In S2E3 Sherlock faked his death in such a way that the only person who have seen it (from the right angle) was Dr. Watson. Other people present on the scene were actors (Molly and homeless people).

If I understand correctly, Moriarty had a sniper watching whether Sherlock will jump and that will act if he does not. But given the explanation of how Sherlock faked his death, it is obvious that the sniper would have seen that it was faked. So why did he trick Watson instead of the sniper?

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    If I remember correctly, it's heavily implied that he was just spouting BS with that explanation, and no real explanation of his faked death was provided. Regardless, he needed to convince Watson (and everyone else) that he was truly dead in case Moriarty had any other agents besides the sniper. By faking his death, he was fully defusing the situation until he could ensure that none of the agents were still around to enact Moriarty's plan. If this is a satisfactory explanation, I'll put it as an answer; but I lack the references to feel comfortable doing it offhand.
    – Liesmith
    Jan 14, 2015 at 5:09
  • I can only second Liesmith's comment. There wasn't any actual explanation provided in which way Sherlock faked his death at all, only millions of different possibilities with the implication that we simply don't know how he actually did it (and won't ever know, you lazy but clever writers you!). This might pretty much rob this question of its very premise.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Jan 14, 2015 at 10:24
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    Maybe I missed it: Where is it implied that the last version Sherlock tells is not the truth? Because the conspiracy guy said:„That doesn't make any sense!“? I thought that was a joke on conspiracy believers, in the sense that they wouldn't believe the truth if they knew it, because it would not live up to their fantasy. I should rewatch that episode..
    – magnattic
    Jan 14, 2015 at 11:06
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    The "How" question is not a duplicate. (as this here is a "why" question) The "why and how" question might have counted as a duplicate, but it got closed. I think this question shouldn't be closed. See the help text: "This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question."
    – magnattic
    Jan 14, 2015 at 11:47
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    Thing is we don't know how Sherlock faked his death as the show only shows speculation or unreliable narration. Also I don't think there was a sniper on hold to shoot Sherlock: but there were snipers waiting to kill his friends if he didn't jump.
    – matt_black
    Jan 14, 2015 at 22:39

6 Answers 6


As explained in S03E01,

Sherlock jumped down to the pavement, landing on an air pad with limited visibility (building blocking one side, shipping container blocking the other (Watson's angle).

Any sniper who was in position to kill Sherlock while he was on the roof had at best a 1/4 chance of being able to see Sherlock after he jumped - if he was on any of the other 3 sides of the building, the building would block him. It's kind of a tautology; in order for the sniper to be high enough to command the roof, he would be (in an urban environment) too high to command more than narrow channels of street level.

Consider this potential diagram to explain why it wasn't "obvious the sniper would have seen":

+---+  +---+ 
|  !|  |   |
|   |  |  S|*
+---+  +---+

Here, ! is the sniper, S is Sherlock, and * is the landing site on the street. When Sherlock leaps from the hospital building and falls, the hospital then blocks the view that the sniper has from the adjacent building.

And the overall deception plan relied upon Sherlock jumping. It's not like he had better options for dealing with the sniper.


This makes more sense in the stories than the show but generally Watson is a very poor liar. Hence if Holmes needs to lie or be dishonest he also has to dupe Watson (like in The Adventure of the Dying Detective). Hence to convince the world (and his enemies) he had to convince Watson as 'people' would be watching Watson closely to deduce any clues of Holmes still being alive.

Exactly how he tricked the sniper has not been revealed so we just have to trust that Holmes had it figured out. The fact that he is alive implies that he was right!


There was never a sniper watching Sherlock. The sniper's target was Watson. The targeting scope was squarely focused on Watson, so when he got the "go" order, he'd pull the trigger and instantly be done.

The sniper didn't hold off shooting because he saw that Sherlock was dead, he held off shooting because he received a message to not shoot. Just as all the other assassins in other parts of town were focused on their targets, not personally observing Holmes, and were getting their orders via phone messages, the same is true for the sniper.

Since the entire rest of the world, except for those involved in the ruse, all thought Sherlock was dead, whomever/whatever was monitoring was not in a position to see the charade.

Furthermore, though I'll have to recheck, but in order for the sniper to be concealed and in a position to shoot Watson, he'd probably have to be in the same building or same side of the street as Holmes, and not in a position to see, without sticking his head out of the window and giving away his location.

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    Let us continue this discussion in chat.
    – Flater
    Jun 23, 2017 at 13:32
  • Again, you literally stated "There was never a sniper watching Sherlock.". You are stating a fact. You're not just saying that Watson's sniper wasn't looking at Sherlock, you're saying that no one was looking at Sherlock. And I am pointing out that you have no justification for stating that as a fact. Because no justification for that exists. Furthermore, if you logically reason about how Moriarty's plan could have worked, then there logically must have been someone watching Sherlock, to see if he kills himself or not.
    – Flater
    Jun 23, 2017 at 13:33
  • Just to prove my point on how my argument isn't facile: In the comments, you have gradually accepted the existence of an observer; and are now discussing the degree to which the observer could have seen Sherlock. You started off claiming the exact opposite. In the first sentence of your original answer, you literally state that no such observer exists.
    – Flater
    Jun 23, 2017 at 13:37
  • @Flater, that statement only emphasizes how completely facile and grasping this is. Look at my original answer, which shows no subsequent edits - "whomever/whatever was monitoring was not in a position to see the charade" - So, according to you, I always said someone was "monitoring," but I only gradually, through your overpowering reason and logic, accepted that there was an "observer"? Really? Unlike sniper, "monitor" DOES = "observe." Jun 23, 2017 at 13:42
  • You can't say that there wasn't a sniper targeting Sherlock, as you cannot know that "whomever/whatever was monitoring Sherlock" was not also armed with a sniper rifle or not. As I have mentioned many times now, the core of your answer is correct, but you drive the conclusion too far towards unsubstantiated claims. Why is it impossible for Moriarty to have Sherlock killed if Sherlock refuses to kill himself?
    – Flater
    Jun 23, 2017 at 13:48

How he faked his death is never confirmed. What he told Anderson could very well be a lie, as Anderson points out. But Sherlock had to seem to fall in order to save everyone he cared for. The sniper was fooled too. John had to be fooled for his protection, as did everyone else. By his reaction, obviously Mycroft wasn't originally informed with the plan, though he's in on it soon after, keeping track on him as he shatters the spiders web. Molly somehow assisted him, likely assisting in the execution and identifying the body, then keeping him in her apartment for a short time.


While narrating to Anderson, he mentions that the snipers were taken care of by Mycroft and his men. He had to fake his own death so that he could go underground for two years and dismantle Moriarty's network.


The other two snipers were targeting other people at two other places, so they are not seeing Sherlock. The only one seeing Sherlock was the sniper targeting John. So as he was following John to kill him, he sees only what John sees, so the ambulance building blocks the view. He faked to John because for his own safety.

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