Tap That: In "A Scandal in Belgravia," Sherlock realizes that Irene Adler's feelings for him are genuine because he Sherlock Scanned her biological reactions to him (pulse and pupil dilation) on multiple occasions, which allows him to finally figure out the code on the phone.
Mythology Gag: The following list is very long and likely to get much longer, as Steven Moffat has openly admitted that he's having "endless fun" with finding modern parallels for aspects of the original stories.
In "A Study in Pink", a character who is a Red Herring for being the murderer is an American visiting London for the first time. This is a nod to the original A Study in Scarlet, in which the murderer was an American visiting London for the first time. In both, the killer is a cabbie.
In the Sherlock Holmes story A Study in Scarlet, the police assumed that the person writing Rache was trying to write the name "Rachel", and Holmes poo-pooed this by advising them that "Rache" is German for "revenge". However, this is completely inverted in "A Study in Pink".
John reveals that he was actually shot in the shoulder, not the leg, referencing Doyle's habit of forgetting where exactly his wound was in the books. In both cases he was shot in a recent Afghanistan War, though.
Mycroft is the British government, according to Sherlock.
John finds Sherlock lying down on the sofa moving his arm in a way that made it look (from the audience's POV) as if he had just treated himself to a ringer of cocaine.
It's a three-patch problem. = It's a three-pipe problem
Similarly, when Sherlock is frantically looking for his cigarettes at the beginning of "The Hounds of Baskerville", Mrs Hudson suggests he have some tea. He mutters to himself that he needs something stronger - About 7 percent' stronger.
Sherlock's deductions from John's phone are based on his deductions from Watson's pocket watch in The Sign Of Four.
When Sherlock is standing, the shock blanket looks suspiciously like his Iconic Outfit.
There's a brief shot in 221b Baker Street of Sherlock pinning some papers to the mantelpiece with a small knife. In the books this is exactly how Holmes keeps his unanswered correspondences.
On John's blog, he reveals that Sherlock apparently doesn't know the Earth goes around the Sun, as mentioned in A Study in Scarlet. This is also referenced in episode 3.
Sherlock's explanation for why he doesn't memorize "useless" facts is updated from his head being an "attic" with limited space to a "hard drive".
Sherlock decorating the walls with gun shots. In this case, it's a happy face (painted on with what looks suspiciously like the yellow spray paint from the previous episode.) It has been established that Holmes uses the drawing room for target practice with a pistol. In the books, he decorates the wall in the pattern "VR" for "Victoria Regina". The modern equivalent would be "EIIR" (for "Elizabeth (The Second) Regina"), which does SORT OF look like a smiley face, if you turn your head and squint.
"The Great Game" is full of these. The scene with the stationery is "A Scandal in Bohemia", the pips are a sly nod to "The Five Orange Pips", the Bruce-Partington plans are a subplot of sorts.
"Domestic bliss must suit you Molly, you've put on another three pounds since I last saw you." "Two and a half." "No, three." From a Scandal in Bohemia (though it's Watson, and seven and a half pounds).
Sherlock repeatedly refers to the Czech Republic by the anachronistic name "Bohemia", just to make sure we get the reference.
"Any ideas?" "Seven, so far..." From The Adventure of the Copper Beeches.
Sherlock's network of homeless people is a deliberate update to the Baker Street Irregulars, a gang of street kids Holmes would pay to spy on people for him.
"I'd be lost without my blogger" is from Scandal again, where it's "Boswell".
"You do see, you just don't observe!" Also from Scandal in Bohemia, but delivered to Lestrade instead of Watson this time around.
Sherlock makes several digs about his brother's weight. Mycroft is traditionally portrayed as extremely fat and sedentary, though Gatiss is surprisingly trim for the role.
The book code in "The Blind Banker" is similar to the one in The Valley of Fear.
John is instructed to keep a blog, which he doesn't actually use until he signs up with Sherlock, at which point he records their mystery solving. It's very popular. Traditionally Watson publishes books about his and Holmes's mystery solving, and those were also rather popular.
Sherlock whipping the corpse in his first scene is a shout out to a reference in A Study in Scarlet in which Stamford tells Watson that he saw him "beating the subjects in the dissecting-rooms with a stick."
A few nods to the canon only appeared in the pilot version of "A Study in Pink":
Since the Mycroft subplot didn't appear in the pilot, an e-mail to "email@example.com" is intended to be this.
The location in which Mike Stamford and Watson dine in the pilot is the real Criterion Bar, in which they first met in the original A Study in Scarlet which led to Watson and Holmes sharing a flat. The 90-minute version showed them having coffee in a park instead, but ensured that the viewer saw the cups bearing the name "Criterion" to retain the reference in spirit.
Both versions of "A Study in Pink" have John's phone being used to text the dead woman's phone because Sherlock's number is on his website and might be recognized. A Study in Scarlet had a newspaper advertisment in Watson's name because Holmes had gained some minor credit in the press from previous cases and so his name might have been recognized.
Also from "A Study In Pink," remember one of the victims was a guy walking along in a downpour, who told his mate to go on without him while he popped back for his brolly? In The Problem of Thor Bridge, Watson mentions some of the cases he hasn't written up yet, one of which "...is that of Mr. James Phillimore, who, stepping back into his own house to get his umbrella, was never more seen in this world".
Moriarty's line to Sherlock near the end of "The Great Game": "I mean, I'm gonna kill you anyway, someday..."
The hilarious stance Sherlock briefly adopts during his fight with the Golem might be a reference to the Victorian Sherlock Holmes' boxing skills. Or, a Shout Out to Jeremy Brett's version, as Brett would adopt the same pose in fight scenes.
