Who never lived and so can never die:
How very near they seem, yet how remote
That age before the world went all awry.
But still, the game's afoot for those with ears
Attuned to catch the distant view-halloo:
England is England yet, for all our fears
Only those things the heart believes are true.
As night descends upon this fabled street:
A lonely hansom splashes through the rain,
The ghostly gas lamps fail at twenty feet.
Here, though the world explodes, these two survive,
And it is always eighteen ninety-five."
Created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes is a fictional Private Detective (or, Consulting Detective, the term he preferred), an analytical genius with generally unrivaled deductive powers (and a certain disregard of social norms note ). The original version lived in Victorian London, at 221B Baker Street.
Holmes was assisted by his trusty sidekick, Doctor John Watson, an ex-army surgeon with an injured limb. Watson also served as Character Narrator: the majority of Holmes's adventures were told via the Framing Device of Watson's journals.
Holmes had a number of well-known catch phrases: "When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth", "The game's afoot" (itself a quote from Shakespeare's Henry V), "The Plot Thickens", and, most famously, "Elementary, my dear Watson" (which Holmes never actually said in any of Doyle's stories).
Doyle admitted that he based the character of Holmes on Dr. Joseph Bell, one of his professors from University, and Edgar Allan Poe's C. Auguste Dupin. This is lampshaded in a rather blunt statement made by Holmes within the story in which he is originally introduced ("A Study in Scarlet"), "Now, in my opinion, Dupin was a very inferior fellow. That trick of his of breaking in on his friends' thoughts with an apropos remark after a quarter of an hour's silence is really very showy and superficial. He had some analytical genius, no doubt; but he was by no means such a phenomenon as Poe appeared to imagine." (In later stories, Holmes isn't above performing this precise feat on Watson, to show that he's perfectly capable of doing it; he just considers it flashy, rather than genuinely useful.)
Throughout the stories, only one person ever refers to Holmes as "Sherlock", and that's his brother. Nearly everyone else, even Watson, calls him "Holmes" or "Mister Holmes". This is normal for Victorian and Edwardian England; at the time, men would only use a first name to address family members, romantic partners (and you had to be all-but-engaged), junior servants, or childrennote . One minor character in "The Sign of Four" refers to him as "Mister Sherlock", which, in context, implied that he'd known Holmes since boyhood. Additionally, this is updated and played with in the 2011 Ritchie sequel, where Mycroft calls his brother "Sherly" on a number of occasions.
Other recurring characters in the Holmes stories were:
- Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard. Initially, he was mildly antagonistic as he disapproved of Holmes's interference in police matters, but he later came to respect and rely on the detective. Holmes would usually allow — or insist — that Lestrade take full credit for cases that Holmes had solved. (While Holmes worked with other Scotland Yard detectives, several of whom are even recurring characters, Lestrade is the best known.)
- Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock's Aloof Big Brother. Mycroft's role varied from time to time, but he was generally Always Someone Better to Holmes. Even Sherlock acknowledged that Mycroft's mind was sharper than his own, but his skills were largely wasted due to his exceptional sloth: almost nothing piqued Mycroft's interest enough to lure him out of the familiar surroundings of his favorite private club. Mycroft was some sort of government functionary, whose official duties were limited, but "In certain cases, Mycroft is the British Government."
- Professor James Moriarty, Holmes's personal Evil Counterpart; a mathematician and criminal mastermind whom Holmes described as "the Napoleon of Crime". Moriarty was killed (as, apparently, was Holmes, though he turned out to be Not Quite Dead) in "The Final Problem", his introductory story, though Conan Doyle went on to reuse Moriarty in The Valley of Fear, a novel whose action takes place before that of "The Final Problem." Moriarty's henchman, Colonel Sebastian Moran, is the villain of "The Adventure of the Empty House", and has been used in many post-Doyle Holmes stories.
- Irene Adler. Though her only appearance in the Doyle canon was "A Scandal in Bohemia", it was a memorable one as she managed to outwit Holmes himself and earn his respect as a Worthy Opponent. Add in the fact that she's also one of the few notable women in the stories, and the result is that she's an extremely popular character to include in adaptations.
- Mrs. Hudson, Holmes's long-suffering landlady.
- Mary Watson (née Morstan), Watson's fiancée and later wife.
- The Baker Street Irregulars, a gang of street children who gather information for Holmes.
A final note: as one of the oldest continuous franchises in existence (there have been over 230 versions of Holmes in film, television, stage, and radio), it stands to reason that it also has a very extensive fandom, and there's a very compelling argument that, even more so than Star Trek, Holmes and the works about him laid the groundwork for what a high-interest, high-engagement fandom of a long-running media franchise would be in the 20th century and beyond (for good and ill). For many Fanfic Trope and Audience Reaction examples, it happened in the Sherlock Holmes fandom first.
Sherlock Holmes canon by Arthur Conan Doyle:
- Sherlock Holmes: The original book series and its associated tropes.
- A Study in Scarlet (1887)
- The Sign of the Four (1890)
- The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902)
- The Valley of Fear (1915)
- The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1892)
- The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1894)
- The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1905)
- His Last Bow (1917)
- The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes (1927)
Sherlock Holmes media:
- Sherlock Hound, an Anime adaptation that recast the characters as Funny Animals and aired in 1984 and 1985.
