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Sherlock is a British television series that presents a contemporary update of the original Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The series was created by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss and began airing on the BBC in 2010. It stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman as John Watson. Each season is comprised of three episodes, with two seasons having already aired.
Previous to this series, Moffat and Gatiss had experience adapting Victorian stories for modern audiences. Moffat having written for the 2007 series Jekyll (an interpretation of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) and Gatiss having written the Doctor Who episode The Unquiet Dead based on Charles Dickens story. Both being fans of Sherlock Holmes, the two writers got together and created the series to incorporate all Sherlock canon, including the Rathbone Movies. Since both considered recent TV adaptions of the stories to be “too reverential and too slow,” they wanted to give the mythology a fresh spin. The series was first announced with an unbroadcast pilot in 2009. Beginning in July 2010, the first 3 episodes aired on the BBC, followed by another set of 3 in January 2012. In late August 2012, Steven Moffat teased the storylines for the show’s third season, but the premiere date has been delayed until late 2013 or early 2014.
Sherlock has been received positively overall, resulting in the first series winning a British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Award in 2011 for Best Drama Series. The first season has received five stars on Amazon and a 9.1 rating on IMDb. The official Facebook fan page for the show has more than 704,000 likes as of April 2013.
Many members of the show’s fandom convene on Tumblr. Popular tags include #Sherlock and #Sherlock BBC, as well as ones dedicated to the characters and actors themselves. Various blogs dedicated to the show can also be found, such as Fuck Yeah, Sherlock and Sherlock Holmes Fanart. Many artists upload their fan works to Tumblr, such as Sdkay, Reapersun. DeviantArt also hosts various fanworks when searching for Sherlock and Sherlock BBC. The site also has two Sherlock dedicated groups: BBC-Sherlock and Sherlock-2010. In October 2011, The Beginner’s Guide to the Sherlock Fandom Fans have also compiled a glossary of popular terms within the fandom, which has more than 100 entries relating to pairing names for shipping purposes, fanfiction terms and inside jokes relating to actual dialogue from the show.
On March 27th, 2013, two developers and fans of the show Lynxelia and Fenix launched a Tumblr account and revealed their plan to develop a crowd-sourced puzzle RPG based on the BBC series. Later that day, they posted a mockup of the 221B Baker Street map, as well as twelve animated character sprites including Sherlock, John Watson, Jim Moriarty and Molly Hooper, among others, to their Tumblr blog and on deviantART, seeking to recruit voluntary illustrators, pixel artists, writers, sound designers and puzzle designers to help complete the not-for-profit game. Within 6 days, the post gained more than 6200 notes.
The following day, a gallery of the images was shared on the Sherlock subreddit, where it earned 365 points in five days. Over the next several days, the duo launched a Facebook fan page, Twitter account and LiveJournal account to draw more attention to their project. The developers have outlined the potential game mechanics, suggesting that players will have to maintain John Watson’s money meter while keeping Sherlock’s boredom meter from getting too high through large cases that would take 3-4 game days and side cases that would only take one. They also included a sketch of the proposed in-game menu (shown below), based on the Nokia N97 smartphone that Watson is shown using throughout the first two seasons. On April 2nd, the Daily Dot ran a feature story on the game and its developers, noting that they had received dozens of applications within a week.
Casting of Amanda Abbington
In late March 2013, it was rumored that actor Martin Freeman’s real life partner actress Amanda Abbingtonwould be joining the cast of Sherlock. As the canonical Sherlock Holmes stories did not have many recurring female characters, many blogs suggested that she would be assuming the role of Mary Morstan, Watson’s love interest and later, wife. This idea was reinforced by an August 2012 tweet from the series creator Steven Moffat, who gave “wedding” as a clue for the third series.
On April 23rd, the Daily Mail published a photo from the Sherlock production set (shown below) showing Amanda Abbington in a wedding dress and Martin Freeman in dress pants and a tie, with the article’s headline suggesting their characters were to be married. Immediately, shippers who favored the imagined pairing between Watson and Sherlock (Johnlock) began complaining about Watson’s rumored marriage voiding their ship.
After Abbington addressed the ship on Twitter, noting that she thought it was strange fans were getting so worked up about it, fans of the slash pairing allegedly began attacking her with death threats. While some fans were enthusiastic about the choice, others expressed concerns that the chemistry between Watson and Sherlock would be destroyed by the wedding. The anger from the Johnlock shippers resulted in the launch of two separate single topic blogs, We Love Amanda Project and Support Amanda Abbington, on April 24th, with both sites encouraging people to submit messages of support for the actress (shown below). On April 26th, The Daily Dot examined the backlash, noting that a handful of prominent fanfiction writers blogged reminders to the fandom that despite what happens in canon, they are still allowed to ship whoever they want.
Fuck You, I Won a BAFTA!
