New Years Day this year had the series premiere of Sherlock series 4 on BBC with 8.1 Mil viewers. The novel series written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, is one of the most recreated than any other work of art in history, including the Guinness World Record for “most portrayed human movie character”, with more than 70 actors playing the part in over 200 films. Everyone knows who Sherlock Holmes is, but why is he still this popular?
First appearing in print in 1887 in A Study in Scarlet, the character’s popularity became widespread with the first series of short stories in The Strand Magazine, beginning with A Scandal in Bohemia, eventually totaling four novels and 56 short stories. All but one are set in the Victorian or Edwardian periods, taking place between about 1880 to 1914. Most are narrated by Dr. Watson, Holmes’s friend and associate, who usually accompanies Holmes during his investigations and often shares quarters with him at the address of 221B Baker Street, London.
Sherlock was instantly popular, partially because he might have been the first serialized character in history. That is, a character who appears in multiple works, instead of new stories featuring new characters entirely.
He Is No Longer Elementary
Sherlock Holmes has been played and portrayed so much over the years, that it seems for every person you know, they might have their own unique definitive version of Sherlock. Even in the past decade, we have had BBC’s Sherlock, Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law’s movies, the CBS tv show Elementary, and there is no denying that the TV shows Psych and House are obviously based on our favorite super sleuth.
There is even a convention, 221B Con, held in Atlanta, Georgia every year, across a 3-day weekend, where fans from all over come to celebrate with others their Sherlockian love.
Sherlock Holmes has never stopped being popular, and I imagine will never stop being popular. He is one of the greatest characters ever created, and will continue to influence the human race for as long as we are around.
Why is Sherlock so appealing? Why do we love him so? Well as Sir Arthur put it “It always annoyed me how in the old-fashioned detective story, the detective always seemed to get at his results either by some sort of lucky chance or fluke or else it was quite unexplained [how he got there],” Doyle said in 1927. “I began to think of turning scientific methods, as it were, onto the work of detection.” This isn’t just your usual detective or police procedural, these stories are about the peak of human intelligence and focus. It shows that without doing anything necessarily inhuman, he is able to accomplish feats that make him the greatest mind in the world. He doesn’t necessarily use computers, he just surrounds himself with tools and utilities to accomplish his goals, and doesn’t let himself get sidetracked by “living.” He knows what is important to each situation, and what isn’t, and does something that we could all do. It does seem that he has a natural talent for it, but if we all tried, we could become the real life Sherlock Holmes.