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The Lord of Crimes at their work

"If the monsters of this world were to disappear, then people's hearts would be cleansed, thus removing the curse. And our country would surely become a beautiful one."
William James Moriarty
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Moriarty the Patriot (originally titled 憂国のモリアーティ, or Yūkoku no Moriāti) is a loose retelling of the Sherlock Holmes stories featuring James Moriarty as the protagonist. Written by Ryōsuke Takeuchi, and illustrated by Hikaru Miyoshi, the manga has been serialized in Jump Square since 2016. Viz Media licensed the manga for English serialization.

Production I.G produced an anime adaptation of the series, which started airing in October of 2020. The second half of the anime began in April 2021. Funimation licensed the series for the North American distribution while Muse Communication distributed the series for Southeast Asia and South Asia.

The series has also been adapted into musicals and stage plays, which both adapt the series in multiple installments, and three light novels with various extra cases.

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Moriarty the Patriot contains examples of:

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    #-C 
  • #1 Dime: The playing card William used to cheat against Moran that he's been keeping on him for years.
  • Abbey Road Crossing: The end of volume two has an image of the Moriarty brothers crossing a crosswalk as seen in the famous image at the end, captioned with "To be continued in vol. 3."
  • Act of True Love: The climax of The Final Problem, in which after reasoning with William did not work, Sherlock tries to pull him back onto the bridge. When William rejects even that, Sherlock jumps off the bridge after him, saying he wouldn't let William die alone.
  • Age Lift: Just about all of the main characters are younger than they seem to be in the original canon. Before the Time Skip, Professor Moriarty and Sherlock are only 24, Mycroft only 31, Colonel Moran only 35, and John Watson only 26, with everyone else hovering around their twenties and thirties as well.
  • Adaptation Amalgamation: The work is an adaptation of Sherlock Holmes, but Albert is also the head of MI6 as "M," Von Herder is "Q" and James Bond and Moneypenny are included as well.
  • Adaptation Distillation: Some of Sherlock and William's interactions have been cut from the anime, leaving their relationship lacking most of the depth and complexity it has in the manga.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Sherlock, Mycroft, Moriarty, Milverton, and Moran are all drawn as handsome young men in the manga despite their appearance being described in less-than-flattering terms in the original novel.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Despite being a criminal mastermind responsible for the murder of numerous noblemen, Moriarty's goal to abolish the British ruling class system and establish a democratic society is seen as noble. When they reveal their identity and plan to Mycroft Holmes, they are given his seal of approval, acknowledging that their actions would bring good to the British Empire.
  • Adaptation Relationship Overhaul:
    • In the original stories, Inspector Patterson was the guy who rounded up Moriarty's gang using the evidence Holmes provided. Here, he works for Moriarty.
    • Holmes and Professor Moriarty are bosom friends in this series.
  • Adaptational Sympathy: As a Perspective Flip to Professor Moriarty, this series shows him as a sympathetic Tragic Villain, rather than the irredeemable Machiavellian mastermind from the original novels.
  • Adaptational Villainy:
    • There's no suggestion that Professor Moriarty's brothers in the original stories were ever involved with his criminal activities.
    • Moires Baskerville is based on Hugo Baskerville from Hound of the Baskervilles, but makes Hugo look like a saint in comparison. Whereas Hugo "merely" kidnapped a girl he's enamoured with and had her chased by hounds when she escaped, Moires regularly rounds up street children and has them horribly mutilated, hunted, then killed for sport.
    • Enoch J. Drebber is portrayed here as Serial Killer and Serial Rapist who use his position to get away with his crimes.
  • Adopt-a-Servant: Both William and Louis are treated as servants by the majority of the Moriarty household after their adoption into the family. Even Albert never protests the treatment while conspiring with them.
  • Agents Dating: Downplayed. While Bond does ask Moneypenny out to dinner with an affectionate letter, their date is never actually shown.
  • All There in the Manual: Volumes 17 and 18 of the manga come with character profiles indicating dates of birth, height and weight information, birthplace, and various other details that are irrelevant to the story but interesting details.
  • Alternate Character Reading: The Japanese manga plays with this frequently and often adds furigana that does not correlate to the actual kanji used, e.g. writing out "Hanzaikyou" ("The Lord of Crime") and adding furigana that reads "Moriarty."
  • Animal Motifs: The Moriarty family crest features the motto "Je Crois en Moi," French for "I believe in myself," and a trio of spiders.
  • Anime Theme Song: The first opening theme for the Animated Adaptation is "Dying Wish", which features lyrics about a bloody dystopia and a lord of crime hoping to die. The second is "Twisted Hearts," which is accordingly about William and Sherlock's relationship.
  • Another Story for Another Time: When Sherlock returns in The Adventure of the Empty Hearts, he gives a brief update to William's associates as to William's condition, and says he'll tell them about what they got up to in New York another time.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: With very few exceptions, people of noble blood are portrayed as pompous, entitled Jerkass at best, and at worst sociopathic murderers who would kidnap, torture and kill others for their pleasure. Most seem to view the lower-class citizens as subhuman trash whom they can treat as they please.
  • Arm Cannon: Lampshaded—Von Herder says he's happy he didn't make Moran's prosthetic hand a gun.
  • Artistic License – History: Moriarty the Patriot is historical fiction with a heavy emphasis on fiction. While it's not really an Alternate History series, since the historical events are largely incidental, it plays fast and loose with historical facts and events.
    • Lampshaded in A Scandal in the British Empire, when Adler's underwear was drawn in a much more modern fashion than any woman would've worn in the time, with commentary from the creators and a small strip at the end of the chapter showing what it properly should've looked like.
    • The manga shows the founding of the MI6 before Dr. Watson publishes his first Sherlock Holmes novel, under the pen-name of Arthur Conan Doyle. In reality, A Study in Scarlet (first published in 1887) precedes the MI6 by 22 years (MI6 was formed in 1909). Of course, since the MI6 in this setting is founded by Moriarty (hence his codename "M"), while Sherlock Holmes is their Unwitting Pawn whose involvement in the murder case that became the basis of Dr. Watson's first novel is due to Moriarty's machinations, the manga couldn't possibly use the correct historical order.
    • The French Revolution is actually engineered by the British government and Maximilien Robespierre, one of the popular figures of the revolution is actually a British agent named Sherrinford Holmes, the ancestor of the Holmes brothers. In real history, Britain supported the new constitutional monarchy during the beginning of the revolution until Louis XVI's regicide. By then, the majority of the British public opposed the revolution with some lending and funding support on coalitions that attempted to restore the Bourbons.
    • Billy the Kid works for the U.S. government as a Pinkerton Detective.
    • The Anti-Pinkerton Act was moved earlier in history for convenience and their role in history is even more sinister than the one they occupy in actual American history.
    • The skew on the American Civil War is...interesting, to say the least, and inaccurate is certainly an understatement, boiling the causes down to the North desiring control over the South and using Black Americans and slavery as an excuse.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: An unintentional example, thanks to Enoch J. Drebber being made into a British aristocrat, his very American name becomes nonsensical when applied to a Duke.
  • Asshole Victim: Considering the level of crimes they commit, the audience rarely feels much sympathy for most of the people Moriarty murders or helps murder.
    • The biological Moriarty family, who abuse William and Louis
    • Baron Dublin, who allows a child to die of illness
    • Dudley, who kills a woman whose only fault was falling in mutual love with a nobleman
    • The opium dealer who kidnaps William and threatens his family
    • Blitz Enders, who views commoners as animals
    • Drebber, who murders and rapes women remorselessly
    • Baskerville, who hunts poor children for sport
    • The Jack the Ripper organization, who care nothing for the women they murder in Whitechapel
    • Shout out to Milverton for being murdered by Sherlock instead of William, and still being such a massive asshole that his death is celebrated
  • Attack Hello: Mycroft greets his brother for the first time in the series with a (paintball) gun and immediate martial combat.
  • At the Opera Tonight: The Noahtic takes place on a cruise ship and centers around a ballet performance of Giselle...not that the performance is given much attention when the focus is on William contriving to reveal a Blitz Enders as a murderer on the ballet stage itself.
  • Badass Crew: William and his subordinates all work together as a well-oiled killing organization.