In "A Study In Pink," Watson has no luck at all getting the attention of Mycroft's female aide. In the books, Watson was reputed as something of a ladies man.
In "The Great Game", Sherlock asks John to make deductions about the pair of shoes, and then congratulates him before saying he missed out almost everything of importance. He does the same in A Case of Identity.
In "A Scandal in Belgravia" Sherlock throws on a deerstalker cap to try and disguise himself from a throng of new-found fans. And much like his real-world fans, these fans get the impression that he wears it all the time.
"This isn't a deerstalker anymore, it's a Sherlock Holmes hat."
In that scene Watson also grabs a hat: a flat cap similar to the one worn by Nigel Bruce (The Watson to Basil Rathbone's Holmes).
This conversation at Christmas, with Sherlock obsessing over John's blog:
Sherlock: You've got a photograph of me wearing that hat?!
Sherlock's inability to tell John's girlfriends apart in Scandal calls back to the fans' confusion over Watson's many wives in the original novels.
A fairly minor plot point in "A Scandal in Belgravia" is that John's blog's hit counter is stuck at 1895. This is because it's an image file. 1895 also happens to be the year that Conan Doyle published The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, the second series of short stories which ended with Holmes' apparent death (which was a real, actual death at the time of writing but was later retconned into a fake death due to public demand for more Sherlock Holmes stories).
Sherlock and Jim's final exchange in "The Great Game" exactly mirrors the opening of their first exchange in "The Final Problem":
Moriarty: All that I have to say has already crossed your mind. Holmes: Then possibly my answer has crossed yours.
In "The Reichenbach Fall" Sherlock attempts to track down the hostages from traces of dirt from a building site by visualising a map of London and identifying possible locations. One place he briefly highlights is Norwood, a reference to "The Adventure of the Norwood Builder".
In the very first episode, Sherlock exclaims, "the game, Ms. Hudson, is on!" Doubtlessly a modernized version of "the game's afoot!" no?
In "The Hounds of Baskerville", Sherlock is looking for a missing luminous rabbit named Bluebell. It is a nod to original Hound of the Baskerville story where the hound is luminous due to coating of phosphorus which gave it ghostly appearance.
Blink and you'll miss it, but in "A Study In Pink", during the scene where Sherlock reveals to Watson that he has the fourth victim's suitcase, he sits on his chair in a manner almost identical to Jeremy Brett's portrayal of Holmes.
Jim Moriarty is introduced as a full-time career criminal, but is eventually revealed to have a cover identity as a well-known children's television star, likely as a nod to the fact that his literary counterpart was known to the public as a respected math professor.
In The Hound of the Baskervilles, one of the many Red Herrings involved an escaped convict named Selden, who the servants at Baskerville Hall (one of whom was his sister) frequently signaled with candles so that they could leave food for him. In "The Hounds of Baskerville", John follows a similar clue when he sees a series of lights on the moors flashing the letters "U.M.Q.R.A." in morse code. It turns out to be a man named "Selden" having sex with a woman in a car and accidentally bumping the headlights button.
One subplot in "The Hounds of Baskerville" (which turns out to be relevant to the main mystery) involves a little girl trying to hire Sherlock to find her missing pet rabbit Bluebell. This is a subtle nod to the classic Doyle story "Silver Blaze," in which a client hired Holmes and Watson to find his missing racehorse on the English moors.
Lestrade's first name, Greg, is a nod to Inspector Gregson, a recurring character from the books.
What look like suicides in "A Study In Pink" turn out to be the work of a Serial Killer, albeit one that makes his victims kill themselves (by telling them they will be shot, unless they take the 50:50 chance on survival by choosing between a poisoned and harmless pill) rather than killing them himself.
And in "The Blind Banker," there is the case of the first victim. Shot in the right side of the head, despite the victim being left-handed. Sherlock quickly points this out.
Again in "The Great Game," with the presumed train jumper actually killed by accident by his future brother-in-law.
And of course in "The Reichenbach Fall" Sherlock's suicide was not one at all. The media certainly believes it is, but it remains to be seen whether John fell for it.
Nerves of Steel: Both John and Sherlock display this. in "A Study in Pink", Sherlock actually uses the phrase 'nerves of steel' to describe the person who shot the cabbie, just as he realises it was John.
The elusive graffiti artist, spraying a black and white stencil of a policeman on a London wall, is in no way Banksy. Because there's a guy who would sue your arse off for illegal use of his image.
"A Scandal in Belgravia" drops hints that one of Irene Adler's clients was a young, prominent and married female royal.
No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: Sherlock knows Moriarty is coming to find him, so he makes tea for two and settles in with his violin to wait. The confrontation ends peacefully, albeit creepily.
No Smoking: Updated, considering the character in question had a notorious pipe smoking habit. It's lampshaded that "it's impossible to sustain a smoking habit in London these days". This leads both Sherlock and Lestrade to use nicotine patches instead.
Both "Belgravia" and "Baskerville" address Sherlock's struggles with his smoking habit; in "Belgravia" he and brother Mycroft are seen lighting up a cigarette during moments of high stress (Mycroft tells John that his own smoking habit is more or less a secret between the two of them). In "Baskerville," Sherlock is on a major detox downswing and outright begs John for a cigarette.
Lampshaded when Mycroft hands Sherlock a cigarette in the morgue corridor:
Mycroft: We're in a morgue. There's only so much damage you can do.
Noodle Incident: The series, like Doyle's original stories, are full of these:
The Science of Deduction website includes a dummy archive of Sherlock's past cases, which all have intriguing titles (some of them referencing John's untold stories from the canon, such as Isadora Persano and the worm unknown to science, or "the dreadful business of the Abernetty family").
