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William Sherlock Scott Holmes

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/sherlockseries4.jpg
"Who cares about decent? The game, Mrs Hudson, is on!"

The main character and the "hero" of the story, Sherlock Holmes is handsome, brilliant and the world's greatest consulting detective. Unfortunately, he is also rude, impulsive, selfish, sees little need to observe social niceties he doesn't understand anyway, and is altogether insufferable. Everything changes for him when he receives a new flatmate in the form of John Watson, who keeps him grounded.


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    A-F 
  • Adaptational Jerkass: Compared to his original literary counterpart, this Sherlock has been Character Exaggerated to be notably colder, haughtier, and more selfish. Interestingly enough, his Character Development goes in the opposite direction of the original Sherlock Holmes, who famously Took a Level in Jerkass after he faked his death — this Sherlock Took a Level in Kindness instead and warmed considerably up to people.
  • Addiction Displacement: He outright admits he solves crimes as an alternative to getting high in "His Last Vow".
  • Adorkable: When John arrives at 221B while Sherlock's parents are there, Sherlock's attempts to get them out and his attempt at casualness afterwards are hilariously awkward. Taken up to Eleven in "The Sign of Three", both as John's best man, and the de facto wedding planner.
  • Allergic to Routine: Sherlock has a need for intellectual stimulation that strongly brings to mind a drug addict's desire for the stimulant of their choice, and repeatedly goes to dangerous lengths in order to avoid becoming bored—a trait he shares with his arch-nemesis, Moriarty. However, possibly as a means to complement Sherlock, this particular version of John Watson is heavily hinted to be an adrenaline addict and a thrill-seeker.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: In addition to being hated by the entire police force sans Lestrade, in "The Blind Banker", it is revealed that all his classmates hated him back in school (specifically university) too.
  • Ambiguous Disorder:
    • Sherlock's behavior alternates from episode to episode between classic Asperger Syndrome (difficulty understanding others' emotions, abnormally intense interests, idiosyncratic language) and classic sociopathy (disinhibition, lack of empathy, manipulation of others). John puts forth the former as a diagnosis, Sherlock insists it's the latter. He may or may not be right. There's a moral dimension to which way one interprets the ambiguity, as an autistic individual is more likely to be able to learn acceptable social interaction than a sociopath.
      Lestrade: I suppose he likes having the same faces back together. It appeals to his... his...
      John: [snarkily] Asperger's?
    • The sociopathic tendencies predominate in "A Study in Pink" (taking inappropriate pleasure in horrific but novel crimes), "The Great Game" (pursuing his goals without concern for the impact they will have on others), and "The Hounds of Baskerville" (shamelessly manipulating everyone around him, including John).
    • Sherlock behaves more like an autistic in "A Scandal in Belgravia" (when he seems genuinely confused by Irene's complex feelings for him) and "The Sign of Three" (when he can't understand why everyone has started crying in the middle of his best man speech).
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Plays this role to Mycroft throughout "The Empty Hearse".
  • Anti-Hero:
    • Sherlock solves crime for fun and not justice. Lampshaded several times. Apparently Sherlock likes to use season finales to remind people of this.
      • In "The Great Game":
      Sherlock: Don't make people into heroes, John. Heroes don't exist, and if they did, I wouldn't be one of them.
      • In "The Reichenbach Fall":
      Sherlock: I may be on the side of the angels, but don't think for one second that I am one of them.
      • In "His Last Vow":
      Sherlock: Oh, do your research! I'm not a hero, I'm a high-functioning sociopath. Merry Christmas! [shoots Magnussen]
    • On the other hand, Sherlock clearly has his own set of morals and ethics, and often is driven by his determination to save innocent lives and stop particularly loathsome criminals. He does good things when he needs to, but approaches his crime solving as a hobby.
      Lestrade: Sherlock Holmes is a great man, and I think one day, if we're all very very lucky, he might even be a good one.
  • Attention Whore: Not as much as some other characters, but he does have his moments. As he himself says in the first episode, the frailty of genius is the need for an audience.
  • Awesome by Analysis: the Mind Palace. Good God, the Mind Palace.
  • Badass Baritone: Benedict Cumberbatch's deep voice suits the character perfectly.
  • Badass Bookworm: In The Sign of Three, Molly mentions that Sherlock is a graduate chemist. But he is a very good fighter, in no small part due to his intelligence. He even tries to take on the freakishly huge assassin The Golem during 'The Great Game'.
  • Badass Longcoat: Sherlock sports a tailored, woolen one that costs £1,350.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: Combines this with Beware the Silly Ones. Sherlock threw a captured CIA agent out of a window after beating him up for attacking Mrs Hudson.
  • Big Brother Worship: If Mycroft's appearances in the mind palace are anything to go by, Sherlock definitely looks up to Mycroft intellectually, although the way Mental Mycroft belittles his brother indicates that this coexists with a great deal of resentment.
