ByMax Farrow, writer at
Fanatical film-watcher, Hill-walker, Writer and Biscuit Connoisseur. Follow me on Twitter: @Farrow91 or on Facebook: @maxfarrowwriter
Max Farrow

Sherlock Holmes: everybody knows him. 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. Certainly Holmes is known for his infamous declaration that:

“...when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth...”

Indeed, these kind of exchanges have continued throughout their many incarnations. And they are definitely prevalent in Sherlock, the BBC’s critically acclaimed adaptation. Not only do and get to dole out the sass, but the show’s stellar supporting cast get involved as well!

So sleuth on down, to discover the best quotes from the series!

19.“I don’t shave for Sherlock Holmes. - "You should put that on a t-shirt.”

Said by: John & Mary Watson

Facial hair: you either love it or you hate it. Following his resurrection, we discover that Sherlock is in the latter camp, and consequently, John’s whiskers soon meet their demise. John’s stubborn insistence that Sherlock’s opinion didn’t sway him (it clearly did) results in some teasing from Mary (Amanda Abbingdon), who can’t help but make fun of him. And it’s even funnier now, because you can actually get a t-shirt emblazoned with his refusal.

18. "Don't let it get to you. I always feel like screaming when you walk into a room. In fact, so do most people."

Said by: Inspector Greg Lestrade

As we’ll see soon enough, there are many times when the titular detective is extremely rude or frustrating to his friends. 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.

17. “I'm not dead, let's have dinner."

Said by: Irene Adler

We’re treated to extraordinary situations and captivating characters throughout Sherlock. Indeed, apart from extroverted super villains and shadowy organisations, there are several instances where dead characters are revealed to be still alive.

Clearly this is business as usual for people like Irene Adler (the compelling Lara Pulver), which is demonstrated by her cool and nonchalant sarcasm. In real life, we’d probably react more like John does in "The Empty Hearse" - his initial shock soon gives way to rage at being put through an emotional wringer for nothing.

16. “Dear God, what is it like in your funny little brains? It must be so boring!”

Said by: Sherlock Holmes

Insulting? Check. Boasting of their own intelligence? Check. The kind of thing a drama queen would say? Double check. Did Sherlock say it? Yes, you bet he did. And lets be honest, he says the same sort of thing numerous times throughout the series as well!

[Credit: BBC]
[Credit: BBC]

15. “Yes, thank you for your input.”

Said by: Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock is not only a wildly entertaining show; it’s also an educational one for how to act in social situations (not really!).

Is someone bothering you at home or at work? Are they involving themselves in your business, or are they just spouting rubbish? Then here’s a handy method for shutting them down. All this method requires is 1x sardonic delivery and preferably 1x door to shut in their face. Alternatively, if this is occurring online, then here’s a handy GIF for your use on comment sections:

[Credit: BBC]
[Credit: BBC]

14. “All lives end; all hearts are broken. Caring is not an advantage, Sherlock.”

Said by: Mycroft Holmes

At some point everyone’s going to suffer when someone they love spurns them or dies. It’s not fair, but it’s what being human is all about. Deep stuff, for sure, but Mycroft (Mark Gatiss) and Sherlock would rather not deal with it.

The Holmes brothers prize their detachment and intelligence above all else, and Mycroft’s words cut to the core of why they choose to remain unemotional – they believe it makes them stronger. Of course, as we discover in the fourth series, there are certain events that directly forced them to come to this conclusion...

13. "In a world of locked rooms the man with the key is king. And honey, you should see me in a crown.”

Said by: James Moriarty

Wild, garrulous and absolutely dangerous, Moriarty (the brilliant ) is fully aware of just who he is and what he role he plays in Sherlock, without ever breaking the fourth wall. Indeed, he even says earlier in the same conversation that:

“Every fairytale needs a good old-fashioned villain.”

And Moriarty's scenes demonstrate just how willing he is to play this part. 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.

[Credit: BBC]
[Credit: BBC]

12. “A nice murder. That’ll cheer you up.”

Said by: Mrs Martha Hudson

One of Sherlock’s greatest talents is that he is able to notice the things that no one else can, and rather fittingly, and Mark Gatiss’s deft writing mimics its protagonist’s proficiency.

