Why Sherlockians Crave Johnlock (And Why We’re Right To)

If you’re a true Sherlockian (and, let’s face it, if you’re reading this, you probably are), then you’ve undoubtedly heard of “Johnlock.” But if you’ve assumed that (1) I’m writing about the RDJ/Jude Law interpretation of Sherlock or (2) that Johnlock is a brand of specialty briefcases (it’s not) then you may  want to dig yourself out of from under the rock where  you’ve been living and pay a visit to Tumblr (AKA Cumberbitch Heaven). Any short trip to Tumblr will give you more information on the BBC version of Sherlock than any Wikipedia article—the BBC has modernized Sherlock, casting Benedict Cumberbatch’s cheekbones in the starring role of consulting detective and a hedgehog in a jumper as the loyal Dr. Watson.

Johnlock, for the ignorant, is the “father of all the gay ships. It’s probably the first thing you ever shipped in your life. Johnlock is flawless.” That is a direct quote from the “Johnlock” entry on Urban Dictionary. (If you’re not familiar with the concept of “shipping,” get thine arse to Urban Dictionary and look it up.)


When I first began watching Sherlock, I watched it for Martin Freeman. He wooed me with his jumpers and jam, and then, one day, there it was. Johnlock. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen it before, it was blatantly obvious: John (Jawwwn!) and Sherlock are soulmates. The bond between Sherlock and John is undeniable; in fact, the American television corps were so jealous of the tangible chemistry that bewitched millions of viewers on both sides of the Pond that they had to make their own “elementary” version of the same story, except, they don’t have Benny’s cheekbones or Martin’s adorable personality, so they had to throw in an extra X-chromosome to snag viewers. True story.

Source: john-watson-loves-jam.tumblr.com

So, what do Johnlock lovers want? VALIDATION. We want proof that Johnlock is not just a long strand of misread signals and misinterpreted body language. We have a vision, a world where hedgehogs and otters get married and have brilliant babies with hearts of gold and cheekbones that could sculpt ice.

This is what we want. Cr: Xylocist on DeviantArt. Posted with permission of the artist.

I believe that it’s time for Steven Moffat (MOFFAT!) and Mark Gatiss to give the people what they want. We want Johnlock. This is my completely infallible and valid reasoning as to why Moffis (Goffat?) should make Johnlock our reality.

1.       Undeniable Chemistry

Let’s think about Episode 1: A Study in Pink. Remember that time when John Watson moved in with a man he’d met only a few hours before? Remember that time when John saves Sherlock’s life after knowing him a few days? Remember that one time they intensely eye-fucked each other?

Found via: ewjanine.tumblr.com

(Or that other time…or that other time…pretty much anytime they look at each other). That’s episode one, folks, and the relationship between John and Sherlock only grows closer and more intense from then on.

Deep down, we all want someone we can instantly “click” with. Some call it love at first sight; the French call it “le coup de foudre” (the lightningstrike), but whatever its name, it is two people forming a lifelong bond or connection. Johnlock gives us that. Maybe it’s Hollywood’s fault that we assume that these “lightningstrikes” always result in romantic relationships, but we’ve grown to expect them, and our expectations are no less for John and Sherlock.

2.       We don’t want anyone else with Sherlock…or Watson.

Even if you ship Sherlolly or Sherene or Watscroft (really?), deep down, you don’t really want it to happen. You think you do, but you don’t. Not really.


Because we, all the Sherlockians, have the same fear. We’re worried that a romantic interest (a real one, not one of Watson’s escapades) will ruin the dynamic of the duo. Sherlock barely tolerates John’s not-serious girlfriends, what would he do to a serious one? We watch the show for Sherlock and Watson’s relationship. We fear that a real girlfriend (or boyfriend) for either man may result in an awkward or forced relationship between Sherlock and John. We fear the breakup. (Yes, I know what happens in the ACD stories…and I hope Moftiss  follows a different path.) We fear that we won’t like the show anymore.

My solution: Fulfill the romantic storylines and keep the integrity of the relationship by giving us Johnlock.

3.       Neither John nor Sherlock has the upper hand in the relationship.

They fit. Why? Is it John’s strong morality balancing Sherlock’s amorality? Is it John’s humanity balancing Sherlock’s selfishness? Is it Sherlock giving John a purpose? Is it Sherlock’s reliance on John? I don’t know. They just fit. Sherlock needs John just as much as John needs Sherlock. Their relationship is a delicate balance between infuriation and juvenile adoration, and it’s adorable.

Again, maybe it is society that has trained us to expect romantic fulfillment whenever we see opposites attract, but nonetheless, the opposites have attracted, and a Johnlock storyline would further that attraction.

4.       The “I’ve got your back no matter what” quality, or faith.

Before he meets John, Sherlock has nothing to believe in. He’s not religious or family-oriented or passionate about a political cause. He exists because of and for his brilliance, with no visible connections to humanity. John changes that when he saves Sherlock’s life at the end of “A Study in Pink.” Here is a man that Sherlock considers to be dull (no offense, John, he considers everyone dull), a man that Sherlock hasn’t been particularly nice to, and now he is a man who saved Sherlock from his own brilliance. Why would John save Sherlock? John is a man of faith. He believes in good. Saving Sherlock by killing a man may not be the “right” thing to do, but John wasn’t doing the right thing—he was demonstrating his faith in his flatmate.

