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Mythology Gag / Elementary

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Elementary has many, many references to the original canon as written by Arthur Conan Doyle.

  • Holmes as a former addict is a reference to Holmes' cocaine use in the original stories, though the reasons for his drug usage is inverted. The original Holmes took stimulants to keep his brain active between cases, while this Holmes first took stimulants with the same objective and then lost control and started using opiates to shut his brain down.
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  • Mary Watson (Joan's mother) and Ty Morstan (Joan's ex-boyfriend) are named after Mary Morstan, Dr. Watson's first wife in the canon.
  • The multiple references to beekeeping refer to Holmes' career after being a detective. "Possibility Two" alludes to his fascination with bees again with Sherlock being offered a rare bee as a gift. And in "Heroine" we have Holmes naming an entirely new species of bees after Watson.
  • In "While You Were Sleeping" Sherlock tells Joan that his brain is "like an attic, with a finite amount of space" that he must save only for the necessary, which is an exact copy of the analogy Holmes gave to Watson in the original stories— but with more tossing around complete strangers' glasses of water.
  • Also from "While You Were Sleeping", Watson finds an old violin that Holmes owned and tries to get him back into it, saying that playing an instrument will help him stay sober. The original Sherlock Holmes was notorious for playing the violin while thinking.
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  • In "Child Predator", Holmes tells Gregson that "from a drop of water, a logician could infer the possibility of an Atlantic or a Niagara without having seen or heard of either one", a near-direct quote from A Study In Scarlet.
  • Sherlock's assessment of Gregson as being smart for a policeman echoes that of his literary counterpart, who described Gregson as "the smartest of the Scotland Yarders" in a somewhat backhanded fashion. Here, though, it comes off as more sincere.
  • Holmes owns a phrenology bust. In the original stories, Holmes was said to have studied phrenology.
  • Detective Bell is probably a reference to Dr. Joseph Bell, the University of Edinburgh lecturer who inspired Conan Doyle to create Holmes.
    • In "Meet Your Maker", during a conversation about a possible career move, Marcus jokingly calls himself "Dr. Bell", a nod to Joseph Bell.
  • In "Flight Risk", when Joan goes to meet Alistair in the book shop, a copy of Anthony Horowitz's Sherlock Holmes pastiche novel The House of Silk can be seen, slightly out of focus, in the background a couple of times.
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  • In "Leviathan", Holmes responds to Watson's objections to his current theory by saying "When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be true." This is one of the most famous lines from Sherlock Holmes. When Joan mentions the quote back to him, he responds with "Sounds like a windbag."
  • In "You Do It To Yourself", Holmes apparently spent a car journey with Bell recording his thoughts about the effect the tides have on crime, later saying he was thinking of writing a monograph on the subject. In the books Holmes was always writing monographs on obscure aspects of criminology. (Bell just thinks the flu's made him delirious. The idea of a sick Holmes becoming a Talkative Loon could be a reference to "The Adventure of the Dying Detective")
  • In "M", Teddy and the alluded-to network of similar street kids that Sherlock uses for surveillance around New York are an obvious nod to the Baker Street Irregulars.
  • Also in "M," Sherlock's speech about statisticians and individuals comes from the classic Doyle story "The Sign of Four."
  • In "The Red Team" Sherlock's wall of crazy for Moriarty includes a picture of Napoléon Bonaparte. Sherlock admits that one is probably a result of a lack of sleep, but it's a reference to Moriarty being called "the Napoleon of crime." In fact, the picture says just that.
  • Holmes is a single-stick fighter, which Watson listed with his skills in the first novel.
  • The famous line "once you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth" is said in "The Leviathan".
  • In "A Giant Gun, Filled With Drugs", Sherlock tells his addiction support group the story of one of his pre-Watson cases, which was clearly derived from "The Adventure of the Crooked Man". While musing what he could relate in the next meeting, Holmes explicitly refers to "The Case of the Blue Carbuncle" by name. And in that same episode, Sherlock mentions his monograph on cigar and cigarette ashes, a bit taken almost word-for-word from Conan Doyle.
  • Mention is made of a former associate of Holmes named Mr. Musgrave. This is clearly a reference to Reginald Musgrave, a college classmate of the original Holmes featured in "The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual".
  • Sebastian Moran refers to being an ex-Royal Marine; the original version was a colonel in Kipling's Finest.
  • The plot of the thieves in "Snow Angels" is similar to the classic Holmes story the "Red-Headed League."
  • Ms. Hudson is an autodidact and helped Sherlock with cases involving Ancient Greek. She's... a Greek interpreter.
