"In solving a problem of this sort, the grand thing is to be able to reason backwards. That is a very useful accomplishment, and a very easy one, but people do not practise it much. In the every-day affairs of life it is more useful to reason forwards, and so the other comes to be neglected. There are fifty who can reason synthetically for one who can reason analytically...Let me see if I can make it clearer. Most people, if you describe a train of events to them, will tell you what the result would be. They can put those events together in their minds, and argue from them that something will come to pass. There are few people, however, who, if you told them a result, would be able to evolve from their own inner consciousness what the steps were which led up to that result. This power is what I mean when I talk of reasoning backwards, or analytically."
Sherlock Holmes Quote
-A Study in Scarlet
-Chapter 7 - Conclusion
Sherlock is possibly one of the most genius shows that the BBC has ever produced and that makes Sherlock himself one of the biggest geniuses on TV. Whilst Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of Sherlock is interesting on many levels it is his many deductions, both arbitrary and important, that make the character and show what it is.
In this chapter I want to introduce to you to the deduction skills and methods of Sherlock Holmes in the series of BBC one. Here we see the best of the deductions Sherlock made during the series.
9. Initial Analysis Of Watson
Martin Freeman Sherlock
This deduction is absolutely essential to this list. This is the first time that we meet Sherlock and get to see his brain in action. He stuns his potential housemate, John Watson, into silence by asking him whether he has served in Afghanistan or Iraq. He goes on to describe intimate details of John’s life. These include his strained relationship with his estranged brother, the breakdown of his brother’s marriage because of his alcoholism and the fact that his limp is psychosomatic.
The ways in which he deduces these things is, in typical Sherlock style, brilliant in the simplicity of it. John has tan line on his hands with no tan below the wrist. This tells Sherlock that he has recently been abroad but working not on holiday. His stance as he entered the room and his mannerisms tell Sherlock that he is a military man and this leads to ‘Afghanistan or Iraq’, for example.
Of course, Sherlock does make one mistake. John’s ‘brother’ is actually John’s lesbian sister. She is an alcoholic, however, and her relationship did break down. The mistake only serves to make Sherlock seem vaguely human and this scene is one of the most striking character introductions in TV.
8. 1st Crime Scene Investigation
Sherlock Season 1 1 A Study In Pink
Later on in the first episode, A Study in Scarlet, we get to see Sherlock take on his first crime scene investigation. This scene really does have everything. We see Sherlock’s trademark arrogance as he strolls into the middle of a police investigation and demands time alone with the body. Then he begins deducing and works out almost everything about the victim. Her job, her family history, her infidelity.
Again the ways in which he works this all out is genius. The trim of her coat is damp but it hasn’t rained in London, Sherlock checks the forecast and figures out she has come from Cardiff. She had a suitcase with her due to the specks of dirt up the back of one leg.
There is even time for a laugh in this scene as Sherlock ridicules Anderson for suggesting that the word Rache, that the victim carved into the floor with her fingernails is meant to be the German word for revenge.
7. Sherlock’s Knowledge Of London
Towards the climax of the episode John and Sherlock chase a taxi through the streets of London. They are someway behind the taxi when they begin their chase but by the end they have managed to catch up with it.
In this scene, we get to see Sherlock’s mind laid out on a map of London. The alternate routes of the taxi and the two men, is mapped out as an overlay to images of John and Sherlock running after the car. This serves to show us Sherlock’s incredible memory as well as his encyclopaedic knowledge of the streets of London.
Both of these traits are integral to the character of Sherlock and so this scene becomes an integral piece of character development. The theme of Sherlock’s knowledge of London is revisited time and again throughout the show and this is where it all begins.
6. Van Coon Was Murdered
Van Coon Murdered
Moving into the second episode of series one brings us to one of my favourite deductions in this list. Sherlock’s deductions are at their best when they make us, as viewers; believe that we could do the same thing if we put our mind to it. They are so simple that you find yourself realising that you do the same thing.
In this episode Sherlock visits the apartment of a banker called Van coon. The police believe that he has shot himself but Sherlock is adamant that he was murdered. He comes to this conclusion by deducing that he was left handed and therefore could not have shot himself from the right angle.
