The Guinness Book of World Records lists Sherlock Holmes as the “most portrayed literary human character in film and TV”.
Claire Burgess, an adjudicator for Guinness World Records, said,
Sherlock Holmes is a literary institution. This Guinness World Records title reflects his enduring appeal and demonstrates that his detective talents are as compelling today as they were 125 years ago.
Created in 1887 by Scottish author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes has been played by over 75 actors—besting even William Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
Which begs the question “who was the best?”
If we could ask Sir Arthur Conan Doyle that question, he would have said Eille Norwood:
He has that rare quality, which can only be described as glamour, which compels you to watch an actor eagerly even when he is doing nothing. He has the brooding eye which excites expectation and he has also a quite unrivaled power of disguise.
Sir Arthur said those words in the early 1920’s and there have been some truly remarkable performances since.
Vote for your favorite Sherlock below.
You will probably have your favorites in mind already, but just to help, we’ve shortlisted six of the best Holmes of all time—each actor critically acclaimed as Sherlock for their era, with multiple productions of film, stage or TV to their credit.