The friendship between the legendary characters Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, known for their appearances in the various short stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as well as all of the media based on these stories, is something that has long been discussed. It is a tenuous friendship, certainly, and one that has its roots in very unstable ground. However, this is just how the relationship looks on the surface. These two men actually understand each other very well, and get along in a strange sort of way. Watson and Holmes has a partnership that has been explored in various mediums, but it is most obvious in the original stories of Sir Doyle and in the television series Sherlock, written by Steven Moffat. The friendship between Holmes and Watson can be compared and contrasted through the short story “A Scandal in Bohemia” and the Sherlock episode “A Scandal in Belgravia.” Watson and Holmes have a friendship based in mutual understanding that nobody else has.
In the story “A Scandal in Bohemia,” Sherlock and Watson have a true understanding of one another. Their friendship has supposedly been a long one, according to Watson at the beginning of the story. When asked to perform a task by Sherlock that seemingly makes no sense, Watson is completely willing to do it and does not hesitate for even a second. Holmes does, however, later describe his intentions to Watson. Watson does not falter from his dedication to Holmes, even when faced with a moral dilemma. Watson mentions in the story, “I never felt more heartily ashamed of myself in my life than when I saw the beautiful creature against whom I was conspiring… yet it would be the blackest treachery to Holmes to draw back now from the part which he had entrusted to me.” This shows that Watson has intense dedication to Holmes, and understands the way Holmes works. Watson is one of the few people that truly understands Holmes. Holmes is not an easy man to get along with, but Watson takes it in stride. Even though the two have been apart for quite some time in the beginning of the story, they act like they have never spent a moment apart since they have met.This friendship is portrayed quite the same in the television episode. While they have yet to be separated by circumstance, they do have unwavering dedication to their cause and each other. Presented with a nearly identical task in the television show as was given to Watson in the story, Watson once again does not falter for even a second in doing as he is told. Watson and Sherlock truly understand one another’s idiosyncrasies.
The friendship between Watson and Holmes is, however, explored in greater depth in the television show. The modern setting gives a greater look into their lives through technology. Watson, for example, is creating a blog detailing the adventures of Holmes. This is an act that would normally upset Holmes a great deal, but he tolerates it from Watson. Watson understands Holmes obsessions, and puts up with them. Along with this, Watson has yet to be married and is in fact dating a woman during the episode. However, when Holmes upsets her by being unable to remember just which of Watson’s various previous relationships she is, she demands that Watson choose between her and Holmes. Watson, of course, decides on his long lasting friendship. Watson is not angry with Holmes, because he understands why he did what he did. This is the perfect example of their relationship.
It could be said that their relationship is seen quite differently in the two mediums. Watson and Holmes have a much shakier relationship on the surface when viewing the television show. They seem to argue more, and don’t quite mesh as well. This, however, makes sense when it is realized that a television show needs more obvious conflict than a short story. It also makes sense when looking at their relationship on a deeper level. For example, Watson does not get angry with Holmes for even a second when he inadvertently caused a breakup between Watson and his girlfriend. If they did have a problematic friendship, this wouldn’t be the case. Watson and Holmes have a legendary friendship for a good reason. Two odd men come together to make a friendship that has lasted many lifetimes.