  • Break the Haughty: A recurring theme is Sherlock's need to show off how clever he is, coupled with massive self-assurance in his intelligence, gets him in serious trouble time and again:
    • In "The Great Game", he responds to John angrily calling him out on not caring for the victims' lives by coolly responding that caring about them won't help him save them, so he won't make that mistake. Then John gets kidnapped and put at risk... and not caring suddenly isn't so easy.
    • In "A Scandal in Belgravia'' he unwittingly foils one of Mycroft's counter-terrorism operations to impress Irene Adler.
    • The entire plot of "The Reichenbach Fall", where Moriarty uses Sherlock's jerkass pride in his work to slowly destroy the detective's life.
    • In His Last Vow he made the assumption that Magnussen had all of his blackmail material locked up in a private vault underneath in mansion. So he makes a deal to exchange Mycroft's laptop for his file on Magnussen's file on Mary. When he finds out that there is no vault — Magnussen keeps it all in his head in a variation of Sherlock's mind palace, and Magnussen just tricked him into committing treason, Sherlock takes it hard.
    • In "The Six Thatcher" he gives a brutal Breaking Speech to a MI-6 secretary who was a mole and was responsible for sabotaging a rescue mission Mary was on. To one up him, the secretary fires her gun at Sherlock only for Mary to take the bullet and die from the resulting injuries. This is what finally gets Sherlock to see how self-destructive his attitude really is.
      • On a personal level, his rivalry with Moriarty — even though both Holmes brothers orchestrated his downfall, Moriarty's memory still haunts Sherlock to the point that when Moriarty "returns" from the grave, Sherlock overdoses on Cocaine just to cope.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Zig Zagged Trope. If he thinks it's worth his while he'll run several blocks, break into private property, or lie and cheat to get information. If he doesn't, his level of laziness has to be seen to be believed:
    • In "A Study in Pink", won't lift his hand about three inches to grab the phone John offers him, forcing John to actually place it in his palm.
    • In "The Great Game", while fiddling with instruments, Sherlock asks Watson to hand him his phone, which is in his jacket. The one Sherlock's wearing.
    • In "A Scandal in Belgravia", gets John to Skype him a view of a crime scene because he doesn't want to get out of bed. Then can't be bothered to get dressed when summoned by the Queen.
  • Brutal Honesty: Sherlock's M.O. Used for both comedy and drama: one time he might humorously extort someone with sensitive information, while another John might chew him out for being rude and tactless. From "A Scandal In Belgravia":
    Child: They wouldn't let us see Granddad when he was dead. is that 'cause he'd gone to heaven?
    Sherlock: People don't really go to heaven when they die, they are taken to a special room and burned.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Sherlock's behavior is very odd by most people's standards, but he's so good at what he does that most people put up with it.
  • Can't Hold His Liquor: As shown at John's stag night. He had actually calculated a precise formula for alcohol intake to where both he and John would get reasonably buzzed through the course of the night but not stone-cold drunk. However John ends up derailing this by pouring more booze into their flasks when Sherlock wasn't looking, causing them to both get smashed.
  • Catch-Phrase:
    • "Obviously."
    • "Not Good?"
    • "The game is on!"
  • Celibate Hero:
    • Sherlock considers himself married to his work.
    • Moffat posits in an interview that Sherlock dismisses the charms of women because he finds them a distraction, and that he would not be living with a man if he fancied men (because it would also be a distraction).
    Steven Moffat: It's the choice of a monk, not the choice of an asexual. If he was asexual, there would be no tension in that, no fun in that — it's someone who abstains who's interesting. There's no guarantee that he'll stay that way in the end — maybe he marries Mrs Hudson. I don't know! (The Guardian, Jan 20th, 2012)
    • Cumberbatch weighed in on the matter to the blog Zap2It:
      Benedict Cumberbatch: For me, Sherlock's not gay. He's not straight, necessarily. He has a sexual appetite, but it's entirely swallowed by his work. He doesn't have time for it.
    • Magnussen's "file" reveals that he has a porn preference. It's apparently normal (though he was deep undercover by that point, so it is entirely plausible he completely fabricated said porn preference simply so Magnussen could find it.)
    • In The Final ProblemEurus deducts that Sherlock has had sex, although he neither denies or affirms it. Since her deductions are even better than Sherlock, it can be assumed by season 4, Sherlock has a sexual experience. And since she deducts it while Sherlock is playing Irene's theme, it was most likely with Irene Adler, who he is (presumably) later seen texting.
  • Challenge Seeker: He's always looking for dragons to slay, and seeks challenge in small things as well. When he goes to surprise John with his return, he distracts and steals things from people to obscure his identity instead of putting on a disguise in advance.
    • Strong examples can be found in the first two episodes of the series: in the first Sherlock subjects himself to a game that he knows has killed four people already at a point where he no longer has any reason to, yet does so in order to satisfy his own genius and his desire to prove it. During the second he turns down monetary compensation for looking into a mysterious break-in because if it's something that piques his deductive skills, he needs no "motivation" (John, on the other hand, is a normal person who needs income so he "holds" it on Sherlock's behalf).