What led up to Sherlock being attacked in his flat by a guy with a sword?
This was started at the very beginning, when Watson looked up Sherlock online and said, "You said you could identify a software designer by his tie, and an airline pilot by his left thumb?"
Not to mention the real human skull on the mantlepiece at 221B. Sherlock sheepishly explains to John that it belongs to a friend- "... When I say 'friend'..." And that's it.
In the beginning of the Hounds of Baskerville, Sherlock enters the apartment covered in blood and carrying a well over 2 meter long harpoon. He had apparently stabbed pigs with it. It has no relevance to the plot whatsoever.note It is, however, a reference to the Holmes short story The Adventure of Black Peter.
At the beginning of "The Hounds of Baskerville", Sherlock returns to the flat wearing blood-spattered clothing and carrying a harpoon longer than he is tall. Apparently there was a pig involved? And that's all we get. Presumably it's an allusion to the Doyle story "The Adventure of Black Peter," in which Holmes casually strolls to the breakfast table with a harpoon and starts chatting about how hard it is to spear a dead pig.
1972 at The Diogenes Club, wild times. Apparently.
The whole story about the late Mr Hudson.
When asked about Mycroft's reaction to solving the Andrew West sub-case in "The Great Game":
He was over the moon. Threatened me with a knighthood... again...
Mycroft gets this combined with Break the Haughty in "A Scandal in Belgravia". He's actually shown shaking in fear and despair after realizing the Bond Air mission had been compromised due to his own hubris.
Sherlock a few times in the "The Reichenbach Fall." Notably when he death-glares Moriarty during his Wounded Gazelle Gambit and practically screams at him to stop. And then again while giving John his suicide "note". There were tears dripping onto his coat.
Obfuscating Stupidity: Moriarty, with a side of obfuscating sexuality thrown in. His obfuscating stupid/gay fake persona makes a seemingly pitiful attempt at obfuscating clumsiness. Which may make this a very rare case of ObfuscatingObfuscation.
Oblivious to Love: Sherlock is mostly oblivious to Molly's crush on him, to the extent that he's convinced that she's dressed up for the Christmas party and has carefully wrapped a present because she must be off to see a new boyfriend.
Moffat: It’s always definitely a love story. I don’t see why that means that sex has to be involved. What a weirdly sexualized world we live in where you insist they must be having sex as well. Why would they? John isn’t wired that way, whatever Sherlock is... Sex is not really the issue among any of these people. Love is. Infatuation is. I think John Watson is infatuated with and fascinated by Sherlock Holmes. I think Sherlock Holmes absolutely relies completely and utterly on John Watson and is devoted to him.
In "A Study in Pink" when John realises that the phone must have been on the taxi driver Sherlock left with.
The look on Sherlock's face when John steps out in the swimming pool.
In "The Blind Banker" when he sees the cipher on the windows and realizes that John and Sarah are gone.
"Of course. Obvious. He's still here."
Sherlock, John and Lestrade in "The Great Game", when the child's voice is first heard over the phone at the art gallery, giving a ten second countdown. Lestrade and John completely freak out, while trying not to distract Sherlock; Lestrade ends up screaming at him to just stop dicking around and solve the puzzle, and John is so relieved after that he's actually gasping for breath.
In "A Scandal in Belgravia," the captured CIA agent is glaring angrily at Sherlock while he is calmly calling DI Lestrade about an intrusion. And then he turns pale when he realises that Sherlock is describing really bad injuries on him which have not happened yet.
Also in "A Scandal in Belgravia," the general reaction to "On the count of three, shoot Dr. Watson". John blurts out "WHAT?!" and Sherlock starts shouting in a panic that he doesn't know the code.
In "The Hounds of Baskerville," Sherlock is trying hard to tell the hysterical and suicidal Henry Knight that the hound is actually a figment of their imagination brought on by hallucinogens, so none of it is real. Except a howl is suddenly heard again...
Sherlock gets several in "The Reichenbach Fall". To be a little more specific, his reaction when Jim Moriarty commits suicide, totally unexpectedly and inches away from his face, is an Oh Crap of frankly epic proportions. Especially since Sherlock has spent so much of two seasons being almost totally without emotions like panic or horror.
Second only to that, earlier in the episode when Sherlock Holmes and Richard Brook (aka Jim Moriarty) meet unexpectedly. The sense of panic in the room is palpable, and the look on their faces is priceless.
Also in "The Reichenbach Fall" when Sherlock catches a taxi, at the end of Moriarty telling the story of Sir Boast-A-Lot and Sherlock realising what it means.
In "The Reichenbach Fall", there's also John's very quiet "oh no" when he turns around to see Sherlock standing at the edge of the roof. The look on his face gets worse as the scene goes on, culminating in Sherlock's jump.
One Head Taller: Sherlock and John◊. In "A Scandal in Belgravia," Sherlock lampshades this when someone remarks he looks taller in his photographs. He responds that he simply makes good use of "a good coat and a short friend". John seems unimpressed — as if he's only just realised he's 5'7''. Or like the thought had suddenly struck him that Sherlock only asked him to hang around in the first place because he would make him look tall and imposing by comparison.
One Steve Limit: Averted, on the blogs - the army nurse who treated John's shoulder wound is called Bill Murray. Not that one.
Lestrade, whose first initial ("G") was given in the canon but never his full name. Worth noting since the shift to First Name Basis is one of the most striking aspects of this adaptation. However, we find out in "Hounds of Baskerville" is that this iteration of Lestrade is named "Greg", which might be yet anotherMythology Gag, referencing the mysterious Inspector Gregory (Doyle probably meant Inspector Gregson, the "other" detective from A Study in Scarlet). Oddly, we then find out in "The Reichenbach Fall" that Gregson exists in this version too.