  • In "Deja Vu All Over Again", Sherlock says "There is no branch of detective science which is so important and so much neglected as the art of tracing footsteps", which is a quote from "A Study in Scarlet".
  • "Dead Man's Switch" is basically a rewrite of "Charles Augustus Milverton" with the blackmailer dying in the first ten minutes and Holmes needing to track down the blackmail material before the blackmailer's partner can release it to the public rather than Holmes being able to destroy it all immediately after the blackmailer's death as in the original novel. They didn't even change the blackmailer's name.
  • In "A Landmark Story", when Holmes and Watson are discussing whether Holmes has ever needed to break into a funeral home before, Holmes remarks that there was "The Problem of Thor Bridge".
    • Also, Samantha's method of suicide at the beginning of "On the Line" (staged to look like a murder, on a bridge, with a weighted gun) is taken directly from that story.
  • Also from "A Landmark Story", Sherlock says to Watson that "some people without possessing genius have a remarkable knack for stimulating it", a quote from "The Hound of the Baskervilles".
  • In "Risk Management", Holmes refers to Irene Adler as "The Woman" and uses the exact quote used in "A Scandal in Bohemia", saying that she 'eclipsed the whole of her gender'.
  • The song that plays in "Risk Management" when Holmes finds Irene is from the opera "Don Giovanni." In the novels, Irene Adler was an opera singer who was in that show.
  • In "Risk Management" as well, Moriarty's entire "spider at the center of his web" speech is, word-by-word, Holmes' description of him in "The Final Problem", only in first person.
  • In "The Woman", Irene Adler mentions that she was watched over in her captivity by a man named Stapleton, a reference to "The Hound of the Baskervilles."
    • Bonus Mythology Gag: like the character in the original, this Stapleton was a false identity. For bonus points, Stapleton was the caretaker for a "monster," like Moriarty is for this one.
  • In "Paint It Black" Holmes says "It is my business to know what other people don't." This is a shortened version of a line from "The Blue Carbuncle": "My name is Sherlock Holmes. It is my business to know what other people don't know."
  • Daniel Gotlieb is a killer on Moriarty's payroll who stages crimes with a Make It Look Like an Accident edge, which is probably a reference to "The Final Problem", in which an unnamed Moriarty assassin tries to kill Sherlock by "accidentally" dropping a vase from the fifth floor of a building and "accidentally" almost running him over with a "out of control" carriage, among other Make It Look Like an Accident crimes.
  • In "Heroine" after an apparent overdose, Sherlock is in the hospital when Moriarty arrives at Sherlock's bedside. This is nearly identical to "The Dying Detective" up to and including Sherlock having Joan nearby as Sherlock gets Moriarty to confess, and Sherlock faking the illness.
  • In the original stories, Irene Adler was the only woman ever to outsmart Holmes. So, too, here.
  • In The Valley of Fear, it is observed that Moriarty keeps a painting worth considerably more than his annual legal income displayed for anyone to see. Holmes identifies it upon sight. Fans who realized this knew Irene Adler was Moriarty a good 45 minutes before the ultimate reveal.
  • In "Heroine" Moriarty and Watson were in a crowded restaurant. Watson said that she wasn't too scared since they were there in front of people. Moriarty bragged about how that she had planned several murders that took place in crowded restaurants. In the Guy Ritchie films, Moriarty had killed Irene Adler in a crowded restaurant. Bonus fridge brilliance since in Elementary, Moriarty and Irene Adler are the same person.
  • In the original Holmes stories, Lestrade and Gregson always took public credit for Holmes' work up until Watson started publishing his stories. In Lestrade's first appearance, Holmes says that he had allowed them to do this in England in this continuity as well, and eventually came to the conclusion that the media attention that Lestrade got from 'solving' these high profile cases caused him to be addicted to the publicity. As a recovering addict, Holmes is understandably upset about the realization that he'd been enabling someone else's addiction.
  • "Step Nine":
    • Holmes mentions working on a case involving a Norwood Builder with Lestrade.
    • The unseen character Langdale Pike is named after the equally unseen gossip columnist in "The Three Gables".
  • In "We Are Everyone," Watson starts a text file called "The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes."
  • In "An Unnatural Arrangement" Holmes and Watson figure out who a suspect's male partner is because her dog- which barks like crazy at any male she doesn't know- didn't bark. This is a reference to "the curious incident of the dog in the night time" from "Silver Blaze."
