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Mythology Gag / Sherlock

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The following list is very long and likely to get much longer, as Sherlock showrunner Steven Moffat has openly admitted that he's having "endless fun" with finding modern parallels for aspects of the original stories.

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     A Study in Pink 
Naturally, the plot is primarily inspired by "A Study in Scarlet."
  • John is instructed to keep a blog, which he doesn't actually use until he signs up with Sherlock, at which point he records their mystery solving. It's very popular. Traditionally Watson publishes books about his and Holmes's mystery solving, and those were also rather popular.
  • One of the victims was a guy walking along in a downpour, who told his mate to go on without him while he popped back for his brolly. In The Problem of Thor Bridge, Watson mentions some of the cases he hasn't written up yet, one of which " that of Mr. James Phillimore, who, stepping back into his own house to get his umbrella, was never more seen in this world".
  • Sherlock whipping the corpse in his first scene is a shout out to a reference in A Study in Scarlet in which Stamford tells Watson that he saw him "beating the subjects in the dissecting-rooms with a stick."
  • There's a brief shot in 221b Baker Street of Sherlock pinning some papers to the mantelpiece with a small knife. In the books this is exactly how Holmes keeps his unanswered correspondences.
  • Mrs. Hudson's neighbour's name, Mrs. Turner, is a particularly obscure reference to Scandal in Bohemia.
  • In the very first episode, Sherlock exclaims, "the game, Ms. Hudson, is on!" Doubtlessly a modernized version of "the game's afoot!", no?
  • Sherlock's deductions from John's phone are based on his deductions from Watson's pocket watch in The Sign Of Four.
  • In the Sherlock Holmes story A Study in Scarlet, the police assumed that the person writing Rache was trying to write the name "Rachel", and Holmes poo-pooed this by advising them that "Rache" is German for "revenge". However, this is completely inverted in "A Study in Pink".
  • Watson has no luck at all getting the attention of Mycroft's female aide. In the books, Watson was reputed as something of a ladies man.
  • John finds Sherlock lying down on the sofa moving his arm in a way that made it look (from the audience's POV) as if he had just treated himself to a ringer of cocaine.
  • It's a three-patch problem. = It's a three-pipe problem.
  • Both versions of "A Study in Pink" have John's phone being used to text the dead woman's phone because Sherlock's number is on his website and might be recognized. A Study in Scarlet had a newspaper advertisment in Watson's name because Holmes had gained some minor credit in the press from previous cases and so his name might have been recognized.
  • A character who is a Red Herring for being the murderer is an American visiting London for the first time. This is a nod to the original A Study in Scarlet, in which the murderer was an American visiting London for the first time. In both, the killer is a cabbie.
  • When Sherlock is standing, the shock blanket looks suspiciously like his Iconic Outfit.
  • Mycroft is the British government, according to Sherlock.
  • John reveals that he was actually shot in the shoulder, not the leg, referencing Doyle's habit of forgetting where exactly his wound was in the books.
    • In both cases he was shot in a recent Afghanistan War, though ...
  • Mrs. Hudson says several times in the first episode "I'm not your housekeeper, you know..." Indeed she isn't, but many people miss that the books refer to her as Holmes's landlady.
  • The texts Sherlock sends to John ("Come at once if convenient" and "If inconvenient, come anyway") is a reference to a telegram sent by Holmes during "The Creeping Man".
  • On John's blog, he reveals that Sherlock apparently doesn't know the Earth goes around the Sun, as mentioned in A Study in Scarlet. This is also referenced in episode 3.
    • Sherlock's explanation for why he doesn't memorize "useless" facts is updated from his head being an "attic" with limited space to a "hard drive".
  • The killer is lifted directly from the book and is very similar to him: They both have the same name (Jefferson Hope, or, in this episode, Jeff), they both use pills in their murders, they're both cabbies, they drop their victims off before murdering them, they talk to their victims, they're dying and have aneurysms. The main differences between them, however, are that Jeff Hope is a bigger asshole than Jefferson Hope, as he kills for money rather than vengeance for two innocent people, Jeff kills perfectly innocent people while Jefferson murdered two depraved Mormons, and Jefferson isn't operating under Moriarty's payroll. Along with that, Jefferson has an aortic aneurysm while Jeff has one in his brain.
  • Sherlock taking the "gun" over the pills" references the actions of the second victim in the original book: the cabbie offers him the pills, but instead the victim attacks the cabbie.