Mrs Hudson. We never learn her first name, and Sherlock never deviates from addressing her as "Mrs Hudson", though in the Christmas scene in Belgravia John addresses her affectionately as "Mrs H." He also does this on his blog occasionally.
Obnoxious crime scene tech Anderson's first name isn't ever mentioned either. Word Of God says his name is Gillian, though this seems to be a joke by Mark Gatiss, and a reference to the actress Gillian Anderson. Gatiss has also said Anderson's first name is Moira, and Word of Moff says his name is Sylvia, so it seems unwise to take anything these two say entirely seriously....
Many of Sherlock's uncharacteristic moments are signs of affection, and consequently are listed on the Crowning Moment of Heartwarming page, but one example that doesn't fit there is during Sherlock's first meeting with Irene in "A Scandal in Belgravia". When she says "Brainy's the new sexy" his normally perfect enunciation fails for a second and he mumbles his next sentence. John's expression shows how big a deal this is. Sherlock might have done it intentionally, suspecting that Irene might have feelings for him and wanting to draw her in by pretending to reciprocate so that he could manipulate her later if need be. It's hard to tell with Sherlock. Benedict Cumberbatch indicated in the Series 2 DVD commentary that Sherlock's verbal keyboard mash happened in response to John's obvious interest in Irene Adler's flirting.
His apology to Molly was also OOC, but probably not an act; John reacts with shock to that, as well.
After the row with John in The Great Game over Sherlock's lack of concern for the victims of Moriarty's crimes, Sherlock seems to have begun making a concerted effort to at least appear contrite when he realizes he's hurt someone's feelings. His immediate apology to Molly may have been mostly for John's benefit, but the Insufferable Genius seemed earnest in his attempt to uncross the line over which he knew he'd just stepped.
In The Great Game, John learns the hard way that when Sherlock offers to buy milk, there's something odd going on and it would be a bad idea to leave the flat.
And then in The Hounds of Baskerville, Sherlock voluntarily makes him a cup of coffee. Sherlock never makes coffee. It doesn't end well.
In The Hounds of Baskerville, it's a huge deal to see Sherlock and, to a slightly lesser extent, John, experiencing and expressing devastating levels of fear:
Sherlock:(tearfully clutching a straight whisky for dear life and shaking badly): Look at me, John. I'm afraid.
Sherlock lets the audience know that shit just got really real with this line from The Reichenbach Fall:
Sherlock: You were right. I'm not okay.
Then the ultimate example of this trope occurs when Sherlock is standing on the hospital roof, saying goodbye to John on the phone and tears are running down his cheeks. The breakdown in Hounds can be excused by the effects of the drug but this is 100% genuine emotion.
Sherlock's uncanny abilities and intelligence lead people to forget that Watson is both tough enough to be a soldier and smart enough to be a doctor.
In "A Scandal In Belgravia" Sherlock Holmes himself is overshadowed by the awesome that is hisolder brotherMycroft. Here, and in one scene in particular, he's reduced to a "naïve, lonely man desperate to show off", revealed to not be Moriarty's main target at all, played for a sucker with a classic Damsel in Distress ploy that Mycroft describes as "textbook" and referred to in all sorts of ways that range from the dismissive to the insulting: "Mr Holmes, the Younger", "Junior", "the clever detective in the funny hat", "The Virgin". Heck, even a case he spent some time on was solved by the brilliant Mycroft in seconds, and another case, that of the Düsseldorf air crash and the missing victim, was actually part of something orchestrated by Mycroft. This is on par with the books, where he is described (by Sherlock himself) as Holmes' much smarter brother.
Passive-Aggressive Kombat: Between Mycroft and John, in four of six episodes so far. They're rarely downright rude to one another, and usually resign themselves to working together for Sherlock's good, but they're not friends and things can get awfully snarky and hostile at times. And that isn't counting their last showdown in The Reichenbach Fall, which is just out and out aggressive kombat.
Phone-In Detective: Well, Skype-In Detective, anyway. After achieving internet fame via John's blog, Sherlock decides he isn't leaving the flat for "anything less than a seven". John is left to do all the legwork, so that Sherlock can solve crimes that happened in rural locations without even having to put clothes on.
John to Irene, understandably. Even a napkin would do.
And Mycroft to Sherlock, when the latter turns up at the official residence of the British monarch clad only in a bedsheet.
Mycroft: We are in Buckingham Palace, the very heart of the British nation. Sherlock Holmes, put your trousers on.
Poisoned Chalice Switcheroo: The serial killer has two identical bottles of pills, one poisonous and one completely harmless, and forces his victims at gunpoint to choose one while he takes the other. Sherlock realizes the gun is fake and is about to simply walk away, but the killer challenges him into playing anyway. However, before they can actually take the pills, Watson shoots him, and we never do find out which was which.
Post-Victory Collapse: John almost collapses on the spot after Sherlock rips the bomb vest off him in "The Great Game". Perfectly understandable reaction, though, and it doesn't diminish the moment.
If anything, it makes the moment. It makes John's stoic command of himself during the stand-off all the more impressive. It's clear that he's not unafraid or unaware of the danger — he just manages to hold himself together until Moriarty leaves.
Also a rare moment of vulnerability from Sherlock: His panicked "Are you all right? ARE YOU ALL RIGHT?!" to John after his "Catch ... you ... later" swagger to Jim. Followed by him distractedly pacing, and trying to stammer out a thanks to John, while he scratches the back of his head with a loaded gun.
Sherlock: That — uh — thing that you did — that you offered to do — that was — um — good.