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: Multiple times, as a recurring theme of the series
    • In The Two Detectives, William is the one who "cheats" and forces the killer to confess to his crimes when Sherlock's deductions come up just a bit short
    • William and his brothers save Irene Adler's life when Sherlock can do nothing to help her against the British government
    • William stops the Jack the Ripper murders while Sherlock doesn't even take the case
    • William sends Bond and Patterson in to get the evidence needed to prove Chief Arterton's frame-ups, who passes the evidence along to Lestrade and Sherlock when they fail to get it themselves
    • Sherlock uses the leverage gained by agreeing to stop William's crime spree to change Parliament
  • Baker Street Regular: Sherlock Holmes still has his Baker Street Irregulars in this, although Wiggins is the only one who shows up regularly. He uses them for help on rare occasions but generally keeps them out of too much danger.
  • Band of Brothers: William and his subordinates are very close due to their shared goal and have deep bonds of affection seen throughout the series.
  • The Bard on Board: The Merchant of London arc is a blatant adaptation of William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, staring a young, pre-Moriarty William in the role of Shylock. Of course, William is well aware of what he's doing and the entire thing acknowledges the event are ripped straight out of a Shakespeare play—including Louis arguing that being in the role of Shylock is a terrible idea. William quotes the play to the Baron toward the end of the arc, angry that the man expected him not to know what situation he was walking into. Apparently, he has all forty plays by The Bard memorized, a number which by necessity includes the lost and partial plays.
  • Bathtub Scene: Adler taking off the King of Bohemia disguise, taking her hair down, applying lipstick, and climbing naked into a bath.
  • Battle of Wits: It is a series about Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty. They aren’t exactly kickboxing with each other on the regular.
  • Bayonet Ya: Moran uses a bayonet on a pistol of all things to Knife Fight with Louis in The Adventure of the Empty Hearts. Played with a bit in that he doesn't switch to a knife because he's out of ammo, as he proves later—he just doesn't want to shoot Louis.
  • Being Evil Sucks: None of the Moriarty crew seem all that happy with their actions, but William takes it especially hard.
  • Big Applesauce: Once Sherlock and William leave the UK, where do they end up? America. Which means New York City, of course. They get a place together in Brooklyn and work there with no concern about what happens in the rest of the country.
  • Bishie Sparkle:
    • To emphasize the scenes in which the Moriarty family is hosting lots of women at their estate and Sherlock and John are using their charms to ensnare women, both scenes come with loads of sparkles to remind the audience that they're all being seen in a very attractive light.
    • Bond, whenever he greets guests. The Pretty Boy is pretty.
  • Black Cloak: William and Louis wear these when committing Lord of Crime business. Fred also occasionally wears one, although Moran forgoes one, and Albert and Bond never seem to engage in activities that require it.
  • Black-Tie Infiltration: Twice in The Adventure of the Empty Hearts.
    • The arc opens with Louis attending a reception where MI6 is trying to steal documents off Ronald Adair.
    • After Adair is murdered, MI6 attends another reception, this for an Anglo-French treaty agreement, this time in hopes to intercept Balmoral.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: Moran accomplishes this for Team Moriarty in The Phantom of Whitechapel, shooting Sniper Rifles out of the hands of the police and the vigilantes alike, leading Jack to proudly declare to himself that their sniper was better.
  • Blood Brothers: The Moriarty crew has all sworn loyalty to William and offered him their lives, titles, and any resources at their disposal (especially their lives, as that's what he tends to ask for in "payment" for his help). Moran and William even exchanged Friendship Trinkets to represent their bond, and many years later, William still carries it around and even asks for it back—and Moran's only comment is that he could offer William something even more useful than a symbol. William refers to their vows of loyalty when discussing how best to organize a functional organization—loyalty like those his companions swore to him is rare and difficult to find.
  • Bluffing the Murderer:
    • An attempt at this by Sherlock during The Two Detectives when he tells William that Hope told him William was the Lord of Crime. William, however, does not panic and maneuvers the situation perfectly, which only seems to delight Sherlock more.
    • Sherlock does something similar with Irene Adler toward the end of A Scandal in the British Empire, when he tricks her into revealing where she hid the documents she stole from the palace by blowing up his apartment and pretending he was attacked, although Adler was not a murderer.
  • Breather Episode: Although cut from the anime, the single-chapter "The Tea Party" takes place between the heavily emotional The Adventure of the One Student and The Merchant of London, and the Moriarty family...hosts a tea party for women of the upper class.
  • Britain Is Only England: William's goal is to save "the entire British Empire" but almost never strays beyond the boundaries of England—and when he does, it's to places like India and America, not Scotland, Northern Ireland, or Wales.
  • Bullet Dancing: Moran shoots at Dudley's feet in Dancers on the Bridge until he finds himself over the edge of the bridge.
  • Bury Your Disabled: Sam Whiteley, a child wheelchair user, is murdered as a ploy against his older brother.
    • Averted with:
      • Von Herder, who is blind
      • Moran, who has a prosthetic hand
      • John Watson, who uses a cane for a psychogenic injury
      • Louis, whose childhood heart disease likely counts as a disability
      • William, who is now missing an eye
  • Caged Bird Metaphor: All of the Moriartys are compared to this at times, but especially Albert during his stint in jail. When he is released, we see Mycroft's pet burst free from its cage to settle on Albert's shoulder, emphasizing the metaphor.
  • Calming Tea: In the wake of Sherlock's presumed death, Ms. Hudson takes to milk tea to bring herself comfort, a habit which Mycroft also adopts to ease his grief.
  • Can't Default to Murder: After the Time Skip and Changing of the Guard, murder is off the table as an option for Moriarty's crew. Von Herder especially takes a bit to adjust to the new rules.
  • Cast Full of Pretty Boys: The series has very few prominent female characters, and the male characters are all commented on even in-universe to be very handsome. In "The Tea Party" chapter, the women visiting the Moriarty manor drool over how pretty even the Moriarty servants are, even the older Silver Fox Jack.
  • Changing of the Guard: After The Final Problem arc, Louis takes on the role of "M" and head of the supporting cast/crew that worked under William, as Albert is in The Tower and William is presumed dead.
  • Character Focus: Moran gets his in The Man with the Golden Army when William and Albert send him off to India to deal with a corrupt duke, weapons-dealing, and his Dark and Troubled Past.
  • Clear My Name: The purpose for Holmes's investigation in A Study in "S" is to clear his own name by identifying the actual murderer.
  • Collective Identity: James Moriarty, the Lord of Crimes, is a name shared by three brothers: Albert, William and Louis. Although William is the mastermind, Albert—being of noble blood—is the one with the connections that enables them to pull the strings.
  • Color Contrast: William is red: fire (so much fire), hatred, blood, and anger. Sherlock is Blue Is Heroic and calm, pragmatic stoicism. You can see this even on the first two manga volume covers: William's is red, Sherlock's is blue, their eye colors, the alternative cover for volume fourteen, and most of the merchandise for the series.
  • Combat Compliment: After pinning Colonel Moran to the ground while he's distracted worrying about Fred, Sherlock compliments him on his defense, saying that as expected of someone William trusts so much, Moran had no openings to take advantage of while in combat with Louis.
  • Come with Me If You Want to Live: An interesting variant, as Billy had already saved Sherlock and William's lives, but he does lean hard on "gratitude" to get them to come with him further, as well as dangling William's needed medical care on a string.
  • Commune: The Moriarty household functions as one of these. While William is nominally in charge, as well as Albert in some aspects, they insist on egalitarianism and equality in all things, and share the workload—in fact, it's required that they all contribute something to the household they all live in, in addition to working to William's plans for his great purpose. Once the all reunite properly in The Adventure of the Empty Hearts, Moneypenny even mentions the empty rooms bothered her deeply and she's happy everyone is together and can happily together—and William has given up his role as leader.
  • Compressed Adaptation: Both as an adaptation of the Sherlock Holmes canon, and the anime adaptation of the manga.
    • Most of the Sherlock Holmes canon is not covered by the series (although of course plenty of new, original material is also included).
    • Several arcs from the manga are cut entirely: The Case of the Noble Kidnapping, The Hunting of Baskervilles, The Man with the Golden Army, The Adventure of the One Student, The Tea Party, and The Dark Night of London. Much of what remains is also compressed due to time constraints and to cover the missing gaps.
