In the BBC series Sherlock (and indeed in most other adaptations of the character I've seen) Sherlock is not paid for this investigations - he does it because he's interested. He rents a flat on Baker Street (which I can only assume is not cheap) one which a part time Doctor has trouble keeping up the rent for.

In addition he always seems to have scientific equipment available at home when he requires it.

Where does Sherlock's money come from?

  • 8
    An example indicating that Sherlock is actually thinking money sometimes is in the very first episode where Watson rejects the money offered by Mycroft and Sherlock says something like: "You should have taken the money and split the fees. Think it through next time". So Sherlock is not completely ignorant of financial matters after all!
    – mihsathe
    Jan 21, 2014 at 6:44
  • I like to think, that Mycroft, is the one who pays off Sherlock rent and such, because Mycroft does have money.
    – Aud
    Jun 11, 2017 at 4:37
  • It might be worth to point that his cost of living might be quite low - IIRC Mrs Hudson wasn't charging him much for rent because he has helped her in the past.
    – Yasskier
    Jun 16, 2020 at 23:47

5 Answers 5


In the TV Series, Sherlock calls himself a Consulting Detective. Whilst it is not completely certain that this involves payment, it is certainly conventional for you to pay a consultant in any sphere. Watson is also involved, and spends some of his time blogging about Shelock's successes, presumably not just to enhance his reputation but to 'improve sales'

It is true that Sherlock cannot be bought, he will not take a boring well paid assignment for example - but there is a specific example where he is paid. In The Blind Banker, Sherlock's old university friend who is in a senior position at the Bank offers the two of them a significant fee - Sherlock walks out disinterested in such petty matters but Watson, the more practical one, collects the cheque.

Finally, it is implied that Sherlock is from a wealthy family. It may be the case that he has inherited money. EDIT: Actually from later episodes in Season 3 it seems that while his family are not poor, they don't seem to be ridiculously wealthy - so this can be discounted.

In terms of scientific equipment - Sherlock is probably not above 'blagging' equipment off people, borrowing it for an extended period to help his work.

  • 9
    +1, Just one point "It may be the case that he has inherited money - perhaps the house is paid for already. All Sherlock needs is to pay the bills and feed himself to keep on detecting." - Yet he needs someone to share the rent, no?
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Sep 17, 2013 at 14:33
  • @ChristianRau - true ....., edited that bit out :)
    – iandotkelly
    Sep 17, 2013 at 14:34
  • In the first episode, the police lady who calls Sherlock "the freak" (forgot her name) tells John that Sherlock doesn't get paid for his help. Jan 18, 2017 at 23:04
  • @MeatTrademark ... his help for the police, yes - but his private clients..?
    – iandotkelly
    Jan 19, 2017 at 5:19
  • I understand. Just wanted to clarify that only the "detective" aspect can pay, as the "consulting" aspect does not. Your answer is unclear on this point. "[I]t is not completely certain that this involves payment, it is certainly conventional for you to pay a consultant..." Jan 19, 2017 at 11:24

There is no direct mention of how Holmes receives income, in the television show. However the show draws significantly from the short stories of A.C. Doyle. I am inclined to think that there wouldn't be much difference in the financial life between the two versions of Holmes. Of course Moffat and Gatiss may, in the future, give further insight into their modern Sherlock.

I did turn up this blog: accounting for sherlock which (over)analyses the television show & attempts to shine light on your question. I hope this information helps!

A.C. Doyle did reference how this original Victorian Sherlock Holmes received remuneration. Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia:

… in "The Final Problem", Holmes states that his services to the government of France and the royal house of Scandinavia had left him with enough money to retire comfortably, while in "The Adventure of Black Peter", Watson notes that Holmes would refuse to help the wealthy and powerful if their cases did not interest him, while he could devote weeks at a time to the cases of the most humble clients. Holmes also tells Watson, in "A Case of Identity", of a golden snuff box received from the King of Bohemia after "A Scandal in Bohemia" and a fabulous ring from the Dutch royal family; in "The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans", Holmes receives an emerald tie-pin from Queen Victoria. Other mementos of Holmes's cases are a gold sovereign from Irene Adler ("A Scandal in Bohemia") and an autographed letter of thanks from the French President and a Legion of Honour for tracking down an assassin named Huret ("The Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez"). In "The Adventure of the Priory School", Holmes rubs his hands with glee when the Duke of Holdernesse notes the 6,000 pound sterling sum, which surprises even Watson, and then pats the cheque, saying, "I am a poor man", an incident that could be dismissed as representative of Holmes's tendency toward sarcastic humour.

  • 9
    While your answer is obviously related, the question is about the TV series. Sep 16, 2013 at 21:39
  • everything in the series is lifted from Doyles short stories.
    – Ben Plont
    Sep 17, 2013 at 0:23
  • 3
    @BenPlont: Honestly, I think its a good answer, except for the fact that you really need to further elucidate and draw an inference from the not-so-short excerpt.
    – Sayan
    Sep 17, 2013 at 6:14
  • @KeyBrdBasher ok, I have expanded my answer, thanks for the push.
    – Ben Plont
    Sep 17, 2013 at 14:15
  • 2
    @coleopterist I have rewritten my answer from a POV closer to the television program. I feel that ACD Holmes still applies, so I have left the original wikipedia reference. Thanks for the push to write a better answer.
    – Ben Plont
    Sep 17, 2013 at 14:26

I don't think this has been clearly answered in the show, and it has been a long time since I've watched the show. So if there are any errors in my answer it's my memory's fault.

Sherlock's brother in the BBC series is very wealthy and well connected. It's implied that it's his brother who gets Sherlock work as a consultant because Sherlock is too stubborn to find work for himself.

There are a couple of scenes in the show where Sherlock and his brother are at odds with each other, but it appears that Sherlock is somehow dependent upon his brother.

At one point in the show his brother mentions something like "If you applied your intellect to business you could earn a good living". Implying that Sherlock doesn't earn any money, but I always took that scene as an indication his brother supports him financially. So I think it's his brother who receives payments for Sherlock's consulting efforts, and in turn pays for Sherlock's living expenses. I don't think this is the source of his wealth, but more of a brotherly burden.

In the episodes where Sherlock helps the Queen. His brother is the one who arranges for Sherlock to go to Buckingham Palace, and it appears that his brother is motivated financially and has to convince Sherlock to take the job.

There are a few scenes in the show where Watson is left with the tab and has to pay for things like the news paper or a restaurant bill.

Money to Sherlock is either unimportant or other people's problems. So it seems clear that he's not directly responsible for paying the rent bills.

  • 5
    While many of your points make sense, I'd say the main motivation for Mycroft (his brother) to engage in the case with the Royals and bring Sherlock into it is his dedication to the government and the Queen rather than mere financial reasons. In the end he seems to be some high figure in government or intelligence and many things he does are IMHO because of love for his homeland.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Sep 18, 2013 at 11:53

Sherlock is canonically in all iterations a consulting detective, which is pretty much a private detective that helps the police. He also helps a lot of people, so he likely gets discounts or free things, like with Mrs. Hudson and Angelo. Much of his money comes from his clients, but he cares very little for money, and when he forgets Mycroft likely slips some into his funds.


When Sherlock Holmes first met Dr. Watson he had just invented a reagent for hemoglobin. I've always assumed he lived on the patent royalties of that.

  • 3
    Welcome to Movies! Which episode is this revealed in?
    – F1Krazy
    Jun 15, 2020 at 7:01

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