On January 6th, 2012, Martin Freeman appeared as a guest on the British talk show The Graham Norton Show. When Norton raised a question about why his character Watson does not speak a lot in the show, Freeman quickly retorted, “Fuck you, I won a BAFTA,” referring to the award he won for Best Supporting Actor on Sherlock in 2011.
Following the broadcast of the talk show, and its subsequent airing on BBC America the next day, the line became popular in the fandom, with the phrase being edited into gifs from the show and other media featuring Martin Freeman.
A large and very significant part of the Sherlock fandom is the shippers, people who like to pair characters romantically and create fan art or fiction based on these relationships. Since Sherlock does not easily get along with people in the show other than Watson, many fans have created works around this slash pairing dubbed “Johnlock.” Writers of the show are familiar with this fan act and it has been alluded to being more than just platonic in at least three episodes. There are several deviantART groups dedicated to this ship, such as Sherlock-Bromance and Holmes-Watson-Slash, as well as a Tumblr tag.
I Believe In Sherlock Holmes
I Believe In Sherlock Holmes originates from a clip of a news report posted to the official John Watson blog, an official tie-in site to the show, immediately after the last episode of series 2 aired on January 15th, 2011. The news report declared Sherlock Holmes dead and was paired with the message “He was my best friend and I’ll always believe in him.”
After the video was posted, various fan blogs reviewed it including Earl Foolish, who imagined the reaction of a Sherlock fan in the television show’s universe. He proposed a real-life tribute campaign to show support for Sherlock the person as well as the show, inspired by viral marketing for the 2008 record “Who Killed Amanda Palmer?” In July of that year, a user on the Dresden Dolls’ message board posted a thread providing a stencil with the title of the record, encouraging people to spray paint them in their areas and photograph it with two $500 prizes to the best entries.
Earl Foolish’s post suggested using the phrases “I believe in Sherlock Holmes” and “Moriarty was real” to spread the message. It received over 12,000 notes on Tumblr within a week, with fans making various response posts across social networks.
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Various fans also started creating fanart including propaganda posters and graffiti with the phrases, many of which are collected in the deviantArt group #Believe-in-Sherlock.
Otters and Hedgehogs
It’s common in fan art for Sherlock to be portrayed as an otter and John as a hedgehog, through illustration or placing a photo of one of the characters next to a photo of the animal with a similar pose or facial expression. Using an otter to represent Sherlock became popular after the Tumblr photoset “Otters Who Look Like Benedict Cumberbatch: A Visual Examination” created by Red Scharlach went viral in March 2012. 
Not Our Division
In the beginning of the 3rd and final episode of Season 2, ‘The Reichenbach Fall’, James Moriarty, Sherlock’s main enemy throughout the series, manages to break into the case of the Crown Jewels. When Sergeant Sally Donovan walks into Detective Inspector Greg Lestrade’s office to inform him that there has been a break-in, Lestrade is shown sitting casually eating with his feet up, initially replying with a simple “Not Our Division”.
The scene quickly became a fan favourite, with many people creating their own gifs and reaction images out of it, frequently in posts where Lestrade brushes off any cause for alarm with the line.
The finale episode of Season 2, titled “The Reichenbach Fall,” features a cliffhanger scene wherein Sherlock leaps from the roof of a hospital building, leading many of his friends, in particular John, to believe that he didn’t survive the fall. However, during the final moments of the episode, it is revealed to the audience that Sherlock is still alive.
In the months leading up to the premiere of Season 3, fans of the show began speculating how Sherlock would tell John that he was still alive, including Tumblr artist ShockingBlanket who created a series of GIFs to illustrate a variety of amusing ways in which Sherlock would reveal himself, such as popping out of his refrigerator or appearing on his clothesline, using the hashtag #not dead.
Sherlock Falls on Things
On January 16th, 2014, Reddit user Mikejohnno uploaded an exploitable image of Sherlock in free fall while facing the camera (shown below), as depicted in BBC’s behind-the-scene footage of the third season’s premiere episode “The Empty Hearse,” to the r/photoshopbattles subreddit.
The thread was quickly met with several dozens of photoshopped derivatives created by other Redditors, plugging the fictional character into a variety of iconic images, such as classic artworks and promotional posters for blockbuster films like Gravity and 300. On January 18th, Imgur user AndrewYashchuk compiled some of the best examples from the thread into a Imgur album. On the following day, Jezebel covered the photo series in an article titled “Watch Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Fall Into Everything Everywhere.”
The Official Blog of John Watson –
The Mary Sue – AMANDA ABBINGTON JOINS THE CAST OF SHERLOCK (MAYBE?)
The Daily Dot – “Sherlock” fans lash out over sunken JohnLock ship
The Huffington Post – Otters Who Look Like Benedict Cumberbatch (PICTURES)