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November 18th, 2013

Originally published at Faith Seeking Understanding. You can comment here or there.

One of the biggest questions in the Sherlock fandom is whether to “ship” John and Sherlock. In fandom lingo, that roughly means whether you characterize them (in your thoughts, your fanwork, etc.) as more than just really good friends. I’ve always said that to my mind, Arthur Conan Doyle wrote them as very close but Platonic friends, and that in the BBC version Watson is thoroughly heterosexual while Sherlock is simply not interested in sex. I still stand by those statements, as an interpretations of the ACD and BBC canon.


I’ve grown incredibly frustrated with having to say the words “I’m not a Johnlock shipper, but…” For one thing, I’ve been reading a lot of Sherlock fanfiction, including a fair bit of Johnlock. Not because I’ve sought it out, precisely, but because it’s been recommended to me. Also, because it’s usually a better bit in any given fanfic that Johnlock will get the intensity of the relationship and the way the two men in the BBC series rely on each other to deal with their respective psychological problems and find a degree of healing, much more than I’ve seen in non-romantic looks at this relationship. As I’ve thought about the nature of friendship and read that A.C. Grayling book getting ready to blog about it, one of the things I’ve been struck by is how thin the line between intense friendship and romantic attachment can be. A friendship can be complete and good without having anything to do with romance or sex, of course. But the things that make it complete are usually at the heart of a good Johnlock romance, too.

That’s only half the problem, though. Increasingly I’ve noticed an undercurrent to the people who say they don’t view John and Sherlock as romantically involved. To be clear, this isn’t everyone. I’m sure some people reading this who’ve watched the show see John and Sherlock as just truly good friends without John. There’s a part of me that finds that attractive, because as someone with very low sex drive myself (I’m much more interested in sexuality and gender as abstract topics rather than actually having a relationship of any kind), I find it very attractive that someone could have a full life without it revolving around sex. It’s affirming.

But there are also some circles where saying you’re not a Johnlock shipper takes on a much uglier tone. There’s almost a defiance, a self-martyrdom involved. And there’s almost always a certainty that they’re more serious, more faithful than people who choose to write or think of John and Sherlock as romantic partners. Here are just some of the memes I’ve seen that made this point today:

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December 2020



  • 5 Dec 2020, 12:53
    PM me your address. I have a card set aside for you, but need name and address to get it going.

    - Erulisse (one L)
  • 5 Dec 2020, 12:04
    What a lovely idea!
  • 4 Dec 2020, 17:56
    Mmmm, ginger snapses!
  • 4 Dec 2020, 17:37
    I don't send out cards anymore, but I was drooling over all the pop-up ones Amazon had and wondering if it might not be time to resume the tradition (I decided no).

    Not much help in the Hallmark…
  • 25 Nov 2020, 14:52
    That's great! Happy Thanksgiving to you and thanks for the marching, musical cats. LOL

    - Erulisse (one L)
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