The tables turn at the end of “The Reichenbach Fall” (AKA the episode of tears and sadness). John repeatedly demonstrates throughout the series that he trusts Sherlock, that he has faith in him. At the end of season two, it’s time for Sherlock to do the same thing. In “A Scandal in Belgravia,” Sherlock says to Irene Adler, “I’ve always assumed love was a great disadvantage.” In “The Reichenbach Fall,” he proves himself right. In the competition with Moriarty, Moriarty cannot lose because he does not care about anyone, not even himself. He dies to win the game. Sherlock, however, cannot “win” the game without a few casualties—if he walks away, John dies. If John dies, Sherlock loses. So Sherlock fakes his suicide.

The fall is a leap of faith. Sherlock has faith that John will forgive him when he finally reveals himself to be alive in season three. We can only hope the reunion will involve a hug and an oath of undying love and devotion, followed by wedding bells.

-The Ever-Shipping Collectress

Note: The fan art used in this piece is “Let’s Have a Baby” by Xylocist, who is a brilliant artist. You can check out more of her work here



  1. Sophie

    I love this article so much, you’ve really expressed my own feelings on the subject. But alas the final words “We can only hope the reunion will involve a hug and an oath of undying love and devotion, followed by wedding bells” are absolutely ironic considering the situation we face. The wedding bells have turned out to be of Mary and John’s wedding and it saddens me. Still I cling to little things like blog posts and pictures and hold out hope that our ship will one day be canon. In the words of John Watson, ‘cheers.’ 🙂

    1. acollectivemind

      Thanks for reading! I’m very glad you enjoyed it. I wrote it about six months before S3 premiered, and I really don’t have the heart to go back and edit it to reflect the canon. I think Mary (secretly) ships it, so why can’t we? Anyway, thank you for saying such lovely things! 🙂

      1. Sophie

        I actually quite enjoy your writings on various things, I’m definitely a fan of yours 🙂 I did however hear Moffat was planning a relationship for Sherlock in 2016. One that possibly involves a girl. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on that one if it turns out true.

      2. acollectivemind

        I always have mixed feelings when it comes to Moffat’s plans. After Reichenbach, I don’t trust him not to slaughter my emotions. BUT, I loved Amanda Abbington as Mary Watson in series 3, so maybe a Sherlock romance won’t turn out so emotionally traumatising? Who am I kidding. Moffat’s storylines are always traumatising. (Which is why Johnlock is safe in my head canon!)

  2. royalbluestar

    Bravo. Bravo, indeed. Oh, and I’m trying to get my friend to cosplay as John (she looks like the female version of him), and I, cosplay as Sherlock (again, female version), and we go promote the couple at Comic-Con!

  3. Limey

    The thing is that people, like myself, who DO NOT SHIP Johnlock, have a hard time in the fandom finding fanfiction or generally finding any fan works that they enjoy because every second Sherlockian seems to ship this nonsense ship. I don’t see a chemistry. At all. Sherlock has practically stated that he is asexual/aromantic, right in the first episode (I quote: “I just wanted to let you know that I *clears throat* concider myself married to my work”), as John has stated that he is heterosexual. Just because Sherlock, a sociopath who really does not give two f*cks about what people around him think about him, doesn’t deny a relationship doesn’t mean anything.
    Also, are you seriously going to tell me after “His Last Vow” that Mary is just a brief fling for John? Are you seriously telling me that? John and Mary went through some very tough times together and have been together for a whole while. Now you could come to me with a “Well we had Sam and Mikaela in Bay’s Transformers who literally SAVED THE WORLD together. TWICE. And they broke up!” Well that was because Ms. Fox wanted more money than she was offered for the third movie. So basically that point is invalid.
    So I call this a serious case of overly obessessed yaoi shippers. I mean, yaoi is fine and all, but not with two characters that clearly are not meant to be shipped. Let us also concider the fact that Sherlock is a sociopath who deducts things from looking at someone. Thus, the “eye-f*cking” point is completely invalid.
    I do not deny that they both CARE VERY VERY F*CKING MUCH about eachother (concidering Sherlock practically came back from the dead after mind-palace Moriarty said something about John going to be upset about his death. Mind-palace Moriarty obviously being a part of Sher’s subconciouss. Then also concidering how utterly upset John was over Sher’s “death” in the season finale of season 2. Then also concidering…. yeah I could go on and on about this). But come on, wouldn’t you be broken up if your best (and kind of only) friend would commit suicide? Wouldn’t you not want to abandon your best friend? Does this mean you are romantically attached to your best friend? No.
    To be honest though, I do not ship anyone with Sher. I mean, there are plenty of one-sided ships that I love and that are canon.

  4. Diggt Diggt

    It doesn’t matter what happens, because I will always be an overly obsessed shipper of them. Whether it is canonised or not.

  5. Ganieda

    LOL – the Robert Downey Jr.- Jude Law movies have more Johnlock in their pinkie fingers than the BBC show has ever had. OUR JOHNLOCK IS ONSCREEN AND REAL, eheheheh!!

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