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James "Jim" Moriarty
"Every fairytale needs a good, old-fashioned villain."
Played By: Andrew Scott

Sherlock's biggest fan and his arch-nemesis before Sherlock even knows he exists. He has a vast criminal network that he manages - as a "consulting criminal" - largely as a way to stave off the boredom of a world that poses no challenges for his incredible intellect.

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  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade: Mildly. Unlike Doyle's original character, this Moriarty is shown to commit crimes because he has an extreme aversion to being bored, and he seems genuinely upset when Sherlock "disappoints him".
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: In Doyle's stories and accompanying illustrations, Moriarty was an elderly, skinny, bald man. Jim, here, is much younger and easier on the eyes... as many fans have noticed.
  • Adaptational Jerkass: Far more depraved and ruthless than his literary counterpart.
  • Adaptational Job Change: This Moriarty isn't a professor, but works in IT as part of his cover.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Downplayed. Here he's called "Jim" Moriarty, which is probably short for the original "James".
  • Adaptational Sexuality: See the entries for Ambiguously Gay and Depraved Bisexual below.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The literary Professor Moriarty only appeared in two short stories, and his plans were relatively simple. This Moriarty is prominently featured in three out of four seasons, and he has many, many plans which are far more complex.
  • Adaptation Origin Connection: It turns out that, when they were both children, he committed the first crime Sherlock ever solved.
  • Adaptation Relationship Overhaul: From what we see, in the Doyle books Moriarty's attitute towards Sherlock was a mixture of annoyance at his interference and a cold Worthy Opponent respect. This Moriarty develops an obsession with Sherlock that is pretty much a creepy infatuation, and he treasures his rivalry with Sherlock above all else.
  • Age Lift: Moriarty is traditionally 10-20 years older than Sherlock, though still physically close to his prime, to show that while he and Sherlock are equals in intelligence, Moriarty has the edge in experience and planning. Here, Moriarty and Sherlock are close in age (the actors born only months apart), but Moriarty has been engaged in organized crime for years longer than Sherlock's been investigating it. As well, he may have been murdering for longer than he looks, as exemplified in Enfant Terrible down below.
  • Always Someone Better: As smart as Sherlock is, Moriarty is just as brilliant and has none of Sherlock's self-imposed constraints.
    • As it turns out, Mycroft and Sherlock were better than him. At least, until the reveal on his Final Problem...
  • Ambiguous Criminal History: Played with. While we see him commit several crimes, they are just the tip of the iceberg to a long career of illegal activities, which we don't learn much about.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: He's obviously batshit insane, but doesn't have any symptoms that point towards any specific mental illness.
  • Ambiguously Gay: He claims he's not gay, but he delights in flirting with Sherlock regardless. In fact, when Sherlock first meets him, he deliberately leaves extremely subtle hints (of the sort only Sherlock would notice) that he's gay, just to mess with his head. The fact that his actor, Andrew Scott, is openly gay doesn’t help.
    "I gave you my number...I thought you might call."
    • He makes some sexually explicit comments about his bodyguards regarding their stamina and aftercare abilities, although then again he could be doing it For the Evulz.
  • AM/FM Characterization: He's been shown to play both classical music and classic pop and rock on his Ipod, or whatever vehicle he's riding in, demonstrating his diverse tastes and his many unpredictable moods. His playing of the classical piece "The Thieving Magpie" from La gazza ladra while he robs the Tower of London also underscores the casualness and ease he feels while doing what for anyone else would be the crime of a lifetime. When he arrives at Sherrinford, he listens and dances to Queen's "I Want to Break Free" and his ringtone is The Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive".
  • Arch-Enemy: Sherlock and Moriarty's relationship shows many traits connected with the trope.
    • It's Personal between them? Check. Moriarty is obsessed with Sherlock and Sherlock keeps his own version of Moriarty in his Mind Palace.
    • The Hero and his Evil Counterpart? Check.
    • Worthy Opponent rivalry? Check.
    • Mirror Character? Check. Moriarty is what Sherlock could become if he'd let his quirks, boredom and anti-social behavior overcome his mind and morality. Lampshaded by their talk on the roof.
    • Moriarty is the Big Bad of Seasons 1 and 2, which makes him the most consistent enemy for Sherlock to fight — another trait of the Arch-Enemy which may explain why Moriarty was teased to return in Season 4.