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Owing to his not always paying attention to the world. In spite of his intelligence, he doesn't know who the Prime Minister is and even forgets that England has a queen instead of a king — something he used to know.
    • Despite being able to deduce an entire person's life with one look at them, he thought the morning tea that Mrs. Hudson would bring up for him "just sort of happened".
  • Clueless Chick Magnet: Molly Hooper, Irene Adler, Kitty Reilly and Janine all seem to think so.
    • Although, in a blog post, John says that Sherlock recognized the sign of attraction in a woman because, per Sherlock, he's so used to seeing them directed towards him.
  • Complexity Addiction: Like in the series 2 finale he expects the other party to be more devious and circumspect than they actually are.
  • Consummate Liar: Demonstrates several times that he is a rather convincing actor, pretending to be various roles as the situation requires. At one point he's so convincing he even fools the audience for a bit, crying and breaking down before laughing his arse off that John fell for it.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Had 13 possible plans to escape Moriarty on the rooftop. Faking his death was one of them, although it's implied that it was a last-ditch option.
  • Creepy Good: Owing to his sociopathic behaviour, even after it gets toned down significantly.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Being a self proclaimed high functioning sociopath may make you seem like a massive jerkass, but Sherlock shows how brilliant his wit is.
  • Defrosting Ice King: 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. Hiding out for two years, separated from all of his friends, seems to have softened him up even more; in the third season, Sherlock is willing to sacrifice his own happiness so John can be a decent husband and father..
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Irene Adler has this effect on him, to the extent he noticeably stumbles over his words at one point and unwittingly foils a highly top secret and clandestine government plan, all in an effort to impress her.
    • However, it also gets averted when he appears to return her advances by holding her hand and staring deeply into her eyes, only to later reveal that he was taking her pulse and checking if her pupils were dilated (to deduct that she was genuinely interested in him).
    • During "The Sign of Three", whilst working out a case in his head, he's briefly gets distracted by the mental image of (a very naked) Irene Adler, when musing about the very few people aware of John's Embarrassing Middle Name.
    Sherlock: [annoyed] Out of my head, I am busy...
  • Ditzy Genius: Invoked. Sherlock only keeps important information in his "mental hard drive," which does not include tact, common sense or heliocentrism. He even deletes stuff he used to know, such as there being a queen of England as opposed to a king.
  • Driven to Suicide: Appears to jump off a building to his death at the end of Series 2. Subverted soon after, when it turns out he faked his death instead.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Eerie owing to his sociopathic nature, even after it gets toned down a lot.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: Inverted. Turns out his first name is actually William. Granted, it's a lot less catchy and unusual than "Sherlock".
  • Epic Hail: Sherlock's solution to getting the police to arrive quickly is to casually fire a gun into the air!
  • Even the Guys Want Him: And also the lesbians.
    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 Has Standards: Even Sherlock seems disgusted at the man who admits to murdering his girlfriend in Belarus, taking obvious pleasure in the fact he will likely get a death sentence.
    • He's also appalled in 'The Empty Hearse' at a man pretending to be his stepdaughter's boyfriend to purposefully break her heart. He even chews the guy out for it!
    • He becomes personally invested in stopping Magnusson and Culverton Smith as he finds their actions and modus operandi disgusting.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: A Played for Laughs example. When John shoots the cabbie in the first episode, he tells Lestrade that he's looking for a crack shot with military experience, a set of morals, and Nerves of Steel... then notices John and quickly takes everything back.
  • Expy: Given that Steven Moffat was the showrunner, it's not surprising that he occasionally resembles the Doctor.
  • Faking the Dead: Faked his own death at the conclusion of "The Reichenbach Fall" to save his friends.
  • Fatal Flaw: His obsessive curiosity and constant need to not be bored leads him to irrational or cruel behavior that damages his relationships with his friends and sometimes even leads him to put his own life in danger.
    • His pride and tendency to underestimate his foes also gets him into trouble.
  • Forgets to Eat: Cumberbatch purposefully lost weight to highlight this. From the unaired pilot:
    John: Aren't you going to eat?
    Sherlock': What day is it?
    John: ...Wednesday.
    Sherlock:
    ' I'm okay for a bit.
  • Freudian Excuse: It's implied he had a very unhappy childhood:
    • Attempts by his parents to socialize him and Mycroft with other children to make friends failed, miserably. Both Mycroft and Sherlock scoff at the idea years later.
    • In Series 3, spending most of his development years with Mycroft is implied to have left a negative effect on his personality.
    • Until he met other children he always assumed he was an "idiot" due to only having Mycroft as a companion.
    • His mother by his own admission "has a lot to answer for" in regards to how her children turned out.
    • The death of his dog Redbeard hit him hard.
