Many Happy Returns is a mini-episode of the series Sherlock, released on BBC iPlayer and YouTube on Christmas Eve 2013. It was written by the show's co-creators, Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat. The episode details the lives of the Sherlock characters roughly two years after Sherlock Holmes' apparent death. By this time, Sherlock has solved a multitude of case across Asia and Europe, Anderson has lost his job due to his theorising about Sherlock's survival, DI Greg Lestrade now beleives Sherlock is dead and John Watson is still wishing Sherlock was alive.


See also: Many Happy Returns Transcript

A Buddhist ceremony in the Himalayas is being conducted by a hooded abbot. He goes along the line, saying "Tashi dalek" to each monk in turn. He pauses at the last monk and instead pulls back their hood, to reveal a blonde drug smuggler.

In a pub, a bearded Anderson has just relayed this case to DI Greg Lestrade, saying that the abbot was Sherlock Holmes. Greg says that it wasn't, as Sherlock is dead after falling from the roof of St Bartholomew's Hospital. Anderson then tells him about the Incident in New Delhi.

Inspector Prakesh is facing the paparazzi. He relays the story of the case, saying he could find the killer by calculating the distance the chocolate flake had sunk into the victim's ice-cream cone. He leaves the room and finds a mysterious man outside. He tells the man that solving the case was all done to him and checks that he does not want to take any of the credit.

Anderson reminds Greg that Sherlock never took the credit when he solved all of Greg's case. In response Greg lists three cases he solved by himself: The Klein Brothers, the Tower House case, the Kensington Ripper. Anderson then tells Greg about the Hamburg case of the Mysterious Juror 

A foreman addresses a jury, asking whether Herr Trepoff is guilty of his wife's murder. Eleven jurors all say he is not guilty, but not the mysterious juror at the end. The sensation of Trepoff's sentence is then reported in two newspapers.

Anderson insists that the mysterious man is Sherlock, but Greg thinks otherwise. He reveals that Anderson lost his job from fantasizing about Sherlock before leaving the pub to visit John Watson. Greg visits John's house, bringing a box of Sherlock's possessions that had been left at his office. These items include a DVD, the uncut version of John's birthday message from Sherlock.

Later on, John is having a glass of whisky alone and decides to put on the DVD. Sherlock is on camera at 221B Baker Street getting ready for the birthday message. He rechecks his excuse and decides on a suitable ending for the message. John expresses his wish that Sherlock should stop being dead. Sherlock then speaks his message for John, but John pauses just before the end to answer the door.

In the pub, Anderson smiles at the fact that Sherlock is returning. Greg passes a newspaper with the headline The Game is Back On and smiles cynically at it. Back in John's house the DVD plays and Sherlock smiles and winks at the camera.


Allusions to Conan Doyle storiesEdit

Despite its length, Many Happy Returns features many allusions to the original Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. These include:

  • Sherlock spent time in a monestary in the Himalayas, just as the original Holmes spent time in Tibet and the head lama there as he told Watson in The Adventure of the Empty House.
  • Sherlock solved Inspector Prakesh's case by working out the depth to which the chocolate flake had sunk into the victim's ice-cream cone. In The Adventure of the Six Napoleons, the original Holmes solved a crime by noticing "the depth which the parsley had sunk into the butter upon a hot day."
  • Sherlock's jury work on the Trepoff case corresponds to the time in A Scandal in Bohemia when Holmes was summoned to Odessa to work on the case of the Trepoff murder.
  • The yellow mask inside the box of Sherlock's possessions alludes to the Conan Doyle story The Adventure of the Yellow Face.