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Sherlock Homage

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Complimentary, my dear Watson!

For over a century, Sherlock Holmes has been one of the icons of English-language mystery fiction, and the character's popularity has spread around the world and through multiple media. Not surprisingly for such an influential character, Holmes has become a Fountain of Expies. Most post-Holmes Great Detectives have some Holmesian influence, but in the case of the Sherlock Homage this is particularly blatant.

Sherlock Homages are intelligent, cerebral, eccentric characters who solve mysteries and are very good at it. They may be heroes or antiheroes, but are never outright villains. While they often have a keen understanding of human behavior in a Guile Hero sort of way, the typical Sherlock Homage is not a people person - whether due to introversion, Intelligence Equals Isolation, or being a bit of a jerk. Sherlock Homages favor logic over emotion, and if they do have unexpected reserves of feeling they tend not to be gushy about it. They often have other traits inspired by aspects of Sherlock Holmes' character, such as:


  • Deadpan Snarker tendencies
  • Being a Badass Bookworm, often with martial arts skills
  • Eccentricity, perhaps (especially in more recent adaptations) to the point of Ambiguous Disorder
  • Substance abuse issues
  • Being a Celibate Hero
  • Hyper-Awareness or unusually keen senses
  • Wearing a deerstalker hat or smoking a pipe (sometimes producing them out of nowhere)
    • note that in the iconic Sydney Paget illustrations, Holmes is depicted as a conventionally dressed gentleman-about-town, only wearing a deerstalker or smoking a pipe where it would be usual to do so
  • Having a sidekick, who may be a Watson homage
  • Having an Evil Counterpart, who may be a Moriarty homage

In series in which the original Sherlock Holmes stories exist, the Sherlock Homage may be an Ascended Fanboy and fully aware of their similarities. It isn't rare for a character who's not a Sherlock Homage all the time to spontaneously adopt Holmesian traits if the plot ever requires them to solve a mystery. Parodies of this trope, in which a character has the appearance of a Sherlock Homage but the skills of a Clueless Detective, are also common.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • L in Death Note is his world's greatest detective. (Also second and third best, via aliases.) He's an eccentric, unsociable, Badass Bookworm genius with an Ambiguous Disorder.
  • The main character of Detective Conan (aka Case Closed) is Shinichi Kudo, a teen detective who is forcefully given a poison that reverts him into a child rather than killing him, is this in spades. He is a snarky young detective with an insanely keen eye for detail, uses alcohol to temporarily revert back to his teenage form on occasion, and has an extensive amount of otherwise esoteric knowledge. Hell, most of the promotional art for the series has him wearing a deerstalker cap and pipe. Also, his pseudonym as his child self is Conan Edogawa, a combination of the names Sherlock author Arthur Conan Doyle and Ranpo Edogawa, who was arguably his Japanese equivalent.
  • Frost in Dr. Frost does Sherlock Scans on a regular basis, is an Insufferable Genius, has No Social Skills, has a smart, plucky assistant, and has a Foil who is a Moriarty homage and is a direct parallel to him.
  • Victorique in Gosick is an undersocialized, snarky, Insufferable Genius Badass Bookworm and a brilliant detective. She even spends time with a Nice Guy Audience Surrogate who functions as her Watson. Unusually for the trope, she's a cute, petite teenage girl.
  • In episode 5 of Mnemosyne, Mishio Maeno assumes a Holmes-like persona while investigating Rin, using the catchphrases like "Elementary!" and referring to an imaginary Dr. Watson in inner monologues.
  • In episode 6 of Rosario + Vampire, Kurumu and Yukari dress up as Sherlock and Watson, respectively, while interrogating Ginei about his framing Tsukune for being a Peeping Tom.

     Comic Books 
  • Ruse: Simon Archard is the Great Detective, an unbeatable thinking machine with no emotions (that he'll admit to) and no people skills (he's described at one point as possessing "all the crimeside manner of a cactus").
  • Hamilton Drew, a detective from the 1920s who ended up in the present day in James Robinson's Starman. He bears a striking physical resemblence to Holmes, in addition to having a keen deductive brain. His cases were apparently recorded by his friend Ben Luddy, who was a lawyer rather than a doctor.
  • Cassander Baker in the James Tynion IV's Batman storyline "His Dark Designs" was once the world's greatest detective, and when the young Bruce Wayne went to train with him, he effortlessly Sherlock Scanned him. However, by this point he was a shell of a man who refused to train Bruce except to "teach [him] how to lose", having been completely broken by his Moriarty counterpart, who went on to become the Designer.

