Remembering the 6 Best Villains From ‘Elementary,’ a Decade Later
Many actors have played Sherlock Holmes on screen — including Benedict Cumberbatch and Henry Cavill in recent years — but none have done so more often than Jonny Lee Miller did in Elementary. By the end of that CBS series’ second season, Miller had portrayed the consulting detective more times than anyone else, according to the Mattias Boström book From Holmes to Sherlock, with Lucy Liu playing his dedicated partner, Joan Watson.
Of course, for every hero there’s a villain — or dozens of villains, in the case of TV procedurals. And as we hit Elementary’s 10th anniversary on September 27, we’re reintroducing you to our picks for the most devious, despicable antagonists Sherlock and Joan went up against.
Oscar Rankin (Michael Weston)
Sherlock’s old drug supplier, Oscar Isaac — whom our protagonist called a “sickening means to a sickening end” — abducted Sherlock’s sponsor-turned-friend Alfredo (Ato Essandoh) and then lied about the death of his own sister in Season 2’s “A Controlled Descent.” Why? It was all a ruse to get Sherlock to return to his heroin-using ways. “I was gonna be there to watch, watch it when it hit you, when you realize that this is where you belong, in a place like this, Sherlock, with people like me,” Oscar told Sherlock when the jig was up. “I was gonna be there to watch you fall.”
Wilson Trager (Tate Donovan)
Outstanding federal student loan has topped $1.6 trillion, and we have this (fictional) for-profit college profiteer out here exploiting young debtors for his murderous motives?! Wilson Trager, the Fairbridge University CEO from Season 4’s “Alma Matters,” hired desperate students to do his dirty work — including arson and murder — with the promise of paying off their student loans. Good thing Sherlock exposed Trager’s crimes at a board meeting, through a particularly damning PowerPoint presentation.
Isaac Pyke (Michael Cristofer)
Interestingly, it’s not the creepy talking doll that’s the villain of Season 3’s “Bella,” nor is it the artificial intelligence she’s hooked up to. It’s Isaac Pyke, a computer science professor who programmed a virus to kill the businessman behind the Bella A.I., all in an effort to avoid a perceived techno-apocalypse. And when Sherlock tried to blackmail Pyke into confessing, the cunning professor called his bluff and rightly surmised that Sherlock wouldn’t call the cops on Pyke’s brother, another recovering addict.
Michael Rowan (Desmond Harrington)
In his sobriety support group, Sherlock told his cohorts that he threw himself into his work to help keep himself on the wagon. Fellow group member Michael Rowan took that advice to heart. The only problem? Michael’s work was murdering people — and Joan was unlucky enough to end up in his crosshairs. But it’s Hannah Gregson (Liza J. Bennett), daughter of Captain Thomas Gregson (Aidan Quinn), who ultimately got the upper hand on this Season 6 villain.
Odin Reichenbach (James Frain)
Odin Reichenbach developed an algorithm to hunt down would-be killers before they had a chance to act on their murderous impulses and then had these people killed. The issue — aside, of course, from one man serving as judge, jury, and executioner — is that the algorithm was imperfect and innocent people were dying. Reichenbach also offed Sherlock’s father, Morland Holmes (John Noble), but the good detective got his comeuppance by framing the tech CEO in Sherlock’s faked murder.
Jamie Moriarty (Natalie Dormer)
James Moriarty was the greatest adversary for Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, and Elementary’s Jamie Moriarty was the greatest adversary for Jonny Lee Miller’s. Sherlock fell for her during his life in London, when she was posing as one Irene Adler (in another Elementary nod to Conan Doyle canon). Only later did he realize that she was the head of a global criminal investigation. “The love of my life is an unrepentant homicidal maniac,” Sherlock observed at one point.