Best Sherlock Insults

Maria Garcia
• Sunday, 22 November, 2020
• 9 min read

That's no revelation, but with Steven Moat and Mark Gates' hugely successful 21st Century re-imagining of the legendary detective's adventures there's one aspect of the man's nature they've fleshed out and ran with further than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ever did his ability to insult or belittle anyone and everyone around him. Offered up mostly in moments of frustration, his cutting jibes range from savage to hilarious, and nobody is safe from criticism be it his motherly landlady Mrs. Hudson or his best friend and partner in crime-solving John Watson.

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In fact, with the digs coming so thick and fast it's a wonder Sherlock's circle of friends has grown rather than shrunk in the four years since he arrived at our screens. Marking his imperfect protagonist out as rude and disagreeable as early as possible, Sherlock at the first crime scene the audience are invited to belittles the intelligence of the two men whom he can eventually consider friends.

It's also a crucial moment in the audience identification of Sherlock's character he's completely immodest regarding his abilities, and very much considers himself a God among men (but at least he's savagely funny in pointing it out). For all its rudeness and profanity, this line is met with some semblance of a warm response, as it comes after a rather ill-timed denigration of the concept of marriage and is swiftly followed by a very moving and affectionate tribute to the union of John and Mary he's using his own faults to highlight John's strengths as a human being in an episode that's essentially a 90-minute tribute to the role of Dr. Watson in Sherlock's adventures.

Crafting the perfect comeback is tough, but if you have Netflix you already have the best training tool: Sherlock. After you study under Sherlock Holmes, master of the biting retort, you'll never be at a lost for words again.

John: We’ve only just met, and we’re going to go and look at a flat? Sherlock : I know you’re an Army doctor, and you’ve been invalided home from Afghanistan.

You’ve got a brother worried about you, but you won’t go to him for help, because you don’t approve of him, possibly because he’s an alcoholic, more likely because he recently walked out on his wife, and I know your therapist thinks your limp’s psychosomatic, quite correctly, I’m afraid. The name is Sherlock Holmes, and the address is 221B baker street.

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How not to make your friends feel special: Mrs Hudson: It’s a disgrace, sending your little brother into danger like that.

Look, it doesn’t matter to me who’s Prime Minister, or who’s sleeping with whom– John Watson: Or that the earth goes around the sun. Sherlock : Listen: This is my hard-drive, and it only makes sense to put things in there that are useful.

Irene: No, I think you’re damaged, delusional and believe in a higher power. And somebody loves you… Oh, if I had to punch that face, I’d avoid your nose and teeth too.

John Watson: Could you put something on please, anything at all… a napkin? Sherlock : I don’t think John knows where to look.

Anderson: Now look, whatever you’re implying- Sherlock Holmes: I’m not implying anything. I’m sure Sally came round for a nice little chat, and just happened to stay over.

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Box Office Manager: Actually I have three in that name. Sherlock : And then I phoned back and got one for myself as well.

What’s your favorite Sherlock quote? The wily detective and his faithful friend, Dr John Watson, have pounded the pavements of pop-culture for over a century, and their popularity shows no signs of slowing down.

The intricately plotted tales and compelling characters have captured the hearts of millions of readers and viewers, but it's the quick wit and amazing quotes of Sherlock & Watson that have proved to be the main draw. When they aren’t hailing hansom carriages and ending evil plots, Holmes and Watson can be found having snippy and meditative conversations.

“...when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth...” Indeed, these kinds of exchanges have continued throughout their many incarnations. John’s stubborn insistence that Sherlock’s opinion didn’t sway him (it clearly did) results in some teasing from Mary (Amanda Abingdon), who can’t help but make fun of him.

Though Lestrade (Rupert Graves) is one of Sherlock’s closest companions, when a little girl screams at the mere sight of the famous sleuth, he can’t let an opportunity for ribaldry pass him by. Indeed, apart from extroverted super villains and shadowy organizations, there are several instances where dead characters are revealed to be still alive.

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Certainly, the featured quote says everything about the show’s main antagonist: his lack of inhibitions, through to his intelligence, his manipulating nature, his designs on positions of power, and of course his flamboyance, which contrasts with the very uptight Sherlock. One of Sherlock’s greatest talents is that he is able to notice the things that no one else can, and rather fittingly, #StephenMoffat and Mark Gates’s deft writing mimics its protagonist’s proficiency.

And it’s a great instance of Anderson-bashing: a hilarious hobby of Holmes’s which sadly diminished as the series progressed. “The Lying Detective” mulls heavily on the themes of grief and death, but these words encapsulate everything about the importance and preciousness of life.

Here Sherlock reminds us to consider that, if we’re feeling down and contemplating ending it all, there’s always something or someone worth living for, as well as someone or something who’ll suffer if you go through with it. Though Sherlock quickly discards his shock blanket soon after he evades Lestrade’s questions, he does have an attachment to quilts of all kinds.

A few episodes after this one we find him in Buckingham Palace wearing an only a bedsheet, and Sherlock is also seen taking refuge in his covers following his drugging at the hands of Irene Adler (Lara Puller). It becomes very clear throughout Sherlock that the shadowy Mycroft is essentially a nastier version of the titular detective.

Lazier, shadier, though no less dramatic, Mycroft lets a series of icy threats fly against Sherlock’s fans in a particularly mean yet bad-ass moment nonetheless. Once you've opened your heart, you can't close it again.” Culvert on Smith (Toby Jones) may only get one episode to shine, but he leaves a potent and lasting impression as a sadistic and repulsive individual who uses his power and influence to go on a killing spree.

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But it’s his sickening logic, and his insight into human interactions which make him a villain formidable enough to verbally spar with our favorite detective. It may be a quote that doesn’t necessarily scream that it’s from this particular series, but it’s from a rather lovely, overlooked moment in the show.

Two years after faking his death, Sherlock returns to London and unveils himself to John, and in this case, Lestrade. It’s a perfect delivery from Rupert Graves, and a fitting reaction for this fan-favorite character, showcasing his annoyance and his happiness at his friend’s wily rug pull.

Mrs Hudson is another beloved character, who is a surprisingly kick-ass mother figure to the Baker Street Boys. Hoping to discuss John’s upcoming nuptials, Mrs Hudson tries to offer some friendly advice.

So, like Lestrade, when odd moments like this crop up, John is ready to fire back at his firm -yet highly irritating- friend. The brilliance of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle writing is that, for all of Sherlock Holmes’s superhuman qualities, he is painted as a flawed and very human character.

Here, Sherlock acknowledges that his icy demeanor doesn’t conform to our ideas of heroism, but ultimately he sells himself short. If it truly has run its course, as lots of fans are now presuming, then the world of television will be poorer without this show's its slick and sizeable portions of sass and stimulating conversations.

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