    • His Arch-Enemy status is consistent with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stories.
  • As Long as There is Evil: Sherlock's hallucination of Moriarty in "The Abominable Bride" yells at Sherlock that he will be there every time Sherlock stumbles or fails.
  • Ate His Gun: Puts a gun in his own mouth and blows his brains out in "The Reichenbach Fall", For the Evulz.
  • Ax-Crazy: Though more in the way of telling other people to kill people, rather than assaulting them himself.
  • Back from the Dead: Subverted. After being killed off at the end of Series 2, he seemingly reappears at the end of Series 3. But it turns out to just be Eurus playing recordings of him made before his death.
  • Badass Bookworm: Just as much as Sherlock.
  • Badass Boast: "The man with the key is king, and honey you should see me in a crown."
    • "Sorry boys! I'm sooo changeable! It is a weakness with me, but to be fair to myself... it is my ONLY weakness."
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Westwood, to be precise. Which helps draw a sharp visual distinction between his scrubs-wearing false identity and the real Moriarty.
  • Badass in Charge: He leads the criminal underworld like his own empire, and his skills at planning and manipulation make it easy to see why.
  • Bad Boss: He's willing to kill, betray, or mock his own minions if it furthers his own aims, or if he just feels like it.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Destroys Sherlock's reputation in "The Reichenbach Fall", forcing Sherlock to fake his own death for a full 2 years.
  • Baddie Flattery: He frequently tells Sherlock that Sherlock is the only one who is a mental match for him.
  • Berserk Button: He gets quite angry whenever Sherlock refuses to play Moriarty's little games the way Moriarty wants him to. He also doesn't take kindly to having his time wasted with lies, as his threats to Irene Adler over the phone prove.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: Go ahead, laugh at him. See what painful punishment he comes up with.
  • Big Bad: The main antagonist of Series 1 and 2, and of "The Abominable Bride" in a roundabout way.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Of a sort; throughout Series 4 he was presented as the returning ultimate threat, but it was revealed that he was, in fact, still dead, and that Eurus Holmes was pulling the strings the whole time. Moriarty's presence came from recordings that had been made before his death, as he wanted to insert himself into the Holmes brothers' climactic deaths. But at the end of the day, all his recordings did was let him be little more than a taunting bystander.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: He first shows up as Molly Hooper's friendly, harmless boyfriend. He reveals his true colours to Sherlock soon enough.
  • Boring Insult: Invoked. According to him, the most heinous insult to someone like him or Sherlock is to be "boring".
    Moriarty: I'm disappointed, I'm disappointed in you, ordinary Sherlock.
  • Brains Evil, Brawn Good: Downplayed. He and Sherlock are both geniuses, but Sherlock is slightly taller and stronger than him.
  • Breakout Villain: While he was a prominent villain from the very start, he was such a success that the writers kept finding ways to work him in to the show even after he was Killed Off for Real, whether appearing in Sherlock's head as an Imaginary Enemy or through schemes of his that only came to fruition after he died.
  • Break Them by Talking: Moriarty has developed this to an art form.
  • Camp Straight: Keeps up his Camp persona after revealing his identity to Sherlock. Also delights in flirting with him, calling him "sexy" and "honey". As always, it's hard to tell what really motivates him.
  • Canon Character All Along: Molly's colleague Jim at first seems like an ineffectual Straight Gay background character, until it's revealed that his last name is Moriarty.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Is openly proud of being reprehensibly evil. He even gave Sherlock his card.
  • Catchphrase: He frequently alludes to "the final problem".
  • Challenge Seeker: This is the main reason that he's so obsessed with Sherlock Holmes. The detective is the only one who can be a proper challenge for Moriarty's intellect. When Sherlock seems to be anything less, Moriarty is bittely disappointed.
  • Character Exaggeration: The original Moriarty was amoral. This Moriarty is a total psychopath.
  • The Chessmaster: He's particularly good at playing Sherlock himself — as illustrated to a devastating effect in "The Reichenbach Fall".
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: He has a habit of betraying his clients, employees, and allies in order to further his own private agenda, particularly whenever Sherlock Holmes is involved.
  • Circling Monologue: In the climax of "The Reichenbach Fall" he circles around Sherlock while explaining that Sherlock needs to jump off the roof if he wants to save his friends.
