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-   -   The Holmes and Watson archetype (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=649768)

tellyworth 04-26-2012 08:58 PM

The Holmes and Watson archetype
 
The detective is obsessive, brilliant, and unconventional. He/she is willing and able to solve the cases that no one else can, often by working outside the mainstream structure and methods. He is presumptuous and insensitive, has few friends, and often offends or alienates people. He does not seek fame and fortune, but simply wants to solve the mystery, and often lets others take the credit (leading to a grudging respect from other detectives, who otherwise regard him as reckless). He indulges an addiction when he is not working on a case.

His partner, an educated professional, is intelligent, trustworthy, and conservative. He/she is a conventional thinker, perceptive but unable to follow the detective's methods. Nonetheless he trusts the detective implicitly, and is willing to assist despite being in the dark about the true nature of the mystery. He does the talking when empathy is required, and will try to mollify those the detective offends. He is often called on to distract or placate the police to prevent them from interfering with the detective's investigation. He does the paperwork, and acts admirably when bravery is needed.

Together, they fight crime.

I've just described:

Holmes and Watson
Mulder and Scully
House and Wilson

Who else? Bonus points for listing the detective's addiction.

brainstall 04-26-2012 09:07 PM

Nothing to add, but once I realized it, I thought the Holmes/Watson - House/Wilson thing was a bit too obvious an allusion.

RealityChuck 04-26-2012 09:09 PM

Hercule Poirot and Arthur Hastings
C. August Dupin and the unnamed narrator of the story (which, of course, predated Holmes).
The Old Man in the Corner and the Lady Journalist. The Old Man solves the mystery from his corner in the tea shop (though he does talk about visiting the crime scenes and trials)
Mr. Linley and Smithers in "The Two Bottles of Relish" by Lord Dunsany (he was probably parodying Holmes and Watson).

Kimstu 04-26-2012 09:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RealityChuck (Post 15008015)
Hercule Poirot and Arthur Hastings

I stealing your bonus!

Poirot could arguably be described as "addicted" to obsessive neatness and symmetry, and in fact if the character were created nowadays he would probably be interpreted clinically as suffering from OCD.

The OCD-plagued detective Adrian Monk in the eponymous TV series could be considered a modern black-comedy reworking of Poirot (as Dr. House was of Sherlock Holmes), with his nurse Sharona Fleming acting as his sidekick.

Little Nemo 04-26-2012 09:20 PM

Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin
A.J. Raffles and Bunny Manders

Little Nemo 04-26-2012 09:23 PM

The basic trope is the sidekick serves as the stand-in for the readers. He asks the questions the readers are wondering and the hero explaining things to the sidekick serves as exposition.

Der Trihs 04-26-2012 10:05 PM

From Randall Garrett's Lord Darcy fantasy/mystery stories, Lord Darcy and Master Sean O'Lochlainn are pretty close; unsurprising since they are in part a Holmes/Watson homage.

tellyworth 04-26-2012 10:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Little Nemo (Post 15008063)
The basic trope is the sidekick serves as the stand-in for the readers. He asks the questions the readers are wondering and the hero explaining things to the sidekick serves as exposition.

It also allows the author to delay the explanation till the reveal at the end. The protagonist Watson (and thus the reader) sees the same clues as Holmes, but isn't privy to his internal knowledge and deductions.

tellyworth 04-26-2012 10:20 PM

Interesting that you describe Monk as based on Poirot. I've only seen the show once or twice, and assumed it was a direct Holmes homage, particularly given Sharona's medical qualification.

njtt 04-26-2012 10:21 PM

Morse and Lewis.

There's gotta be a million of these.

Boyo Jim 04-26-2012 10:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by tellyworth (Post 15007972)
..and often lets others take the credit (leading to a grudging respect from other detectives, who otherwise regard him as reckless)...

