The key villain in the Sherlock episode His Last Vow the visuals constantly suggest that Magnussen has some form of electronic assistance to recall key facts that he can use to "leverage" influence over people in power.

We clearly see that Sherlock himself suspects that Magnussen has such a device but shows that it is not present, Google Glass-like, in his spectacles.

In the end Magnussen claims there are no files and there is no device. Is his claim credible? Were there no devices and no physical records of the blackmail material?

  • The text Magnussen sees does have a slight bend, like it's displayed on a curved surface. - But later, when Sherlock takes the glasses to inspect them, and we see Magnussen continue "texting", the text is not bend anymore.
    – Oliver_C
    Commented Jan 13, 2014 at 14:12

2 Answers 2


The 'Google-glass' on screen imagery is yet another misdirection to make you believe Magnussen is utilizing such technology.

The on screen text displays is revealed to be nothing other than Magnussen's own way of interfacing with his 'mind palace', a visual device to explain that he is mining his categorically stored memories for information.

Sherlock does the same thing, but the interface manifests in a different style. enter image description here

If Sherlock himself is capable of the mind-palace technique, there is no reason to suspect others are not capable of it.

The episode was largely about underestimation, both of Magnussen and of Mary.

Magnussen's lack of tangible 'files' and 'evidence' is his ultimate protection. In the age of the Leveson inquiry, it has been revealed that hard evidence is the most damning thing to possess, and can easily backfire against its possessor.

The character of Magnussen was no doubt a commentary on this, and in this case his doomsday device was nothing other than his Eidetic memory.

  • 3
    Although, Magnussen did keep a video of John's bonfire incident. And he kept Lady Smallwood's letters (he flashed them to Sherlock). So it seems like he does keep physical evidence.
    – Oliver_C
    Commented Jan 13, 2014 at 14:20
  • @Oliver_C So if he does keep physical evidence, where does he keep it?
    – matt_black
    Commented Jan 13, 2014 at 15:01
  • @Oliver_C the letters may be fake. Commented Jan 13, 2014 at 18:30
  • 1
    @Oliver_C I also picked up on that bonfire incident video, it was odd. I assumed the video was from youtube or some hosting website that someone had posted though. It was curious, though. Commented Jan 13, 2014 at 19:42
  • @matt_black - When Watson says: "So, there are no documents. You don't actually have anything here." Magnussen answers: "Sometimes I send out for something, if I really need it, but mostly I just remember it all." - I would find it odd for a smart villain to store incriminating evidence in is own home. That's obviously the place his enemies (or the police) would look first.
    – Oliver_C
    Commented Jan 13, 2014 at 21:58

My theories:

a) he has contact lenses that are electronic somehow.

b) he is a robot - the words loose bend because the glasses caused the bend. Contact lenses would probably do the same so the only thing left is he is a robot and the words are straight because his eyes are not real. The "dead" in his eyes is because he is not human, or maybe only partially so.

  • 2
    Interesting theories but do you have sources? This site is about verified answers rather than theories.
    – Liath
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 12:38
  • How did he die from a gunshot if he was robot? And please you are not writing sms, so refrain from using shorthand like bc. Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 18:03
  • Why do you doubt the show's explanation that he just has a great memory using a Mind Palace? Him being a robot is a pretty ridiculous Sci-Fi trope for a series that tries (at least somewhat) to be grounded in current reality. As @Liath said, this is not a site looking for theories. Commented Jun 9, 2014 at 11:31

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