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    Mycroft Holmes 

Mycroft Holmes
"All lives end. All hearts are broken. Caring is not an advantage, Sherlock."
Played By: Mark Gatiss

Sherlock's older brother, who claims to be a minor government functionary. Sherlock, on the other hand, claims that sometimes "he is the British government", and considering the number of pies Mycroft has his fingers in, he seems to be right.

  • Almighty Janitor: He claims his position in the British government is "minor"; we know he works for MI-6 but it's not clear if he's the man in charge, or if he's just a high ranking operative.
  • Aloof Big Brother: He prefers to keep his constant worrying over Sherlock unmentioned around him. He remarks to John that Sherlock believes them to be enemies; arch enemies in fact.
  • Always Someone Better: It's played with. True to the books, he is called smarter than Sherlock more than once. In "The Empty Hearse," they reflect on how they thought Sherlock was stupid because, as children, they had no one to compare him to but Mycroft. On the other hand, whereas Mycroft got outplayed by Irene Adler and Magnussen, Sherlock managed to take them both down.
    • Though in both cases, Sherlock succeeds less based on intellect and intelligence and more on either understanding (Irene), or abandoning intellect and giving in to violent emotion (Magnussen). Mycroft may be smarter, but Shelock is more human.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Not as obvious as Sherlock, but there's something off with Mycroft with his borderline sociopathic tendencies— and he's way more anti-social than his brother, and that's saying something. In fact he complains about having to be around people when he rescued Sherlock from the Serbian prison in "The Empty Hearse":
    Mycroft: Do you have any idea what it was like, Sherlock, going "under cover", smuggling my way into their ranks like that? The noise; the people!
  • Ascended Extra: Originally just a cameo, Mycroft is central to most of the happenings of Series 2.
  • Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Sherlock is his 'pressure point.'
    Mycroft: Also, your loss would break my heart.
    Sherlock: What the hell am I supposed to say to that?!
  • Badass Bookworm: Even smarter than Sherlock, as he himself acknowledges.
  • Badass Bureaucrat: Mycroft Holmes is primarily a suit-wearing government agent, but he certainly is badass with his seemingly endless connections and a deductive ability on par with Sherlock's, being capable of going undercover in a foreign nation and learning a new language in a matter of hours.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: He may seem like a sedentary government agent type, but if you threaten his family or his country, he'll pull some strings to fuck you up. In making decisions, he appears even colder than Sherlock.
  • Big Brother Bully: Probably unintentional, but still present. Sherlock thought he was 'the stupid one' and Mycroft apparently did too, Mycroft in Sherlock's mind palace sits above him and judges him in the courtroom, and his stories to Sherlock as a child were about unworthy children being plucked from the earth, of which Sherlock was one. In Sherlock's own words, "He was a rubbish big brother."
  • Big Brother Instinct: In a rare tie in with Big Brother Is Watching. Apparently, when you're a shadowy government official, keeping tabs on your little brother involves kidnapping and bribery.
    I worry about him. Constantly.
    • Eurus is a complex matter. He's her brother and he does care about her, but he's more interested in keeping everyone else safe from her than vice versa for obvious reasons.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: Quite literally, in fact. Mycroft's command of seemingly every surveillance camera in London under the vague name of the "government".
    • In "The Lying Detective", Faith - well, Eurus, outright says this when she notices the helicopter following her and Sherlock. Which is doubly ironic, considering.
  • Big Brother Mentor: Sherlock pictures him in his Mind Palace when he needs help.
  • Break the Haughty: Not as often as Sherlock but it does happen since even though he may be smarter than Sherlock he's also more arrogant as well. And since he's a high ranking MI-6 official, there tends to be big consequences:
    • Driving Sherlock towards Irene results in an anti-terrorist plot being compromised in "A Scandal in Belgravia".
    • In "His Last Vow" he refuses to deal with Magnussen. Also he rather carelessly leaves his laptop out in the open at his parents home, which Sherlock takes in an attempt to bargain with Magnussen. When the deal goes sour, Sherlock ends up killing Magnussen.
    • In Series 4, his sister Eurus launches a brutal revenge plan on him and Sherlock. And she's able to pull it all off because five years ago, Mycroft let her talk with Jim Moriarty for five minutes unsupervised as a "Christmas present", which was the genesis for Moriarty's revenge beyond the grave. When the warden of Sherrinford confronts him about this, Mycroft brushes it off by saying he took a "calculated risk".
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Typical for the character, he can even outdo Sherlock when it comes to deductions, but he dislikes legwork.