Pardon my ignorance, as I haven't read much of Conan Doyle's original Holmes stories, but were there any other real (if inferior) detectives? The police in the films always seem to be portrayed as thugs or bullies, with never an original thought among them. They don't seem to investigate at all, just simply arrest the most convenient suspect.

kunilou 04-26-2012 10:35 PM

Batman and Robin?

K364 04-26-2012 10:43 PM

1605: Don Quixote and Sancho Panza

tellyworth 04-26-2012 10:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Boyo Jim (Post 15008327)
Pardon my ignorance, as I haven't read much of Conan Doyle's original Holmes stories, but were there any other real (if inferior) detectives?

Inspector Lestrade, primarily. In the stories he's eventually described as competent, though too conventional to solve Holmes's cases.

The movies invariably ruin the minor characters. The Guy Richie ones are reasonably faithful with Holmes and Watson as films go, but Lestrade, Irene Adler etc are caricatures. The Basil Rathbone ones are worse, they reduce Watson to bumbling comic relief.

tellyworth 04-26-2012 10:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by njtt (Post 15008295)
Morse and Lewis.

"Police detective and another police detective" seems a stretch, unless they match some of the other attributes (you may be right, I've never seen that one).

Deliberate homages usually throw it some clues like an addiction for Holmes, a medical background for Watson.

NCIS seems to play with multiple Holmes/Watson pairs:

Gibbs (coffee) and Ducky (medical background)
Abby (caffeine) and McGee (writer)

Quote:

Originally Posted by kunilou (Post 15008343)
Batman and Robin?

"Crime fighting duo" is too vague by itself.

Quote:

Originally Posted by K364 (Post 15008368)
1605: Don Quixote and Sancho Panza

Interesting. Don Quixote might fit, in an ironic way. What makes Sancho Panza fit the Watson archetype?

GIGObuster 04-26-2012 11:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by K364 (Post 15008368)
1605: Don Quixote and Sancho Panza

A reverse of sorts? Sancho Panza showed that he was almost as good as a "Holmes" when being the ruler and judge of Barataria, a fictional ínsula ("isle"). And throughout the tale Sancho is usually the voice of reason, even if he was a little ignorant.

Don Quixote was mad as a hatter.




As for the OP, Edgar Alan Poe with his Murders in the Rue Morgue was one of the first to come with the archetype with C. Auguste Dupin and his "Watson" the narrator of the few tales of Dupin and his friend. AFAIK the "Watson" was not ever named.

TonySinclair 04-26-2012 11:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by tellyworth (Post 15008416)
"Police detective and another police detective" seems a stretch, unless they match some of the other attributes

Because I had just looked at tonight's TV listings before reading this, the first thing I thought of was Jane and Lisbon of "The Mentalist." The only thing that doesn't fit the OP to a tee is that Jane has an obsession, rather than an addiction.

StGermain 04-26-2012 11:49 PM

Bones and Booth.

StG

Kimstu 04-27-2012 12:09 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Boyo Jim (Post 15008327)
Pardon my ignorance, as I haven't read much of Conan Doyle's original Holmes stories, but were there any other real (if inferior) detectives? The police in the films always seem to be portrayed as thugs or bullies, with never an original thought among them. They don't seem to investigate at all, just simply arrest the most convenient suspect.

As tellyworth noted, in the books the Scotland Yard detectives Lestrade and Gregson are not totally incompetent, if far inferior to Holmes. But I think Inspector Stanley Hopkins, a fan and more-or-less protege of Holmes, comes closer than either to counting as another "real detective".

ETA: Oh, and so does Inspector Baynes of the uniformed police force.

Post-ETA: And all the rest.

Captain Amazing 04-27-2012 01:11 AM

This is also detective/detecttive, but Goren and Eames in Law and Order:Criminal Intent were this.

Chronos 04-27-2012 02:04 AM

William of Baskerville and Adso, in The Name of the Rose. As suggested by William's place of origin, they're a deliberate homage to Holmes.

