John Watson

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Name: John Watson
Occupation: retired army doctor, writer
Relationships: Sherlock Holmes (roommate), Mary Morstan (wife), Mrs. Hudson (housekeeper)
Fandom: Sherlock Holmes
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Dr. John Watson is the roommate and "biographer" of Sherlock Holmes. He was wounded in action (either in the shoulder or the leg, depending on the story) while serving as a doctor in Afghanistan and initially decides to share an apartment with Sherlock Holmes to save on rent; he remains friends with Holmes for life, but moves out at some point to get married. Watson is the narrator in most Holmes stories.

In stark contrast to his roommate, Watson is a ladies' man. He also enjoys following Holmes on his cases and is endlessly fascinated by Holmes's deductions. His characterization shifts in the later stories.


Exactly how many wives Watson had is a matter of considerable debate. As long as there has been a Sherlock Holmes fandom, Watsonian fans have debated whether the timeline errors indicate one wife or two. Some fans have even suggested as many as six wives.[1]

At one point in the stories, Watson marries Mary Morstan, a character from The Sign of Four. This is the wife most often used in adaptations and fanworks. In The Empty House, Watson refers to his wife's death, but in stories that seem to be set later, Watson has again moved out to live with a wife. This suggests that he had at least two (or that Doyle wasn't very good about continuity).

Continuity errors in The Five Orange Pips and A Scandal in Bohemia imply that Watson had a wife prior to Mary.[2]


Nigel Bruce

Watson was portrayed by Nigel Bruce beside Basil Rathbone's iconic Sherlock Holmes in a series of 14 films between 1939-1946. This Watson is very unlike canon and used for comic relief. Fans are not amused.

Russian TV

Watson was portrayed by Vitali Solomin.

Sherlock Holmes (Granada)

Watson was initially portrayed by David Burke in the first series. Edward Hardwicke took over for the rest.

Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century

Robot!Watson voiced by John Payne.

House, M.D.

Just as the character Gregory House was inspired by Sherlock Holmes, House's friend James Wilson was inspired by John Watson. Wilson is portrayed by Robert Sean Leonard. See James Wilson.

Sherlock Holmes (2009)

Watson is portrayed by Jude Law.

Sherlock (BBC)

Watson is portrayed by Martin Freeman. See John Watson (Sherlock (BBC)).


Elementary features a female Watson, named Joan Watson. She is portrayed by Lucy Liu.

Hark! A Vagrant

The many versions of the Watson character, from BAMF!Watson to Bumbling!Watson, are the subject of two Hark! A Vagrant cartoons, The Case of the Two Watsons and Another Case of Watsons. Hark! A Vagrant is a popular Yuletide fandom, and fanfiction has been written for the cartoons.[3]

One Older Trope: Leonard McCoy as John Watson and Sherlock Holmes

See Sherlock Holmes and Star Trek and Sherlock Tropes.


  1. ^ From "Counting Watson's Wives by Brad Keefauver, posted to Sherlock Peoria. (Accessed March 24, 2011.)
  2. ^ "Canonical Cruxes" on (Accessed March 24, 2011.)
  3. ^ Hark! A Vagrant works @AO3 (accessed 27 November 2012)