    Comic Strips 
  • Jo, Zette and Jocko: In one album a maharajah asks for a detective to solve a case. When the man enters he refuses to believe that he is a real detective for he is not dressed up like Holmes, forcing the detective to do so in order to convince him.
  • Shamrock Bones in the Mickey Mouse Comic Universe.
  • Nero: Detective Van Zwam is clearly derived from Holmes. He is super intelligent, has senses that nobody else has (for instance: he is able to discover all kinds of absurdly detailed information about suspects from just looking at a cigarette stub) and much like Holmes he once died during a story, "De Gouden Patatten", but was revived by readers' support. In the color albums creator Marc Sleen also gave him a Sherlock Holmes hat at one point.
  • Suske en Wiske: Lambik dresses up as Sherlock Holmes in De Woeste Wespen, with Jerom taking the role of his sidekick Watson. Naturally Lambik's detective skills are extremely bad.
  • Tintin: Tintin shares many similarities with Holmes by being an intelligent Chaste Hero and Badass Bookworm who solves crimes (even though he's a reporter instead of a detective), while Captain Haddock is somewhat of a Watsonian sidekick. Hergé was a Sherlock Holmes fan too.

    Fan Works 

  • The Great Mouse Detective: Basil is a detective mouse living beneath Holmes' appartment in Baker Street, London, dresses like him . His sidekick Dawson is, of course, a mouse counterpart to Watson. See lit entry below.
  • Shanghai Noon: While Chon Wen and Roy O' Bannon are waiting in front of Arthur Conan Doyle's door they are dressed in similar clothing as Holmes and Watson. As Doyle sees their silhouettes he is stunned.
  • Daryl Zero in Zero Effect is a clear Sherlock Holmes expy, and the film itself is a Whole Plot Reference to "A Scandal In Bohemia." Zero is extremely eccentric and socially awkward but a brilliant detective, and, like Holmes, uses drugs and plays a stringed instrument.