- Aria the Scarlet Ammo features one of the protagonists, Aria H. Kanzaki, as the great-granddaughter of Sherlock Holmes. Then in Volume 5, Sherlock himself made his appearance as one of the antagonists.
- Case File nº221: Kabukicho is a modernized version set in Shinjuku, Japan. This version of Holmes is a fan of rakugo and explains his findings on the case in this manner.
- The Empire of Corpses has Watson as the main character and is still a medical student. In this story, he is tasked by the British government to retrieve Victor Frankenstein's notes which are the key to obtaining the souls of the dead.
- Moriarty the Patriot focuses on Holmes' archnemesis, James Moriarty, who is actually composed of three brothers sharing the same name. This version of Moriarty wants to destroy the British noble class.
- Vampire Holmes: An anime where Holmes is a vampire, as opposed to a detective.
- Baker Street
- Batman meets Sherlock Holmes in Detective Comics #572, the 50th anniversary. In it, Batman travels to London to foil a plot by a descendant of Moriarty based on a previously untold adventure of Holmes. At the end of the adventure, the Dark Knight, and his allies encounter the ancient (but still very much alive) Sherlock.
- Deadpool Killustrated, a sequel to Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe, has Sherlock Holmes confronting Deadpool, who is killing every famous literary character in the Ideaverse. He even forms his own Avengers team consisting of his partner Dr. Watson, Hua Mulan, Beowulf and Natty Bumppo.
- Kid Sherlock
- In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Sherlock Holmes only appears once in a flashback where he had his confrontation with Moriarty in Reichenbach Falls. He is also possibly a former member of the League where the League's symbol is found on his silver cigar case◊. Like in the original canon, Sherlock fakes his death and retires to Sussex where he is a beekeeper. In 1904, Mina Murray finds him and asks him to be the League's adviser but Sherlock rejects the offer. However, his older brother, Mycroft Holmes, was the director of the League called "M". The same goes with Moriarty who was Mycroft's predecessor and has a descendent in the 1950's.
- Sherlock Holmes and the Horror of Frankenstein
- Watson and Holmes
Sherlock Holmes was arguably one of the first franchises in the modern era to become almost as famous for its fanfiction as for its fiction. Holmes captured the imagination of many writers and spawned a considerable amount of unauthorized sequels or guest appearances — especially across the Atlantic, as the state of international copyright enforcement was largely nonexistent at the time. According to Victorian literature expert Jess Nevins, it was fairly common for penny-dreadful writers to write stories in which Sherlock Holmes is immediately murdered and a plucky young protagonist has to figure out who did it. Also, stories of the French character Arsène Lupin began as a Holmes copycat, but subsequently featured a renamed (by order of Conan Doyle's lawyers) and badly-written version of Holmes himself.
- The Great Mouse Detective. Disney's adaptation of Basil of Baker Street. The mice world of England has its own Sherlock Holmes, Basil that is, who lives inside the wall of Sherlock's own house in Baker Street.
- Sherlock Gnomes.
- Tom and Jerry Meet Sherlock Holmes. And not only do the famed cat and mouse, but so do Droopy, Spike, Tyke, and Butch, in grand over-the-top style.
- The Sleeping Cardinal (1931)
- Sherlock Holmes 1922, a.k.a Moriarty, adapted from the play, Sherlock Holmes.
- Sherlock Holmes (1932)
- The Sign of Four: Sherlock Holmes' Greatest Case (1932)
- Murder at the Baskervilles (1937)
- 20th Century Fox films starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce:
- Universal movies starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce:
- The Baker Street Dozen (1942-1946)
- Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace (1962)
- A Study in Terror (1965)
- The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970)
- Sherlock Holmes in New York (1976)
- Murder by Decree (1979)
- The Hound of the Baskervilles (1983)
- Young Sherlock Holmes (1985)
- 1994 Baker Street: Sherlock Holmes Returns (1993)
- Sherlock: Case of Evil (2002)
- Warner Bros. films starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law:
- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes (2010): The Mockbuster from The Asylum.
- Mr. Holmes (2015)
- The Return of Sherlock Holmes (2016)
- Enola Holmes (2020)
- The Angel Of The Crows
- Basil of Baker Street
- The Case Of Death And Honey
- Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Holmes
- Enola Holmes
- The Hound of the D'Urbervilles
- The House of Silk
- Lock And Mori
- The fanfiction and published pastiches of Marcia Wilson.
- Mary Russell
- The Seven-Per-Cent Solution
- Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Was Not - An anthology of Elseworlds stories where Holmes is paired with a doctor other than Watson.
- Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street
- The Sherlock Holmes Stories of Edward D. Hoch
- Sherlock Holmes: The Game's Afoot - A compilation of short stories written by multiple authors
- The Sherlockian
- Sherlock in Love
- A Study in Emerald
- A Study in Charlotte
- Young Sherlock Holmes
- Holmes first appeared on television in 1937.
