Sherlock Is Garbage, And Here's Why

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Video Essay
Title: Sherlock Is Garbage, And Here's Why
Creator: hbomberguy
Date(s): May 31, 2017[1]
Medium: Video, YouTube
Length: 1 hour 50 minutes
Footage: Various Sherlock Holmes adaptations, Jekyll, New Who, clips from interviews,
Fandom: Sherlock
Topic: Sherlock, Steven Moffat's run on New Who, The Johnlock Conspiracy
External Links: on YouTube
Title card for the video.
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Sherlock Is Garbage, And Here's Why is a video essay by YouTube media critic hbomberguy that heavily criticizes Sherlock, especially its fourth season, how the show treats its fans, the showrunner Steven Moffat and to a lesser extent Mark Gatiss. It's part of a series that hbomberguy does titled "X Is Garbage, And Here's Why," but the particular popularity of the Sherlock entry has lead to a trend on YouTube of very long videos with the same title in the hopes of gaming the algorithm.

As of September 2020, the video had over 5.31 million views, 125K likes, 17K dislikes, and 22,151 comments on YouTube. The video was taken down for copyright violation within minutes of it being posted on May 31st, 2017[1] but it was restored by June 1st, 2017.[2] Some segments of the video's Sherlock clips are still altered to avoid copyright claims.

The Video

Topics discussed

  • Stephen Moffat's writing and producing, particularly the terrible directing and editing in Jekyll and the problems with New Who while he was showrunner.
  • The differences between Sherlock and the original Arthur Conan Doyle stories and how Sherlock's writers seem to dislike telling mysteries.
  • The Johnlock Conspiracy, in which a large portion of fans were convinced that the fourth season of Sherlock would have a secret 4th episode that would fix everything about the show.
  • Sherlock's wasteful and at times bizarre production choices.
  • A deconstruction of a single scene in which hbomberguy just yells about a boomerang for five minutes.
  • The treatment of women in the show, especially Irene Adler, and the queerbaiting and homophobia presented by Moriarty.
  • Also everything about Moriarty.
  • The awful way fans are portrayed in the show and the contempt it shows for the strongest parts of Sherlock's fandom.


The video has 12 parts.


Then there are the two recent 1:45ish


Sherlock takes the core concept of the storytelling of Sherlock Holmes and why it works, crumples it up, hides it in one of six busts of napoleon, and then uses them as clubs to kill baby seals.

It opens on Watson's experiences scarring him and the murders that set up that episode's killer. See, it opens on Watson because historically Watson is the point of view from which the audience experiences Holmes. Watson is the one we actually relate to. We must first understand Watson to understand Holmes. Remember that, because it's the last time this ever happens on Sherlock.

Then Watson meets Holmes. He comes with him on a case and they begin to bond... and... almost the entire episode is focused on actually... solving... the crime. Y'know, th-the fun mystery story?

Well. [sighs] Sort of.

About 30 minutes in, Watson is taken out of the story to meet Sherlock's brother Mycroft, played by Mark Gatiss -- one of the other two writers of the show from Moffat. They take time, attention, and focus away from the plot of the episode at hand just to let you know as early as possible that Sherlock has a brother who's around, and he does stuff! He keeps popping up just to sort of let you know he exists, and he's keeping tabs on what's going on. But apart from that, almost a full hour is dedicated to trying to solve the crime.

The first two episodes are probably the closest the show ever gets to being good, because you get a lot of long stretches where the characters try to use deductive reasoning to solve a mystery. It's still bullshit, for reasons we'll get into later, but it's the least bullshit we're gonna get, and that makes it worthy of a fucking prize.

The key to mystery stories, the white-hot burning core of the genre that makes it what it is, is being given information — just enough that you could maybe figure out what was happening — and then having a character show you something about the information you managed to miss, or put the pieces together in a way you wouldn't expect. But to make sure you can't possibly solve it before Sherlock does—because he's supposed to be the most amazing, special boy in the world—they can't risk giving you too much information.

So they craft a story in which you're shown basically nothing, and then told: Bing! It's a legendary serial killer I just made up. Bing! Someone else told me the answer offscreen. Bing! It was a fucking boomerang!

Discussion and response

Tumblr, 2017

[Anonymous asked:]

Have you watched "Sherlock Is Garbage, and Here's Why" on Youtube? This video completely changed my perspective on the show (and not in a good way), and I need to talk to someone about it. If you've seen it, what did you think about it?


Hi Nonny!

