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Happy Birthday Martin Freeman: Few moments from Sherlock when John Watson was the absolute sassiest

Behind every great high functioning sociopath is an exasperated, sarcastic best friend who is tired of his antics.

Shilpa S
Sep 08, 2021
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As an actor, Martin Freeman has a number of high profile films to his name which has established him as one of the finest English actors in the industry. But his role on the BBC crime drama Sherlock definitely stands out. Freeman won the hearts of fans not just in England, but across the entire globe for his impeccable performance as the sweet-natured, sarcastic best friend of the unstable genius, who despite being on a tumultuous ride as Sherlock’s sidekick, sticks with him through thick and thin. His presence on the show, which has earned him an Emmy, also led to some witty and lively banter between the stars. His character John H Watson became an indispensable part of the show and made the show what it is today.

To celebrate the popular actor’s 50th birthday, let's recall a few sassy moments of John Watson from the BBC drama to remind you that without Watson, Sherlock could have barely gotten his feet off the ground.

1. When John sarcastically calls Mycroft just as dramatic as Sherlock

Episode: A Study in Pink


The Holmes brothers are not known for their subtlety, and John Watson gets to experience this first hand when he is introduced to Sherlock’s brother, Mycroft Holmes, who describes himself as Sherlock’s ‘arch enemy’. Mycroft kidnaps John and offers him money to spy on Sherlock, which of course, the honourable John refuses to do. When Mycroft refers to his little brother as being ‘dramatic’, the ever sarcastic John replies, ‘thank god you’re above all that.’ Just adding to the comedic gold is the fact that Watson gets to know that his abductor is in fact Sherlock’s brother, only until much, much later.

2. John proves he’s more quick-witted than Sherlock gives him credit for

Episode: The Blind Banker


A break-in at a bank leads the detective duo to uncover two grisly murders, which they must solve before the body count goes up. Their only clue is a series of strange symbols. John Watson demonstrates that he can think on his feet when he hits the jackpot in discovering a plethora of the symbols graffitied on a wall. But just as he leads Sherlock to it, they are mysteriously painted over. As a bumbling Sherlock anxiously asks John to jog his visual memory, the latter coolly takes out his cell phone, revealing that he had cleverly taken a photograph of it before he had left to get Sherlock, helping save a valuable piece of evidence.

3. When he took a passionate interest in Sherlock’s knowledge, or lack thereof, about the solar system

Episode: The Great Game


This episode's opening scene finds our narcissistic genius facing off against his worst enemy - boredom, much to the chagrin of poor John Watson who has to bear the brunt of it. As a way to be productive, the latter takes up blogging, recording the duo's adventures through them. One, in particular, earns the ire of the consulting detective, where it is revealed that Sherlock does not know some basic facts, like say that the Earth revolves around the sun. The fact that even after Sherlock’s meticulous explanation of how his hard-drive brain needs to make space for only practically useful information that might aid his work, innocent John just seems to be unable to let it go and quips, ‘But it's the solar system!’

4. When John channelled all his frustrations into one punch, directed at Sherlock

Episode: A Scandal in Belgravia


Sherlock and John face off against a sophisticated and alluring blackmailer, and as a way to get into her house, they feign being attacked and in need of shelter. To better sell the act, Sherlock asks a shocked John to punch him, leading to one of the most hilarious exchanges in the series. When Sherlock repeats his request and asks John ‘Didn’t you hear me’, the doctor snaps back, ‘I always hear punch me in the face when you’re speaking’. This soon turns into an adorable brawl between the two and even a funny confession by John that he had ‘killed’ people when he had bad days as a war doctor.

5. When John, finally, calls Sherlock out for being a drama queen

Episode: The Sign of Three


It's John and Mary’s wedding day, and of course, the nuptials would not be complete without a good old-fashioned murder attempt. Sherlock deduces that an attempt will be made on the life of John’s commanding officer in the army at the wedding, in a fashion similar to that in a case the duo were unable to crack. Tensions run high as the officer shuts himself in a room and refuses to come out until Sherlock solves the case, leaving the detective in a mess. John sweeps in with his no-nonsense attitude and rebukes Sherlock, saying that the latter has never been a puzzle solver, but rather a drama queen, and spurs him on to solve the ‘game’. And of course, the monologue actually works on Sherlock, who has a stroke of genius and solves it then and there.

6. John’s dig at Sherlock’s attempt at seeming cool

Episode: The Hounds of Baskerville


The consulting detective and his trusty sidekick go in search of a literal 'monster' that is plaguing the people of a quiet town. As the duo make their way to a top-secret government facility in search of answers, Sherlock dow his classic coat collar flip and John can’t take it anymore. He says to Sherlock upfront that the whole cheekbones and putting his coat collar up to look cool are far from subtle. The sassy second-in-command is full of hilarious quips in this episode, even joking at one point about how the two might even get shot, diffusing a high tension scene with some much-needed chuckles.

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