I've recently watched Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and I'm as hooked as everyone else is to see how the TV series Sherlock reveals Sherlock's trick. Is it pure coincidence that these two storylines happened in such a similar way?

  • Both are Sherlock faking his own death by jumping
  • Both have Watson as a witness and kill Moriarty as well
  • Both happened at (approximately given the age of the character) the same time

Why would two interpretations of the same character made by completely different companies have him fake his own death in such a similar manner?

  • 3
    While not having read "The Final Problem" (the original story featuring Sherlock Holmes's and Moriarty's supposed death), an obvious possibility might be that those themes are present there, too.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Sep 18, 2013 at 11:32

2 Answers 2


They have both taken inspiration from the original story "The Final Problem" where Holmes fakes his death:

Holmes and Moriarty are engaged in a battle of wits which results with most of M's gang being arrested by M himself escaping to the continent (where Holmes and Watson are).
Whilst Holmes and Watson are taking a holiday they go for a walk to the Reichenbach Falls but Watson receives a note saying that there is a sick lady back at hotel so he returns.

This is a ruse by Holmes to ensure that he faces Moriarty alone (as he does both the series and the film).

They fight at the top of a cliff (in the series a building, the film a ledge) next to a lethal drop.

Watson rushes back to help Holmes but is too late and finds a note which Moriarty allowed him to write apologising for deceiving Watson. There are footprints leading to the edge of a cliff and signs of a struggle but no returning foot prints. They are presumed to have both fallen to their deaths.

We find out in 'The Empty House' that this was a ruse by Holmes (after spotting Sebastian Moran) to flush out the remaining associates of Moriarty.

  • Holmes faked his own death
  • Watson was kind of a witness (the note is switched to an eye witness)
  • The age is just reflective of how the direction imagined the character and they both would have read this book.

Doyle wanted to kill off Holmes, the creation of Moriarty was designed to give him a climactic send off. However, Doyle's desperation for money and the public outcry forced him to bring Holmes back to life again.

  • 1
    Maybe a little more explanation of the similarities to the original story (or how it happens in the original) would flesh out this answer a bit more.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Sep 18, 2013 at 11:39
  • @ChristianRau, good point, have added some details
    – Stefan
    Commented Sep 18, 2013 at 11:49

I don't find this surprising. Arthur Conan Doyle was, to put it mildly, not very fond of his most famous character, and tried to kill him. It wasn't a fake death either, Sherlock was meant to die in that waterfall.

However, the public outcry was so strong that he had to bring Sherlock back. So, given the publicity, that part of the original Sherlock stories is very famous, and I see no surprise that two modern adaptations have focused on it. Actually, I'd be more surprised if one of them didn't do it at all.

Source: personal knowledge, confirmed by "Death" of Sherlock Holmes.

  • 1
    Concurring with your assesment. Sherlock draws a lot of it's elements from the original writings, as discussed in this thread. Commented Sep 18, 2013 at 12:32
  • 1
    @Paulster2 - yup that one was mine too! I hadn't realised that the idea of him faking his death was part of ACD's work
    – Liath
    Commented Sep 18, 2013 at 16:00

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