      • Only, as it turns out, it's even worse than that. Redbeard was not actually his dog. It was his childhood best friend's — Victor Trevor — pirate name. The two of them loved to play pirates together. His sister, Eurus, was so jealous that she outright murdered Victor, and then later set their house on fire. All the while, she drew disturbing pictures depicting Sherlock's death. All this happened when Sherlock was prepubescent, and she was a year younger than him. He was so traumatized by this that he erased all memory of Eurus from his mind, and made up memories of Redbeard being the family dog instead of his best friend.
  • Friendless Background: It's strongly implied that John was Sherlock's first real friend. In A Study in Pink, both Donovan and Mycroft point out that Sherlock isn't the kind of person who make friends.
    • Turns out this isn't the case as his childhood best friend was murdered out of jealousy by his little sister.
  • Friend to All Children: In "The Reichenbach Fall", he's very concerned about finding the kidnapped children and is very disturbed when they react in fear at seeing him. In "The Sign of Three", he befriends Archie through Brutal Honesty—and a shared interest in bizarre murders.
    Sherlock: You really do have to wear the outfit.
    Archie: What for?
    Sherlock: Grown-ups like that sort of thing.
    Archie: Why?
    Sherlock: I don’t know. I’ll ask one.
  • Functional Addict: An odd case. He claims he's one. Mycroft, John, and Molly don't buy it, and they all make various attempts to get him sober. There's evidence to support both sides of the argument; Sherlock doesn't take drugs recreationally, and is more than capable of staying on the wagon as long as he isn't bored — or stumped. Then he'll start taking anything he thinks can break the mental impasse. Mycroft has a gentleman's agreement to keep him from being picked up in such cases as long as he's written down exactly what he's taken so he can be treated.

    G-L 
  • Geek Physique:
    • In the pilot, John discovers during the dinner stakeout that Sherlock does not eat when he's on the job and the pilot ends with him getting Sherlock to eat an actual meal.
    • 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 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.
    • Then in series 3, Sherlock seems to have gone back to more of a Geek Physique again after his two years away — contrast the shirtless scene in "A Scandal in Belgravia" with the hospital scenes in "His Last Vow".
  • Genius Bruiser: While a more skilled combatant such as John can handle him, it's clear that this guy would demolish the average person in a physical fight.
  • Glad He's on Our Side: His sociopathy, his despising being bored, and his being Not So Different from Moriarty are frequently brought up, as well as how awful of a prospect it would be if he stopped helping the police and ended up committing crimes for thrills himself.
    • The writers speculate in one episode commentary that Sherlock stays on the side of the law as a self-imposed challenge: doing what Moriarty does would be too simple to stay interesting.
  • Good Is Not Nice: As he tells Moriarty in "The Reichenbach Fall", "I may be on the side of the angels, but don't think for one second that I am one of them."
  • Grammar Nazi: Deliberately corrects the grammar of a prisoner in Minsk at the start of "The Great Game" to make the man confess to murdering his girlfriend.
  • Gray Eyes: Benedict Cumberbatch's glass eyes can appear icy blue, grey or even slightly green depending on how a scene is lit. This is especially noticeable during his phone call with Mycroft in The Sign of Three, as he paces through several different lighting angles.
  • Guile Hero: Most of his fights are won through pure observation and intelligence.
  • Heartbroken Badass: During John's wedding in Sign of Three when he begins to realize how the marriage will affect their relationship. It upsets him enough that he can't handle staying around for the reception.
  • Heroes Love Dogs: He seems to have a soft spot for dogs, as interaction with Toby the bloodhound indicates. As a child he had a beloved pet dog named Redbeard who had to be put down. It's still a touchy subject for Sherlock well into adulthood.
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.:
    • Appears to be struck by one twice in "A Scandal in Belgravia". Firstly, he drifts trance-like into Baker Street after the revelation Irene Adler is, in fact, alive. Later, he seems stunned into inaction for a while once he realises that he has fallen for the oldest trick in the book.
    • Freaks out in "The Hounds of Baskerville", when he experiences fear and doubt for likely the first time in his life.
    • Played with in "The Sign of Three" where, after being asked to be John's best man, he stared at John for what is implied to be at least five minutes
    • Between the revelation of the Appledore vaults and the arrival of the choppers in "His Last Vow," Sherlock is practically catatonic.
    • Mary dies in "The Six Thatchers" saving him. Having spent the whole episode proclaiming he was going to protect her he's left in shock as how let his arrogance lead to her death, while John has cut him out of life as a result.
    • Has two in "The Final Problem". The first when he realizes Eurus tricked him into forcing Molly Hooper to confess her love for him. The second when he breaks out of his trauma imposed amnesia to realize that his childhood dog Redbeard was actually his best friend Victor Trevor whose murder forced him into rewriting him as a dog to cope with the loss.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With John.
  • Hypocritical Humour: During series three, episode three. He comes back to 221B and realizes that Mycroft is inside because the door knocker is straight, and says that he's OCD and straightens it without even realizing it. He then makes it crooked. Watson asks why he did that, and Sherlock's response is a genuine "Did what?"
