Oh, depressing to be sure - but also so interesting! Sherlock, despite being an anti-social, difficult individual, has succeeded in uniting an exceedingly dissipate set of characters. What else would an army doctor, a master criminal, a dominatrix, a lovely old lady and the British government himself have in common?
There are a few good ‘Turn Left’ style fanfictions floating around online (I’ve read this one and another that I’ve been unable to track down), and it is a very good subject to write on. It asks questions about what Sherlock meant to people, how he changed them - for better or for worse - and leads one to wonder what life in that universe may become without Sherlock in it.
What is certain is many crimes would go unsolved: Jeff Hope would have taken more lives before, I suspect, Lestrade eventually caught him. The Chinese smugglers would have caught up with Amanda, Eddie Van Coon’s secretary, and killed her, taking her hairpin. The Monkfords would have moved to Columbia, Raoul de Santos would have lived comfortably with Kenny and Miss Wenceslas would have received her £30 million for the sale of the fake Vemeer. Henry Knight would have probably taken his own life.
John Watson would have returned from Afghanistan, limped around London for a bit, before having to move away, unable to find a flatmate. He would work as a GP somewhere, before meeting a nice girl and settling down. This would not be Mary Morstan, as he meets her through a case in The Sign of Four. All in all, he would lead a good, comfortable life, but he would never get over his psychosomatic limp and never be quite able to shake the feeling that everything he was doing was excruciatingly dull.
Mrs Hudson would find some quiet, trustworthy tenants for her upstairs flat, but 221b Baker Street would still not be a quiet, tranquil place, owing to the presence of her husband, a murderous man who should have been put to death in Florida, but got off on an technicality. She would live in constant fear of her husband until she eventually summoned the courage to leave or until Mr Hudson repeated the act that landed him on Florida’s death row.
Lestrade and Molly would lead much quieter lives. Although Lestrade would solve fewer cases, his commitment to his job would not lessen and his wife would still have an affair and leave. Molly would continue to work in the morgue, solitary and lonely with no friends to visit on Christmas Eve.
Mycroft’s life is the one I would consider most changed. Without a reckless and wayward baby brother to worry about, Mycroft’s path into politics would have been unobstructed and swift. Cutting an even more formidably inhuman figure without his worrisome baby brother to temper the relentless side of his personality, Mycroft’s rise through governance would have been even more meteoric. By the time the series is set, he would hold dominion over all of Western Europe. His staff, cowed by the heady combination of fear and respect, would not be able to last in his office very long. He would be unspeakably lonely.
Irene Adler would have ended up in prison or would have been left to die. Without Sherlock as her bargaining chip, after her intervention in Bond Air, she would have been unable to force Mycroft into a negotiation and, instead, have found herself in a much-less civilised interrogation. Mycroft, more ruthless and less merciful in this universe, would have torn her to shreds and left her to the wolves.
Without Sherlock, Moriarty’s attentions would have been, instead, focussed on Mycroft. However, Mycroft is not a man who can be easily tempted into games. With Mycroft’s comparatively grander position, the Great Game would quickly ascend to far more dangerous, global proportions. The two would play an expansive and deadly game of human chess for a while, before this escalated into all-out war. There would be no winners.
Sherlock, it seems, paradoxically considering his chaotic personality, stands in the way of mayhem.
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