|Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes|
A big incentive to watch the non-Canonical takes on the Sherlock Holmes legend is to catch the nods to the original stories. This is one of the many advantages of reading the Canon as few things bring more joy than discovering the hidden references to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s genius.
Most non-canonical adaptations of Sherlock Holmes pack in a sizeable number of nods. This is true of the Basil Rathone movies and the Guy Ritchie directed movies.
The critically and commercially acclaimed BBC series, Sherlock takes this to a whole new level. Mark Gatiss, Steven Moffat and Steve Thompson have packed in a ton of these and each episode is a veritable goldmine.
The first episode of the first season: “A Study in Pink” is a modern update of A Study in Scarlet and contained a number of clever references to that novel. I will be listing those references in a separate post. Here, I have listed the references to other Canonical stories and novels:
|John Watson with his walking stick|
- Watson is seen with a limping leg initially and towards the end of the episode, Holmes makes a mention to Watson about the injury to his left hand - Reference to Watson’s injury being inconsistent in the Canon
- Sherlock's blog is titled “The Science of Deduction” – exactly named as the chapters from A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of Four
- Sherlock knifing his mails on the mantelpiece – Reference to this line: “..his unanswered correspondence transfixed by a jack-knife into the very centre of his wooden mantelpiece,…” from The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual
- Mrs Hudson: “That’s not decent” in response to Sherlock’s happiness about his latest case – Reference to the line spoken by Watson: “I can hardly think that you would find many decent citizens to agree with you” from The Adventure of the Norwood Builder
- Sherlock: “The game, Mrs Hudson is on!” – Reference to the famous line: “The game is afoot” from The Adventure of the Abbey Grange
- Sherlock explaining his profession to Watson: “..means when the police are out of their depth, which is always, they consult me” – Reference to the line: “When Gregson or Lestrade or Athelney Jones are out of their depths—which, by the way, is their normal state—the matter is laid before me.” from The Sign of Four
- Sherlock making deductions from Watson’s phone – Sherlock Holmes makes a similar deduction about Watson’s watch in The Sign of Four
- Sherlock's deductions about Anderson and Donovan based on the former’s deodorant – Sherlock Holmes makes a deduction based on Beryl Stapleton’s perfume in The Hound of the Baskervilles.
- Lestrade’s reaction to Sherlock’s deductions: “Oh for God’s sake, if you are just making this up…” – Reference to the lines spoken by Watson: “You cannot expect me to believe that you have read all this from his old watch!” and “… and, to speak plainly, has a touch of charlatanism in it.” from The Sign of Four
- Donovan's comment about Sherlock: “He is not paid or anything. He likes it.” – Sherlock Holmes often takes cases without consideration for any kind of compensation in the Canon.
|Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes|
- John hitting on Anthea during the ride to meet Mycroft – Dr
Watson has always been a Ladies Man. He
himself states in The Sign of the Four: “In
an experience of women which extends over many nations and three separate
- Mycroft to Watson: “When one is avoiding the attention of Sherlock Holmes, one learns to be discreet..” – Reference to the line spoken by Sherlock: “One has to be discreet when one talks of high matters of state.” from The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans
- Mycroft's comment about Sherlock: “He does love to be dramatic.” – Reference to Sherlock Holmes’ statement: “..but Watson here will tell you that I never can resist a touch of the dramatic.” from The Adventure of the Naval Treaty
- Sherlock's text to Watson: “..Come at once if inconvenient. If convenient, come anyway. SH” – Reference to the famous message: “Come at once if convenient - if inconvenient come all the same.” from The Adventure of The Creeping Man
- Mycroft’s surveillance on Dr Watson on the streets and having access to his medical records – Reference to the line: “He is the British Government” from The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans
- Mycroft’s deductions about Watson experiencing tremors on his left hand, that Sherlock (seemingly) missed – Sherlock mentions that Mycroft has superior powers of observation and deduction in The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter
- Sherlock enjoying his nicotine patch on the sofa – Reference to this line: “Finally he thrust the sharp point home, pressed down the tiny piston, and sank back into the velvet-lined arm-chair with a long sigh of satisfaction.” from The Sign of Four
- Sherlock: “Breathing’s boring” – References to the lines: “But I abhor the dull routine of existence” and “..existence is commonplace..” from The Sign of Four
- Sherlock: “It’s a three patch problem” – Reference to the line: “It is quite a three pipe problem,…” from The Adventure of the Red-Headed League
- Sherlock describes Mycroft as “The most dangerous man you have ever met” to Watson. - Holmes refers to Colonel Sebastian Moran as “The second most dangerous man in London” from The Adventure of the Empty House
- 22 Northumberland St. – Reference to the Northumberland hotel in The Hound of the Baskervilles
- Sherlock: “I think better when I talk aloud.” – Sherlock Holmes often thinks aloud in many cases, including The Sign of Four, The Valley of Fear and The Boscombe Valley Mystery
- One of Angelo’s employees is named Billy – Reference to Sherlock’s page Billy, who appears in The Valley of Fear, The Problem of Thor Bridge and The Mazarin Stone.
