In the current cultural zeitgeist, Sherlock Holmes can find the perfect grounds for relevancy. It is always interesting to see how different writers spin the character’s motivations while keeping him on the side of good. In BBC’s 2010 Sherlock series, for example, the character’s immoral nature is heightened to an almost terrifying extent. He states that while he is on the “side of the angels”, he should not be considered as one himself (Thompson), clearly indicating his blatant lack of human empathy. This is where the shortcomings of the original canon play to the strength of the adaptations. A character arc is the transformation of a character through the course of a story (Gerke 79), and Holmes does not have an overtly noticeable one in Conan Doyle’s writings. His character thus remains more or less flat throughout the course of the stories. What many of the non-canonical writers attempt to do is give their version of the character a coherent journey, one of growth. The Holmes from Sherlock has to learn empathy and come to grips with a past trauma, the Holmes from The Seven-Per-Cent Solution has to learn how to cope with the devastating effects of drug abuse, and the Holmes of Miss Sherlock has to learn to accept that she does seek comfort in friendship and genuine human affection. While Holmeses can come in many shapes and sizes (and genders!), the adventures, friendships and rivalries will forever be what makes a Sherlock Holmes story special. Whether it be Conan Doyle’s original sixty stories, or someone trying their hand at taking the character a brand new direction, Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson will always be ready to accept readers, listeners and viewers with open arms.
Gerke, Jeff. Plot versus Character: a Balanced Approach to Writing Great Fiction. Writers Digest Books, 2010.
Thompson, Stephen. “The Reichenbach Fall.” Sherlock, season 2, episode 3, BBC, 15 Jan. 2012.