James Moriarty

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Name: James Moriarty
Occupation: Criminal Mastermind, Professor
Relationships: Sherlock Holmes (archenemy),
Colonel Sebastian Moran (side-kick),
Colonel James Moriarty (brother)
Fandom: Sherlock Holmes
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Professor James Moriarty is widely considered Sherlock Holmes' archenemy in the Sherlock Holmes series, although he is only directly involved in two of the original stories. Moriarty is a popular antagonist for pastiches.


He is the Napoleon of crime, Watson. He is the organizer of half that is evil and of nearly all that is undetected in this great city. He is a genius, a philosopher, an abstract thinker. He has a brain of the first order.
- Sherlock Holmes on Professor Moriarty, The Final Problem by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Holmes considers Moriarty to be his intellectual equal, and he admires Moriarty's skill even while he is horrified by his crimes. He considers Moriarty the most dangerous man in London, and even says of him, "if I could beat that man, if I could free society of him, I should feel that my own career had reached its summit."

Professor Moriarty is introduced in The Final Problem. Holmes is about to take down Moriarty's criminal operation, but fearing for his life Holmes flees England to Reichenbach Falls. There, both he and Moriarty allegedly fall to their deaths, though it is later revealed that Holmes survives.

Moriarty is a "man of good birth and excellent education," and he is a genius at mathematics.


Moriarty-centred fiction have been produced by numerous professional authors. The most notable are probably:

  • John Gardner; The Return of Moriarty (1974) and sequels
  • Michael Kurland; The Infernal Device (1978) and sequels
  • Neil Gaiman; A Study in Emerald (2003); Cthulhu Mythos crossover novelette.
  • Kim Newman; Professor Moriarty: The Hound of the D'Urbervilles (2011 - collected Moriarty novelettes). Moriarty also appears as a vampire in Newman's Anno Dracula (1992) though he is not the focus of the story.
  • Alan Moore; The League of Exraordinary Gentlemen (1999)

Sherlock Holmes (2009)

In Guy Ritchie's 2009 Sherlock Holmes film, Professor Moriarty is a shadowy character manipulating Irene Adler. For the film's sequel, Moriarty will be the film's main antagonist. The character will be played by Jared Harris.

Sherlock (BBC)

Jim Moriarty, played by Andrew Scott, is the main antagonist of the series. This depiction of Moriarty is possibly psychologically disturbed, and he plays a "game" with Sherlock Holmes where people die if Sherlock doesn't figure out a case in the allotted time frame.

Jim really plays up the hoyay between himself and Sherlock, much to the delight of fans.


Although not the main series villain, the identity of Moriarty was important in the climax of the first season of Elementary. The character's true identity is an important spoiler and has deliberately been omitted here, but can be found in the series entry.

Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century

In Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century, the long-dead Moriarty is cloned and resumes his life of crime in the future. This prompts Detective Beth Lestrade to resurrect Holmes to stop him, thus beginning the series. Moriarty is the antagonist behind nearly all the crimes in the show.


Star Trek: The Next Generation

A holographic version of Moriarty, played by Daniel Davis, appeared in two episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Originally created to be a challenging holodeck opponent for Data, it gained self-awareness, built equipment to seize control of the Enterprise, and demanded its rights as a sentient being.[1]

Doctor Who

The Master was made to be the "Moriarty" to The Doctor's "Sherlock Holmes".

The Librarians (2014)

In the second season of The Librarians the fictional sorcerer Prospero, who has become real thanks to the belief of generations of audiences, uses a surge of magic to summon Moriarty (David S. Lee) from a collection of Sherlock Holmes stories and bring him into the real world as his agent.



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