Work Header

Johnlock 101 – An Introduction to The Johnlock Conspiracy

Work Text:


TJLC: Johnlock is endgame. The writers have always intended John and Sherlock to end up in a romantic relationship. They are planting subtextual clues for viewers to find and piece together the puzzle of the century while systematically lying when asked about it. They are not, in fact, queerbaiting their audience.

People new to TJLC might think we’re all mad and have joined Sherlock in a drug-induced daze of wishful thinking. I grant you, when I first heard the theory that “Johnlock is endgame”, I sighed longingly while chiding myself for being so naïve as to think it would ever happen in real life. Then I started reading meta and subsequently drowned in evidence until I just couldn’t deny that I’m not actually delusional, that it’s actually there and we are not at all mad. Well, at least not when it comes to TJLC.

The aim of this essay is to show that TJLC has a point to people who haven’t spent endless hours reading up on it, who are skeptical, or who are just interested in the topic.

I might call this an “essay”, yet I am not (technically) setting out to convince anyone. I also don’t speak for all TJLCers. Just because I think it’s a strong theory doesn’t mean everyone will, or even that they should. TJLC is one interpretation of BBC’s Sherlock and its subtext. TJLC itself is not one giant hive mind believing the same thing – everyone perceives art, whatever its form, differently. If they didn’t, there’d be no reason for the humanities and the word would be boring…

So no, I am not setting out to impose my opinion of things on you. This is not a polemic document. I am merely presenting my view on TJLC’s findings – where you go from there is entirely up to you.

Let’s begin, shall we?



ASiP = A Study in Pink, 1×01 |  TBB = The Blind Banker, 1×02 |  TGG = The Great Game, 1×03 |  ASiB = A Scandal in Belgravia, 2×01 |  HoB = Hounds of Baskerville, 2×03 |  TRF = The Reichenbach Fall, 2×03 |  MHR = Many Happy Returns, minisode |  TEH = The Empty Hearse, 3×01 | TSoT = The Sign of Three, 3×02 | HLV = His Last Vow, 3×03 |

[number] = If there is a specific meta I’m referring to, I will indicate it as such.

Transcripts by Ariane Devere on LJ


The origins of #tjlc

After a two year hiatus, January 2014 finally saw the return of BBC’s Sherlock. Fans were rewarded with a Sherlock/Molly kiss and a Sherlock/Moriarty almost-kiss, and despite some critique that the BBC was mocking its fans, fandom mostly was in high spirits when it was time for episode two, TSoT.

It was this episode that gave TJLC ammunition and within hours after its premiere, Tumblr users joolabee and graceebooks conceived the acronym #tjlc, which then spread in the following days [1]. On January 7th, loudest-subtext-in-television posted “Trust in Gatiss: Operation Johnlock is Go” [2], which put into words what many Johnlock shippers were feeling – that the romance between Sherlock and John is real.


A note on sexuality

Yes, non-heterosexual people are in the minority. Yes, most TV shows are about straight people. So when you see a boy and a girl meet on screen, it is reasonable to assume that they might be sexually and romantically interested in each other.

However, this is a bias that has been perpetuated by a lack of representation of LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual) characters in the media. Representation is a big issue (but not the topic here).

Yet what it shows us is this: unless a character states outright “I am straight”, the viewer can only assume their sexual orientation, not know for sure. Please keep this in mind.


The most prominent arguments for TJLC

The selection and sequence of arguments is entirely due to my personal bias and degree of exposure to meta. This is by no means a hierarchical compilation of ALL meta out there. I am endeavouring to do the latter in my Meta Masterpost [3].

Here I will be as chronological as possible while pointing out the blog and Network app at the end of season 1 and 2 respectively. The “big guns”, referring to “real life” evidence and hints, can be found at the end.



A Study in PINK

In Conan Doyle’s original works, the story is called “A Study in Scarlet”. Now, Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat could have chosen ANY colour. A Study in Red. A Study in Green. A Study in Blue. A Study in Purple.

But no. They went with the stereotypical “gay colour”, pink. Huh.


“Black, two sugars.” – Sherlock and flirting (part I)

When the viewer first meets Sherlock, he is in the morgue, using a riding crop on a corpse while Molly shows obvious interest in him. She even asks him out on a date – well, not that Sherlock understood it that way.

