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. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had a friend named James on whom he based Watson[1] and originally intended to call the character "Ormond Sacker" rather than John Watson.[2]

He was wounded in action (either in the shoulder or the leg, depending on the story)[3] while serving as a assistant surgeon in India and Afghanistan. While recovering in a base hospital in Peshawar, he contracted enteric fever, and after months near death and then convalescing, he was invalided back to Britain in 1891, where he sought work and lodgings. Looking to share accommodation to cut the costs, he was introduced to Sherlock Holmes, a consulting detective, by their mutual acquaintance, Stamford. Holmes and Watson soon became close friends, and Watson took to accompanying Holmes on cases, and becoming his unofficial chronicler. He met his wife, Mary Morstan, during the course of a case.[4]

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.[5]

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. Continuity errors in The Five Orange Pips and A Scandal in Bohemia imply that Watson had a wife prior to Mary.[3] 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.


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.[6]

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

See Sherlock Holmes and Star Trek and Sherlock Tropes.


  1. ^ "Sherlockian.Net: Canonical cruxes". Archived from the original on 2012-11-25. Retrieved 2011-03-24.
  2. ^ "Sherlock Holmes". International Superheroes. Archived from the original on 2008-09-13.
  3. ^ a b "Sherlockian.Net: Canonical cruxes". Archived from the original on 2012-11-25. Retrieved 2011-03-24.
  4. ^ "Dr John Watson". International Superheroes. Archived from the original on 2009-02-11.
  5. ^ Brad Keefauver (2002-03-09). "The Wives of Dr. Watson – Couting Watson's Wives". Sherlock Peoria. Archived from the original on 2012-06-26. Retrieved 2011-03-24.
  6. ^ Hark! A Vagrant works @AO3 (accessed 27 November 2012)