Sherlock versus Watson





One of, if not the most famous character in literary history, Sherlock Holmes has been featured in books, plays, films, TV series and even his own slots games. Most of Holmes’s stories are told through his partner Doctor John Watson who, although having much less of a literary impact, is just as important as the man himself. We take a look at the differences between the two, and who makes a better detective?

Sherlock Holmes is often portrayed as an incredibly intelligent man, sometimes coming across as rude, abrupt and slightly strange. This is attributed to his over confident, occasionally arrogant attitude due to his ability to outsmart criminals, and often help solve seemingly impossible cases when the police are unable to. A complete workaholic, the meticulous attention to detail to his craft is often unrivalled. A complete introvert when he has no crimes to solve, sometimes not leaving his home at all, and a total extrovert when in his element. When focusing on a case, he often goes long periods without eating, as not to distract himself from the task at hand. Explaining this to Watson in The Case of The Mazarin Stone, he says:

“Because the faculties become refined when you starve them. Why, surely, as a doctor, my dear Watson, you must admit that what your digestion gain in the way of blood supply is so much lost to the brain. I am a brain, Watson. The rest of me is a mere appendix. Therefore, it is the brain I must consider.”


Doctor John Watson is a field surgeon who was injured in the second Afghan War, returning to England in poor health. He also shares his living residence at the infamous 221b Baker Street with Holmes, acting as the storyteller for most of the tales. Although no match for his partner, Watson is incredibly intelligent and very patient during his detective work. He never quite masters Holmes's deductive methods, but he can be sharp enough to follow his friend's reasoning after the mystery is solved. Although usually portrayed in the shadow of his colleague, it’s generally accepted that the two complement each other incredibly well. It would be difficult to state if one is better than the other as they both have their own merits and detractions. For instance, despite his advanced intelligence, Holmes is generally accepted to have a drug habit, one which despite the laws of the time allowing, Watson heavily opposes due to his medical background. Holmes has been known to inject a 7 percent solution of cocaine intravenously as a mental stimulant three times a day during downtime between cases, mostly due to boredom. However, it would be difficult to label him a complete addict as he doesn’t use the substance during his work. A brief reference to morphine by Watson could also mean that Holmes may well have been addicted to additional substances, but this is rarely mentioned.

Both characters personalities play heavily off each other, with Watson often seen as the considerably more empathetic of the two, while Holmes is the slightly colder, more calculated of the duo. Watson is generally considered Holmes’s only friend, and the detective’s opinions on love seem to reflect the idea that he considers it nothing more than a distraction of the mind. As previously mentioned, it would be difficult to say which is the better half of the coin, but it’s widely accepted that despite Watson’s keen eye and attention to detail, Holmes is the master detective of the two.