MOLLY: Listen, I was wondering: maybe later, when you’re finished…
SHERLOCK: Are you wearing lipstick? You weren’t wearing lipstick before.
MOLLY: I, er, I refreshed it a bit.
SHERLOCK: Sorry, you were saying.
MOLLY: I was wondering if you’d like to have coffee.

SHERLOCK: Black, two sugars, please. I’ll be upstairs.
(He walks away.)
MOLLY: … Okay.

This is the very first clue the viewer receives as to Sherlock’s lack of interest in women. Someone as smart as him doesn’t realise he is being asked on a date… curious. We’ll see another person professing their interest in Sherlock later this episode and – surprise – that time he notices! More on that later, though, because now John enters the scene!


The Wink 

ASiP wink

Mike Stamford introduces John to Sherlock since they both are looking for flatmates. While the scene itself contains subtle clues, it is Sherlock’s choice of goodbye that struck a chord with me even when I first watched ASiP.

He winks at John. Winks. Maybe not seductively, but it’s not a conspiratorial wink either…


Heternormative bias

Sherlock deduces John has a brother who has recently separated from his wife since the engraving says “For Harry, from Clara xxx”. Sherlock was spot on – apart from the gender. Harry is, in fact, Harriett, John’s lesbian sister. Which not only shows that John has had contact with queer people before, but also plays on heteronormative bias: that Harry and Clara have to be a straight couple. Sherlock, like the viewer, falls for it, just like the writers intended us to.


Mycroft suggests marriage and sex

Someone we later discover to be Sherlock’s brother offers John money for spying on Sherlock:

JOHN: In exchange for what?
MYCROFT: Information. Nothing indiscreet. Nothing you’d feel… uncomfortable with. Just tell me what he’s up to.

Mycroft’s words are heavy with innuendo. If you read it as a sexual innuendo, this is another clue that Sherlock might be partial to men.

Oh, and he also says this early on:

MYCROFT: Mmm, and since yesterday you’ve moved in with him and now you’re solving crimes together. Might we expect a happy announcement by the end of the week?

Yes, this is hyperbole. But, generally speaking, marriage is on the table? If anyone knows, it would be Sherlock’s big brother, wouldn’t it?


Mrs Hudson and the second bedroom

Contrarily, Mrs Hudson immediately assumes John is Sherlock’s partner. “There’s another bedroom upstairs if you’ll be needing two bedrooms” and “There’s all sorts round here. Mrs Turner next door’s got married ones” is another clue to Sherlock’s potential homosexuality.

Just like Mrs Hudson, restaurant owner Angelo immediately assumes John is Sherlock’s date. Both of them and Mycroft have known Sherlock for some time, so if anyone knows what Sherlock prefers, it would be them.


John hitting on Sherlock at Angelo’s – Sherlock and flirting (part II)

Like the audience, John catches up on all these little hints. As a soldier, he addresses it straight on (no pun intended) and actually asks Sherlock whether or not he has a girlfriend.

SHERLOCK: Girlfriend? No, not really my area.
JOHN: Oh. Oh? Right. [pause] Do you have boyfriend? Which is fine by the way.
SHERLOCK: I know it’s fine.
JOHN: So you’ve got a boyfriend?
JOHN: Right. Okay. [licks lips] So you’re unattached. Like me. Fine. Good.

If you look at the dialogue alone you’ll see what TJLCers mean: John is actually hitting on Sherlock, who realises this (which he didn’t or pretended not to in Molly’s case, mind you) and tells John that he is married to his work. Okay then. John backpedals and the case distracts them again, yet the point stands.

And if you’re having trouble seeing it, just imagine the scene playing out with a man and a woman instead. NOW they’re definitely flirting, right? Since we have hints from three different people who have known Sherlock for a while, it is not unreasonable to assume that Sherlock is not, in fact, heterosexual.


“Not gay”

This point ties in directly with the previous argument. Many hold this against TJLC since John himself says that he’s straight.

Wait, wait – he doesn’t say that. What exactly is he saying?

JOHN: Of course we’ll be needing two. [to Mrs Hudson regarding the bedrooms]
JOHN: I’m not his date. [to Angelo]
JOHN: I am not gay. [in The Empty Hearse]

He always says something along the lines of “I’m not gay” and NEVER anywhere where Sherlock might hear him. Remember what I said about bias. “Not gay” does not equal straight. John might be bisexual. Or pansexual. Or demisexual. Or bi-curious. Or, or, or.


They’re queerbaiting, you say?

