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Watson was a woman... who kept forgetting her cover story
Is Watson's first name John or James? Neither; Watson forgot what false name she gave. Was Watson invalided home from the army because he wounded his arm or his leg? Neither; she was found to be a woman and thrown out, or she was never an army doctor in the first place.

Now, of course this little theory falls apart after a moment of careful inspection (for one thing, if Watson were so forgetful about her disguise, she would be discovered immediately, particularly by a man as attentive as Sherlock Holmes; for another, there are a million other things that must be explained away, such as Watson's facial hair). But it does explain the two most irksome inconsistancies of Sherlock Holmes in a single stroke.


Sherlock Holmes didn't have Asperger's.
There's a popular theory that Holmes was autistic, but the source material never really backs up those claims. In the books, Holmes is very sociable and had an extensive variety of interests, including art, history, music, literature, sport, martial arts and science. That's more than most people. The only symptom he showed regularly was his introversion, but that may have had to do with his drug use. When he does interact with people, he does so more deftly than even Watson. The ambiguous autism elements were added in later adaptations to make him seem more realistic.

Sherlock Holmes has Asperger's.
Holmes has only a small circle of friends, has a near-complete knowledge of a certain circle of interest (in this case, crime and crime-solving) and spends most of his time trying to learn more. And he won't let you forget it. He is often rather bored, sometimes outwardly annoyed, if he isn't doing something he enjoys. Highly eccentric and eclectic, with poor organization skills in his Baker Street home.
  • And Mycroft likely has an even more severe form.
    • Certainly the Mycroft presented in original ACD canon and the Ritchie films is even more socially inept/ socially apathetic than his brother, suggesting Asperger's. Unusually, the Sherlock BBC modernization appears to cure him of this, making him merely coldly manipulative, but in many ways more effective in social situations than Sherlock, probably due to his expanded career as "The British Government," while Sherlock's anti-social behavior is played as even higher up the autism spectrum. In the second series(2012), John Watson directly mentions Asperger's as a possible diagnosis of Sherlock's recent insensitivity to Detective Inspector Lestrade.
    • There's also the fact that Mycroft was a founding member of the Diogenes Club, which sounds like it was built for people who struggle with sensory overload.
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  • Dr. Mortimer in The Hound of the Baskervilles might as well. He has specialized interests (phrenology and physical anthropology) that he's very enthusiastic about and brings up even when they're not immediately relevant to the situation at hand, and he has unconventional notions of what constitutes appropriate small talk.

Holmes is bi-polar.
Watson frequently describes how he spends weeks without sleep, experimenting and working feverishly on cases, followed by weeks of depression and total inaction when he hardly ever speaks or gets up from the couch. Holmes even warned his potential roommate of this cycle before moving in with him in A Study in Scarlet.

Holmes lacked a formal education.
When we first meet Holmes, he lacked even basic knowledge like the Heliocentric Model of the Universe. He also lacks philosophy, the classics. What he does know is chemistry, and everything related to crime. In The Gloria Scott, we learn that his course of study while at University was 'quite distinct' from other students.

He also has no tendency to exercise, but has physical strength which, no matter how good your genes are, doesn't come without some intense physical labor in one's youth (see Abraham Lincoln, who seems to have had a similar remarkable constitution). Finally, in 'The Naval Treaty,' while Watson takes an unenthusiastic view of the grim board-schools below, Holmes practically rhapsodizes over them - realizing the value of a good education as only a man who never had the benefit of one could.


Conclusion? This was a man who loved learning because he never, ever had to yawn through some boring class he'd never have to use, under some uninspiring schoolmaster. Holmes was, for whatever reason, withheld from elementary education (don't forget, this was before the Compulsory Education Act), and whatever education he did gather up was driven by his own driving curiosity.

He only did two years at University before dropping out, and probably gained admittance purely by demonstrating his knowledge of Chemistry.

The Hound of the Baskervilles was a Tibetan mastiff.
  • Watson describes the hound as something resembling a mastiff and a bloodhound, but such a mix would not resemble the book's other descriptions of the hound being a hulking beast, capable of scaring a man to death. A predecessor to the modern mastiff and Rottweiler, the Tibetan mastiff is one of the world's largest and most vicious dog breeds, known for being built like bunkers and having a loud, haunting bark, which resembles the baying heard in the distance on the moor. Being an Asiatic breed that's rarely seen in the West, it's possible that Watson could only guess as to what the dog actually was. Seriously, go look them up, you'd die of fright too with one of those things chasing you while on fire.

Hugo Baskerville was murdered by his own men.
The legend of the Hound's origins was based on accounts from Hugo's drinking-buddy followers, who'd been complicit in his abduction of the yeoman's daughter and who'd ridden out to stop their leader from hunting her down again. We have no reason to credit the statements of a gang of thugs who'd been accessories to kidnapping and attempted rape, let alone to felony murder when Hugo ran the girl to ground. There never was a real Hound; rather, it was Hugo's own men who found him strangling the girl in a rage, realized they were too late, and tried to subdue him. Outraged at the interruption, Hugo lashed out in fury and killed one of them, setting the others to attacking him in a wild scrum that rapidly overwhelmed their boss. When they came to their senses and realized they'd just beaten a noble to death, the surviving gang members cooked up a story to exonerate themselves, blaming Sir Hugo's demise on a demonic force of retribution, and the girl's and their own colleague's on sheer terror. They sank all three bodies in Grimpen Mire to conceal the actual manner of death, then headed home, stopping along the way to bribe and/or browbeat a local shepherd into backing up their preposterous "Hound" story. The Hound didn't just become a "Scooby-Doo" Hoax at Stapleton's instigation: it was always a cover-up.

Stapleton successfully got away from Holmes.
The villain of The Hound Of The Baskervilles is tracked to the Grimpen Mire, where it's presumed he got lost in the fog and drowned in one of the bog's mudholes. However, the only evidence they find for this is a boot of Henry Baskerville's, which Holmes surmises Stapleton threw aside while fleeing: they never actually trace his route to one of the sinkholes, and he isn't seen to drown by anyone. Moreover, Holmes himself acknowledged that Stapleton was a brilliant opponent who could think quickly in a pinch, as demonstrated by how smoothly he bounced back with a plausible story each time Holmes's investigation caught him off-guard.