  • Continuity Creep: The first four chapters are all standalones, which slowly and intermittently grow longer until the second half of the series averages four chapters an arc and the The Final Problem boasts a full nine (two of fourteen volumes!).
  • Convenient Coma: William spends a few months in one of these post-The Final Problem.
  • Courtroom Episode: The Whole Episode Flashback The Merchant of London is mostly set in a courtroom, or around the contract and events that lead William and Louis to suing a member of the nobility as young children.
  • Covert Group:
    • William's criminal organization under the name of The Lord of Crime is rumored about, but no one has any actual details.
    • Of course, William's crew also functions as MI6, the British government's secret service as a Covert Group with Mundane Front.
  • Covert Group with Mundane Front: MI6 is better known as "Universal Exports".
  • Create Your Own Hero: Funnily enough, William did this on purpose. After he met Sherlock and was impressed by his deductions and ability to recognize the presence of a criminal mastermind, he gave Sherlock an "audition" for the role of hero in his play by seeing what he'd do when framed for murder, then happily cast him in the role, continuing to tease him with mysteries and crimes hoping to frustrate Sherlock enough to end the story of the Lord of Crime.
  • Creepy Souvenir: Moires Baskerville collects the heads of the children he murders and keeps them in a special room on shelves so that he can admire his handiwork.
  • Criminal Found Family: William, his brothers (one of whom is adoptive), Moran, Fred, Bond, and the rest of his crew all view each other as family, most of them live together, and they share strong bonds of mutual affection and Undying Loyalty. Except for William and Louis, none of them share any blood ties, but even Albert chose them specifically to adopt into his legal family. They work together under the moniker "The Lord of Crime," hoping to improve society. While they eventually give up their criminal ways and start atoning for their crimes, they stay together and continue to work together even while trying to make up for their sins. Moran even calls Fred his little brother.
  • Criminal Mind Games: William's favorite kind of game.
    • In A Study in "S", William frames Sherlock for murder to see if can wriggle his way out and find the true culprit.
    • In A Scandal in the British Empire, he expects Sherlock to confront of The Lord of Crime and sets up an arrangement to give Sherlock proof of his identity, which Sherlock burns.
    • In The Phantom of Whitechapel, he leaves the bodies of the Jack the Ripper killers behind and obviously murdered to see what Sherlock does about it.
    • In The Merchant of London, he mentions that he left the legal records about the childhood trial behind to see if Sherlock would hunt them down and read through them, although Sherlock skipped that lead.
  • Cruise Episode: The Noahtic arc takes place on the cruise ship The Noahtic, where William plots to kill an evil nobleman and first meets Sherlock Holmes.

    D-J 
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Inverted. Sherlock's friendship is William's defeat.
  • Destroy the Evidence: Sherlock takes the time to ensure evidence related to Mary Morstan's radical socialism in France is destroyed so she can safely marry John and live happily ever after with him.
  • Dirty Business: Most of the characters in the series commit morally unambiguously unacceptable actions in the series...and most of them feel at least sort of bad about it.
    • Most notably, William, who is so wracked with guilt for his murders that he wishes to die
    • While Sherlock's remorse for murdering Milverton is somewhat arguable, he does admit he committed a crime and pledge to atone for it alongside William
    • Albert, who chooses a life in prison to atone for his murders and manipulation of William
  • Double Meaning: William dares Sherlock to catch him and Sherlock swears to catch him how he wanted. William definitely doesn't see Sherlock catching him while he fell to his death coming.
  • Drama Panes: Sherlock stares out the window of 221B Baker Street to see John and Mary leaving a carriage, clearly suspicious of Mary and expecting a problem, and his face reflected back.
  • Dramatic Unmask: When Sherlock reappears in The Adventure of the Empty Hearts, he does so in disguise until finding a convenient moment to pull off his mask and wig to reveal himself, shocking Bond nearly speechless, and delighting the audience with his long-awaited return.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: All of William's crew gets this in the chapter one cover, although the Moriarty brothers are all introduced in chapter one.
    • Moran and Fred are shown, but not introduced until they join William and Louis in Durham for chapter three.
    • Von Herder appears in volume four.
    • Irene Adler isn't introduced until volume five, in chapter sixteen.
    • Jack doesn't appear until volume seven.
    • Patterson doesn't appear until volume eight.
    • Billy doesn't appear until the last two pages of volume fourteen.
  • Easter Episode: The first chapter (and episodes 2 and 3 of the anime) is a prologue that culminates on Easter day, when William and his brothers burn down the Moriarty manor and William is symbolically reborn as "William James Moriarty" in keeping with his role as a Messianic Archetype constantly compared to Jesus.
  • Eating the Eye Candy:
    • "The Tea Party" chapter, in which a bunch of a women are invited for a tea party at the Moriarty manor, and all of them drool over the Cast Full of Pretty Boys, even Silver Fox Jack. They're shocked that the rumors that everyone in the family is gorgeous are well-founded.
    • Sherlock uses this intentionally in The Two Detectives to bewitch his and John's way into Milverton's manor to scope the place out, happy to have John to provide the buff, wholesome blond to his darker bad-boy type to cover more ground with the ladies. Hey, it works.
  • Elite School Means Elite Brain:
    • When Sherlock and William meet, William declares that despite the brilliant detective having obviously attended Oxbridge, he's speaking Cockney on purpose anyway, and Sherlock is stunned to have been seen through so easily.
    • Of course, The Chessmaster William Moriarty is a professor at Durham University, and it's revealed both he and his brothers were King's Scholars while at Eton College.
    • Moran's attendance at Oxford is used not only to reveal his wealthy background but show that he's more than William's Dumb Muscle.
    • When Billy discusses rebirthing the Pinkerton Detective Agency as an organization for intelligence instead of muscle, he explains they've begun recruiting from the likes of Harvard and Yale.
  • Empty Bedroom Grieving: After The Final Problem, when Sherlock appeared dead and even had a funeral, Ms. Hudson kept his room in exactly the condition he'd left it with all of his possessions in place, only going in to change the sheets and dust. While she did discover he was alive at some point in his three years traveling abroad, the original purpose was clearly to mourn him, especially since she forsook three years of rent to keep his room intact.
  • Ending Theme: The anime has two ending theme songs: "ALPHA" and "OMEGA." Yeah, the Biblical Motifs are strong with this series.
  • Establishing Team Shot: The cover of chapter one shows William, his brothers, Fred, Sebastian, Patterson, Von Herder, Jack, Irene Adler, and Billy the Kid. This is well before readers know who any of these characters are, but it shows them as a team from the beginning.
  • Evil Versus Evil: The concept of the show. William murders people who are worse than he is. Also seen with his decision to confront Milverton, the King of Blackmail, whose actions are solely rooted in his own desire to push people toward evil, as opposed to William's hope for a more equal world.
  • Eye Scream: More than once!
    • Baskerville forces a kid to take a spoon to his eye and gouge it out
    • Falls headfirst into the Thames River from the Tower Bridge are not advised and may lead to an Eyepatch of Power
  • Face Doodling: The omake at the end of chapter 24 shows Jack wiping doodles off Heavy Sleeper William's face—that he seems to have drawn himself!
  • Faction Motto: The Moriarty family heraldry comes with the motto "Je Crois en Moi," or translated from the French, "I believe in myself." While these words are never actually said, they very much emphasize the Moriarty family's philosophy on life, especially William's, and also underscores William's attempt to emulate Robespierre.
  • Fake Assisted Suicide: Sherlock agrees to go along with "Ending" the story of the Lord of Crime, Professor James Moriarty, which William takes to mean that Sherlock will help him die. Of course, Sherlock has every intent to save William's life before agrees, and when he shows up to their confrontation, immediately argues with him until William is convinced and even has to jump off a bridge after him.
  • Failure Gambit: William's plan requires the defeat of The Lord of Crime to satisfy the citizens of London.
  • Fanatical Fire: Thanks to the Evil Is Burning Hot trope, William is often associated with fire, and he is absolutely a fanatic extremist toward his goals.
