How the Most Iconic Sherlock Holmes Identifiers Developed Outside of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Stories

In a wonderful new Ted-Ed lesson written by scholar Dr. Neil McCaw and animated by Lasse Rützou Bruntse of The Animation Workshop, narrator Addison Anderson explains how how some of the most universally iconic items identifying Sherlock Holmes (the pipe, the cap, the cape) didn’t actually appear in any of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories, but were rather included over time through different interpretations of the character.

Since Conan Doyle’s first story in 1887, there have been thousands of adaptations of Holmes, making him perhaps the most adapted fictional character in the world. That process began with Victorian stage adaptations and accelerated with the emergence of film. There were more than 100 film adaptations of homes in the first two decades of the 20th century alone and since then, there have been thousands more in print and on film, television, stage and radio. Holmes has been reinterpreted by people everywhere in remarkably different and often contradictory ways. These adaptations demonstrate both Holmes’ popularity and his malleability.