List of Sherlock characters
The following is a list and description of the characters of Sherlock, a British television series that started airing on BBC One in July 2010. The series is a contemporary adaptation of the Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and was created by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss.
- 1 Main characters
- 2 Metropolitan Police personnel
- 3 Villains
- 4 Other characters
- 5 External links
- 6 References
William Sherlock Scott Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) describes himself as "a consulting detective, the only one in the world," helping out Scotland Yard when they are out of their depth with cases (usually homicides). He appears as a tall, thin man with dark, curly hair. Like the original character, Sherlock is able to deduce or abduce information from the small details.
Sherlock has a very unusual personality, and describes himself in the first episode "A Study in Pink," as a "high-functioning sociopath," a term he insists on in subsequent episodes. (Others call him a psychopath and in "The Hounds of Baskerville," John tells Greg Lestrade that Sherlock has Asperger Syndrome.) This manifests itself in very poor people skills, and extremely rude manners to everyone he deals with. He is however skilled at coercing people to help him, by mostly playing on their weaknesses.
Sherlock seems to care more about the crimes than about the victims involved, as in the original stories. He is rude and inconsiderate towards others, including John (often leaving him behind and asking him to do menial, domestic tasks such as shopping). However, Sherlock is shown to care deeply for John as the series progresses, showing uncharacteristic emotion when his friend's life is in jeopardy or when John comes to his aid. He even admits that saying Mary deserves John as a husband is the highest compliment he can give. He considers only three people as his friends: John Watson, Mrs Hudson, and DI Greg Lestrade, whose first name he repeatedly gets wrong. The only other person he seems to trust fully is Molly Hooper, as seen in "The Reichenbach Fall". However, he is not above insulting them: "What is it like in your funny little brains, it must be so boring," and "Is it nice not being me? It must be so relaxing." He also has a complex relationship with his brother Mycroft, his only intellectual equal, made of mixed mutual contempt and respect.
Sherlock appears largely asexual and describes himself as "married to his work". He seems oblivious to the romantic attraction that forensic pathologist Molly Hooper has for him, but sometimes uses this to his advantage if it assists him in a case. After the introduction of Irene Adler, Sherlock seems to have some interest in Irene and comes to her rescue. She frequently flirts with and texts Sherlock in "A Scandal in Belgravia," but he seldom responds. In the following series, Sherlock briefly has a mental image of her in his Mind Palace when thinking of who would know John's middle name, but quickly retorts "Get out of my head, I'm busy." In Series 3 he is briefly in a relationship with Janine; however, this is later revealed to be a ruse to gain information on her boss.
Sherlock has considerable fighting ability, fighting off a man armed with a sword using his bare hands in "The Blind Banker." In "A Scandal in Belgravia," he disarms and incapacitates a CIA agent on two separate occasions; however, he is easily bested by John, who has military experience.
He knows London's streets and alleys extremely well; in "A Study in Pink", he quickly figures out what route a cab would take and plans a route to beat it to its destination. In "The Empty Hearse", Sherlock works out which paths to take to shave time off the countdown to save John. He has strange connections, including a graffiti artist, as well as the entire network of the homeless (whom he uses as his "eyes and ears"). In solving cases, Sherlock uses a technique known as the Method of Loci, which he calls his "mind palace," which enables him to efficiently store and retrieve information and make deductions. Initially the mind palace appears as a series of assorted facts that appear on the screen when a scene is showed from Sherlock's point of view. In Series 3, the mind palace became a very elaborate construction where other characters from the series discuss Sherlock's cases with him.
Sherlock has violent mood swings when there are no cases that interest him. He is once seen stretched out on his chair and firing a gun at a smiley face spray-painted on the wall in his flat. He finds smoking impractical in present-day urban London and, therefore, mostly makes do with nicotine patches. He may apply three patches at the same time when it is a "three patch problem", implying the nicotine helps him to think. For the same reason, he plays the violin and even composes music from time to time. Sherlock also has a history of recreational drug use.
