In a recent review of Enola Holmes that I wrote, I referred to Sherlock Holmes as “arguably my favorite fictional character.” If he isn’t that, he certainly provides the template for my favorite fictional character.
In the wake of that, I was challenged to provide my “Sherlock Holmes power rankings,” aka my Top 5 depictions or adaptations of the character.
To make the ground rules clear: First, The OG doesn’t count. Otherwise, obviously he goes number one. Second, I’m only listing versions that I’m personally familiar with. Thus, Basil Rathbone, definitive as he is, won’t be on here. I’ve seen and heard clips of his work, but never a full feature, so it wouldn’t be fair to rank him. Last, remember I said depictions or adaptations.
5.) Johnny Lee Miller, Elementary
I love an updated take on the character, and I was a big fan of how this show approached his Moriarty. Miller’s promiscuous but emotionally closed-off take on the character was interesting, and extra points for having a terrific Watson in the form of Lucy Liu.
4.) Peter Cushing, The Hound of the Baskervilles
Has the old-school, classic feel of Rathbone, with the added pleasure that every time he interrogates a suspect, you can hear him just on the verge of saying, “Would you prefer another target? A military target? Then name the system!”
3.) Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock
The definitive modern Sherlock, and probably the definitive take on the character for many. Would be higher were it not for the abysmal later seasons. Still, nothing can erase the thrill of those early chapters, which really captured the spirit of the original material, while bringing it into a modern setting.
2.) Basil (Barrie Ingham), The Great Mouse Detective
My love of Sherlock stories predates reading any of the actual stories. The Great Mouse Detective from 1986 predates the Disney Renaissance, which would kick off just a few years later with The Little Mermaid in 1989, but in terms of sheer entertainment value, it can stand with any film of that era. The Rube Goldberg-execution device alone puts it in the top three.
1.) Grand Admiral Thrawn, Star Wars Expanded Universe
Remember, I said adaptations counted. Thrawn is author Timothy Zahn’s answer to the question, “What if Sherlock Holmes was a bad guy?” Like Holmes, Thawn is a genius, often paired with a Watson character (be it Captain Gilad Pellaeon in the original Thrawn Trilogy, or Eli Vanto in the new one), and even has an arch-nemesis whose name is a play off the name “Moriarty.” He is brilliant, unhindered by convention, and completely unflappable. And he is my true favorite fictional character.
And there you have it.
Agree? Disagree? I don’t care.