John Watson (Sherlock)

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Name: John Watson
Occupation: Blogger and partner of Sherlock Holmes, army doctor (retired), occasionally works at a clinic
Relationships: Sherlock Holmes (flatmate), Sarah Sawyer (romantic interest), Mrs. Hudson (landlady), Harriet "Harry" Watson (sister)
Fandom: Sherlock (BBC)
Other: Played by Martin Freeman
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Dr. John Watson is the flatmate and assistant of Sherlock Holmes in BBC's TV miniseries Sherlock. The character is a modern-day incarnation of the original Victorian-era John Watson of the Sherlock Holmes series. He is played by Martin Freeman.


Recently returned from war in Afghanistan, John Watson is introduced to Sherlock Holmes through a mutual friend because he is looking for a flat-share. John begins assisting Sherlock on cases, moves in with him, and begins blogging about their work together.

At the beginning of the series, John has a psychosomatic limp, intermittent tremors in his left hand, nightmares about his time in the war, arguably has PTSD, and is seeing a psychologist. Spending time on cases with Sherlock seems to help John cope with his war-related issues, and by the end of the first episode he is no longer limping.

John has a sister Harriet "Harry" Watson who he doesn't get along with. He begins seeing Sarah Sawyer romantically in the second episode, and is known to have had at least three girlfriends after her (the "one with the spots," the "one with the nose," and Jeanette "the boring teacher"). In Series Three, he gets engaged to and then marries Mary Morstan.


Fandom loves John for his jumpers (especially a certain 'oatmeal' one) and really loves giving him his limp back, bringing up the psychological trauma from his time in war, and shipping him with Sherlock. Fandom also frequently mentions his connection to hedgehogs often using "hedgehog" as a nickname, his love of jam (originating here) and spelling of his name Jawn.

War, PTSD and Mental State

John Watson is introduced with lingering psychological issues regarding his service in the Afghanistan war, such as dreams/nightmares, a psychosomatic limp, an intermittent tremor in his hand, and arguably PTSD. Although by the end of the episode these issues no longer seem to be in effect, fans enjoy exploring them in fanfiction, such as character studies and hurt/comfort, where the issues might be ongoing or more complicated.

A common complaint by fans is that the show removed his limp and war-related issues too quickly, and even hand-waving away any more complex mental or physical trauma. Fans are, of course, eager to correct this in fanworks where John often revisits his cane, gets tremors in his hand, and still has nightmares.

John is also depicted as an adrenaline junky in some fanworks, based mostly on Mycroft's assessment of John missing the war. The adrenaline rush of being with Sherlock Holmes on cases is sometimes attributed to PTSD-related thrill-seeking behavior.

John's shown in a deep depression when he copes with Sherlock's apparent death, many fanworks take this to show that the following period of time while Sherlock is absent, John will revert to requiring his cane again (frequently an observation made by Sherlock, noticing from afar). Since the show made the point ambiguous, fan speculation also argues whether or not he is aware of Jim Moriarty's death, so a few fanworks have shown him haunted by the PTSD of the loss of Sherlock and the fear and threat of Jim still out there. This has made many fics create a suicidal John Watson, sometimes one who takes his own life only for Sherlock to return and discover his death, others who have him saved by supportive characters like Mycroft or Lestrade.


Fans are happily depicting John as bisexual. John has a canonical interest in women; he tries to pick up 'Anthea', dates Sarah Sawyer, and then marries Mary Morstan. He also seems comfortable with the topic of sexuality, particular his "It's all fine" comment to Sherlock during their awkward dinner conversation on relationships. It's common, when addressing John's sexual history in fanfic, to include references to both male and female partners. It was also brought up and well-received in this meta post on John being bisexual by rachel2205.


John is most commonly paired with Sherlock Holmes (see Sherlock/John), as well as just about every other character in the show. John's most prevalent het relationship is the canonical John/Mary.[1] A few other prevalent ships are John/Mycroft (along with Sherlock-John-Mycroft tug-of-war fic), and John/Lestrade.


Examples Wanted: Editors are encouraged to add more examples or a wider variety of examples.




  1. ^ As of 7 Aug 2015, Mary/John on AO3 has 3677 works. It is unknown how many of these are endgame.