     The Blind Banker 
The plot is based on The Valley of Fear, with the "hidden code" taken from The Adventure of the Dancing Men, which appeared in The Return Of Sherlock Holmes.
  • The book code in "The Blind Banker" is similar to the one in The Valley of Fear.
  • Another nod to "The Valley of Fear" is the concept of someone hiding at his own home/workplace
  • There are also countless references to "The Dancing Men". Starting with a love story between an English man and a woman with a shady past, over the concept of a criminal leaving messages disguised as scribbling, the woman in question being threatened by such a message by a man from her past to a murder which looks like suicide because the bullet went through the open window.
  • A killer with small feet who can climb is also featured in "The Sign of the Four"

     The Great Game 
The Great Game may be largely original, but it takes many of its elements from "The Five Orange Pips" and "The Adventure Of The Bruce-Partington Plans." The former appeared in The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes, while the latter appeared in His Last Bow.
  • Sherlock decorating the walls with gun shots. In this case, it's a happy face (painted on with what looks suspiciously like the yellow spray paint from last week.)
    • It has been established that Holmes uses the drawing room for target practice with a pistol. In the books, with "VR" for "Victoria Regina". The modern equivalent would be "EIIR" (for "Elizabeth (The Second) Regina"), which does SORT OF look like a smiley face, if you turn you head and squint
    • Alternatively, the yellow smiley face is a reference to the story "The Yellow Face".
  • "The Great Game" is full of these. The scene with the stationery is "A Scandal in Bohemia", the pips are a sly nod to "The Five Orange Pips", the Bruce-Partington plans are a subplot of sorts...
    • "Domestic bliss must suit you Molly, you've put on another three pounds since I last saw you." "Two and a half." "No, three." From a Scandal in Bohemia (though it's Watson, and seven and a half pounds).
    • Sherlock repeatedly refers to the Czech Republic by the anachronistic name "Bohemia", just to make sure we get the reference.
    • "Any ideas?" "Seven, so far..." From The Adventure of the Copper Beeches.
    • Sherlock's network of homeless people is a deliberate update to the Baker Street Irregulars, a gang of street kids Holmes would pay to spy on people for him.
    • "I'd be lost without my blogger" is from Scandal again, where it's "Boswell".
    • "You do see, you just don't observe!" Also from Scandal in Bohemia, but delivered to Lestrade instead of Watson this time around.
  • Sherlock makes several digs about his brother's weight. Mycroft is traditionally portrayed as extremely fat and sedentary, though Gatiss is surprisingly trim for the role.
  • Moriarty's line to Sherlock near the end of "The Great Game": "I mean, I'm gonna kill you anyway, someday..."
    • Large chunks of the dialogue are from the one meeting in "The Final Problem", including Moriarty asking what Sherlock has in his pocket.
  • The hilarious stance Sherlock briefly adopts during his fight with the Golem might be a reference to the Victorian Sherlock Holmes' boxing skills. Or, a Shout-Out to Jeremy Brett's version, as Brett would adopt the same pose in fight scenes.
  • Sherlock and Jim's final exchange in "The Great Game" exactly mirrors the opening of their first exchange in "The Final Problem":
    Moriarty: All that I have to say has already crossed your mind.
    Holmes: Then possibly my answer has crossed yours.
  • In "The Great Game", Sherlock asks John to make deductions about the pair of shoes, and then congratulates him before saying he missed out almost everything of importance. He does the same in A Case of Identity.
  • The title itself is a reference too, since fans refer hunting down canon clues and trying to find an explanation for conflicting information as "The Great Game". Plus, Holmes himself refers to his work as "playing the Game" multiple times.
  • The Golem is pretty much either a reference to the 7-foot-tall Mook in the 2009 movie or The Hoxton Creeper in "The Pearl Of Death", one of the many Rathbone movies that star him as Holmes.
  • The flat blowing up in the beginning references Moriarty's men setting fire to Sherlock and Watson's rooms in "The Final Problem." And as in the stories, no significant damage was done.