- Sherlock Holmes (1951), the first regular TV series based on Holmes' exploits, airing on the BBC with Alan Wheatley as Holmes and Raymond Francis as Watson.
- Sherlock Holmes (1954), a syndicated TV series filmed in France and starring Ronald Howard and Howard Marion-Crawford as Holmes and Watson.
- Sherlock Holmes (1954), a series of adaptations in 1964-65 and 1968 starring Douglas Wilmer and later Peter Cushing as Holmes and Nigel Stock as Watson.
- The Strange Case of the End of Civilization as We Know It (1977), a comedic TV special starring John Cleese as Holmes' grandson Arthur Sherlock Holmes. Arthur Lowe played Dr. William Watson, the original doctor's grandson.
- Fantasy Island had at least one story in which a guest wanted to be/meet the World's Greatest Detective.
- The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson (1979-1983). A Soviet series in Russian-language notable for not flanderizing Watson into an idiot, being a generally faithful Adaptation Distillation and for the fact that the actor playing Holmes got an Order of the British Empire for his portrayal (surprisingly for a Soviet citizen). It's also provided fodder for a lot of Russian jokes (but then again, what doesn't?).
- Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson (1979-1980), a 24-part series with Geoffrey Whitehead and Donald Pickering as Holmes and Watson. The series' producer, Sheldon Reynolds, also produced the Ronald Howard version.
- The Hound of the Baskervilles (BBC, 1982), with Tom Baker starred as the Great Detective. He claimed that the BBC apologised for both the production and his performance.
- Sherlock Holmes (1984-1994), produced by Granada Television (ITV), starring Jeremy Brett, David Burke, and Edward Hardwicke. Generally considered to be most faithful to Conan Doyle's original vision of the character. Series one and two ran under then name The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, three and four The Return of Sherlock Holmes, five The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes, and six The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. Five feature-length episodes were made and released between series, two based on the novels The Sign of Four and The Hound of the Baskervilles, three based on short stories turned into Adaptation Expansion.
- The Adventures of Shirley Holmes (1997-2000) was a Canadian series about the great-grandniece of Sherlock Holmes solving crimes.
- Murder Rooms: The Dark Origins of Sherlock Holmes is a 2000 BBC series which featured not Holmes and Watson, but instead had the young Arthur Conan Doyle himself in the Watson role and expounded on the theory that the character of Holmes was a thinly-veiled stand-in for one of Doyle's medical school teachers, Professor Joseph Bell.
- Sherlock (2010-2017), a BBC series. Created by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, the series stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock and Martin Freeman as Watson in a 21st-century Setting Update of the original stories. The show has been a critical and commercial smash hit both in the UK and abroad and cleaned up at the 2011 BAFTAs, including wins for Best Supporting Actor (Freeman) and Best Drama Series.
- House (or House M.D.) owes quite a bit to Holmes. Besides the acknowledged parallels — Greg House/Sherlock Holmes and James Wilson/John Watson — there are a number of references and running jokes that pay homage to Sherlock Holmes, such as House's address being 221B (Baker Street), the name of the man in "No Reason" who shoots House, named as "Moriarty" (although never onscreen), a book by Dr. Bell, the inspiration for Holmes, being given to House as a gift, an episode where House writes the phrase "The game is a itchy foot" on an envelope, and the fact that the very first patient that he treats in the pilot episode is a woman named "Adler". On that note, one episode had Wilson tell another character about a woman named Irene Adler, who he described as being essentially the same as the original Irene Adler—then subverting it by admitting that he made it up. Finally, in the series finale House fakes his death, just like Holmes did via the Reichenbach Falls incident.
- Elementary (2012-2017), CBS series starring Jonny Lee Miller as Holmes and Lucy Liu as Joan Watson. Sherlock goes to New York City after a becoming a heroin addict after a serious trauma while in London and meets Joan Watson, a sober companion hired by his father to help him in the post-rehab life. The main focus of the show is the growing relationship between Holmes and Watson and works as a deconstruction of The Watson and the Sidekick tropes. Joan Watson is one of the protagonists, an aspiring consultant detective (ex-sober companion and ex-surgeon) and her insights are crucial to the story arc.
- Miss Sherlock (2018), a Gender Flip version set in modern Japan produced by HBO Asia. Watson is depicted as "Wato Tachibana," a surgeon returning from a volunteer mission in Syria. Unlike most versions, Wato and Miss Sherlock take an immediate dislike to each other for their opposing personalities and the two only become roommates at the prompting of Sherlock's brother and Wato only joins Sherlock's cases to try and curb Sherlock's more unpleasant character traits.
- Sherlock in Russia, a 2020 Russian series, has Holmes going to St. Petersburg, Russia to capture Jack the Ripper.
- The Irregulars, a 2021 Netflix-original series set in the Victorian era, follows a group of street urchins who are hired by Holmes and Watson to solve supernatural cases.
- An episode of The Father Dowling Mysteries had the good Father doubting his detecting skills when the police arrest the wrong man on his advice. This causes him to conjure up an image of his hero Holmes as a consulting detective to help him solve the case.
- Psych features an amateur detective with phenomenal powers of observation and his less-able, though still clever, partner, who are retained as consultants by a skeptical police department. If it's not officially a Holmes adaptation, it may as well be.
