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Funny / Sherlock Holmes

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    Original Arthur Conan Doyle Canon 
  • A Study In Scarlet: Watson meets Sherlock Holmes for the first time, in a college medical lab as the latter is squeeing over, apparently, inventing luminol.
    • The list Watson makes entitled "Sherlock Holmes: His Limits".
    • Watson finds out that Holmes doesn't know that the earth travels around the sun. Holmes proceeds to act patronizing and give him the memorable "brain attic" speech. The response is classic Watson:
    • Watson summarizing what the newspapers had to say about the murders: each and every one of them blames the government for it (the Daily Mail even recommends keeping a closer watch on foreigners, nothing has changed in over a hundred years).
    • Coupled with Hilarious in Hindsight: When he's about to introduce Watson to Sherlock for the first time, Watson's college chum remarks flippantly that he can imagine Holmes giving a friend a mild dose of poison just to see the effects firsthand - "And, to do him justice, I think he would take the same dose himself." Many, many adventures later, in the Adventure of the Devil's Foot, he is proven correct on both counts.
  • The constable who found the body is in bed and not especially keen to speak to Holmes.
    “I made my report at the office,” he said.
    Holmes took a half-sovereign from his pocket and played with it pensively. “We thought that we should like to hear it all from your own lips,” he said.
    “I shall be most happy to tell you anything I can,” the constable answered with his eyes upon the little golden disk.
  • After hearing the constable's account, Holmes and Watson head home for lunch. Holmes, quite intensely discussing the case, switches abruptly to talking about music.
    "There’s the scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life, and our duty is to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch of it. And now for lunch, and then for Norman Neruda. Her attack and her bowing are splendid. What’s that little thing of Chopin’s she plays so magnificently: Tra-la-la-lira-lira-lay.”
    Leaning back in the cab, this amateur bloodhound carolled away like a lark while I meditated upon the many-sidedness of the human mind.
  • "The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton:" Lestrade comes and gives Holmes a description of one of the men seen fleeing Milverton's residence the night he was murdered. Holmes laughs at the vagueness of the description and declines to take the case. "Why, that might even be a description of Watson..."
  • The Red-Headed League features an in-story example; a combination of Jabez Wilson's twist of luck where the League suddenly closes on him, his showing of the sign informing of said closure to Holmes and Watson, and his absolute dead-serious face when retelling the tale proves too much for both Holmes and Watson to bear, and they burst out laughing.
    • This is actually a particularly good example of Doyle's deftness with prose. Wilson's elaborately detailed and dramatic retelling of his mysterious experiences, which are punctured by a note saying nothing but the phrase "The Red-Headed League Is Dissolved." It also delves into the realm of Inherently Funny Words.
  • Working for the Red-Headed League involved Mr Wilson copying out the A-section of the Encyclopædia Britannica for four pounds a day. After the League dissolves, Mr Wilson is quite miffed about not being paid anymore.
    “As far as you are personally concerned,” remarked Holmes, “I do not see that you have any grievance against this extraordinary league. On the contrary, you are, as I understand, richer by some £30, to say nothing of the minute knowledge which you have gained on every subject which comes under the letter A.”
  • This exchange from "A Scandal in Bohemia"—
    Holmes: If this young person [Irene Adler] should produce her letters for blackmailing or other purposes, how is she to prove their authenticity?
    Grand Duke of Cassel-Felstein: There is the writing.
    Holmes: Pooh, pooh! Forgery.
    Grand Duke: My private notepaper.
    Holmes: Stolen.
    Grand Duke: My own seal.
    Holmes: Imitated.
    Grand Duke: My photograph.
    Holmes: Bought.
    Grand Duke: We were both in the photograph.
    Holmes: Oh, dear! That is very bad!
    • Holmes gets a lovely little bit of snark in against the King of Bohemia later in the story, after the King declares (of Irene Adler), "Is it not a pity that she was not on my level?" "From what I have seen of the lady she seems indeed to be on a very different level to your Majesty."