     A Scandal in Belgravia 
The story is nearly the same as "A Scandal In Bohemia", which appeared in The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes.
  • The early minutes of "A Scandal in Belgravia" go through a proper Hurricane of Puns over the names of many of the original novels: The Geek Interpreter, The Speckled Blonde, The Navel Treatment...
  • Sherlock's analysis of tobacco ash on his website - in "The Boscombe Valley Mystery," Holmes remarks that he has "written a little monograph on the ashes of 140 different varieties of pipe, cigar, and cigarette tobacco".
  • Sherlock throws on a deerstalker cap to try to disguise himself from a throng of new-found fans. And much like his real-world fans, these fans get the impression that he wears it all the time.
    "This isn't a deerstalker anymore, it's a Sherlock Holmes hat."
    • In that scene Watson also grabs a hat: a flat cap similar to the one worn by Nigel Bruce (The Watson to Basil Rathbone's Holmes).
    • This conversation at Christmas, with Sherlock obsessing over John's blog:
    Sherlock: You've got a photograph of me wearing that hat?!
    John: People like that hat.
    Sherlock: No they don't, what people?
  • The severed thumbs in the fridge are a nod to "The Engineer's Thumb".
  • The bit of dialogue where Sherlock asks "And my client is?" and the government official answers "Illustrious" is another reference to a story title, "The Illustrious Client." Sherlock's remark that "I'm used to mystery at one end of my cases, both is too much work," is lifted from that story as well.
  • At Buckingham Palace, the government official tells John that his employer likes his blog, "particularly the one about the aluminium crutch". In the stories, one of Holmes' early cases before he met Watson revolved around an aluminium crutch.
  • Irene Adler's most common alias is given as "The Woman." The first line of "A Scandal in Bohemia" is "To Sherlock Holmes she is always THE woman."
  • Many of the details of Sherlock and John's first meeting with Irene Adler (the priest disguise, the fire alarm ruse, "Goodnight Mr. Sherlock Holmes") are the same as they were in the original story.
  • Sherlock's inability to tell John's girlfriends apart at the Christmas party calls back to the fans' confusion over Watson's many wives in the original novels.
  • Moriarty's cryptic, gloating message "Dear me, Mr. Holmes, dear me," is directly from The Valley of Fear.
  • Sherlock's remark that "the wheel turns...nothing is ever new" is reminiscent of Holmes saying "There is nothing new under the sun. It has all been done before" in A Study in Scarlet.
  • A fairly minor plot point in "A Scandal in Belgravia" is that John's blog's hit counter is stuck at 1895. This is because it's an image file. It's also a sly nod to a famous poem called "221B" by Vincent Starrett, which ends, "...and it is always eighteen ninety-five."
  • John's suggestion of "Hamish" to Sherlock and Irene ("John Hamish Watson. Just, if you're looking for baby names.") is as much a Fandom Shout-Out as a Mythology Gag. In the stories, Watson's name is almost always given as "John H. Watson" — but in one, his wife addresses him as "James", not "John". William S. Baring-Gould concluded that the "H" must stand for Hamish, the Scottish form of "James", and that Mrs. Watson uses this as a pet name for her husband; this has since been adopted as Fanon.
  • The ending bears a strong resemblance to the film The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes in that Holmes is tricked by a female spy into accidentally exposing one of Mycroft's top-secret government projects. He is then told by Mycroft that said spy has been sent away safely overseas, only to find out later that she's been executed. Although, in Belgravia, it turns out she's Not Quite Dead.
  • "Vatican cameos" is a reference to an untold case mentioned in The Hound of the Baskervilles.