- The 1985 television Pilot Movie The Return of Sherlock Holmes had Michael Pennington as the great detective, thawed out in modern times by a female descendant of Watson.
- Sherlock Holmes, a 2013 Russian 8-part TV series created by Andrey Kavun and starring Igor Petrenko as Sherlock Holmes and Andrey Panin as Watson. Subvert the original stories by forcing Watson to over-romanticise actual events that happen in the series because Watson's editor finds real life boring.
- And a large number of made-for-TV-movies, starring such actors as Tom Baker, Larry Hagman, Roger Moore, Richard Roxbourgh, Rupert Everett, and Matt Frewer.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation featured one of the franchise's characters, Professor James Moriarty, as an antagonist for two episodes. Due to some unexpected glitch in the Holodeck, one of the characters becomes self-aware, realizing that he is a hologram trapped in a simulation. By his second appearance, he states that he is no longer the Moriarty of the books, however, having grown from that starting point due to his experiences on the Enterprise.
- Sherlock: Untold Stories, a Japanese series set in 2019 Tokyo, following the adventures of Shishio Homare (a freelance crime consultant) and Junichi Wakamiya (a psychiatrist) as they partner up to solve crimes.
- The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
- Sherlock Holmes (BBC Radio) (1989 to 1998) starring Clive Merrison as Holmes and Michael Williams as Watson. This production is notable for adapting every novel and short story with the same pair of actors playing Holmes and Watson. Merrison's performance has some marked similarities to Brett's. It was so popular that a series of pastiches called The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes was commissioned which ran for four seasons. Merrison reprised his role as Holmes, but since Michael Willimas had passed away, Andrew Sachs was tapped to replace him as Watson.
- William Gillette, famous for playing Holmes on stage also played in two separate radio plays. The first was an adaptation of "The Speckled Band" and the second was an adaption of his famous play for Lux Radio Theatre. Sadly both performances have been lost to time.
- Orson Welles played Holmes in adaptation of Gillette's melodrama in an episode of his famous The Mercury Theatre on the Air.
- After the success of The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce reprised their famous film roles for The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, which despite the title was a mix of adaptations of Conan Doyle's stories and new pastiches. Several are available here )
- BBC Radio has done numerous Holmes dramas over the years. Amongst the most famous are:
- The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1954-55), a 16 episode series starring Sir John Gielgud as Holmes and Sir Ralph Richardson as Watson. The show was co-produced with ABC Radio which meant that Orson Welles guest-starred as Professor Moriarty.
- Carleton Hobbs and Norman Shelley played Holmes and Watson in over 80 different dramas from 1952 to 1969.
- Blackstone Audio's The Hollywood Theatre of the Ear did a boxset called Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes Theater which featured Martin Jarvis as Holmes and Kristoffer Tabori as Watson. It featured two classic stage adaptions of Holmes: William Gillette's Sherlock Holmes, which also featured Tony Jay as Professor Moriarty, Doyle's own adaption of The Speckled Band, and an original parody by Yuri Rasovsky entitled Ghastly Double Murder in Famed Detective's Flat.
- Big Finish, most famous for their extensive range of Doctor Who audio plays, have been producing a series of Sherlock Holmes dramas. Besides the regular series, set between canon stories, one is set during Holmes' elderly years after the passing of Dr. Watson, one is a metafictional tale in which Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Professor Moriarty conspire against Holmes, and another pits Holmes against Jack the Ripper. The Great Detective is played by Roger Llewellyn (in his old age) and Nicholas Briggs (in the regular episodes). Briggs' Holmes has also met the Big Finish version of Dorian Gray and the Doctor himself.
- The Secret of Sherlock Holmes
- Sherlock Holmes, 1899 play written by and starring William Gillette. It featured an original plot. Years later, Orson Welles would adapt the play for The Mercury Radio Theater with the explanation that, "It is not enough to say that William Gillette looks like Sherlock Holmes: Sherlock Holmes looks exactly like William Gillette." It was Gillette, and not Doyle, who popularized most of the visual tropes associated with the character to this day such as the deerstalker cap, the distinctive pipe and riding cloak. His iconic attire was originally depicted by Sidney Paget, who illustrated the stories for their initial publication in Strand Magazine, but he only put Holmes in them in appropriate situations: when the story took him out of London, and into the countryside.
- The Speckled Band - adapted by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself.
- The Crucifer of Blood - An adaptation by Paul Giovanni which was based on The Sign of Four. It was made into a TV movie in 1991 featuring Charlton Heston as Sherlock Holmes (he had played the role previously in an LA production of the play, and Jeremy Brett was his Watson).
- Starting in 1988, Jeremy Brett and his second Watson, Edward Hardwicke, starred in a stage production titled The Secret of Sherlock Holmes. It was written by Jeremy Paul, who scripted many episodes of the Granada Television series.
- Charles Marowitz's black comedy Sherlock's Last Case, in which Watson has been so Driven to Madness by Holmes' nastiness that he tries to murder him. That goes so badly that poor Watson is Driven to Suicide instead.