Given that Stapleton was both smart and quick-thinking, it'd make more sense if, having retreated out of sight into the edge of the Mire, he'd realized that the fog was too thick to go any further, and simply stayed put on the fringe of it until the weather began to clear up. Once he could make out the marker-posts, he had a head start on his pursuers, and could venture far enough in to discard the boot, then veer off along one of the side-pathways he'd used on his butterfly-hunting excursions. He listened until his enemies had followed Beryl toward the Hound's hiding-place, then returned to the main path and backtracked his way out of the Mire. With the manhunt for Seldon called off (by Holmes himself, no less!), the local constabulary were no longer sending out search parties and he could simply walk to the nearest farm, steal a horse, and ride away clear. The ooze of the Mire ate up his tracks, and Holmes returned to London too soon to hear about the horse-theft, which Stapleton could probably pass off as a strayed animal in any case.

Hyper-intellect is his mutant ability, and he was using it to fight evil almost a century before Charles Xavier and his students got their start. At some point, he had a run in with Nathaniel "Mr. Sinister" Essex, who was just discovering his mutant abilities around the time that Holmes and Watson were active.

Holmes is Mystique
For the reasons he's speculated to be a woman above, with an answer to the reasons it couldn't have been true. It would also help to explain his broader skill at disguise, and may have given him information that he appears to have found by the fallacy of assuming the converse. Watson knew this but was concealing it; they may even have been lovers, in male or female form. Suffice to say, however, that Watson was very, very wrong about his emotions toward "the woman."

Sherlock Holmes and Victor Trevor were lovers.
Sherlock Holmes, who seems unable to stand any human being who is not Watson, befriended a man at college after said man's dog bit him, and then agreed to a month-long visit at the man's family house during the summer hols? Seems rather improbable. Add a whirlwind romance to the mix, and the whole scenario seems a lot more likely.
  • Holmes seems to have absolutely zero understanding of romance whatsoever, so that makes this unlikely.
  • I ship it. They talked for hours on end. The way Victor's described is quite more...physical, I guess you could say, too. Holmes and Watson don't even talk for as long as Holmes and Victor.

Sherlock Holmes was actually Professor Moriarty.
In the books, no one has ever heard of him and no one besides Holmes ever sees him. Watson only knows Moriarty from what Holmes tells about him. Could a vain man such as Holmes have created him to take the blame for his later failures?
  • Problem is, in Valley of Fear we read that at least one senior Scotland Yard inspector has met Professor Moriarty. Not to mention verified his full-time employment as a university professor, at his university.
  • Holmes created Moriarty to live a double life. By day he solves crimes and wins the respect of law-abiding society. By night he commits crimes and wins the respect of the criminal fraternity. He doesn't need the money: he just hates to be bored.
  • And, keep in mind that Holmes dabbles in stage makeup (if by "dabble" one means "is so well-practiced that sometimes even Watson doesn't recognize him"). The inspector mentioned above might have met Holmes in a disguise.
    • The problem is, Professor Moriarty has a full-time day job at a university. (Crime is his night job.) That doesn't leave enough room in the schedule for Holmes to be traveling all over Europe or moping all day in his parlour where Mrs. Hudson sees him at every meal.
      • Moriarty's classes are so advanced that nobody even signs up and Holmes' absences from his flat are covered up using a Ferris Bueller-style mannequin and rigging, leaving Holmes/Moriarty with plenty of free time.
    • This idea is actually used, in Michael Dibdin's The Last Sherlock Holmes Story, when Holmes gets involved in the Jack The Ripper investigation. In his drug-addled state, Holmes is not just Moriarty, he's the Ripper; when Watson finds out, he pursues him to the Reichenbach Falls, where Holmes kills himself.
    • Also in Nicholas Meyer's novel The Seven-Percent Solution, where Moriarty is a figment of Holmes' drug-addled imagination. Watson kidnaps him to Vienna where he gets detoxed through hypnosis performed by a promising young doctor named Freud...
      • Just to quibble slightly; in The Seven-Percent Solution there actually is a real Moriarty, but he's actually just some inoffensive little maths professor who Holmes has blown up into a criminal mastermind out of cocaine-fuelled paranoia and the fact that Moriarty had an affair with Holmes' mum when he was a kid.
  • P.G. Wodehouse theorized this, probably at least partly tongue-in-cheek. He believed that this could be why Holmes had enough money to live on comfortably and to pay the Irregulars without having an actual paying job.
  • Except in The Final Problem, Watson writes that Moriarty's brother, Colonel James Moriarty, had spoken out against what he saw as defamation of his brother's name. There is also mention of a second brother and of Moriarty's academic accomplishments, all matters of public record and traceable. And, remember, the reason Moriarty came after Holmes was because Holmes was helping gather evidence to put him on trial. To say nothing of the fact Moran specifically is trying to avenge the Professor's death in The Empty House. So there's plenty of people besides Holmes who have seen or know of Professor Moriarty.
    • New theory: Mycroft Holmes was actually Colonel James Moriarty. Knowing of his brother's dual identity, he followed suit, perfecting the illusion with falsified documents he acquired using government contacts, hoping to use the Colonel persona to manipulate Sherlock in both of his guises.
    • Why would Moran know about his boss' secret identity any more than Watson knew about his flatmate's?
  • Also, look very carefully at the scene where Colonel Moran is arrested. This scene could be interpreted to mean that Sherlock Holmes had hired the Colonel himself, and now the Colonel was angry at his entrapment.

Holmes is a Vulcan
As cogently argued by David M. Scott. A brief summary: Spock claims to be descended from Holmes. But he can't trace his ancestry on his human side further back than 2045, so Holmes has to be one of his Vulcan ancestors.
  • Why can't he? Spock says in an EU novel Ishmael that he's descended from Aaron Stemple and Biddy Cloom, 19th-century Earth humans.
    • The "can't" comes from the EU novel Strangers from the Sky.
  • I've always pictured a Vulcan survey ship crashing in Victorian England. A Vulcan named Sulak would be found, bob his ears, eat vegetarian, learn the violin (because his harp is broken) and take cocaine to alleviate the Pon Farr...
    • Hard to account for Holmes' abilities as an ur-profiler if he was Vulcan, though. Anticipating the emotional state of suspects and victims is crucial to many of his successful cases.
    • Holmes was never a vegetarian. He and Watson regularly eat poultry, mutton, etc.
    • Sulak crashed out in the country, where he was taken in by the old country Squire who had no sons of his own. Maybe he married the man's daughter, too. Holmes is some portion - half or less - Vulcan. Being raised in human culture instead of Vulcan, he's much better at reading human nuances. And this means that Spock got a smidgeon of Vulcan from his mum's side, too.
  • In Sherlock BBC Series 2, John Watson jokingly refers to Sherlock as "Spock."