     The Hounds of Baskerville 
Henry Knight's name is a play on "Sir Henry" from The Hound of the Baskervilles. Many of the other names (Mortimer, Frankland, Stapleton, Lyons, Barrymore, Selden) are taken more or less straight from the original - including the surname of the original villain. Interestingly, the character with the original villain's name turns out to be a Red Herring who eventually helps Sherlock and John to solve the case, but the real villain of this story did actually have similar personality traits to the original and also dies in a very similar way.
  • Sherlock harpooning a pig carcass to solve a case comes straight from "Black Peter".
  • Sherlock's frustrated "I need something stronger than tea! Something 7% stronger..." is a reference to his famous cocaine habit in The Sign of Four, where he injected a 7% solution.
  • When Sherlock is having his nicotine freak out, one of the places he looks for his hidden stash is in the toe of an old Persian slipper.
  • Sherlock's remark about his mind being "like an engine racing out of control, a rocket tearing itself to pieces on the launch pad" when he doesn't have work is very similar to a line from "The Adventure of Wisteria Lodge".
  • Sherlock's waffling about whether or not he will go to Dartmoor or send John to investigate is a wink at the fact that, in the Conan Doyle version, Holmes does send Watson down to Baskerville Hall in his place. Sort of.
  • One of the innkeepers mentions he has trouble sleeping at night due to "the ruddy prisoner". In the original novel, an escaped killer was on the loose in the area.
  • The Grimpen Minefield is, of course, wordplay on the Grimpen Mire. The villains in both stories die trying to flee through it.
  • Outside the pub, Sherlock spots the horse-racing section of a paper rolled up in the back pocket of a potential eyewitness. When the man is not forthcoming with his information, he pretends to have bet John that the man couldn't produce proof, and the man immediately gets very talkative. The original Holmes pulls the exact same stunt in "The Blue Carbuncle".
  • The tour guide who claims to have seen the hound is named Fletcher - presumably in reference to Bertram Fletcher Robinson, who originally gave Conan Doyle the idea for a ghostly hound.
  • Major Barrymore sports a thick dark beard, in spite of the fact that it's against army regulations. This is because the original character's most distinguishing physical characteristic was a black beard.
  • Mycroft is seen briefly sitting alone in a place that seems awfully similar to The Diogenes Club. It is later established that the Diogenes Club does in fact exist in the show's universe.
  • John's incredulity over Sherlock's "plan" (take Henry out on the moor and see if anything attacks him) is particularly funny considering that Holmes' master plan in the novel also basically boils down to using poor Sir Henry as bait.
  • "Once you've ruled out the impossible whatever remains, however improbable, must be true," is a favorite Holmes Catchphrase employed in several of the original stories.
  • Sherlock's remark that emotion is like "grit on the lense, a fly in the ointment," is a reference to the line "Grit in a sensitive instrument, or a crack in one of his own high-power lenses, would not be more disturbing than a strong emotion in a nature such as his" (From "A Scandal in Bohemia").
  • The flashing lights on the moor that John takes for Morse code signals are a nod to the escaped prisoner subplot of the novel. When Watson goes to investigate, the man having sex in the car is referred to as "Mr. Selden." Selden was the prisoner's name.
  • In addition to the major plot points and most of the character names, "The Hounds of Baskerville" keeps arguably the two most famous quotes from the original: "Mr. Holmes, they were the footprints of a gigantic hound!" and Holmes' reference to Watson as a conductor of light. "Murder - refined, cold-blooded murder" is also lifted straight from the novel.
    • Also "Stay away from the moor if you value your life."
  • Sherlock describes Lestrade as being "brown as a nut" (meaning his tan). This is lifted word-for-word from "A Study in Scarlet," although there it was Stamford describing Watson.
  • The glowing bunnies are a nod to the original hound, which was painted with phosphorus to appear supernatural.
    • The hound is also described in the episode as large and glowing, which it practically was in the book.
  • The hallucinogenic fear gas is reminiscent of "The Devil's Foot," as is Sherlock's experiment with it, although in this case the results are merely emotionally traumatizing rather than life-threatening.
    • Sherlock's experiment on Watson also recalls a remark of Stamford's in "A Study in Scarlet" that he could imagine Holmes "giving a friend a little pinch of the latest vegetable alkaloid, not out of malevolence, you understand, but simply out of a spirit of inquiry...".
  • Dr. Mortimer (who, like Dr. Stapleton, has had her gender changed) actually fits the description of Miss Stapleton in the novel. She also has a similar role to Miss- actually Mrs- Stapleton where she is attacked during the climax, though the circumstances are completely different.