  • Composite Character: The version of Moriarty in Sherlock's hallucination in "The Abominable Bride" is a combination of Jim and the Professor Moriarty from the books.
  • Contrasting Sequel Antagonist: Prior to his first appearance in Season 1, the two main protagonists had been 1) a cabbie driver who only killed because somebody paid him to do it, and 2) a gang of cold, impersonal criminals who killed to maintain their criminal activities. Moiarty, as opposed to them, happily kills and destroys just because he finds it fun. Also, he's a Large Ham when previous antagonists had been, at most Cold Hams.
  • Consummate Liar: To the point where he can claim to be the former host of a children's TV show, and have an astounding amount of evidence to back it up.
  • The Corruptor: Has shades of this; he shows delight when he sees how low Sherlock was willing to go to force him into calling his assassins off.
  • Crazy-Prepared: To rival the Holmes brothers. In the event that his main plans for Sherlock went south, he already had backup scheme set up with Eurus Holmes, which she out into action after his death. He went to the point of making multiple recordings of himself for Eurus to use in any event during her agenda.
  • Create Your Own Hero: The first crime he ever committed was also the first crime that Sherlock Holmes ever solved (even though no one believed him).
  • Creepy High-Pitched Voice: He frequently goes to a higher pitch in his Shifting Voice of Madness.
  • Creepy Monotone: He'll sometimes slip into this if he isn't being going all Large Ham or Creepy High-Pitched Voice.
  • Crooks Are Better Armed: Although he and Sherlock are pretty much equal in intelligence, Moriarty's criminal connections give him far better resources than Sherlock.
  • Darker and Edgier: Does much worse things than his literary counterpart was ever shown to, such as child abduction, mass murder, and terrorism.
  • Deadpan Snarker: When he's not giggling.
  • Death Seeker: Jim's excruciating boredom with the world leads him to try get Sherlock to kill them both at the end of series 1, simply because it'd be fun.
  • Decomposite Character: Certain traits of Moriarty from the books, such as the "Napoleon" nickname, his appearance and personality, and the events in his brief meetings with Sherlock were given to Charles Augustus Magnussen in the show. Some elements of the literary version are even given to Sherlock's mother, of all people, who got Moriarty's age, his mathematician career and his having written a textbook on dynamics (although hers is "The Dynamics of Combustion" whereas Moriarty's was "The Dynamics of an Asteroid")
  • Denser and Wackier: Subverted. While this incarnation acts far sillier than Conan Doyle's, he is ultimately just as intelligent and even more dangerous due to his sociopathic cruelty.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Played with. He's had relationships with women and flirted with men, even hinting to have had sex with his bodyguards, but at least some of it was shown to be just another way he manipulates and toys with people.
  • 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.
  • Determinator: He will do anything he has to in order to conquer and destroy Sherlock.
  • Devil in Plain Sight: On John's blog, he leaves several mysterious and ominous comments with an anonymous account. Nobody else comments on it.
  • Diabolical Mastermind: He's a "consulting criminal" behind dozens of illegal schemes. He even has enough power and cunning to commit a crime in public, offer no defence at his trial, and still get off scot-free.
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation: In the books, Moriarty dies plunging into Reichenbach Falls. This version shoots himself in the head as his final attempt to force Sherlock to kill himself.
  • Dies Wide Open: Complete with a seriously creepy smile after having supposedly blown his brains out, though his return at the end of "His Last Vow" has thrown the "Dies" part into question.
  • Doing It for the Art: In-Universe. Like his book counterpart, he orchestrates crimes to alleviate his own boredom rather than for material desires.
  • Do Not Adjust Your Set: Takes control of every TV set in Britain for his return at the end of "His Last Vow".
    • Although far more likely he took control of the transmitters and ground stations.
  • The Dreaded: Everyone who knows of him is afraid of him. Even Mycroft is wary of him.
  • Driven to Suicide: Zig-zagged. Looks suicidal when he realizes that in destroying Sherlock, he's actually won, and now has nobody who will pose a challenge to him anymore. Then changes his mind and says he'll manage. Unfortunately Sherlock then convinces him that as long as Sherlock has Jim alive, Sherlock can also stop Jim's plan. Moriarty promptly shoots himself in the head to make sure Sherlock can't beat him.
