Sherlock vs. Elementary: An Observation

By Hanna Inoue on October 9, 2012

A lot of Sherlock fans have risen up against Elementary to say that it is a rip off of Cumberbatch’s performance and puts the name Sherlock Holmes to shame. Needless to say, that is a little ridiculous, seeing as a lot of shows have ripped off of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels. Sherlock, Elementary, and House are three examples of Sherlock Holmes spinoffs, and even the movies with Robert Downey Jr. are arguable.

However, in this instance of Sherlock vs. Elementary, I am going to break down the Holmes and Watson characters, as well as comment on the differences and similarities of the two shows.


Differences (and interesting points):

  • Benedict Cumberbatch’s character does a good job of not showing his feelings towards others, while Jonny Lee Miller has been shown to have held affections for a woman.
  • Miller’s character is an unstable drug addict, while Cumberbatch is a recovering smoker. While both have dabbled in habits that nowadays would not be deemed healthy, Miller is having a harder time recovering, while Cumberbatch only let his instability slip once.
  • Elementary has an interesting take by having the title credits as a Rube Goldberg-type sequence, relating it to the cause and effect that leads up to the solving of a mystery.
  • The biggest difference between the two shows is probably the fact that Watson is depicted as a woman in Elementary. Joan Watson is a level-headed Asian American woman who keeps Holmes in line and makes sure he doesn’t get back into drugs.
  • Miller’s Holmes appears to be a very hands-on, observant detective that acts attention deficit, and sniffs for clues like a hound dog. While Cumberbatch is also observant, he acts far less like a dog, and more like a hawk, observing rather than sniffing around for the clues.


  • Both shows display their titles over the silhouette of a city. While Sherlock is displayed over London, however, Elementary is over New York City
  • Both shows play violin music in homage to the face that Sherlock Holmes in Doyle’s novels played the violin

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