  • Iconic Outfit:
    • The deerstalker gets this treatment in-universe, to his exasperation, since he specifically grabbed it so he wouldn't be recognized.
    Sherlock: Why is it always the hat photograph?
    • Not to mention his popped-collared Badass Longcoat and Scarf Of Asskicking, which are iconic in-universe and out—to the point that when Lestrade asks him not to be as... Sherlock... as he usually is, he just un-pops his collar.
  • Iconic Outfit: His coat, he makes a point asking for it in "The Empty Hearse". His blue scarves count as well.
  • I Love You Because I Can't Control You: Implied with Irene Adler in "A Scandal in Belgravia". He shares but one meeting with her where his Sherlock Scan is rendered completely moot on hernote , and it ends with her drugging, violently whipping him and leaving him a slurring, passed out mess on the floor, topping it off by telling him to remember her as "the woman who beat you". When learning she's dead a little while later, he goes into a Heroic B.S.O.D., as commented by John (he "plays sad music, doesn't eat, barely talks"). Although, as it's Sherlock we're talking about, it probably amounts more to a strong fascination than downright love. By the end of the episode however, his dialogue strongly implies that he did develop some kind of feelings for her, also showcased by how, despite her having worked for Moriarty and played a cruel trick on him, he still proceeds to save her life from executioners in Pakistan. Benedict Cumberbatch even hinted that Sherlock and Irene had a "very loving time" there. However, Steven Moffat would later reveal that what he imagined happened between them was that Irene held Sherlock at gunpoint and forced him to strip out of his clothes so she could escape wearing them, leaving Sherlock annoyed at having been humiliated by her one final time.
  • Inferiority Superiority Complex:
    • Despite his apparent disdain for "normal people", Sherlock constantly feels the need to prove his brilliance to others.
    Sherlock: That's the frailty of genius, John. It needs an audience.
    • Goads Lestrade into admitting that Scotland Yard needs his detective skills.
    • Explains every step of his deductions to John to prove they weren't a "trick".
    • Plays the Cabbie's suicidal Battle of Wits just to prove how clever he is.
    • Screws with Sebastian in "The Blind Banker" after Sebastian remarks that Sherlock's fellow students at university hated him.
    • Is rather surprised to hear John call his deductions "extraordinary."
      Sherlock: That's not what people normally say.
      John: What do people normally say?
      Sherlock: "Piss off!"
    • May stem from his childhood with Mycroft, in which Mycroft's brilliance led them both to believe that Mycroft was "the smart one" and Sherlock was stupid, until they tried making "friends" with normal people.
  • In-Series Nickname:
    • Called "Hatman" by the press, due to wearing a deerstalker to hide his face.
    • "The Reichenbach Hero" for his most famous case to date.
    • "Sir Boast-A-Lot", which Moriarty alludes to while telling a fairytale. According to Irene, he also calls him "the virgin".
    • "Shag-A-Lot Holmes" by a paper who got a falsified scoop from the woman Sherlock was temporarily engaged to.
  • Insufferable Genius: He really can't help himself, not even after getting tossed out of a courtroom where he's the star witness and into a prison cell for showing off.
  • Intelligence Equals Isolation: Zig-Zagged. It's hard to say what came first, Sherlock's incapacity of social interaction, or his aversion of it. Although Mycroft seems to have encouraged distance to others, his friendship with John proves that he is neither above nor averse to relationships with other people as long as it does not hinder his work.
  • It's All About Me: It's entirely likely that Sherlock didn't know the earth revolves around the sun because he thinks that it actually revolves around him.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy:
    • Sherlock seems quite melancholy that Molly has moved on from her crush on him to get engaged, but he wants her to be happy. Not that her engagement works out, anyway.
    • In Series 3 with John. By the time of "Sign of Three" Sherlock is well aware that things will be different with him and John since John now has a wife and unborn child to care for, but this doesn't stop Sherlock from doing whatever he can to protect the couple and their happiness. This culminates in him even willing to go off and die to protect John.
  • Jerkass Façade: He is a rude and insufferable genius on the outside, but there are hints to a kinder nature even before he met John. He already struck up a working relationship with Lestrade, and he manage to win the affection of Angelo and Mrs. Hudson after he solved their cases, plus his casual acquaintance with Mike Stamford.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Though he's undoubtedly an Insufferable Genius who starts out as more of a Jerkass, after he meets John, he begins to warm up to the people in his life. By the later series, he makes sincere efforts to be nicer to others.
    • One great example we see of Sherlock's Hidden Heart of Gold is in his treatment of potential love interests:
      • In "A Study in Pink", Sherlock mistakes John's slightly awkward questions to determine his sexuality as John coming onto him. He is remarkably gentle and polite in trying to let John down easy. Keep in mind that this is the first episode of the whole series, where Sherlock's Hidden Heart of Gold was very hidden, and he still strayed well and frequently into Jerkass territory.