- Three Sherlock Holmes games were released on a Famicom, but none of them outside Japan. Two were your typical adventure games solving clues. The third one was an action-adventure game which wasn't received well.
- Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective was released for PC, TurboDuo, CTDV and Sega CD in the early '90s, as part of the Full Motion Video craze that gripped gaming after the introduction of the CD-ROM format.
- Sherlock (1984): An Interactive Fiction game.
- Sherlock The Riddle Of The Crown Jewels (1988): One of the last Interactive Fiction games produced by Infocom, in which the player takes the role of Watson.
- The Lost Files Of Sherlock Holmes, published by Electronic Arts, sadly limited to two adventures (The Case of the Serrated Scalpel and The Case of the Rose Tattoo) were released in the 1990s to portray two Holmes cases considered "too hot to show".
- Since 2002, the company Frogwares has been developing a series of Sherlock Holmes puzzle/adventure games based on the original books as well as including various crossovers with other series. As of 2021, the main titles in the series are:
- Sherlock Holmes: The Mystery of the Mummy
- Sherlock Holmes: Secret of the Silver Earring
- Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened — a crossover with the Cthulhu Mythos
- Sherlock Holmes Versus Arsène Lupin — a crossover with Maurice Leblanc's Arsène Lupin stories, themselves a parody of Sherlock Holmes mysteries
- Sherlock Holmes Versus Jack the Ripper
- The Testament of Sherlock Holmes
- Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments
- Sherlock Holmes: The Devil's Daughter
- Sherlock Holmes Chapter One — Holmes' origin story prior to meeting Watson
- The Great Ace Attorney note
- Fate/Grand Order is an unusual example - while he's not the focus character, Holmes is introduced as a major character in the game's sixth story chapter and joins the main cast, regardless of the player's status in obtaining him as a playable Ruler-class "Servant" party member, in the course of the Epic of Remnant expansion and the Cosmos in the Lostbelt arc. James Moriarty makes a similar debut in the first EoR chapter as an Archer-class Servant and makes further appearances later on.
- While the actual storyline itself never came to fruition, Erin confirms that Sherlock Holmes is part of the And Shine Heaven Now canon: Watson had wrote a book about a time when he and Sherlock crossed paths with Count D, but he shelved it because he knew no one would believe it due to the more supernatural elements and he wanted to be taken seriously as an author. However, the manuscript survived in some fashion, as Integra had been told it as a bedtime story.
- Signs Of Three, a webcomic adaptation updating the stories to contemporary times, adding more diversity and LGBT themes whilst simultaneously putting a modern twist on things. Currently on one finished book, A Study of Scarlett (A Study in Scarlet), with the second, Fangs of Sussex (The Sussex Vampire) having just begun.
- Whatever Remains is a webcomic adaptation set in the 1920s.
- Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century, a 1999 Animated Adaptation of Holmes Recycled INSPACE!
- "Sherlock Holmes in the 23rd Century", a two-part episode of the 1987 series Bravestarr
- Holmes and Watson appeared in one episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold. During their time, Jason Blood tried (and failed) to bring Batman to that time but Holmes completed the spell. Holmes was soon able to deduce Batman must have been born to some doctor or at least a wealthy man.
- Sherlock Yack is another Anthropomorphic Animal Adaptation.
- Sherlock, Watson and Lestrade appeared in few episodes of Orson and Olivia.
- Sherlock Holmes Baffled, a 1900 silent film which lasts 30 seconds. Considered the earliest known detective movie due to Holmes's presence, even though the film was probably named so just for sake of using a famous name, and the character in the short has little to do with Holmes and doesn't do any detective work.
- The 1916 silent film Sherlock Holmes, starring William Gillette in the title role.
- Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce starred as Holmes and Watson in a popular series of film adaptations in the 1930s and 1940s. The first two ("The Hound of the Baskervilles" and "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes") were produced by 20th Century Fox and were based on, respectively, the Doyle novel and the William Gillette play; both were set in the Victorian era. The others, produced by Universal, moved the setting to the 1940s. Initially, Holmes and Watson fought Those Wacky Nazis, but they later went up against more conventional crooks. Bruce's portrayal of Watson as a bumbling incompetent rather than the original ladykilling man of action helped begin a long chain of similar adaptations.
- The 1932 Czech comedy Lelíček ve slubách Sherlocka Holmese (Lelíček in the service of Sherlock Homes) combines Sherlock Holmes with The Prisoner of Zenda. Holmes is hired by the Prime Minister of Portorico to find a double for their weak and cowardly king Fernando XXIII. Holmes finds Lelíček, a streetwise dept-plagued man from Prague (played by Czech comedy legend Vlasta Burian). Then, while Holmes dismatles a conspiracy against the king, Lelíček manages to survive several attempts at "king's" live and falls in love with the queen.
- In the 1937 German comedy adventure Der Mann, der Sherlock Holmes war (The Man Who Was Sherlock Holmes), two unsuccessful private detectives (Hans Albers and Heinz Rühmann) decide to drum up interest by dressing up as Holmes and Watson. They are met with great deference everywhere, solve the theft of valuable stamps, but are put on trial for impersonation, where they insist that they told everybody that they weren't Holmes and Watson. Conan Doyle is shown laughing his head off in the courtroom audience and mentioning that Holmes and Watson are fictional characters he invented, which means the movie must be set before 1930.
