In Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011) during 1:12:11 to 1:12:17 Sherlock tried to disguise as waiter but removes his mustache and is clearly recognizable.

There also comes a moment when Moriarty looks at him. But failed to recognize.

Moriarty briefly looks at Sherlock.

Like the title of movie suggests it's a game of shadows. Holmes is always behind Moriarty trying to stop him. They are playing a game of chess in real life where movements of each other is keenly under observation of other. Hence the curiosity that why such a big mistake ( or some hidden plot ) by Moriarty ?

How is it that a genius like Moriarty missed observing Sherlock in such close proximity when he has previously met him ?

  • Either moriarty wasn't expecting sherlock to be there or moriarty DID recognize him and acted as not
    – Vishwa
    Sep 28, 2017 at 13:16
  • @Vishwa: If he acted not to then it should had been in the plot. Because spotting Sherlock around him after a failed attempt to kill Dr John Watson and his wife shall not be taken lightly for Moriarty.
    – Rahul
    Sep 28, 2017 at 15:21
  • What does recognizing someone in an unexpected context have to do with someone's genius? Sep 28, 2017 at 21:44
  • 1
    @PoloHoleSet: Please check my updated question.
    – Rahul
    Sep 29, 2017 at 3:02

2 Answers 2


Not all Geniuses are the Same

It is clearly established in all media that Sherlock Holmes' moment-to-moment observational and deductive abilities are exceptional.

Madame Simza Heron: What do you see?

Sherlock Holmes: Everything. That is my curse.

These powers are also held by Sherlock's brother, Mycroft. They engage in a childish game of deductive one-upmanship here:

Mycroft: Good evening, Sherly. I see your boot maker is ill, dear brother.

Sherlock: As I detect that you've changed the brand of soap with which you shave

Mycroft: May I point out the chimney in the front room on Baker Street is to the need of a damn good sweeping out?

Sherlock: Are you aware that the Hackney Carriage by which you arrived had a damaged wheel?

Mycroft: Yes, the left. And it's plain to the meanest intelligence that you've recently acquired a new bow for your violin.

Sherlock: Same bow, new strings.

But Sherlock and Moriarty never engage in such a duel of observational power; Moriarty instead exerts their rivalry through the metaphor of a chess game. Moriarty's genius is in manipulation and control - the 'spider's web'.

This difference in gifting is demonstrated by the way that Sherlock generally does his own fieldwork (delegating to Watson and Heron when necessary), often in disguise, while Moriarty exerts his will through his henchmen whenever possible.

So there is no reason to ascribe Sherlock's abilities of observation - his 'curse' - to Moriarty.

In addition, Moriarty is under considerable mental load from bringing his complex plans to fruition.

Sherlock: With an empire so enormous, even You ... must keep a record of it somewhere.

James Moriarty may not always be concentrating on his immediate environment, making him vulnerable to Sherlock's daring fieldwork in disguise.


You got a point there. However consider this, we all know in every Superman movie Clark Kent is very similar to Superman(he just removes his glass and costume). We recognize this.However in the movie not a single person realize this fact(or even trying to compare Clark to Superman). Same goes here for Sherlock Holmes.The idea in that particular scene is to deliver how well Sherlock can switch from one guy to another, rather than how similar he actually looks.

  • 2
    But in Sherlock Holmes we are dealing with a person who have exceptional observational abilities just like Sherlock.
    – Rahul
    Sep 28, 2017 at 15:19
  • in superman, this happens because nobody ever even thinks that clark kent could be the superman. so if someone sees some similarities, they just ignore those
    – Vishwa
    Sep 28, 2017 at 15:32
  • @Rahul - Clark Kent/Superman is constantly around reporters, photographers, police, and genius super criminals; all characters that should have above-average observational abilities.
    – sirjonsnow
    Sep 28, 2017 at 15:32
  • 1
    @sirjonsnow - perhaps you are not familiar with the press in the USA..... :P Sep 29, 2017 at 14:14

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