If you were to ask numerous tourists visiting London, especially when poring over their travel maps and looking for directions to Baker Street, there are doubtless plenty who believe that Sherlock Holmes was a real historical figure. Such is the significance of the fictional detective created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, that although he never actually lived, his legacy genuinely forged a life of its own, making the character an authentic London icon.
Doyle’s original tales of Sherlock Holmes first appeared as short stories in The Strand Magazine, including a serialisation of The Hound of the Baskervilles, during the 1890s. Eventually, this led to a total of four novels and 56 short stories set during the Victorian and Edwardian eras. Even in the 21st century, the character remains a great source of inspiration.
Such is the enduring presence of Sherlock Holmes on the silver screen, that according to the Guinness World Records he is the most portrayed literary human character in film and TV. Indeed, when this record was announced in 2012, the character had been depicted on screen some 254 times. Needless to say, that tally has risen significantly since 2012 given that yet more productions have been released.
In the touching tale of Mr. Holmes in 2015, Sir Ian McKellen portrayed an ageing and retired former detective, suffering from the early signs of dementia and struggling to recollect his final case. Late in 2012 a Spanish language film titled Holmes & Watson: Madrid Days, followed the adventures of the duo, as they searched for Jack the Ripper in the Spanish capital. Meanwhile, since 2010, Benedict Cumberbatch has been hugely popular in his TV portrayal of the character.
Playing as the Great Detective
While it is believed that more than 75 actors have played the role of Sherlock Holmes in the movies, the character has also become a central character in video games, bringing a completely different perspective to exploring his most famous stories. Putting the player in control of his investigations, Ukrainian developer Frogwares has released numerous titles, all with original stories such as Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter.
It’s not only the adventure gaming genre that has provided representations of the fictional detective. Currently available to play at the Manekichi casino, Holmes & The Stolen Stones is a five-reel slot game featuring the classic character and his sidekick, Dr. Watson, avidly on the case of hunting diamonds. When five diamonds are revealed, players can win €24,000 or more, given there’s also a progressive jackpot linked to the game.
Inspiring Forensic Science
Finally, and perhaps most impressive of all, the fictional character of Sherlock Holmes is often credited with having invented modern forensics. Regarded as an authentic pioneer of criminology and the meticulous search for evidence at crime scenes, along with the careful study of physical evidence encountered during his investigations, the methodology of his fictional investigations has inspired real-world detectives for more than 100 years.
Indeed, even the Encyclopaedia Britannica cites Sherlock Holmes as a major inspiration towards advancements in modern criminology and forensic sciences. The careful study of fingerprints and footprints linking suspects to crime locations, or even graphology and the study of handwriting; all were methods used by Holmes in his quest for evidence that would resolve even his most difficult cases. Not bad as lasting legacies go, for a character who never actually lived.