Trying to avoid getting his face taken in pictures, Sherlock disguises it with a deerstalker. This becomes his trademark, much to his annoyance as he greatly dislikes the hat. However, he seems to have accepted it since he puts one on before greeting the press about his miraclous return in "The Empty Hearse".
Dr John Watson
John Watson (Martin Freeman) is Sherlock's colleague and former flatmate. He is often a foil to Sherlock in both appearance and personality. Unlike Sherlock, John is short with blond hair. He is kind, caring, and 'human' compared to Sherlock's cold, calculating ways. He gets on better with the police and takes care of practical matters at their flat, apparently doing most of the shopping.
At the start of the series, John is recently invalided home from Afghanistan after serving as an "army doctor". Prior to his military period, John read medicine at King's College, London as seen on his CV. He is in possession of a pistol, with which he is highly proficient, being described as a "crack shot" by Sherlock.
At the beginning of the series, John has several medical issues: a psychosomatic limp in his right leg, a bullet wound in his left shoulder, and an "intermittent tremor" in his left hand. John's therapist notes he has "trust issues" and PTSD, but Sherlock's brother Mycroft says that far from being "haunted by the war" John actually misses the excitement. Following a chase around London with Sherlock, in which he forgets his cane at a restaurant, John's limp disappears; and Mycroft observes that in a stressful situation John has no sign of a hand tremor. When asked by Sherlock, on their first case together, whether he wants to see more, John responds, "Oh God, yes!" In the 3rd series, it is further elaborated John is addicted to danger. Sherlock explains it's why John choose him as his best friend, and fell in love with Mary. Sherlock solves dangerous cases as an alternative to getting high, while Mary is a former secreat agent and assassin.
John is shown to be loyal and courageous, with a strong sense of personal integrity. He refuses Mycroft's offer to pay him to spy on Sherlock, despite only having just met Sherlock at this time (and not knowing that Mycroft was his brother). He is willing to occasionally use deadly force, but he is only ever seen to do so when someone else's life is in immediate danger. He shows no visible signs of regretting his actions afterwards.
In the first series John gets a locum job at a nearby general practice to supplement his pension. In the second series, John is referred to as Sherlock's P.A. and is not shown working any other job. John writes about Sherlock's cases on his blog, which attracts clients to them. He also gives the cases names he deems appropriate. Much to John's constant annoyance, he is often mistaken for a gay man because of the time he spends around Sherlock. He is indicated to have had a number of short-lived relationships with women – one of whom is shown breaking up with him doe to John's commitment to Sherlock, saying, that "[Sherlock] is a very lucky man." When he tells Mrs. Hudson that he is engaged, in season 3, her first question is "So, what's his name?"
The only member of John's family who has been alluded to thus far is his sister, Harriet (aka Harry), with whom he has a strained relationship due to her being a heavy drinker. During their first case together, Sherlock deduces that John had refused to accept help from Harry after being invalided out of the army, even though the fact that she gave John her old phone is an indication that she wants to stay in touch with her brother. Sherlock also guesses that John's extended family is not very close to him.
Metropolitan Police personnel
DI Greg Lestrade
Detective Inspector Greg Lestrade (Rupert Graves) works for Scotland Yard and directly with Sherlock. He has a reluctant respect for Sherlock and often defends him from the other police officers' animosity. He is often frustrated by Sherlock's cryptic deductions and habit of withholding evidence, but believes that he is a great man (hoping that one day, he can overcome his poorer qualities, and become a "good" man).
In "The Reichenbach Fall," Lestrade agrees to bring Sherlock in for questioning and it becomes apparent that Lestrade's superiors were not aware of Sherlock's involvement in cases. Unlike Donovan and Anderson, Lestrade had complete faith that Sherlock was innocent of any wrongdoing, proving just how much he trusted him. In "A Study in Pink," he mentions that he is in an on-again-off-again relationship with his ex-wife. In "A Scandal in Belgravia," Lestrade says he and his wife have settled their problems, but Sherlock flatly informs him that she is (as of Christmas that year) sleeping with a P.E. teacher. In "The Sign of Three", Lestrade's faith in Sherlock is shown to have escalated to comical levels, and he drops all pressing matters to comply with his requests.
