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

“Do you remember Redbeard?”


The moment: In “The Sign of Three”, Sherlock rings Mycroft to see if he can make him come to John and Mary’s wedding. At the end of the phone call, Mycroft mysteriously asks Sherlock: “Do you remember Redbeard?” Sherlock becomes angry and says “I’m not a child anymore, Mycroft!”

The significance: In “The Final Problem”, Mycroft explained that he would occasionally prod at Sherlock’s memory to see what he remembered about his childhood. This is clearly one of those occasions – Mycroft’s inquisitive expression in this scene says it all. It’s a bit mean of Mycroft to bring up the subject of his best friend’s murder on his new best friend’s wedding day, though!


“They’re putting me down too, now”


The moment: “His Last Vow” sees Sherlock shot by Mary. To keep himself from going into shock, Sherlock retreats into his Mind Palace to find something to calm him down – Redbeard. When reuniting with the dog, he says “they’re putting me down too now.”

The significance: This scene is interesting now as it appears that Sherlock’s memory of Redbeard is a rare purely happy one that can calm him down – so he still presumably retains the memories of all the times he spent playing pirates with Victor. Yet the mention of putting Redbeard down does suggest that he also recalls that he died – though he doesn’t remember the correct details.

It’s also notable that Mind Palace Mycroft in this scene says “The east wind is coming, Sherlock. It’s coming to get you.” Could it be that Sherlock’s mind is starting to connect the dots between “Redbeard” and “the east wind” here?


“What made you like this?”


The moment: While waiting for Emilia Ricoletti’s ghost to attack Sir Eustace Carmichael in “The Abominable Bride”, Holmes and Watson have a quiet moment to chat. Watson asks Holmes some personal questions, culminating in “what made you like this?” Holmes retorts: “Oh, Watson, nothing made me. I made me.”

The significance: Considering that this Victorian mystery is later revealed to take place in Sherlock’s Mind Palace, Watson’s questions could represent Sherlock’s subconscious trying to get him to remember the truth of what really made him “like this.”

In this same scene, Sherlock also hears the sound of a dog and murmurs “Redbeard?” Put this with Watson’s words and it seems Sherlock is very close to remembering the truth at this moment.


“I will always be there for you”


The moment: Later in “The Abominable Bride”, back in the real world, Mycroft speaks to Sherlock about his drug usage. In an unusually candid moment, Mycroft says: “I was there for you before, I’ll be there for you again.”

The significance: Before “The Final Problem”, Mycroft’s words seemed to call back to a previous period where Sherlock was heavily using. Now, we can guess that he might have actually been referring to Victor’s death. We also see a page headed ‘Redbeard’ in Mycroft’s mysterious notebook. This shows that Mycroft was keeping tabs on how much Sherlock remembered the incident.


Are there any other moments of foreshadowing that we have missed? Let us know in the comments!

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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