Watson murdered his own wife
Watson gets married. Holmes dies. Watson is sad, but he goes about building himself a life. Then Holmes comes back from the dead, after years away. Watson is delighted to see his old friend. A short time after this, Watson's wife dies. We're never told the details, but suddenly Watson is free to move back in with his dearest friend. He grieves, as is proper - but secretly he poisoned her! It would have seemed perfectly reasonable for him to fill in her death certificate, so he could put whatever cause he felt appropriate. Holmes never even realized he was living alongside a murderer.
  • Biggest hole in this theory: Reread The Adventure of the Empty House. Watson's wife is already dead by the time Holmes comes back.
    • Or: Watson was under scrutiny by the police for the murder, but got away with it. The case was probably at least somewhat publicised in the papers. He wrote the date of his wife's death as being before Holmes' arrival into the story to put the public into the mindset that he was innocent and that there had been no motive, and so kept his respectable position.
    • And neither Holmes nor Mycroft, both of whom read the newspapers and Watson's publications religiously, never noticed this discrepancy? Watson's connection to Holmes makes him enough of a celebrity himself that his wife's death should've at least rated a mention.


Holmes was only waiting for Watson's wife to die to come back.
I got this one from the Naomi Novik story in The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Holmes had romantic feelings for Watson, but could not bring himself to ruin Watson's marriage, so he waited until after her death to let Watson know he was still alive.

Sherlock Holmes and Mycroft Holmes were members of the VFD (from A Series of Unfortunate Events).
Think about it. What is the VFD's motto? 'The World is Quiet Here'... and just what is the most important rule of Mycroft's club, the Diogenes club? That nobody is permitted to speak, only to read and the like, just what I'm sure the VFD is approving of. After all, they do so value being well read.

Mycroft's job is strangely/vaguely described and clearly related to (presumed military) intelligence somehow... or something similar, anyway. Not such a stretch to name the VFD as something similar, is it? Not with all their sneaking about being weird and elusive. Plus, as the VFD kidnap their 'volunteers' as very young children, and this neatly explains Holmes' aversion to talking about his family, and both the brothers' strangeness. Not to mention just how Holmes gets away with what he does... the VFD are helping.

Also, it could explain why Holmes lets Watson publish sensitive cases. He's doing so to utilize them as a method of communicating codes to people.

Last but not least, the authorities are idiots in both the series. Clearly, they started off bumbling in the 1800s, Holmes' time, and just went downhill.

  • Going with the above thread, this troper would like to pose that Moriarty was (is?) an ex-member of VFD, explaining his massive intelligence and cunning in creating detailed crimes. This would explain why Holmes was so keen on catching him, as it was an assignment given to him by his superiors who wanted Moriarty either caught or dead.
  • This theory is bolstered by the fact that Moriarty attacks Holmes in FINA by setting his rooms on fire. Also — we know that the VFD recruit new members at very young ages and train them in skills of observation. Who else are the Baker Street Irregulars, then, but a group of neophytes Holmes is training to become full members of the organization? Perhaps they disappeared after the first couple of stories because their training had been completed...

Watson is an Unreliable Narrator
There is something of an automatic assumption from many corners that every single word that Watson writes in the original canon is the gospel truth of what occurred in that particular case. However, really, it's only Watson's word about this that we have, and it's conveniently forgotten that Watson is also writing these accounts for publication; publication is not necessarily a field in which the truth trumps a good story. There's a lovely moment in Billy Wilder's excellent The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes in which Holmes notes that "I'll learn all sorts of things about the case I didn't know beforehand," and pretty much all but accuses Watson of making shit up in order to sell stories. In the movie, this sees Holmes gripe about all the stupid ways Watson's exaggerated his character so that he's forced to wear a ludicrous and impractical costume and is painted as a drug-addled misogynist. It's not a great leap to consider that maybe Watson does this with the facts of the cases as well; perhaps an exciting moment from an otherwise dull and forgettable case is transferred over to a more memorable case, perhaps a particularly heinous villain is exaggerated to provide more of a foil for Holmes, hell, perhaps Watson makes the entire thing up.

Even if we accept that Watson is an essentially honest person giving us the truth as he sees it, that doesn't necessarily mean that we can automatically accept each case as being absolute gospel — Watson's got his perspective on events, and it's likely to conflict with the other major players, even Holmes. Furthermore, there's plenty of cases where we can assume or it's outright stated that the participants have either asked for discretion in reporting the case or are not likely to be very thrilled with having their dirty laundry aired for the gratification of the public; in order to avoid lawsuits (and keep business coming in — no one's going to go to a private detective they can't reasonably trust to be discrete with their affairs) Watson fictionalizes the affair, mixing and matching details and changing names just enough to keep an exciting narrative for publication whilst at the same time avoiding him and Holmes getting sued from here to doomsday by a parade of unhappy clients, occasionally dropping in a hint that someone's asked the case to keep quiet to Lampshade that the story is actually Ripped from the Headlines.

  • The Jeremy Brett adaptations also played on this possibility. Both the Burke and the Hardwicke Watsons were much smarter than they were letting on in their publications, even managing to pull off the occasional Sherlock Scan; similarly, the interplay between Holmes and Watson made it clear that Watson was gussying up his material for sensational (or romantic!) effect. Holmes specifically complains about such in, if memory serves, "The Copper Beeches."
  • And it almost goes without saying that there are plenty of events that Watson never viewed first-hand, so where Watson reported Holmes doing some fantastical deduction, it's just as plausible that Watson was paring down a lot of boring investigating into a single "A-Ha!" moment. "Holmes, your account of boring interviews with witnesses goes on too long. I'm going to say that you asked me to step out of the room, and then when you came out, you had the crime solved, all right?"
  • Going with the above, it makes sense that Watson would exaggerate details in order to make a good story. Lots of stories that sold or were given the most attention in Victorian times were either fictional or exaggerated to the point of being so (e.g. Sweeeney Todd and Jack the Ripper respectively). Also, it seems strange that Holmes would complain about Watson blowing their adventures out of proportion when one of Holmes' canonical fields of expertise is that of sensationalist literature.