The Second Stone 04-27-2012 02:30 AM

James Rockford and Angel Martin

Thomas Magnum and Higgins

Deitrich and Fish

Floater 04-27-2012 06:31 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by njtt (Post 15008295)
Morse and Lewis

Lewis and Hathaway

sandra_nz 04-27-2012 06:40 AM

Tony Stark and Pepper Potts?

Nava 04-27-2012 07:04 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Little Nemo (Post 15008063)
The basic trope is the sidekick serves as the stand-in for the readers. He asks the questions the readers are wondering and the hero explaining things to the sidekick serves as exposition.

In this way and in the unusualness of the pater's methods, Father Brown and Flambeau match, but the good father is lacking on known addictions.

audit1 04-27-2012 07:17 AM

In Sax Rohmers Fu Manchu series we have detective Nayland Smith and his associate Dr Petrie.

In S S Van Dines Philo Vance series we heave detective Philo Vance and his Watson S S Van Dine. (Van Dine used his own name for the character.)

nudgenudge 04-27-2012 07:18 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by tellyworth (Post 15007972)
Who else? Bonus points for listing the detective's addiction.

Who else indeed? The title character of Doctor Who is often said to owe a lot to Sherlock Homes. Addiction: jelly babies?

njtt 04-27-2012 08:35 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by tellyworth (Post 15008416)
Quote:

Originally Posted by njtt (Post 15008295)
Morse and Lewis.

"Police detective and another police detective" seems a stretch, unless they match some of the other attributes (you may be right, I've never seen that one).

Yes, I think it fits. Morse is the intellectual, lazy, misanthropic loner who solves crimes through insight into character and occasional flashes of brilliance. Lewis, his sidekick, is the salt of the Earth, commonsensical everyman, very loyal to Morse despite how Morse teases and takes advantage of him (just as Holmes does of Watson). In the TV show, also (I imagine the books were too long ago) Lewis also has one significant area of expertise that Morse lacks, although in this case it is computers rather than medicine.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Floater (Post 15008983)

I thought of this: but no. Lewis is still the same Lewis, except that he is now the boss (and they killed off his wife, making him a bit more dour). Hathaway is the supercilious intellectual. In some respects Hathaway is like Morse (though not so obviously misanthropic), but since he is younger, and the subordinate, the dynamic is quite different. I am not sure that I do not think Lewis and Hathaway actually works better than Morse and Lewis did, but the former does not fit the archetype and the latter did.

njtt 04-27-2012 08:39 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nava (Post 15009013)
In this way and in the unusualness of the pater's methods, Father Brown and Flambeau match, but the good father is lacking on known addictions.

Flambeau, the mercurial former criminal, could hardly be more unlike Watson, though.

And if an addiction is a requirement, to return to my former theme, Morse has beer and Wagner. (Of course, Holmes is a music lover too.)

Prelude to Fascination 04-27-2012 08:47 AM

Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin. Wolfe's addiction was orchids.

Nava 04-27-2012 09:11 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by njtt (Post 15009158)
Flambeau, the mercurial former criminal, could hardly be more unlike Watson, though.

But he's there to be asking the questions the reader would ask and to provide clues which he does not recognize as such.

johnpost 04-27-2012 10:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Prelude to Fascination (Post 15009183)
Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin. Wolfe's addiction was orchids.

and beer and food.

Archie's was females, it would almost get him killed on occasion.

Reno Nevada 04-27-2012 10:22 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Little Nemo (Post 15008063)
The basic trope is the sidekick serves as the stand-in for the readers. He asks the questions the readers are wondering and the hero explaining things to the sidekick serves as exposition.

I wanted to mention Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin from the Master and Commander series as an example of this trope. They are a particularly interesting pair because each is hyper-competent in their own field and incompetent in their partner's, so each one takes a turn as the reader stand-in.

They don't fight crime, though.

