warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

The 'Sherlock' Fandom Really Needs Series Three

Jennifer Kuan |
October 23, 2013 | 5:08 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Holmes as an otter and Watson as a hedgehog really isn't that much of a stretch (Tumblr, via indigojelly).
Holmes as an otter and Watson as a hedgehog really isn't that much of a stretch (Tumblr, via indigojelly).

This morning was different from other mornings. It may be that hell froze over, or it may be that the airdate for series three of the BBC blockbuster "Sherlock" was finally announced.

"Sherlock" will return for series three on Jan. 19, 2014, and the announcement could not have come soon enough. The fandom, stuck in a seemingly eternal hiatus from new episodes, has been waiting for the next series for approximately forever (two years), and the usual fandom projects of fanfiction, graphic making and endless speculation are no longer enough.

READ MORE: 'Sherlock' Series Three PBS Airdates Announced

The fandom ran out of new material after "The Reichenbach Fall" aired in January 2012, and, subsequently, fandom activity got weirder and weirder.

Then it took a dive into hitherto uncharted levels of weirdness. It's wonderful, it's hilarious and it fully demonstrates the creativity of fandom, but it also shows the desperation for new episodes.

This morning's announcement was welcome, as fans have been waiting for the announcement for months, even before the filming for series three began in March.

The impending new episodes will hopefully placate the legions of "Sherlock" fans, who have pushed creativity to impressive, yet (to put it lightly) unorthodox bounds.

When a fandom spends two years with no new episodes, this is what happens.

Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) and John Watson (Martin Freeman) are often portrayed as animals.

The association of certain characters from "Sherlock" with animals is one of the more common memes. Holmes is most commonly associated with an otter, and Watson is his hedgehog counterpart.

From Tumblr user Redscharlach's "Otters Who Look Like Benedict Cumberbatch: A Visual Examination," which was later featured by Buzzfeed, to fan art depicting the show's characters as animals, the characters-as-animals trend is widespread in the fandom. Looking at the comparisons, the similarities between Cumberbatch and an otter are quite striking. Dubbed "Otterlock," this trend is one way for fandom artists to continue producing fresh works.

Watson's obsession with jam is another gem from the "Sherlock" fandom.

I don't understand Tunalock. It's hilarious, but I really, really, don't understand (Tumblr, via thequietfangirl).
I don't understand Tunalock. It's hilarious, but I really, really, don't understand (Tumblr, via thequietfangirl).

Originating from this comic in Kate Beaton's brilliant "Hark! A Vagrant" series, the John Watson replacement's clear love for jam has evolved into an inside joke in the fandom. Though many fans believe that Holmes and Watson's relationship may be more than platonic, the joke presents the idea that jam is, in fact, Watson's one true love.

Fan art often salutes Beaton's comic, with jars of jam holding increasingly major roles. John Watson's Jam is even the name of a private Facebook profile.

Last but not least is Tunalock.

What is Tunalock? Where did it come from? Why did Tunalock happen?

These are all good questions. The notion of Tunalock itself is actually quite simple, if bizarre. Tunalock is an Alternate Universe where the character of Holmes is a tuna. That's really all there is to it.

Holmes himself is often the only character who is fishified, although I have seen versions of Tunalock where his brother, Mycroft, takes the form of a stingray, or Watson appears as a pufferfish. Tuna!Sherlock can easily be identified by his signature blue scarf.

Nobody seems to know exactly where Tunalock came from, but it's one of the "Sherlock" fandom's most infamous creations. Tumblr user Stitchnik even created Tunalock plushies. Members of the fandom seem to either hate Tunalock or love it.

Series three may initially appease the "Sherlock" fandom, but with only three episodes, it won't be long until the new material runs dry. When that happens, expect more wonderful and weird fandom activity.

ALSO SEE: Into The Hive Mind: BBC's 'Sherlock' And The Adventures Of The Fandom That Waited

Reach Staff Reporter Jennifer Kuan here, and follow her on WordPress here.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.