November 16, 2020
Recent years have seen a resurgence of heroic figures and heroizing narratives, pointing to a possible change in contemporary attitudes towards the heroic in contrast to earlier cynicism and irony. While the renewed prominence of heroizations in popular culture has sparked increasing academic interest in the field of cultural studies and has seen wide academic discussion, it has not yet been specifically addressed from the perspective of studies on the role of the heroic in culture. This article outlines the specific strategy the series’ producers and writers followed to recast the archetypal detective, Sherlock Holmes, as a popular hero figure for the present, with a focus on both the discursive as well as the audio-visual elements of this representation. The article makes the argument that figures in twenty-first-century British popular culture reinstall the heroic while they are simultaneously aware of the pitfalls and the ambiguity of sympathy for the hero.