Race Lift: Sort of. In the original story, Irene Adler was American, but she is made British in the adaptation. Also, Sherlock is the first Holmes adaptation to depict Moriarty as Irish ("Moriarty" is an Irish name).
The way Sherlock was swinging John's gun around at the end of "The Great Game," the series could very well have ended with Sherlock accidentally shooting himself in the head before Moriarty got the chance to come back and finish the job. Herubbed his templewith the barrel ofa loaded gun! He also waves it at John as a careless gesture as he's trying to blurt out a thank you to him.
Another example can be found at the beginning of the same episode where Sherlock is so bored he's using a handgun to shoot holes into the wall forming a smiley face. This is incredibly reckless and dangerous because it would only take one resilient bullet to make it through that wall and hit someone on the other side — one of the reasons you are not allowed to practice shooting in a residential area outside of a shooting range.note This was, of course, a call back to the original Sherlock Holmes stories, in which a bored Sherlock used his pistol to spell out "VR", meaning "Victoria Regina", on his wall.
Averted by John right afterwords, though. He takes the gun from Sherlock and immediately removes the magazine, even though it's visibly empty, and continues to handle it in a safe manner. He is, after all, a former soldier.
He does it again in "A Scandal in Belgravia", randomly firing shots into the air in a residential neighbourhood to attract the attention of police.
In "Scandal", he disarms an assailant and holds it to the perp's head with his finger on the trigger.
The climactic scene of "The Hounds of Baskerville" combines loaded guns with a group of men hopped up on a paranoia-inducing hallucinogen in a forest in the middle of the night.
Not to mention when they run out of the hollow and through the dark forest after Dr Frankland, Sherlock leads the way- which is fine, except John is right behind him holding a loaded gun in his hand. Presumably John, who's seen as being very gun-responsible, is smart enough to not have his finger on the trigger at the time, but it's still never safe to get in the path of someone holding a loaded gun.
In The Reichenbach Fall Sherlock, pretending to take John hostage, points a loaded gun at his head — with his finger on the trigger.
In that particular moment, however, he clicks on the safety before pointing it at John. It's a blink and you'll miss it moment, but it's there.
The first episode, "A Study in Pink," does a great job of making you think that the sinister, all-controlling gentleman who calls himself Sherlock's arch-enemy, and who Sherlock tells Watson is the most dangerous man he'll ever meet, is Moriarty. It's actually his brother Mycroft.
And the "Rache" red-herring in "A Study in Pink", as mentioned above (see Fandom Nod for the full details).
"The Hounds of Baskerville" throws one at John in the form of the Morse code he picks up. Given the way this series has loaded up on Chekhov's Gun, people probably weren't expecting it to turn out to lead him to a dogging site.
Hounds also gives one to any audience members familiar with the original novel; Dr. Stapleton had nothing to do with the crime (besides Bluebell's disappearance) and was actually helpful with the investigation. Barrymore isn't actually up to anything, either.
The Red Stapler: The title character's coat was a discontinued, limited edition item. There were so many demands for it after the show aired that Belstaff brought it back.
Refuge in Audacity: Moriarty's "Crime of the Century" in "The Reichenbach Fall" — he breaks into the Tower of London, the Bank of England and Pentonville prison, three of the most secure locations in England, in one day, then is apprehended wearing the crown jewels. He's then acquitted, despite being caught red-handed, offering literally no evidence in his favour, not even bothering to have a lawyer and actually admitting he was guilty! This actually has very little to do with his endgame in the episode; it's almost entirely about showing off and making Sherlock look foolish.
Reinventing The Telephone: In the pilot, Mycroft contacts Watson by watching him on London's ubiquitous CCTVs and calling every public phone he walks by until he picks one of them up.
Everyone assuming Sherlock and John are gay... and being okay with it. Fridge Brilliance since the people more likely to notice or assume that someone is gay are the ones that are generally ok with it.
Mycroft inconveniencing or confusing John to get his attention, only for his car to pull up moments later.
A fairly panicked yell of "SHERLOCK!" once John sees that Sherlock is with the murderer and looks as though he's about to take a pill. It's muffled through a window, which lessens the impact, but the fact that there's a dramatic echo (as well as an appropriate choice in soundtrack) helps.
In the unaired pilot, when the cabbie drugs and stuffs Sherlock in the cab, Sherlock makes an attempt at calling for help with a slurred "John!". It seems to pass unheard as John doesn't realize the full extent of the situation until the cab takes off.
In the second episode, when Sherlock is being strangled in Soo Lin's flat, you can hear him choking out "John" a few times, before passing out for a few moments.
Near the end of "The Reichenbach Fall", John screams Sherlock's name as Sherlock steps off the roof.
Sherlock, as of the end of season two, has consistently and completely ignored every insinuation or outright remark about the nature of his relationship with John. The only scene that has ever spoken to it is when he turns on Kitty Reilly in The Reichenbach Fall, seconds after she has implied she'll be running a story on how his relationship with John is "not just platonic." But it's not clear that this is specifically what's caused his response; on every single other occasion Sherlock has patently ignored the assumptions of others, even while John is still protesting that he's not gay.
Lestrade does a lot of this. In A Study in Pink he makes it clear that he's got no intention of investigating who shot the cabbie. It's somewhat implied that he already knows, especially after Sherlock figures it out as well in the most obvious and unsubtle fashion ever. Otherwise, we have to conclude that Lestrade honestly thought this guy must have been shot by "an enemy", possibly an even bigger crazy lunatic than himself, but shrugs it off with "eh, well, got nothing to go on." In A Scandal in Belgravia, he makes a point of simply walking away from an incident where Sherlock beats a CIA agent within an inch of his life and throws him out a window.