  • Basil of Baker Street is a Rare Rodent Example. He's a Badass Bookworm Great Detective who even wears a version of Sherlock Holmes' Iconic Outfit and has a doctor for a sidekick. It's a bit of an Invoked Trope in Basil's case, since Sherlock Holmes is a real person in this universe and Basil is a fanmouse who lives in his wainscotting. Not only does he have Professor Rattigan as a Moriarty countepart, but Mlle Relda for Irene Adler.
  • Lord Darcy is essentially Sherlock Holmes in a world where magic exists. He has better social skills than Holmes, and is not a Celibate Hero, but ticks most of the other boxes.
  • The Name of the Rose has William of Baskerville. They're even described similarly as tall, gaunt and sharp nosed, the main difference is that William wears eyeglasses and is a monk.
  • The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal, set in an alternate-universe Victorian Era, features the stoic Simon Feximal, a ghosthunter, and Robert Caldwell, his biographer, who have a sort of loosely Holmes-Watson relationship similar to that found in many slash fan fictions. Robert assists Simon on his cases and publishes fictionalized versions of them, they share lodgings, etc. Homages to Sherlock Holmes include mentions of the Diogenes Club, references to a character known only as the Fat Man (Mycroft Holmes), and later Simon and Robert fighting in the Great War, much like in His Last Bow: The War Service of Sherlock Holmes.
  • The Solar Pons stories by August Derleth and Basil Copper, which were pastiches of the Sherlock Holmes stories with the serial numbers filed off. Most of the characters were the same as Holmes characters except for their names.
    • An older detective referred to as The Master is mentioned a lot and strongly implied to be Sherlock Holmes.
  • Zavant Konniger, a Badass Bookworm Gentleman Detective who solves mysteries alongside his manservant/sidekick in Warhammer Fantasy spinoff novels.
  • Osgood Sigerson, the world's greatest detective in Daniel Pinkwater's Snarkout Boys books, is a straightforward parody of Sherlock Holmes. Sigerson even uses theater makeup to make himself resemble Holmes as played by Basil Rathbone.
  • Nero Wolfe plays with this trope, since while he's definitely a Holmes Homage he's less Sherlock and more Mycroft. While he has as many nods to the Great Detective as any other other classic mystery investigator (and there's a persistently popular fan theory that he's Sherlock's son with Irene Adler), his general laziness, obesity and stubborn refusal to leave his house or break his routines for all but the most diabolical of situations are more reminiscent of the older Holmes than the younger.
  • Invoked in the Albert Campion novel Police at the Funeral, which begins with Campion arranging to meet a potential client in a crypt while he's wearing a Holmes-style deerstalker, partly because he finds it amusing and partly because he's trying to indulge his client's impressions of detectives as derived from mystery novels. Outside of this, however, beyond shared similarities possessed by any Golden Age of Mystery detective Campion isn't particularly a homage towards Holmes (he's more an Affectionate Parody of Lord Peter Wimsey).
  • In Death Of The Necromancer by Martha Wells, a Holmes and Watson inspired pair Ronsard and Dr. Hall serve in a Hero Antagonist and later Enemy Mine role to Anti-Hero Nicholas Valiarde and his Caper Crew. Like Holmes, Ronsard is a Great Detective known as a Master of Disguise and like Watson, Hall is the faithful assistant and is both a physician and chronicler of the detective's adventures. By extention, this suggests parallels between Nichals and co. and Holmes' antagonists. Like Moriarty, Nicholas is a master criminal with an inconspicuous public persona. Nicholas' second-in-command Reynard Morane is a disgraced soldier with an aristocratic background like Moriarty's second-in-command, Sebastian Moran. Finally, Nicholas' mistress and other second-in-command, Madeline, is acelebrated actress and Master of Disguise like Irene Adler.
  • Kid Detective Barclay "Brains" Benton. Highly cerebral? Check (as The Watson of his adventures, Jimmy Carson, observes: "A guy has to earn a nickname like 'Brains'"). Not a people person? Check. Deadpan Snarker? Big check. He also bears a superficial physical resemblance to Holmes. And as noted, Jimmy Carson is his Watson, to the point that Jimmy narrates their adventures in first person as his archetype did.
  • Star Wars has Grand Admiral Thrawn, originally of The Thrawn Trilogy but surviving the reboot as of Thrawn. His job is different, but he has Sherlock's incredible intelligence and powers of observation, and the habit of carrying out strange strategies that only make sense to others by the endgame. His second-in-command, Captain Pellaeon, is even usually drawn to look like the classic Watson.
  • Holmes on the Range: Set inn the 1890's, Gustav "Old Red" Amlingmeyer is a fan of the Holmes stories (which in this universe are genuine memoirs and not fiction), and focuses hard on learning "the Method", which he uses to solve every crime that comes his way, with his younger brother serving as The Watson.
  • William Kotzwinkle's Trouble in Bugland: A Collection of Inspector Mantis Mysteries has Inspector Mantis as its Holmes and his sidekick Doctor Hopper as The Watson. Several stories are direct references to the original Holmes mysteries, with an insect twist.
  • Holmes met Arsène Lupin in the short story, Sherlock Holmes Arrives Too Late. After Doyle complained, the omnibus collection renamed him "Herlock Sholmes". Sholmes went on to appear in two more Lupin stories.
  • Brenda Sivers wrote a series of children's books about Sherlock Hound (a bloodhound) and his associate Dr Winston (an Old English Sheepdog) in a canine World of Funny Animals. They were The Case of the Baffling Burglary, Hound and the Witching Affair, Hound in the Highlands, Count Doberman of Pincher, Hound and the Curse of Kali and Hound and the Precious Pekes.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor throws on a deerstalker cap and greatcoat in such an homage in "The Talons of Weng-Chiang", as he tries to solve the mystery. Clearly he had other Holmes tendencies going for him: the intelligence, the eccentricity, the snarkiness, having a quirky sidekick...
