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What's with the name?

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Today In Obvious

According To Guinness, Sherlock Holmes Is The Most Portrayed Literary Human Character

To be more specific, as Sherlock Holmes would expect us to be, he’s now the most portrayed literary human character in film and television. That according to the Guinness Book of World Records who say the detective beat William Shakespeare’s Hamlet for the title. Hmm…I wonder how that happened…

Sir Author Conan Doyle’s fictional detective has been depicted on screen an amazing 254 times according to Guinness. They write, “Since his creation in 1887, Sherlock Holmes has been played by over 75 actors including Sir Christopher Lee, Charlton Heston, Peter O’Toole, Christopher Plummer, Peter Cook, Roger Moore, John Cleese, Benedict Cumberbatch and Robert Downey Jr.

I would say Downey Jr.’s Sherlock Holmes, Cumberbatch’s Sherlock, and the more recent Jonny Lee Miller’s Elementary series would have put Sherlock over the top but the character in second place doesn’t even come close. To compare, Shakespeare’s Hamlet has been depicted just 48 different times.

Guinness World Records adjudicator Claire Burgess said, “Sherlock Holmes is a literary institution. This Guinness World Records title reflects his enduring appeal and demonstrates that his detective talents are as compelling today as they were 125 years ago.”

There was that small caveat in the title – the word human. “Sherlock is not the overall most portrayed literary character in film. That title belongs to the non-human character Dracula, who has been portrayed in 272 films,” writes Guinness.

So, who’s your favorite Holmes?

(via Guinness World Records)

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  • Emerald

    Wishbone. <3

  • Myst

    My fav would have to be the Granada Holmes saga [Jeremy Brett]

  • Jeanette Diaz

    Granada’s television series, Jeremy Brett! It would be hard to top him as my mental image of Holmes.

  • HudaM

    No one can top Jeremy Brett lbr

  • Lariats and Lavender

    I’ve only seen one – sadly – and that’s the 2009 Sherlock Holmes movie with RDJ. He’s my favorite, in that case. :P Honestly, I think he did an amazing job and I am SO glad my wife and I saw the movie a few nights ago!!! 

  • John Wao

    Right now my fav is the Benedict Cumberbatch/Martin Freeman combo.

  • Anonymous

    Book Holmes. But in terms of portrayals, Cumberbatch. He’s the the closest I’ve seen to book Holmes. Though the show and Moffat have been really pissing me off lately. 

  • Lauren Brown

    Cumberbatch.  But the first Sherlock I met was Wishbone. 

  • ShifterCat

    Seconded.  Brett had just the right amount of chilly arrogance, intellectual obsession, and sympathy for the distressed.  And it’s always worth noting that Edward Hardwicke’s Watson was pitch-perfect, too.  So nice to see a Watson who wasn’t stupid or fat, but capable and personable — the kind of person you could actually see a smart guy choosing to hang around with.

    Jeremy Brett and Edward Hardwicke will always be Holmes and Watson for me.

  • Jill Pantozzi


  • Anonymous

    “The Gay Waiter” came in second.

  • Anonymous

    For me it’s two men. Basil Rathbone who really I only know by voice because I listen to old time radio Sherlock Holmes (he did do 14 movies as Holmes though between 1939-1946). And Jeremy Brett. I remember loving Holmes from a very early age and when the Holmes movies (with Jeremy Brett) came on I think PBS my dad and I would watch them together.

    I do loves RDJ as Holmes though.

    Now lets everyone do the Kangaroo Hop!

  • Anonymous

    Jeremy Brett will always be Sherlock Holmes in my mind. I never tire of watching the Granada series.

    I really like BBC’s Sherlock, but it’s too “Withnail & I”-y for me to take seriously as a Sherlock Holmes story. There’s no way British screenwriters didn’t know what they were doing with a long-coated Cumberbatch standing on that rock in Hounds of Baskerville with Watson waiting for him below.

  • Bruce Townley

    I agree. Jeremy Brett portrayed Holmes just about perfectly.

  • Bruce Townley

    Great points about Hardwicke’s portrayal of Watson. Who was actually a war hero and a man of action, to compliment Holmes’ fierce intellect.

  • Nikki Lincoln

    If we want to take a bit of a stretch, Dr. House is a fantastic Holmes (which they addressed on the retrospective that came before the finale), but Jeremy Brett is the most authentic one for sure. 

  • Ms. B

    Always and forever, my Basil Rathbone. <3 <3 <3

  • Louise Anne Bateman

    My favourite onscreen Holmes is Jeremy Brett, although Benedict Cumberbatch comes in a close second. But I must also shout-out the actor Clive Merrison, who portrayed Holmes in the BBC’s radio dramatisatios. With Michael Williams as Dr. Watson, all 60 canon stories were adapted; the only time this has ever been done.

  • Susan Dahlinger

    William Gillette, for me. If it weren’t for his astounding forty years on the stage in numerous revivals of SH, Doyle might never have continued the series past the last of the Memoirs. Doyle changed the detective in The Hound to Holmes because he knew he could get more money for Holmes than anything else and that, based on Gillette’s capacity audiences on two continents, that the character still had a following. ACD was, after all, a practical man with a house to pay for and a family to feed. Without Gillette and that preposterous play, there might have been no Hound, no Return, no Casebook, no Valley of Fear,no Last Bow, and more importantly, no deluge of pastiches, films, and other works. And yet this towering stage figure is almost never mentioned today.