Sherlock: what is Steven Moffat’s missing clue?

Hot beverages, Molly and the rooftop showdown are occupying our users' thoughts following Steven Moffat's revelation


At the Radio Times Covers Party on Tuesday night, Sherlock co-creator Steven Moffat told us we’d missed an important clue from the show’s finale. Despite the rigorous analysis fans have been undertaking ever since the detective’s apparent death-defying plunge, Moffat says one Sherlock anomaly has been overlooked.


“I’ve been online and looked at all the theories,” Moffat told us, “and there’s one clue that everyone’s missed. It’s something that Sherlock did that was very out of character, but which nobody has picked up on.”

So it’s time to revisit – yet again – any strangely un-Sherlock behaviour from The Reichenbach Fall, and our users’ theories can be broadly split into three areas: the rooftop showdown, Molly…and hot beverages…

The rooftop

“Was the clue perhaps that Sherlock didn’t search Moriarty’s body for the code to stop the snipers?” asks sand_763. “We know he doesn’t have a problem with a dead body, yet he left it alone and even covered up his nose and mouth… That was also a little weird…”

“I have to imagine there’s something more going on with the ‘moment of privacy’ Sherlock requests from Moriarty as he’s standing on the ledge,” says LW2. “It struck me immediately as a very un-Sherlock thing to do…”

And aamadis is among those who think they have the answer: “Sherlock planned to fake kill himself when Moriarty was still alive, but he couldn’t have Jim looking over the edge after he jumped and seeing him land in a rubbish truck when he’s trying to fool him. So he asks Jim to step back and give him some privacy so he can get a head start. Of course after Moriarty kills himself there’s no need for that any more.”


Sherlock’s treatment of his pathologist admirer, Molly Hooper, is seen as being of particular significance by many.

“Sherlock left Molly out of his list of friends.. on purpose?” wonders sand_763. “To distract Moriarty? To take all attention away from the one person who could save him?”

“He was nice to Molly! I think that’s it,” says Ofelia.

“Sherlock did an… out of character thing in this episode. He was very honest with Molly in the lab about needing her help. (Nowhere to stash a trolley containing a dead person on that rooftop),” says L.

While Tracey Padgett notes: “He told Molly he needed her, Sherlock doesn’t need anyone.”

Tea and coffee

Beverages were at the centre of much of Sherlock’s unusual behaviour, according to a number of people. 

“The only thing I can think that was out of character was Sherlock having a cup of tea with Moriarty, maybe something was in the sugar!” suggests the aptly named DSweetenham.

“He made Moriarty tea (much was made in Hounds of how unlikely it was for him to make John coffee),” says Abigail Chandler.

“Sherlock drank white tea instead of black coffee!” says  L.

“Sherlock said he would buy the milk,” says Pam Marx-Thompson. “Not sure how it’s a clue though.”


Meanwhile, a number of fans briefly put aside their attempts to solve the mystery in favour of cursing Steven Moffat for inflicting such frustration on them.

“Dammit, Moffat. I have finals,” said Ji Gahv-Kur. “I gotta write my BA paper. A distraction is the very last thing I need right now. *grumbles*”

“I have brain-hurt from trying to evaluate all the theories AND fend off my withdrawal symptoms!” complained Ruby Morris.

And Reuben Soobrayen chose to remind everyone of Moffat’s own words to Radio Times: “We deliberately lie, we deliberately confuse in order to keep you in the dark about our intentions.”


Of course, Moffat was joking when he made that comment. We think…