      • While Sherlock seemed to realize that Molly had some kind of fondness/infatuation with him, he didn't seem to realize the depth of her feelings until he accidentally insulted her in "A Scandal in Belgravia". Since discovering these feelings, though he occasionally lapses back into being rude to her (as he does with everyone), he's done many sweet things for her, including apologizing for his rude behavior, kissing her on the cheek on two different occasions, inviting her to be his assistant in case-solving for a day, and saying numerous nice things to her. ("You do count. You've always counted and I've always trusted you." "The one person he thought didn't matter to me was the one who mattered most. I couldn't have done it without you." "I hope you'll be very happy, Molly Hooper. You deserve it.")
      • He was harsher towards Irene (who, to be fair, did manipulate him, trick him into foiling an important government scheme, and have a couple of Kick the Dog moments), and John believes that Sherlock "despised her in the end". Despite all this, he did confirm that her feelings for him were real...and then he rescued her from her would-be executioners.
    • Fakes his own death to protect Watson, Mrs. Hudson and Lestrade in "The Reichenbach Fall". Note that he does this by jumping off of a building, likely using the same deductions he used to throw the CIA operative repeatedly out a window with non-lethal results on a larger scale. But he still fakes his death to save those he cares about by jumping off of a building, which still has the somewhat expected results of just nearly killing him instead.
    • Acknowledges this himself in his best man speech at John's wedding, calling himself an "arsehole" but saying that John makes him better. As "The Last Vow" shows, he'll get himself exiled on a suicide mission for his sake.
  • Kaleidoscope Eyes: Benedict Cumberbatch's glass eyes can appear icy blue, grey or even slightly green depending on how a scene is lit. This is especially noticeable during his phone call with Mycroft in The Sign of Three, as he paces through several different lighting angles.
  • Knight Templar Big Brother: When it comes to John and Mary's happiness. Unbeknownst to either of them, after deducing that one of her former boyfriends invited to the wedding was still madly in love with her, he took matters into his own hands. He confronted him with the evidence, announced that he'll be downgraded to casual acquaintance and only allowed three visits per year (with John's supervision) and that he will be monitoring him closely. To say nothing of His Last Vow, in which he murders a man in cold blood so that John's wife will be safe.
  • Lack of Empathy: Subverted ONLY when it comes to his friends.
  • Large Ham: 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.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Black suit, grey coat, dark shirt, blue scarf, black leather shoes. And now, a word from the fashion coordinator.

    M-R 
  • Mad Scientist: He keeps a human head in the refrigerator and human eyeballs in the microwave, both of which are being used in "experiments". Enough said.
  • Manchild:
    • Especially when he's bored or irritated.
      Sherlock: This is childish!
      Lestrade: Well, I'm dealing with a child.
    • Admits it during a conversation with a boy in John's wedding.
      Sherlock: Grown-ups like that sort of thing.
      Archie: Why?
      Sherlock: I don't know. I'll ask one.
    • Also from John's wedding:
    Sherlock: You'll be great parents. You've had lots of practice with me.
    • In His Last Vow, after John has found him in a drug den.
    Sherlock: I'm undercover.
    John: No, you're not.
    Sherlock: Well, I'm not NOW!
    • When Mary shoots him, he temporally regresses into a child inside his mind palace, when looking for a way to maximize his survival chances.
  • Manipulative Bastard: 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.
    • He is 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.
    • Tricks victim's distraught family members into giving him information, lies his way into locked apartments, and so on.
    • A particularly egregious example is on his return in the third series. In the Underground below parliament he leads John to believe that he can't stop the bomb, he hasn't called the police, and they will surely die He begs for forgiveness, complete with quavering voice and tears. And having received John's forgiveness as he reconciles himself to their deaths Sherlock laughs and turns it into a Did You Actually Believe...? moment..
    • Another brutal example comes from "His Last Vow," when he seduces and becomes engaged to Janine in order to get access to her employer, Magnussen.
  • Married to the Job: Celibacy aside, this is the reason he gives for why dating (or human social interaction in general) isn't "his area". You can count the number of people close to him in any sense on one hand.
  • Motor Mouth:
    • Whenever he goes into a Sherlock Scan. It's entirely possible that Cumberbatch doesn't need to breathe; for example, just listen to his explanation of John's phone or much of "Hounds of Baskerville". And whenever Irene Adler is around he somehow manages to go even faster.
    • In one interview, Gatiss comments on the extreme length of the deduction in Baskerville; apparently, on Cumberbatch's script he actually wrote "Sorry, Benedict" next to it.
  • Must Have Nicotine:
    • It's impossible to sustain a smoking habit in London nowadays, so Sherlock confines himself to patches. It just might end up being "a three-patch problem".
    • Goes absolutely haywire in "Hounds of Baskerville" when he's detoxing, turning the entire flat upside down and outright begging John to give him a cigarette.
