Follow TV Tropes


Ho Yay / Sherlock Holmes

Go To

    open/close all folders 

     The Stories 

Sherlock Holmes and his biographer/only friend/soul mate Watson. It's blatant enough even without the exceptionally slashy Granada TV series starring Jeremy Brett and David Burke/Edward Hardwicke. "My very intimate relationship" indeed. Brett noted in interviews that he was playing the relationship as that of an old married couple.

  • Decoding the Subtext, a book-length analysis of Holmes and Watson's relationship throughout the entire canon.
  • The Dying Detective
    Holmes: "There are the wheels, Watson. Quick, man, if you love me!"
  • The Adventure of the Three Garridebs. Watson getting shot was Holmes' Berserk Button.
    Watson: It was worth a wound — it was worth many wounds — to know the depth of loyalty and love which lay behind that cold mask. The clear, hard eyes were dimmed for a moment, and the firm lips were shaking. For the one and only time I caught a glimpse of a great heart as well as of a great brain. All my years of humble but single-minded service culminated in that moment of revelation.
  • The Adventure of the Empty House
    Watson: "Certainly a gray mist swirled before my eyes, and when it cleared I found my collar ends undone and a tingling aftertaste of brandy upon my lips. Holmes was bending over my chair, his flask in hand."
  • The Adventure of the Speckled Band: When Holmes gets scared he holds Watson's hand. If that isn't Ho Yay, what is?
    Watson: Holmes was for the moment as startled as I. His hand closed like a vice upon my wrist in his agitation.
  • Spoofed here. Holmes gets quite excited when he solves a case.
  • Perhaps picking up on some UST, one old Epileptic Tree - by the creator of Nero Wolfe of all people - was that Watson was a woman.
    • And that Epileptic Tree contains even more evidence of their intimate relationship which stands tall regardless of Watson's gender.
    • Another theory is that it's Holmes who was the woman... and if Watson didn't notice that he's not much good as either a detective or a doctor, frankly...
    • Either that or one was covering up the gender of the other in order to prevent shocking Victorian society to complete apoplexy. The thought of a woman involving herself in murders, blackmail scandals and crimes? The scandal!
    • Coupled with, if we still accept the UST, the thought of an unmarried man and woman living together in sin.
  • In "The Adventure of the Norwood Builder", Watson reveals that he moved back in with Holmes because Holmes asked him to. However, Holmes used his own money and got a distant relative to secretly buy Watson's medical practice, something Watson didn't know about until years later. Holmes really, really wanted his Boswell back...
  • "The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton". All of it. From holding hands to a willingness to share a prison cell together, the entire case is full of Ho Yay moments.
  • From A Study In Scarlet, Sherlock likes it when Watson thinks he’s clever.
    Watson: My companion flushed up with pleasure at my words, and the earnest way in which I uttered them. I had already observed that he was as sensitive to flattery on the score of his art as any girl could be of her beauty.
  • Holmes and Watson use the word "intimate" to describe their relationship no fewer than three times between "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" and "The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes." (Once when Watson describes his time with Sherlock as "the years of our intimacy", once when Sherlock calls Watson his "intimate friend" — to a client! — and another time by Watson, though I can't remember the exact wording.)
  • Ladies and gentlemen, may I direct your attention to Howard K. Elcock's delightfully slashy illustration at the beginning of The Illustrious Client. Holmes and Watson are pictured relaxing and smoking together after having enjoyed a Turkish bath. No, really.
  • From The Resident Patient:
    Watson: "My dear Holmes!" I ejaculated.
  • Watson is often just as prone to singing the praises of attractive men as of attractive women. In particular, he seems rather taken with Holmes's eyes. And his hands. Those hands....
  • What were Holmes and Watson doing in the several-hour time skip between arriving at Stoke Moran and investigating the crime? Remember, Watson didn't comment that their room was double-bedded....

Of course, there's more than just Holmes and Watson.

  • From "The Adventure of Wisteria Lodge":
    There is, on the face of it, something unnatural about this strange and sudden friendship between the young Spaniard and Scott Eccles.
  • Dodd's deep love of Godfrey in "The Blanched Soldier" seems like more than friendship, especially considering that they were in the military together.

And don't forget that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wanted to finish his writing career right after publishing A Study in Scarlet. It was a chance meeting with one Oscar Wilde that inspired him to continue the whole Holmes business. Take that as you will.