- Hammer Horror adapted The Hound of the Baskervilles in 1959 starring Peter Cushing as Holmes, André Morell as Watson and Christopher Lee as Sir Henry Baskerville. It was supposed to be the first in a series of films, but disappointing box office returns dashed those hopes.
- The 1970 film The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, directed by Billy Wilder.
- The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother, released in 1975, was Gene Wilder's directorial debut. It follows Sherlock's (self-proclaimed) smarter younger brother Siegerson, who attempts to thwart Moriarty on his own.
- A deleted scene in the Neil Simon Detective Movie parody Murder by Death features Holmes and Watson showing up late for the gathering. Edited For Television versions of the film generally restore the cameo.
- 1978's The Hound of the Baskervilles starring Dudley Moore and Peter Cook is one of the worst films ever made. Available to watch on Netflix Watch Instantly, it is a stunningly bad comedy with the entire soundtrack consisting of Moore idly noodling on a piano.
- 1979, Murder by Decree starring Christopher Plummer as Holmes and James Mason as (a Non-Flanderized) Watson on Jack the Ripper case. The basis for the plot was the book Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution by Stephen Knight, the same book that would be the basis for Alan Moore's From Hell some years later. It was seen by some as a Darker and Edgier Sherlock Holmes movie but, given the subject matter, it's understandable. This was the second time Holmes and the Ripper met; the first time was in the 1966 movie A Study in Terror.
- In the 1985 Levinson/Spielberg/Columbus movie Young Sherlock Holmes, a teenaged Holmes and Watson meet at a boarding school decades prior to their adult companionship. (Unusual in that it began with a disclaimer explaining that it was a "What If?" story.)
- In the 1988 movie Without a Clue the Holmes/Watson roles are reversed, with Watson (Ben Kingsley) as the real detective and Holmes (Michael Caine) as an alcoholic actor hired by Watson as his public front.
- In perhaps the most unusual adaptation, there is the 1971 movie They Might Be Giants (from which the band took its name), which starred George C. Scott as a man who thought he was Sherlock Holmes, and Joanne Woodward as his psychiatrist, whose name was Watson. The film itself took its name from a line in Don Quixote.
- A 1986 Soviet comedy called My Dearly Beloved Detective. Not quite an adaptation, since Holmes and Watson are stated to be fictional in-story. However, two ladies with the last names of Holmes and Watson decide to enter the business...
- The 1998 film Zero Effect is a modern-dress US adaptation of "A Scandal in Bohemia", with the Holmes and Watson figures renamed Daryl Zero (Bill Pullman) and Steve Arlo (Ben Stiller). Despite the name changes, the plot and characters are instantly recognizable.
- 2003 saw an adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles which played up Holmes's addiction. It featured Richard Roxbourgh (the Duke in Moulin Rouge!) as Holmes and Ian Hart (Professor Quirrell in the Harry Potter first film) as Watson, and introduced several changes to the story: Dr. Mortimer was much Older and Wiser than in the book, his wife is a believer in the supernatural and holds a party that is very important to the plot, Selden becomes an Ascended Extra, and Beryl Stapleton is murdered by her husband Roger aka the Big Bad.
- Sherlock Holmes (2009), a movie directed by Guy Ritchie with Robert Downey Jr.. as Holmes and Jude Law as Watson released on Christmas Day. Response to the trailer, which basically strung the comedic moments together to make it look more like a spoof than an actual Holmes story, was... controversial... in fandom. The movie received mostly positive reviews, and critics praised Downey Jr's portrayal as the detective (for which he won a Golden Globe) and the chemistry between him and Law. And it was a box-office hit. A sequel to this film, titled Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, came to theaters in December 2011 with Jared Harris as Professor Moriarty and Stephen Fry as Mycroft Holmes.
- The Asylum released Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes directly to DVD in 2010 to piggyback on the Ritchie film. Starring Ben Syder as Holmes and Gareth David-Lloyd as Watson. It's Steampunk and involves dinosaurs.
- Mr. Holmes, a 2015 film based on the novel A Slight Trick of the Mind, follows a 93-year-old Holmes who becomes determined to solve the decades-old mystery that drove him into retirement before his slowly deteriorating mind fails him completely. Ian McKellen plays Holmes.
- Adrian Conan Doyle (son of Arthur Conan Doyle) and John Dickson Carr (Doyle's biographer and friend) wrote a series of short stories called The Exploits of Sherlock Holmes, supposedly the accounts of the cases that Watson mentioned but never made it to the original 56 short stories. Some consider it canon, for being written by Arthur Conan Doyle's son, and treat it as the tenth volume of Sherlock Holmes canon, but many more don't for the obvious fact that it wasn't written or approved by Arthur Conan Doyle (it was written and published after his death) and it was co-written by an unrelated author. Sequels were expected but never produced, mainly because the authors got in a dispute over who wrote what.