  • At the start of The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet the client is described as approaching 221b while waggling his hands in the air, leaping and running in great agitation. As soon as he arrives at the flat, having nearly torn the bell from the wall, and sits down he immediately jumps up again and starts banging his head against the wall. Holmes and Watson have to wrestle him into a chair, Holmes patting his hand and soothing him like an upset child.
  • Holmes' Last-Second Word Swap in The Adventure of the Norwood Builder. "Arrest you! This really is most grati—most interesting. On what charge do you expect to be arrested?" Even funnier when you try to picture the look on his face (it isn't described so you've got free rein here).
  • Holmes' snark is legendary for a reason. Case in point, in The Boscombe Valley Mystery:
    "We have got to the deductions and the inferences," said Lestrade, winking at me. "I find it hard enough to tackle facts, Holmes, without flying away after theories and fancies."
    "You are right," said Holmes demurely; "you do find it very hard to tackle the facts."
  • At one point Holmes and Watson are heading to a concert — or "off to violin-land," as Holmes puts it.
  • The opening paragraphs of "The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual," where Watson describes how Holmes lives, saying that he himself is no neat freak, but:
    when I find a man who keeps his cigars in the coal-scuttle, his tobacco in the toe end of a Persian slipper, and his unanswered correspondence transfixed by a jack-knife into the very centre of his wooden mantelpiece, then I begin to give myself virtuous airs. I have always held, too, that pistol practice should distinctly be an open-air pastime; and when Holmes in one of his queer humours would sit in an arm-chair with his hair-trigger and a hundred Boxer cartridges, and proceed to adorn the opposite wall with a patriotic V. R. done in bullet-pocks, I felt strongly that neither the atmosphere nor the appearance of our room was improved by it.
  • The Sign of (the) Four gives us Watson's love-induced Malapropisms: he relates the story of how, upon seeing the head of a rifle poke into his tent in Afghanistan, he proceeded to shoot it to death with a tiger cub, and also recommends to the hypochondriac client to take plenty of strychnine (essentially a poison) but to caution against excessive amounts of castor oil (which is mostly harmless). Extra hilarity points for being informed of his errors only after the entire story occurs, when "he" is writing it!
    • Extra points too for stealth scatology: castor oil is a laxative.
    • Also, Toby the dog, while leading Holmes and Watson on the trail of creosote (because the suspect they're following stepped in it), accidentally latches onto the trail of a creosote merchant and instead leads them to an entire stockpile of the stuff in a back alley. The incredibly proud look he gives them, complete with eagerly wagging tail, when he finds it sends both men into hysterical laughter.
    • When Watson and Holmes discover the murder, the reaction of the police inspector summoned to the scene is to arrest everyone else in the household, on the mere assumption that someone had to be in on it. Reading about this in the paper the next day, Watson snarks that it's a wonder the two of them weren't arrested too, and Holmes tells him not to rule it out. Then there's a ring at the door and Watson has a brief Oh, Crap!.
  • In "The Veiled Lodger," Watson writes a decidedly miffed statement to his readers regarding attempts to steal unpublished case notes, and blackmails some unnamed individual by threatening to reveal "the story of the politician, the lighthouse, and the trained cormorant," if the theft attempts continue, sternly warning, basically, "you know who you are!"
  • In the beginning of "The Adventure of the Dancing Men," Holmes, after some long hours wrapped up in a chemical experiment, suddenly notes that Watson does not intend to invest in South African securities. When Watson reacts with shock, Holmes wheels on him and demands that he admit to being entirely taken aback and goes so far as to say he ought to make Watson put it in writing, as once Holmes explains himself, Watson will declare the matter as absurdly simple. Watson insists that he'll do no such thing, and so Holmes leads him through the inferences that led him to the revelation. Watson's response?
    "How absurdly simple!"
  • In "The Adventure of the Empty House" Holmes struggles to say something complimentary about Lestrade's performance while he's been gone:
    Holmes: [Y]ou handled the Molesey Mystery with less than your usual—that's to say, you handled it fairly well.