  • Enfant Terrible: He's been murdering since grade school without anyone but Sherlock the wiser. And even then, with all his intelligence Sherlock couldn't solve the case until present-day, when Moriarty began taking prominence in his investigations, making you wonder how utterly demented and intelligent the younger Moriarty truly was.
  • Establishing Character Moment: He gets one where he isn't even seen or heard! In "The Great Game", Sherlock gets an anonymous phone call. It's a sobbing woman who is forced to say "Hello, sexy." She goes on to say the words Moriarty is typing for her, calling herself a "stupid bitch" and telling Sherlock that unless he solves a mystery within twenty-four hours, that she will be blown up with a bomb. Although Moriarty's only presence in the scene is the words that the woman is relaying, it chillingly establishes his sadism, sick sense of humor, obsession with Sherlock, and horrifying talent for what he murder and destruction.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Predicted Sherlock would shoot Mycroft in Eurus' Deadly Game (he even made a specific message for that eventuality), but not that Sherlock would threaten to shoot himself, or that presumably Eurus wouldn't kill Mycroft for Sherlock cheating.
  • Evil Counterpart: To Sherlock. In this version, he lists his occupation as "Consulting Criminal", and his Insufferable Genius tendencies are played up just as much as Sherlock's. His goal, as it turns out, is to find a perfect counterpart — someone who is him. Sherlock indulges him, in the end, and admits as much. He may well have faked his own suicide, to boot.
  • Evil Genius: He has intelligence to rival Sherlock and Mycroft, and none of their ethics.
  • Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor: He cracks jokes at the most inappropriate (to anyone else) times.
  • Evil Is Petty: He tends to mock those around him for various slight reasons.
  • Evil Mentor: He very briefly became one to Eurus Holmes, during a five-minute meeting where he instructed her how to get at Sherlock and what to do in the event of his death.
  • Evil Plan: His crimes are often pretty random and impulsive, but in "The Reichenbach Fall" his plan is to manipulate the entirety of London in order to force Sherlock to throw himself off a building.
  • Evil Sounds Raspy: One of the styles of speaking he alternates to is a raspy whisper.
  • Evil Wears Black: While he wears normal clothing when posing as a normal person, as "himself" he always wears dark suits.
  • Expy: Aspects of Jim's personality are similar to that of Moriarty expy Professor Ratigan. He also shares a lot of traits with John Simm's Master.
  • Faux Affably Evil: He puts on the facade of a soft-spoken gentleman, but it does little to disguise his sadism.
  • Faux Yay: He claims he was only pretending to be gay in his "Jim from IT" persona, but whether he's telling the truth is unclear.
  • Flaying Alive: Threatens Irene Adler with this.
    Jim: Say that again, and know that if you're lying to me, I will find you, and I will skiiiiiin you.
  • Foe Romance Subtext: Invokes it with Sherlock, every chance he gets.
  • Foe Yay Shipping: In-universe, no less, judging by one of the members of Sherlock's fanclub who puts forward the theory that Sherlock and Moriarty faked their deaths to run off into the sunset together!
  • For the Evulz: Has no real reason behind his cruel Evil Plan except that he is a psychopath and he "got bored". Remarkably like our hero, in fact.
    Sherlock: People have died!
    Moriarty: That's what people DO!
  • Friendly Enemy: With 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!
  • Gambit Pileup: He and Eurus Holmes concocted a plan to trick Sherlock and his friends into playing Eurus's cat-and-mouse game. However, Moriarty later enacts his own plan to try and manipulate Sherlock into killing himself, completely separate from, and mutually exclusive with, Eurus's scheme (presumably without Eurus's knowledge). Moriarty's plan fails, getting him killed in the process (although he was actually happy about that, for his own personal reasons). Eurus later enacts her plan, which is partially successful.
  • Genuine Human Hide: Uses this as a threat.
    Jim: If you have what you say you have, I will make you rich. If not, I'll make you into shoes.
  • Giggling Villain: His laughter is truly creepy.
  • Good Hair, Evil Hair: His hair is usually much more slicked than Sherlock's messy locks.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Most of the crimes in seasons 1 and 2 are connected to him in some way. He continued to be this even after he died. Sherlock's continual Faking the Dead in season 3 was due to him, as Sherlock spent the time dismantling his criminal network. In Season 4, while he didn't actually return from the dead, as the vidoes of him seemed to indicate, the plot that Eurus Holmes carries out through the season had been partially orchestrated by him before his demise.