RealityChuck 04-27-2012 10:36 AM

Wendell Urth and H. Seaton Davenport from Isaac Asimov's "Wendell Urth" stories. Urth is an agoraphobe who never leaves his apartment. Davenport is actually a competent cop and manages to solve one of the mysteries without Urth being involved.

Tim R. Mortiss 04-27-2012 10:48 AM

Shawn and Gus on Psych. The brilliant unconventional detective who is addicted to Eighties pop cultural references, and his medical-supplies sidekick who can distract the police, comfort victims, and act like a grownup when necessary.

Tom Scud 04-27-2012 10:51 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kunilou (Post 15008343)
Batman and Robin?

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chronos (Post 15008754)
William of Baskerville and Adso, in The Name of the Rose. As suggested by William's place of origin, they're a deliberate homage to Holmes.

No to both; the junior partner is more of a protege or naif, which is a different kind of audience stand-in.

Batman makes a good Holmes; someone has got to have paired him with a Watson at some point in the thousands of stories that have been told over the years, but I don't know who. Alfred, maybe?

In comics, there's Rorschach and Nite Owl. Entertainingly enough, Rorschach, the unconventional brilliant one, is barking up the wrong tree the whole time until Nite Owl cracks the case.

BMalion 04-27-2012 10:59 AM

R. Daneil Olivar & Elijah Baily.

Kimstu 04-27-2012 11:44 AM

Lord Peter Wimsey and Charles Parker are a detective/detective pair, and Parker's not the narrator, but he's definitely the solid counterpart to Wimsey's eccentric brilliance.

Wimsey suffers from WWI-induced PTSD, but I don't know that you could call him "addicted" to anything. Music? First editions?

Bridget Burke 04-27-2012 01:13 PM

The professions are different, but I always thought Henry Higgins (irascible genius) & Colonel Pickering (more gentlemanly & recently returned from The East) were a similar pair of confirmed bachelor housemates in old London.....

The Other Waldo Pepper 04-27-2012 01:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tom Scud (Post 15009578)
Batman makes a good Holmes; someone has got to have paired him with a Watson at some point in the thousands of stories that have been told over the years, but I don't know who.

A number of team-ups with Superman pretty much went the way the OP described.

Dendarii Dame 04-27-2012 01:56 PM

Rabbi David Small and Chief Lannigan.

The rabbi isn't popular with much of his congregation, generally because he won't compromise on a point of doctrine. (For example, he won't let a couple use a non-kosher caterer for their daughter's wedding.)

astorian 04-27-2012 02:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Little Nemo (Post 15008054)
Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin

I disagree with you- part of what made the Nero Wolfe series fun was that Archie Goodwin was NOT like Dr. Watson or Captain Hastings.

Watson and Hastings were in AWE of their detective friends, and were constantly flabbergasted by their friends' brillaince.

Archie Goodwin certainly respects Nero Wolfe, but unlike Hastings and Watson, Archie is a wise guy and a bit of an iconoclast. Watson would NEVER dream of mocking Holmes' affectations, whereas Archie Goodwin takes great enjoyment in teasing his boss and in ridiculing some of Wolfe's pretensions and peccadilloes.

Hastings would NEVER laugh at Poirot's dandyish attire. Archie Goodwin DOES laugh at the way the enormous Wolfe looks in his bright yellow pajamas.

Hastings would NEVER snap "Quit waxing your moustache and get to work" at Poirot, any more than Watson would tell Holmes, "You're behind on the rent- put down the pipe, quit playing your stupid violin, and start looking for a paying client!" But Archie Goodwin DOES rile his boss when necessary, and often has to drag Wolfe away from his orchard or from the book he's reading, and force him to get down to business.

Nero Wolfe is a British-style intellectual detective in the Sherlock Holmes mold. Archie is a wisecracking American gumshoe, in the Philip Marlowe mold. The juxtaposition of the two is what makes the series work.