I actually haven’t watched it yet, but it’s in my watchlist on YouTube. I think I’m procrastinating on it because I don’t like when people criticize us for “being too deep into the fandom” (which apparently he does, as do a lot of the reviews I have watched lately), but then back-pedals and calls us smart? *shrugs* I guess I shouldn’t judge until I’ve seen it; I’m terrible that way, I suppose. But I have heard that the YouTuber does hit the nails on the heads several times in regards to Moffat and his writing, and that it’s worth listening to just for that.

One of these days I’ll sit down and listen to it. Maybe when I’m arting or something. Regardless, you can still talk to me about it if you need to, LOL <3


1895itsallfine said: I hate when people say that too but it really isn’t done with that much malice (vs many many other things I’ve seen) and for me it was more than made up for by everything else. And he was pointing out that we simply loved the show and it’s totally understandable that we’d want to analyze a detective show (and that Mofftiss are hateful to then suggest we shouldn’t). Yeah he thought we were a little dumb to believe and trust in these total assholes but the sympathy was clearly with us imo.

Ah, okay, thanks for summarizing :P I should probably watch it.[4]

[Anonymous asked:]

I watched most of the "Sherlock is garbage, and here's why" video, and I had such mixed feelings. On one hand, I was like "yes, drag them for the mess of S4!"; but I was also like "screw you a bit for trashing my fav show", especially since he painted the conspirators in a naive way when they're very smart. It's a bit weird b/c I think the show deserves constructive criticism, but I feel uncomfortable reading it from casuals since they're probably missing so much that makes the show great. 😐[5]

[Anonymous asked:]

On the why Sherlock is garbage, I’ve only seen the part about s4 but ur right. He made fun of us for like being so dedicated and looking for more but then says that we’re so dedicated they don’t deserve us?? Idk he made good points but it could’ve been done without mocking us. we were constantly told “there’s more just be smart” so u can’t make fun of us for looking deeper when they always told us too. :/ also it’s dismissing how smart those fans are like,, those theories r so deep & smart?[5]

[Anonymous asked:]

Hey. It’s the “Sherlock is Garbage” anon again. I really really wanna know ur thoughts on the video, but I understand ur hesitation bc he does criticize us fans a couple times in the vid. However, it talks more about how Moftiss are actually shitty writers (they promise more interesting concepts/ideas in their cliffhangers but never deliver), and they treat us fans - the people who care about this show the most - like crap. He also touches on how cruel their queerbaiting is, etc.[5]

[Anonymous asked:]

I watched the 'Sherlock is garbage' video as well and I think he had good points, but I don't want to give up yet. Also idk how he researched and whether it was a coincidence but a lot of what he said was fandom meta stuff and I hated the way he belittled the fandom and acted like he was above it. I'm happy he acknowledged the queerbaiting, but at the same time he seemed to think j&s must be straight while clearly identifying moriarty as gay -.- as a lesbian and tjlcer I was kind of upset[6]


Maybe I need to watch it again but I don’t recall him ridiculing TJLC or Johnlock shippers? The only time he seemed to mock the fandom was when we were convinced there was a secret fourth episode…and even then he seemed to acknowledge that it came from the fault of TPTB making such a weak series that the fans were so desperate for it to be fixed.

I also clearly remembering him saying that Mofftiss “queerbaited the fuck out of their fans”, so again it’s him trashing the creators, not the Johnlockers themselves.[7]


What @kickingroses said. Also, the vid is by no means about the fandom. This is but a tiny part. For example, the first hour is about how Moffat repeatedly fucks up television narratives, shown for example on DW and Jekyll, which is really insightfull. Because here in fandom we tend to criticise the content of the show, whereas he, admittedly from a non-shipping perspective, talks more about and criticises Moffat’s pattern of story telling and its visual execution on TV. For me, as I am not an expert on TV story telling, this was very interesting and not the least condescending, because he gives loads of examples for it and works rather thorough. I truly recommend watching it (despite the catchy if offensive titel). It explains a lot.[8]


I watched it, and while he didn’t really insult or belittle us, I do feel he had the attitude of being above us. I dunno. It wasn’t a bad video. I knew nothing of Moffat (or Gaitiss for that matter) until I joined the Sherlock fandom, and then I only got to ‘know’ them from the fandom’ s perspective. So the background info on Moffat was very eye opening for me. To be honest if I knew Moffat’ s story telling patterns before I found Sherlock I’m almost certain I never, ever woulda believed in Johnlock to begin with. So, yeah, I dunno. I guess I’m glad I didn’t know all that about Moffat because then I woulda never joined this amazing fandom.[9]