  • The note that brings Holmes into "The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire" might be, as Holmes says, a perfect blend of "the modern and the medieval [and] the practical and of the wildly fanciful", but it's also possibly the most bemused Victorian middle-class English way of saying "we think this guy's batpoop crazy so we're foisting him off on you" ever put in writing:
    Our client, Mr. Robert Ferguson, of Ferguson and Muirhead, tea brokers, of Mincing Lane, has made one inquiry from us in a communication of even date concerning vampires. As our firm specialises entirely upon the assessment of machinery the matter hardly comes within our purview, and we have therefore recommended Mr. Ferguson to call upon you and lay the matter before you.
  • In The Noble Bachelor, Lord St. Simon rather pompously asserts that no doubt Holmes has never had a client of his particular station in life before. Holmes genially agrees, and remarks that he’s descending — his last client was the King of Scandinavia.
    • To which further Hypocritical Humor is added; Lord St. Simon, having made a big deal about how he guards his privacy very jealousy, does not trust placing his secrets in the hands of a mere hired detective, and will not look favourably on any hint of scandal arising from his dealings with Holmes, immediately becomes very interested in exactly what the nature of Holmes's work for the King of Sweden actually was. Holmes chidingly points out that Lord St. Simon can hardly expect him to betray the confidentiality of one of his clients.
  • The entire premise of the Sherlock Holmes Christmas special "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle" revolving around geese.
    • Holmes's response when the astonished neighbour rushes into the apartment saying, "The goose, sir! The goose!" "Eh? What of it, then? Has it returned to life and flapped off through the kitchen window?"
    • When Holmes asks a man for his name.
    The man hesitated for an instant. “My name is John Robinson,” he answered with a sidelong glance.
    “No, no; the real name,” said Holmes sweetly. “It is always awkward doing business with an alias.”
    • More amusing if you consider that perhaps half the people Holmes knows, given his penchant for disguises, only know him by one of his aliases!
  • In "The Hound of the Baskervilles" Watson and Holmes find the body of someone killed by the hound. Naturally, both are horrified. Then Holmes looks at bit closer and starts dancing about and laughing about the man having a beard. Turns out it's the body of Mrs. Barrymore's criminal brother - much to Holmes and Watson's relief, who had assumed Sir Henry was the one who had been killed.
  • "How Watson Learned the Trick" isn't included in most collections, which is a shame, as it was written by Doyle and serves as a hilarious moment between Holmes and Watson.
    • "I have no doubt that I could find other points, Holmes, but I only give you these few, in order to show you that there are other people in the world who can be as clever as you."
    • "And some not so clever," said Holmes. "I admit that they are few, but I am afraid, my dear Watson, that I must count you among them."
  • "The Blanched Soldier" is penned by Holmes because Watson had apparently "worried [Holmes] to write an experience of [his] own", since Holmes had "rather invited this persecution" by his frequent criticism of Watson's "superficial" accounts that "[pander] to popular taste". A highly irritated Watson had apparently retorted, "Try it yourself, Holmes!" and even the Great Detective is forced to admit that he must interest the reader rather than "[confine] himself rigidly to facts and figures" when he finally sat down to write it.

    Granada TV series 
  • The opening credits. A group of young boys are at a shop window pulling faces at a salesman in the middle of serving a customer. The one at the front gets so involved in it that he doesn't notice a policeman march up behind them until it's too late, and receives a clip around the ear for his troubles.
  • After Holmes punches the hell out of Woodley in "The Solitary Cyclist", the tavern patrons treated to the display of pugilistic perfection respond by applauding.
  • At the end of "The Copper Beeches", this conversation that follows Watson reading aloud his canonical journal entry:
    Watson: There, Holmes. Your verdict?
    Holmes: An admirable account, Watson.
    Watson: Oh, you don't think I've put too much color and life into it?
    Holmes: *turns around in his seat to face Watson* Oh, my dear friend, I humbly defer such considerations to your excellent literary judgment. *turns back to the camera so that Watson cannot see his face*
    Watson: *proudly smiles* Good!
    Holmes: *gives a sarcastic, Fascinating Eyebrow look to the camera*
    • "You are always in a disputatious mood when you choose that pipe!"