Mrs. Hudson is a mole for Scotland Yard, tasked with keeping tabs on Holmes.
Who'd suspect a kindly elderly landlady as being a police spy? Think about it: Holmes is an arrogant upstart who finds himself to be above the law and treats the police like retarded children. The Yard is pissed and creates some sort of deal with Mrs. Hudson to keep an eye on Holmes and report back to them. Her position as a landlady makes her prime for all sorts of snooping around in Holmes' rooms. Though she has to be incredibly careful as even the slightest thing out of place would tip off Holmes.
  • One tangent to this would be the idea that Mrs. Hudson has seen the good that Holmes has done through his works and has effectively Become The Mask, going about her usual duties while either feeding the police blatant lies or breaking off her deal with them altogether.
  • Another is that Holmes has known about this all along and opted to Feed the Mole, basically playing along with Scotland Yard since he regards them to be somewhat beneath him anyway.
  • Alternatively, she was a spy for Mycroft, who wanted to make sure his little brother was well taken care of. Perhaps she was even a former agent of his. It would explain why she was willing to put up with him, and if she had previously worked with Mycroft she would be used to his...queerness.
  • Alternatively alternatively, Mrs. Hudson is the Napoleon of Crime, forever evading Holmes using information she gets through eavesdropping. Moriarty is a patsy.

Watson knew that Sherlock Holmes survived The Final Problem.
Going back to Watson being an unreliable narrator, Watson knew that Holmes didn't go over the falls. Let's not pull punches. Sherlock Holmes murdered Moriarty by throwing him over, whether in self defence or otherwise. Watson actually got there in time to see it happen. The two devised a plan to make sure Holmes escaped trial and Moriarty's henchmen. Watson wrote that Holmes went over Reichenbach Falls too allowing his friend to flee to Europe. No one would question the Doctor's interpretation of events what with him being Holmes' biographer and all. When Holmes returned three years later (with a less than air-tight alibi) no one questioned Holmes' story out of sheer surprise, all the evidence of foul play at Reichenbach Falls was long gone and there was no official inquiry. All Watson had to do is pretend to be shocked, and polish The Empty House for publication.
  • Well, 'murdered' is perhaps a bit strong; there's a reasonably fair case for self-defense.

Holmes didn't survive The Final Problem
Because it never happened. The whole thing was cooked up by Holmes and Watson, in order for Holmes to take a much-needed vacation from those who wanted him to solve cases for them... or his cocaine addiction left him in debt and he needed to lie low for a while till he could pay off his debts.
  • This is essentially the basis of The Seven Per-cent Solution, innit?
    • Sort of. The premise of that is that the Hiatus was Holmes traveling the world in a period of... mental decompression (I don't want to demean this with the phrase 'vacation', because it was a little more than that).

Holmes didn't survive The Final Problem.
Watson made the later stories up. Their (generally perceived) lesser quality is because he didn't have actual facts in front of him. Much more difficult to string a coherent mystery together with no frame of reference, after all. As to why could have been anything from needing the money to having a breakdown and wanting to pretend it was real.
  • Watson really solved all the cases after Holmes' death by himself.
  • There's also the suspicious circumstances of Holmes' apparent return. Watson's wife is dead, he is trying to be like Holmes but just can't quite do it, he is stymied by a mysterious case... and suddenly, a Holmes personality emerges to solve the case. Also, notice how Holmes seems to have changed in personality after The Final Problem.

Watson is not real.

Holmes is actually just hiring some dude to tag along with him. Or, "Watson" is actually just a collection of henchmen of Holmes who do minor tasks. Or, perhaps Holmes is even well-known to have a split personality named Dr. James Watson. There are suspicious moments in the books, especially after The Final Problem, where:

  • Holmes and Watson are supposedly both present, but only one of them is addressed by name while the other is simply "your friend" or is not recognized until someone explains who he is.
  • Holmes and Watson are seldom separated within the narratives, and it is quite rare that Watson does anything independent of Holmes, especially after The Final Problem
    • This is actually patently untrue — The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Lady Frances Carfax, The Dying Detective, and The Illustrious Client are just a few stories written after The Final Problem where a large portion of Watson's actions are largely independent and/or take place when he is out of Holmes's presence.

Holmes is not real.

The "Sherlock Holmes" personality is triggered by turbulent periods in Watson's life. As Watson settles into married life, the Holmes personality is suppressed, finally eliminated during The Final Problem. But then Watson's wife dies, and he decides to jump into a case because he feels like he ought to pursue it for some reason, and the Holmes personality re-emerges stronger than ever.

As for Mycroft? Mycroft is an inmate at an insane asylum.

Holmes was a Muslim.
He made a journey to Mecca (a city where only Muslims are allowed to go) as told in "The Return".
  • As if Holmes, master of disguise, couldn't pass as a Muslim.
    • And Sir Richard Francis Burton successfully infiltrated Mecca in real life, by disguising himself as a Muslim — to the point of circumcising himself — making the hajj.
      • This is only amazing if one believes "Muslim = moor"; knowing the language and customs is more important to appearing Middle-Eastern (or any other ethnicity) than a particular skin-tone or facial feature.

Holmes became a Buddhist in Tibet
An old guess I was surprised to see hadn't been added before. Before the Great Hiatus, Holmes has no compunction about causing perps' deaths, finally flinging Moriarty down the Falls. In the stories set after his return, the one and only life he takes is that of a jellyfish. He also no longer uses drugs or even drinks spirits.
  • Not sure about the in-universe timeline but he does state very clearly that he would have (quite unlawfully) killed one guy who shot Watson in a story published after The Final Solution. And even before 'The Final Solution', the only criminal he indirectly killed was done by sending a snake back through a secret tunnel, most definitely done with the intention of self-preservation rather than murder.

Holmes had another brother, older than Mycroft
Their father was a country squire: the eldest son would presumably inherit the estate. Mycroft is lazy and deeply solitary - he'd like nothing more than to bury himself in a lonely country house. Yet he lives in London and has a job. So either there's another brother we never meet, or the family hit some disaster and lost all their money. The former is consistent with Watson not knowing about Mycroft until the plot requires them to meet; the latter is consistent with the above WMG about Holmes having little formal education and a past as a laborer.

Holmes is one of the Inspired
Holmes is a genius, there's no denying that, and neither is there any for his... peculiar way of thinking. One could say he doesn't quite see the world the same way most people do, much like any Genius who has touched the light of Inspiration! In fact, it is not just that he is a certified Genius, he may, in fact, be an Unmada, one who has become so deeply Inspired, that they are capable of unknowingly warping reality to fit the way they see it. Hence, why he is able to perfectly solve most any mystery he tackles; he doesn't really solve them, he just unknowingly bends the universe so that the case becomes exactly the way he believes it to be! And as for Watson, after having been working with Holmes for so long and understanding his line of thinking, he has either become a Beholden, one who sees the world in the exact same way as his associated Inspired...or has become an Inspired as well!