  • In "The Marchioness," Mycroft's former fiancee owns a horse named "Silver Blaze". The same episode opens with Holmes commenting he'd rather be born in another age, before technology became so distracting. Mycroft asks him "Like two hundred years ago?" Two hundred years ago would roughly place him in the 19th century, Original Holmes' time period.
  • Mycroft's restaurant in New York is named Diogenes, the same name as the club he frequents in the novels.
  • The method of murder from "Blood is Thicker" - dropping a body onto a moving vehicle - is similar to how Arthur Cadogan West was murdered in "The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans".
    • Cadogan West himself also appears during "Art in the Blood" as a murder victim (see below).
  • While season one only contained a few references, season two has been heavy in showcasing Holmes' self-defense skills. In the books, Holmes is skilled in singlestick, Bartitsu, boxing, and has prodigious strength. Elementary's adapted his singlestick skills and notes that Holmes fights dirty.
  • One of the kidnappers in "The Diabolical Kind" is named John Clay, the same name as the criminal in "The Red-Headed League." The idea of John Clay having once worked for Moriarty is a reference to the 1984 Sherlock Holmes TV series starring Jeremy Brett. In that version of "The Red-Headed League", Clay's robbery was orchestrated by Moriarty, whereas in the original story, Clay and his partner were independent agents.
    • The title of that episode is a reference to Original Holmes' description of Moriarty from "The Final Problem":
    Holmes: The man had hereditary tendencies of the most diabolical kind. A criminal strain ran in his blood.
  • In "Step Nine", Sherlock says that Mycroft could not have lost weight through exercise since it "requires both energy and ambition" and Mycroft has never had much of either. This mirrors Original Holmes' explanation to Watson about why Mycroft, despite possessing deductive skills that were superior to Holmes' own, did not become a detective in "The Greek Interpreter."
  • "Art in the Blood" centers around one Arthur Cadogan West, an MI6 agent and murder victim. In Doyle's "The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans", West was a government clerk and murder victim, whose corpse was found along with some stolen secret documents.
  • "Art in the Blood" finally reveals that Mycroft isn't merely a chef and restaurateur, but works for British Intelligence and his mental skill set turns out to be highly invaluable for them, much as the original version of the character was. Mycroft's description of himself as a clearing house of information echoes Sherlock's description of Mycroft's unique position at Whitehall in "The Bruce Partington Plans".
  • The Smoky Gentlemen's Club full of misanthropes where British agents in New York meet reflects the original version of the Diogenes.
  • The title "Art in the Blood" itself is a quote from "The Greek Interpreter", where Sherlock uses it in saying his detective gifts must be a family trait, since Mycroft shares them.
  • Mycroft's apartment number is 21B.
  • In "The Grand Experiment", Mycroft says that he once overhead Sherlock say of him "He has no ambition and no energy. He will not even go out of his way to verify his own solutions. He would rather be considered wrong than take the trouble to prove himself right." This is lifted word-for-word from Sherlock's description of Mycroft in "The Greek Interpreter." Prior to this, Sherlock also tells an MI-6 agent that he "cannot make bricks without clay" in response to the agent refusing to give him the files he requested. This is a line from "The Red-Headed League".
  • "Bella" has a meta example: Sherlock notes that a Gentleman Thief is nicknamed "Raffles" after the protagonist of a series of novels written in Victorian Britain by E. W. Hornung. Hornung was Arthur Conan Doyle's brother-in-law and Raffles was intended as the original Holmes' Evil Counterpart.
  • "Bella" also includes this line from Holmes to Watson: "Even though we might draw further or nearer from each other depending on circumstance, you and I are bound, somehow." This hints at the long history of Sherlock Holmes stories where Holmes and Watson are nearly always together — you can't have Holmes without Watson!
  • Kitty Winter, introduced as a Sixth Ranger in the third season, originated in the Doyle story "The Adventure of the Illustrious Client". One of the episodes in which she appears is titled "The Illustrious Client", which is also the penultimate episode of Kitty's main arc in the season.
  • Kitty mars her rapist's face with a powerful acid, which is identical to the book's character, who marred her attacker with vitriol, aka sulfuric acid.
  • The episode "The Five Orange Pipz", like the short story of the same name (minus the Xtreme Kool Letterz), features a man named Openshaw who receives the titular Pipz in the mail and is then murdered.
  • In "The Female of the Species", Sherlock uses the alias "Sigerson", which the original Holmes used in "The Adventure of the Empty House".
  • In "Absconded", a villain organises a Flash Mob of people in red-headed Raggedy Andy costumes in order to create a crowd to escape through, evocative of the crowd of red-headed men in "The Red-Headed League".
