Best Sherlock Lines

Maria Johnson
• Sunday, 22 November, 2020
• 8 min read

Director Toby Haynes Fans of BBC’s Sherlock can easily agree that one of the most wonderful things about the series is the banter between characters.

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This one is pretty self-explanatory, and at the same time, it’s got that Sherlock snark we’ve all grown to love. When Military tells him he’s too ordinary…on the side of angels, this is Sherlock’s (perfect) response.

This quote came at a bit of an awkward conversational moment between John and Sherlock. Trying to find out if Sherlock was dating, John asked if he had a girlfriend.

When he responded that it wasn’t really his area, John asked if he had a boyfriend. Some fans still ship the two, but it’s probably best to find fan fiction to read if you’re looking for their love story.

Even if you aren’t a fan, chances are you’ve seen this quote on t-shirts or blogs and wanted to figure out the meaning behind it. Turns out, the quote comes from Banter with Mary about that infamous mustache.

This is how we picture John when he had that row with the machine, and we understand his frustration 100%. He investigates crimes, he’s not scared of a good murder, it makes his brain tic instead.

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The truth is, at the end of each Sherlock episode you watch, you could pick out a line or two that just stick. Writers quote Sherlock Holmes almost every day in the newspapers and online.

This page now lists the top 10 most famous quotations from the Holmes stories. While some sayings go in and out of style, these passages have stood the test of time.

Click on a phrase in the above table to see more information about that quotation, including the source and some context. Scores reflect both fame and longevity as noted in this explanation of the Stock Scale for Quotation Popularity.

Quotations that have been popular for a long time, and that are well-known in both the U.S. and Britain, receive higher scores. The following passages come from the 1,122-page single-volume Doubleday edition of The Complete Sherlock Holmes.

However, Bartlett's and Oxford sometimes include slightly longer or shorter phrases in their various editions. Sherlock Holmes never said “Elementary, my dear Watson” in any of the stories by Conan Doyle.

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“It is one of those instances where the reasoner can produce an effect which seems remarkable to his neighbor, because the latter has missed the one little point which is the basis of the deduction. The same may be said, my dear fellow, for the effect of some of these little sketches of yours, which is entirely meretricious, depending as it does upon your retaining in your own hands some factors in the problem which are never imparted to the reader.

This quotation appears in nearly identical phrases in at least five Holmes stories. While technically tied with the next passage, it's ranked second because early editions of the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations included multiple appearances of this phrase.

The pressure of public opinion can do in the town what the law cannot accomplish. There is no lane so vile that the scream of a tortured child, or the thud of a drunkard's blow, does not beget sympathy and indignation among the neighbors, and then the whole machinery of justice is ever so close that a word of complaint can set it going, and there is but a step between the crime and the dock.

But look at these lonely houses, each in its own fields, filled for the most part with poor ignorant folk who know little of the law. Under such circumstances I naturally gravitated to London, that great cesspool into which all the loungers and idlers of the Empire are irresistibly drained.

There I stayed for some time at a private hotel in the Strand, leading a comfortless, meaningless existence, and spending such money as I had, considerably more freely than I ought.” It was not that he felt any emotion akin to love for Irene Adler.

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All emotions and that one particularly, were abhorrent to his cold, precise but admirably balanced mind. He was, I take it, the most perfect reasoning and observing machine that the world has seen.... And yet there was but one woman to him, and that woman was the late Irene Adler, of dubious and questionable memory.

At this moment there was a loud ring at the bell, and I could hear Mrs. Hudson, our landlady, raising her voice in a wail of expostulation and dismay. As he spoke, there came a swift pattering of naked feet upon the stairs, a clatter of high voices, and in rushed a dozen dirty and ragged little street Arabs.

One of their number, taller and older than the others, stood forward with an air of lounging superiority which was very funny in such a disreputable little scarecrow. She looked back at us from the door, and I had a last impression of that beautiful haunted face, the startled eyes, and the drawn mouth.

“Now, Watson, the fair sex is your department, ” said Holmes, with a smile, when the dwindling froufrou of skirts had ended in the slam of the front door. Colonel Ross still wore an expression which showed the poor opinion which he had formed of my companion's ability, but I saw by the inspector's face that his attention had been keenly aroused.

Over 125 years after his creation, Sherlock Holmes remains the most popular fictional detective in history. Arthur Conan Doyle is best known for the 60 stories he wrote about Sherlock Holmes.

His body of work includes nearly 200 novels, short stories, poems, historical books and pamphlets. Which means that if you’re interested in English Literature at A Level or higher it’s time to gain a better understanding.

Here Shakespeare links alliterative nouns in ‘neither rhyme nor reason’ and attempts a little Latin comedy while he’s at it; in fact, it wouldn’t be out of place on TV today. Poor Promo, confused as to why he is beaten, angers his master Antiphons even more by asking for a reason.

An expression you might have heard on countless occasions and wrongly presumed to be a reference to another writer of note, Charles Dickens. But in fact it was penned by the Bard of Avon, who meant something quite different when he wrote the line in Act 3, Scene 2 for his fictional Mrs.

This quote is by Macbeth to himself (the classic Shakespeare soliloquy) he is asking the stars to hide their light so that no one will be able to see the dark desires he has inside him. To put it in context, Malcolm is now the prince of Cumberland and Macbeth must decide whether to step over him to become king or just give up.

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