    • Madam Vastra and Jenny have a lot in common with Holmes and Watson. In fact, it's been proposed that they were the inspiration for the Holmes stories, just heavily edited for Victorian sensibilities, which weren't ready for an unmarried lesbian mixed species couple.
    • While he skips the deerstalker, the Twelfth Doctor has more than a few Holmesian tendencies, being a tall, lean Sugar and Ice Jerk with a Heart of Gold Insufferable Genius with an Ambiguous Disorder and a love for music.
  • Gregory House of House is technically a doctor and not a Great Detective, but he does solve medical mysteries. House also has the snark, the genius, the substance abuse issues, and a nicer Heterosexual Life-Partner who's a doctor. Bonus points for House and Wilson's surnames being a Shout-Out to Holmes and Watson.
  • Monk. Adrian Monk has excellent observational and deductive skills, but also has severe OCD, germophobia, and several other phobias which all make him very socially awkward. His Watson-analogue is a nurse/caretaker (Sharona in the first season, Natalie in later seasons) primarily concerned with helping Monk function in society. Captain Leland Stottlemeyer is the Lestrade-analogue, a by-the-book cop who makes the actual arrests, who often doubts Monk's logic and pursues the wrong suspects until the episode's end proves Monk correct. (As the series went on, Stottlemeyer came to trust Monk more.) There's even a Mycroft-analogue—Adrian's brother Ambrose, who's agoraphobic and hasn't left his house in years—and a Moriarty analogue (sort of)—Dale "The Whale" Biederbec.
  • Detective William Murdoch of Murdoch Mysteries has the stellar record of solving cases (which he himself cites in his promotion interview in "The Glass Ceiling"), as well as being an autodidact (self-educated) whose studies are largely scientific. He keeps a selection of reference books in his office, but is also known to send out for research materials—or even conduct experiments—when needed. In an episode revolving around a talented "idiot savant", Julia speaks of him as also being disconnected from his emotions to no one in particular as she stands by her office phonograph, while William himself is standing in the background. On occasion, he can be a first-class Deadpan Snarker: a particularly good example (from "Holy Matrimony, Murdoch!") is his epic takedown of a judge who's convinced a woman killed her husband—the same judge mistakenly thought the same thing about Julia, and Murdoch points this out to his face. He generally avoids alcohol due to his father's alcoholism. Other characters echo those of Doyle's stories: Crabtree is the mundane assistant who also pens fiction (like Watson); medical services and expertise come from Drs Ogden, Francis, Grace and Roberts; various people (including Constables Crabtree and Higgins and Inspector Brackenreid) act as The Watson in having things explained to them; and James Gillies and Sally Pendrick bear striking resemblances to two of Holmes' most famous adversaries (Professor Moriarty and Irene Adler Norton). As revealed in the two episodes featuring Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Murdoch is in fact a huge fan of Holmes.
  • Psych's cast mirrors the Sherlock Holmes ensemble, but it's a funhouse mirror, if you get our drift. To wit:
    • Shawn, like Holmes, is an eccentric private detective with a strong knack for observation. Unlike Holmes, he's immature and lazy.
    • Gus, like Watson, is the detective's trusty sidekick who is more orthodox but less insightful. Both work in the medical industry: Watson's a doctor, Gus sells pills.
    • Mycroft Holmes' counterpart is Shawn's father Henry. Shawn comes to him for advice on cases he can't solve. Whereas Mycroft is too lazy and unambitious to solve crimes, Henry's just retired and loving it; the man taught Shawn everything he knows.
    • Lassiter, analog to Lestrade, is a dogged policeman who is highly skeptical of Shawn and his methods, yet is constantly forced to work with him. But while Holmes and Lestrade at least have mutual respect, Shawn and "Lassie" bicker like toddlers.
  • Samson En Gert: In one episode the character Octaaf said he would investigate a case, because he is an expert amateur detective. As he leaves Gert tells Samson: People still think that by wearing a Sherlock Holmes outfit they are automatically eligible to be a great detective. Cut to the next scene, where Octaaf re-enters the house, dressed up as Holmes!
  • Sesame Street's Sherlock Hemlock, a Holmes Expy on a kiddie level. Hemlock is also a parody of this trope, as a Holmes homage who is also a Clueless Detective.
  • In some episodes of Today's Special, Sam Crenshaw puts on a deerstalker and plaid coat to become his alter ego "Cam the Detective". He's certainly got the Deadpan Snarker bit and is often the most eccentric member of the cast.
  • Apart from the French accent and being serially married to multiple versions of the same woman, Sherloque Wells in The Flash is a Holmes homage. He's a brilliant detective. he's snarky and not great with people (although those are also common traits of Wells counterparts), he used to have an assistant called Watsunne and his one true love is Renee Adler. And the alternate universe he's from? Earth-221.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Alanik Ray, an elf detective from Darkon, is the Ravenloft D&D setting's Holmes Expy.
  • Pathfinder:
    • Zohls, the Empyreal Lord of determination, investigation, and truth. She is perceptive, logic-driven, and suffers from Intelligence Equals Isolation. The creators' notes even describe her as "Sherlock Holmes, the deity!"
    • The Sleepless Detective Prestige Class and the Investigator class are focused on solving mysteries, as the names suggest, and have strong Holmesian influences. (Except for the Mastermind archetype, which draws more from Moriarty or Mycroft.)