  • The MI6 agent who employs Holmes in "Art in the Blood" and who turns out to be the bad guy in the next episode is named Sherrington. This is most likely a reference to "Sherrinford Holmes", the name Conan Doyle originally considered for his detective, and the name William Baring-Gould gave to the hypothetical elder brother of Sherlock and Mycroft in his fictional biography, Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street.
  • In the Cold Open of "End of Watch", Sherlock gives a word-for-word rendition of the "My mind rebels at stagnation" speech from "The Sign of Four". After hearing it, a member of the support group Sherlock is attending recommends a blog called "Brainattic", saying that the way Sherlock speaks reminds him of the writer. Original Sherlock compared his brain to an attic in the original stories.
  • The episode "A Study in Charlotte" has a couple of references to A Study in Scarlet besides the punning title. A significant clue is the word "RACHE", only tattooed on the victim's back rather than daubed on the wall in blood. Gregson associates it with the name Rachel, as Lestrade did in the book. And the victim's boyfriend is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, referencing the use of Mormonism in the original book. (In this case though, it's only significant that he doesn't like tattoos; he's not a crazed religious killer like Doyle's Mormons.)
  • In "You've Got Me, Who's Got You", the murder victim is a man who based his vigilante identity off a fictional superhero called the Midnight Ranger. When looking through the old comics to try to find clues, Sherlock mentions that his favorite of the character's five deaths is when he fell off a waterfall holding onto his archenemy. Sound familiar?
  • In "The Invisible Hand"
    • Morland berates Sherlock for not travelling the world dismantling Moriarty's organisation after its leader's imprisonment. Although not directly stated in canon, Fanon generally assumes this is what the original Holmes was doing during the Great Hiatus.
    • The quiet professor who's taken over Moriarty's organisation is a much closer fit to the book Moriarty. He also heavily resembles the character as played by Jared Harris.
  • In "Who Is That Masked Man?", Sherlock claims that if there was such a thing as a Master of Disguise, he would be one. The original Holmes was well known for his ability to put on convincing disguises.
  • At the beginning of "To Catch A Predator Predator", one of Sherlock's discarded clothing items is a deerstalker cap, a classic hat associated with Sherlock Holmes. Joan mentions that he never wears it, a reference to the fact that the original stories never explicitly describe Holmes as wearing a deerstalker (though it is implied in a couple of cases).
  • In "Ill Tidings", the culprit behind an art theft is seemingly killed by the pet snake that he used to help him carry out the crime. This mirrors the fate of the criminal in "The Adventure of the Speckled Band", with one exception: The snake wasn't his. It belonged to his partner and the killing was deliberate.
  • In the opening of "How The Sausage Is Made", it's mentioned that Sherlock and Joan are looking into the matter of "The Six Napoleons." A few minutes later, an associate of Holmes brings him a Beryl Coronet. And in the following scene, Joan refers to a past case as "the Musgrave thing".
  • In "Henny Penny the Sky Is Falling," Sherlock's celebrity astronomer friend mentions that Sherlock believed the sun revolves around the earth as a kid. In A Study in Scarlet, Watson is astonished to learn Sherlock doesn't know the earth revolves around the sun, and Sherlock says, even having learned it from Watson, it's not something he needs to know and so he will endeavor to forget it.
  • In "The Ballad of Lady Frances", the eponymous guitar, a 1957 Carfax Desperado, is a reference to "The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax".
  • "Dead Man's Tale" involves the logbook of a pirate named Black Peter, a reference to the murder victim in "The Adventure of Black Peter".
  • The opening of "Moving Targets" has Holmes and Watson solving the murder of a man named Willam Kirwin, who attempted to blackmail a man named Alec after witnessing him break into the home of his neighbor, Mr. Acton. Holmes solved the case by matching the way Alec wrote the word "twelve" to the same word written on the note used to lure the victim to his death. These details are pulled directly from the classic Holmes story "The Adventure of the Reigate Squire."
  • The Victorian sensory deprivation tank Sherlock starts using in "Our Time is Up" to deal with his headaches looks a lot like the Victorian suspended animation chamber Holmes uses to travel to 1987 in the TV movie The Return of Sherlock Holmes.
  • "The Adventure of the Ersatz Sobekneferu" has Sherlock and Moreland discussing Moreland's efforts to bring down the Moriarty organization. During this conversation, Sherlock mentions the matters of "The Priory School" and "The Solitary Cyclist."
  • In "Meet Your Maker", when Joan ties the victim to a Maker subculture convention, she asks Sherlock if they should go in costume, and the scene immediately cuts to outside the convention, showing the back of a woman in a deerstalker and a man in a bowler hat. (It's not them.)