  • Jeremy Brett's depictions of Holmes as a hyperactive misfit in general (i.e. jumping over the sofa to call Watson back into the room during "The Red-Headed League"). Portraying Holmes as quirky is nothing new, but Brett's were incredibly well done.
    • At the end of another episode Holmes is so hyped up at having solved a case neatly that he actually jumps for joy shouting "Wha-hey!"
  • In "The Resident Patient", Holmes tears his office up and flung papers all around trying to find some information. Watson comes in and with aplomb goes to a file box and picks out the paper Holmes was looking for.
    • Even more funny is the implication that he might have trashed his office on purpose. As he and Watson are heading out to return to the crime scene, Mrs. Hudson stops them to praise Watson's craftsmanship (he was in the process of building a model ship), and Holmes conspicuously doesn't look at her as he departs. It's not out of the question to believe that he was still miffed about being chased out of his apartment by her housecleaning, and so deliberately undid all her hard work out of spite.
    • Mrs. Hudson puts up with so much from her lodgers. Her reaction when she sees the blizzard of paper Holmes unleashed upon 221B is hilarious, as is Holmes opening the door when she was just on the other side, nearly causing her to stumble into the room in an earlier scene.
  • In "The Greek Interpreter", when Holmes, Watson, and Mycroft are rushing to catch the train the murderers are on, the following exchange occurs:
    Sherlock: Mycroft!
    Mycroft: I'm not built for running, Sherlock!
    • And then, a moment later when they're in the compartment, Sherlock is calmly smoking a cigarette... right next to the sign that says "Smoking is Strictly Prohibited in this Compartment."
  • At the beginning of "A Scandal in Bohemia" Watson offered his hand to the king-in-disguise and was ignored. At the end of the episode, the King offers his hand to Holmes, who turns away — and Watson steps in, gives a sharp shake and a very polite nod, and waves the man out.
  • In "The Six Napoleons", Lestrade is waiting in the sitting room for Holmes and Watson to return, looking bored out of his mind — until he catches sight of the papers on the table beside Holmes' chair and so nonchalantly starts to finger through them. While this is going on, Holmes watches him through the half-closed doorway and waves Watson over so that he can see. Then, the duo quickly duck back down the hall and "enter" loudly, giving Lestrade the chance to stop snooping and act all innocent when they come in.
  • Holmes giggling when he hears Shinwell Johnson's nickname "Porky" for the first time in "The Illustrious Client".
  • The bit during "The Red Headed League" when Holmes and Watson both double over laughing at the client for his seemingly ridiculous story. Bonus points for Holmes's attempts to shush Watson and keep his own poker face, both of which fail miserably.
  • From The Master Blackmailer. Poor Mrs. Hudson has so much to put up with—
    Holmes: Mrs. Hudson, why did you tidy up for me? Where the hell are my shoes?!?
  • The end of "Shoscombe Old Place", which concerns some dodgy dealings surrounding a racehorse. Watson's reading about the horse's victory in the paper and tut-tutting about how disgraceful the situation is... before Holmes 'innocently' inquires about how much money Watson made betting on said horse (with what was implied to be a certain amount of insider knowledge about what was going on thanks to following Holmes on the case). Much to Holmes' amusement, Watson is forced to sheepishly admit that it was a pretty tidy sum, actually.
  • Holmes accidentally setting some newspapers on fire after tossing a lit match aside after lighting his pipe in "The Second Stain".
  • At the beginning of "The Boscombe Valley Mystery", Watson is enjoying a few days away from Baker Street and indulging in some fishing when Holmes shows up to drag him along to the case of the week. While Holmes is explaining the details, Watson spies a nice big fish nearby and tries to lure it in. Holmes invites him along. Watson, of course, genially agrees. Holmes then casually remarks that they'd better hurry, since the train leaves in thirty-five minutes... thus bringing Watson's holiday to a rather more abrupt end than he was anticipating.
  • In "The Solitary Cyclist" Watson is sent by Holmes to do some investigating. However, he doesn't do as well as Holmes wanted and after a harsh critique of Watson's sleuthing skills this exchange happens:
    Watson looking like a hurt child: "Holmes... did I really do that badly?"
    Holmes looking like a disappointed parent: (Beat) "Yes."