     The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970) 
  • Deliberately invoked by Holmes, who claims to be gay, and in a relationship with Watson, to get out of marrying a Russian countess. Watson is not amused, and fumes about the potential scandal, before calming down and remembering that it's only a rumor, and he has women on three continents who can vouch for him. Holmes, however, is less than forthcoming about whether there are any women who can vouch for him.
    Watson: I hope I'm not being presumptuous, but there have been women in your life?
    Holmes: The answer is yes... you’re being presumptuous.
  • After this scene in the original full script, Rogozhin refers to Watson as "Mrs Holmes" before giving him a bouquet and asking him on a date, which Watson considers going to, albeit with a very different reason in mind.
  • The flower Watson wears for most of the first vignette seems to be a carnation, a symbol of homosexuality popularized by Oscar Wilde at that time.
  • Watson shows no hesitation chatting with Holmes face to face while the latter is bathing nude, as if it's the most normal thing for flatmates to do.
  • Even at times when it's unnecessary to stay in disguise as the Ashdowns and their valet, Holmes still occasionally refers to Watson on a First-Name Basis. Aww.
  • This exchange:
    Holmes: Would you pass the cranberry sauce, John?
    Watson: Yes, dear.

     The Adventure Of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother (1975) 
  • Moriarty with both his dragon and with Gambetti.
  • Sigerson and Stanley Sacker, when they grab each other's bare bottoms and dance together out of the room.

     Sherlock Holmes In The Twenty Second Century 
  • The first episode, where Holmes says he misses Watson "more than I care to admit."
  • The multiple times a villain threatens Watson, prompting rare looks of concern on Holmes part.
  • Holmes, in a female disguise, flirts with Watson and actually gets a blush out of him. Seriously.
  • Holmes' comment that he and Watson are "off to urgently waste some time."

     The 2009 Movie Version 

     Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011) 


    Miss Sherlock 

     The Granada TV Series 

  • Despite being one of the most faithful adaptations ever filmed, the show does make one large alteration to the canon: Watson never gets married. There are practical reasons for doing this, namely allowing the show to adapt whichever stories it liked, in whichever order it liked, without having to keep track of which ones Watson was married in or not. (Not that this bothered Doyle much.) However, the practical upshot is that, in the show, Watson remains a “confirmed bachelor”, living with Sherlock Holmes his entire life. Aw!
  • I dare you to watch Jeremy Brett as Holmes and say that he's not absolutely smitten with both of his Watsons.
  • In The Norwood Builder, when Holmes disguises himself as a tramp and talks to the ex-army sergeant living rough in the woods near the house. The sergeant tells him all about the ex-sailor who "shared his billet" and then disappeared after telling him about the warm welcome he got at the builder's house, and acts more like a spurned lover than an abandoned friend.
  • The Speckled Band... Holmes and Watson spend the night in a little cabin, to observe a house. Holmes says that he feels guilty for putting Watson in danger by having him here, and is obviously grateful for his presence. Then, when Watson falls asleep, Holmes wakes him as gently as possible by touching his shoulder.

     The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson 
  • The Soviet Holmes series is slash catnip. The first two episodes alone have: Holmes asking Watson on a date, Watson telling Stamford "there is much attractive about Sherlock Holmes" (despite suspecting Holmes of being a criminal mastermind at the time), the infamous Underwear Boxing Scene, and Holmes and an injured Watson cuddling in a cab.
  • Not to mention that, in contrast with other colder adaptations of the character, Holmes is so attentive with Watson from moment one that it seems he is shamelessly flirting with his new roommate.

     BBC Radio 
  • In "The Devil's Foot", when Holmes and Watson are near death from the drug, their hallucinations apparently involve reciting Richard Wagner's Tristan und Isolde (Wagner) to each other:
    So let us die and never part,
    Together for the rest of time,
    No more waking, no more fearing,
    Nameless, endless, loving, sharing