  • The Farmer and the Viper: Before he meets his adoptive brothers, Albert helps a thief by paying for the food he stole and gives him silverware so he won't need to steal again. A while later, Albert learns the thief used the silverware to buy a weapon and to rob a bank, resulting in the death of many people.
  • Feud Episode: In The Two Detectives John and Sherlock are fighting and not working together. They make up at the end.
  • Fiery Cover Up: Since William prefers to Kill It with Fire as his modus operandi, there's quite a few instances of burning things to cover up a crime:
    • The very first murder from the Moriarty brothers ended with burning down the entire manor, ensuring that their victims stayed alive just long enough to show smoke inhalation in the lungs.
    • In The Hunting of Baskervilles, William again chooses fire to destroy the bodies of his victims and their gruesome trophies.
    • In The Man with the Golden Army, after evacuating everyone from a mansion set to explode, Moran and Moneypenny then throw the bodies of their victims into the fire to cover up the crime.
    • In The Two Criminals, Sherlock burns down Milverton's manor not exactly to cover his murder of Milverton, but to destroy any evidence Milverton had on his blackmail victims. Of course, it worked out that it also covered up his own crime.
    • The Moriartys burn down their London manor for a second time in The Final Problem.
  • Finger Framing: Sherlock frames the sky and the world in New York City when talking to William (although the panel is drawn looking down on his own face framed by his hands) with his fingers while describing the empty canvas and blank slate William has been given to start anew and "paint however [William] likes."
  • Finger Gun: Moran gives Billy a hard inspection from a distance trying to see Billy the Kid, famous quick-draw gunman in the sociable young man, only for Billy to quietly notice, turn, and give him pretend to shoot at him with his finger with a joking "bang!"
  • Finger in the Mail: A brief Fingore moment appears when Milverton leaves a finger wearing a wedding ring with a note telling one of Whiteley's bodyguards he has his wife and child.
  • Fire of Comfort: A metaphor used by William to describe meeting Sherlock is as a cold, dead fireplace suddenly bursting into life.
  • Fire Purifies: Alongside the Evil Is Burning Hot trope, fire is often seen as a cleansing, purifying thing in the series that removes the evil William is so set on destroying.
  • The Flame of Life: William describes meeting Sherlock as a cold, dead fireplace suddenly roaring to life with a flame, symbolizing the way William's cold, empty life suddenly had life and a spark.
  • Foe Romance Subtext: William and Sherlock are on nominally opposite sides of the criminal/detective match up for much of the series. Despite this, Sherlock talks about a Red String of Fate tying him to William repeatedly, is unabashedly excited every time he sees William, and is fixated on saving him from himself. On William's part, he hopes to be reincarnated with Sherlock to be with him in another life, desires to throw his entire plan and life away to spend more time with Sherlock, requests to die with Sherlock alone at his side, and thinks of Sherlock as a warm breeze in a cold and lonely room he's trapped in—even compares meeting Sherlock to a fire being lit in his dark, cold, empty life. Sherlock says they have always felt the same way. Then Sherlock catches William in his arms and cradles him protectively surrounded by cherry-blossom imagery. After that, in Sherlock agrees to work with Billy to provide William's medical care and stays vigilant at William's bedside in the manga, and in the anime Sherlock is asked if he is looking for a "lover" and answers that he is looking for a "friend" and grins at William. And on top of all of that profession of feelings, their story matches the usually-romantic shinjuu plot structure. With their constant devotion to each other, it gets harder and harder as the series goes on to see their professed "dear friendship" as Just Friends. Plus, you know, they live together for a while and literally discuss buying curtains for their home together.
  • Found the Killer, Lost the Murderer: In A Study in "S", Sherlock tracks down Hope as the actual killer of Drebber, but doesn't know how to find William, who planned the murder, although Sherlock knows a mastermind is out there somewhere.
  • A Friend in Need: Nearly everyone falls into this for William in The Final Problem arc, some more successfully than others, despite William very much wishing they wouldn't. Sherlock showing up to the The Final Problem as William's friend is what William says seals his defeat.
  • Friendship Moment:
    • In The Two Criminals, John and Sherlock have a rooftop conversation on top of 221B where they discuss John's upcoming marriage and reaffirm their friendship with each other, followed by Sherlock murdering Milverton to preserve John's chances of marriage to Mary.
    • The Final Problem arc is especially full of these:
      • Fred telling William that he wants to see a new world with him, while William promises never to forget what he said.
      • Sherlock apologizes to John for trying to sacrifice himself, after which John offers to fix his tie, since Sherlock is most incapable of tying them himself.
      • Louis tells Fred that he's glad to find someone else as worried about William's plan as he is.
      • Moran asks Albert how he is going to live after William's death, despite always maintaining a distance between them previously.
      • William's letter to Sherlock, says he wishes he and Sherlock could be reborn in another world as friends.
      • Sherlock runs to grab William's arm to keep him from falling, and then jumping off the bridge after him to catch him.
    • The Adventure of the Empty Hearts also features several:
      • Fred agreeing to risk his life saying if Moran, his friend, killed him, it would be all right to die.
      • William sending the playing card #1 Dime back to Moran after keeping it on him for three years, and asking for it to be returned the exact same way to remember their long-standing bond.
      • William being mobbed by his crew once he finally reunites with them, telling him how incredibly happy they are to see him alive again.
      • Moneypenny making a point to tell Moran how happy she is that he's returned to live with them again.
  • Friendship Trinket: William has been carrying one of these around from his friendship with Moran, even carrying it with him to his presumed death: a playing card split in half and pasted together to show half a jack and half a king. Moran received William's pocket watch in exchange for the card from Moran to keep close to him as a mark of their trust for each other. In fact, William wants the same card back as a symbol of Moran's vow instead of an upgrade when they reunite to remember the old bonds.
  • Gecko Ending: Since the manga is still ongoing, the anime ending completely cuts Moran's Scylla and Charybdis Personal Horror arc and Albert going to prison, since they wouldn't have time to address any of it, and show Sherlock chasing William down to Switzerland after their plunge into the Thames, instead of William and Sherlock being rescued by Billy the Kid, heading off to America, and later coming back to deal with the mess they left behind in London.
  • Gideon Ploy: In The Scandal in the British Empire, Sherlock rushes to save Irene from The Lord of Crime, but doesn't actually want to involve the police. Instead, he rustles up the Baker Street Irregulars, John Watson, and some shoddy costumes to act as if the police are coming. Subverted slightly, in that Albert didn't buy it for a minute.
  • Given Name Reveal: Played with. William's birth name is revealed—to Sherlock, and Sherlock alone, and the audience is never informed what the heck it was. However, it was still a huge character moment for William to have told anyone what it was at all.
  • Go and Sin No More: The series uses this for the Moriarty crew and Sherlock himself. Atonement for them is comes not from death but from doing their best to make amends for the rest of their lives (and, notably, avoiding any more murder and vigilantism) .
  • Good Needs Evil: Justified. Sherlock's deal with Queen Victoria in The Final Problem to alter Parliament never would've worked if he hadn't had the leverage of agreeing to stop the Lord of Crime in his favor to get her to agree.
  • Go Out with a Smile: Although he survives the attempt, William nearly falls to his death and smiles very genuinely up at Sherlock while he does so.
  • Gotta Kill Them All: William keeps a list of "demons" of society to murder, which he asks Louis to give him at the end of The Two Criminals so he can finish off the list in a final murder spree.
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: William's. John agrees to write him as an unsympathetic monster and Sherlock's arch-nemesis in his novels so the public will only know that story, but he is well aware that William's motivation and relationship with Sherlock are very different.
  • The Great Fire: At the climax of The Final Problem arc, William and his subordinates set all of London ablaze to encourage citizens of all classes to work together and draw them to the Thames for water to see his final showdown with Sherlock.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: Moriarty vs. Holmes. Neither are exactly on the side of angels, but both want deeply to improve society.
  • Groin Attack: Moneypenny kicks a guy in the balls. In her defense, he underestimated her because she was a woman and then ripped her shirt open. Hard to feel too bad.
  • Guilty Until Someone Else Is Guilty: Holmes clears his name in A Study in "S" by identifying the actual murderer.
  • Haughty Help: The Moriarty family servants hold the adopted boys in contempt, unhappy that they have to serve those of even lower social standing.