The Christmas party in A Scandal In Belgravia: Sherlock is able to deduce that Molly is intending to romance someone with a special present; he just doesn't realise that that someone is him. Particularly noteworthy because, in other episodes, he seems aware of Molly's crush on him and even uses it to his advantage. He also manages to crack Irene's phone security by deducing that she's in love with him. It seems that he's perfectly capable of observing these feelings in other people but, in Molly's case, it's not important or interesting to him so he overlooks it.
Self-Destructing Security: In the episode "A Scandal In Belgravia", Irene Adler's phone, containing lots of politically-sensitive data, contains miniature explosives that will destroy it if anyone attempts to physically remove the hard drive.
Mycroft's PA, Anthea. Not that that's her real name.
And Irene Adler's PA Kate.
Sharp-Dressed Man: Both of the Holmes brothers qualify, Lestrade as well. While John is no slob, the former three are always in suits. Amusingly, in the commentary for "The Great Game", Benedict Cumberbatch bemoans the fact that he can't talk about the designer clothes he wears in the show since the names haven't been cleared. Moriarty in his Westwood is also quite an appearance.
She Cleans Up Nicely: Molly at the Christmas party in "A Scandal in Belgravia". You can clearly see Lestrade ogling.
Shell-Shocked Veteran: John subverts and inverts this trope. You'd expect him to be traumatized given his situation, but he actually misses the danger. His hand shakes when he's not thinking about the war! Hence his enthusiasm to help Holmes. Even an exploding mine barely fazes him.
Sherlock Scan: With visual aids to help the audience follow Sherlock's thought processes, even!
Discussed when Sherlock meets with an old friend, after Sherlock appears to scan him. Seems initially to be subverted, since Sherlock tells him that he actually knew about the guy travelling from talking to his secretary. John later questions this, resulting in it becoming double subverted when Sherlock admits that yes, that was a lie, and he really did deduce the travelling from the man's watch.
Moriarty is actually able to fool Holmes' initial scan of him, by placing subtle but key clues in the way he dressed, his appearance and behavior. Holmes did seem rather perturbed when he finds out he was duped.
Irene Adler is able to foil Sherlock's scan as well, but rather than doing so by placing him red herrings (à la Jim), she simply gives Sherlock no clues at all. This leads to Sherlock performing a scan on Watson just to make sure his powers of observation haven't failed him and then back to Miss Adler who remains inscrutable.
He's so eerily good at it that Moriarty has little trouble planting the idea in the heads of the cops that Sherlock has actually been doing research and setting up crimes to appear brilliant while solving them. It helps that he's such an ''insufferable'' genius that they want to believe that.
Shipper on Deck: Almost everyone ships John/Sherlock apart from Sherlock and John themselves. (John just wants Sherlock to get a nice girlfriend or boyfriend and get all that sexual frustration out of the way.) Mrs. Hudson falls just short of having a "Hi, Slash Fans!" sign above her head.
Even Mycroft likes to insinuate, and he knows Sherlock better than anyone / has cameras in the flat.
In "A Scandal in Belgravia", Irene Adler teases John about being jealous of Sherlock's apparent interest in her, although it's implied she knows that John and Sherlock aren't sleeping together.
Although that doesn't deter her beliefs; in fact, all it seems to do is cement them for her, after all:
John: Who the hell knows about Sherlock Holmes, but if anyone out there still cares, I'm not actually gay.
Irene:Well I am. Look at us both.
(The point she's trying to make is that love is about more than sexual attraction.)
Shoot the Dog: Very much so, especially in "A Study In Pink." Although it was awesome, and perhaps the only thing that saved Sherlock's life, John shoots an unarmed man who never even knew he was there. Sherlock was voluntarily taking the pill, and although John may not have realised Sherlock was not a hostage as such and free to leave, he should have noted that Sherlock was not being physically intimidated, held at gunpoint, etc. The only purpose the shooting served was to disrupt the proceedings and alarm Sherlock enough that he dropped the pill on the floor. Even worse, Sherlock decides to finish the job with some good old-fashioned torture. Ramped up so that even though we're talking about violence done to a four-times serial killing psycho, it's still difficult to watch the show's protagonist being so incredibly vicious.
Short-Distance Phone Call: Sherlock is fond of these, just to show off and make an impression. He calls Eddie Van Coon's mistress in "The Blind Banker" as he's walking up to her desk, and calls the cabbie in the unaired pilot from about three feet away.
Both the Establishing Shot of Baker Street in the first episode and the layout of Sherlock's flat are essentially a modern day versions of their counterparts in the Jeremy Brett series. In the case of the apartment it's right down to the arrangement of the furniture.
In the pilot, while Sherlock checks his e-mail, he responds in regards to a church bell theft that "Davies is your man". Also possibly one to Mark Gatiss who starred in the Doctor Who episode, "The Lazarus Experiment", where he played a scientist-turned-monster that was defeated by church bells.
In "A Scandal in Belgravia," the 1,895 hits that John's blog gets stuck on is a Shout Out to Vincent Starrett's poem "221B," which ends with the words "and it is always eighteen ninety-five". Particularly appropriate to a TV series that's reimagined the characters in modern times, given that the poem is about how Holmes and Watson are timeless.
At one point in "A Scandal in Belgravia", John Sherlock and Irene are in 221B, and Sherlock says that he put her phone into a safe-deposit box. John's suggestion that "Molly can get it, and then have one of your homeless network members bring it here" is reminiscent of the final act of The Maltese Falcon, when Sam Spade leaves the titular artifact in a safe-deposit box, mails the ticket to another box, and then calls his secretary to get first one then the other, and bring it to his office, where he and the other principal characters are waiting. And then Sherlock immediately subverts the whole situation by pulling the phone out of his pocket.