[johnlocked-starkid asked:]

i've mentioned it before on a reblog of some ask, but the "Sherlock is Garbage" video doesn't exactly bash us. he does call a couple theories dumb, but he also says that the reason they're dumb is because we put too much faith in Mofftiss, who were queerbaiting the fuck out of us. And he makes more good points in that video than he does things i don't agree with. it hasn't made me hate the show, because it brought me to too many good things, but it's made me aware of Moffat's fails w/ this stuff[10]


About the ‘Sherlock is garbage’ video- I don’t agree with it but I’m kinda glad it exists - after watching the video I checked out some other videos on his channel and liked them - he argues against Antifeminsm and ridicules pick up artists - most of his views are views that I agree and it was great to discover his channel but I don’t agree with him on Sherlock -

some of his criticisms are objectively hard to disagree with but with some others its like he wanted the series to be fundamentally different and go in a different direction. He probably wanted a different show than the show Sherlock was trying to be (a show about a detective rather than a detective show)

I personally take the video as a sort of reminder that just because a person doesn’t agree with the views you hold and calls something you like garbage dosent mean that they are narrow minded assholes and have a condescending attitude about everything (after the video was posted here I did see some people trying to paint him as a pick up artist apologist just by looking at a title of his video which was unfortunate) I personally struggle with this sort of thing where I would fall into the trap of judging someone by their comments on one thing and this video is a nice reminder to have

And he didn’t make fun of the fandom (he joked about the lost special theorists but he waited for a fourth episode to be released before making the video which means that he took the theories at least a little bit seriously)[11]


Same. I enjoyed it yet didn’t agree with all of it, but the criticism is legit and I’m glad it exists as a counterpoint. It’s well-researched and a viewpoint of non-tjlc watcher we otherwise wouldn’t have any insight. Need more content on this level, tbh.

It’s so easily to dismiss a tjlc reading, but rarely do I ever see any meta on the same depth research-wise as tjlc-meta.

Without it being you know, disproportionately preoccupied in being disparaging towards the tjlc-reading.[12]

[Anonymous asked:]

Don't watch the Sheelock is Garbage video. I don't know about you but for me any non-romantic reading of the show does not make sense. Without Johnlock, this show is a mess.. it is a love story and if you try to view it only as some superhero/ thriller show you won't like it, so it is only natural that guy didn't.[13]



Oh, I know I won’t like it, but as someone who also is not a fan of S4, and as someone who listens to all arguments, I think it would be beneficial to me to listen to it at the very least. And the reason S4 was kind of shite was because they essentially erased all the Johnlock and left us with Not Our Show. It’s on my playlist, I’ll get around to it eventually.

That said, many people who also view Sherlock with the Johnlock goggles also know that the problems presented in the video do exist, especially if S4 is truly the end; it essentially negates EVERYTHING that happened before it.[13]


There is a reason why this video was created only after S4. It means that the creator clearly also hoped that things would be resolved eventually and they weren’t. I actually think it was good that the video omitted the romance part of the show and pointed out how the whole thing didn’t make much sense. Because the thing is… Sherlock would make sense if it was a romance. It would make sense that the cases weren’t too clever or that they were for most part very personal to Sherlock. Since the creators denied the romance SO HARD, they destroyed their own show in the process.

Many johnlock supporters can’t watch not only S4 but also the rest of the show anymore. And I am one of them and it’s because in the light of the S4, other seasons seem hateful too. This is why watching Sherlock is Garbage gave me pleasure because it justified that I feel betrayed.[14]


I️ mean I️ was shocked to find that he did mention queer fans and a queer analysis of the show (if I’m remembering correctly). I️t was very brief and not his main point at all, but at the very least I️ think he mentioned it[15]


The moment in the video that really stood out to me was how the creators showed contempt for their own fans, introducing things and then dropping them. Teasing things and then making fun of people for falling for it. Or at least that was what I walked away from it. Betrayed. That’s how I felt after S4. And while I didn’t buy all of the criticisms in the Garbage video (the boomerang killing that guy was ok with me) I felt quite validated by a whole lot of it.[16]


It’s actually a very good, eloquent video about the problems of the show and while I disagree with him on certain specifics (re: boomerang, which is like acd canon just reimagined), it is a really good video. For me, it was really cathartic watching the video and seeing the show ripped apart and TPTB being criticized for their inconsistent story and in-world rules.[17]

Dreamwidth, 2018


Good grief, some spent the time of 1 1/3 episodes of Sherlock to say how bad it is? Wouldn't just not watching it be easier?[18]


His stuff is actually really well done - it's not just some ill thought out anti-Sherlock rant on Tumblr[19]


A good listen. Thanks for the rec!

