Sherlock episodes ranked from worst to best

Thousands of you voted in our poll, and here's what you - the fans - told us were your favourite Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman outings as Sherlock and John Watson...

Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch)

It’s the series that made Benedict Cumberbatch a household name and had a hand in putting modern British drama on the international stage – but not even Sherlock can have a perfect run of episodes. We put it to readers to rank the episodes, downvoting those they didn’t like and helping their favourites achieve the prime position they deserved.


Now, thousands of votes later we have our result – from least to most popular, here’s how those fabulous Baker Street Boys’ adventures measure up.

9. The Empty Hearse

Series 3 episode 1

Sherlock returns from the grave to the consternation of John Watson – but they must put their differences aside to foil a terrorist plot.

After the cliffhanger of The Reichenbach Fall, this episode was always going to be a hard sell – clearly, some fans weren’t too convinced by the detective’s return.

8. The Sign of Three

Series 3 episode 2

As John Watson and Mary Morstan cut their wedding cake, danger is afoot behind the scenes.

This episode typified series three’s new focus on character-driven comedy-drama as Sherlock and John got drunk together and did little in the way of crime-solving – not surprising that it’s not many’s favourite.

7. His Last Vow

Series 3 episode 3

Sherlock takes on a newspaper baron with a penchant for blackmail – but the dark secrets he harbours could tear John and Sherlock’s lives apart.

The final entry in the third series of the BBC drama was preferred by audiences to the two preceding episodes, but clearly the evolving focus of Sherlock has yet to endear itself to fans.

6. The Blind Banker

Series 1 episode 2

Sherlock and John must solve a mysterious code with connections to the Chinese underworld as the bodies begin to pile up.

A tonally incongruous entry in series one saw the absence of several main characters and what some saw as a comparatively underdeveloped plot – perhaps that’s why it hasn’t stuck in people’s memories all that well?

5. The Hounds of Baskerville

Series 2 episode 2

A man haunted by demons comes to Baker Street looking for help – but what danger awaits Sherlock and John on the moors of Baskerville?

Certainly the best-known story in the Holmes canon, any adaptation of the Hounds of Baskerville was bound to come under more scrutiny than others. While the incorporation of modern-day concerns into the old story was an innovative take, this episode didn’t win over everyone.

4. A Scandal in Belgravia

Series 2 episode 1

Sherlock meets his match in dominatrix Irene Adler, who plans to bring the British government to its knees.

Always a popular entry in the series, this episode introduced a softer side to Benedict Cumberbatch’s detective while also offering some thrilling action sequences and comedy. Hopefully one day she’ll make another reappearance…

3. A Study in Pink

Series 1 episode 1

John Watson is back from war and looking for a roommate – who else but Sherlock Holmes, hot on the trail of a serial killer.

This episode deserves its high ranking if only for setting the tone and establishing the characters for a series that has become a worldwide success. It’s an added bonus that the story is so well-constructed.

2. The Great Game

Series 1 episode 3

Sherlock has to solve a series of puzzles across the city or people will die – all thanks to his hidden nemesis Moriarty.

Properly introducing Andrew Scott’s Jim Moriarty to the series, this episode was a fast-paced smorgasbord of action, crime-solving and tension – and a worthy second place.

1. The Reichenbach Fall

Series 2 episode 3

Sherlock thinks he has Moriarty on the ropes – but it soon becomes clear the criminal mastermind’s plans go far deeper than anyone could have anticipated


How could it have been anything else? Sherlock’s apparent suicide had the nation on the edge of their seats, leaving them two whole years to try and work out exactly how he did it. If any moment defines the show, it’s that shot of Sherlock throwing himself from the roof – and it’s no surprise that the series’ popularity soared after that jaw-dropping cliffhanger.