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In the most recent episode of Sherlock on BBC 1, Sherlock Holmes, when confronted with Moriarty’s plan, jumps from the top of St Bartholomew’s hospital. If he didn’t, the assassins would have taken out Watson, Lastrade and Mrs Hudson. My sister Emily has a theory as to the way in which Holmes was able to execute the jump while remaining alive for the final scene.

The four most important details are: the fake story that Mrs Hudson had been shot; the fact that there were two buses parked outside the hospital in the road nearby where Holmes would fall; the fact that Watson was knocked down by a cyclist after Holmes had jumped; and the fact that the entourage which surrounds Holmes’ body on the ground appears with suspicious speed.

Emily’s theory is as follows:–

Sherlock knew what Moriarty was planning, and that Moriarty would want him to jump from the building, a long time before Sherlock climbed to the roof. Sherlock then invented the supposed shooting of Mrs Hudson to get Watson out of the area while he engineered the means to fake his own death.

Meanwhile, Holmes uses either Mycroft or homeless people to make it so that he can jump from the building and be caught by a net or mattress, some kind of cushioning system. This may have involved the two buses as anchors perhaps, or for deployment. The buses would also have been useful to shield the apparatus from the eyes of the public; possibly leading Holmes to be so picky about where Watson stood when they were talking on the phone together.

Holmes would have then jumped, and would have been caught by the system beneath. As Watson approaches, he is knocked down by a cyclist. While he is dazed, the homeless network/Mycroft’s people take Holmes and lay him on the pavement, throw some fake blood over him and spirit away the apparatus which cushioned his fall. The entourage which attended to Holmes arrived far too quickly to be by-standers, meaning that the ‘audience’ were placed there on purpose.

Homles is then taken somewhere to hide. This plan means that he is able to jump from the building so that his friends will live, at the same time as staying alive himself and making Watson and others think that he is dead.

Comment if you have any thoughts, or speculations as to why Holmes declared that he had invented Moriarty before he jumped.

13 thoughts on “How Did Holmes Fake His Death?”

  1. oh and also, i think that Holmes claimed he invented Moriarty simply as a kindness to Watson. I imagine if someone plans to destroy your best friends life and causes them to ‘commit suicide’, you would spent a hell of a long time trying to clear their name. This way, Holmes hopes Watson won’t grieve as much because he feels deceived by him. He hopes he denounces him as a friend so that he can (excuse the cliche) move on with his life.

    That’s my theory anyway!

  2. A theory I heard was that he threw moriarty’s body, disguised as his own with coat and scarf. Perhaps the damage of a bullet through the head would go unnoticed after the trauma of the fall. John, concussed from his bike accident, and kept from getting close by a gathering crowd, cannot distinguish. This theory is less plausible in that he would need to disguise Moriarty as himself pretty well if it’s to work, but has the advantage that he doesn’t actually need to fall off the building or have any help from others. There could also have been a degree of pre-meditation with this, creating a prosthetic mask etc. and he had a lot of time off-screen with the body of Moriarty. Perhaps even a combination of the two theories in which he uses moriarty’s body as a decoy, but also employs homeless people to keep John from prying to closely, and knock him down with a bike, causing concussion/blurred vision to help with the illusion.

      1. I like this theory best. It would be difficult to plan to hide the giant cushion from the shooter. On the other hand he hadn’t expected Moriati to shoot himself?

        1. Maybe the act of concealing the cushion from the shooter was what involved the buses and telling Watson were to stand? As to whether he knew that Moriarty was going to shoot, I’m thinking on that one.

  3. This is the most reasonable theory I have seen so far, although I would say that because it was the conclusion I reached myself.

    Every element in that final scene has to be relevant, or else it would not be there. Before the showdown, it is clear that Sherlock took Molly into his confidence – and that has to be about removing his body quickly. He positions John carefully. The biker conveniently knocks John to the ground, dazing and delaying him.

    I don’t buy into it being Moriarty’s body. As has been said, that’s a variable Sherlock could not reasonably have accounted for. Besides John sees Sherlock standing and jumping, and Moriarty is a much smaller man than Sherlock and I imagine John would have easily been able to tell the difference. Plus Sherlock would not have risked having whoever was watching the building to see him jump realising that a switch had taken place.

    Anyhow, it’s a fascinating mystery to leave us puzzling over until the series returns.

    I’ve atatched a link to my review of the episode as a whole below. May be of interest to some:


  4. Tonight is the first time I’ve heard the theory that he said to John he made everything up because it makes his death easier, which I agree with, but is a lot more simple than what my friend and I nutted out…

    …we said that because Moriarty’s final aim was to completely destroy Sherlock – his heart – this wouldn’t be complete if his friends still loved him and had faith in him. By trying to make it complete, John, Mrs Hudson, Lestrade could be in danger. So by saying he’s fake, Sherlock is trying to protect them.

    Make sense? 😉

    It’s prolly a mix of both…

    Also, that theory on how he faked it all is basically what I came up with, so…

    1. You’re saying that Moriarty would still have had Sherlock’s three friends killed even after S’ jumped off a building because S’ would still have been alive in their hearts; and by destroying what they thought of him, Holmes would save their lives? Very interesting. Quite romantic of Holmes yes?
      Thanks for the comment, O.M.C.

  5. Google Maps gives some of it away.

    The view from roughly where John was standing when Sherlock jumped:


    So John could not see where Sherlock hit the ground.

    As John goes round the end of the ambulance station just before he is hit by the cyclist, you can see what looks like one of those lorrys for carrying voluminous waste which has a cage on the back with what look like airbags in it (1:21:31 on iPlayer).

    So Sherlock jumps onto the airbags in the back of the truck then rolls out onto the pavement. Seconds later, the lorry drives off. The movement the falling body makes means it cannot be a corpse so it is not Moriarty and if you follow the sequence carefully there is a break in the filming just before the body appears on the ground so Sherlock has just fallen a couple of feet from the back of the lorry on to the pavement, which is why John must not be allowed to touch the body.

    Are Sherlock’s not quite last words “it’s just a magic trick” significant?

    The only question I have is where was the shooter so he didn’t see Sherlock’s landing. The view from roughly where John was standing after Sherlock’s death:


    I can’t see any two window casements that would have stairs behind them from here, so that raises the question of whether Sherlock got to the shooter targeting John and bribed him to switch sides.

    BTW, I think that Sherlock worked out that Jim would kill himself rather than give away the codeword to call off the shooters, so he had prepared for both eventualities. Maybe Sherlock needed to have Jim kill himself to protect the turned shooter.

    Further question: were there five shooters at the swimming pool in Belgravia? As there was a total of five shooters that we know about (two dead and one each for Watson, Mrs Hudson and Lestrade). So did Sherlock get to them before the Reichenbach events?

    The markings on the pavement look like a red herring as they appear on Google Maps.

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