Mycroft's three-piece suit and ever-present malacca-handled umbrella could be a nod to John Steed. Mycroft often strikes a similar pose to Steed's, leaning on the umbrella with one hand, and with one leg crossed behind the other.
At the beginning of "The Reichenbach Fall," Watson's statement that "My best friend, Sherlock Holmes, is dead" sounds very familiar to Rose Tyler's This is the story of how I died.
During "The Hounds of Baskerville", Sherlock (while under the effect of a fear-inducing drug) explains his usual disregards to sentiments. Watson calls him Spock as a response. Bonus points for the nickname coming a few lines after Sherlock reminds us of his famous phrase, "when you have eliminated the impossible", a line also used by Spock during Star Trek VI. It's a Mobius strip shout-out !
Another Star Trek reference is when Captain John Watson, at Sherlock's 'grave' in The Reichenbach Fall, makes a speech calling him the "Most human human being that [he's] ever known." This bears a striking resemblance to Captain Jim Kirk's speech at Spock's funeral at the end of Wrath of Khan, saying that "of all the souls [he] have encountered in all of [his] travels, [Spock's] was the most human.
Also in "Hounds", Sherlock analyzes words like John Anderton analyzed dreams in Minority Report.
In "A Study In Pink" Sherlock and Watson walk past a hair salon on Charlotte Street en route to a cafe where they plan to stake out the killer. This places the cafe on Rathbone Street, which they must then run down in a chase scene. Basil Rathbone played Sherlock Holmes in over a dozen films.
Also in "A Study In Pink", Sherlock hops up onto his chair in a way very reminiscent of Jeremy Brett (who does it in 'The Adventure Of The Empty House', among others).
One of newspapers on screen after Moriarty's trial in "The Reichenbach Fall" has a line in it that read 'In a twist worthy of Conan Doyle.' Arthur Conan Doyle is of course, the creator of Sherlock Holmes.
When in hiding in the lab during the events of "The Reichenbach Fall," Sherlock bounces a ball off of the cabinets across from him the same way that Steve McQueen does in The Great Escape.
Shown Their Work: It has been pointed out by Moffat and Gatiss that, save for the modernized setting, you will never see a more faithful adaptation of Sherlock Holmes put to screen, because the showrunners are a couple ofHolmes fanboys themselves. Even the setting update itself is more authentic than fans think; at the time the stories were written, Sherlock Holmes was a modern man on the cutting edge of science and technology, as he is in this series.
John discovers the code that Sherlock has been searching for. He runs back, fetches his pal and...finds that the code has been painted over. Sherlock starts spinning John around in a circle in some odd attempt to sharpen his memory, ignoring John's protests that he can remember all of the code and waxing lyrical about the limitations of the (non-Sherlockian) human memory. John, meanwhile, is trying to get the detective to stop messing him around so that he can reach his phone, on which is stored a photo he had taken of the entire wall.
Also in "Scandal in Belgravia," the passcode to Irene Adler's mobile phone. After finally realizing that Irene is genuinely attracted to him, Sherlock types in the correct passcode of "SHER". It Makes Sense in Context. The lock screen reads "I AM ___ LOCKED", so with the password in, it reads "I AM SHER LOCKED".
Spiritual Antithesis: To Doctor Who, as Steven Moffathas remarked on occasion. Doctor Who is about an immortal, omnipotent alien who's afraid of losing touch with his compassionate human side, and Sherlock is about an ordinary human who wants to distance himself from his emotional side.
"They're sort of, I suppose, weirdly opposite, in that the Doctor always strikes me as sort of like an angel who aspires to be human, whereas Sherlock Holmes is a human being who aspires to be God. They're sort of opposite parts. ... [The Doctor] wants to have fun, he wants to be silly, he's very, very emotional and sentimental, whereas Sherlock Holmes is trying to put all of that behind him."
Squick: Invoked. The reaction to Sherlock's experiments by pretty much everyone but Sherlock. For example, Donovan finding human eyes in the microwave in episode 1 and John finding a severed head in the fridge in episode 3.
Sherlock mentions in "A Study in Pink" that he regularly pickpockets Lestrade when he gets annoying, hence why he has Lestrade's badge to flash. He also apparently has several more back at his flat that he's nicked .
In "A Scandal in Belgravia," Sherlock decides, on John's joking suggestion, to swipe... an ashtray. From Buckingham Palace.
Sherlock is not even above pickpocketing his own brother! In "Baskerville," it's Mycroft's clearance ID, which seemingly comes in handy at military bases... with the implication he DOES attend inspections. It's strongly suggested that Mycroft is well aware of this, as the first thing he does upon being notified is text Sherlock.
Take a Third Option: The serial killer in the first episode forces people at gunpoint to choose one of two pills, identical but one deadly and one safe. When he gives Sherlock the choice, Sherlock chooses the gun, which he recognized as a fake. Real guns are expensive and this guy's just a cabbie. More to the point, most people will panic when someone sticks a gun in their face. Sherlock didn't, and actually looked at the gun, and could tell that it wasn't real - as would any normal person if they kept calm and looked, but the point was that they didn't and he did.
Taking You with Me: Carried over from the original story "The Final Problem" where Holmes decides that killing Moriarty is worth his own death. Inverted here in that Moriarty kills himself as part of a plan to utterly destroy Sherlock Holmes.
