Did You Notice These Hints at Sherlock’s Backstory Hidden Throughout The Show?




The latest season – possibly series – finale “The Final Problem” answered the long-standing question of just what made Sherlock the way he is. Last chance, guys, we are about to go into big, big spoilers…

Right, here goes. When he was a child, Sherlock’s psychotic little sister Eurus killed his best friend Victor Trevor. The trauma of this caused him to erase the memory of Victor from his mind and resulted in him withdrawing from people and becoming the distant, calculating machine we know and love.

It was a big surprise for us fans but there are actually a number of instances over the course of the show that hint at Sherlock’s backstory, or at least gain a new meaning looking back at them now. Here are seven moments of foreshadowing that you might not have spotted…

Note: We are not going to mention the “you know what happened to the other one” scene in this list as it is so obviously hinting at Eurus that there is little to say on the matter.


“But we both know that’s not quite true…”

The moment: Sherlock and Moriarty have their first face-off at the end of “The Great Game.” Moriarty warns Sherlock that, if he keeps prying, he will burn the heart out of him. Sherlock retorts by saying that he has been told that he doesn’t have one. With a knowing smirk, Moriarty replies: “But we both know that’s not quite true.”

The significance: In “The Final Problem”, we learn that Moriarty was in on Eurus’ plan all along, since they met six years ago. Now, previously Moffat and Gatiss have stated that Series Four is set in 2014, as it follows on immediately after “His Last Vow.” This would set Moriarty and Eurus’ meeting in 2009 – one year before he first meets Sherlock in “The Great Game.”

What this means is that Moriarty knew all about Sherlock’s secret past during this scene. So in this line, he is teasing Sherlock with the fact that he knows more about his past than he does.


He wanted to be a pirate

The moment: In “A Scandal in Belgravia”, Mycroft and John discuss Sherlock’s feelings for Irene Adler. “My brother has the mind of a scientist or a philosopher,” Mycroft explains. “And yet he elects to be a detective. What might we deduce about his heart?” When John replies that he doesn’t know, Mycroft adds: “Neither do I. But initially he wanted to be a pirate…” In a moment not seen in the clip above, the camera then lingers on his face as his eyes seem to fill with sorrow.

The significance: This is perhaps the best moment in the whole show for gaining a new significance now that we have seen “The Final Problem.” Originally, this was a very enigmatic scene – what exactly made Mycroft so sad about thinking about Sherlock’s childhood dream of being a pirate? We now know that he was thinking back to little Sherlock playing with Victor Trevor.


Henry Knight’s childhood trauma


The moment: At the climax of “The Hounds of Baskerville”, Henry Knight almost kills himself as he thinks he is losing his mind. Sherlock calmly and emotionally explains the truth to him: his memory of seeing his dad attacked by a dog was his mind’s way of masking the horror of what he saw – Bob Frankland brutally murdering his father.

The significance: A child being so traumatized that they switch a person for a dog in their memory to help them digest a murder? Does that sound familiar to you?

In this scene, Sherlock always seemed oddly sympathetic to Henry’s predicament. Now, we can guess that he subconsciously sees something of himself in the man.



8 thoughts on “Did You Notice These Hints at Sherlock’s Backstory Hidden Throughout The Show?

  1. The scene in The Empty Hearse where Sherlock and Mycroft talk about their childhood.
    Mycroft Holmes: Don’t be smart.
    Sherlock Holmes: That takes me back. “Don’t be smart, Sherlock! I’m the smart one!”
    Mycroft Holmes: I am the smart one.
    Sherlock Holmes: Oh, I used to think I was an idiot.
    Mycroft Holmes: Both of us thought you were an idiot, Sherlock. We had nothing else to go on, until we met other children.
    Sherlock Holmes: Oh, yes. That was a mistake.
    Mycroft Holmes: Ghastly. What were they thinking of?
    Sherlock Holmes: Probably something about “trying to make friends”.
    Mycroft Holmes: Oh, yes. “Friends”. Of course, you go in for that sort of thing now.
    Sherlock Holmes: And you don’t? Ever?
    I think this is the closest that Sherlock gets to the memories of Victor and Euros. And you see Mycroft tense up when Sherlock says meeting other child are a mistake and then relax when Sherlock changes the subject. Not that the next topic was any better…


  2. Great article! I was so looking forward to TFP because I’d been following all these clues and knew we’d get a big reveal concerning Sherlock’s backstory! However, I got some things wrong: I thought, based on Sherlock’s “people always stop counting at 3” comment in TLD, that there would be a 4th Holmes sibling, and that this sibling would be Sherlock’s twin brother, Sherrinford. (The constant “it’s never twins” assertion suggested that one, as well as when Mycroft says “You know what happened to the other one,” he’s standing in front of a glass window, and there appear to be two of him because of the reflection… when the promo pics for season 4 came out, Sherlock had a similar shot where he’s standing in front of a glass and his reflection is standing alongside him… Idk, I read into it too much, I guess xD maybe it really is “never twins” lol Unless Moriarty…)
    The REAL surprise was the scene with Molly. ♥


  3. i wondered if the aeroplane scene with the little girl and all the passengers are asleep was from the first series where sherlock goes on a plane and all the passengers again were asleep/dead mycroft was on the plane and irene adler was that to do with what we saw in the episode the final problem was that part that euros put in of course there wasnt a girl in the irene adler episode (sorry cant remember the title) i wonder what other people think or maybe its just not connected at all. love all the episodes of sherlock a briilant take on arthur conan doyle’s sherlock holmes.


    • no. in the Final Problem there’s a flashback scene where little eurus is running around carrying a toy plane. she wanted sherlock to play with her but sherlock always played with Victor (redbeard). that’s why eurus made up the whole girl on a plane thing, to play the airplane game with sherlock


  4. An even bigger clue into Sherlock and his memory block is in the first episode when he incorrectly guessed John had a brother, when he really had a sister. Sherlock responds, ‘Sister! There’s always something!’
    He didn’t guess sister most likely because all the clues pointed to brother, but it’s not hard to see the parallels here.


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  6. The Empty Hearse: A’s Sherlock’s parents are leaving his apartment, Mrs. Holmes says-“call Sherrinford, she’s concerned.” …. or so I think .. I can’t find it anywhere on the internet.


  7. Also Sebastian Wilkes (The Blind Banker) said that in university Sherlock would deduce people and they all hated him. Sherlock looked sad when Sebastian was recalling this, so it was clearly unpleasant for Sherlock too. Which means that he was probably bullied.


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