Queerbaiting = When people in the media (usually television/movies) add homoerotic tension between two characters to attract more liberal and queer viewers with the indication of them not ever getting together for real in the show/book/movie. [urban dictionary]

More on that later, but in the meantime remember that co-creator Mark Gatiss is gay. Do you really think a gay man would sign off on or actually write a scene that queerbaits?


The acting – long looks

HoB longiing look

They stare into each other’s eyes. They look at each other’s lips… Sherlock looks longingly at John. And yes, those might all be just biased interpretations. However, on TV, nothing is a coincidence. If a scene doesn’t work like it was planned, for example if it looks “too gay”, it will be reshot or shot will be chosen that looks “less gay”. But on Sherlock, they kept the eye-sex in.

In that vein, every emotion you see on screen is intentional. It could have been cut differently, but it wasn’t.


The Unaired Pilot

… has been dubbed “gay pilot” by some fans. It’s only 60 minutes long and was produced by Moffat and Gatiss to pitch their project to the BBC. Now, the BBC not only bought it, but decided to turn it into 90-minute episodes with a bigger budget.

Why “gay pilot”, though? The scene at Angelo’s, for example.

unaired pilot candle angelo unaired pilot candle both2 unaired pilot candle sh

Its tone is even more romantic than in ASiP and then there is this scene [link directs to YouTube video]. If you’re not seeing it, listen to the music and imagine John being a woman and voilà.

Also, 221B is lit up like a brothel in the Unaired Pilot, but cinematography is another matter and I don’t want to get too deeply into the technical aspects here.


Shaftesbury Avenue and Anteros

Unaired pilot title card

The title card of the Unaired Pilot features a statue, more specifically the statue of Anteros, the Greek God of requited love. It is located on Shaftesbury Avenue and if you’re giggling like I was when I read that for the first time, you’re not wrong to do so. Shaftesbury Avenue has all sorts of homosexual connotations and it constantly shows up in BBC’s Sherlock: it features in The Blind Banker (it’s where Sherlock and John find the first code in the Chinese Emporium), the Network Game (more on that later), and in The Geek Interpreter, a case detailed on John’s blog.

So, the Greek God for requited love on Shaftesbury Avenue. This leads TJLCers to the conclusion, which is still only one of many, that Johnlock has been requited since the pilot, or in the least that the sexual attraction has been present since the pilot – on both sides. (For transparency’s sake: There is still a bit of discussion about when exactly John and Sherlock fell for the other.) [4]


“People might talk” and the blowjob shot

Moriarty kidnaps John and dresses him in semtex. When Sherlock is finally able to free John of his semtex vest in The Great Game, Sherlock falls to his knees in front of him… Now, they could have chosen any other camera angle for this, but no, they chose the one that makes it look like Sherlock is giving John a blowjob.

TGG blowjob

Afterwards, John comments, “People might talk” to which Sherlock replies “They do little else.” These sentences were consciously put there and might be hinting that yes, the writers know what viewers are thinking. They are aware of how it looks. And they still kept it in.


John’s PIN

John’s PIN is 7437, which translates to SHER on a mobile phone keypad. It is the same code that unlocked Irene Adler’s phone and I’m sure we all recall the “I AM ____ LOCKED” display. Conclusion: John is Sherlocked, too.

Yes, it might be a coincidence. But look at his:

john's pin

They SHOWED the numbers. They consciously wanted viewers to see them. Why, if not to point to an underlying meaning?


Promo pictures

Look at them. Really look at them. How heterosexual are they? How would they look if you exchanged either John or Sherlock for a woman?

This is promotional material produced by professionals. This is intentional and not just a coincidence.

Sh promo pic2 Sh1 promo pic Sherlock Series 3


The Blog

Oh, this is worth a few thousand words of its own… For brevity’s sake, let me summarize: John’s Blog as well as Sherlock’s website “The Science of Deduction”, Molly’s Blog and Connie Prince’s website all belong to the Sherlock universe the BBC has created.

The BBC tasked Joe Lidster with writing the entries, which not only sum up cases we see on the show but also add to the narrative. Furthermore, other characters comment on John’s articles. His sister Harry is a prominent feature and she seems to find it hilarious that John’s army mates consider him a womanizer.