     Frogwares Video Games 
  • Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened:
    • It gets Lampshaded and Played for Laughs: Holmes and Watson's investigations lead them to a brothel in New Orleans. The Madam of the brothel assumes that they're prospective customers, but upon discovering that they've lost all their money to a thief, laughingly tells them that at least since there's two of them, they can lend each other a hand. The game's Watson, an unusually naive interpretation of the character, is completely clueless as to what she means. Holmes offers a knowing look but refrains from comment.
    • At one point earlier in the game, Holmes copies down a page from a book on the history of piracy. In addition to all the story-relevant information, the page opens with a tail-end fragment of a sentence that seems to relate a particular pirate captain's predilection for seducing his men. So, did Holmes just indiscriminately copy down everything on the page, or is that information relevant to his other interests...?
  • Sherlock Holmes Versus Arsène Lupin:
    • The entire concept lends itself to the interpretation that Holmes and Lupin are flirting with each other like crazy. It's the only game in the series with no murders or mortal peril involved, instead focusing on the greatest detective and the greatest thief engaging in a high-stakes yet nevertheless mostly friendly battle of wits, with plenty of mutual respect and admiration on both sides. The fact that the whole game is set up around Lupin manoeuvering bigger and bigger set pieces to make Holmes pay more and more attention to him is pretty suggestive, and the two are clearly just fascinated with each other.
    • The fact that - according to the Early-Bird Cameo newspaper article Holmes reads in the previous game - Lupin often gets away with his crimes by literally seducing his targets is quite suggestive, too, when you consider how much more energy he puts into targeting Holmes than most of the other people he's shown stealing from.
  • Sherlock Holmes Versus Jack the Ripper:
    • Watson is once again Mistaken for Gay when his inquiries into the activities of a known homosexual lead several of the people he's interviewing to infer that they're somehow intimately involved. Though Watson is less clueless this time round than he was in Awakened, once again the suggestion goes right over his head.
    • In an example that probably Crosses the Line Twice, Holmes repeatedly insists that he and Watson re-enact Jack the Ripper's crimes, casting himself as the Ripper and Watson as the victim. Including some very suggestive acts of straddling, though it's hard to regard it as in any way erotic given the context. The results (especially considering this is a game from 2009 with graphics and animations that weren't top-of-the-line even at the time) are bizarrely sexual, borderline offensive, and hilarious all at the same time.
  • The Testament of Sherlock Holmes includes a scene where Watson and Holmes reunite after Watson briefly believed Holmes to have been killed by the police upon being revealed as a criminal mastermind - neither of which turns out to be true, obviously. The two embrace, but their character models do this by approaching each other very slowly and without moving their heads until the last second, making it look very much like they were about to kiss before going for the hug instead.
  • Throughout the series, this version of Holmes seems - if not homosexual himself - at least to be aware of, and broadly sympathetic to, men who are. The best example happens in Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments: The sons of two prominent Members of Parliament have been found on a rowing boat floating down the Thames, naked and tied together. Lestrade and Scotland Yard are investigating it as an assault perpetrated by the Merry Men (the anarcho-socialist movement who are the game's de-facto main antagonists). Holmes, however, merely quirks an eyebrow, makes a statement about "young love", and refuses to help with the investigation - leaving Lestrade and Watson looking very confused.
  • Sherlock Holmes: The Devil's Daughter:
    • The other titular character in The Devil's Daughter is a young girl who Holmes adopted. The fact that Holmes and Watson openly discuss decisions about her upbringing makes it seem like they're raising her together, which some players have noted is fairly suggestive of deliberate Ship Tease. The fact that The Devil's Daughter is a Continuity Reboot for the Frogwares games, complete with younger, Hotter and Sexier character models for Holmes and (particularly) Watson, surely adds some fuel to this particular fire.
    • When Katelyn pays an unexpected visit, Holmes points out that it's a small flat, there are only two bedrooms and she'll need somewhere to sleep. Watson immediately volunteers his room for the duration of her stay. Which logically raises the question of where Watson reckons he's going to be sleeping...
  • Sherlock Holmes Chapter One plays up to this no end. Since it's a prequel, the Jon who accompanies 21-year-old Sherlock on his first case is a Suspiciously Similar Substitute for John Watson, and promotional materials have laid on implications about their relationship pretty thick. There's even a stair bannister in Sherlock's childhood home with "S+J" very prominently carved into it. It doesn't help that Jon calls him "Sherry" endearingly.
    • Before Sherlock decides to pursue the final case (the death of his mother) in the family garden, Jon asks him if he's ready to handle it, warning him that it will be too painful to bear those memories. Once Sherlock makes up his mind to pursue the truth, Jon tells him to be careful and that he loves him. Make that what you will.
  • Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened Remake:
    • This game carries on the Continuity Reboot established in Chapter One, with the new context to the narrative of The Awakened that this timeline takes place before Sherlock and Watson have gotten very close - they begin the game more or less as amicable room mates. That said, even from the start, this continuity's take on Watson is shown to be quite patient with Sherlock's eccentricities and instability, gently leading him to acknowledge a mistake rather than being openly annoyed by his manic antics. Over the course of the game, as they open up to one another about their traumas and survive disturbing circumstances, the story gradually becomes a sort of Hurt/Comfort Fic, with Sherlock repeatedly needing to seek reassurance and safety from Watson's presence as he has episodes of (ambiguously eldritch-inflicted) instability, and Watson goes to incredible and sometimes embarrassing lengths to support Sherlock as much as he can.