Although Lestrade is ranked as 'DI,' i.e. 'Detective Inspector,' he is referred to in scenes as just 'Inspector,' possibly as Lestrade in the original novels was ranked as Inspector (the rank of 'DI' not having been created at that time.)
Sergeant Sally Donovan
Sergeant Donovan (Vinette Robinson) is often seen working with DI Lestrade on cases. Donovan resents Sherlock's presence at crime scenes, calling him a "freak", and warns Watson that Sherlock is a psychopath who will one day get bored of catching killers and become one himself.
In "A Study in Pink," she is having an affair with Anderson and in The Reichenbach Fall she is the first police officer to fall for Moriarty's deception and believe that Sherlock may be behind the recent theft and kidnapping. In "The Sign of Three", she's shown to be very supportive of Lestrade when it comes to difficult cases Sherlock isn't involved in.
Philip Anderson (Jonathan Aris) is originally a member of the Metropolitan Police's Forensic Services. From the series opening, it is clear that Anderson and Sherlock have history of mutual dislike with Sherlock repeatedly humiliating Anderson and Anderson refusing to assist him at crime scenes.
In "A Study in Pink," Sherlock reveals, to both their embarrassment, Anderson and Sgt. Donovan's affair. In "The Reichenbach Fall," Anderson is the second person at The Yard to be deceived by Moriarty into thinking Sherlock may be involved in the recent theft and kidnapping.
He appears in the mini-episode "Many Happy Returns" where it is revealed that he has lost his job with the police and is trying to convince Lestrade that Sherlock is not only alive but also is still solving mysteries across the globe.
His first name is not mentioned until the opening episode of series 3, "The Empty Hearse". In the third season, he has become one of Sherlock's most avid fans, the founder of "The Empty Hearse", a club which believes Sherlock to have faked his death during the events of "The Reichenbach Fall", and a rather avid conspiracy theorist regarding his fall.
James 'Jim' Moriarty (Andrew Scott) is the only "consulting criminal" in the world, a counterpoint to Sherlock's similarly unrivaled "consulting detective" and is the primary antagonist of Series 1 & 2. He is also responsible for the criminals and crimes in all three episodes of the first series, acting as a sponsor, an informant, or a mastermind. He is shown to have an interest in Sherlock that borders on obsession, though he does not hesitate trying to kill him when he loses interest. He is a highly capable, and extremely powerful criminal. However, Moriarty, much like Sherlock, appears to be motivated chiefly by boredom, rather than money or power.
He is also an excellent actor, frequently shown to have convinced others that he is someone else – indeed his first appearance occurs as a gay man whom Molly is seeing, and Sherlock does not realise his identity at the time. In "The Great Game", Moriarty forces Sherlock to solve mysteries within a time limit, taking hostages to ensure that Sherlock is sufficiently motivated.
In the second series, he continues in his role as consulting criminal, giving Irene Adler advice on how to manipulate the "The Holmes Boys", having given them both nicknames. It is mentioned that he asked for nothing in return, becoming involved just to cause trouble, suggesting his obsessions are deepening. It is also alluded to that he might have an independent rivalry with Mycroft. He is seen briefly at the end of "The Hounds of Baskerville" apparently having been captured and in the process of being released by Mycroft.
Moriarty features extensively in "The Reichenbach Fall", simultaneously breaking into the Tower of London, HMP Pentonville and the Bank of England, being tried but acquitted after intimidating the jury, and then setting about to destroy Sherlock's reputation and ultimately force him into suicide. When Sherlock realises there is a way out as long as Moriarty is alive, Moriarty shoots himself in the head in order to force Sherlock into committing suicide.
Sherlock later reveals that he had planned the confrontation. After faking his death, he spent two years dismantling Moriarty's network.
In the closing moments of the third season finale His Last Vow, Moriarty's face appears on televisions across Britain repeating the statement "Did you miss me?".