  • Heartfelt Apology: Sherlock never really apologizes properly in the series, and when he does it's awkward and he never quite gets around to the word "sorry"—until The Final Problem after John gives him a hell of a What the Hell, Hero? lecture after murdering Milverton and trying to sacrifice himself. When they meet up again after John storms out, Sherlock bows and apologizes for the first time in the series. To show it's accepted, John fixes his tie.
  • Hereditary Suicide: Both William and his adoptive older brother Albert have had strong suicidal ideation and attempted to end their lives, although neither have gone through with it.
  • Hero vs. Villain Duet: In the third musical adaptation, Professor William James Moriarty and Sherlock Holmes have a duet from afar with Sherlock singing about wanting to catch William and William singing about how he hopes he'll be caught by him.
  • Hidden Eyes: William's eyes are hidden from view in The Valley of Fellows, just after he's been saved from his own suicide attempt (partially because one is now quite damaged and useless), until after he confesses that he can finally see the beauty in the world after Sherlock has gotten through to him and his emotional state has been properly shared.
  • Historical Domain Character: Queen Victoria appears in the stinger of episode 11 giving orders to Mycroft to retrieve a secret document, setting the stage for the next arc.
  • Historical In-Joke: In his earlier drafts, Arthur Conan Doyle intended to name his great detective Sherrinford Holmes before finally settling on Sherlock. In this series, Sherrinford Holmes is the name of Mycroft and Sherlock's ancestor.
  • Hollywood Glass Cutter: Sherlock has one of these in The Two Criminals to break into Milverton's estate.
  • Holy Backlight: William gets one of these pretty much...any time anyone compares him to Jesus. Which is quite frequent, considering he considers himself the devil.
  • Home Base:
    • The Moriarty crew has the London Moriarty manor, notable for not only having rooms for the "servants" (aka Bond, Moran, Fred, Jack, etc.) but not actually being where Louis and William spend most of their time: they're usually up in Durham. And yet, the London manor is what they set on fire in The Final Problem. They then move into Universal Exports to live together and plan after Louis sells the Durham manor.
    • Sherlock and John have, of course, 221B Baker Street, which William visits the interior of precisely once, and which Milverton invades, claims ownership of, and disrespects to really rub in how detestable he is.
  • Hot Springs Episode: The anime OVA episodes were announced to take place in Bath, England, at a hot springs resort for the upper class, where Sherlock and William become intrigued by an incident.
  • House Fire: Will the Moriartys ever stop setting their homes on fire? The world may never know (they've done it twice already, once as kids in The Scarlet Eyes and once as adults in The Final Problem).
  • How We Got Here: The first page of the manga shows Moriarty hanging off the edge of a waterfall screaming at Sherlock. None of this is addressed again until the two characters make their way to a face off in chapter 54, and the scene is very different.
  • Hunting the Most Dangerous Game:
    • Blitz Enders from The Noahtic, who hunts humans
    • The Hunting of Baskervilles follows up on Enders with Moriarty dealing with a nobleman who hunts commoner children on his estate as a hobby.
  • Idealist vs. Pragmatist: This is seen with Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. Their very first mystery together in A Study in 'S' ends with Sherlock considering an offer to murder a man in cold blood to get answers about The Lord of Crime while John is entirely horrified. Unfortunately for John, this is only the beginning of this dynamic.
  • Important Haircut: Adler cuts their hair as they declare their new identity as James Bond.
  • Intelligence Equals Isolation: While many of the characters are noted as unusual intellects (Louis and Albert are also King's Scholars alongside William at Eton, and Albert is mentioned to be valedictorian of his class in chapter one, for example, and Moran attended Oxford), Sherlock and William stand far above most of the others (except Mycroft, of course), and both are deeply lonely people without anyone to properly connect to. Since Mycroft is also a loner with few bonds to start with, this also applies to him.
  • Interrupted Suicide: William expecting a friend to come watch his death really didn't work out for him.
  • Journey to Find Oneself: While in New York, William spends a lot of time trying to figure out who he is and how he can atone for his prior actions, having given himself almost no thought or interest beforehand, before reuniting with his Criminal Found Family to discuss his conclusions.

    K-R 
  • Kidnapped from Behind: In The Case of the Noble Kidnapping, William is grabbed from behind while with Louis, Moran, and Fred just after arriving in London. Of course, he arranged the entire thing, so the ease makes sense.
  • Kill It with Fire: Repeatedly. Possibly William's favorite way to do away with people with minimal evidence.
  • Knife Fight: As a primarily knife-fighter, Louis gets into a couple of these, most notably with one of Milverton's mooks, and with Moran, who attaches a knife-bayonet to his pistol.
  • Last-Second Chance: Sherlock is insistent on talking William out of his suicide plan to come redeem himself alongside Sherlock and begin a Redemption Quest. So much so that when William inevitably rejects the offer, Sherlock jumps off a bridge after William hoping to save his life and try again.
  • Late for School: Ironically, William, the professor, is guilty of this in Grapefruit Pie. One of his future clients helps him get to the university and initially doesn't believe he's actually a professor because of his young age.
  • Leitmotif: The main theme of the series is titled "Karma." Subtle, it is not.
  • Light/Darkness Juxtaposition:
    • William Moriarty: the darkness of London. Sherlock Holmes: the light of hope of London. Or at least, to hear everyone in the series talk about it, that's true. Milverton says it outright, but it had been made clear long before that William believed Sherlock would illuminate the shadows in which the Moriartys work with the truth. This also describes William's thoughts on his life before and after Sherlock: Dark and cold, versus warm and full of light and color. Never mind that William is the fair blond and Sherlock is the brooding raven-haired detective.
    • Just as William Moriarty and Sherlock Holmes are the dark and light of London, their older brothers Albert and Mycroft have the same dynamic: Mycroft is the Secretary of State and Albert is "M" working in the shadows under him to help Britain. Albert even refers to Mycroft (and his letters) as his one ray of hope in the eternal darkness of guilt when he had isolated himself in prison.
  • Living with the Villain: William and Sherlock live together in New York City in Brooklyn, and discuss things like how to filter coffee and buying curtains, despite their former roles as each other's Arch-Enemy.
  • Lost Wedding Ring: Hope loses his wife Lucy's wedding ring while killing Drebber, and William has his crew fetch it for him from Sherlock as his final dying wish.
  • Lying to the Perp: Sherlock tells William in The Two Detectives that Hope had identified him as the Lord of Crime, but William well knew it was a lie and gave Sherlock no evidence.
  • Man Hug: After finally reuniting after three long years, Louis pulls his brother William into a hug, which is happily received.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: William usually uses fire to ensure that the hints of murder are covered completely.
  • Masquerade Ball: Albert and Irene meet at one of these in The Scandal in the British Empire to converse discreetly and share information, while showcasing the excesses of the aristocracy.
  • Meaningful Echo:
    • In The Two Detectives, Sherlock claims William is "The Lord of Crime" mastermind he's been looking for while bluffing, and William responds with a teasing "Catch me if you can, Mr. Holmes." This is echoed at the end of The Two Criminals, when Sherlock, who finally has confirmation of William's identity as The Lord of Crime, swears to catch him, and William responds with "Catch me if you can, Sherlock."
    • In The Adventure of the One Student, William tells the brilliant math prodigy who is able to solve the impossible Final Problem on his mathematics exam, a problem that is focused on his own personal research, that he "stands on the same horizon" as William himself, which Sherlock repeats also says about himself after uncovering the mystery of the Lord of Crime completely in The Final Problem arc.
  • Mêlée à Trois: William vs. Sherlock vs. Milverton in The Two Criminals.
  • Mercy Kill Arrangement: William attempts to set this up for himself through Sherlock, as killing people has weighed too heavily on his mind for him to want to continue living with the guilt.
  • Midfight Weapon Exchange: Louis and William swap weapons in The Phantom of Whitechapel, after William leaves his sword in one body and Louis throws a knife into another opponent. Their opponents are excited that they're unarmed, until the brothers simply remove the other's weapon from the nearest body.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: This is the plot, from Deuteragonist Sherlock's point of view. He stumbles across an odd death that is clearly a disguised murder, then finds himself framed for murder, and uncovering that only reveals that his suspicions that there is a mastermind behind the crimes is accurate.