There is The Aluminium Crutch which reinforces (subtextually) that Sherlock is in love with John. [5] The Speckled Blond hints at why John’s relationship with his family is abysmal, something Sherlock deduced in the pilot. [6]

The Geek Interpreter tells us about a conspiracy and the person who believed it was real was called crazy for it, yet in the end it turned out to be true… [7]

I could go on, you know. :D



Irene Adler and the Battersea Scene

Irene lures John to Battersea Power Station where the following exchange happens:

JOHN: We’re not a couple. [referring to Sherlock and him]
IRENE: Yes you are.
JOHN: Who the hell knows about Sherlock Holmes, but if anyone out there still cares, I’m not actually gay.
IRENE: Well, I am. Look at us both.

Translation: They both like women, but have also fallen for Sherlock.

And John DOES NOT DENY her implication. Again, he says he’s not gay, not that he is straight. Also, his denial is not played for laughs. This is not a gay joke. Irene sees what’s going on between John and Sherlock, namely that John is interested in Sherlock but Sherlock has (probably, not that Irene can be sure) declined his advances.

On a musical note – John’s and Irene’s themes are similar. I have no ear for musical meta, so this isn’t prominently featured here, but as far as I could tell from reading meta on the soundtrack, it’s a huge subtextual field on its own. [8]


Sonnet 57

John counted 57 texts from Irene to Sherlock by ear (let that sink in). Shakespeare’s Sonnet 57 is considered to be about a man, not a woman. Of course the writers might have chosen a random number… but then again, look at this Twitter conversation:

twitter 57

Yes, 57 is an absolute coincidence…. *waving-sarcasm-flag*


The Network Game

Yes, the BBC released an app! In the game you function as a member of Sherlock’s homeless network and help solving cases. John does most of the running around since Sherlock is at home in Baker Street. At one point, Mrs Hudson is kidnapped and together with John you have to try to find her. It is noteworthy that while John is wearing his wedding ring, there is not a single mention of Mary in the entire game.

In the end, John himself falls into the kidnapper’s hands. Sherlock, of course, rushes to his rescue, a video sequence that includes very Johnlock-heavy material from the show and Sherlock’s emotional anguish when faced with the possibility of losing John… It’s all very, very romantic. [10]

Why go to such lengths for an app (an app!) if not to contribute to a point the show is trying to make?



Mind Palace in TSoT – Lies and Deceit

During Sherlock’s best man speech, he enters his mind palace.

This is extensive in terms of subtext. The scene with multiple laptops is actually also a room in Sherlock’s mind palace (notice the clothes change in John? Or how Sherlock is suddenly standing when he wasn’t previously? And the sudden appearance of food?), just like the court room. Now Vicky, the blond woman in red, is believed to be a stand in for John, and the room in Baker Street is interpreted as representing Sherlock’s heart. [11]

However, the most striking thing about this entire scene – for me, for the sake of this essay – is this exchange:

(In the Council Chamber, Tessa smiles brightly at Sherlock.)
TESSA: Enjoy the wedding.
SHERLOCK (pointing at her): The wedding. You knew about the wedding; more importantly you’d seen a wedding invitation. Now barely a hundred people had seen that invitation. The Mayfly Man only saw five women. For one person to be in both groups… (he tilts his hand back and forth)… could be a coincidence.
MYCROFT (disapprovingly, offscreen): Oh, Sherlock.
(Sherlock turns around. Mycroft is up on the dais, standing in front of the Chairman’s chair. The women have vanished.)
MYCROFT: What do we say about coincidence?
SHERLOCK: The universe is rarely so lazy.
MYCROFT: So the balance of probability is…?
SHERLOCK: Someone went to great lengths to find out something about this wedding.
MYCROFT: What great lengths?
SHERLOCK: They lied, assumed false identities.
MYCROFT: Which suggests…?
SHERLOCK: Criminal intent.
MYCROFT: Also suggests…?
SHERLOCK: Intelligence, planning.

This scene is twofold (at minimum) regarding TJLC: initially, Sherlock stood in a courtroom full of women and said “not you” to about 100 of them… Okay, it was relevant for the case. BUT. The Mayfly Man is subtextually linked to John (for example, his name is Jonathan Small), and the Mayfly Man was looking for a person “who was in both groups at once” another hint towards John’s bisexuality. [12]

As to the second point: on the surface, they are talking about the case of the Mayfly Man. On a subtextual level many argue that Mycroft, played by co-creator and writer Mark Gatiss, is actually talking about the creator’s lying constantly about their plans regarding Johnlock. Sure, it might look like only seeing what we want to see, but in the context of the entire Johnlock Conspiracy it falls into place neatly.