     The Reichenbach Fall 
Moriarty refers to his conflict with Sherlock as "The Final Problem", referencing the name of the short story (it appeared in The Memoirs Of Sherlock Holmes.) this episode is largely based on. Likewise, Reichenbach Falls made a prominent appearance in that story as the location where Holmes (apparently) tumbles over the ledge to his doom.
  • Jim Moriarty's personality appears to take inspiration from Moriarty Expy Professor Ratigan in The Great Mouse Detective. Both even have scenes wearing the Crown Jewels.
  • Peter Ricoletti, the man at the top of Interpol's most-wanted list, is a reference to one of Holmes' untold early cases ("Ricoletti of the club foot") mentioned in "The Musgrave Ritual."
  • Sherlock's deduction about Kitty Reilly's wrist (pressure marks from resting it on the desk while typing) is similar to one that Holmes makes in "A Case of Identity."
  • Sherlock's courtroom description of Moriarty as a spider at the center of a criminal web is lifted almost word-for-word from "The Final Problem."
  • Moriarty's threatening but very civil discussion with Sherlock in the sitting room at Baker Street recalls his visit to 221B in "The Final Problem."
  • During their tea-party, Moriarty tells Sherlock, "You need me - or you're nothing." Holmes himself expresses a similar sentiment in "The Adventure of the Norwood Builder."
  • The Diogenes Club is from the original stories, as is its blanket ban on talking.
  • The abduction of the diplomat's children recalls "The Adventure of the Priory School," in which Holmes is called in to find the young son of a prominent nobleman, who has also been kidnapped from a high-class boarding school.
  • As in the original "Final Problem," Sherlock is nearly run down by a cab. The twist is that it's not an assassination attempt by Moriarty, and one of Moriarty's assassins actually saves his life.
  • Lestrade mentions Inspector Gregson as someone else who has consulted Sherlock. Gregson was another police inspector who often appeared in the stories.
  • The phone call that John receives claiming that Mrs. Hudson has been shot is a clear reference to the (literal) Swiss messenger from "The Final Problem," who draws Watson away from Holmes with a note about a sick Englishwoman who needs a doctor.
  • Moriarty's fondness for snipers (they are key components of his plans in this episode as well as "The Great Game") may be a reference to Sebastian Moran, Moriarty's right-hand-man in the stories.
  • "This phone call, it's - it's my note." In the original story, Holmes left an actual note.
  • At Sherlock's grave, John calls Sherlock "the best man, and the most human human being, that I've ever known." In the closing words of "The Final Problem," Watson writes that he will always regard Holmes as "the best and wisest man I've ever known."
    • The 'best and wisest' line got lifted in full for the Sherlock Casebook.
  • Moriarty's attempt to steal the crown jewels, as well as his being acquitted at trial even though everyone knows he's guilty, are both plot points from the Rathbone/Bruce movie The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce). Likewise, the climax, in which Moriarty tries to talk Sherlock into jumping off a roof, seems to be based on a similar scene from the Basil Rathbone film The Woman in Green.
  • Also from The Woman in Green is the sequence where Moriarty enters 221 B Baker street and starts to sneak up the stairs while Sherlock's violin plays in the background. He steps on a squeaky step, the violin stops for a second and then starts again. Moriarty walks up the stairs normally knowing perfectly well that Sherlock is aware that Moriarty is coming.
  • All the discussion of Sherlock being "on the side of the angels" is a Shout-Out to the BBC radio plays with John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson (and Orson Welles as Moriarty). In the dramatization of "The Empty House," Watson exclaims "You're the devil, Holmes!" Holmes replies "The only one, however, who has always been on the side of the angels."
  • Moriarty's plan bears a striking resemblance to The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, a non-canon novel and film based around the idea that Holmes invented Moriarty.
  • Before jumping, Sherlock says that his phonecall to John is his note, because "that's what people do" before suicides. This could be a reference to a Holmes film called 'The Spider Woman', in which Holmes claims that suicides always leave notes.
  • Kitty Riley shares the same name as a character The Adventure of the Illustrious Client, Kitty Winter, who has rather big oversensitivity issues.

     Many Happy Returns 
  • The entire short alludes to Holmes exploits during the two years after he faked his death. The story of him infiltrating a sect of breakaway warrior monks alludes to a line in "The Empty House": "I travelled for two years in Tibet, therefore, and amused myself by visiting Lhassa and spending some days with the head Llama." And the story of him cracking a case in India by measuring how far a chocolate flake had sunk into some ice cream comes from a throwaway line in "the Six Napoleons" about how he solved the Abernetty Case by measuring how far the parsley had sunk into the butter.
  • Inside the box of Sherlock's old things, there's a brief glimpse of what appears to be a yellow, or golden mask. This could be an allusion to "The Adventure of the Yellow Face", which featured one of the most heartwarming endings in short story canon.