  • Mirrored Confrontation Shot: There are a few of these throughout the series, although all the group confrontations are unbalanced as William has far more people on his side than Sherlock does (who typically only has John and Lestrade). When it's just William and Sherlock confronting each other in the shot, it's far more equal, as they're the same height and build, so it matches up well.
  • Muzzle Flashlight: In The Adventure of the Four Servants, Bond asks Moran to fire off gunshots into a dark bank lobby to a countdown so Bond can take out the bank robbers non-lethally.
  • Never Found the Body: William and Sherlock's. Both, of course, survive.
  • No One Could Survive That!: Said by bystanders at the end of chapter 55 after Sherlock and William plummet into the Thames together. Despite this, they do survive.
  • Not Me This Time: When William and Sherlock happen upon a murder on a train they happened to be traveling on at the same time, it carries all the hints of being another one of William's killings. But it turns out he had nothing to do with it!
  • Not-So-Final Confession: William seems to think he might get out of dealing with any consequences of writing a letter to Sherlock to tell him how much he has always liked Sherlock and wishes to they could be reborn to be friends properly, but unfortunately for him, Sherlock reads it first.
  • Now, Let Me Carry You: The manga has a few versions of this, mostly centered around William.
    • William is normally the center and leader of his crew, but during The Final Problem, most of his associates make an effort to help him from his self-destructive despair cycle, including Moran hoping to do most of the final murders, and Fred making the effort to tell William how special he thinks William is. He has made a point to recognize and affirm the value of each of their lives and they are desperately trying to repay the favor by affirming his...although only his Mirror Character Sherlock's attempts seem to make it through.
    • In The Valley of Fellows, Sherlock has switched around on William, saying that William had recognized and affirmed his life and choices when they first met, so now he is dedicating himself to helping William find himself on uncertain footing after he survived The Final Problem.
  • Obi-Wan Moment: Technically subverted, since William doesn't die, but he does become very calm when he thinks he has sealed his death with a serene smile, believing he'd saved Sherlock.
  • Obligatory Earpiece Touch: Used in The Adventure of the Empty Hearts once Von Herder equips everyone in MI6 with ear transponders to communicate.
  • Offering a Hand: Sherlock tries to end The Final Problem by asking William to take his hand and come down off the Tower Bridge to atone together, but William refuses.
    William: I will not take your hand.
  • One Steve Limit: Discussed and subverted. Sherlock has the misfortune of meeting three different Williams in the series, but they all use different nicknames (Liam, Bill, and Billy). Sherlock has an exasperated moment upon meeting Billy, commenting "Jeez, another William?"
  • "Open!" Says Me:
    • Lestrade knocks in the door to the Scotland Yard's archives after Sherlock's plan to sneak in is foiled. Sherlock and John stare, stunned and impressed by the unexpected display from the Inspector.
    • Sherlock and John break down a door together in The Sign of Mary to find Bartholomew's dead body.
  • Out, Damned Spot!: William mentions that his hands have seemed cover with blood since his first murder and that he never intended for them to get this stained, but he cannot seem to wash it out. He tries anyway in The Final Problem.
  • Out of the Inferno: Sherlock has one of these moments at the end of The Two Criminals after burning down Milverton's estate.
  • Paintball Episode: In the novels, one of the stories is set aside for the Moriarty crew to practice training with paintball guns.
  • The Pardon: Albert is offered one of these, although he refuses to accept.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Moriarty only targets noblemen they deem "evil". Most are kidnappers, murderers and rapists whose highborn status lets them get away with their vile actions.
  • The Perfect Crime: Both invoked and played straight.
    • The Moriarty brothers' first murder was mentioned by William as needing to be planned as "the perfect crime"
    • William usually plans crimes to Make It Look Like an Accident (although not always)
    • Sherlock accidentally manages one of these when murdering Milverton despite his confession: there's simply no evidence a crime has even been committed at all except that he says he it did
  • Perspective Flip: Moriarty of Sherlock Holmes infamy is the protagonist of the series.
  • Pet's Homage Name: Mycroft has a pet bird named "Mr. Charles Dickens" which he calls Charlie.
  • Playing Card Motifs: Downplayed, but appears with the return of Moran's #1 Dime card from William: it features the King of Hearts ("The Suicide King") and the Jack of Hearts spliced together, obviously representing the two characters.
  • Please, Don't Leave Me: A variant. The cover for chapter 55 has text reading "Catch me. Don't leave me alone," next to William's figure and "I finally caught you. I won't leave you alone," next to Sherlock, who is holding him.
  • Plot Archaeology: Moran's Day in the Limelight arc, The Man with the Golden Army, resolves with Moran's backstory dealt with and himself able to move on fully devoted to William, and all seems well. Until The Adventure of the Empty Hearts brings up The Great Game from his and Moneypenny's adventures back in India from that arc, and the plot is explicitly mentioned as a part of the same nefarious plot.
  • Powder Trail: Louis and William set this up in The Phantom of Whitechapel while waiting for the men claiming to be Jack the Ripper to arrive and use it to ensure a neat victory.
  • Power Trio: William and his two brothers share the identity of The Lord of Crime between them. William is the brilliant mastermind, Albert is a manipulative, charming persona with deep connections in the government, and Louis their terrifyingly comptetent successor, it's far from inaccurate to say they truly share the role.
  • Protagonist Title: "Moriarty the Patriot" refers to the Moriarty brothers, particularly William. Mycroft calls them "true patriots" during "A Scandal in British Empire".
  • Protected by a Child: One of the men William kills in The Final Problem tries to use his children as a human shield, which William finds disgusting, but one of the sons genuinely wants to protect his father. William simply shoves him out of the way, but feels as though he disrespected the child's honor because of it.
  • Putting the Band Back Together: While most of MI6 remained together over the time skip, William returns from NYC, Moran is pulled out of despair, and Albert is yanked out of jail to reunite together with the others to dedicate their lives to atonement now that they've had time to fully reflect on their guilt. And as a bonus, Sherlock, John, and Ms. Hudson are a part of their team, too.
  • Quirky Household: Both the Moriarty crew and the clan of 221B Baker Street:
    • The Moriartys and their subordinates are a tightly-knight Criminal Found Family and comrade in arms—but they all tease each other, they forgot Herder in a basement once, and Moran is perpetually being teased.
    • John, Sherlock, and Ms. Hudson are not related to each other, but John and Sherlock's shenanigans solving crimes are alternatively aided and obstructed by Ms. Hudson...but aided more than she'd probably like to admit, even to the point of letting them blow up the place.
    • And of course, after The Final Problem, they seem to have largely merged into one, larger family, even having dinner together.
  • Real Event, Fictional Cause: The French Revolution in the series was orchestrated by British agents.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • Ms. Hudson gives one of these to Sherlock at the end of The Dark Night of London, reminding him of all the reasons he'll never get married.
    • In the anime version of The Final Problem arc, when the slums are burning down by the fires ignited by Albert as part of William's plan, Moran calls out on the nobles for their selfishness and reminds the nobles of "noblesse oblige", meaning it's the nobility's responsibility to help out with the masses which is what their ancestor did in the past. After that, the nobles end up helping out the civilians in putting out the fires.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Subverted. William would very much like to die for his actions, but Sherlock calls him out on trying to run away from what he's done by dying, that his death with fix nothing, and he has to live on to atone. Even Albert winds up in jail instead of at an execution.
  • Redemption Quest: Sherlock and William set off on this after The Final Problem, and William's crew also seems focused on this task.
  • Red String of Fate: Used repeatedly in the series by Sherlock, who says there is a scarlet thread of destiny tying him to The Lord of Crime/William. This image is also on some of the official promotional art from the anime release.
  • Revenge Is Not Justice: For all that the Moriarty family is portrayed sympathetically, their actions are not portrayed as acceptable or forgivable. They were evil and they all commit to devoting the rest of their lives to atoning for their crimes. William even outright states that he's never thought of his actions as justice, nor that he has any right to have done what he has.
  • Rigged Spectacle Fight: William sets up a final showdown with Sherlock in front of all London in The Final Problem and ensures thousands will be watching them fight. Of course, he rigs the win to appear for Sherlock and not himself, but Sherlock even manages to work around his machinations and win on his own terms, forcing William to confess his plans' defeat.