More on Moffat and Gatiss admitting to lying near the end…


The Elephant in the Room

There have been elephants hidden throughout The Empty Hearse:

elephants1elephants3 elephants2  [13, also picture source]

The metaphorical elephant in the room when it comes to BBC’s Sherlock has always been Johnlock. In The Empty Hearse, the show gave us a Sherlock/Molly kiss and even a Sherlock/Moriarty (almost) kiss, but they decidedly left out the one true pairing of their fanbase… because it’s not a fantasy. It’s going to happen, just like in The Sign of Three, there is an actual elephant in an actual room but John can’t talk about it on his blog and Sherlock can’t talk about it in his speech since it’s top secret.

Is anyone still wondering why we’re calling it a conspiracy?


Donde Estas Yolanda

This song plays during John’s and Sherlock reunion. Now let’s look at a translation:

Where are you, where are you, Yolanda?
What happened, What happened, Yolanda?
I looked for you, I looked for you, Yolanda,
And you’re not there, you’re not there, Yolanda.

The sparkle in your eye
the fire of your lips
conquered my heart and I fell in love with you.

If someday I was to find you
I wouldn’t know what to do
and I think I will go crazy
if I never see you again.

It’s a very romantic song, so why choose it for John’s and Sherlock’s reunion if you don’t want to compare them to lovers who have been apart?


Lyrics to Stag Night

While we’re on the subject of lyrics, let’s briefly talk about the songs playing during John’s stag night. “We found love in a hopeless place” by Rihanna is just one of many suggestive songs.

Remember, everything you see and hear on screen is the result of immaculate planning. Using this song, and the others, was a conscious decision. If the show runners didn’t want us to interpret this as Johnlock they could have chosen “You’ve got a friend in me” or anything else that’s not explicitly romantic.


“It’s always you, John Watson”

Many have pointed out that Sherlock figures out he is in love with John, has been for a long time, during his best man’s speech. [14] The actual deduction is complicated (please refer to the cited sources), but the sentence “It’s always you, John Watson. You keep me right” pretty much sums it up, especially since earlier that scene, Sherlock has said “not you” to about 100 women and twice to Mycroft, who is certainly more governed by cold reason than Sherlock ever was.

SoT it's you2 SoT it's you1


Sherlock leaves the wedding early, just like Mrs Hudson predicted

Mrs Hudson told Sherlock about her friend who left the wedding early. “Who leaves a wedding early?” The answer: Sherlock.

Sh leaves wedding

In the same breath Mrs Hudson foreshadowed that Sherlock and John wouldn’t see each other much after the marriage – it “changes people” and Mrs Hudson lost touch with her best friend.

And then there is the prominent use of “December, 1963 (Oh What A Night)” by the Four Seasons at the end of the episode…

Oh, what a night
Why’d it take so long to see the light?
Seemed to wrong, but now it seems so right
What a lady, what a night

Add to that the very melancholy tone of the entire scene when John acknowledges that “we can’t all three dance”. Sherlock looks positively heartbroken…

SoT green7SoT green3SoT green10 SoT green12

So Sherlock might have feelings for John… but is it requited?


Bisexuality flag

bisexuality flag

The lighting in this scene struck me as peculiar when I saw it the first time, and yes, there is indeed something special about it. It’s the bisexuality flag.

Cinematography is another aspect of film making that is planned in minute detail. So the fact that the colours in this scene are in fact the same as those in the bisexuality flag is not a coincidence. And guess what’s also lit up in these colours?

TEH device2

The bomb in TEH. The bomb that Sherlock and John have to diffuse at the end of the episode, but then Sherlock just switches it off, putting actually dealing with it off indefinitely. [15]

Which brings us to…


John’s Sexuality, the Stag Night and “I don’t mind”

Like I have already pointed out, “not gay” doesn’t necessarily mean straight. Clues to John’s bisexuality include: John hitting on Sherlock in the Pilot. John’s comment in HoB “You being all mysterious with your… cheekbones, and turning your coat collar up so you look cool”. John licking his lips when looking at Sherlock, just like he does with Anthea whom he flirts with afterwards. [16]

And then there’s the stag night, which would fill thousands and thousands of words on its own. For one some argue that the staircase conversation about Sherlock’s international reputation is actually about sex, or John’s “international reputation” as Three Continent Watson in his army days. Which, mind you, he doesn’t have – his sister Harry is completely surprised when someone on John’s blog insinuates him being a womanizer and laughs at it, in fact. [17]

Then, there is John’s body language (notice the invitingly open legs):

Stag 1

… and of course, THIS:

Stag 2

John puts his hand on Sherlock’s knee. Do you remember how decidedly not smooth that was? And what does John say? Does he say “no homo” and jerk back? Nope.