  • Hated by All: Despite the mind-boggling extent of his connections and organizations, no one actually likes him. The only positive references made to him are about how useful he is as a consulting criminal. He only gets along with people as evil as he is.
  • The Heavy: In the finales of seasons 1 and 2, he steps out of his shadowy role as Greater-Scope Villain to become this.
  • Hero Killer: Subverted. It really seems like he has killed Sherlock, and everyone believed he had for two years. Then Sherlock revealed himself to be alive, first two the audience than to the other characters. Still, Moriarty got closer than anyone else to doing Sherlock in.
  • Hidden Depths: While the Moriarty we know is never shown to give a single solitary flip about what other people think of him, when he was a little boy he murdered another little boy, apparently because the other boy laughed at him. So it's implied that he does have, or at least had, a sense of self-consciousness and insecurity.
  • Hidden Villain: Until the ending of Season 1, his identity was obscured as he connected with all the crimes Sherlock and John encountered.
  • Hotter and Sexier: He has Adaptational Attractiveness, has affairs with women to further his goals, and makes several suggestive comments, particularly towards Sherlock.
  • I Control My Minions Through...: Material benefits, such as money for Jeff Hope or valuable information for Irene Adler.
  • Imaginary Enemy: He appears as a malevolent hallucination to Sherlock several times. Once when Sherlock was unwittingly put under the influence of a hallucinatory chemical, once in Sherlock's mind palace when Sherlock was close to death, and once when Sherlock was having an extended drugs episode. While the former is too brief for Moriarty to say anything, the latter two times he pushes Sherlock to give up on survival.
  • Incoming Ham:
    Jim: [said in goofy voice] I gave you my number. I thought you might call.
  • Irish Accents: His normal speaking voice (when he's not shifting accents for no reason) is a very Camp, hammy Dublin 4 (read: posh) accent.
  • It's All About Me: He doesn't care about anything except alleviating his own boredom. His obsession with Sherlock stems from finally having a fun Worthy Opponent.
  • It Amused Me: He clearly does the majority of what he does because it entertains him.
  • Jerkass: Unless your name is Sherlock Holmes, he'll either be dismissive of you (at best) or take an interest in you only as another stupid normal person to screw over for fun (the more frequent option). This even applies to the people he works with.
  • Joker Immunity: Subverted. At first, it seems like Moriarty is returning in Series 4, despite having been seemingly Killed Off for Real in Series 2. However, it turns out to just be Eurus Holmes enacting a plan that she and Moriarty had concocted before his death. Moriarty is still definitely dead.
  • Kick the Dog: His frequent unnecessary taunting and intimidation to both his victims and his own allies.
  • Killed Off for Real: No Joker Immunity for Moriarty. Despite a fair bit of speculation otherwise, this seems to truly be the case after shooting himself in "The Reichenbach Fall", as Sherlock finally seems to conclude for sure in "The Abominable Bride".
    • Played with in "The Final Problem" where we see him alive and kicking with Eurus until it's revealed that the scene played out five years ago.
  • Knight of Cerebus: The series was never the most lighthearted, but there was plenty of humour. When Moriarty enters as an indirect antagonist, the death toll escalates and the show gets darker. When he appears in person, things get seriously disturbing.
  • Lack of Empathy: He shows no interest in the feelings or well-being of others, except for how he can indulge his own depraved and sadistic desires.
    Sherlock: People have died.
    Moriarty: That's what people DO!
  • Large Ham: His high-pitched voice and psychopathic mannerisms make him constantly appear on the edge of psychotic madness. He also changes his tone of voice and his mannerisms about every other line, rapidly going through affected personas and acting styles just to mock Sherlock. He's always hammy, though.
  • Last-Name Basis: Everyone calls him "Moriarty", the only time he goes by "Jim" is when he's pretending to be Molly's boyfriend.
  • Laughably Evil: He may be menacing and dangerous, but he's still quick to pull out a goofy voice, make a snarky comment, and just be an all-around Large Ham.
  • Mad Bomber: His chosen way of getting Sherlock's attention in "The Great Game" is to strap time-bombs to innocent people.