Mrs Hudson may be referring to Sherlock’s unusual tastes and tendencies, but the quote could easily be applied to us as well. Certainly, we all take a lot of enjoyment from crime dramas, thrillers and action movies which very often involve homicide, so in a way, we’re no different from a certain consulting detective!

11. “I’m not a psychopath, Anderson. I’m a high-functioning sociopath. Do your research.”

Said by: Sherlock Holmes

This is one of the more famous of Sherlock’s quotes from the series, and it’s instantly memorable. Quick fire, dismissive, and objectionable, which are very fitting for the character who spoke it. And it’s a great instance of Anderson-bashing: a hilarious hobby of Holmes’s which sadly diminished as the series progressed.

[Credit: BBC]
[Credit: BBC]

10. Sherlock on Suicide

“Taking your own life.’ Interesting expression - taking it from who? Once it's over, it's not you who'll miss it. Your own death is something that happens to everybody else. Your life is not your own. Keep your hands off it.”

Said by: Sherlock Holmes

This is the most sombre and thought-provoking of Sherlock quotes, originating in the best episode of its final series. "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. In short, as Inspector Lestrade says:

[Credit: BBC]
[Credit: BBC]

See Also:

9. “I’m in shock. Look- I’ve got a blanket!”

Said by: Sherlock Holmes

In complete contrast with Sherlock’s aforementioned heady themes, the show cannot resist delving into the silliness of Sherlock and co., with very funny results. 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 a only a bed sheet, and Sherlock is also seen taking refuge in his covers following his drugging at the hands of Irene Adler (Lara Pulver). And then there’s that cape-like coat of course. And who can blame him? Beds are brilliant, and his coat is so damn cool!

8. “Don't reply, just look frightened and scuttle.”

Said by: Mycroft Holmes

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. And yet again, Sherlock provides us with another usable line for those times in your life when you’re not feeling that talkative.

7. How To Treat Your Friends, by Culverton Smith

“What's the very worst thing you can do to your very best friends? Tell them your darkest secret. Because, if you tell them, and they decide they'd rather not know, you can't take it back, you can't unsay it. Once you've opened your heart, you can't close it again.”

Said by: Culverton Smith

Culverton 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. 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.

6. “Ooh, you bastard!”

Said by: Inspector Greg Lestrade

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.

5. “People leave their bodies to science. I think cannibals would be so much more grateful.”

Said by: James Moriarty

Here’s another showcase of Moriarty at his wittiest, and most introspective. And heck, it’s not the most ethical of statements but he may have a point. Super villains are nothing if not economical with resources.

4. “Marriage changes you as a person in ways that you can't imagine." - "So does lethal injection.”

Said by: Mrs Martha Hudson and Sherlock Holmes

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. Needless to say, with this acerbic comeback, Sherlock is a tad cynical about matrimony.

[Credit: BBC]
[Credit: BBC]

3. “It’s OK." - "It’s not OK." - "No, but it is what it is.”

Said by: John Watson and Sherlock Holmes

As the fourth series of Sherlock explored, life can be pretty hard and rubbish sometimes. At some point you’re going to feel better, and you’ll eventually overcome the adversity, but that doesn’t mean that you aren’t allowed to feel rotten. As Sherlock comforts John, he reminds us all that, at the end of the day, it’s OK to not feel OK.

2. “I always hear 'punch me in the face' when you're speaking, but it's usually sub-text.”

Said by: John Watson

He may get overshadowed by Sherlock’s intellect, and occasionally sidestep to accommodate Sherlock’s many foibles, but John himself is a dab hand at one liners when he wants to be. So, like Lestrade, when odd moments like this crop up, John is ready to fire back at his firm -yet highly irritating- friend.

1. "Don't make people into heroes, John. Heroes don't exist and if they did I wouldn't be one of them."

Said by: Sherlock Holmes

And last, but certainly not least, we have this one! 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 demeanour doesn’t conform to our ideas of heroism, but ultimately he sells himself short. Considering how many criminals he’s caught, and how many people he has indirectly saved, lots of people and fans would disagree with Sherlock.

[Credit: BBC]
[Credit: BBC]

So there we have a selection of the top quotes from the BBC's Sherlock! 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. But as the writers have said, series 5 is always a possibility, so you never know...the time may come for "Sherlockians" when the game is on, once again!

Did your favorite make the list? Or is there another one that you think ought to be here? Let us know in the comments below!


Latest from our Creators