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Jim Moriarty

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/moriarty_james_3139.jpg
"Every fairytale needs a good, old-fashioned villain."
Played By: Andrew Scott
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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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    A-F 
  • 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 Sexuality: See the entries for Ambiguously Gay and Depraved Bisexual below.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Far more depraved and ruthless than his literary counterpart.
  • 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 Name Change: Downplayed. Here he's called "Jim" Moriarty, which is probably short for the original "James".
  • Adaptation Origin Connection: It turns out that, when they were both children, he committed the first crime Sherlock ever solved.
  • 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.
  • 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. Andrew Scott coming out as of 2013 doesn't help either.
    "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.
  • 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.
    • Not So Different? 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Destroys Sherlock's reputation in "The Reichenbach Fall", forcing Sherlock to fake his own death for a full 2 years.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Character Exaggeration: The original Moriarty was amoral. This Moriarty is a total psychopath.
  • The Chessmaster/ Manipulative Bastard: He's particularly good at playing Sherlock himself — as illustrated to a devastating effect in "The Reichenbach Fall".
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Denser and Wackier: While this incarnation is even more dangerous than Conan Doyle's, he acts a lot sillier.
  • 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.
  • Diabolical Mastermind: He's a "consulting criminal" behind dozens of illegal schemes.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Expy: Aspects of Jim's personality are similar to that of Moriarty expy Professor Ratigan.
  • 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!

    G-L 
  • 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.
  • Hotter and Sexier: He has Adaptational Attractiveness, has affairs with women to further his goals, and makes several suggestive comments, particularly towards Sherlock.
  • Incoming Ham:
    Jim: [said in goofy voice] I left you my number. Why didn't you 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
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    M-R 
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • Not So Different: 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Red Herring: His "resurrection" in Series 4 isn't his doing at all, but rather the work of Eurus Holmes.
  • Refuge in Audacity: A large part of how he gets away with his crimes.

    S-Y 
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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"").
  • 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.
  • The Sociopath: A genuine example, unlike Sherlock.
  • Speak of the Devil
    Jeff: There's a name no-one says, an' I'm not gonna say it either.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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".
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