- Sherlock and Watson keeping an eye on the cab - Reference to them following the hansom in The Hound of the Baskervilles
- Watson: “I got the cab number.”– Reference to The Hound of the Baskervilles
|Sherlock and John chasing the taxi|
- Sherlock exhibits his detailed knowledge of London during the taxi chase
- Sherlock to Watson about their surveillance at the restaurant: “It was a long shot anyway” – Reference to this line: “A long shot, Watson; a very long shot!” in The Silver Blaze
- Sherlock to Watson: “I haven’t the faintest…” – Sherlock makes similar statements in The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger and The Valley of Fear
Lestrade’s “drugs bust” at 221 B, Sergeant Donovan discovers some human eyes in
the microwave oven. - Reference to this line stated by Dr Watson in The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual: “Our chambers were
always full of chemicals and of criminal relics, which had a way of wandering
into unlikely positions, and of turning up in the butter-dish, or in even less
- Sherlock claims to be conducting some experiment with the aforementioned human eyes – Reference to this line from The Adventure of the Dying Detective: “His incredible untidiness, his addiction to music at strange hours, his occasional revolver practice within doors, his weird and often malodorous scientific experiments, and the atmosphere of violence and danger which hung around him made him the very worst tenant in London.”
- Sherlock: “In her dying moments…Scratched the name of Rachel on the floor with her fingernails. That must have hurt” – Reference to the victims scratching a message in The Adventure of the Retired Colorman.
- Sherlock to Watson (while trying to figure out why the victim scratched the name on the floor): “Oh, use your imagination.” Watson: “I don’t have to” – Reference to this line spoken by Sherlock Holmes from The Valley of Fear: “It is, I admit, mere imagination; but how often is imagination the mother of truth?”
- Sherlock’s reaction to Lestrade’s suggestion that he probably lost the phone at 221 B Baker Street - “Me.. I did not notice it?” – Reference to Watson’s statement in The Reigate Puzzle: “I was pained at the mistake, for I knew how keenly Holmes would feel any slip of the kind. It was his specialty to be accurate as to fact,….”
- Jeff (the cabby) to Sherlock: “I was warned about you. I have been on your web site too” – Reference to the line written by Irene Adler to Sherlock Holmes from A Scandal in Bohemia: “I had been warned against you months ago.. And your address had been given to me.”
- Jeff (the cabby) to Sherlock: “You know every street in London” – Reference to Sherlock having extensive knowledge of London
- Jeff (the cabby) to Sherlock: “You are just a man. And there is so much more than that. An organization.” – Reference to Professor Moriarty's line in The Final Problem: “You stand in the way not merely of an individual but of a mighty organization, the full extent of which you, with all your cleverness, have been unable to realize.”
- Mycroft to Sherlock: “So another case
cracked. How public spirited. But that’s never your motivation, is it?” – Reference to this exchange from The Adventure of the Red-Headed League - Holmes: “My life is spent in one long effort to escape from the commonplaces of
existence. These little problems help me to do so.”. Watson: “And you are a
benefactor of the race.” Holmes: “Well, perhaps, after all, it is of some
- Sherlock about Mycroft: “He is the British Government” – Sherlock makes the same statement in The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans
- Sherlock to Mycroft: “I never guess” – Reference to the line: “I never guess. It is a shocking habit,—destructive to the logical faculty.” from The Sign of Four
- One of the victims is a young man named James Phillimore – Reference to this line: “Among these unfinished tales is that of Mr. James Phillimore, who, stepping back into his own house to get his umbrella, was never more seen in this world.” from The Problem of Thor Bridge (Credit to Loveable Freak for pointing this out)
- Another victim named Beth Davenport – A character by the name J. Davenport responds to Mycroft Holmes’ advertisement in The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter
I welcome the readers to add any other nods that I might have missed.
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