Dr. Robert Frankland
Dr. Robert Frankland (Clive Mantle) is a research scientist at the Baskerville Military Base near Dartmoor and is the main antagonist of "The Hounds of Baskerville". He is first seen walking around when Sherlock and John enter the base using Mycroft's government security card. When they are identified as not being who they said they were, Frankland pretends to be an old friend of Sherlock, who he pretends is still Mycroft, and persuades the staff that there must be an IT error. This leads the pair to believe he is a person who can be trusted.
It is later revealed that Frankland had been the one terrorizing Henry Knight, Sherlock's client who was suffering from horrifying hallucinations, for fear that the young man would start to remember the truth of his father's murder, his concern coming from the fact that he had been the one who took Henry's father's life. Frankland held onto the belief that Project H.O.U.N.D, an aerosol disperser for chemical warfare used to induce fear and stimulus into the enemy to weaken them, could be revived and restored.
Jonathan Small (Jalaal Hartley), also referred to as The Mayfly Man, is the main antagonist in "The Sign of Three". Small blamed Major Sholto, John Watson's former military commander, for his brother's death. Small's brother died whilst under Sholto's command. Jonathan posed as the photographer for Mary Morstan and John Watson's wedding in order to gain access to the means to kill Sholto. Small was able to learn of Sholto's whereabouts by courting women who had worked for Sholto in various capacities and who were bound by confidentiality. Sholto would have died if he had taken off his tight belt where Small had lodged a long and thin blade while he was positioning Sholto for a photograph. Small had previously tested this murder technique on Private Bainbridge, a royal guardsman who had contacted Holmes when he believed he had a stalker who was later revealed to be Small. The pair investigated, trying to speak to Bainbridge, but soon discovered him dead, stabbed in a locked shower. While investigating the body, Watson saw that he was still alive and saved his life.
Charles Augustus Magnussen
Charles Augustus Magnussen (Lars Mikkelsen) is the primary antagonist of Series 3, shown briefly in "The Empty Hearse", mentioned in "The Sign of Three", and appearing prominently in "His Last Vow". A powerful businessman who controls a media empire, he also holds information on everyone of prominence in the Western world, and beyond that, allowing him to use such information for blackmail purposes in order to achieve his goals. Like Sherlock, he uses the mind palace technique to store the information in his head. Magnussen is based on the original character of Charles Augustus Milverton, the titular character of the short story "The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton". Despite all his clever tricks, Magnussen made a grave miscalculation in trying to blackmail John and Mary Watson, not realising that Sherlock would be willing to commit murder to protect them. Sherlock shoots Magnussen in the head.
Martha Louise Hudson (née Sissons), (Una Stubbs), is the landlady of 221B Baker Street. Sherlock won his way into her good graces after ensuring her husband, who ran a drug cartel, was executed for a double murder in Florida.
Despite repeated declarations that she is not their housekeeper, she fusses over Sherlock, and he takes it for granted that she will provide dinner for him. She is often horrified to see Sherlock keep human body parts in his kitchen appliances (refrigerator, microwave) for experimentation. Though Sherlock has been shown to make Mycroft apologise to her for saying to shut up, he will do so himself when stressed. When she met John, Mrs. Hudson thought he was Sherlock's romantic partner. Sherlock has a great deal of concern for her.
In "A Scandal in Belgravia", Sherlock pushed a CIA agent out of a second-story window to punish him for torturing Mrs. Hudson. It is revealed in "His Last Vow" (along with her full name) that she is a "semi-reformed alcoholic", a former "exotic dancer", and that her weakness is marijuana.
Mycroft Holmes (played by the show's executive producer, co-creator, and writer Mark Gatiss) is first introduced when he abducts John and offers to pay him to spy on Sherlock out of brotherly concern. He is Sherlock's older brother and engages in sibling rivalry with Sherlock. Mycroft is frequently mocked by Sherlock for "putting on weight". He occupies a "minor position in the British government"; however, as with many Holmes-based works, it is heavily hinted that he has a much bigger role than he claims. He is driven around in a private car with his personal assistant who goes by the name of "Anthea". Mycroft, as in the Doyle books, is also very skilled at deduction, even correcting Sherlock on occasion, as well as lacking enthusiasm for "legwork." His intellect is borderline superhuman, allowing him to learn Serbian in a few hours. As such, even Sherlock admits that Mycroft is smarter than he is.