Talent Double: While Sherlock can play the violin, Benedict Cumberbatch certainly can't. While he has proper posture and acts the violinist very well (he holds it in a lazier version of the orchestral rest position at times, and tunes it in the same way in one scene), it's obvious to anyone who's ever played the instrument that the actual music is dubbed. The bowstrokes don't quite match up, and we never see him use vibrato, despite hearing it on the soundtrack. Still one of the better cases of instrument dubbing, as you usually won't see the inconsistency unless you're looking. The musician who did the actual playing was named Eos Chater, a member of the classical-pop crossover quartet Bond. It's her music on the soundtrack, and she mentioned later some of the more bizarre ways they kept her just off camera so Benedict could mimic her movements, including at one point having her positioned outside the window on a crane.)
Tranquil Fury: When Mrs Hudson is hurt by the Americans in "A Scandal in Belgravia" Sherlock gives no outward sign of his anger, seeming just as cold as he usually does, but is in reality Sherlock Scanning to decide which of the assailant's pain centres to attack. The sequence before that (when he pieces together what happened), his subtle-yet-telling expression lets the audience know exactly how incrediblypissed he is.
Troubled Production: The first series had quite a few problems going for it, which started with the fact that it was being filmed during one of the coldest winters in the UK in nearly 30 years. This led to Benedict Cumberbatch catching a very dangerous case of pneumonia, and Martin Freeman severely hurting his wrist after slipping on an icy step coming out of his trailer. The second season only faired slightly better, no severe damage, but one day of filming was halted by the London riots.
TV Telephone Etiquette: Whether they're talking to a terrified hostage, or talking to the villain, or are the villain, people in this show are terribly polite and almost invariably answer the phone with "hello". Saying something along the lines of "goodbye" at the end, not so much.
Villain with Good Publicity: Despite being caught red-handed committing a crime, Moriarty is completely exonerated and later declared to not even exist. He receives widespread public sympathy as Rich Brook, the manipulated and pitiable minion of the real villain: Sherlock Holmes.
Visual Pun: After John berates Mycroft, actually Irene Adler for kidnapping him again instead of just phoning him and accuses him of having a "bloody stupid power complex", we then see John was driven to the disused Battersea Power Station.
Wasn't That Fun?: Sherlock and John have an important one of these after a chase, as John realizes his limp actually is psychosomatic and going on Sherlock's little adventures makes him forget the pain. The moment doesn't last long.
The only reason Reichenbach Fall hadn't been added to this thread yet is because everyone else in the fandom was too busy reeling.
Wham Line: When Sherlock arranges to meet Moriarty:
Watson: Evening. This is a turn-up, isn't it, Sherlock? Holmes: John! What the hell — Watson: Bet you never saw this coming!
But no, he's been rigged with a bomb vest. And then the real Moriarty announces himself:
Jim Moriarty: I gave you my number. I thought you might call!
At the beginning of "The Reichenbach Fall:"
John:My best friend, Sherlock Holmes, is dead.
When Sherlock and John are at Kitty Riley's flat to ask who Richard Brook is and out steps Moriarty.
Kitty: Of course he's Richard Brook. There is no Moriarty.
In A Scandal in Belgravia, this one from Sherlock, who has just returned home to Baker Street to find Mrs Hudson has been taken hostage by some CIA agents, who have beaten her up and now have a gun to her head. She sobs his name on seeing him, and he responds:
Sherlock:Don't snivel, Mrs Hudson.
Of course, this is evidently all part of his act, since after taking out the perpetrator, Sherlock kneels down in front of her, caresses her face and asks gently if she's all right.
Even better — it's evidently an act on Mrs. Hudson's part as well. She pretended to be terrified and hysterical to throw the agents off the scent; when John later says that she's traumatized, Sherlock tells him not to be silly. Mrs. Hudson then abruptly stops sniffling and pulls the phone that the agents were looking for out of her bra.
Mycroft and John are discussing Irene being in witness protection when this happens:
(John comments to the effect that Sherlock will be okay with never seeing Irene again, as she's in witness protection)
Mycroft: I agree. Which is why I've decided to tell him that.
Holmes's fight with a swordsman in the opening sequence of "The Blind Banker." Who was this swordsman? Why was Holmes fighting him? And what happened to him between when Holmes cold-cocked him and when Watson innocently walked in the front door? No one can say.
Watson's ASBO is unheard of after the second episode, though Inspector Lestrade and/or Mycroft probably have enough experience working with Sherlock to guess what really happened and quietly get it overturned.
Also from "The Great Game," The Golem gets away.
In "The Reichenbach Fall," we never find out how Moriarty got the girl to scream when she saw Sherlock.
Though it's possible this one may get an explanation, as there are theories that it plays into how Sherlock faked his death.
With Friends Like These...: There's probably a reason John keeps insisting he's Sherlock's "colleague" and not his "friend" — friends aren't supposed to leave you standing holding objects used in a crime and then leave you explaining yourself to the police. Or test hallucinogens on you because they wanted to see the effect on an "average mind." Still, in this same episode, Sherlock tells John he doesn't have "friends" because he only has one. Guess who it is. And in "The Reichenbach Fall," John refers to Sherlock as "my friend" in a stressful moment.
Wrong Insult Offence: "I'm not a psychopath - I'm a high-functioning sociopath. Do your research." note Sherlock is mistaken. "Sociopath" and "psychopath" are both obsolete terms for people with Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD), which Sherlock doesn't have. Unlike with autism, there is no spectrum of higher or lower functioning individuals.
Of course, Sherlock might have been being sarcastic when he made that remark.
Zero Approval Gambit: Sherlock, who, despite being a self-confessed sociopath, fakes his own suicide and allows his entire reputation as a consulting detective to be completely destroyed, along with being framed for murder and kidnapping, in order to call off snipers trained on his only three friends in the world. He even goes so far as to call John and make a fake confession, attempting to convince him of his guilt before forcing him to watch the faked suicide, so that the grief would be genuine enough to call off the snipers. More Tear Jerker.