    • Noted in "The Sign of Three" where a patch can be seen under his shirt.
    • Not even hiding the fact that he's smoking and doing other drugs as of "His Last Vow."
    • After Mary's death in "The Six Thatchers", he's completely fallen off the wagon due to his shock and guilt from what happened and basically spends the entirety of "The Lying Detective" high on drugs. It gets to a point where Wiggins, of all people, thinks he's going too far.
  • The Navigator: Has all the streets of London memorized and can predict a cab's likely path and come up with an intercept course in a matter of seconds.
  • Nice Hat:
    • Sherlock's stolen security guard hat.
    • The deerstalker in "A Scandal in Belgravia", which also doubles as a Mythology Gag.
    • Steals and wears a Royal Guardsman's bearskin in "The Sign of Three".
  • Nightmare Fetishist: He appraises things from a purely intellectual level — not an emotional one — and that can lead into this trope. Grotesque crimes are "interesting", "ingenious", or "elegant".
    Sherlock: Four serial suicides and then a note! Oh, it's [like] Christmas!
  • Noble Demon: Freely admits—in fact, insists — that he's a "high-functioning sociopath".
  • The Nose Knows: Among other things Sherlock is able to detect that two different people are wearing the same deodorant or the same character wearing two different deodorants.
  • No Social Skills:
    • Insults his friends, gets on trains covered in pig's blood and holding a harpoon, and visits Buckingham Palace practically naked.
    • It wasn't until "The Sign Of Three" that he realized that John actually thought of him as his best friend. And John had to tell him.
  • Not So Different: Even Mycroft wonders if Sherlock's really that different from Moriarty; both near-peerless geniuses, insensitive as hell, and would rather be dead than bored. It's been suggested the key difference is that Sherlock is just a touch smarter — being a detective is more challenging than being a criminal mastermind, especially as Moriarty can outsmart most anyone he confronts; Sherlock's insistence on challenging criminals draws strife and conflict right to him. Also, whereas Sherlock is exasperated by people in general, he doesn't draw any personal pleasure from others' pain; Moriarty is genuinely sadistic.
  • Not So Stoic:
    • Whenever John is genuinely threatened or in danger. Stick him in a bonfire, strap a bunch of bombs to him or point a gun at the good doctor's head, and Sherlock's cool mask will evaporate in two seconds flat.
    • Also two moments in "The Great Game": When the elderly blind woman begins to talk about the soft voice of the person who kidnapped her, Sherlock frantically warns her against it, knowing that the kidnapper will likely detonate the bomb he has strapped to her as punishment, which he does. Later on, when attempting to solve the riddle of how the painting was faked before the kidnapper blows up a child, he's clearly freaking out. Despite his supposed interest in puzzles over people, the prospect of these two lives being lost deeply disturbs him.
    • When Mrs. Hudson is taken hostage, he rescues her, has Watson take her downstairs... and then proceeds to beat the crap out of her attacker and toss him out the window. Repeatedly.
    • Is visibly shaken after his "encounter" with the titular creature of ''The Hounds of Baskerville", and even admits his fear to John.
  • 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. At the same party, he finally learns the truth, directly after humiliating her, causing a My God, What Have I Done? moment.
  • Odd Friendship: On the face of it, Sherlock and John have absolutely nothing in common. However, their shared Allergic to Routine tendencies end up making them rather inseparable.
  • 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-Man Army: At the end of "A Scandal in Belgravia", he wipes out an entire terrorist cell single-handedly, armed only with a scimitar. "The Empty Hearse" reveals that after faking his death, he spent 2 years travelling the world to burn Moriarty's entire syndicate to the ground.
  • Part-Time Hero: Sherlock is known to "shutdown" and isolate himself from everyone if he's not his normal self.
  • Pet the Dog: His apology to Molly for verbally tearing her apart on Christmas, complete with a sincere kiss on the cheek.
    Sherlock: Merry Christmas, Molly Hooper.
  • 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.
  • Prayer Pose: Sherlock uses this pose frequently, but as a sign of concentration while he's thinking, rather than any form of actual prayer or supplication. The books often describe Sherlock as sitting with his hands steepled below his chin.
  • Protagonist Title: The show is simply called "Sherlock".

    S-Y 
  • Sacrificed Basic Skill for Awesome Training: Sherlock's brilliant deductive reasoning comes at the expense of common knowledge and ability to interact socially.
  • Scarf Of Asskicking: Sherlock wears a blue scarf.
  • Sherlock Scan: Naturally! John first endears himself to Sherlock by being audibly impressed at Sherlock's "trick".
    John: Amazing.
    Sherlock: [momentarily distracted] You do realize you're saying that out loud.
    John: Sorry. I'll stop.
    Sherlock: No... no, go ahead.
  • Shipper on Deck: For John/Mary. He plans their wedding, scares off Mary's ex-boyfriend and breaks out of hospital with a gunshot wound in order to play marriage counselor to them.