  • Deadpan Snarker / Gentleman Snarker: Very much. Snarks at his brother and John all the time, constantly engaging in Snark-to-Snark Combat with the former.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: We get to see a more human side of Mycroft in Series 3, one who does such prosaic things as play board games, lament "the horror" of having to take his parents to see a musical, and chide his mother for calling him "Mikey" and leaving potatoes on his state-secret-habouring laptop. He also admits to Sherlock that losing him would break his heart, and we're shown him seeing an imperiled Sherlock as a frightened little boy.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Mrs. Holmes calls hims "Myc" much to his displeasure.
  • Evil Mentor: Not truly evil per se, but "The Sign of Three" suggests that a lot of Sherlock's mannerisms and habits are due to Mycroft's influence, subconsciously grilling him to be less emotional and more detached, whilst pushing him to find the answers.
  • Expy: Gatiss' portrayal is based on the Christopher Lee Mycroft from The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, Waistcoat of Style and all.
  • Fatal Flaw: For someone who claims he's not big on sentiment and doesn't think he has basic human decency, almost every major mistake Mycroft makes onscreen is because he loves his sibling. Correction, siblings.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Played for laughs in "The Empty Hearse". He begs Sherlock to take over sitting through the Les Misérables musical with their parents.
    Mycroft: But you don't understand the pain of it... the horror!
  • 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 of massive 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.
  • Formerly Fat:
    • Gatiss claims Mycroft was on a lot of yo-yo diets. This is a reference to the books, in which Mycroft was actually corpulent in the present tense.
    • In "The Sign of Three", Sherlock phones him to find him out of breath, commenting that either he's caught him in a compromising position or he's been working out trying to lose weight.
    • "The Final Vow" and "The Final Problem" show us his childhood, confirming he used to be rather rotund.
    • And "The Abominable Bride"'s version is grotesquely fat - we're talking Mr Creosote levels of fat, here. Not only that, he's determined to eat himself to death.
  • Freudian Excuse: His little sister murdered the best friend of his little brother and then burned down the family house. It turned him into an emotionally stunted man, desperate to protect his family without knowing how.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Devoted to queen, country, and little brother, but definitely not one of the angels.
  • Guile Hero: It comes with the territory of being a Knowledge Broker and The Spymaster.
  • Heroic BSoD: Has had two so far. The first is when Moriarty texts him to inform him his counter-terrorist enterprise has been compromised. The second is after Sherlock shoots Magnussen.
  • I Am the Noun: Like his Doyle counterpart. Actually, he one-ups him in a few departments:
    "He is the British government — when he's not too busy being the British secret service or the CIA on a freelance basis."
  • Ice Queen: A true male example - Moriarty's code name for him is "The Iceman". Mycroft's feelings only extend to Sherlock's well-being; everyone else is expendable.
    • Mycroft seems to only let himself feel any sort of attachment, however remote, to Sherlock and his immediate family. He even worries that Sherlock developing feelings for his small group of friends will leave him vulnerable. Mycroft even goes so far as to remind Sherlock of his childhood pet having to be put down to warn him about the dangers of emotions, a lesson he himself has learned and mastered.
    • Not to mention that Sherlock's "queen" joke combines with this to form a rather interesting pun.
  • Informed Ability: He is said to be smarter than Sherlock but rarely demonstrates this.
  • Instant Expert: He claims he learned Serbian in two hours. Sherlock mentions he's slipping, to which Mycroft replies it's because he's reached middle age.
    • Mycroft points out that it's a Slavic root language, so it's a lot easier to learn if you already speak Russian, as Mycroft almost certainly does. Still would take most people a few weeks to reach fluency, much less acquire a believable accent.
  • Insufferable Genius: In some ways even worse than his brother, as "The Empty Hearse" shows.
  • Intelligence Equals Isolation: Unlike Sherlock who has John, Molly, Greg, and Mrs. Hudson as his friends, Mycroft has nobody except his brother, and that's rocky most of the time.
    • Reinforced in "The Empty Hearse" by none other than Sherlock, who wonders what Mycroft did for two years without him and eventually forces Mycroft to say, "I'm not lonely, Sherlock."
    • In the same conversation, he comments that since he is smarter than Sherlock, he's a little envious since - while his brother lives in a world surrounded by idiots - Mycroft lives in a world surrounded by goldfish.
  • Just the First Citizen: According to the world he "Occupies a minor position in the British Government" but is actually (according to Magnussen) the most powerful man in Great Britain.
  • Kick the Dog: Sherlock doesn't like it when people insult Mrs. Hudson, remember? Mycroft telling her to "shut up" wasn't the wisest idea. Also mentioning Redbeard to Sherlock.
