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This article is about the Sherlock (BBC) pairing. You may be looking for Holmes/Watson.

Pairing: Sherlock Holmes / Dr. John Watson
Alternative name(s): Sherlock/John, John/Sherlock, Johnlock, SH/JW, Shwatsonlock, Hotson[1], Holmes/Watson
Gender category: m/m slash
Fandom: Sherlock (BBC)
Canonical?: No (well...)
Prevalence: Most popular pairing in Sherlock (BBC) fandom.
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Sherlock/John is the relationship between Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson from the BBC TV miniseries Sherlock. The pairing, also known as "Johnlock" or "Shwatsonlock," is the most popular pairing in the fandom; it is about twice more prevalent than all other Sherlock pairings combined.[2]

This fandom commonly uses first names for pairings, but the more traditional Holmes/Watson is still in use. See Holmes/Watson for other incarnations of this pairing.


The series is filled with hoyay and toys with the possibility of a romantic relationship between Sherlock and John. Notably, there is a dinner conversation where John thinks Sherlock is into men and Sherlock thinks John is coming on to him, so Sherlock gently (!) explains that he is "married to [his] work." A number of other characters assume that the two are a couple, such as the restaurant manager thinking the two are on a date, and Mrs. Hudson thinking that they might share a bedroom.

In the second episode, there is some tension surrounding John going on a date with Sarah, one which Sherlock ends up inviting himself along for.

In the third episode, it is established by Moriarty that John is Sherlock's "heart".

In series two, there are several examples of Sherlock and John's implied status as a couple. Episode one has John deny their status as a couple but Irene Adler insists that they are. As well, when John is speaking with his girlfriend, she tells him "You really are a good boyfriend... Sherlock Holmes is a lucky man," implying that he is devoted to Sherlock instead. There is a lot of speculation on Sherlock's sexuality in this episode as well. We are also given a scene with Mycroft snidely saying "how would you know?" to Sherlock's reply of "sex doesn't alarm me," to be later paired with Jim's nickname of "The Virgin."

Episode two has the inkeepers mistake John and Sherlock for a gay couple, apologizing for not getting them a double room.

Episode three has newspaper articles that say Sherlock has been seen frequently in the company of "confirmed bachelor John Watson" (an old fashioned term for closeted gay man).

TPTB's Reaction to Sherlock/John

[need, if you feel up to documenting some examples of this]


A variety of portrayals of Sherlock and John's sexualities and their relationship are common in fandom.

One very common plot of fanwork is the usually romantic storyline of how Sherlock and John come to discover their romantic and sexual attraction to one another. Some of these stories are framed with Sherlock doing an "experiment" of some sort. The experiment is sometimes either sexual or has a physical element that requires close contact, and John is required to participate or is sometimes annoyed or blackmailed into participating. These frequently lead to a consensual intimate or sexual experience in which they confess their feelings. Romantic fan fiction about Sherlock's anticipated return after Reichenbach also often follow the pattern of Sherlock and John slowing revealing their unacted-upon romantic feelings for one another. In reference to the possible scenario of Sherlock being injured and/or suffering from hypothermia and John providing the necessary body heat to save him by crawling into bed with him unclothed, this is increasingly often called 'naked healing'.

Other fanworks explore Sherlock and John's very close but platonic relationship. Such fics might be labled 'friendship fic,' 'Pre-slash' or 'bromance' in order to indicate the relationship being explored is neither traditionally romantic or sexual. Common tropes include John and Sherlock platonically sharing the same bed, cuddling, and getting married out of convenience.

John and Sherlock's relationship is often complicated such as when one is unable to reciprocate the other's desired type of relationship (read Sherlock is aromantic and is not able to return John's affection, Sherlock is asexual when John desires a sexual relationship, or John is straight and unattracted to Sherlock). Other stories explore Sherlock's complicated sexuality, fetishes, or Sherlock coming to terms with his attraction to John.

Some fans feel that the potential of a gay relationship between Sherlock and John is played for laughs and are not amused. They see the show as another in a long line of bromance shows that use "mistaken for gay" humour as a way of explicitly naming the characters as not gay.[3] [4]








See also List of Sherlock Holmes Communities and Forums.


  1. Hotson is also used to refer to Jude Law's Watson, as well as other Holmes/Watson pairings. See the mixed content under Tumblr's hotson tag.
  2. According to the pairing tags at the SherlockBBC LJ comm: Sherlock/John has 1089 posts, while all the other pairings add up to 547 posts. Sample taken 03 November 2010.
  3. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named kanata
  4. Creator Steven Moffat says, "It’s always definitely a love story. I don’t see why that means that sex has to be involved. What a weirdly sexualized world we live in where you insist they much be having sex as well. Why would they? John isn’t wired that way, whatever Sherlock is." Alyssa Rosenberg, Steven Moffat on Sherlock’s Return, the Holmes-Watson Love Story, and Updating the First Supervillain. May 7, 2012.
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