Sherlock looks around his apartment and notices that all his items, such as coffee tables and mugs, are on the left hand side and so this tells him his hand preference. Sherlock mentions the fact that his electrical plugs are all on the left hand side. At this point I looked round and, sure enough, my plug sockets where all on the right hand side (my stronger hand). That is what makes this deduction so brilliant.
5. The Vermeer Is A Fake
Vermeer Sherlock Fake
This deduction is on this list for a completely different reason. It is just completely random and no ‘normal’ person could ever solve it. This just underlies the brilliance of Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock is called in, as part of Moriarty’s game, to investigate a body that has washed up on the shore of the Thames. After a short investigation of the body Sherlock states that the lost Vermeer painting that has been found in London is a fake.
This deduction seems completely ridiculous as it is such a random conclusion to come to from the corpse of a, seemingly unrelated, dead man. However, once Sherlock explains it does begin to make sense. The man has ticket stubs in his pocket from the National Gallery. This tells Sherlock that he works there as he did not have full tickets. Sherlock knows of an assassin that has been in the area and this convinces him that the man had found out something that he shouldn’t have done.7
This is the opposite end of the spectrum as this deduction is far from simple. However, it is still equally brilliant and deserving of a place on this list.
4. The Queen Smokes
This is definitely one of the more zany deductions in Sherlock. In the first episode of the second series Sherlock and Watson are summoned to Buckingham Palace by Mycroft Holmes to aid in the acquisition of lost state secrets. Sherlock memorably refuses to dress as Mycroft will not tell him who the client is.
Even more memorable though, is the deduction that Sherlock carries out whilst sitting in the Palace. In short, the Queen smokes. He notices the ashtrays around the place and realises that the Queen’s chief of staff does not smoke. This leads him to deduce that it must be Her Majesty herself who has the smoking habit. This is certainly one of the more amusing Sherlock moments!
3. Irene Adler’s Safe Code
If there’s any woman who has ever got Sherlock hot under the collar then it is Irene Adler. You will remember Irene as the naked one from series two. She certainly knows how to make an entrance and she even succeeded in getting Sherlock a little smitten. But there was more to her nakedness than initially met the eye.
This was her way of giving Sherlock the code for her safe. As she told John before climbing out of the window, it was her measurements. This deduction is chosen, purely because it makes Sherlock seem almost human. He may be a sociopathic genius but he still notices the figure of a woman.
This is also true for Sherlock’s deduction, later in the episode, that Irene Adler was aroused by him and it wasn’t all for effect. This seems impossible to know but Sherlock reveals that he could read it via her pulse.
2. Major Barrymore’s Password
This deduction is significant just because it is something that we all wish we could do. We’ve all been there. Either you’re trying to log in to your friends Facebook in order to leave a rude message on their wall or you’re trying to crack their iPhone passcode to take funny pictures on their phone. We all wish we could crack the passwords of our friends.
In the series two episode, The Hound of Baskerville, Sherlock does exactly that. He needs the password of the head of the Baskerville research facility, Major Barrymore. He sits in his office, where he would have sat to think up his password, and looks around at eye level to find the key.
Several separate biographies of Margaret Thatcher later and Sherlock realises that the password could only be ‘Maggie’. This deduction qualifies for this list by virtue of being something we all wish we could do. It all seems so simple, if only it was that easy in real life!
1. Assessment Of The Jury
In the latest episode, The Reichenbach Fall, Jim Moriarty, Sherlock’s nemesis, is on trial for several high profile break ins. Due to his links with the defendant Sherlock is called in as an expert witness. What follows is a very funny scene in which Sherlock repeatedly chastises the barrister questioning him for asking leading questions and also analyses the entire jury.
This deduction makes this list as it perfectly showcases the slightly more sociopathic elements of Sherlock’s character. He is constantly told before the trial that he can’t show off and yet when it comes to it, he can’t help himself.
Of course, this time Sherlock misses the crucial deduction. That Moriarty has got to the jury first and threatened them all and their families. Sherlock fails to work this out and Moriarty walks free with a not guilty verdict. Only time will tell how Sherlock will eventually beat Moriarty and, somehow, rise from the dead. That will surely be his greatest deduction of all.