JOHN: I don’t mind.

Makes you wonder what would have happened if Tessa hadn’t interrupted them.


Sherlock’s Military Kink

Sherlock says in TSoT: “All the nice girls like a soldier.” It’s sailor, Sherlock. Was this maybe a Freudian slip? Well, let’s look at TSoT, there were a lot of soldiers…

SoT military1 SoT military2 SoT military3

The camera assumes Sherlock’s POV in this scene…. So what we are seeing is Sherlock looking at soldiers… All this and more has led several fans to believe that Sherlock finds soldiers in general very sexually arousing. Guess who also was a soldier? And who went all BAMF on Sherlock when they found Private Bainbridge in the shower (naked, I might add)? John. Whom Sherlock looks at like this afterwards:

SoT nurse sherlockTSoT sh looks at john


Janine’s “whatever you are” and proof that they didn’t have sex

The complete quote goes like this:

JANINE (sighing wistfully): I wish you weren’t…
(He turns to look at her. John walks into the frame.)
JANINE: … whatever you are.

Janine doesn’t label Sherlock in TSoT and the fact that John walks into the frame during the pause is cinematographically very telling. Let me make this clear: I’m not saying Sherlock is gay. He might be asexual but still able to form romantic attachments. Or he is Johnsexual. Just like John might not be bi, but Sherlocksexual. Yet the editing makes sure we see John walk into the frame at exactly this moment.

“But he and Janine!” you say… In ASiB, Mycroft and Irene both hint that Sherlock is a virgin. When we see him with Janine in His Last Vow, I have to admit I was very, very worried that Sherlock might have slept with Janine in order to uphold his cover.

Then this exchange happened when she confronts him in the hospital after he got shot:

SHERLOCK: I exploited the fact of our connection.
JANINE: When?!
JANINE: Just once would have been nice.
SHERLOCK: Oh. (He looks a little shifty-eyed.) I was waiting until we got married.
JANINE: That was never gonna happen!
(He looks away. She sighs and stands up.)

As a Johnlock shipper I was cheering because “I was waiting until we got married”? Sherlock did NOT have sex with Janine. phew


Green with envy

And while we’re on the subject of Janine, if you aren’t a Johnlock shipper, you probably felt very uncomfortable when John discovers her coming out of Sherlock’s bedroom and then disappearing into the bathroom with him… And the viewer was supposed to feel like that!

green with envygreen with envy2 [18, also picture source]

See all that green? Green is generally associated with jealousy and it appears all over the place during this sequence in in many more instances when we are supposed to read John’s reactions as jealousy. This was a conscious choice by the Director of Photography and the BBC. Even the cinematography knows that John has feelings for Sherlock.


Hearts everywhere

In the same vein, the fact that there are hidden hearts was intended.

 heart1 heart2 [19 - picture source]

Sneaky, aren’t they? I never would have seen them if it hadn’t been pointed out. Which is partially due to how we watch movies – we don’t actively take in every detail, but we notice the cues subconsciously (like the green in the previous paragraph).


Mr and Mrs Holmes – mirrors

During the Rizla game at the Stag Night Sherlock says:

JOHN: Am I … pretty? (He points to his Rizla.) This.
(He props his head up on one fist.)
SHERLOCK: Err… Er, beauty is a construct based entirely on childhood impressions, influences and role models.
JOHN: Yeah, but am I a pretty lady? 

Sherlock can’t answer since he picked John’s name out of a paper: Madonna, the greatest gay icon according to the LGBT magazine The Advocate… if you’re running low on gay subtext. (I actually have no idea why Madonna is a gay icon, but then again, I didn’t know Larry Grayson either.) [20]

But back to the quote: So one’s parents influence one’s perception of beauty. And what might we deduce about Sherlock’s parents?

TEH Sh mother TEH sh father

HLV Sh coat ASiB John shirt

The screencaps are from TEH,TEH, HLV, ASiB (when John reveals his middle name)

You see the point I’m trying to make. Mr Holmes looks a lot, in terms of clothing, like John (not just in these screencaps). In HLV, it is obviously stated that Mrs Holmes is a “genius” who gave up her work for her children. This and her attire equate her with Sherlock in this scenario.