- Nicholas Meyer's novel (later adapted to film), The Seven-Per-Cent Solution proposed that the Moriarty stories were complete fictions invented by Watson to cover for Holmes's recovery from cocaine addiction. (This was to explain the canon's apparent contradiction of Moriarty dying in the story that introduced him, yet figuring in other prequel stories.) In the story, Moriarty is revealed as Holmes's childhood maths tutor, whom Holmes had cast as a criminal in his drug-induced delirium. The story ends with a departing Holmes suggesting that Watson explain his absence to the readers by telling them he'd been murdered by his math tutor.
- Laurie R. King's Mary Russell series takes place in the 1910s-20s. The title character, a young woman who comes to live on the Sussex Downs after being orphaned in a car accident, meets the retired Holmes there and becomes first his protege and later his wife.
- Robert L. Fish's ridiculously pun-packed Schlock Homes stories...where to begin...
"My notes for the early part of the year '65 contain several instances of more than passing interest for those who follow the adventures of my friend Mr. Schlock Homes. There was, for example, his brilliant solution to the mysterious gunning down of a retired boilermaker, a case which I find listed as The Adventure of the Shot and the Bier; and there is also reference to the intriguing business of the hitchhiking young actress, noted in my journal as The Adventure of the Ingenue's Thumb." (There's a Holmes adventure of the engineer's thumb.)
- Some titles of stories: "The Adventure of the Printer's Inc.", "The Adventure of the Spectacled Band" (there is a Holmes adventure of the speckled band), "The Adventure of the Snared Drummer", "The Adventure of the Perforated Ulster", "The Adventure of the Dog in the Knight", "The Adventure of the Artist's Mottle"
- Watney's first paragraph of "The Adventure of the Missing Three-Quarters":
- The Enola Holmes series by Nancy Springer, which depicts the adventures of the much younger sister of Sherlock. On top of each mystery, the overall plot arc is the eventual reconciliation of the Holmes siblings as Enola finds that she is a match for her brother in every way for her age and Sherlock learns to admire his brilliant sister as a professional colleague. It has a film adaptation released on Netflix in 2020, starring Millie Bobby Brown as the titular main character and Henry Cavill as the great detective himself.
- Michael Chabon's 2004 novella The Final Solution, in which Holmes (never named directly, but it is clearly him), a 90ish old man living in country retirement as a beekeeper, tries to locate a German Jewish boy's stolen parrot.
- Andrew Lane's Young Sherlock Holmes series (not to be confused with the movie of the same name), chronicling a teenage Sherlock's adventures. These stand to be the only teen novels endorsed by the Doyle Estate.
- Basil of Baker Street, later adapted by Disney as The Great Mouse Detective. A Funny Animal version of the mythos, and many a child's first exposure to Sherlock Holmes. Basil's name is an obvious Shout-Out to Basil Rathbone. In the film, Rathbone himself even has a vocal cameo (albeit one well after his death) as Holmes himself.
- Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street, a popular tongue-in-cheek "biography" of Sherlock Holmes written in 1962 by W.S. Baring-Gould, has been the source of many interesting theories about Holmes, some of which are often assumed to be canon (even in this very entry). These include the idea that the King of Bohemia was Edward VII; that Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler became lovers in Montenegro during the time Holmes was hiding from Moran, and that Irene returned to New Jersey to bear his child, a boy later known as Nero Wolfe note ; that Holmes in his twenties was a stage actor in a company that toured America; that he worked on the Jack the Ripper case; that Watson had three wives; that Holmes's bee-keeping in later years was intended as a way of producing royal jelly, then thought of as a "fountain of youth"; and that Holmes died in the 1950s after spending the war years - when he would have been roughly 90 years old - fighting Nazis. In The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother, the title character, Siegerson, is named for Baring-Gould's Holmes pere. As a way of freeing up Sherlock and Mycroft for their various occupations while still ensuring they were members of the "right" class, Baring-Gould invented Sherringford, the eldest—and smartest—brother, who stayed home in Yorkshire to take care of the responsibilities of a country squire. Sherringford was Holmes's original name in Doyle's first draft of A Study in Scarlet.
- The Hound of the D'Urbervilles by Kim Newman focuses on Professor Moriarty and his subordinate, Sebastian Moran, as they share a series of adventures that oddly echo Holmes's famous cases and have them meeting numerous other characters from Victorian and Edwardian fiction. The last story in the collection, "The Problem of the Final Adventure", retells "The Final Problem" from Moran's point of view.
- Titan Books, Newman's publisher, has an ongoing series of Holmes pastiches.
- Trouble in Bugland: A Collection of Inspector Mantis Mysteries is Sherlock Holmes in "Bugland," where everyone is an insect. Holmes is Inspector Mantis, a praying mantis, and Watson is Doctor Hopper.
- In Poul Anderson's Time Patrol, the Victorian era office would like to hire a contemporary detective, but the only one clever enough is probably clever enough to figure out the Time Patrol. Other clues make it clear who this unnamed detective is.
- The House of Silk, by Anthony Horowitz, follows two crimes that end up closely linked, one where a family is being hounded by an American gang boss and another where Holmes searches for the elusive House of Silk. Notable in that it's the first novel that the Conan Doyle Estate has endorsed.
