When Holmes and Moriarty are having a stand off in the swimming pool Holmes has a gun trained on Moriarty's chest. He looks at Watson and Watson nods so he moves his aim to the bomb.

Why would this be a good idea?

The bomb will not necessarily go off when shot and if it did it would kill him and Watson too, why not just shoot Moriarty in the head and take his chances with anyone else who might be there?

  • Didn't Moriarty say something about him wearing a bullet proof vest? So then Holmes points the gun at the bomb.
    – Reactgular
    Nov 21, 2012 at 20:06
  • Not that I recall but, at that range, Holmes could easily have shot moriarty in the head either way.
    – Stefan
    Nov 21, 2012 at 21:44
  • It's a TV show. Of course the bomb is going to go off when shot! :D Nov 16, 2017 at 17:43

3 Answers 3


If Sherlock shot Moriarty, then the snipers would kill him and Watson, end of story.

If he shoots the bomb, there's a chance they all die, but there's also a chance to create enough of a mess to be able to escape. If the bomb exploded, the snipers wouldn't try to shoot, since they'd risk harming Moriarty.

So detonating the bomb was the best option.

To expand about the uncertainty of the situation, it's the best option for Sherlock. Remember that him and Moriarty are the kind of people that can think pretty much every outcome of a situation. Sherlock probably realized that he has no option to escape in the current situation, so creating a situation where neither him nor Moriarty can predict the outcome is the best (and probably only) solution for him.

  • 2
    I certainly considered this idea as my own explanation for Sherlock's behavior but I question that reasoning. While shooting Moriarty, as you say, will mean his and Watson's death...shooting the bomb is an uncertain way to get it to detonate, and such a choice could lead to the snipers taking out Sherlock and Watson anyway (the gunshot wouldn't prohibit the snipers in any way) and the bullet may hit (or miss) the explosives in vain. Seems too chancy to me.
    – hexparrot
    Aug 20, 2012 at 21:33
  • The gunshot wouldn't prohibit, the mess (the explosion, the smoke, etc.) created would. They wouldn't take a chance to shoot, miss Sherlock and hit Moriarty instead. -- I've also expanded my answer about the uncertain part of your comment. Aug 21, 2012 at 7:20
  • 1
    That highly presumes that the gunshot...a single gunshot would detonate a bomb. And while the explosion would provide a saving distraction...the explosion actually occurring is what I question. Some material for my skepticism: slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2005/12/…
    – hexparrot
    Aug 21, 2012 at 15:14
  • 1
    True, true, then again, we're talking about a guy who can guess somebody's entire life only by looking at him. Of course the bomb is going to explode! :) More seriously, the possibility of the bomb exploding is enough to make Moriarty doubt and postpone the whole "let's kill Sherlock right now" plan. Aug 22, 2012 at 7:05
  • Even if we apply a little TV magic and assume that a gunshot will definitely detonate the bomb I am still struggling. The snipers already have beads on H and W, if the bomb goes off they just need to pull the their triggers, espeically as they can see H is now aiming at the bomb to cause an explosin. H and W are unlikely to be able to move their entire bodies faster than a man can twitch his finger. Also, if the snipers would not fire for fear of Moriarty being killed surely keeping a gun on M would have been just as effective?
    – Stefan
    Aug 22, 2012 at 8:31

Well, if he shoot Moriaty, then the chance of him dying was 100%. If he shoot the explosives, even if there was only a tiny chance of them exploding, it was more than 0%, and so a best option than shooting at Moriaty. But I also think that maybe, if the explosives worked, all them would die, including the snipers. So, aiming at the explosives he was also treatening them. But the explanation above of the confusion of the explosion actually saving them was better.


For one, Sherlock could likely tell the bomb vest would explode. Why wouldn't they, when the same bombs were put on the other victims there wasn't a trigger, there were snipers. A gunshot is nearly sure to set it off.

His options were shoot Moriarty, resulting in also his and/or John's death as well. Or, he could shoot and detonate the bomb, killing not only the three of them, but also the dangerous snipers. Those snipers also could have managed to shoot Sherlock before he could shoot Moriarty. He had John's consent, and the bomb was the best option. If nothing else, it was a powerful threat.

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