  • Shoot the Dog: The inevitable result of revealing to a high-functioning sociopath that killing you is the only way to save his best friend's marriage (and his brother's ability to remain unbiased).
  • Slasher Smile: Sports an epic one when he's dealing with David in "The Sign of Three".
    David: They're right about you. You're a bloody psychopath!
    Sherlock: High-functioning sociopath. With your number. [grins]
  • The Sociopath: Played with regularly. Sherlock has all the classic signs of a fictional sociopath: a general lack of empathy; self centered behavior; total disregard for laws; regular use of fake charm, lies and manipulation to achieve his goals; he even goes so far as to call himself one. Ultimately subverted however, since when push comes to shove Sherlock really does care about his friends. It's suggested that Sherlock has tried to mold his mind into sociopathic thought patterns in order to function better as a detective.
    Sherlock: I'm not a psychopath, Anderson, I'm a high-functioning sociopath. Do your research.
    • In His Last Vow, this is averted in an Ironic Echo:
      Magnussen: No chance for you to be a hero this time, Mr. Holmes.
      Sherlock: Oh, do your research. I'm not a hero, I'm a high-functioning sociopath. Merry Christmas!
  • The Spock: John even calls him "Spock" in "The Hounds of Baskerville".
  • Sticky Fingers: John's laptop, Lestrade's warrant card, an ashtray from Buckingham Palace, and Mycroft's clearance ID.
  • The Stoic: Shows little emotion most of the time, especially compared to those around him at crime scenes or during an investigation.
  • Sugar-and-Ice Personality: Ice towards almost everyone, but sugar towards his friends, especially later in the series.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: Who cares if he executed Magnussen in cold blood. He is Sherlock.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: Since he's played by Benedict Cumberbatch. Molly noticed.
  • Tall, Dark, and Snarky: Compared to his Gentleman Snarker brother Mycroft.
  • That One Case: Moriarty. His "return" from the grave freaks out Sherlock so much that in "The Abominable Bride" he OD's on cocaine and conjures up an alternate him in Victorian London in his mind palace just to cope and figure out how the hell Moriarty could've done it. He eventually concludes that Moriarty is truly dead and that he doesn't need to be afraid of a dead man any longer. Too bad he's wrong.
  • Too Clever by Half:
    • His need to be challenged gets the better of him sometimes and he ends up doing things any normal person would back the hell away from.
    • This attitude also hampers his detective work, since his aversion to boredom means he prefers complex theories to how crimes are committed instead or more mundane ones, and he's always caught off guard when the solution is ordinary.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: In Series 2, which comes back to bite him in the finale.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Over the course of the series undergoes this due to John's influence. He's already become a little bit nicer from the beginning to the end of Series 1, and has changed a lot by the end of Series 2. By Series 3, he's a very different person; spending two years alone on the run, separated from his friends (with half of them thinking he's dead) must have made him appreciate them all the more. He also becomes nicer to his clients, taking a case of a little girl's missing rabbit and showing some sympathy for the traumatized Henry in "Hounds", and sympathizing with a woman whose stepfather is manipulating her in "Empty Hearse".
  • Tranquil Fury: You'll never realize he's angry until after he's beaten the crap out of you. Or shooting you.
  • Troll: Even when he's not bored out of his mind he can occasionally be an ass to get a rise out of people.
    • Tells John in the first episode that he pickpocketed Lestrade's police badge just because Lestrade annoyed him, and further says he's done this many times and has several such badges in his flat.
    • Fools John into thinking that they're both about to die since he can't disarm the bomb and he hasn't called the police just to watch him freak out and finally come clean with his true feelings.
    • On a similar level is him using John to test a fear-inducing gas.
  • True Companions: Sherlock with John naturally. Perhaps also throw Lestrade and Mrs. Hudson in the mix.
  • Undying Loyalty: To the Watsons. In particular John.
  • The Unfettered: Accused of being a psychopath by most of Scotland Yard. Also has no problem ignoring 90% of the laws if it'll help him solve a case or help a friend. In order to protect John and Mary in "His Last Vow" he murders Magnussen in front of John, Mycroft, and three armed policemen.
  • Unkempt Beauty: As Shezza, his underground drug addict persona.
  • The Un-Smile: Invoked to scare the hell out of David. To the audience it's equally hilarious and unsettling.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Gets called out a lot when he says or does cruel things to people around him, mostly by John. In fact he delivers one to himself in his best man speech at John's wedding, pointing out the sheer number of flaws and personality quirks that make him a terrible person and friend, but which John's patience has helped him to better overcome.
    • He has one of these himself when Mycroft rudely tells Mrs. Hudson to "shut up".
      Mycroft: Oh, shut up, Mrs. Hudson!
      Sherlock: Mycroft!
      Mycroft: [pauses] Apologies.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Averted. Sherlock is his middle name. His first name is William.
  • You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry: He gets very irritable when he's high off drugs, best not to piss him off.

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