The real Moriarty? Sherlock theory gives villain a new spin

The great villain in the BBCs Sherlock was Jim Moriarty, whom viewers watched at the end of Season 2, but his death raised many questions and gave way to a variety of theories, including one suggesting Jim wasn’t the real Moriarty, and the real one was actually a minor character in the series. Sherlock Holmes is one of the most popular and beloved characters in literature, so much so that his stories have been adapted to all types of media for over a century. Due to the state of the rights to the Great Detective, several artists have made changes to Sherlock Holmes to give him and his business a spin, including the BBC’s TV series Sherlockwho managed to give the character and stories of Arthur Conan Doyle a modern twist.


Created by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat, Sherlock brought the detective and the most popular characters from the books to modern-day London, adapting some of his best-known cases to the modern city and its technological advancements. The series followed Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) and his best friend and partner John Watson (Martin Freeman) as they solved various cases in London. Over the course of four seasons, Sherlock and John encountered several characters, some of them allies, such as Greg Lestrade (Rupert Graves) and Molly Hooper (Louise Brealey), and a few dangerous enemies, most notably Jim Moriarty (Andrew Schot).

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Jim Moriarty was a ‘consulting criminal’ and thus acted as the opposite of Sherlock, and he turned out to be the mastermind behind the crimes in Sherlock‘s Season 1. Moriarty was Sherlock’s nemesis, and as mentioned above, he died in the Season 2 finale “The Reichenbach Fall” to force Sherlock to commit suicide. His presence, however, lingered throughout the rest of the series, giving way to theories about the existence of another Moriarty or whether Jim wasn’t the real one — and one theory suggests the real Moriarty was journalist Kitty Riley.

Why Sherlock’s Moriarty Wasn’t the Real One

The belief that Jim Moriarty wasn’t the real one goes all the way back to his first actual appearance in… Sherlock. Moriarty was mentioned in the first episode, “A Study in Pink”, but he didn’t appear until the Season 1 finale, “The Great Game”. Moriarty’s first appearance in Sherlock was like Molly’s new boyfriend, Richard Brook, but it was revealed later in the episode that he was the one behind all the cases Sherlock solved in Season 1. In that scene, Moriarty said that he “so changeable”, who along with the taxi driver Sherlock told “A Study in Pink” that “they are so much more”, has been interpreted as indications that Moriarty was not acting alone.

Moriarty was obsessed with Sherlock, as he was also a genius, and they developed an interesting but dangerous rivalry, and while Moriarty was clearly not mentally stable, it looked like he might have committed suicide in “The Reichenbach Fall”. Moriarty’s Apparitions After Death in Sherlock also raised questions about his true identity, even though he appeared in flashbacks and hallucinations, but in the season 3 finale, his face appeared on TVs across the country saying, “Did you miss me?”, further fueling the belief that there was more to Jim Moriarty and he most likely wasn’t acting alone.

Sherlock Theory: The Real Moriarty Was Journalist Kitty Riley

One of the wildest theories as to who the real Jim Moriarty was suggests that it was journalist Kitty Riley (Katherine Parkinson) who appeared in the episode “The Reichenbach Fall”. During Moriarty’s trial, for which Sherlock had to testify, the detective was approached by Kitty Riley, who pretended to be a big fan of his, to test his skills. Of course, Sherlock quickly concluded that she was actually a journalist. Kitty did not get an interview with Sherlock, but offered her services to help him with everything that was said about him, and gave Sherlock her card. It is later revealed that Kitty was tricked by Moriarty into believing he was an actor (Richard Brook) hired by Sherlock to play the villain, and he even created fake evidence of all that. Kitty used this to publish her first major scoop, which was later proven to be incorrect.

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Now the theory uses some detail in its interaction with Sherlock and Moriarty’s “Richard Brook” identity to support the idea that Kitty Riley was the real Moriarty. First, in the court scene, Moriarty stares at John, but Kitty was sitting right in front of him, so maybe he was looking at her, the real Moriarty. Subsequently, viewers pointed to similarities between the handwriting in a note Moriarty sent to Sherlock and Kitty’s handwritten notes, further implying that she was the real “consultant criminal,” and Richard Brook’s headshots and profile were real when she appeared. hired him to pose as Jim Moriarty so she wouldn’t get her hands dirty. While the theory is nice, it doesn’t hold up, as it’s unlikely a hired actor would have gone as far as to commit suicide the way Moriarty did, and Kitty Riley didn’t return after “The Reichenbach Fall,” so there was just a Jim Moriarty in Sherlock.

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