  • The Mad Hatter: He's out of his damn mind and proud of it.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Every major antagonist in Series 1 and 2 either answered to or was advised by him. In "A Study In Pink," the killer was "sponsored" by Moriarty. 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.
    • He seemed back from the dead to return for Series 4, but in reality those were a bunch of recordings he made with Eurus.
  • Manipulative Bastard: He is really good at this. His attempted ruination of Sherlock in "The Reichenbach Fall" is his crowning achievement. Unfortunately for him, Mycroft and Sherlock are better.
  • Man of Wealth and Taste
    Jim: [straightens suit] Westwood!
  • Master Actor: When he wants to, he can play the part of a normal person seamlessly. His "Jim from IT" and "Rich Brook" fake identities fool almost everone.
  • Mood-Swinger: Holy shit. He goes from calm and collected to practically screaming in about two sentences. He even acknowledges it.
    Jim: Sorry boys! I'm sooo changeable!
  • My Death Is Only The Beginning: "His Last Vow" ends with his image appearing on every screen in the United Kingdom, suggesting he had plans in place even in the event of his death, if he even died at all.
  • Narcissist: His only goal in life is to do what feels good to him, and he's only fascinated with Sherlock because Sherlock reminds him of himself. Tellingly, when he sees how far Sherlock is willing to go to stop his plan, Moriarty's joyful words are "You're not ordinary, no... you're me!"
  • Nerves of Steel: Mycroft and the British government can put Moriarty through months of interrogation and torture, but if he doesn't want to do something, it will be no use. Moriarty even brags about it.
    Jim Moriarty: "Sherlock, your big brother and all the king's horses couldn't make me do a thing I didn't want to."
  • Non-Action Big Bad: He's never seen to actually commit violence or murder himself. Thanks to his extensive criminal network, there's always somebody to do it for him.
  • Noodle Incident: We never find out the details of why his first ever murder victim laughed at him.
  • No Sense of Personal Space: He has no qualms about getting in Sherlock's face.
  • Mirror Character: To Sherlock - they're both motivated by a complete inability to handle boredom. It makes it very easy for people to start assuming Sherlock made him up.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: 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 Obfuscating Obfuscation.
  • Offstage Villainy: He has an entire criminal empire that we only see just a fraction of.
  • Out-Gambitted: Series 3 reveals that while he thought he was playing them, Mycroft and Sherlock played him in order to draw out and destroy him and his criminal network.
  • Outside-Genre Foe: His first appearance is a stark departure from the subtler, more grounded villains that had thus far faced Sherlock and John. Moriarty's MO and mannerisms are more like a Supervillain.
  • Overarching Villain: He serves as the Big Bad of the first two seasons, makes a surprise return at the end of season 3, is once again the Big Bad (more-or-less) of the special episode "The Abominable Bride", and he also has a major (posthumous) role in the events of season 4. All in all, he's Sherlock's most persistent enemy and the one with the most influence in the series.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: He grins about pretending to be a stereotypical gay man in his "Jim from IT" persona. He also seems to have a misogynistic streak, tending to manipulate and gaslight women in his schemes with little necessity for it, and sexually intimidating a young female police officer when he's being prepped for his trial.
  • Pop-Cultured Badass: He's a criminal mastermind who proves to be a match for the Holmes brothers, who listens to The Bee Gees and Queen, and who references Klingons, Darth Vader, and Glee.
  • Posthumous Character: In Series 3, he appears as a mental vision in Sherlock's mind, tormenting him further. He also appears in a few flashbacks or Imagine Spot moments. In Series 4 it is constantly hinted that he may still be alive. Nope, he really is dead, but the new Big Bad is using recordings of him, made with his consent, to troll Sherlock.
  • Post-Mortem Comeback: Maybe. He appears at the end of "His Last Vow" via mass broadcast around the UK, but it's unclear if he's dead for real or not. It's eventually established that he is very dead and it's all part of a plan he set up in case he died.
  • Practically Joker: He's an Ax-Crazy Faux Affably Evil Psychopathic Manchild hammy Mood-Swinger Giggling Villain who commits crimes to alleviate his boredom with life. Little is revealed about his past, and his feelings towards Sherlock are a twisted combination of infatuation and a desire to break him, much like Mr. J's feelings towards Batman.