I didn't agree with all of it (e.g.: there's nothing inherently bad about adapting Holmes stories in a more connected way, especially since ACD!Moriarty's status as "Napoleon of crime" was even more ethereal and poorly-established than BBC!Sherlock's crimesolving genius), but it was fast-paced and funny. It was cool to see Doctor Who and Jekyll analysis woven in (fan of the first, never seen the second).

And since I bailed on the show after s3, it was nice to get a summary of s4 in a snarky, abbreviated package.[20]


I also found the comments about Doctor Who very interesting—the idea that it's shifted from "the Doctor as the main character in adventures" to "the show is about the Doctor"—and the insights about good!Moffat vs. crappy!Moffat.

I found the last 20% or so sort of rambly/repetitive, but then again it was about S4 (which I did not see), so that could have been the material.[21]


Yeah Moffat's effect on Doctor Who's direction has definitely been felt - though somehow this current season (his last of course) is a return to form for Doctor Who![22]


... which in itself somewhat validates hbomberguy's claim that Moffat does much better when he's got restrictions (e.g., a single episode).[23]

Tumblr, 2018


this is the best video ive ever seen and i used to be a dedicated johnlock hoe

mind you i was under 18 at that point and didnt have the same perspective, but this video breaks down exactly how i swallowed all the moffat’s nasty loads and why and why we should quit doing that

i cannot believe i defended this man on this website multiple times spending the priceless hours of my youth on trying to explain his misogyny but even back then i knew my argumentation was flawed but my delusion was too strong so go figure[24]

Tumblr, 2019


[...] I absolutely didn’t agree with everything he talked about, of course not, but he made valid points and criticisms from someone who is watching the show as a SHOW.

From a non-Johnlocker, it’s a fair and honest review of the show which touches upon a lot of the problems many people had with it who ARE fans.

BUT I’m biased, so any reading of a show that’s non-Johnlock doesn’t make sense to me, LOL. BUT I appreciate his opinion from a casual fan who’s mindful of the fanbase and our feelings of how hollow S4 left us.


All in all, it’s worth a watch to see how “The Openminded Casuals” (for lack of a better term) saw the series as a whole.[25]


It’s amazing how so many people copy this format and still don’t get what makes this video work

Yes it’s long, it’s an hour and fifty minutes but

  1. he has a passive tone throughout
  2. the segments on the video are perfectly divided and the editing is masterful
  3. the issues he presents in his video are obvious issues and not stuff that are clearly born out of an irrational hatred for everybody involved
  4. he actually fucking researches the shit he talks about so he can back up the fucking points he set out to make god fucking dammit it’s T H A T S I M P L E[26]

It’s so great hbomberguy made the video “Sherlock is Garbage and here’s why” as a form of repayment to me specifically for having to exist through 2013[27]


External links


  1. ^ a b @hbomberguy's announcement tweeet, May 31st, 2017 at 7:21. According to this tweet it was taken down by 7:24PM.
  2. ^ hbomberguy, June 01, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k MintStars, comment on YouTube in July 2018. Accessed 10 October 2018. It was missing Part Twelve: CONCLUSION
  4. ^ inevitably-johnlocked, June 14th, 2017
  5. ^ a b c Asks sent to inevitably-johnlocked, June 16th, 2017.
  6. ^ ask sent to inevitably-johnlocked. June 19th, 2017.
  7. ^ kickingroses, June 19th, 2017.
  8. ^ isitandwonder, post no longer available.
  9. ^ neptune-centari, June 27th, 2017.
  10. ^ Anonymous ask on inevitably-johnlocked, June 27th, 2017.
  11. ^ submitted to inevitably-sherlocked by optimisticcandydream, November 9th, 2017.
  12. ^ averybritishbumblebee, November 28th, 2017.
  13. ^ a b inevitably-johnlocked, November 8th, 2017.
  14. ^ delicatelystrangepolice, November 8th, 2017.
  15. ^ witch-lock, November 9th, 2017.
  16. ^ pj-gingernuts, November 9th, 2017.
  17. ^ nobu-akuma, November 26th, 2017.
  18. ^ tptigger, June 7th, 2017
  19. ^ wolfpurplemoon, June 7th, 2017
  20. ^ erinptah, June 7th, 2017
  21. ^ silverr, June 10th, 2017
  22. ^ wolfpurplemoon, June 10th, 2017
  23. ^ silverr, June 10th, 2017
  24. ^ dontmesswithnoheroin, January 8th, 2018
  25. ^ inevitably-johnlocked, January 4th, 2019.
  26. ^ ankle-beez, January 21st, 2019.
  27. ^ devilsviolets, February 2nd, 2019.