  • Rivals Team Up: Sherlock and William engage in this on occasion, most notably in The Two Detectives and The Two Criminals arcs, but also in The Adventure of the One Student.
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    S-Z 
  • Sadistic Choice: William forces one of these on Moran unintentionally, forcing him to choose between helping him to his death, or sacrificing their shared ideals and Moran's loyalty.
  • Safecracking: Bond develops this skill during the timeskip.
  • Save the Villain: Most of The Final Problem arc centers around characters trying to prevent William from dying.
  • Scholarship Student: After discovering an impossibly high test score on one of his exams, William and Sherlock hunt down the test-taker and enroll him at Durham despite him not being of a high enough social class to be able to afford it. William gets the student admission on his recommendation and Sherlock bargains for a merit scholarship.
  • Secret Test of Character: William, as manipulative as he is, is fond of pulling this trick.
    • In A Study in "S", he frames Sherlock for murder and then teases him with information about the criminal mastermind to see how Sherlock manages to wriggle out of the situation and what he does when faced with temptation
    • He does it again to Sherlock during The Phantom of Whitechapel to see if Sherlock is willing to lie to keep the peace
    • He pulls one on Adam Whiteley in The White Knight of London during the park opening ceremony to see where the MP's priorities lay
  • Self-Sacrifice Scheme: Oh, William. As part of his Messiah complex, William had long planned his own death as a sacrifice to take on the burdens on his entire family and friends' crimes and save Britain. Unfortunately, no one else realized this until nearly too late to stop it.
  • Sentimental Shabbiness: William's #1 Dime returned to Moran is a playing card that shows the obvious signs of having been drowned in the Thames alongside William and wear from being carried around for three years while Moran thought William dead, and Moran recognizes it as the affection William showed in keeping with him to his potential death and not letting it go until it was returned to Moran.
  • Serial Killer:
    • Duke Enoch J. Drebber is a prolific killer and rapist of women who uses his position to get away with his crimes.
    • Moires Baskervilles charms children into following him before he hunts them using his dogs and kills them.
    • William and his crew murder Asshole Victims on the regular.
  • Serial Rapist: Flashbacks show Duke Enoch J. Drebber was a prolific rapist of women, having them kidnapped, tortured and raped before killing them afterwards.
  • Sexy Soaked Shirt: Lampshaded, since Sherlock pushes John into getting his shirt soaked specifically to attract the attention of the women at Milverton's manor so he has a distraction to sneak around.
  • Sheep in Sheep's Clothing: Adam Whiteley is a rising member of the parliament who publicly fights for the common people's right. Since he's basically fighting to achieve the same goal as Moriarty without the criminal acts—thus making the Villain Protagonist's role redundant—the audience might reasonably suspect that his White Knight persona is just a facade, and that he's actually just as bad (or worse) than the antagonists that Moriarty has killed so far. However, Moriarty soon confirms that his altruism is sincere, and that Whiteley is just as he appears to be.
  • Sherlock Scan:
    • Both Sherlock and Moriarty are immediately able to deduce each other's professions (and more) from a single glance.
    • Sherlock does one on John when the first meet to deduce he's a Returning War Vet home from Afghanistan.
    • Mycroft is able to guess the exact weight Dr. Watson had gained just by looking at his belt (whereas Sherlock gets his guess 0.5 pounds off).
    • Sherlock also manages to deduce that Billy the Kid is taking them to America from little more than a glance.
  • Shooting At Your Own Projectiles: Bond convinces Moran to shoot a bullet at a coin Bond kicked into midair to rebound and destroy a gatling gun. Needless to say, Guns Do Not Work That Way.
  • Shoot the Fuel Tank: Moran is tasked in The Final Problem to shoot a can of oil so it explodes and takes out the edge of the Tower Bridge and William with it.
  • Shout-Out: A safe deposit box retrieved by Moran in the anime is numbered 2501, a reference to the Puppet Master from Ghost in the Shell, also animated by Production I.G. The safe deposit box in the manga is 197, so the animation staff changed it to include the reference.
  • Shout-Out to Shakespeare: William is very fond of Shakespeare and has a habit of quoting him on occasion, most memorably while saying, "Hell is empty and all the devils are here," while walking into a room to murder people.
  • Show Some Leg: A male take on the trope in The Two Detectives when Sherlock uses his and John's attractiveness to weasel their way into Milverton's manor. John's Sexy Soaked Shirt helps a lot.
  • Significant Name Shift:
    • William shifts from "Mr. Holmes" to "Sherly" once Sherlock saves his life and he feels he finally has a chance to be proper friends with him.
    • Louis, who has always been rather frustrated with Sherlock's existence and not gotten along well with him, finally accepts Sherlock's presence and begins to trust him after Sherlock saves William's life, and he switches over to "Sherlock-san" which is about as informal as he gets with anyone.
    • Louis doesn't call Albert "older brother" until after their first murder together, when he finally accepts Albert as family. Later, he changes from "nii-sama" to "nii-san" for the first time, putting him on the same level as William for the first time.
  • Soft Water: Averted. Even with Sherlock's defensive physical skills, both he and William take heavy damage during their plummet into the Thames. They barely survive it even receiving near-immediate medical care and both need resuscitation.
  • Spared by the Adaptation:
    • Professor Moriarty does not die during The Final Problem.
    • Mary Morstan is also still alive after The Great Hiatus.
  • Splash Panel: The series likes using these. Some of the more important two-page spreads are:
    • In the first chapter, one shows the Moriarty brothers emerging from the manor they set on fire, declaring their name and relationship
    • After A Study in "S", House Moriarty stands together as William declares he will make Sherlock Holmes the light that illuminates his darkness
    • In The Two Detectives, William gets a full two pages to tell Sherlock, "Catch me if you can, Mr. Holmes."
    • Chapter 54 shows both nobles and commoners alike working together and holding a bucket together, showing William's plan working as intended
    • Chapter 55 shows the Thames after William and Sherlock plummet under the surface
    • Chapter 59 has Sherlock sit on a bench next William after William wakes up from his coma
  • Stay with Me Until I Die: Invoked. William explains to Sherlock that he chose him to kill William because he wants Sherlock and Sherlock alone to be with him in his final moments.
  • Street Urchin: The Baker Street Irregulars are implied to be street urchins, although their living situation is never made precisely clear.
  • Strike Me Down with All of Your Hatred!: William tries very hard to invoke this in Sherlock, only to discover Sherlock doesn't hate him at all.
  • String Theory: In The Final Problem when Sherlock is finalizing his conclusions about William, he sets up a conspiracy board connecting William to his brothers and their various crimes with string.
  • Series Fauxnale: Subverted hard. Readers (and even some media outlets) assumed the manga would wrap up with The Final Problem. After all, it's the story of Moriarty who dies in that story in the original canon, it seems to be the final clash between William and Sherlock, the first page of the first chapter foreshadowed it, and, well...it's called "Final" for a reason. But The Adventure of the Empty Hearts follows immediately after and introduces a character that had been shown on the cover of chapter one alongside William's other subordinates who weren't introduced until much later, so the authors intended to go past The Final Problem...since chapter one.
  • Speech-Bubble Censoring: In The Adventure of the Four Servants, Moran is naked in the changing room when Louis shows Bond around—and he stands up proudly claiming his body a work of art when demanding Bond leave—and that speech bubble covers any naughty bits.
  • Staged Shooting: In The Man with the Golden Army, Moran shoots Moneypenny with a paintball gun to trick their targets into thinking he'd killed her.
  • Suicide by Assassin: William's ultimate intentions for Sherlock are to be murdered by him for the sake of the country.
  • The Summation: Naturally, Sherlock is fond of explaining crimes to people.
    • In A Study in "S", Sherlock explains the details of the crimes to John while riding in Hope's carriage so Hope can overhear the deduction.
    • In the The Two Detectives, he has a Summation Gathering to explain the crime to everyone and pin down the criminal.
    • In The Phantom of Whitechapel after lying about the culprit of the murders to Lestrade, he bursts out and confesses the real story he deduced, laying the blame on The Lord of Crime, to John.