    • There was also his reaction when Anderson and his colleague overheard John mention Magnussen's name.
  • The Kindnapper: To John, usually when he's concerned about Sherlock.
  • Lonely at the Top: He is seen sitting alone doing nothing on Christmas Eve in "A Scandal in Belgravia". Of course to him it may be a special luxury to do so. In fact he seems to prefer being alone.
  • Love Is a Weakness: Firmly believes that "caring is not an advantage", which in a nice case of Dramatic Irony is used against him because Moriarty, Irene, and Magnussen all know that the best way to get to Mycroft is through his little brother.
  • Manchild: Not as much as Sherlock, but it's still there; being around his parents brings it out in him.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Subverted: it turns out he and Sherlock planned the fall and he deliberately leaked info about Sherlock to Moriarty.
    • Seems to realize that letting Eurus talk to Moriarty for five minutes unsupervised was one of the biggest mistakes he could have made, as those five minutes eventually let her completely take over Sherrinford and play mind games with him, Sherlock, and John. Sherlock calls him out on it.
  • My Greatest Failure: Whatever he had to do to Eurus when she became a security risk.
  • Non-Action Guy: Unlike his brother, who by Series 4 has been shown to have at least mercenary/assassin level combat skills, Mycroft is never seen engaging in physical combat. The one time things do get physical between them, Sherlock has him pinned and unable to move within seconds.
  • Not So Stoic: Confronted with the Governor's death in "The Final Problem", Mycroft is reduced to whimpering and retching in the corner, his icy composure falling apart.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Magnussen has sensitive personal information on every important person in the Western World (and probably beyond that). He's seen blackmailing an MP and it's implied he's even blackmailing the Prime Minister. You'd think he'd want Magnussen out of the picture since he's a threat to British Security. But he does not want Sherlock to go after him in anyway at all, telling Sherlock "you go against Magnussen and you go against me."
    • He even tells Anderson and his friend to forget that Sherlock even mentioned Magnussen or else he'll throw them both in jail. He even tries to threaten John (it doesn't work).
    • At the end of "The Abominable Bride," he asks John to watch over Sherlock. That's still in-character for him, except that his voice is filled with as much worry as possible. And then he says please. He has never said please in the entire series at this point.
    • See Not So Stoic
  • Parasol of Pain: His umbrella also features a sword and a gun. Handy for when one's little brother invades government offices with clowns.
  • Parental Substitute:
    • Besides his "constant" worrying about Sherlock, it's made fairly clear in "Scandal" that Sherlock regards him as this:
      Mycroft: [pouring tea] I'll be "mother".
      Sherlock: And there's a whole childhood in a nutshell.
    • In "His Last Vow", after Sherlock kills Magnussen, Mycroft sees his brother as a scared little boy.
  • Pet the Dog: Regardless of how they interact, he does genuinely care for Sherlock, his parents, and respects Watson.
  • Properly Paranoid: Considering what Eurus did to Sherlock while they were kids, it explains why he's so protective of his little brother.
  • Red Herring: In "A Study in Pink", you'd be forgiven for thinking Mycroft was Moriarty, particularly when he mentions that Sherlock refers to him as his Arch-Enemy.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Always seen wearing fancy suits.
  • Sherlock Scan: Even better at it than his brother. He figures out a case Sherlock was working on by briefly glancing at the cliff-notes! He also became fluent in Serbian in less than two hours, simply by listening to the locals.
  • The Sociopath: Has even fewer emotions and less genuine feeling than Sherlock, but hasn't hit Moriarty levels, so far.
  • The Spymaster: According to Sherlock, he "is the British Government," in addition to a number of foreign agencies that Mycroft supposedly controls.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Surrounded by goldfish, according to him.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: In "His Last Vow". Sherlock has killed Magnussen. Instead of pardoning Sherlock, or hushing the whole thing up, he sends him on a suicide mission for MI-6. The MP who hired Sherlock to bring down Magnussen, Lady Smallwood, is the one who signs the order. They only change their minds when Moriarty comes back and they realize how much they need Sherlock.
  • Unwitting Pawn: He gave Sherlock's life story to Moriarty (who he knows is dangerously obsessed with his brother) in exchange for something that, it turns out, never existed in the first place. Whoops.
    • Subverted. If Sherlock is to be believed, it was Moriarty and not Mycroft or Sherlock who was the Unwitting Pawn all along.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Will do anything in the interests of British national security (as well as keeping his little brother safe), up to and including assassinations.
    • Averted with Magnussen. Despite how dangerous a threat he is to the British Government, he's content to let him continue his activities even as he's blackmailing MP's, one of who is his own superior.