Despite not paying John like he originally intended, Mycroft is kept informed of anything his brother does that may be illegal, as seen in "His Last Vow", where John informs him Sherlock had seemingly relapsed back into his old drug habits. Mycroft knows his brother well, saying Sherlock considers himself a dragon-slayer; the villains Sherlock catches are the equivalent of dragons.
In Mycroft's opinion, Sherlock has "the mind of philosopher or scientist, yet he elects to be a detective". However, he considers this an improvement, since as a child, Sherlock initially wanted to be a pirate. Charles Augustus Magnussen in "His Last Vow" reveals Mycroft to be in the Secret Intelligence Service. The cigarette addiction is something Mycroft shares with Sherlock.
Molly Hooper (Louise Brealey) is a 31-year-old pathology lab assistant working in the morgue at St Bartholomew's Hospital with an apparent crush on Sherlock. Due to her work position and crush on him, Sherlock frequently exploits her to let him examine victims' bodies. She was in a relationship with an Information technology employee named Jim, who was later revealed to be Moriarty. Molly maintains a blog and has a cat named Toby. Sherlock only finds out how deeply infatuated she is with him during "A Scandal in Belgravia," when he vehemently deduces that the Christmas present at the top of her bag is better wrapped than the others, and must be for someone she loves, and then discovers it's for him; she received a very uncharacteristic kiss on the cheek and apology for this. In "The Reichenbach Fall," Sherlock turns to her to help him fake his death.
In The Empty Hearse, while Watson is recovering from the hurt and shock of discovering Sherlock is still alive, she accompanies Holmes on some casework. She is engaged to Tom (Ed Birch), who looks and dresses quite a bit like Sherlock; by "His Last Vow" the engagement has been broken off - Sherlock observes she is not wearing her ring.
Molly was originally intended to be a one-off character to introduce Sherlock, but Brealey impressed Moffat and Gatiss and they "couldn't resist bringing her back."
Mary Morstan (Amanda Abbington) is a former assassin and a part-time nurse in John's practice whom he met following the apparent death of Sherlock. She surprises Sherlock with her knowledge and insight into his character. She marries Watson and Sherlock is the best man.
In "The Sign of Three", it is revealed that Mary is an orphan. She seems to know how to get what she wants from both John and Sherlock. It is later revealed in "His Last Vow" that she is in fact a former CIA agent, who went freelance and eventually on the run, and might not be English. She stole a dead woman's (stillborn) identity five years before marrying John. Despite this, she genuinely loves him and says that her taking another identity was to escape her previous life. At the end of the third series, Mary has yet to give birth, but is pregnant with a daughter.
Bill Wiggins, also known as The Wig and Wiggy, is a former guard for an abandoned building used as a drugs den. First appearing in "His Last Vow", he befriends Sherlock, who was using the alias Shezza. Having a sprained arm treated, Bill surprises everyone by accurately deducing John showers at work and keeps fresh clothes in a backpack since he rides a bike. Sherlock was greatly impressed, making Bill his apprentice. He assists Sherlock by giving Mary a phone to talk with Sherlock, and by using his chemistry skills to make a harmless knock-out drug for everyone but John and Sherlock during a Christmas party at the Holmes' home.
Sarah Sawyer (Zoe Telford) is John's supervisor at the surgery where he works. Sarah and John were engaged in a romantic relationship. She is a very competent doctor, taking over for John when he falls asleep in his office. She is able to fight in self-defence during a fight with a mob of Chinese gangsters. In "The Great Game," John seemed close to sharing her bed with her the next time he stayed the night at her place. John and Sarah break up after their trip to New Zealand, as written in John's blog.