    • At the start of that episode, Holmes is about to perform a chemical test that will apparently resolve a key question of an unrelated case when the client of the episode comes in, causing him to set his chemistry set aside. At the end of the episode, with the case resolved, Holmes once again attempts the test. In the next scene, 221B is filling with smoke, Holmes and Watson have shoved their heads out the window to get fresh air, and someone on the street has summoned a fire engine. This was apparently what Holmes was expecting to happen.
  • In "The Blue Carbuncle," Holmes contrives to get the information he needs from an uncooperative goose-seller by playing to the man's fondness for gambling, first making up a fictitious bet with Watson about the origins of the geese and then further betting the seller a sovereign on the same matter. The whole exchange is golden, as Watson almost immediately begins pestering Holmes to concede and pay up while Holmes refuses to take the seller's word until he shows the records which prove him (and Holmes' suspicion) right. Holmes thus flips him the coin, but as he and Watson turn to go, the seller isn't satisfied:
    Seller: What about this gentleman's fiver?!
    [Watson looks smug as hell and thrusts out his hand for the note as Holmes, taken aback, has to fish out his wallet. Though Watson hands the money back as soon as they're out of sight.]
    • Earlier Holmes and Watson are at the Alpha Inn. Holmes buys a couple of beers as a prelude to inquiring about the geese. Holmes leaves as soon as he has the information, to Watson's disappointment.
    • Before that, Mrs. Hudson tries to wake up Holmes because the commissionaire, Peterson, wants to inquire about the hat and the goose which is related to the episode's case. Holmes, who is Not a Morning Person, groans telling Mrs. Hudson to "go away" like a kid telling his mom that he's trying to sleep.
  • In "The Cardboard Box", Mrs. Hudson takes the aspidistra plant after cleaning up, causing Holmes to yell, "MRS HUDSON! How dare you take my aspidistra!", to which Mrs. Hudson retorts, "I do dare!"
    • When Holmes arrived home after buying Watson's Christmas present, he spots a small Christmas tree and asks Watson what is it as if the tree is some suspicious object. While Watson and the client, Miss Cushing are discussing the case, Holmes put Christmas decorations on his chemistry set. Once he's done, he smiles and says, "Charming".
  • In "The Golden Pince-Nez", the Holmes brothers are looking into the keyhole of the victim's desk. Mycroft pulls out a small magnifying glass to look at the keyhole. Then, Sherlock recognizes that it's their father's magnifying glass, finding it ironic that he gave to his lazy older brother.
    Sherlock: That's father's magnifying glass.
    Mycroft: Yes.
    Sherlock: He gave to you?
    Mycroft: Hmm.
    Sherlock:(sigh) How ironic...
    The adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson 
  • Watson's initial suspicion of Holmes being a criminal mastermind, which definitely qualifies as Entertainingly Wrong.
  • The famous long underwear boxing scene, and how Holmes goes about Watson's suspicions.
  • When making an observation exercise, Holmes surprises Watson with his ability to undercover a passersby's whole life, only to reveal later that he knows him that well because it's his brother, Mycroft.
  • In the Milverton episode, how Watson gets offended because Holmes flirted with a service woman to find out how to break into the house of the titular blackmailer, and locks himself in his room. Holmes continues the conversation calmly, and Watson opens the door occasionally to respond, only to close it again.
  • In the same episode, how bad a thief Watson turns out to be. He leaves his handkerchief and one shoe behind, not to speak of the mud prints that he noticed just before Milverton entered, and that he then procedes to clean frantically, so desperate at the end that he uses his own saliva. And right after Holmes had called him a born thief, too.
  • Any time they laugh together could qualify as this, mainly because of the explosive laughter of Livanov.
  • Probably toes into Narm territory, but the speech of the owner of the Sweden inn just after Holmes "dies" has an unnatural and exaggerated tone to it that, despite the overall seriousness of the moment, one can't help but laugh.
  • Watson being Entertainingly Wrong again in the finale, when he overhears Holmes talk with a German spy and actually believes his friend is about to commit treason and start a war. Apparently he hasn't learned by now.


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