TV audiences apparently can’t get enough of Sherlock Holmes. With tonight’s premiere of Elementary, fans now have two shows starring the legendary fictional detective to choose from: the BBC’s acclaimed Sherlock, which produces just three episodes per season and airs in the US on PBS, and the new American version. The CBS series finds Jonny Lee Miller’s Holmes detoxing in New York, in the care of Lucy Liu’s Watson. Although we find the chemistry between those two promising, we’re not sure primetime needs another Sherlock Holmes.
Of course, both Sherlock Holmeses are just incarnations of an archetype TV dramas love: the rogue good guy. That realization got us thinking about characters we see far too often. So we’ve created a list of tired types we wish TV writers would lay off, at least for a while. Leave your additions in the comments.
The rogue good guy
Examples: Sarah Linden, The Killing; Jack Bauer, 24; Neal Caffrey, White Collar; at least one character from every police procedural; various Sherlock Holmes incarnations
Often they’re cops, but sometimes they’re government agents or independent detectives. What they have in common is an intense — sometimes pathological — need to catch the crook, save the world, or do whatever needs to be done to discover the truth and/or set things right. They may break the rules of their profession, but that’s because they answer to a higher morality, or know something their superiors can’t know, or the larger institution that surrounds them is corrupt. This forbidden knowledge or persecution has left them with a dark side. Every once in a while they go off the rails and make us doubt whether they are the hero after all — but, with a consistency that’s getting boring, they always turn out to be good.