Please note that Mary was present for the scene in HLV. But instead of including her in the mirroring, the creators equated Sherlock’s parents with him and John instead. [28]


John H. Watson and the Tarmac Scene

Alright, if you’re still with me at this point, you will probably be able to imagine how I was feeling while watching the end of HLV. I’m referring to the conversation Sherlock wants to conduct alone, in private, and actually asks his brother for time alone.

(John nods and then turns away to look across the airfield again, breathing in deeply. Sherlock looks directly at him until he turns back, then looks down again.)
SHERLOCK: John, there’s something … I should say; I-I’ve meant to say always and then never have. Since it’s unlikely we’ll ever meet again, I might as well say it now.
(He hesitates for a long time, then draws in a deep breath and raises his eyes to John’s.)
SHERLOCK: Sherlock is actually a girl’s name.
(John turns away, giggling almost silently. Sherlock smiles at him. John turns back, still smiling.)

I mean, do I even need to point it out? It was 11pm at night in my flat and I was screaming at my laptop screen because I couldn’t believe my ears – Sherlock was actually going to say it?!

Of course he doesn’t. He doesn’t say “I love you”, which he realised in TSoT. Instead, he makes a quip and tells John his full name. Yet is it merely a quip? After all, the audience learnt in the previous episode that John made a huge secret out of his own full name and then blurted it when he suggested it to Irene and Sherlock as a baby name in a fit of jealousy.

Last but not least, even the bloody cinematography in the Tarmac Scene tells Sherlock to go for it:

hlv cinematography  [27, also gif source]

I’d like to say more about this, but I’ll just end up in physical pain from all the feels.



 Steven Moffat

I know that Moffat has a reputation for being sexist. I still can’t make sense of some of his statements referring to women. Maybe he is a bit afraid of women and has to verbally put them down for his own benefit? Maybe he just likes to sexualize women that are attractive to him (e.g. slim women)? I don’t know.


In terms of LGB representation, he has some things going for him: He invented the character of Jack Harkness on Doctor Who, who is often cited as a great example of a queer character on TV. In the 1990s, he wrote a show called Press Gang which featured prominent female characters and people of colour. And he wrote two lesbian AUs of Holmes and Watson – Vastra and Jenny on Doctor Who as well as Miranda and Min on Jekyll. [21]


Mark Gatiss and The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (TPLoSH)

Mark Gatiss identifies as gay himself (he’s also married, fyi). He continuously tweets and talks about queer representation on television and gay rights. He wrote a Bond-esque trilogy about a detective who was only revealed halfway through Part One to be bisexual.

AND the writers have openly stated that TPLoSH, a movie adaption in which Sherlock is gay and in unrequited love with John, served as inspiration for BBC’s Sherlock. [22]


But they said it won’t be canon!

They also said Moriarty was dead. Moffat and Gatiss have lied again and again about Sherlock, and have admitted to lying, so they might very well be lying about their plan to have Sherlock and John end up together.

mofftiss lie twitpic

Full quote:

“Anything is possible. But we do our best to surprise you with a combination of lies and deceit. So, we’re never going to tell you what we’re going to do.” – Steven Moffat, when asked about upcoming stories in S4 and S5. Post-S3 Premiere interview, January 2014. [23] 

Here, have another:

“Because I’ve always given this grand commitment to telling the truth! You don’t know what’s going on there. You don’t know what’s going on there. We know what’s going on there but we’re not telling you…for bloody ages!” [24]

Neither Benedict Cumberbatch nor Martin Freeman are homophobic. Benedict officiated a friend’s same-sex wedding and played Alan Turing, a gay man. They are in on it and they are lying just like the creators are lying.

You might wonder – why lie about it in the first place?

Well, for one, it’s fun. It’s a puzzle, a mystery! I’m enjoying myself because I’m not just asked to consume, I’m asked to think. “Why don’t people just think?” the cabbie asked us in ASiP.

For another, if they had said from the start that Johnlock is endgame, Sherlock would have been labelled as a queer show and many wouldn’t have watched in the first place. It sucks, but that’s the truth. So by lying and pretending it’s not about Johnlock they have access to a lot more viewers… who will be surprised when it happens, but I doubt many will stop watching because of Johnlock since the show is a great drama and it’s not all about sexual orientation.


