5 Sherlock Holmes Reinventions That Aren’t Adaptions

Ever since Sherlock Holmes solved his first case in the 1887 novel “A Study in Scarlet”, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s characters have graced both the page and the screen in a variety of ways. Some of these modern depictions are striking, mirrored images of the famous duo of Holmes and Watson, while others veer drastically off the beaten path, choosing instead to reinvent and reimagine the characters as different people or in different settings. To celebrate the publication date of “A Study in Scarlet” and the debut of “Holmes and Watson”, here are five Holmes inspired pieces of media that are far from just strict adaptations of the original stories.

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Even with over one hundred years of material all spinning off from the original work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Watson are still met with great engagement from today’s audience. While some such material takes a very direct and traditional approach to adapting the work, such as the BBC series Sherlock and the Sherlock Holmes Robert Downey Jr. films, others find more unique ways to bring the characters to life, though not always in the same traditional form. In honor of the publication date of Doyle’s first Holmes novel, A Study in Scarlet, here are five unique interpretations of Holmesian characters and themes.

James Moriarty (Star Trek: The Next Generation by Gene Roddenberry)

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Starting off with something from the realm of science fiction, Holmes’ arch nemesis was created for the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, and appeared as a hologram in two episodes of the series. Starting out in an early episode of season two titled “Elementary, Dear Data” the holographic version of the iconic villain first gains sentience and awareness that he himself is a hologram in a simulation and not a real person at all, but in the end is restored back into the ships computer.

In a follow up episode from season six titled “Ship in a Bottle” the character makes a return to wreck havoc on the ship again by taking control of the computer systems. Defeated once more, the professor is left to experience the world as a living being inside a computer chip.

While the character himself is a classic antagonist from Holmesian literature, being placed in a science fiction setting and given much more depth than he receives in most media really does something for the character. As a hologram and not a true human being, he is left with a longing for life outside of the illusion of a program, and is willing to do whatever it takes to obtain it.

Nevermore (by William Hjortsberg)

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Based on the real life interactions between Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini, Nevermore tells a story of the two solving a spree of murders in 1920’s New York City that are imitating the works Edgar Allan Poe. A fairly typical sounding mystery when put like that, but that is only half the story. The supernatural element of the story comes in the shape of the duo’s helper in solving the mystery. Besides both Houdini and Conan Doyle working together to solve the case, the ghost of Poe himself makes an appearance to aid them in solving the grizzly murders.

Warlock Holmes – A Study in Brimstone (by G.S. Denning)

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Next we have the closest thing to an adaptation on this list, or in this case a mash-up of various Sherlock Holmes stories while focusing mostly on the plot of A Study in Scarlet. Warlock Holmes is a satirical take on the classic detective, who in this case is hardly able to solve even the simplest of mysteries, leaving Dr. Watson to be the true detective of the story.

Where this variant of Holmes is successful is his occult abilities. With the assistance of demons and paranormal powers, he is able to overcome most obstacles despite being an incredibly inept detective. Besides the incompetent Holmes and brilliant Watson, there are other reimagined characters as Inspector Vladislav Lestrade, a vampire, and Inspector Torg Grogsson, an ogre. A lighter, comedic version of a typical Sherlock Holmes adventure, but still a good one.

Dust and Shadow (by Lyndsay Faye)

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Dust and Shadow answers the question “What if Sherlock Holmes was involved in the Jack the Ripper case?” Written in the closest style to the original Conan Doyle novels and stories, the novel is told, like the classic stories, from the perspective of Dr. John Watson. Along with a friend of one of the first Ripper victims, Holmes and Watson take on one of the first recognized serial killers in the world in a mix of history and fiction that create a unique and original Holmes adventure that feels like a Conan Doyle tale with an entirely original plot.

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice (by Laurie R. King)

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In 1914, an aged Sherlock Holmes has left detective work to become a beekeeper, until a young woman named Mary Russell with intelligence that matches his own finds her way onto his home on the Sussex Downs. Laurie R. King’s novel examines the question of how a “modern twentieth-century woman” and man of the Victorian era would react upon meeting.

This book, while it may include Sherlock Holmes as a character, is not in and of itself a Sherlock Holmes mystery. Instead, it is a coming of age story for Mary Russell as she and the detective solve the kidnaping of an American senator’s daughter, where she herself begins to fill the role of an excellent detective. Filled with intrigue, action, and danger and no small amount of deduction from their pair, The Beekeeper’s Apprentice is the first of seventeen Russell-Holmes mysteries.

While these stories veer more off the beaten path for Sherlock Holmes, even more adaptations and reinventions of Sherlock Holmes can be found here!

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