Holmes is a woman (or a FTM transsexual)
To quote Holmes himself: "I get in the dumps at times, and don't open my mouth for days on end. You must not think I am sulky when I do that. Just let me alone, and I'll soon be right." (A Study in Scarlet) PMS, anyone?
  • Also, he shows no romantic interests in women. He even seems to scorn them, which may be the reason why he hides his biological gender.
    • He explicitly does not trust women, views the eligible intelligent Violet Hunter as his sister, but shows some distant appreciation for the moral character of some women despite his initial poor estimation of them. If he keeps a priority on maintaining the secret of his apparent sex, he wouldn't be able to trust a woman even if he were generally attracted to them. Recall, he turns down payment for a case to keep the photo of Irene Adler after she disguises herself as a man and greets Holmes without his recognizing her. His own gender identity issues may be as much cause for this admiration of her as much as her foiling his efforts on a case.
    • Far be it from I to point out the obvious, but he could just not be romantically interested in women.
  • Unlike in the 2009 film, he has no facial hair in the books, even when he's been camping in the wild for a few days (Hound of the Baskervilles), which strikes Watson. Although he's very tall, he's described as slender, with narrow fingers.
    • Lack of secondary sex characteristics is extremely suggestive, although he could be an XY with Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome, which fits for being tall but light on the masculine features. If it were mild, he'd be an infertile man that doesn't shave, if it were more complete, the science of the time could hardly differentiate him from a female except for the lack of ovaries, but in a different presentation we could split the difference and say he had ambiguous genitalia, had any combination of female or male physical traits you may imagine, and was raised as a girl as per the following.
    • OTOH, staying clean-shaven under all circumstances is a logical thing for a man who wears disguises for a significant part of his work. It's hard to apply a false beard over an actual beard, after all.
    • Remember, though, he has a goatee in "His Last Bow," so he's clearly capable of growing facial hair. Unless the goatee was false, of course, although that would be difficult to keep up when one is maintaining the same false identity for years.
  • He doesn't have the basic knowledge of a Victorian-era gentleman (according to Watson, no knowledge of classical literature, astronomy and philosophy, very little knowledge of politics), perhaps because as a girl, he wasn't taught things that would be useless to a future wife. His lack of interest in politics maybe because he's not allowed to vote.
    • He's also a pretty good cook, was that normal for a guy then? Let us pretend it wasn't. He could've just sat down with some food and books and practiced because it interested him. But take it with the rest of his non-crime related interests and we get a collection of benign items in the education of a young girl to make her seem worldly but not over-educated: Music, cooking, a few foreign languages.
  • Women were allowed very few professions at the time. Passing as a man was the only way for an ambitious and intelligent woman to have an influence on society. What policeman in his right mind would have asked or accepted help from an unmarried woman to solve criminal cases?
  • The fact that Holmes was a successful prizefighter, and openly recognized as such by a fellow boxer, would tend to debunk this WMG. Why? Because boxers fight bare-chested, even in Victorian times. Even if s/he were flatter than average, Holmes' disguise skills aren't that good.
    • While I do feel that that debunks the WMG, there is still the possibility of a flat chest and a Sarashi disguised as a bandage. Holmes was really interested in middle- and far-Eastern things, and even if he wasn't, it's hardly impossible for him to have thought it up himself. Fighting in the black or even grey markets would account for being allowed to fight while injured, and if Watson never saw Holmes' fights, it's possible (though unlikely) that he used (fake) severe burn scarring as a disguise (it would be a decent reason to use bandages during every fight, and explain why parts of the surface of his chest felt less solid than a boxer's should when [rarely?] punched).
    • This is Sherlock Holmes. Wearing a shirt while boxing wouldn't be the most subversive thing he's done.
      • And if we assume the above is plausible, it only adds flavor to the WMG: He took to boxing to taking passing as male to a ridiculous extreme, knowing that if he could get by in that, he'd be beyond question. On the other hand, he once effortlessly bends an iron fire poker back into shape, so he had greater strength than the giant brute that bent it. Most men don't posses that much upper body strength, for a biological female, it approaches impossible, and Watson says that he never witnesses Holmes exercising or doing conditioning of any kind, oddly.
    • Even if they let Holmes fight while wearing a shirt or bandage, his opponents would surely insist that he be patted down first to ensure he isn't concealing, say, a leather chest protector. Boxers have been known to cheat, after all.
    • The other big problem with this theory is that female private detectives worked in Victorian London and were not considered particularly remarkable. Holmes could have worked as a female detective without any particular problem.

Watson is a woman; or, rather the woman, Irene Adler
See this guy's Epileptic Tree.
  • Even more amazing is the fact that this essay by Rex Stout was translated into Russian language which even has a different alphabet - and the translator still managed to concoct a mathematical proof (admittedly different from Stout's) that supported Stout's thesis! Make of that whatever you wish.

Holmes was a reality warper.
He manipulated reality to make his deductions and stuff true.

Watson is Moriarty.
Which explains why, according to the books, Watson has never seen Moriarty. They are both a doctor, and there is much to be said with regards to disguise for a limp, tightening up your facial expression from its usual genial, confused or vaguely worried look, and Obfuscating Stupidity, when the only person who needs to fall for the "disguise" both utterly trusts you beyond any other human and will lose his only friend if he ever admits to himself that he can see through it. Watson's wife called him James not because James and John can be nicknames for each other, but because she met him as James Moriarty and slipped up on the personal name. It's merely fortunate that that was a valid explanation, though not a coincidence as it is why Watson chose whichever name was the false one.
  • So what happened at Reichenbach?
    • Watson shoves Holmes over the edge, then returns to the hotel under the implication that he had left before Holmes "and Moriarty" had fallen. The reason Moriarty was not caught at the station was that the tall man at the station was a paid actor, and had papers to prove his identity and likely more than one alibi for times that Moriarty had supposedly been confirmed by Holmes as being in a specific place.

The Diogenes Club is an outpost of the British Secret Service.
This one is so commonly put out there that it's practically canon; however since this one isn't actually raised in the original works but in spin-off material, here it is for the sake of completion:

Basically, put together Mycroft Holmes' legendary description that 'in certain circumstances, he is the British government', Sherlock Holmes' tendency to get trusted with highly sensitive government matters and the Diogenes Club being a place for notoriously anti-social people where the members are discouraged from talking to each other on pain of banishment, and you've got the perfect place for keeping secrets. The general rule is that if the Diogenes Club isn't the actual Secret Service, then it's certainly one of its fronts.