     The Empty Hearse 
The episode is very loosely based on "The Adventure Of The Empty House", which appeared in The Return Of Sherlock Holmes.
  • One of Watson's patients was dressed exactly like how Holmes was disguised in the story "The Empty House" and even recited Holmes's little speech almost verbatim, including the book titles (except instead of trying to offer Watson antiquarian books, he was peddling porn). The man was not Holmes.
    • This one doubles as a nod to the Rathbone movie series, in which there is also a scene with Watson wrongfully accusing a guy with beard and weird accent to be Holmes in disguise.
  • For the first 20 minutes of the episode, John Watson sported a mustache, probably in allusion to the stereotypical depiction of the good doctor.
    • And to canon itself, since the mustache is mentioned in the Charles Augustus Milverton case.
    • I could also be a nod to the moustache worn by Watson, played by Edward Hardwicke, in the Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes series.
  • The deductions that Mycroft and Sherlock made about the characteristics of a person based solely from his hat comes from "The Blue Carbuncle", when Sherlock does the same thing.
  • The main plotline is, essentially, V for Vendetta crossed with Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes (2009). The shot of Westminster exploding and the shot of hot gas seeping into the House of Commons from a bench grate are copied from each of the two films, respectively.
  • One of the client cases involving a stepfather posing as a false boyfriend in order to put his stepdaughter off dating is basically the plot of "A Case of Identity".
    • The stepfather's last name is "Windebank", same as the stepfather in "A Case of Identity".
    • Sherlock's violent outburst towards him references his reaction in the original story, where he angrily charges at Windeback with his hunting crop.
  • One of the options Sherlock starts to mention when explaining to Watson how he's still alive is "a method of Japanese wrestling," which is how Holmes says he escaped falling with Moriarty at the end of "The Final Problem" in "The Adventure of the Empty House".
  • The fake Jack the Ripper case is a nod to various adaptations which pitted Sherlock Holmes against Jack the Ripper.
  • The "John or James" message for Mary refers to one of Arthur Conan Doyle's slip-ups. In "The Man with the Twisted Lip", Mary suddenly calls John Watson "James". Also, the skip code is part of "The Adventure of Gloria Scott"
  • Sherlock mentioning "monkey glands" is a nod to "The Adventure of the Creeping Man".
  • Holmes refers to the man who disappears from subway train as "the big rat" (a reference to him calling certain people markers of upcoming terrorist activity, like "rats leaving a sinking ship"). He then deduces that the train car that was detached from the train (the method by which the man seemingly disappeared) was left at the Sumatra road station. This would make the disappearing man a figurative "Giant Rat of Sumatra", which was mentioned by Holmes in "The Sussex Vampire".
  • The disappearance of not just a train car, but an entire train, is the plot of the Conan Doyle short story "The Lost Special", which isn't officially a Sherlock Holmes story, but includes a letter to The Times signed by "an amateur reasoner of some celebrity at that date" who sounds a lot like Holmes ('"It is one of the elementary principles of practical reasoning," he remarked, "that when the impossible has been eliminated the residuum, HOWEVER IMPROBABLE, must contain the truth."')

     The Sign Of Three 
The title refers to The Sign of the Four. There are a couple of references to the book: Major Sholto, one of the more significant (although posthumous) characters in the book makes an appearance, while "The Poison Giant" is a reference to the killer in the book, which is a cannibalistic tribesman who uses a blowpipe to kill people. In this episode, it's a dwarf.
  • "The Bloody Guardsman" resembles "The Adventure Of The Crooked Man." Both are "locked-room" type mysteries, where the victim is a soldier and the setting is an army camp. The title is also reminiscent of "The Blanched Soldier", which is also narrated by Holmes and is set shortly after John's (second) wedding. ("The good Watson had at that time deserted me for a wife, the only selfish action which I can recall in our association.")
  • Sherlock gets Lestrade's first name wrong again-he calls him Gavin. In the original books, Doyle only referred to Lestrade's first name as "G. Lestrade."
  • While listening to the case of a woman who claims to have been visited by a ghost, the inebriated Sherlock says "The game's uh-er, something..." This is a reference to "The game's afoot!", a quote commonly attributed to Sherlock Holmes.

     His Last Vow 
The episode is largely based off "The Adventure Of Charles Augustus Milverton", which first appeared in The Return Of Sherlock Holmes.
  • The title is a direct reference to the story "His Last Bow", which is where we see Holmes on the eve of World War I.
  • Charles Augustus Magnussen is basically the same as the titular character of the original story, albeit with a changed surname. Like his literature counterpart, he is a blackmailer who ruins the lives of the rich and famous. However, in the book, he controls the whole of England — but in the episode, it's the entire Western World.
  • Sherlock calls Magnussen "The Napoleon of Blackmail." In "The Final Problem", he called Professor Moriarty "The Napoleon of Crime." Also, Sherlock comparing Magnussen to a shark is a reference to the original story, where he compares Milverton to a serpent instead.
  • Mary's true initials, A.G.R.A, are a direct reference to The Sign of the Four, which is where the treasure came from.
  • Janine mentions that she purchased a cottage in Sussex, with lots of bees. This a reference to "His Last Bow" and "The Adventure Of The Lion's Mane", where Holmes has purchased a cottage and taken up beekeeping.
  • Wiggins's name is a direct reference to the leader of the Baker Street Irregulars, who has the same name.
  • The beginning of the episode is literally lifted from "The Man With The Twisted Lip", with the drug den replacing the opium den.
  • Sherlock deduces Magnussen's security guy is a white supremacist because he has a tattoo of a die showing five pips. In "The Five Orange Pips", the pips are a signal by the Klu Klux Klan.
  • Mycroft's story about the East Wind is a reference to the A Storm Is Coming ending of "His Last Bow".
  • The mathematics book written by Sherlock and Mycroft's mother, The Dynamics of Combustion, is a reference to a similarly titled mathematics book written by the original books' Professor Moriarty, The Dynamics of an Asteroid.