  • Predecessor Villain: In Season 4, he is revealed to be the one who helped set up Eurus's Evil Plan, leading to her rising to the level of Big Bad after his death.
  • Psycho for Hire: He acquired his wealth and connections by working as a "consulting criminal". Once Sherlock gets his attention, he's happy to cut loose several clients as part of the game.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Flamboyant, petulant, has a habit of using Totally Radical slang, prone to creepy, giggling laughter, and without a shred of morality.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: When he appears as a hallucination in Sherlock's mind after Sherlock has been shot:
    Moriarty: You always feel the pain, BUT YOU DON'T. HAVE. TO. FEAR. IT.
  • Quizzical Tilt: Has a habit of doing this, which comes off as both twitchy and mocking.
  • Red Herring: His "resurrection" in Series 4 isn't his doing at all, but rather the work of Eurus Holmes.
  • Red Is Violent: In "The Final Problem", the recordings of him are all tinted red, as he eggs on Eurus to torture her captives and delights in the idea of Sherlock shooting someone.
  • Refuge in Audacity: A large part of how he gets away with his crimes.
  • Sadist: He takes almost any opportunity to torment his victims, such as mocking their imminent death after strapping bombs on them, only feeding them chocolates laced with poison, or... well, almost anytime he interacts with Sherlock.
  • Secret Identity Identity: Until he and Sherlock meet at the end of the first series.
  • Serial Killer: He's definitely one. His first proper debut episode has him attempt to murder several people just to get Sherlock to play his game, he references other people he's killed several times, and he has a made a career out of assisting other criminals with their acts, including murder.
  • Shadow Archetype: He's Sherlock if our protagonist had decided to commit crimes rather than solve them to pass the time, and didn't have the moral guides of John, Mrs Hudson, Molly, and Lestrade (plus the ones that followed as he Took a Level in Kindness).
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Unless he's living under a false identity, he takes pride in wearing his high-class suits.
  • Shifting Voice of Madness: One of his more peculiar habits is to sometimes change accents, from an Irish accent to an RP London accent to, most strangely, an American accent (he does this during his Rooftop Confrontation with Holmes in "Sherlock S2 E3 "The Reichenbach Fall"").
  • Sibling Rivalry: Implied; Eurus's brother mentions that Moriarty's brother is a station master and speculates that Jim, who is no less than a criminal mastermind, is jealous .
  • A Sinister Clue: If you watch closely, when Sherlock hands him a cup of tea he gives it with the handle on the right side and Moriarty irritably turns it around to pick it up.
  • Sissy Villain: How Jim liked to portray himself to Sherlock, at first.
  • Sliding Scale of Villain Threat: He is at least a National Threat, with England being the main location of his criminal empire and having committed several crimes against the country, but there are indications that his reach extends far beyond the UK borders.
  • Smug Snake: He makes no secret of believing that his genius makes him superior to everyone around him, except for Sherlock.
  • Snarky Villain, Earnest Hero: Played with. Jim and Sherlock are both snarkers extraordinare, but Sherlock has a point where he will drop the quips and talk seriously, whereas Moriarty seemingly doesn't.
  • Sneaky Spider: During Moriarty's trial, Sherlock compares him running his empire of crime to a spider at the centre of a web.
    Sherlock: James Moriarty isn’t a man at all – he’s a spider; a spider at the centre of a web – a criminal web with a thousand threads and he knows precisely how each and every single one of them dances.
  • The Sociopath: A genuine example, unlike Sherlock. He views other people as toys or pets.
  • Sore Loser: Inverted. In "The Reichenbach Fall", Moriarty gets moany and depressed when it looks like he has Sherlock beaten because Sherlock wasn't enough of a challenge and proved to be "ordinary" in Moriarty's eyes. When Sherlock convinces Moriarty that Sherlock will do anything to stop him, Moriarty is gleeful that Sherlock is just like him. Of course, in the end, Moriarty, sort of "wins" in his own way by killing himself so Sherlock will have no options.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: He (and by extension, the viewers) often listens to music that doesn't fit whatever he's doing, such as pleasant classical music while he robs the Tower of Londonnote  or The Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive" while meeting Sherlock on the roof for a big climactic confrontation.
  • Speak of the Devil
    Jeff: There's a name no-one says, an' I'm not gonna say it either.
