illustration of Sherlock Holmes in profile surrounded by various items from his many mysteries

The Best of Sherlock Holmes

by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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Student Question

How does Sherlock Holmes die?

Quick answer:

Sherlock Holmes dies after falling off the Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland. Engaged in a fight with his arch-nemesis, Moriarty, he falls to his death. However, after urging from his fans, Arthur Conan Doyle wrote in another Holmes story that Holmes actually survived at Reichenbach.

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Having decided to kill off his greatest literary creation, Arthur Conan Doyle was determined to make sure that he would go out in style. With that in mind, he chose a suitably dramatic backdrop for the death of Sherlock Holmes. And what could be more dramatic than the majestic Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland?

It is there that Holmes meets his death, but not before meeting his arch-nemesis, Moriarty. Moriarty tricks Dr. Watson—which admittedly is seldom a very difficult thing to do—by sending him on a fool's errand to attend to a sick Englishwoman at the local inn. However, Holmes isn't fooled for a moment. He knows that this is all a gigantic hoax. What's more, he knows the identity of the man behind the hoax: none other than Moriarty. Holmes clearly senses that the time is now ripe to settle accounts with his arch-enemy once and for all.

With Watson out of the way, the stage is now set for a final showdown between Holmes and Moriarty. They engage in a desperate, violent struggle that could go either way but which eventually ends in both men falling to their deaths. The world's greatest detective is dead, but then so too is the world's most dastardly villain.

Arthur Conan Doyle later revealed in another Holmes story that he had not died at Reichenbach, but had survived. The author did this after being urged to and convinced by fans of his stories.

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