Kimstu 04-27-2012 03:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by astorian (Post 15010384)
I disagree with you- part of what made the Nero Wolfe series fun was that Archie Goodwin was NOT like Dr. Watson or Captain Hastings.

Watson and Hastings were in AWE of their detective friends, and were constantly flabbergasted by their friends' brillaince.

Archie Goodwin certainly respects Nero Wolfe, but unlike Hastings and Watson, Archie is a wise guy and a bit of an iconoclast. Watson would NEVER dream of mocking Holmes' affectations, whereas Archie Goodwin takes great enjoyment in teasing his boss and in ridiculing some of Wolfe's pretensions and peccadilloes.

Hastings would NEVER laugh at Poirot's dandyish attire. Archie Goodwin DOES laugh at the way the enormous Wolfe looks in his bright yellow pajamas.

Hastings would NEVER snap "Quit waxing your moustache and get to work" at Poirot, any more than Watson would tell Holmes, "You're behind on the rent- put down the pipe, quit playing your stupid violin, and start looking for a paying client!" But Archie Goodwin DOES rile his boss when necessary, and often has to drag Wolfe away from his orchard or from the book he's reading, and force him to get down to business.

I see your point but I think you exaggerate. Watson does indeed occasionally scold Holmes for, e.g., his untidiness or his habit of shooting bullet-pock patterns in the walls and especially for his recklessness with regard to his own health (cocaine in particular). And Hastings does tease Poirot about his vanity and his obsession with symmetry and tidiness and so forth.

The classic sidekick is indeed in awe of his friend's brilliance, but he's also got a mind of his own and is occasionally quite critical of his friend. We're not talking sycophantic doormats here.

Quartz 04-27-2012 03:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by tellyworth (Post 15008416)
"Police detective and another police detective" seems a stretch, unless they match some of the other attributes (you may be right, I've never seen that one).

Wasn't Lewis initially newly promoted? So he's essentially a trainee.

Voyager 04-27-2012 03:20 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kimstu (Post 15010511)
I see your point but I think you exaggerate. Watson does indeed occasionally scold Holmes for, e.g., his untidiness or his habit of shooting bullet-pock patterns in the walls and especially for his recklessness with regard to his own health (cocaine in particular). And Hastings does tease Poirot about his vanity and his obsession with symmetry and tidiness and so forth.

The classic sidekick is indeed in awe of his friend's brilliance, but he's also got a mind of his own and is occasionally quite critical of his friend. We're not talking sycophantic doormats here.

Archie is more Wolfe's other, outside, half. Wolfe is the brain, trapped in one place, Archie is the body, roaming and reporting.

The Other Waldo Pepper 04-27-2012 03:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Voyager (Post 15010578)
Archie is more Wolfe's other, outside, half. Wolfe is the brain, trapped in one place, Archie is the body, roaming and reporting.

Of course, the odd part is that Archie has solved a number of crimes without bothering to consult with Wolfe.

Irishman 04-27-2012 03:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by The Second Stone (Post 15008778)
Thomas Magnum and Higgins

I don't see how that fits at all.

ashtayk 04-27-2012 03:43 PM

The House/Wilson is actually a homage to Holmes/Watson. Even the name House is a play on words (synonym of a homonym of Holmes). The series creator Bryan Singer alluded to this in some interview.

BrassyPhrase 04-27-2012 04:22 PM

It's not really a detective thing, but I immediately thought of Buffy and Willow.

Although one of my favorite of Willow's lines is "I am NOT YOUR SIDEKICK!"

raspberry hunter 04-27-2012 04:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kimstu (Post 15009753)
Lord Peter Wimsey and Charles Parker are a detective/detective pair, and Parker's not the narrator, but he's definitely the solid counterpart to Wimsey's eccentric brilliance.

Wimsey suffers from WWI-induced PTSD, but I don't know that you could call him "addicted" to anything. Music? First editions?

I came in to say Lord Peter and Harriet Vane, in the later books.


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