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Defensively Heterosexual John Watson is an advice animal image macro series featuring a photo of the character Dr. John H. Watson (played by Martin Freeman) from the BBC television series Sherlock. The captions depict Watson as being overly self-conscious about his sexual orientation and relationship with the protagonist character Sherlock Holmes, which has been a recurring trope in the television series and a well-known slash pairing within the fandom.
On October 24th, 2010, the BBC aired the Sherlock episode “A Study in Pink”, in which a waiter mistakenly assumes Watson and Holmes are on a date while they’re investigating a murder case at a restaurant. After Watson vehemently denies they are a couple, the incredulous waiter brings a romantic candle to the table. The episode spurred shippers in the fandom to pair Watson and Holmes as a couple in fanfiction and fan art.
On January 16th, 2012, the first “Defensively Heterosexual John Watson” Quickmeme submission was uploaded with the caption “‘Confirmed bachelor John Watson’ / what the hell are they implying?”, in reference to how Watson is often assumed to be homosexual in the television series.
On January 17th, 2012, Tumblr  user abatchofcumber posted an image macro with the caption “‘If anyone out there still cares -- I’m not actually gay.’ / LOL”, which received 70 notes within three months. The meme remained dormant until April 7th, when the Quickmeme page was submitted to the /r/Sherlock subreddit by user IFeastOnYerDownvotes in a post titled “Defensively Heterosexual John Watson Memes.” The post received over 180 up votes and 12 comments within one month. On April 8th, a compilation of image macro examples was submitted to Internet humor site FunnyJunk by user edna.
The following day, Tumblr user djpilapitiya published a series of notable image macros, which received over 6,550 notes within one month. The meme has continued to spread on Tumblr under the tag “#defensively heterosexual john watson.”
The shipping joke involving Holmes and Watson has been also adapted into animated GIFs and other image macros.