  • A subplot in "Breathe" involves the King of Bohemia, a reference to "A Scandal in Bohemia".
  • Baynes, a former Scotland Yard detective in "Uncanny Valley of the Dolls" with a grudge against Sherlock, is a reference to a Surrey inspector of the same name in "The Adventure of Wisteria Lodge" (who, ironically, Holmes got on very well with).
  • The title of "The Geek Interpreter" is a reference to "The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter" (the same reference was also used in the tie-in Character Blog for Sherlock). The opening scene has Sherlock deduce that a supposed murder victim was actually stung by a lion's mane jellyfish, in reference to "The Adventure of the Lion's Mane".
  • The title of "Whatever Remains, However Improbable" is another reference to Holmes's famous maxim "Once you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be true". In the final scene, a Lord St. Simon is asking Sherlock to help find his wife, Miss Hatty Doran of San Francisco, who vanished on their wedding day, which is all straight from "The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor". He also mentions they have a mutual friend named Stamford. In the original stories it was a Stamford who introduced Watson to Sherlock. And in the very last scene, when it turns out Joan has followed Sherlock to London, he says he's not sure about their relocation, and she says "I feel like we're exactly where we're supposed to be", referencing that the Holmes stories are "supposed" to be set in London.
  • Shinwell Johnson from Season 5 is named after a reformed criminal and contact of Holmes's in "The Adventure of the Illustrious Client".
  • "The Further Adventures"
    • "The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" is a series of pastiches written by Bert Coules for BBC Radio 4, after he completed his dramatisation of every canon story.
    • Beppo, the Black Pearl of the Borgias, and the smashing of busts to find said pearl are all references to "The Six Napoleons".
    • DCI Athelney Jones is a genderflipped version of the original Athelney Jones from "The Sign of the Four".
    • Noodle Incident cases they've solved since moving to London include proving Eduardo Lucas was killed by his wife, rather than Lady Hilda, a reference to "The Second Stain", "the Boscombe Valley mystery" and "that adventure at Abbey Grange."
  • The Big Bad of Season 7 is named Odin Reichenbach, which refers to the Reichenbach Falls, the location of Holmes and Moriarty's final confrontation in "The Adventure of the Final Problem".
  • In the Cold Open of "Miss Understood", Holmes postpones working on a case involving three brothers named Garrideb, as a more pressing matter has literally appeared on his doorstep.
  • In "The Price of Admission", when the storage facility owner is told he's a suspect, he asks why he'd have got Holmes involved if he were the murderer. Holmes replies that several murderers have called him in out of "pure swank", and gives the specific example of a retired colourman.
  • "On the Scent" opens with Sherlock and Joan attempting a VR recreation of a man jumping into a window to determine whether student Jonas Gilchrist broke into his professor's room to cheat on an exam, a reference to "The Adventure of the Three Students".
  • In "The Latest Model", a subplot involves a historical mysteries podcast looking at "The Devil's Foot" a strange event in 1910 Cornwall in which an "unknown force" drove two brothers mad and killed their sister. This is directly based on the "The Adventure of the Devil's Foot".
  • "Their Last Bow"
    • The title references "His Last Bow", a classic Holmes story. In that episode, Sherlock's fake tombstone reads "Work is the best antidote to sorrow", a line from Holmes to Watson in "The Return of Sherlock Holmes."
    • Sherlock mentions that he travelled under the names "Sigerson" and "Altamont" during his "death". "Sigerson" was an alias he used during the period between "The Final Problem" and "The Empty House", whilst "Altamont" was a persona used by Holmes during "His Last Bow" to catch German spy Von Bork on the eve of World War One. He also mentions an identity in France who was an expert in coal-tar derivatives, another alias from the Great Hiatus.
    • The whole faked his death and spent the next few years travelling the world in disguise and dismantling Moriarty's organisation situation is based directly on the Hiatus, as described in "The Empty House".
    • Ronald Adair shares his name with the murder victim from "The Empty House", and was likewise an inveterate gambler with an associate who cheated at cards (poker rather than whist). As in the story, this is the case brings Sherlock back from the Hiatus.
    • Joan has written a memoir of working with Sherlock called The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes, which is the title of one of the short story collections.
    • The "Smith homicide" with the spring-loaded box that Joan and Marcus are looking at near the start of the episode is "The Adventure of the Dying Detective".
    • Joan's son is named Arthur, possibly in reference to Arthur Conan Doyle.


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