Villains Wikia

James Moriarty

36,706pages on
this wiki

Stop hand


This Article Contains Spoilers - WARNING: This article contains major spoilers. If you do not wish to know vital information on plot / character elements in a story, you may not wish to read beyond this warning: We hold no responsibility for any negative effects these facts may have on your enjoyment of said media should you continue. That is all.


He is a man of good birth and excellent education, endowed by nature with a phenomenal mathematical faculty. At the age of twenty-one he wrote A Treatise on the Binomial Theorem, which has had a European vogue. On the strength of it he won the mathematical chair at one of our smaller universities, and had, to all appearances, a most brilliant career before him. But the man had hereditary tendencies of the most diabolical kind. A criminal strain ran in his blood, which, instead of being modified, was increased and rendered infinitely more dangerous by his extraordinary mental powers. Dark rumors gathered round him in the University town, and eventually he was compelled to resign his chair and come down to London. He is the Napoleon of Crime, Watson, the organizer of half that is evil and nearly all that is undetected in this great city...
~ Sherlock Holmes about Professor Moriarty in "The Final Problem".

Professor James Moriarty is the archenemy of Sherlock Holmes and is often considered one of the first supervillains in fiction - he appeared in only two novels and despite rarely encountering Holmes personally he is considered the main antagonist of the entire Sherlock Holmes series, being famously described as the "Napoleon of Crime".


Professor Moriarty is a criminal genius equal to Holmes in brilliance and was famous for being the villain that Sherlock Holmes fought and apparently fell to his doom with in The Final Problem - however due to a large public outlash Arthur Conan Doyle was forced to retcon these events so that both Holmes and Moriarty did not die as was originally planned but rather miraculously survived so that the series could continue.

Moriarty is mentioned but not seen in the novella The Valley of Fear, which is set before "The Final Problem." Here he is depicted as running a "criminal consulting agency," which liaises with various criminal organizations. Moriarty arranges the death of John Douglas, a former Pinkerton detective, as a favor for the Vermissa Valley Gang, a group of corrupt union officials who had been arrested by Douglas. Moriarty's men killed Douglas in spite of Holmes's attempt to save him, an act which puts Holmes forever at odds with Moriarty.

It's also depicted that he has obsession for technology. In the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, he tricks the league and builds a war airship using the technology he got from his enemies, like Fu Manchu for example. He also brings with him a specially designed Air Rifle that is disguised as a cane and is perfect for sniping.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows


Professor Moriarty in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Let us not waste any more of one-another's time. We both know how this ends.
~ Professor Moriarty's most famous quote

Moriarty appears as the main antagonist in the 2011 film Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. He is portrayed by Jared Harris.

This version, complete with beard, bears a strong resemblance to purported Moriarty inspiration Adam Worth. During the film, Sherlock Holmes comes into conflict with Moriarty after he poisons Irene Adler to death, deeming her expendable after she succumbs to her feelings for Holmes. During his inquiries into Moriarty's criminal activities, Holmes learns that the professor had managed to "buy, scheme or murder" his way into various businesses, including arms and chemical weaponry, without leaving any criminal evidence that could be traced back to him. In order to create a demand for his vast supply of weaponry, Moriarty attempts to provoke a world war using bombs and by sending an assassin into a crucial conference using an early form of plastic surgery. At one point in the film, Moriarty captures Homes and tortures him while singing the German song "Die Forelle" by Franz Schubert.

With Dr. John Watson having deduced his assassin's identity in Switzerland while Moriarty is occupied in a chess game with Holmes, Holmes reveals to Moriarty that he had managed to steal the professor's personal diary containing all the information on his empire and investments. Having cracked the code needed to decipher his handwriting, Holmes had sent the diary back to London for his colleagues to work on, reducing Moriarty's enormous fortune to practically nothing.

A furious Moriarty responds by telling Holmes that he will kill both Watson and his wife in retaliation for what Holmes has done to him, but Holmes realizes that he cannot defeat Moriarty in a direct fight due to an injury in his shoulder sustained during his recent torture by Moriarty. Wanting to protect Watson from Moriarty's revenge, Holmes instead grapples Moriarty over the balcony and they both tumble into the Reichenbach Falls, while a horrified Watson watches from afar. Holmes is later shown to have survived the fall, presumably due to having taken his brother Mycroft's oxygen breathing apparatus with him, while Moriarty is presumed dead.

Anthony Horowitz's spin-off series

In the widely acclaimed book Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz, Professor Moriarty appears as the titular main protagonist. However, his identity is not revealed until the very end - he introduces himself as American detective Frederick Chase. In the book, he works alongside Detective Inspector Athelney Jones of Scotland Yard - who has appeared briefly in an actual Conan Doyle work. Athelney Jones has been indirectly humiliated by Sherlock Holmes in the past, and this has rendered him unhealthily obsessed with Holmes' methods so that he could one day be worthy of the Great Detective.

Throughout the book, the two of them are tasked with hunting down an American criminal mastermind named Clarence Devereux - whom Chase claims to have been hunting down throughout his life. They are hunted across London by Devereux's henchmen - named the Mortlake Brothers - as well as a juvenile sadist named Perry and the mostly unseen Sebastian Moran. A violent game of cat and mouse erupts between Chase and Jones, versus Devereux, right up until they are captured by Devereux and nearly killed - Devereux is planning to replace Moriarty as the criminal mastermind of London. The two men escape and Devereux is captured.

After being sentenced, Chase and Jones transport the man via a Black Maria coach. However, Perry and Moran appear and ambush the coach. Chase - or Moriarty - is forced to kill Athelney Jones, a decision he admits he regrets inside. Moriarty then tells the reader about the events of The Final Problem: he was in fact on the run from Clarence Devereux - Devereux had moved from America to take Moriarty's empire all for himself. Moriarty deeply disliked Devereux: The American's methods were sadistic, brutal and extremely violent, not at all like the calculated, subtle 'sportsmanship' that Moriarty utilizes. At the same time, he was in danger of being overthrown by Sherlock Holmes.

He arranged to hunt down Sherlock Holmes, sending assassins after him throughout The Final Problem to exert pressure - to hurt, not to kill - each of which Holmes had overcome. It turns out that Moriarty had planned the events surrounding his conflict with the detective right down to their final fight. When they finally met at Reichenbach and fought, Moriarty and Holmes fell but they both escaped - Holmes remained unaware of Moriarty's survival, but Moriarty knew Holmes survived but wouldn't bother him if he thouht he was dead. Then, Moriarty changed his appearance and identity to become Detective Frederick Chase.

At the end of the novel, Moriarty takes Clarence Devereux prisoner and plans to interrogate the American until he exposed every location, identity and strategy in his organisation so Moriarty could start another criminal empire in America. He then plans to murder Devereux in recognition of the difficulties the American put Moriarty through.


Sherlock (TV series)

See: James Moriarty (Sherlock)

Moriarty is also a recurring villain in the BBC update, portrayed by Andrew Scott. Here, he is a consulting criminal, paralleling Sherlock's role (Benedict Cumberbatch) as a consulting detective, assisting various other crooks by sponsoring, offering advice, or generally scheming. We first hear of him in "A Study in Pink", when Sherlock tortures his name out of the dying serial killer, and smuggler Shan talks with him online in "The Blind Banker" before she is assassinated by one of his operatives. He finally appears in "The Great Game" as "Jim from IT" and Molly's boyfriend, while in secret, he places hostages in suicide bomber vests, forcing Sherlock to solve certain mysteries within a time limit. Near the climax, he kidnaps John Watson and uses him as a hostage in the pool confrontation, telling Sherlock that he will "burn the heart out of [him]". The episode ends on a cliffhanger, only resolved when Moriarty receives a call from Irene Adler ("A Scandal in Belgravia").

Jim norush

"No rush." Jim Moriarty posing with the Crown Jewels.

In the second season, Moriarty advises Adler in how to deal with Sherlock and his brother Mycroft, with his only compensation being the chance to cause more trouble. He later appears at the end of "The Hounds of Baskerville", arrested and later released by Mycroft for unknown reasons. In his last episode, "The Reichenbach Fall", he allows himself to be arrested after simultaneously breaking into the Tower of London, opening the Bank of England's vault, and unlocking the cells in Pentonville Prison. He stands trial, but is later released after threatening the jury, and later pays Sherlock a visit, claiming that he owes him.