     The Abominable Bride 
Leaving aside the entire concept;
  • Mrs. Hudson complains about her lack of things to do in Watson's stories. Holmes sympathizes that he's barely in "the dog one".
  • Hudson also complains about how the apartment seems so dull in the stories. Watson blames the illustrator, and says he had to grow a moustache so people would recognize him. This also calls back to the fact that the original illustrations to the short stories took a great many liberties of the source material which have since become iconic, like Holmes' deerstalker hat.
    • Speaking of which, the deerstalker is a result of an illustration when Holmes was in the country, when it and tweeds would be appropriate wear. Due to not having time to change, he's forced to wear it to the morgue at the start of the episode. And then he ends up on another case in the countryside. And then John forces it on him instead of more appropriate wear because "he's Sherlock Holmes".
    • In fact, Watson blaming the illustrator for his friends' criticisms could be a reference to The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, in which Holmes complains "You have saddled me with this improbable outfit, which the public now expects me to wear" and Watson replies that this was the illustrator's doing.
  • Mycroft's morbid obesity in the Victorian story is taken straight from the books, which portray him as extremely fat and sedentary. Here, he's having a bet with Sherlock over when exactly he'll die after regularly eating all sorts of unhealthy things.
  • The telegram reading "Come at once if convenient. If inconvenient come all the same" is from "The Creeping Man".
  • Sir Eustace has some similarities to Sir Eustace in "The Abbey Grange".
  • After three seasons of hints, there is finally a direct statement to the effect that Sherlock, like his Victorian predecessor and New York counterpart, has a drug problem.

     The Six Thatchers 
The title, as well as the first half of the episode, is based on "The Adventure of The Six Napoleons". The story also has elements from "The Adventure of the Yellow Face".
  • Sherlock examining a thumb is likely a reference to "The Engineer's Thumb".
  • One of the cases that Sherlock solves involves a canary trainer. This is a reference to the non-canon novel The Canary Trainer, written by Nicholas Meyer (who also wrote The Seven-Per-Cent Solution).
    • Or, more likely, to the case that lead to the arrest of "Wilson, the notorious canary-trainer" in 1895 as mentioned by Watson in "The Adventure of Black Peter".
  • Like in the original short story, the case involves the culprit smashing busts of a historical figure (this time, it's Thatcher's instead of Napoleon's; Sherlock offhandedly mentions Napoleon when talking with Craig the hacker). In the short story, the culprit searches for the stolen Black Pearl of Borgias that he hid inside one of the busts (the pearl itself is referenced many times throughout the episode). However, the episode itself pulls a Red Herring as it turns out that one of the Thatcher busts does not hide a pearl, but rather a memory stick similar to Mary's.
  • Sherlock employs the tracking skills of a dog named Toby, which is straight out of "The Sign of the Four".
    • Many names are either lifted straight or adapted from the original story: Gelder & Co. the sculpture maker company and Dr. Barnicot are lifted straight; Mohandas Hassan is changed from Morse Hudson; Ms. Orrie Harker is adapted from Mr. Horace Harker. In Harker's place, there is also a dead body. The part where the culprit brought the bust under a light is adapted as well, but instead of at Harker's, in the episode it was at Welsborough's place.
  • In "The Yellow Face", the client, Grant Munro, says to his wife, "I am not a very good man, Effie, but I think that I am a better one than you have given me credit for being." In the episode, after their trip across the world, John confronts Mary with almost exactly the same line.
  • In "The Yellow Face", Holmes deduced wrongly and stakes out a cottage in Norbury by mistake. After all is done, Holmes asks Watson to say "Norbury" whenever he starts to become arrogant or insensitive. In the episode, the main villain is named Norbury, and although Sherlock deduced correctly, he fails to protect Mary from being killed, therefore his "mistake". In the end, because Watson left him, Sherlock asks Mrs. Hudson instead to say "Norbury" to him.
  • "Reigate Square", Mycroft's choice of takeaway at the very end of the episode, is a reference to the short story "The Reigate Squire".

