Martin Freeman says Sherlock fans felt betrayed characters weren’t gay

Martin Freeman says Sherlock fans felt ‘betrayed’ when the detective and Dr. Watson didn’t come out as gay and run ‘off into the sunset’ in the final episode

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It was one of the BBC’s best loved shows, and propelled its lead stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman to super-stardom.

And the 47-year-old star, who played Dr. Watson opposite the 42-year-old’s Sherlock Holmes, said fans were ‘adamant’ the show would see the two lead characters come out as gay.

Speaking with Lauren Laverne during an appearance on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs on Saturday, The Office star explained how fans felt ‘betrayed’ that he and his co-star didn’t end the series by ‘holding hands off into the sunset’. 


Candid: Martin Freeman said on Saturday that Sherlock fans felt ‘betrayed’ when the detective and Dr. Watson didn’t come out as gay and run ‘off into the sunset’ in the final episode

Martin was discussing the impact of the show, when he said: ‘The reaction can be quite intense. So by the time we filmed the last ones there were some fans who were so adamant that John and Sherlock were gay. 

‘They knew it and they knew that Steven [Moffat] and Mark [Gatiss] were going to write an episode where we held hands off into the sunset together, and so when that didn’t happen there was a chunk of people going “this is betrayal”.’ 

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The potential for a relationship shared by the detective and his trusty side-kick in its many different adaptations has long been a focus for hopeful fans.

Although it wasn’t depicted on screen in the BBC show, some viewers would use fan fiction and art as a way to create versions of the characters in the throes of romance, under the fandom name Johnlock. 


Hopes: Martin was discussing the impact of the show when he said: ‘By the time we filmed the last ones there were some fans who were so adamant that John and Sherlock were gay’

In the show, writers often included jokes or comments to suggest John and Sherlock were viewed as a couple by others, even though the creators have repeatedly said they were not gay in the show. 

The third season’s first episode The Empty Hearse also included a scene where Sherlock and his arch-nemesis Moriarty (Andrew Scott) almost kissed.

While the characters never locked lips, and it was quickly revealed that the scene was actually the figment of a conspiracy theorist’s imagination, the scene seemed to be a reference to viewers’ desire to see a gay couple in the show. 


Teasing fans: The third season’s first episode The Empty Hearse also included a scene where Sherlock and his arch-nemesis Moriarty (Andrew Scott) almost kissed

In 2015, fans believed that Benedict had outed his character as being gay while appearing in a Nerdist podcast, in which he said Sherlock had a ‘different taste in the sex of [his] partners,’ while comparing the detective to Doctor Who.

But, following online reaction to the actor’s comments, show co-creator Steven told Entertainment Weekly: ‘We walk into that one all the time. It’s a funny thing when a character for over 100 years has been saying, ‘I don’t do that at all.’ 

‘He’s been saying it over 100 years! He’s not interested in [sex]. He’s willfully staying away from that to keep his brain pure—a Victorian belief, that. 

‘But everyone wants to believe he’s gay. He’s not gay. He’s not straight. And Doctor Watson is very clear that he prefers women. People want to fantasise about it. It’s fine. But it’s not in the show.’

Martin also told fans the characters were ‘not actually f***ing,’ during an appearance at the Raindance Film Festival in 2015, where he hit back: ‘It is possible for people of the same sex to have a deep friendship without being attracted to each other.

‘People are attracted to each other in all sorts of ways. You don’t necessarily want to [sleep with] someone because you love them. They respect each other, they bring different things to their friendship.’ 


Sparks could fly: The potential for a relationship shared by the detective and his trusty side-kick in its many different mediums has long been a focus for hopeful fans

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