Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes has proven to be one of literature’s most enduring characters, finding life well into the 21st century. Whether you’re a fan of the original and/or of House, Sherlock, Elementary, or any number of other adaptations, you’ve undoubtedly encountered a Holmesian character or three in popular culture.
Over at The Guardian, Adam Frost and Jim Kynvin seek to explain Holmes’ appeal, which has now been going on for about 128 years. They’ve put together a series of infographics that are utterly charming and wonderfully familiar. What we now understand as tropes of the genre were, in many cases, originated or popularized by Doyle: the need for hard evidence, the “aristocrat or government minister with ‘a matter of utmost delicacy,’ the disproportionate likelihood that the villain will be a foreigner. But as Holmes was reinterpreted and reimagined by other writers, illustrators, and actors, we find that many characteristics we attribute to Holmes were never actually part of the original stories:
Still, the Holmesian appeal is rivaled only by Dracula—who has has 409 screen appearances as opposed to Sherlock Holmes’ 292—with Hamlet and Frankenstein’s monster coming in next. A remarkable and curious case indeed.
All of the infographics are available on The Guardian website.