  • Many of the recent film and television adaptations (specifically, the second Ritchie film and the BBC miniseries) certainly play off this assumption when determining the political reach of Mycroft and his ability to manipulate events. Interestingly, there seems to be an emerging trend in portraying Mycroft's career as some sort of below-the-radar diplomatic position, as evidenced by his role at the conference event in Switzerland in the second Ritchie film and his Coventry-like project for opposing terrorism in the first episode of the second BBC series, A Scandal in Belgravia. This isn't particularly in line with his slothful characterization in canon, although it's not the largest departure either work has made from the source material (usually resulting in a stronger narrative anyhow.)
  • Building on that, the Diogenes Club is for former members of the Baker Street Irregulars who now put their talents to work on an international stage.
    • More likely it's staffed by former Irregulars, as Victorian class-ism would surely bar Holmes's street-urchin contacts from the blue-blooded heights of British administration.

Tying into the above: Mycroft has confiscated those of Watson's journals that are deemed threats to government secrecy
Presumably including all the Paranormal Episodes and the crossovers.

Stapleton is a werewolf.
Since Stapleton is actually a Baskerville, he has learned the truth of the Baskerville hound while living abroad. The legend of the original hound states that ever since Hugo Baskerville was attacked, "the said to have plagued the family". However, the legend is written by Hugo Baskerville. This could be a descendant, or the original Hugo didn't die when he was attacked but he was turned instead. Being evil, Stapleton learns this secret and tranforms at will to attack the Baskervilles. (Dr. Mortimer's spaniel and the dog from Ross and Magles were used as practice).

This is why his body is never found after the hound is killed. They think he was sucked into Grimpen Mire but really he died in wolf/hound form.

  • Unless this WMG presupposes that werewolves live a lot longer than humans, the Hugo who wrote down the legend of the Hound can't be the same Hugo who appeared in the tale. The old manuscript shown to Holmes by Dr. Mortimer was dated to 1742, whereas the portrait of the original Hugo (that resembled Stapleton) was created in 1647.

Milverton was blackmailing Holmes.
"Lady Eva" was made up either by Holmes to keep Watson in the dark or by both Holmes and Watson to keep the readers from knowing the truth. Charles Augustus Milverton discovered some secret about Holmes (possibly one of the above WMGs or his relationship with Watson) and attempted to blackmail him. This is why Holmes has such an emotional reaction to Milverton's threats and felt the need to break the law rather than reveal his secret.

Watson wasn't shot in either the shoulder or the leg; he was shot in the ass
That accounts for the inconsistency; He was embarrassed about the true location so he kept making up the wound's location on the top.
  • Two marriages, no children? Maybe Watson was hit somewhere a little more dear if you follow me.
    • With Western Medicine being what it was at the time, there's no way he could possibly have survived the bloodloss a bullet wound to the genitals would entail.
      • He most certainly could have. Even without restrictive athletic underwear that kept the particularly blood-infused bits out of the way of the progenitorial bits, he would merely have had to have been lucky (or unlucky, depending on his priorities) and escaped infection and clots. perhaps by cauterization, or a strange but not impossible quirk of his own anatomy.
  • On a similar note, Julia Stoner (the victim from "Speckled Band") was bitten in the crotch by the swamp adder. Anywhere else, and the coroner would've surely noticed the bite wound, but Victorian proprieties ensured he wouldn't dare examine that portion of her anatomy for the police inquiry.

Moriarty is Sherlock and Mycroft's father.
Even I don't swear by this but consider, for a moment. Sherlock never spoke of his parents. Sherlock is a remarkable individual physically, as well as mentally. He was tall, lean, pale, grey-eyed, high forehead, cavernous face, and receding hairline. So does Moriarty. Next, Moriarty, going by the illustrations and described as old (and fatherly) by those who have seen him, has at least twenty years on Sherlock. Yet at Reichenbach, he nearly threw Holmes, a man of unnatural physical strength and physical prowess, off a cliff... and no, he didn't take him by surprise. And didn't bother with a weapon. And he gave Sherlock time to write a last letter. That's some insane damn confidence. Curiously poetic personality? Check. Moriarty even had his own Watson: Col. Moran. And if he's Sherlock's papa, then isn't he also Mycroft's? Moriarty was a math genius. Mycroft likewise has a 'remarkable head for figures.' Moriarty had a mind that could have 'made or marred the destinies of nations.' What did Mycroft do in his spare time? Heck, what if Mycroft owed his position to Moriarty's influences? No wonder he's reluctant to get into the whole crime thing...

And look at that last interview with Moriarty at Baker Street. Moriarty is looking at Holmes for the first time, and what does he notice first? "Less frontal development than he might have expected." Moriarty had a huge forehead. This takes on extra meaning when you think he may be comparing himself against his son. And he was giving Sherlock a last chance to bow out, no harm, no foul. What kind of sociopath DOES that? A sociopath who, all things aside, is proud of his boy, that's who.

Just throwing it out there.

  • According to The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, Moriarty has a history of sleeping with Sherlock's mum. I don't recall how the timing might have worked out, but that's there.

Moriarty is both real and fake.
Sometime before the start of Sherlock's adventures, there was another, perhaps equally brilliant detective named Moriarty. He was an older man than our well-known hero, and it was at this late era in his career that he found a new foe. A young up-and-coming in the criminal world, equal parts highly intelligent and highly elusive. Moriarty was determined to catch him, with many failed attempts along the way. Unfortunately for the good detective, when he finally did manage to corner this nemesis, he was unable to overpower him, and was killed in an ensuing struggle.

Having bested the (supposedly) greatest detective, our enterprising mastermind decided to take his former opponent's name as a sort of trophy. This new Moriarty's influence in the underworld grew in the following years, until the only thing lasting in peoples' memories of the name Moriarty was of a dastardly criminal. And then, Moriarty the mastermind meets Sherlock Holmes, an opponent equal to (or perhaps greater than) the now long dead detective. Initiating a dangerous, yet thrilling, game of cat and mouse, Moriarty tries to goad Sherlock into revealing himself, just as Sherlock does with Moriarty. This culminates in their final meeting, only the roles are reversed from when Moriarty bested the detective. Now, Moriarty is the older combatant, and Holmes intends to win. Unfortunately for them both, neither wins, though Holmes later returns. However, unlike a future incarnation of Light and L, Holmes doesn't claim Moriarty's name for his own. There could be a number of reasons for this: the name Moriarty sounds French, and the English and the French hate each others guts, Moriarty was a criminal mastermind, and his name had some weight in the underworld - one of the few places in the world a person dedicated to catching criminals wanted to place themselves, or simply because Holmes had a greater respect for those deceased than his Arch Nemesis did.