Irene Adler (Lara Pulver) is featured in "A Scandal in Belgravia" as a professinoal dominatrix, more commonly referred to as "The Woman," who provides "recreational scolding" for anyone willing to pay for it. She takes pictures of her clients during her job as "protection" to make sure her clients don't do anything unfavourable to her. Irene is just as brilliant as Sherlock, being able to outwit him; however, she also ends up falling in love with him, which proves to be her downfall. She sends Sherlock a series of flirtatious texts, repeatedly requesting to "have dinner" with him.
Having taken a picture of the information for "Bond Air", she was targeted by Americans, who were working with the British government to trick terrorists into thinking that their bomb would blow up a plane and take the lives of hundreds. She was also sought out by Mycroft for incriminating photos of herself and one of her clients. She contacted Moriarty about the Bond Air plan, being given advice on how to use it to her advantage. She successfully duped Sherlock into revealing what Bond Air was about, texting the answer to Moriarty, who informed the terrorists.
Facing off with both the "Holmes Boys", the Ice Man (Mycroft) and the Virgin (Sherlock), Irene attempted to get a list of demands fulfilled; however, Sherlock figured out the password to her phone – "I am SHER-Locked." With her protection gone, Irene was left to the mercy of any who were after her. Though it was reported she was beheaded by extremists in Karachi some time later, Sherlock had actually helped her fake her death.
She makes a return in "The Signs of Three", as a mental image when Sherlock thinks of those who know John's middle name; he tells the image "Get out of my head, I'm busy." This implies there ARE times he wants her in his head.
In "His Last Vow", Charles Augustus Magnussen is "reading" Sherlock's list of pressure points (weaknesses), the list on the screen scrolls on for some time (and Magnussen mocks Sherlock by saying that he has "rather a lot"). However, there are actually only six pressure points listed, and to achieve the effect of there being many of them, they get repeated several times. They are: Irene Adler (See File); Jim Moriarty (See File); Redbeard (See File); Hounds of the Baskerville; Opium; and John Watson. She was later mentioned by Jim Moriarty in Sherlock's mind palace that - "... Mummy and Daddy will cry ... and The Woman will cry," on a sequence where Sherlock dies in the same room where Moriarty's chained.
Sebastian Wilkes (Bertie Carvel) is an old acquaintance from university who hires Sherlock to solve his bank's security problem when the bank is broken into. Like most of anyone else who knows Sherlock, he was annoyed by Sherlock's deductive skills. He says that Sherlock could tell if anyone had been shagging the previous night when they came down for breakfast.
Kitty Riley (Katherine Parkinson) is the up-and-coming journalist who wrote the piece on Sherlock being a fake. She was tricked into a relationship with Jim Moriarty, who gave her all the information she needed on Sherlock to write said article.
Janine (Yasmine Akram) is Mary Morstan's bridesmaid in the The Sign of Three. She is the secretary of Magnussen, the villain of His Last Vow, in which it is revealed that both Mary and Sherlock independently befriended her in order to get access to him. Sherlock went so far as to enter a relationship with her.
Lady Elizabeth Smallwood
Lady Elizabeth Smallwood (Lindsay Duncan) is a senior British government official who was chairing an inquiry into press standards and specifically the level of influence that newspaper baron Charles Augustus Magnussen had over the Western world. As a result of her pursuit of Magnussen, she found herself blackmailed by him with explicit, romantic letters that her husband had sent to a girl who he was unaware was underage, in the 1970s.
Rather than submit to the blackmail, she employed Sherlock Holmes to bargain with Magnussen. It was also later shown that she held a position of prominence in the British security establishment, and that the blackmail had driven her husband to suicide.
- Dorothy L. Sayers, "Dr. Watson's Christian Name", in Unpopular Opinions (London: Victor Gollancz, 1946), 148–151.
- Wells, Matt (21 May 2012). "Sherlock: The Reichenbach Fall - live chat with the co-creators". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
- "The blog of Dr. John. H. Watson". johnwatsonblog.co.uk. 2012. Retrieved 4 August 2013.