  • Stalker with a Crush: His obsessive behavior towards Sherlock is reminiscent of this, even if the "crush" part isn't explicitly stated.
  • Straw Nihilist: He does a lot of moaning and whining about how the the worst thing in the world is "just staying" and that he and Sherlock need to do what they do to stave off sheer boredom, and that it's the only point to anything.
  • Suddenly Shouting: Tends to shout certain words for emphasis when upset.
    Sherlock: People have died.
    Moriarty: That's what people DO!
  • Suicide Is Painless: Grins right before shooting himself in the head in "Reichenbach Fall".
  • Thanatos Gambit: "The Reichenbach Fall". To ensure that there is no way for Sherlock to stop his plan, he kills himself, intending to force Sherlock to commit suicide to protect his loved ones... apparently all For the Evulz.
  • They Look Just Like Everyone Else!: He has few problems blending in and/or pretending to be a normal guy. When he puts on a jacket and baseball cap, hardly anybody gives him a second glance.
  • Tom the Dark Lord: Invoked by him when he goes by "Jim", as a way of keeping under the radar despite the fact that he's one of the biggest criminal masterminds in the world.
  • Totally Radical:
    Jim: "Big G" mean "governor". Street speak. I'm a bit down with the kids, you know. I'm relatable that way."
  • Troll: He loves to troll Sherlock especially. Notable instances are where he masquerades as Molly's gay boyfriend, and when he uses a cab ride to taunt him about his plan to ruin Sherlock's life.
  • The Unfettered: Ultimately a deconstruction. Having absolutely no empathy and no limits, Jim's one and only concern is to try and stave off his endless boredom... even if that means putting his own plans and well-being at risk to do it. Best illustrated in the second series finale where Moriarty gleefully shoots himself in the head for no reason other than he thinks it's the best way to "win" his game with Sherlock.
  • Unknown Rival: To Sherlock before he (and the audience) meet him face to face.
  • Unseen Evil: For most of Series 1, while he has an effect on every case Sherlock and John tackle, he's never shown. He is finally revealed at the end the season's final episode, and revealed to be the "Jim from IT" character that had shown up a little earlier.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Makes one out of Molly Hooper, Sally Donovan, and the entire British legal system and tabloid press in "The Reichenbach Fall". Such is his Manipulative Bastardy that he even makes pawns out of the Holmes brothers themselves. Although Sherlock claims in season 3 that Moriarty was the one being played all along.
  • Victory Is Boring: As Sherlock points out, there is nothing that Moriarty can't already steal or buy. No problem presents a challenge for him. And Jim absolutely can't stand it. (This is one of the creepy Holmes/Moriarty parallels.)
  • Villainous Breakdown: In a strange flipping of the trope's normal use, he actually falls into a bitter despair when he's about to win, as Sherlock disappointed him by not being a better challenge. He cheers up when Sherlock threatens him to gain the upper hand, and is totally happy to kill himself in order to have the best of both worlds by both beating Sherlock and being given the ultimate challenge.
  • Villainous Crush: He seems to be attracted to Sherlock. Unsurprisingly, this leads to a lot of Foe Yay out of the series.
  • Villainous Friendship: With Eurus Holmes. They're both Ax-Crazy and obsessed with Sherlock.
  • Villainous Legacy: Even after his death, he makes his mark in Sherlock's life, whether by appearing in hallucinations or via tapes he recorded when he was still alive.
  • 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.
  • Villain Song: He uses the already-existing song "Stayin' Alive" to explain his own hatred of boredom and monotony.
  • Wicked Cultured: He plays La Gazza Ladra by Gioachino Rossini on his MP3 player when breaking into the Tower of London and he can tell anecdotes about Bach.
  • Worthy Opponent: He views Sherlock as this, to the point where Sherlock is the only human beign worth his time at all, and he finds the idea of Sherlock not living up to his expectations quite upsetting.
  • Would Hurt a Child: In "The Great Game", he straps one of his bombs to a boy and gives Sherlock ten seconds to prove the Vermeer painting is a fake, while the boy counts down to his own demise. In "The Reichenbach Fall", he poisons two more and almost kills them, as they could play into his plans well.
  • Younger and Hipper: He's definitely younger than in the books, and as for the hipper part... well, see the entry for Totally Radical above.
  • You're Insane!: Sherlock says this to Moriarty in "The Reichenbach Fall".