Arthur Conan Doyle had no clue how enduring the eponymous consulting detective Sherlock Holmes would be.
Some TV shows have even taken the idea of Holmes and his trusty friend Dr. Watson solving crimes in late 19th century London, and flipped it around: placing Holmes in the future, in a different country, or abandoning the criminal aspect altogether.
No matter the twist, all Sherlock Holmes TV shows keep one crucial element the same: Holmes is always, at his heart, the same clever, witty character fans know and love.
- Sherlock Holmes (1965 – 1968)
- Sherlock Holmes And Doctor Watson (1979 – 1980)
- Young Sherlock: The Mystery Of The Manor House (1982)
- The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes (1984 – 1994)
- Sherlock Hound (1984 – 1985)
- Case Closed (1996 – Present)
- Sherlock Holmes In The 22nd Century (1999 – 2001)
- House (2004 – 2012)
- Sherlock (2009 – 2017)
- Elementary (2012 – 2019)
Sherlock Holmes (1965 – 1968)
Creator: David Goddard
Starring: Douglas Wilmer, Nigel Stock, Peter Cushing
Where To Watch: BritBox
In the early 1960s, the BBC acquired the rights from the Conan Doyle estate to produce multiple shows involving the famous detective—the first of many to come.
However, the production was fraught with budget reductions and time crunches. These made it very difficult for the actors to portray their characters.
Viewers still enjoyed the series, though, despite changes to the lead role mid-run.
Sherlock Holmes And Doctor Watson (1979 – 1980)
Creator: Sheldon Reynolds
Starring: Donald Pickering, Geoffrey Whitehead
Where To Watch: Amazon Prime
Having only run for a single season—with an extraordinarily low budget—not many people nowadays have seen Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson.
The film was also confiscated after completion, and was never officially released in the United Kingdom.
It’s challenging to find a copy of this Poland-made movie, but it might be worth a look for true Holmesian aficionados.
Young Sherlock: The Mystery Of The Manor House (1982)
Creator: Nicholas Ferguson
Starring: Guy Henry, June Berry
Where To Watch: Amazon Prime
In an interesting twist on the original lore, this eight-episode show follows a much younger Sherlock Holmes as he embarks on a mystery.
Generally, Holmes is portrayed as a man in his 30s to 50s. In this story, however, he’s a lad of 17. This presents some challenges, since most people are unwilling to listen to his outlandish theories.
Still, in true Holmesian fashion, he manages to overcome the odds with ingenuity and luck.
The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes (1984 – 1994)
Creator: Michael Cox
Starring: Jeremy Brett, David Burke, Edward Hardwicke
Where To Watch: Amazon Prime
Instead of creating new mysteries for Sherlock Holmes and his trusty sidekick, these episodes are all based on Conan Doyle’s original short stories.
Considered by many to be the most faithful iteration of Sherlock Holmes, its stories differ very little from the source material.
Sherlock Hound (1984 – 1985)
Creator: Hayao Miyazaki
Starring: Taichirō Hirokawa (Voice), Kōsei Tomita (Voice)
Where To Watch: Amazon Prime, Crunchyroll
Sherlock Hound is an animated dog in this imaginative show. He doesn’t let his canine nature stop him from solving intricate crimes, nor bringing down the forces of evil.
Silly as the concept sounds, don’t forget what Miyazaki is best known for: founding Studio Ghibli. He’s the creator of many beloved films, such as Spirited Away, My Neighbor Ponyo, and Howl’s Moving Castle.
His work with animation, writing, and direction made Sherlock Hound an adaptation for the ages.
Case Closed (1996 – Present)
Creator: Gosho Aoyama
Starring: Minami Takayama (Voice), Megumi Hayashibara (Voice)
Based on the manga of the same name, Case Closed follows a young detective with a mind Holmes would be proud of.
Jimmy Kudo, a high school student with an uncanny knack for solving mysteries, turns into an elementary school child when an evil organization poisons him.
Adopting the new name Conan, he tags along with his mentor, a private detective, to solve cases before any of the grown-ups get the chance.
Sherlock Holmes In The 22nd Century (1999 – 2001)
Creator: Sandy Ross
Starring: Jason Gray-Stanford (Voice), Richard Newman (Voice)
Where To Watch: Tubi, Amazon Prime, Vudu
As the title implies, Sherlock Holmes suddenly wakes up to find himself in the future.
Holmes must work with a descendant of his friend Inspector Lestrade, who is also part of Scotland Yard, while still adjusting to the gadgets and culture of the far-flung future.
Together, they must once again take on his rival, Professor Moriarty, who has been cloned and revived in a similar way to Holmes.
House (2004 – 2012)
Creator: David Shore
Starring: Hugh Laurie, Robert Sean Leonard
Where To Watch: NBC, Apple TV, Peacock, YouTube TV, fuboTV, Amazon Prime
Granted, House isn’t Sherlock, nor is this series part of the true Holmesian universe—but the titular character, a doctor who solves medical mysteries, is simply too similar to ignore the detective’s influence.
Surly, injured, and addicted to Vicodin, House still possesses an incredible ability to notice small details and make diagnoses other doctors would completely miss.
If your favorite thing about Sherlock is his cleverness, House will be an enjoyable watch.
Sherlock (2009 – 2017)
Creator: Steven Moffat, Mark Gattis
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman
Where To Watch: Netflix, Vudu, Apple TV, Amazon Prime
In this rendition, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson live in modern-day London.
Dr. Watson has recently returned from Afghanistan, and is suffering from PTSD as a result. Holmes, meanwhile, is an antisocial man, with a knack for solving crimes that baffle Scotland Yard.
Together, they use their considerable skills to assist the police, following complex clues and arresting criminals, all to alleviate Holmes’ perpetual boredom.
Elementary (2012 – 2019)
Creator: Robert Doherty
Starring: Jonny Lee Miller, Lucy Liu
Where To Watch: Hulu, Apple TV, Vudu, Amazon Prime
In an interesting twist, Elementary follows Sherlock Holmes after he comes to New York City and meets Dr. Joan Watson, played by Lucy Liu.
Dr. Watson wants to help Holmes maintain his newfound sobriety from a drug addiction. He quickly becomes entrenched in the crimes of the Big Apple, then assists the NYPD in its efforts to apprehend criminals.
Few characters are so rich and beloved that they can transcend their source material, lending themselves to a host of settings, time periods, and even casting options.
Sherlock Holmes and Watson, with all their cleverness and snarky banter, will live on as long as humanity itself…and, perhaps, even longer.