Holmes can read minds
Holmes figures out people's occupations, motives, etc by reading their minds (either consciously or subconsciously), and only pretends to do a Sherlock Scan to cover over his abilities. This explains why he is always right, even when noticing details which could quite easily provide for alternate explanations.

Holmes is a Black Ribboner vampire
He gets by on cattle blood bought from slaughterhouses - which he claims is for "experiments" - and sublimates his vampiric predatory instincts into his detective work. This is why his morale suffers so much when he doesn't have a case to work on. His cocaine use during periods of boredom is also an attempt at self-medicating his predatory urges. Holmes isn't squeamish, but he probably would find the prospect of chomping on his best friend and sweet old housekeeper rather distressing. Also, for what it's worth, some visual interpretations of Sherlock Holmes (particularly Jeremy Brett's and Benedict Cumberbatch's) do look a bit stereotypically vampiric.
  • I love this.

Irene Adler was not biologically female.
She was either a female impersonator or a (non-op by necessity, given the medical technology of the day) trans woman. There is some historical precedent for this in the case of the early 19th-century actress Lavinia Edwards.Irene sang in the lowest female vocal range (contralto) and had a facility for disguise that crossed gender barriers. This would also explain why the King of Bohemia was so anxious about his liaison with Irene becoming public knowledge - the story about his fiancee's conservative family may have been true, but it wasn't the main incentive. An unmarried male aristocrat in the late 19th century having an affair with an adventuress would not have brought down a country, but an indiscreet remark from one of Irene's former lovers or an excessively observant doctor could have made things very awkward indeed. At best, the King would look like a fool for succumbing to the charms of a "man in a dress," at worst he'd be considered a sexual deviant, even if his position put him beyond the reach of any sodomy laws.

Holmes has an odd form of ADHD
When he has a case or a really interesting research project, he does fine, but he tends to fall apart and have trouble focusing on anything when there's nothing interesting enough to really compel his attention. And despite his narrow interests, the man is clearly a divergent thinker - think of the little "what a lovely thing a rose is" speech in The Naval Treaty. Also, he's kind of a slob.
  • In other words, typical ADHD?

Holmes is an RPG character made with a Point Build System
And a min-maxed one at that. Why would he need to put points in General Knowledge? He's a consulting detective, not a schoolteacher. I must say, though, that getting points for a drug habit and depressive episodes that only manifest themselves between adventure modules seems to be a clear case of rules abuse.

Holmes was written as a vampire (or perhaps some sort of fairy).
Yes, this is superficially similar to the Black Ribboner vampire guess above, but I've come at it from a different and (at least seemingly) much more serious path. Holmes kept odd hours not because of his drug addictions and Victorian-idea-of-bipolar-disorder, but rather he took drugs to alleviate the stress of being physically and emotionally at his weakest when normal people were at their most wakeful, and his mood swings were a result of that, of the necessity of feeding, and (like Bram Stoker's Dracula) a part of the condition that predisposed him to vampirism in the first place. It's a highly suspicious thing for Holmes to have had neither shaving nor stubble on a week-long trip into the woods and a fake beard when hiding instead of growing and dyeing his own, to the point where entire books have been written about the possibility of Holmes being a woman or gay man; Like the vampires who came in and after that time period, Holmes was frozen at death rather than having his hair and nails grow wild. Holmes was quite gaunt, even referred to as seeming almost unhealthily thin on occasion despite being fit enough to retain a paying hobby as a prizefighter, especially odd considering the strains height put on a person who doesn't have the muscle, bone, and connective structure to make up for it. Finally (at least for now), something many people have passed over: To me, the change between the ignorant Holmes of A Study In Scarlet and the knowledgeable Holmes of later stories seems almost like an old man, a very, very old man, declaring irrelevant information that wasn't around in his day useless, then deciding as he solved and nearly failed to solve cases that perhaps knowledge of these newfangled things like heliocentrism could come in handy in his line of work.
To sum up, I find it quite plausible that Doyle wrote at least some of the Holmes series as a subtle (or not so subtle) attempt to satirize or even cash in on some of the gimmicks in writing of the time (The Murders in the Rue Morgue, practically anything with Magic Realism, and so on). If you choose the fairy interpretation instead of the vampire interpretation, it could have been satire or sincerity (I know Doyle believed in adorable little fairies, I just don't know if he also believed in The Fair Folk or if he thought that was just a writing gimmick).

The reason why Holmes lets others take the credit...
Because his life revolves around solving mysteries, he's cooked up a scheme: he figures that if he allows the police to take the credit for his investigations, they will come to rely on his expertise more and more. Soon, he'll have all the mysteries to solve that he could ever want and more.
  • Also, Marcia Wilson (aragonite) had Lestrade point out in a fic that Holmes lets the police take the credit so that he can call it in as favors later.

Holmes isn't actually a genius, he just makes lucky guesses
There is even a clue in his name: 'Sheer Luck' Holmes.

In "The Second Stain", Lady Hilda Trewlawney Hope was the real murderer.
We're told that her only crime was stealing the top-secret document and giving it to a spy who had blackmailed her. She was able to retrieve the document only because, just as she was meeting with the man, his crazy wife showed up to murder him and he was forced to hide it hastily. Isn't that timing awfully convenient? Especially since we never actually meet this woman? My theory is that she killed him, fled the scene in a panic, then returned after the police had gotten a confession out of the wife (a mentally unstable foreigner whose husband was cheating on her - the perfect scapegoat). Since the police knew nothing of the theft, they had no reason to suspect Lady Hilda. Holmes? Should have at least questioned her further.
  • Assuming this is true, Holmes has on several occasions let a murderer go free if he feels that their case was not without sympathy; Lady Hilda was being blackmailed by a spy who was, at least, something of a scumbag. He might have pegged that Lady Hilda's account didn't quite add up, but felt that she didn't deserve to hang for it. Besides which, he was hired to retrieve the papers and prevent a scandal, not to solve the spy's murder, so he just decided it was Someone Else's Problem.
    • Would that mean he was willing to let the mentally unstable foreigner get hanged? That would be out of character for him as for all of the murders he let's go free, he always warns that if there's a chance some innocent party gets the blame, then he will reveal the truth.

