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Why Sherlock Holmes Is an Exceptionally Well Written Character

Holmes and Watson illustrated by Sidney Paget.

Holmes and Watson illustrated by Sidney Paget.

The Tale of Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes... A truly legendary character, and a great detective in his own right... Authored by the late sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Sherlock Holmes is a character over a century old, and yet he's still one of the most popular characters in media history.
Few critics dispute the fact that sherlock holmes is a good character, but what makes him so good?

Every good character has a mix of three-traits that contribute to their depth and personality.
These traits are likability, competency, and perseverance
Likability is the character’s personality, how morally good or bad they are... Their charisma or lack there-of.
Competency is the character’s ability to do what they're meant to do. Is their performance outstanding, or lacking?
Perseverance is the character’s ability to keep going, to stand in the face of their adversaries, to persist against the odds...

Every single exceptional character excels in at least one-of these three-categories.
If a character excels in all three,-then you have a mary sue dilemma. This sort of character has no flaws to speak of, and usually, they have no depth.
Sherlock Holmes excels in his competency, he is a detective that solves cases with a logical genius that is almost fantastical.

Unfortunately, alone, his likability and perseverance have never been that excellent.
In the many iterations of his character, he has been described as a depressed, Sociopathic, Anti-social, Opiate addicted detective.
But the fact that he fails in these two categories is what makes him such a great character. His weaknesses are tangible, real afflictions that plague even the best of humanity.
As a result, audiences can relate to him... And sympathize with him. Because they might see some of themselves in him...

However, there's another thing that makes him a great character, and that's his partner Doctor John Watson.
Watson is a foil to Sherlock, he encourages him in the direst of hours. He brings out the likability in him while diminishing the bad traits that sherlock possesses.
This dynamic of relying on a partner is arguably a weakness in itself, however, it's one that audiences cherish and relate to.

At the end of the day, sherlock is a detective troubled by his unparalleled genius.
He's shunned because of his calculating mind, and his eccentric habits. He relies on Watson to ground him because he is incapable of doing so on his own. He is incapable of succeeding on his own...

His flawed nature is what makes him a great character. And it is his popularity that allows the adventures of sherlock holmes and doctor john Watson to live on.

Arthur Conan Doyle author of Sherlock Holmes, Photograph by Walter Benington

Arthur Conan Doyle author of Sherlock Holmes, Photograph by Walter Benington