Around this time ten years ago, Sherlock first aired on the BBC. Written by duo Mark Gatiss and Stephen Moffat (who was also showrunner of the other BBC flagship Doctor Who at the time), it struck a nerve with younger and older generations alike, sparking a huge internet fandom and receiving praise from critics all over the world. Unsurprisingly, Sherlock wasn’t even the only Sherlock Holmes adaptation available in the 2010s – next to the BBC version, fans also enjoyed the Guy Ritchie films starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law and another modern version with CBS’s Elementary. It is still considered one of the most popular modern approaches, which is why we’re looking back on the 10 best moments from the four seasons, celebrating 10 years on the screen.
1. Sherlock’s introduction in “A Study in Pink”
A lot of things about the pilot are amazing, but how Sherlock is introduced to the audience – upside down, peering into a body bag – sets the tone for the entire series. As the scene leads into Sherlock and John Watson meeting for the first time, we get to witness the brilliance of not only Sherlock as a character but also at how great the series is at storytelling with its visual cues.
2. The entirety of “The Abominable Bride”
The 2016 New Year’s special celebrated everything the audience loves about Victorian Sherlock – streets with fog and gaslights, dapper suits, and even more nods to the original stories than the modern setting. The story was beautifully filmed and told, especially how it ended up being connected to the actual series.
3. The plot twist at the end of “The Great Game,” leading into “A Scandal In Belgravia”
Moriarty (played brilliantly by Andrew Scott) is revealed after being present in each episode. His connection to Sherlock (and Molly) was intriguing. It concludes an episode where the audience is constantly challenged, questioning their own theories, and even for a short time suspecting John or Mycroft behind the morbid games played with Sherlock and the innocent civilians. It is a perfectly orchestrated scene and makes Moriarty just as important to the show as its heroes.
4. Irene Adler
Need I say more than Laura Pulver? The way she embodied Irene Adler is one for the history books. Irene’s charm, coyness, and vulnerability make this one of my favorite performances in modern television. It was a greatly constructed episode, with the code on her phone weaving itself through the whole episode as a guide and then making an appearance in the final scene. “A Scandal In Belgravia” is a perfect match following the pacing of “The Great Game,” introducing a completely different and unique way of telling a story.
5. John’s mustache
Because why wouldn’t this be on this list? “Are you going to … keep it?” Sherlock pointing to John’s face will make you laugh not matter how often you’ve watched the episode.
6. Sherlock revealing his very-much alive-ness to John in “The Empty Hearse”
If we’re going to acknowledge the mustache, we also have to acknowledge the scene in which it is discussed, namely the restaurant scene in the series three premiere. The whole episode featured many explanations on how Sherlock had survived his fall from St. Bart’s rooftop in “The Reichenbach Fall,” but the scene in which he reveals himself to John is funny, heartbreaking, and wonderful at the same time. The emotion on John’s face, the anger he feels, the way Sherlock is completely taken aback that someone could be angry at their best friend faking their death – it was perfection.
7. The final act of “The Lying Detective”
“The Lying Detective” is an intense journey that goes so deep you don’t even see the many layers on your first watch. If you say you weren’t were on the edge of the seat in the final minutes, you would be lying, because you were probably busy yelling at the screen. The revelation of the third Holmes, a theory many fans had for a while, was even more amazing than anyone ever expected.
8. The clues in “The Great Game”
It’s no secret that one of the things that makes great stories great are their villains, and Sherlock has one of the best ones. Moriarty’s game, the way he uses Sherlock’s weaknesses and mirrors him as a character at the same time is a great example of the astonishing storytelling in the show. Seeing Moriarty sit on the throne in the tower, balancing the literal Crown Jewels on his head (the “No rush!” alone), is iconic to this day.
9. Sherlock’s best man speech in “The Sign Of Three”
What fans love about this scene is the character development Sherlock showed compared to the previous seasons. While he has always proven that he is not void of emotions, he kept them close to himself most of the show. However, one of the reasons viewers love Cumberbatch’s performance of Sherlock so much is because of how he manages to show this ambivalence of Sherlock’s character between the level-headed clear-thinker and the person who never felt such affection (platonic or not) for another human being.
10. The ending of Sherlock – so far
To this day we don’t know whether we’ll get another series of the show. After three years and both leads taking on huge careers in Hollywood, it seems more and more unlikely. So if we consider “The Final Problem” the last Sherlock episode, it’s a fair ending. In the last scene we see Sherlock and John in 221B Baker Street, distraught and destroyed by the events of the episode, but a hopeful outlook remains when we see them rebuilding their old life. The pair staying together throughout all of this is, after all, the quintessence of the whole show and the story.
What are your favorite moments from Sherlock?