Played By: Lisa McAllister

Mycroft's personal assistant, almost always seen texting on her phone.

    Lady Smallwood 

Lady Smallwood

Played By: Lindsay Duncan

A member of the British Parliament who is being blackmailed by Magnussen (just like everyone else). Unlike everyone else, she figures out a way to fight back—by calling Sherlock Holmes.

  • Beleaguered Bureaucrat: She's not particularly thrilled to sign the order for Sherlock's exile, but sees herself obliged to do so anyway. Also, the whole reason she contacted Sherlock in the first place was because of Magnussen's blackmail.
  • Blue Blood: She's Lady Smallwood, and her husband is appropriately referred to as a Lord.
  • The Chains of Commanding: She's not particularly thrilled to sign the order for Sherlock's exile, but does so anyway in the interests of "justice".
  • Iron Lady: Absolutely refuses to let Magnussen walk over her or her husband.
    "You do not own me!"
  • Secret Intelligence Service: It's implied one of her duties is to oversee British Intelligence, meaning she is technically Mycroft's superior.
  • Ship Tease: With Mycroft of all people.
  • The Stoic: Keeps her cool, during her episode with Magnussen.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Signs an order for Sherlock to be sent on suicide mission for MI-6, after he kills Magnussen, on Mycroft's behest. Although she notes it is "hardly merciful".
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Asking Sherlock to bring down Magnussen sets off a chain of events that lead to Magnussen being murdered by Sherlock, and nearly exiled stopped only by Moriarty's "resurrection".
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: She's quick enough to go to Sherlock when Magnussen threatens her with blackmail of her husband, but Sherlock fails, and a freezeframe bonus reveals Lord Smallwood committed SUICIDE.


Example of: