It is entirely possible that you were walking down the street recently anywhere in the world and passed by something that looked like the picture above. And maybe you noticed it and stared for a while. Maybe you shrugged and moved on. Maybe you didn’t see it at all. It could have been a weird post-it note stuck to a parking meter or a bathroom stall door:
“Richard Brook was a fake.”
“I fight John Watson’s War.”
“We know the truth. I believe in Sherlock.”
It looks as though the world is taking up the banner of the Reichenbach Hero. (For a full explanation of why, read our spoiler-heavy recap of the ending of Sherlock season 2.) There’s a movement on the streets, already sweeping through your town or city, and it’s a cause worth fighting for.
Warning: IMMEDIATE SPOILERS FOR SEASON 2 of SHERLOCK.
It started the way these things often do—one voice on the sea of the world (or the internet). After the end of Sherlock‘s season 2 our hero was in disgrace and appeared dead to the world. And one fan imagined: what if you lived in their universe? What if you followed John Watson’s blog, you read all the cases, you loved Sherlock and his intrepid blogger the way the kids love pop music and bad fashion trends and movie stars? And what if, one day, some shitty tabloid told the whole world he was a fake and your hero appeared to commit suicide? You wouldn’t stand for it, that’s what. You would know the truth.
And you would pass it on.
In honor of John Watson’s unwavering loyalty to his departed friend, #BelieveinSherlock has begun. In barely two weeks, this fan-created viral campaign has spread all over the world. (No joke. There’s a map.) People are creating art, printing up signs, posting them in coffee shops, on subway platforms, and university bulletin boards. They’re making t-shirts, writing it on their arms, pinning buttons to their winter coats.
“Don’t believe the lies.”
“Moriarty was real.”
The resonance that Sherlock’s apparent departure has with fans across the globe should perhaps not be surprising at all: when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote “The Final Problem” with every intent of killing off his most famous creation, fans wore black armbands to mark his passing and sent angry letters to the author. And that was over a century ago. Today, the power of the internet has ensured a wildfire of protest and a groundswell of love and support.
Not only that, it’s connecting people around the world. Fans are finding posters in their schools and hometowns and realizing that they’re not alone. People are reaching out to one another: many of these printed-out posters have tabs at the bottom that simply read “I Believe.” They’re not being ripped off because they have a number for a babysitter or a good gardening service. It’s a vote—I believe too. We’re all out here. We’re not going away. You may think it’s silly, but it’s also sort of beautiful. It’s homespun and proud; many pictures on Tumblr accounts show fans holding up their drawn or fingerpainted posters in front of their faces so that only their eyes show, anonymous protests of the masses at work.
There is some debate as to whether this is a marketing campaign stemming from the BBC and the possibility remains that this is exactly how this started. The show may be over in the U.K. but it has yet to debut in the rest of the world, and the folks at the BBC are most likely canny enough to know that television with an active fanbase crosses national barriers quite easily.
But however the origin, such a movement could not have become so visible if the excitement and devotion to Sherlock wasn’t already there. We might have to wait a year (or more) for the next season, but who knows what will grow up to fill the detective’s brilliant, arrogant shoes by then? The Sherlockians have mobilized, and the internet is proving what we’ve known all along: together, the ranks of fandom are an unstoppable force.
Check out the #BelieveinSherlock Tumblr! Hashtag it on Twitter!
Emily Asher-Perrin is the Editorial Assistant for Tor.com. She believes in Sherlock. She also believes in fans. #Moriartywasreal