The game is afoot!
When Arthur Conan Doyle first published The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in 1892, he could not have imagined the success and notoriety that his title character would experience over the next centuries. The detective genius was originally written into four novels and a whopping 56 short stories...but that number pales in comparison to the number of movies the fictional character has starred in since his creation – 250 and counting! In fact, Guinness World Records crowned him as the most portrayed literary character in film and television history over a decade ago! With quick wit, dry humor, and uncanny ability to deduce the past, present, and future, Holmes is a character that can draw anyone into his – or her! - next mystery.
In honor of Sherlock Holmes Day, we’re breaking out the old smoking pipe and magnifying glass as we look at some of our favorite sleuthing portrayals over the decades!
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1984-1994)
In the late Victorian era, Sherlock Holmes is the world's only consulting detective. His ability to spot clues easily overlooked by others, bring certain specialist knowledge — for example chemistry, botany, anatomy – and deductive reasoning to bear on problems enable him to solve the most complex cases. He is assisted in his work by military veteran Dr. John Watson, with whom he shares rooms at 221B Baker Street. The series was broadcast on the ITV network in the UK and starred Jeremy Brett as Holmes. Watson was played by David Burke in the first series (Adventures) and by Edward Hardwicke from the second series (Return) onwards. Brett’s portrayal remains very popular and is accepted by many as the definitive on-screen version of Holmes. Watson is portrayed as a competent associate, as in Conan Doyle's stories.
Sherlock Holmes (2009); A Game of Shadows (2011)
In 1890 London, private detective Sherlock Holmes and his partner Dr. John Watson prevent the ritualistic murder of a woman by Lord Henry Blackwood, who has killed five other young women in a similar manner. Blackwood, who claims to have supernatural powers, has been sentenced to death and requests to see Holmes, warning him of three more unstoppable deaths that will cause great changes to the world. Here, Holmes is an eccentric action hero, complete with elaborate fight scenes. A personal favorite, Robert Downey Jr.’s chaotic energy and difficulty reading social situations is undeniably endearing—especially played against the steady and ever-so loyal presence of Jude Law as our beloved Watson.
Sherlock is a British mystery crime drama television series based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes detective stories. Staring Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman as Doctor John Watson, Sherlock depicts the consulting detective solving various mysteries in modern-day London. Holmes is assisted by his flat mate and friend, Dr. John Watson, who has returned from military service in Afghanistan with the Royal Army Medical Corps. Although Metropolitan Police Service Detective Inspector Greg Lestrade and others are suspicious of Holmes at first, over time, his exceptional intellect and bold powers of observation persuade them of his value. In part through Watson's blog documenting their adventures, Holmes becomes a reluctant celebrity with the press reporting on his cases and eccentric personal life. Both ordinary people and the British government ask for his help.
Holmes & Watson (2018)
Holmes & Watson is a 2018 mystery comedy film starring the comedic duo, Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. The plot follows the famed detective duo as they set out to find the culprit behind a threat at Buckingham Palace.
Enola Holmes (2020)
The women behind the Holmes name made an appearance on screen in 2020 with Enola Holmes, a mystery film based on the first book in the young adult fiction series by Nancy Springer. The story is about the teenage sister of the already-famous Sherlock Holmes, who travels to London to find her missing mother but ends up on a thrilling adventure, pairing up with a runaway lord as they attempt to solve a mystery that threatens the entire country. Millie Bobby Brown stars as the title character, while also serving as a producer on the film. Henry Cavill (as Sherlock Holmes), Sam Claflin, and Helena Bonham Carter also star.
Check out our limited-edition Pretty Painted Classics version of The Return of Sherlock Holmes here!