- Horowitz has since published a follow-up, Moriarty, which begins immediately after the encounter at Reichenbach Falls.
- The Holmes/Dracula Files by Fred Saberhagen, a Crossover novel that's pretty much Exactly What It Says on the Tin; Sherlock Holmes meets Dracula. Also used to explain The Giant Rat of Sumatra.
- Brazilian TV personality Jô Soares (a veteran TV comedian, now known for his David Letterman-style talk show) wrote a book titled "O Xangô de Baker Street". In that book, Holmes was described as knowing the Portuguese language, which helped him since he went to Brazil to try to figure out the identity of a serial killer. His portrayal in that book had him misinterpret clues. He failed, which was attributed to his lack of knowledge of how musical notes were known in Brazil. The culprit, whose identity was revealed to the readers, moved to England and was implied to be Jack the Ripper.
- Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H. Watson, by Lyndsay Faye. Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
- Bert Coules, the writer who set out to dramatize the entire canon for BBC radio, also wrote 15 dramatizations of his own, available from the BBC as The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.
- Contained in Stephen King's short-fiction collection Nightmares & Dreamscapes is the Sherlock Holmes pastiche "The Doctor's Case." A shipping magnate has been murdered in what Lestrade describes as "the perfect locked-room mystery"; Holmes and Watson investigate, and the solution takes an unusual and surprising turn.
- Denis O. Smith's The Lost Chronicles of Sherlock Holmes is twelve new cases from Holmes' early years, in a fair imitation of Doyle's style.
- Michael Kurland's Moriarty novels, beginning with The Infernal Device, are a Perspective Flip in which Moriarty is the protagonist.
- Donald Thomas has published multiple short stories and novella pastiches featuring Holmes and Watson, most recently The Execution of Sherlock Holmes and Other New Adventures of the Great Detective.
- Loren D. Estleman has published crossover novels featuring Holmes meeting up with Dracula and Jekyll and Hyde.
- In the early 2000s, David Pirie wrote three novels featuring Arthur Conan Doyle and Joseph Bell as the detectives. Although the novels are self-enclosed, the larger plot arc remains unfinished.
- Michael Dibdin's take on Sherlock Holmes and Jack the Ripper, The Last Sherlock Holmes Story. Holmes is Jack. He's also Moriarty.
- Manly Wade Wellman wrote one short story in which a by-then elderly Holmes and Watson stop a Nazi agent from setting up an invasion of England in 1940. He also wrote a novel in which Sherlock, Watson, and Sherlock's cousin Professor Challenger help to stop the War of the Worlds. Rather disliked by some fans for setting up a romance between Holmes and Mrs. Hudson.
- Robert Ryan has three novels and a forthcoming collection of short stories in which the primary detective is Watson, not Holmes. They're set during World War I.
- Neil Gaiman's 2003 story A Study in Emerald puts Sherlock Holmes characters in a Cthulhu Mythos setting, where the Earth is ruled by the Great Old Ones.
- Bob Garcia's novels (for some reason they don't appear to be translated into English as of 2016, although they are available in a few other languages). A fair deal more horror than canon.
- G. S. Denning's Warlock Holmes series is an Affectionate Parody of the canon, in which Holmes is a Cloud Cuckoo Lander wizard over two centuries old whose mind is filled with demons, Watson is the actual brains of the outfit and (usually) Only Sane Man, and Lestrade is a vampire.
- The Inspector Lestrade series by M. J. Trow, portraying him as a skilled detective who is very irritated that John Watson chose to make him look like an idiot to make Holmes look good. The end of the third volume reveals that during a rest cure in the Swiss Alps, Holmes murdered a certain professor of mathematics under the impression the man was Watson.
- Two Hundred and Twenty One Baker Streets is an anthology of stories re-imagining Holmes in many different times and places, from 17th century Scotland and 1970s New York to contemporary South Africa and a robot-populated far future.
- Keisuke Matsuoka's Sherlock Holmes: A Scandal in Japan has Holmes going to Japan after defeating Moriarty in Reichenbach Falls and investigating a scandal that would ruin the fragile relations between the Meiji-era Japan and the Tsarist Russia. He also teams up with Hirobumi Ito, the first Prime Minister of Japan.
- James Lovegrove's The Cthulhu Casebooks trilogy which is a crossover between Holmes and the Cthulhu Mythos.
- Former NBA legend, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, wrote a book series about Sherlock's older brother, Mycroft Holmes.
- Michael Hardwick (who had previously adapted one Holmes story for radio and two for television, and written the novelization of the film The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes) wrote two Holmes novels, The Prisoner of the Devil (1979, in which Holmes is called in to investigate the Dreyfuss Affair) and The Revenge of the Hound (1987, in which Holmes investigates a supposed return of the Hound of the Baskervilles). He later wrote The Private Life of Dr. Watson, Watson's memoirs of his life before meeting Holmes, and Holmes' own memoirs, Sherlock Holmes: My Life and Crimes.
- Leonard Goldberg is writing the Daughter of Sherlock Holmes series, about the adventures of Joanne Blalock - the illegitimate daughter of Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler (the result of an unintended drug-induced one night stand rather than any sort of romance) - and John Watson, Jr in 1914 London.