  • Summation Gathering: For a series with Sherlock Holmes, this series is surprisingly light on gatherings to explain mysteries, but there is one at the end of The Two Detectives when Sherlock and William come together to identify the murderer.
  • Surprisingly Good English: The manga is full of already-translated English titles, as well of a handful of lines written in English, newspapers, and letters, as well as promotional text in the manga magazine. As most of the characters are British and the series is set in Britain, it can be assumed they are meant to be speaking English anyway, but the English is quite accurate from Japanese creators nonetheless.
  • Take It to the Bridge: William asks Sherlock to meet him on the Tower Bridge in London for their confrontation in The Final Problem.
  • Take My Hand!: Sherlock tries this one on William, and when William refuses to take it, Sherlock simply grabs on anyway.
  • Talking Down the Suicidal: Fred, Louis, and Sherlock all attempt to talk William out of his plan to die for the country. While the success of these attempts is mixed at best, he has no intentions furthering his own death in The Adventure of the Empty Hearts.
  • Tally Marks on the Prison Wall: Albert makes a series of these while imprisoned in The Tower.
  • Targeted to Hurt the Hero: Milverton sets up Adam Whiteley's family's gruesome murder by their own bodyguard so he would walk into it and be Driven to Villainy.
  • A Taste of Their Own Medicine:
    • Most memorable during The Grapefruit Pie, in which William parroted Baron Dublin's own question of, "How much will you pay for that glass of water?" back at him while he was dying and pleading for water, which he had said to Michelle Barton when her son was dying and she asked for water.
    • In Dancers on the Bridge, William forced Dudley over the edge of the bridge to drown, as he had lured Frida into doing before her death.
  • Thanatos Gambit: William's plan would work just as well if he faked his own death as it would if he actually died, but he's bound and determined to go the extra mile and do it properly.
  • There Are No Therapists: Justified, since it's set in Victorian England, but William, Sherlock, Albert, Louis, and Moran could all use some therapy and maybe some psychiatric medication. Even John has a psychogenic illness (ahem, PTSD from the war) and no treatment in sight.
  • This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: Sherlock attempts to bring John to meet William in The Final Problem and follow his clues, but John recognizes that William is reaching out to Sherlock and Sherlock alone as a friend on a personal level instead of as a detective and refuses to come.
  • Thriller on the Express: The Two Detectives arc takes place on the train from Durham to London, and features William and Sherlock running into each other by chance and teaming up to solve a murder committed on the train before the murderer has a chance to escape.
  • Time Skip: Post The Final Problem, the manga jumps ahead three years.
  • To Absent Friends: Mycroft and Louis at the end of The Final Problem, discuss their lost brothers, although Louis insists he believes William to be alive somewhere. And he turns out to be right.
  • The Tragic Rose: The covers for The Final Problem arc of the manga feature the major characters (Fred, Louis, Moran, Albert, Sherlock) with falling rose petals (and, in Sherlock's case, lying on a bed of them). In the next arc, William is featured with a crown of thorns with a red rose over his now-missing eye, and refers to "those held captive by the rose," referring to the past tragedy of William's plan.
  • Training from Hell: Implied in the manga and anime and covered in more depth in the novels, Jack's training of the Moriarty brothers in "The art of killing" was not soft or sane.
  • Train-Station Goodbye: Played with. William sees Sherlock off at a train station in Durham, and while they don't kiss like lovers, William does take the chance to be openly emotional with him before the train horn interrupts him and carries Sherlock, leaning off the train, away while William watches with a longing expression and says to himself how nice it will be to see him again.
  • Troubled Backstory Flashback: Moran gets one in his Day in the Limelight arc The Man with the Golden Army. While his life hadn't been perfect, he had been quite happy with his squad in the army until they were betrayed, ambushed, and murdered—and even he was declared legally dead—which motivated him to work for William promoting equality in Britain as well as getting his own revenge before devoting himself to William's cause fully.
  • Undressing the Unconscious: Someone undresses Sherlock and William and bandages them up after The Final Problem before Sherlock woke on the steamship. Presumably Billy, but it's not entirely clear who provides the entirety of their medical treatment. At least Sherlock has pants on this time.
  • Unflinching Walk: Sherlock Holmes in The Two Criminals casually strides away from Milverton's estate, where he just murdered a man and set the scene on fire, only to immediately confess to the crime to the police and allow himself to be arrested.
  • Using You All Along: Since the series primarily follows the Villain Protagonist, this isn't much of a twist: one of the first things we see William do is test Sherlock and then decide to incorporate him and all his predicted actions into his grand master plan. Sherlock knows he's being toyed with and he's dancing to the Lord of Crime's tune, but he can't figure out how to break out of it for most of the series.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: Oh, William and his ridiculous plan to rid the world of monsters so the world will be better, even if hates what he's doing and knows it's wrong, evil, and can never be atoned for.
  • Victorian London: The manga didn't update the time period for when adapting the series: the first chapter takes place in 1866, many of the later ones in 1879, and after the Time Skip, in 1882.
  • Vigilante Injustice: This story portrays a Well-Intentioned Extremist version of Professor Moriarty. Moriarty knows the murder he's committing of monstrous nobles in hopes of bringing equality to the British Empire is wrong and openly says it's not justice but still seems to view it as a necessity he's committed to for too long to abandon. The series actually has him survive The Final Problem arc in which he dies in the original canon so he is forced to find a proper way to atone for everything he's done and find a new way to commit to justice.
  • Villain's Dying Grace: Slightly played with, as he doesn't die, but when William hangs off an unstable bridge with Sherlock holding onto his arm and begging to pull him up, William instead declares that he wants Sherlock to live and uses his sword to cut Sherlock's arm, forcing him to let go and allow William to fall before the entire bridge scaffolding collapses out from under both of them.
  • Voiceover Letter: William's letter to the public in The Final Problem declaring his intentions and that no one will be able to stop him, is voiced over in the anime (and written in such a way in the manga that the intent is clear).
  • Waking Up Elsewhere: After The Final Problem, Sherlock wakes up on a steamship thanks to a rescue from the Thames river.
  • The War Room: The Moriarty crew has a room in the basement of the London Moriarty manor in which to keep the tools of their murderous trade and William's plans for their crimes, as well as to discuss and brief William's crew on the details of the newest plot (although sometimes they simply do this in the living room as well). In "The Tea Party" chapter, Von Herder is stationed there to guard it and its secrets with deadly force if necessary, and its existence is why the Moriartys work so devotedly to keep people out of their home and hire no outside servants.
  • We Need to Get Proof: While Sherlock might know something, he is strongly committed to having actual evidence to back up his claims.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: The Merchant of London arc shows Louis telling a story of his and William's life before they even met Albert in chapter one.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Moires Baskerville and his minions capture children and then remove a vital organ or limb to disable them. They then hunt them with vicious dogs before catching and killing them in grotesque ways.
  • Worth Living For: The manga spends a fair amount of time dealing with this concept, but it's at one of its highest point when Louis decides to live because William, his brother, has acknowledged his life as having worth, and that he hopes even one person can give William the same inspiration to live.
  • Writing Around Trademarks: James Bond is public domain in Japan, but not in America. Therefore, when the anime and manga are released in America, James Bond becomes "James Bonde" and "Moneypenny" becomes "Moniepeny."
  • Wrong Assumption: After giving Sherlock a Secret Test of Character, William assumes the highest hurdle for Sherlock to clear, the one thing he certainly wouldn't do to get what he wants, is murder someone, and that he is committed to playing by the rules and following the laws. Well. Murder's not nearly as troubling to Sherlock as William thought.
  • You Are Not Alone: As much as William tries to cut off his bonds with others in The Final Problem, as apart from others as he tries to hold himself while taking all their burdens on himself, as lonely and misunderstood as he is, Louis and Fred still desperately reach out to Sherlock to help William for them, Sherlock still shows up to their final confrontation as his friend and not a detective, then adamantly refuses to abandon him even in the years after, and Albert is willing to bear the legal burden for him.
  • Younger and Hipper: Sherlock Holmes, Professor Moriarty, and John Watson are all only in their mid-twenties during the bulk of the series.
  • Zero-Approval Gambit: William's plan involves drawing the hatred of everyone in the British Empire as a common enemy.

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