In season 4, episode 1, Mary Watson

jumps in front of a bullet after the bullet has been fired at Sherlock at close range.

I'm aware the dodging bullets or jumping into the line of fire after a weapon has been fired are common TV tropes.

However, I am surprised that a show such as Sherlock, which is aimed at a scientifically minded audience, would risk breaking immersion by doing something so obviously physically impossible.

Thus, I am wondering whether I missed something and there actually is an in-universe explanation for this. Is Mary not only a skilled agent but does she have supernatural powers? Or is the scene of the bullet flying towards a stunned Sherlock only playing out in Mary's mind as she anticipates the gun being fired, and she actually jumps before Norbury pulls the trigger? Or something else, some out-of-universe explanation that helps make sense of this scene?

  • 5
    She was a top agent before and would surely be capable of noticing that someone would shoot and jump before the shot, which I suppose it is what really happened. But I admit that the scene was really weirdly done.
    – LeonX
    Jul 27 '17 at 11:03
  • Sherlock pissed off Norbury by deducing her present state of being, while she was holding a gun in her hand, aimed at him the entire time. Not just Mary but everybody anticipated that Norbury is going to take the shot. How impossible it might seem but Mary was kind-off prepared to take the bullet for Sherlock.
    – Rippy
    Jul 30 '17 at 14:44

If not, is there any out-of-universe explanation

NO...and Yes


Obviously Mary did not have supernatural powers and merely relied on her skills to anticipate the shot and reacted before it was fired. The whole sequence plays with time so this (in-universe) is not an unreasonable assumption.


The out-of universe answer is quite simple, the showrunners had decided to kill Mary...

The reality of this, of course, is that Sherlock Holmes is about Sherlock and Dr. Watson and it’s always going to come back to that — always always always. They had fun making it a trio but it doesn’t work long term. Mary was always going to go and we were always going to get back to the two blokes.

Steven Moffat to EW.com

...and regardless of the reality of jumping in front of a bullet which, as you noted, is, for all intents and purposes, impossible at close range.

They picked a well-know Trope (obligatory TVTtopes warning!) to do it. This requires Dramatic Licence 1 & Suspension of Disbelief 2.

1 Artistic license often provokes controversy by offending those who resent the reinterpretation of cherished beliefs or previous works. Artists often respond to these criticisms by pointing out that their work was not intended to be a verbatim portrayal of something.


2 The term suspension of disbelief or willing suspension of disbelief has been defined as a willingness to suspend one's critical faculties and believe the unbelievable; sacrifice of realism and logic for the sake of enjoyment.


Unfortunately, some viewers prefer not to (or just find this too impossible) suspend disbelief and find their experience less because of it.

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