4 Significant Relationships In BBC Sherlock

In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the main character, Buffy, has very important symbolic relationships with her friends. Xander represents her heart; Willow, her spirit; Giles is intelligence, Cordelia is Buffy’s life had she never been called to Slayerdom, Glory and Dawn represent the dark and light side of being a Slayer…yadda yadda yadda. This is not a new form of writing, but it is probably the most prominent example.

But Sherlock Holmes, in the BBC’s Sherlock, also has some relationships worth mentioning, that represent some aspect of his persona. Namely, there are four of them. His brother, Mycroft; Molly Hooper, Jim Moriarty, and Dr. John Watson.

Let’s start with the most obvious-John. Moriarty clearly states that he is Sherlock’s “heart”. When we first meet Sherlock Holmes, he is a man so submerged in his own self, so vain, so bored of life around him, he’s willing to take a suicide pill just for the hell of it. It’s not a coincidence that John is the one who saves him from this decision by shooting the cabbie. John manifests as Sherlock’s personal feelings, his wants, his desires, people whom he cares about, things that upset him. Sherlock tries so hard to be like his rational, cold hearted older brother (he’s not really that cold hearted though, only in Sherlock’s eyes), but when John Watson comes along, all that goes out the window. Mycroft says it himself: “[John] could be the making of my brother, or make him worse than ever.” A reoccurring theme in Sherlock is that emotion equals weakness, that intellect is strength. Mycroft Holmes is always referred to as the cleverer, therefore, more steadfast brother, while Sherlock is considered the weaker, the more erratic. Because try as he might, he just can’t contain his emotions. There’s a reason Mycroft is introduced to the audience via John: they represent opposing forces, constantly at war inside Sherlock. John is the warmth, the love; Mycroft is the cold, the logic and reason.

It’s the same reason Moriarty is introduced by Molly. Moriarty considers himself the dark ying to Sherlock’s yang. Well, as Sherlock points out, that’s not exactly true. Sherlock claims that “while he may be on the side of the angels”, he is not one. And he’s right. Sherlock is a good man, but he’s perfectly willing to do bad things (i.e., the murder of Charles Augustus Magnussen in HLV). However, there is a character that is always on the side of good, who acts as Sherlock’s conscience when needed…


Molly is the complement to Moriarty’s evil. She is the goodness, the humanity, that cancels out Moriarty’s misanthropy. It’s why she and John get on so well, because love and humanity go hand in hand. It’s the reason she and Mycroft have never really interacted, because empathy is illogical, but have worked together to help Sherlock. His morals and intelligence are his greatest weapons, his shield and sword. Whereas John, his heart, is his weak spot, what he must protect at all costs, what he has risked his life for over and over. It’s what the darkness (Moriarty) despises in him and wants to destroy-to burn the heart out of him.

There’s no better scene that illustrates all this than Sherlock’s Mind Palace in “His Last Vow”, after Mary has shot him. Who are the major players in Sherlock’s little drama? Molly, Mycroft, and Moriarty, of course. (And Anderson.) Molly is the first, literally slapping Sherlock to come to his senses. There’s work to be done, you can’t throw away your purpose over something as silly as death, Sherlock. Remember when Molly got so angry with Sherlock for doing the drugs? This is like that. After Molly has talked Sherlock through the bullet wound, she hands off the baton to Mycroft, who tells Sherlock that he’s a stupid little boy, then makes him use his mind to determine whether or not the bullet has gone all the way through. But humanity (which could here be translated as the will to keep living) and intellect alone are not enough to sustain Sherlock. He’s got the fuel, he’s got the fuse, but he still needs that spark to light the fire. And who provides that? Moriarty.

There’s a very good reason John makes no appearance in Sherlock’s MP, and it’s because, as I’ve mentioned above, John represents emotion, which in the Sherlock universe, is equivalent to weakness. If John had appeared to Sherlock in the throws of death, Sherlock might have lost his grip, become a slave to his own human weakness, and all would have been lost. However, John still remains the most important element in the equation. Molly and Mycroft together are Sherlock’s potential to survive, but John is the catalyst that pushes that energy into kinetic. The one thing Sherlock must protect: “John Watson is definitely in danger.” And Sherlock revives.

At least, that’s what they mean to me. TL;DR: Molly is the good side, Moriarty is the bad side, Mycroft is the brain, and of course, John is the heart. Man, I love meta. ~TRL


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