    Video Games 
  • Pokémon
    • Looker, who is a reoccurring character in the main series of games. His general design is similar to Sherlock, he shows Hyper-Awareness, and while he's not a Private Detective (he's a police agent) but he uses it as a cover-up at least once.
    • Looker also shares several traits with the Tenth Doctor from Doctor Who.
    • The eponymous Detective Pikachu is a talking Pikachu who is a Private Detective. He wears a hat similar to Sherlock's but his general behavior is a bit different. It is an unusual premises but it is also getting a live action movie.
  • The Professor Layton series has much of its cast fill similar roles to Holmes characters; Layton himself is Sherlock, Luke is Watson, Inspector Chelmey is Lestrade, and Don Paolo is Moriarty. The prequels replace the latter two with Inspector Grosky and Descole. Luke also once mentioned that he's read the Holmes stories several times over.
  • In the second The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing game, the protagonists meet in Borgovia's Merchant district a beggar guarding his master's house. The house has a "221 B" panel. Said master was Borgovia's greatest detective and died by falling in a waterfall when fighting his archenemy.
  • The Maid of Fairewell Heights: The Great Detective costume has a deerstalker hat.
    • When selecting "The perp went into this room!", when solving a mystery in Artie's room, where you wear the Great Detective costume, Marshmallow responds with:
    Elementary, my dear Watson.
  • Assassin's Creed: Syndicate takes place in Victorian London, so it's a given. The "Dreadful Crimes" set of side missions has you help solve murder mysteries in the style of Holmes, accompanied by a Penny Dreadful writer and a young boy who is strongly implied to be a young Arthur Conan Doyle. If you know history, you might realize that the Penny Dreadful writer is in fact Adam Worth, a criminal and major inspiration for Professor Moriarty. To complete the homage, Jacob's wardrobe can include a deerstalker cape.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • On Arthur Fern imitates her favorite mystery detectives, mostly Sherlock Holmes along with Agatha Christie's Marple and Poirot, when called upon to solve a mystery or crime. Meanwhile Buster goes for the Film Noir Hardboiled Detective angle instead.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: In "Avatar Day", Sokka and Katara are tasked with gathering evidence to help Aang, and Sokka feels the need to pull out a Sherlock hat (either an anachronistic deerstalker or its Far East equivalent) and a Bubble Pipe for his investigation.
  • In one episode of Babar, Zephyr puts on a deerstalker hat and walks around with a magnifying glass when he helps Babar find his stolen crown.
  • The Great Piggy Bank Robbery': While investigating a case Daffy Duck encounters Sherlock Holmes and quickly tosses him aside, because I'm on the case!
  • Cyril McFlip, Russell's Secret Identity in Littlest Pet Shop (2012).
  • Looney Tunes spoofed Holmes in "Deduce, You Say", with Daffy Duck as Clueless Detective Dorlock Holmes and Porky Pig as his Hyper-Competent Sidekick Watkins.
  • In the Peanuts animated special It's a Mystery, Charlie Brown Snoopy dons a deerstalker hat and Meerschaum Bubble Pipe to play detective in order to find Woodstock's missing nest.
  • Phineas and Ferb: In Elementary, My Dear Stacy, Candace, while in England, reads the entire Holmes canon, and then decides to 'bust' her brothers Holmes-style, dressed in deerstalker and cape, and dragging along her friend Stacy.
  • Super Snooper and his sidekick Blabbermouse on the Quick Draw McGraw show.
  • The Simpsons: In the second part of the Who Shot Mr. Burns? episode Sideshow Mel reaches the conclusion that Smithers must be innocent. While he ponders over the clues he lits a Holmesian pipe and orders Krusty (the Watson in this case) to come along with him to the police station.
  • Sheerluck Holmes in VeggieTales is a parody of this trope. He's not terribly competent without his Watson-analog.
  • Ducktecktive of Gravity Falls, in that he's a detective and wears a deerstalker.
  • The Dog City episode "But is it Arf?" featured a Holmes parody called Surelick Bones as a rival to Hardboiled Detective Ace Hart. He turned out to actually be the mastermind behind the crimes.


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