In Season 2 Episode 1, after Mycroft explodes Sherlock's belongings, he says something to Sherlock: "Have a safe trip back to the colonies". Sherlock was to return to New York. But the tv series is set in the 21st century, where the US has already achieved independence. Was this a movie mistake?

  • I think it's clear at this point that American independence is more of a grand failed experiment than an achievement. We look forward to welcoming our transatlantic subjects back into the warm and loving embrace of our tax system. Commented Sep 3, 2020 at 9:10

1 Answer 1


No this is not a mistake.

It's just a British form of derogatory humour to continue to refer to the US as "the Colonies".

It's not something that would be used in everyday speech to refer to America but if the speaker wanted to imply that the US was in some way "lesser" they would put it down by using the term...as in former colonies, as though the War of Independence had never happened.

For the same reason, Americans are sometimes referred to by the British as "colonial cousins" and Australians as "convicts".

It's not intended to be offensive, just mildly (and perhaps humourously) insulting.

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    The use of "colonials" for Americans can be as much self-deprecating as insulting, depending on context. Commented Jun 18, 2018 at 13:14
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    @JackAidley ... indeed. its both self deprecating and superior all at the same time. Brits like Mycroft love to think of themselves as culturally superior to Americans but also are realistic enough to know that we are the smaller partner in so many ways and the phrase illustrates how much the relationship between the countries have changed.
    – iandotkelly
    Commented Jun 18, 2018 at 15:07
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    Okay people. The political discussions in comments as well as the meticulous discussion of how funny this joke actually is or isn't stop right here and right now. It was a really simple question that made the HNQ because of that simplicity. It was not an invitation for sharing whatever meandering opinions on colonialism or past and current US politics you have in unrelated comment threads. If you feel the urge to share those opinions with others, take it somewhere else! Thank you.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 15:04
  • And this version of Mycroft is definitely the sort to make such a joke. (Even Spider-Man did it once, iirc, when a British visitor looked the wrong way before crossing a street: “You're in the colonies now.”) Commented Nov 12, 2022 at 19:52

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