No Ship, Sherlock!

It goes without saying that Sherlock Holmes is one of the most beloved and famous fictional characters ever created. Ever since his first appearance in 1887 in A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, his popularity has never wavered. Obviously, his presence has only increased with the advent of visual mediums. There are too many examples of Holmes in film and television to count. A series simply titled Sherlock is one recent entry in the plethora of renderings of the character, and it makes itself unique in many ways. The storytelling in Sherlock uses its Sherlock and Molly relationship as a device for Sherlock’s character development and probably not as an actual endgame ship.

Sherlock premiered in 2010 and was created by Stephen Moffat and Mark Gatiss. It is set in modern-day London, and stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock and Martin Freeman as Dr. John Watson. The series is different from other present television series in that each episode runs an hour and a half, making for three feature-length installments per season. Also, each episode is loosely based on Doyle’s original works. Another thing that sets this show apart is that the three seasons and Christmas special were filmed around the stars’ film shooting schedules. This means fans don’t get a season every year.


The character of Molly Hooper, played by Louise Brealey, is another distinguishing feature. She is not based on any character in the source material. She is a pathologist at St. Batholomew’s Hospital, where Sherlock frequently goes for research, which Molly usually helps with. We first see Sherlock as he tests out how a riding crop bruises a corpse as Molly watches, then she asks him if he wants to have coffee and he misunderstands. It is clear Molly has feelings for Sherlock but he is oblivious. As the episodes go on, Molly tries to be in relationships with other men but they don’t last, while Sherlock is vocal about only being interested in his work. Molly’s feelings never go away and Sherlock seems to be opening up to the possibility of romance VERY slowly; however, it is likely that the series may not last long enough for this ship to become canon.

Of course, in the original Conan Doyle stories, Holmes’ romantic interest was Irene Adler, and the character does appear on this series during season two (played by Lara Pulver). She is definitely intriguing to Sherlock but she doesn’t have much of a presence in his emotional development on this show. Obviously, the most important relationship Sherlock has in any incarnation of the character is with John Watson, and that is true of this series, but Molly definitely has an effect on him.


He has given her a rare apology and kiss on the cheek in one episode, and when he misguidedly starts using drugs again as part of a case in the season three finale, she slaps him over it, getting through to him more than anyone else does. Perhaps most importantly, when Sherlock is forced to fake his death at the end of season two, Molly is the one who helps him. The final moments fans have seen involving these two characters was emotional, when Sherlock’s deranged sister forced him to get Molly to say “I love you” over the phone or she would kill Molly with a bomb. Saving Molly in this situation includes Sherlock saying “I love you” to Molly. All this grows the character of Sherlock from someone who was isolated emotionally to someone who is more comfortable being open.

Though it is possible in the future, the Sherlock/Molly ship on Sherlock has been used to date as more of a way of developing Sherlock as a character rather than as a canon ship. Fans did get to see an exciting moment in the third season premiere, when one theory of how Sherlock faked his death is shown to the audience and featured a kiss between him and Molly. A real moment like that is unlikely to occur, given that the series seems to have concluded with the fourth season due to the two leads’ other work. However, Moffatt has revealed that a season five has been planned so you never know. The interaction between the consulting detective and the pathologist may not be over after all.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rachel Sexton is from Ohio. She loves her parents and her dog Lily. She has to have acting, film, reading, and dance in her life. Her hobby is editing fan videos.

One thought on “No Ship, Sherlock!

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  1. I don’t ship Sherlock and Molly… but it’s not because I don’t like Molly! I can relate strongly to Molly, having once pined for 7 years over a single boy. I was a teen, though, not an adult, and I’d love to see Molly grow into her own person more fully if they do another season, one who is fond of Sherlock but not so bound up in her feelings for him. We shall see!

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