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

Today In Obvious

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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Jill Pantozzi is a pop-culture journalist and host who writes about all things nerdy and beyond! She’s Editor in Chief of the geek girl culture site The Mary Sue (Abrams Media Network), and hosts her own blog “Has Boobs, Reads Comics” ( She co-hosts the Crazy Sexy Geeks podcast along with superhero historian Alan Kistler, contributed to a book of essays titled “Chicks Read Comics,” (Mad Norwegian Press) and had her first comic book story in the IDW anthology, “Womanthology.” In 2012, she was featured on National Geographic’s "Comic Store Heroes," a documentary on the lives of comic book fans and the following year she was one of many Batman fans profiled in the documentary, "Legends of the Knight."