Porlock is Moriarty's sock puppet.
Firstly: Holmes' involvement at Birlstone worked purely in Moriarty's favor, and Moriarty, presumably keeping tabs on Baldwin, would know this.

Secondly: If Porlock is a real person living in mortal fear who has managed in some capacity to operate under Moriarty's nose, it's strange that he doesn't seem to know what a code is for. Would a Nazi spy trying to pass information on Operation Husky encrypt every word except "Sicily"?

Thirdly: By FINA, we and Holmes both know that Moriarty is an accomplished forger. So, if a person who can assume any handwriting he wishes, and whom you have been battling on fronts uncounted, sends you an extremely vague taunt, how would you know the identity of the sender, much less the topic of the message? I say because it pleased him to assume Porlock's hand, thereby showing that he'd made Holmes complicit in the murder of Jack Douglas.

The continuity errors in the books are deliberate.
The cases Holmes solves often deal with sensitive information, naturally, and frequently with things better left with as few eyes reading them as possible. Combined with the fact that Moriarty was playing his game against Holmes for quite some time, it doesn't seem illogical to assume that Holmes had Watson insert errors and discontinuities in the stories, perhaps to keep Moriarty from knowing how much Holmes actually knows about his criminal empire. Some stories may have even been made up from whole cloth, just to keep Moriarty thrown off. This could also be why Holmes frequently expressed annoyance at Watson's stories; the good doctor was putting himself in danger if he revealed that he knew too much, and - although Watson insisted that Holmes's adventures be chronicled - Holmes would have been happier had Watson not taken such a risk in the first place.

Colonel Moran was acquitted at his trial.
He was arrested and charged for murder in 1894 (in 'The Adventure of the Empty House') but he is explicitly mentioned as 'still living' in 1902 (in 'The Adventure of the Illustrious Client'.) Moran is even implied to still be living as late as 1914 (in 'His Last Bow'.) Given murder was a capital crime for Victorians it seems unlikely he would have been merely imprisoned. Moran must have won his case but been forced to leave London anyway, his power base and reputation ruined.
  • Alternately, Moran's knowledge of Moriarty's criminal empire was deemed valuable enough that his life was spared in exchange for a very long prison term and his testimony against hundreds of lesser criminals.

Holmes is a Time Lord.
Explains the hiatus and darned near everything else.

Nero Wolfe is Sherlock Holmes' son
Okay, not original, but still a hypothesis worthy of investigation. Probably while in hiding after The Final Problem, Sherlock Holmes bumped into Irene Adler (or, who knows, some other woman) while in Montenegro (thus, Wolfe can fairly claim to be Montenegrin in origin). Neither parent was there to raise him, but at some point his uncle Mycroft learned of his existence and, perhaps after Sherlock's death and feeling some obligation to his brother's memory, arranged for young Wolfe to be brought to England and became involved in his upbringing. Wolfe's hinted-at past of adventure is likely due to his role as an agent in whatever government organization Mycroft is in charge of. After he tired of adventure, Wolfe settled down in America and gradually came to resemble his adoptive father (possibly retreating into creature comforts after becoming disillusioned with the active life).

In "The Greek Interpreter", Mycroft was trying to get the title interpreter killed
Mycroft, supposedly smarter than his younger brother, leaves an unremarkable impression in his first appearance when he makes an obvious tactical blunder that jeopardizes the life of a witness. This makes it a bit hard to believe he's really all that smart... unless it was his intention for this to happen the entire time. Perhaps the interpreter was privy to certain secrets that Mycroft couldn't allow to come to light, or he may have had some other purpose.
  • "Smarter" doesn't necessarily equate to "wiser". Mycroft is even more stringently data-oriented than Sherlock, and deals in documents more than individuals; he may have lapsed in not realizing what a gang of ruthless kidnappers or a timid bureaucrat might do under panic and duress, without diminishing his genius for calculated assessment.

The Baker Street Irregulars grow up to be various other prominent fictional detectives
Though not many of their backstories are in line with growing up an urchin in London, perhaps indicating that some of them have assumed identities and fabricated pasts. Miss Marple? Lord Peter Wimsey? Roderick Alleyn? Who can say?

"The Hound of the Baskervilles" never happened in reality.
I can't claim credit for this as this is suggested right at the very end of Sherlock Holmes Versus Jack the Ripper, but one set of potential dates for the Hound case is October-November 1888... which is, very conveniently, when the Ripper killings and investigation were at their frenzied height. It seems inconceivable that a case of such magnitude and public concern would fail to enter Holmes's purview, and the game suggests that he did investigate the killings, finally apprehending the Ripper himself , a Jewish butcher wishing vengeance against both his community and the prostitutes who gave him and his children syphilis. As the potential falloutnote  was too monstrous to bear, Holmes orders Watson to hush the whole matter up, and invent a story placing them as far out of London as possible, chasing a spectral hound with glowing breath.

"A Scandal in Bohemia" was inspired in some part by the Mayerling Incident.
While the real Emperor of Bohemia at the time was Franz Joseph I of Austria, then 60 years old and a workaholic, straight-laced military man... his only son and heir Rudolf, who had spent time in Bohemia, was known as a bit of a charismatic rake. note  And then he got himself involved in a scandal involving a woman - that is, he shot and killed himself and a lover, Baroness Mary Vetsera, on January 30, 1889. Supposedly, SCAN took place in 1888, and was published on June 25, 1891, mere months after the Mayerling Incident. Vetsera wanted to be Together in Death with her Prince note , just as Irene Norton (née Adler) wanted to live in peace with her husband. The deaths were supposed for a while to be assassinations from a conspiracy, when they were in fact just a Suicide Pact - just as the King thought Irene intended to blackmail him but she had no intention of doing so. So, it's probable that Watson/Doyle used "King of Bohemia" as a pseudonym for their client because they had Mayerling in mind. Out of universe, it's also probable that Doyle had Mayerling as direct inspiration in the writing process.

Moriarty switched places with Holmes at Reichenbach Falls and stole his identity.

The two years "Holmes" allegedly spent hunting down his enemies were actually two years Moriarty spent getting cutting-edge plastic surgery and training himself to replace the great detective. Ultimately, he managed to slip seamlessly into Holmes's life, even managing to fool his best friend.

Readers noticed that after being brought back, Holmes's personality became colder and more manipulative. This is because Moriarty is unable to completely hide his true nature.

He solves murders as Sherlock Holmes while using the immunity from suspicion his new identity offers him to sponsor yet greater crimes and nip potential rivals in the bud.


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