Moriarty then sets about ruining Sherlock's reputation, first by abducting the children of the British Ambassador to the US and traumatizing the girl to make her terrified of Sherlock, making it seem like he staged the kidnapping, along with all the other crimes he'd solved. He then sets himself up as Richard Brook, an actor that Sherlock supposedly paid to be Moriarty, feeding information Mycroft gave him during interrogations to a journalist whom Sherlock had scorned to create a fake exposé.

With no choice left, Sherlock stages a final meeting on the roof of St. Bartholomew's Hospital to discuss the solution to their "final problem". There, Moriarty tells him that there was no key, simply bribery, and that Sherlock must commit suicide, otherwise his assassins will kill John, Mrs. Hudson, and Lestrade. When Sherlock realizes that Moriarty must have a failsafe to call his men off, he commits suicide, ensuring that he has no choice. (This ultimately fails, as Sherlock somehow manages to survive his apparent suicide.)

In the third series, Moriarty appears in the first episode in numerous flashbacks and imaginary sequences concerning how Sherlock may of faked his death.

In the third episode of series 3 'His Last Vow' when Sherlock is shot by Mary Watson, Moriarty is seen in his 'mind palace' inside a cell in a straight jacket. Moriarty begins to taunt Sherlock and tells him to die, but Sherlock manages to pull through. At the end of the episode, images of Moriarty appear around London saying repeatedly "Have you missed me?" implying he may of faked his death as well.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen


Professor Moriarty in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

In Alan Moore's series The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Moriarty serves as the villain of Volume 1 where he deceives the League through Campion Bond into stealing the Cavorite that he uses to power his great warship. He engages The Doctor (Dr. Fu Manchu) in a sky battle over Limehouse.

He is foiled when Murray smashes the container that holds the Cavorite which starts to float towards the atmosphere. Refusing to lose such a potent part of his plan, Moriarty clings to the Cavorite and subsequently drifts into outer space. In a later volume Century: 1910, he is found frozen solid in space while still clinging to the Cavorite.

Tom and Jerry meet Sherlock Holmes

In this cartoon movie, Moriarty is behind some diamond thefts which are done by three cats. When Tom, Jerry, Tuffy and Sherlock Holmes' client Red are following the cats while Holmes and Watson follow false clues, Red tries to hide herself and the others at her boyfriend's house. This boyfriend actually turns out to be Moriarty, who waited for Red who got the diamond the cats have just stolen.

Moriarty explains his plan: using all the mirrors placed in London, he uses the diamonds for a laser canon to burn a whole into the Tower, planning to steal the jewels. After stealing the jewels and being followed by Holmes and Watson, Moriarty finally falls into the Themse, then he's arrested along with the cats by Droopy. Like in A Game of Shadows, Moriarty's got a beard in this movie. 

Interestingly, he also invented a glove that fires electrical energy blasts as his weapon of choice which quite reminiscent with Iron Man's signature repulsor blasters.

The Real Ghostbusters

Moriarty appeared in an episode of The Real Ghostbusters "Elementary, My Dear Winstin".

Professor Moriarty was once an academic genius who resigned from his position at a college. He relocated to London and became a criminal mastermind responsible for at least half the crime in the city. Moriarty met his end when he and the titular detective fell to each other's deaths in a battle at Reichenbach Falls, Switzerland (though it was later revealed that Sherlock actually survived). Even though none of the characters in the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle novels were real, many fans believed them to be real, which caused ghostly versions of them to manifest. James Moriarty's ghost went to New York with the Hound of the Baskervilles in search of evil energy, which would enable him to solidify into a real person.

Moriarty went to the Containment Unit and attempted to open it to absorb the evil energy of the ghosts imprisoned within it, but he retreated when he heard the Ghostbusters coming. He then went on to absorb evil energy from various items often associated with evil, such as weapons at the Museum of Crime uptown and crime novels at the New York City Public Library.

He then decided to return to the Firehouse and succeed where he had failed. He opened the Unit and began to absorb the evil energy, but was foiled because the Ghostbusters had also met Sherlock Holmes and John H. Watson's ghosts. Holmes went into the Unit with Moriarty, mirroring their climatic battle. Watson then went into the Unit with the two. Moriarty was last seen in the Containment Unit covering his ears as Holmes played the Ghostbusters theme song on his violin.


Around Wikia's network

Random Wiki