     The Lying Detective 
The title and the episode alludes to the short story "The Dying Detective".
  • Sherlock tells Faith, "Your life is not your own. Keep your hands off it." In the short story "The Veiled Lodger", Holmes says the exact same thing to Eugenia Ronder, one of his clients.

     The Final Problem 
The title is lifted straight from the short story "The Final Problem", while the story itself takes clues from "The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual".
  • The flat blowing up references the episode's namesake, where Moriarty's men set fire to Sherlock and Watson's rooms. This was also done before in the Season 2 episode "The Reichenbach Fall".
  • The second round of Eurus's game is an inversion of "The Three Garridebs": the three suspects are named Nathan, Alex and Howard Garrideb, and Evans is the victim here instead of being the culprit.
  • Mary's final monologue homages the poem "221B" by Vincent Starrett to count as a reference.
  • In the final scene montage, Sherlock and John are seen examining a blackboard with stick figure drawings on it, a nod to "The Dancing Men".
  • Also in the final scene, Sherlock and John are running out of a building called "Rathbone Place", a nod to Basil Rathbone, who often played the detective in movies.

  • A few nods to the canon only appeared in the pilot version of "A Study in Pink":
    • Since the Mycroft subplot didn't appear in the pilot, an e-mail to "" is intended to be this.
    • The e-mail to Mycroft is simply "When you have eliminated the impossible whatever remains must be the truth". This line first appeared in The Sign of Four and is a common phrase of Holmes throughout the original canon. The pilot has Sherlock saying it in some form repeatedly. (This also comes up if you Log Onto The Fourth Wall on Sherlock's homepage: When I've eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how mad it might seem, must be the truth.)
    • The location in which Mike Stamford and Watson dine in the pilot is the real Criterion Bar, in which they first met in the original A Study in Scarlet which led to Watson and Holmes sharing a flat. The 90-minute version showed them having coffee in a park instead, but ensured that the viewer saw the cups bearing the name "Criterion" to retain the reference in spirit.

  • John's blog entry "The Geek Interpreter" has several references to the original, "The Greek Interpreter". The client's name is Melas, the name of the interpreter in the original and KRATIDES, the fictional organisation, is the name of the Greek prisoner. The names Davenport, Kemp, Latimer, and Sophy are also taken from the original story, as are Wandsworth Common and Beckenham. The superhero identity "the Flying Bludgeon" is a reference to Harold Latimer's weapon of choice. Mention of 'a storyline about Latimer, one of the superheroes, defeating two masked terrorists on Shaftesbury Avenue...' might also be a reference to how Sophy originally killed her captors.
  • "The Speckled Blonde" is an inversion of "The Speckled Band" It looks like she was killed by a snake, but she wasn't.
  • "The Six Thatchers'' is basically a simplified version of "The Six Napoleons". Albeit with Beppo and Pietro being lovers, the story's pretty much the same.
  • When Moriarty infriltrates 221B, he takes a look at the ballistics case Sherlock has. One of the cartidges is .455 Rev-which is a Call-Back to the revolver Sherlock used in the original stories-a Webley Revolver, chambered for the .455 Eley round.
  • The Aluminium Crutch: The name of the detective in the play is a reference to the original illustrator of the short stories and novels, who had the same name. The name of the case is a reference to a case Holmes mentions in "The Musgrave Ritual" as occurring before he met Watson.
  • The Poison Giant: Giles Conover gets his name from the villain of the Basil Rathbone film The Pearl of Death, and the Headcrusher is based on the Hoxton Creeper from the same film. Swandale, as noted above, is based on the tribesman from The Sign of the Four.

     The Casebook 
  • In the section for "The Great Game", Sherlock references the Five Orange Pips by mentioning that "some secret societies used to send them as a warning."
  • John continually referring to Sherlock as "the best and wisest man he'll ever know" references The Final Problem, where Watson refers to his friend using the exact same line.
  • Sherlock's opinion of the countryside in "The Hounds of Baskerville" is an ironic reference to the book, where Holmes loves the countryside. Sherlock standing on a tall rock is also another reference, as that is how Holmes secretly observes Watson in the book.


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