Movie Reviews

Guy Ritchies New Sherlock Project Has A Massive Watson Problem To Solve


  • Guy Ritchie’s Young Sherlock series has a John Watson challenge.
  • Sherlock Holmes was 27 when he met Dr. Watson in A Study in Scarlet.
  • Whether Young Sherlock will include Watson remains to be seen.

Young Sherlock, an upcoming TV show by Guy Ritchie, has a tricky Watson challenge to overcome. Amazon recently revealed that Guy Ritchie, who directed Sherlock Holmes (2009) and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, will return to the world created by Arthur Conan Doyle in a Young Sherlock series. Despite Ritchie’s previous Sherlock experience, the upcoming series is not tied to the Robert Downey Jr.-led movies. Young Sherlock stars Hero Fiennes Tiffin, who worked with Ritchie on The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare.

Sherlock Holmes 3’s status remains uncertain, but there are several Sherlock projects currently in active development for television. In addition to Amazon’s Young Sherlock, a modern-day Watson series is in the works at CBS. There is also a Sherlock and Daughter series in development at The CW, plus a third Enola Holmes movie from Netflix. With most of the upcoming Sherlock shows and movies exploring different characters and settings, it’s unclear how much of Sherlock’s established lore will be explored in Young Sherlock. Whether Watson will appear on the show is a particularly interesting question.

Sherlock Holmes Shouldn’t Meet John Watson In Young Sherlock

Sherlock was 27 when he met Watson in A Study in Scarlet

Custom image by Yailin Chacon

Guy Ritchie’s Young Sherlock series, which is inspired by Andy Lane’s critically Young SherlockHolmes books, will follow a 19-year-old version of the character. In other words, Sherlock should not meet John Watson in Young Sherlock unless the series drastically changes the character’s canon. Naturally, there have been countless Sherlock Holmes adaptations over the years, and not all of them follow the exact chronology established in the Arthur Conan Doyle Sherlock books. Still, based on how Sherlock and Watson first met in the original stories, John shouldn’t be in Young Sherlock.

(…) Watson may be too big of a character to be left out of a new Sherlock show.

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson’s first encounter is described in 1887’s A Study in Scarlet, Conan Doyle’s first Sherlock novel. Sherlock was 27 years old in A Study in Scarlet, which was set in 1881. Dr. Watson’s age when he first met Sherlock is unclear, but it can be assumed that he was around the same age as Holmes. As such, at least based on the original books, Watson should not show up in Young Sherlock. The series would have to introduce a new cast of supporting characters, either from the Young SherlockHolmes novels or brand-new names.

Watson May Be Too Big Of A Character To Be Left Out Of Young Sherlock

On the one hand, there should be no reason for John Watson to appear in a story where Sherlock Holmes is 19 years old. On the other hand, Watson may be too big of a character to be left out of a new Sherlock show. Dr. Watson has appeared in most Sherlock adaptations, from movies to TV shows. The most recent Sherlock adaptations have also featured John Watson in a significant capacity, especially the Sherlock Holmes movies, BBC’s Sherlock, and CBS’s Elementary. The relationship between Holmes and Watson was at the center of these three massively popular adaptations.

Upcoming Sherlock Holmes Movies & TV Shows


Release Date




Sherlock and Daughter



Young Sherlock



Enola Holmes 3



Sherlock Holmes 3



In Robert Downey Jr’s Sherlock Holmes movies, Watson’s marriage is what sets the events of the first film in motion. Both 2009’s Sherlock Holmes and its sequel, A Game of Shadows, explore how Sherlock may not be ready for a life where John is not by his side all the time. The Sherlock series reimagines John and Sherlock’s first cases as a modern-day story, with the pilot adapting A Study in Scarlet into “A Study in Pink.” Lastly, Elementary introduces a genre-bended version of Watson – Lucy Liu’s Joan Watson – who is hired to be Sherlock’s sober companion.

How Guy Ritchie’s Young Sherlock Can Use John Watson

Should Young Sherlock break canon to bring Watson?

Henry Hayes (Hero Fiennes Tiffin) lies prone holding a pair of binoculars in The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare trailer
Image via Lionsgate

There are two ways in which John Watson could appear in Guy Ritchie’s Young Sherlock. The show could follow a teenage version of Watson in a storyline that is completely separated from whatever Sherlock is doing. In other words, the series would be more of an ensemble following multiple storylines, some of which would include Watson. However, considering the name of the show, it’s difficult to imagine that Young Sherlock will focus on too many other characters. Another option is that Young Sherlock breaks canon and has John and Sherlock meet much earlier than they do in A Study in Scarlet.


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It would not be the first case that an adaptation breaks canon to bring in a popular character before they were supposed to appear. DC’s Gotham, for example, saw the origin stories of several Batman villains when Bruce Wayne was still a kid. Prequels are always tricky when it comes to what storylines can be covered, especially for a character whose mythos is as extensive as Sherlock Holmes. Hopefully, if Watson eventually appears in Young Sherlock, there will be a good enough story to justify his introduction. Still, Young Sherlock can work just fine without John.

Young Sherlock (2025)

Hero Fiennes Tiffin


Main Genre

Matthew Parkhill

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