When Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote the death of Sherlock Holmes in 1893, fans wore black armbands to mourn the loss of the famous fictional detective.
This year, when the BBC’s modern-day Holmes plummeted to his apparent death, fans took to both the internet and the real world to spread their message: “We believe in Sherlock Holmes.”
The fan reaction to the series two finale of Sherlock, “The Reichenbach Fall,” was immediate and passionate. Across the world, fans have made and posted fliers expressing their support for Holmes and their stance against his nemesis, Jim Moriarty. A small group of SF State “Sherlockians” have joined the fight.
“My friend and I went around with posters that said things such as ‘Moriarty was real’ and ‘Believe in Sherlock Holmes,’” said Sadie Queally-Sammut, an SF State music and comparative literature major. “We went all over Humanities and Creative Arts, hoping that someone would understand us and be gladdened by the knowledge that there were other Sherlock fans on campus.”
Their efforts have not gone unnoticed. Along with the fliers, fans have been doodling their messages on the blackboards in the campus bathrooms and on hallway walls. Students began taking photos of the signs and graffiti and posting them to Tumblr, where more Sherlockians started finding each other.
“I have a small group of friends that are Sherlock fans, but I’m always delighted to meet more,” said Queally-Sammut. “It creates a larger sense of community and shared experience, and sometimes, that’s a really nice thing to have.”
Since the emergence of more Sherlockians on campus, fans like Queally-Sammut and fourth year art major Miranda Ramsey have set out to bring them all together. Ramsey started the SFSU Sherlockians blog, and has organized a meetup to take place next Sunday.
“I really love how the Sherlockian fandom is like a large family who shares all their theories about everything in the show,” said Ramsey. “The fandom is full of intelligent and patient people, and I am really glad I get to be a part of that.”
Fans of Sherlock have joined this widespread fandom so they may have an outlet for their appreciation of the show. Viewers who are familiar with Conan Doyle’s original stories were prepared to see their hero fake his death, but didn’t know he would be “dying” with his reputation in shambles, thanks to Moriarty.
“The ‘Believe In Sherlock’ campaign is very unique and something only a show of this caliber is truly deserving of,” said Jaden Pratt, a second year English education major at SF State. “This is a time, between seasons, where the whole world is rallying behind one man, whom only exists in six episodes of a BBC television show.”
The cult following the show has gained leaves people who are not familiar a bit confused with what all the fuss is about.
“I had no idea what it was,” said SF State sociology major Mandy Kerr, who recalled spotting “Believe in Sherlock” signs in the Creative Arts building. “I pictured a little old man with a cane. Is that what he looks like?”
Indifference to the movement has done little to deter the displays of devotion for this work of fiction, which comes not just from a love of the series, but also an identification and connection with the title character.
“I understand what it’s like to have no one believe what you have to say, and have one person championing the fact that I was nuts,” admitted Queally-Sammut. “It’s the fact that these characters could be real people that I love so much.”
Ramsey couldn’t resist a Sherlockian reference to explain why she is committed to the campaign.
“Because this is a three-patch problem,” she laughed. “But in all seriousness, I feel a connection to Sherlock Holmes much like Sadie does: being an outcast with people who don’t believe in you and put you down.”
Sherlock may be a fairly new show, but the characters are classic and the fan support is undying. From Conan Doyle’s original story “The Final Problem” to “The Reichenbach Fall,” fans won’t stand to see Sherlock Holmes dead.
“In essence, we are the longest-running fandom ever,” said Pratt. “To think that this character has inspired this many people to come together and share their admiration for one thing for this long is simply astounding. It’s not about the fictional character. It’s about uniting against injustice, a goal that has just as much merit when inspired by fiction as by fact.”
SFSU Sherlockians will meet April 1 at 3 p.m. by Cafe Rosso to make and post more “Believe in Sherlock” signs. Sherlockians are encouraged to bring materials to make posters, and to dress as their favorite Sherlock characters.