BBC’s 2009 LGB research commission

Still not entirely sure? Well, I have one last argument. LSiT, who wrote a meta on it after skulls-and-tea discovered it, calls this our “smoking gun”. And indeed it is.

In short: In 2009, the BBC commissioned a research project to find out what LGB people think about LGB presentation on television and on the BBC in particular, how they would like LGB presentation to be, what’s missing, etc. They questioned heterosexual and LGB people at various stages of their coming out, had group discussions, and more. The reports are all online if you want to check.[25]

Anyway, bottom line is: The BBC sees it as their duty to represent all their viewers and has declared their intent to actively improve LGB presentation. They know that LGB viewers (and heterosexual ones) don’t want the content to be about sexual orientation. They want characters that happen to be queer. And they are sick of tragic endings for LGB plot lines. The BBC is set on working with LGB writers to ensure this. They want landmark content that features LGB presentation, especially in the field of drama and culturally iconic material.


Sherlock Holmes is an iconic, landmark drama. Mark Gatiss is a LGB writer. Joe Lidster, who writes the blogs, is gay. Ben Stephenson, drama commissioner of the BBC and the person who commissioned Sherlock, is gay. Sexual orientation isn’t the main focus of Sherlock. In 2009, the BBC saw the unaired pilot. In 2010, season one was aired, the same year the LGB research commission published their findings and stated they want to press for more LGB content. [26]




There is so much evidence that TJLCers is not only a figment of our imagination but actually exists that I find it dizzying at times. There is so much more than I have included here.

Of course, we might be wrong. This might all just be a mass delusion instead of a slow-burn romance veiled in a story about a detective and his blogger.

I would be very sad and disappointed in that case, but I really don’t think it’s going to come to that. Johnlock will be canon by the end of season 5 (unless they greenlight another season). It will be glorious and a landmark for LGB presentation on international television.

If you don’t see it, it’s okay. Your interpretation of the show is different from mine. Please, just don’t shame anyone for believing in TJLC. And TJLCers, don’t shame anyone for not seeing it your way either! Keep an open mind. In the end, whether it’s John and Mary or John and Sherlock, Sherlock is an amazing TV show and brings lots of people a lot of joy.

Thanks for reading!

PS: Feel free to comment or contact me via tumblr at any time!



1 – Origins of #tjlc, blossom and buttercup
2 – Trust in Gatiss: Operation Johnlock Is Go, Loudest-Subtext-in-Television (LSiT)
3 – Sherlock Meta Masterpost; multifandom-madnesss
4 – Shaftesbury Avenue and Antheos, LSiT
5 – The Aluminium Crutch, writemeastoryofsolitude and LSiT
6 – The Speckled Blonde, LSiT
7 – The Geek Interpreter (still looking for the link, apologies)
8 – Irene’s theme, LSiT
9 – Sonnet 57, captainsjm
10 – Johnlock in the game “Sherlock The Network”, LSiT
11 – The Baker Street Room, deducingbbcsherlock
12 – John as the Mayfly Man (still looking for the link, apologies)
13 – The Elephant in the Room, finalproblem
14 – What is Love Anyway, LSiT
15 – Bisexuality flag, Hubpages article | The Bi-Bomb, deducingbbcsherlock
16 – John’s bisexuality, queen-mycroft
17 – International reputation, or lack thereof, LSiT
18 – Green with Envy, adlerforpresident
19 – Hearts everywhere, Hubpages article
20 – Madonna as gay icon, Wikipedia
21 – Why Moffat isn’t homophobic, LSiT, 221beemine and whatlifeivebeenaway
22 – Gatiss on TPLoSH, skulls-and-tea’s Sherlock Creator Quote project
23 – Moffat on S4 and S5, skulls-and-tea’s Sherlock Creator Quote project
24 – Moffat’s commitment to truth, skulls-and-tea’s Sherlock Creator Quote project
25 – Research Commission Reports, BBC
26 – Softly, Softly: The BBC’s 2009 LGB Research Commission and the Johnlock Conspiracy, LSIT
27 – Tarmac gif, ilkkusaurus (url has chanced, links to reblog)
28 – The Holmes parents and how they mirror John and Sherlock, xistentialangst


Further reading:

Sherlock Meta Masterpost 
It isn’t queerbaiting, it’s storytelling, a power point presentation