BBC Sherlock Fan Forum - Serving Sherlockians since February 2012.


You are not logged in. Would you like to login or register?



April 25, 2017 9:45 am  #1


John and alcohol

There are many fanfics who portray John to have a problem with alcohol. And didn't Steven Moffat himself say something about "there is something with John and alcohol" (paraphrasing)?

Hoever, this annoys me a little bit, becuase I don't see it myself. John drinks during festive occasions (Christmas, New Year...) and he sometimes drinks a glass of scotch when he's sad or worried (MHR, TLD). To be fair, though, we've seen both Sherlock and Mycroft doing the latter as well.

But we have never seen, as far as I can tell, John drinking excessivly, being drunk or losing control of his own drinking. (Not including the stag party, of course).

The show doesn't shy away from addiction. Both Sherlock's drug addiction and also John's adrenaline addiction is spelled out and shown quite clearly. So if John had an alcohol addiction as well, I think they would have shown it clearer.

Perhaps people have different opinons or thesholds of what they consider a problematic alcohol consumption? I think John drinks very little, to be honest. I certainly enjoy a beer or a glass of wine more often than him. (And there are a lot of American sit-coms showing young people coming home and the first thing they do is to go to the fridge and get a beer. It's shown often and not portrayed as problematic. John has never done such a thing, as far as I can recall).

You could say that it's not necessarily the amounts, but the occasions. We have twice seen John consume alcohol when mourning, which can be a danger sign if it happens to often. (But, as mentioned, Mycroft also had a glass of whisky when he was in despair without having any alcohol issues). But we've never seen John raving drunk when he shouldn't be, so it seems that it he has it under control as well. 

What do you guys think?


__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
"We'll live on starlight and crime scenes" - wordstrings
http://i.imgur.com/NzWTIDd.png

Team Hudders!
 
 

April 25, 2017 11:09 am  #2


Re: John and alcohol

I agree with you.  Whatever Moffat says ... he may headcanon John as having an alcohol "problem", but I don't believe we've ever explicitly been shown that on the show.   We have seen him get drunk once in several years (and I think it's obvious that the stag do is an exception).   There's no evidence of daily drinking.  Or of having problems functioning, or trying to hide it, or other people thinking it's a problem or anything like that. 

 

April 25, 2017 11:12 am  #3


Re: John and alcohol

IMO the only clear hint of John drowning his problems in alcohol is at the beginning of TLD, the flashback to is sleepless night, standing in the hallway, drinking. I know which quote you are talking about but I cannot find it right now. I think he said that alcohol in the show always has a certain meaning or something like that. 

I am very sure that John does have serious problems, mostly with anger management, but not necessarily with alcohol. The thing is - as always with John - that we do not know much about him or his history with Harry. Assuming he is not an alcoholic - would he be more or less patient and understanding with her? Why the distance - because he is afraid of being like her or because his attempts at helping her have failed? I have no idea if his attitude towards Harry is any indication but that he is estranged from his alcoholic sibling is quite interesting. 

 


------------------------------
"To fake the death of one sibling may be regarded as a misfortune; to fake the death of both looks like carelessness." Oscar Wilde about Mycroft Holmes

"It is what it is says love." (Erich Fried)

“Enjoy the journey of life and not just the endgame. I’m also a great believer in treating others as you would like to be treated.” (Benedict Cumberbatch)

http://up.picr.de/28609194so.png

 
 

April 25, 2017 12:51 pm  #4


Re: John and alcohol

Yeah, I do agree that in just about every instance where there is alcohol in the show, it's there for a reason. Usually it is to celebrate, but sometimes it's also to "drown your sorrows", something we've seen both Sherlock, Mycroft and John do. 

Only one who seem to drink out of leisure is Mycroft. I remember a scene - I think it was all the way back to TGG - when John is visiting him in the Diogenes Club and Mycroft pours himself a glass of scotch. From the first time I saw that episode it struck me as odd that Mycroft didn't offer John a glass. It's common courtesy to offer your guest something to drink, at least if you have a drink yourself. Sherlock might not care much for such things, but Mycroft seems to be the kind of person who observes social niceities - especially when it comes to his job.

But, yeah, I also agree that it might be hinted to John drinking a bit too much for the wrong reasons in TLD, but if he did, it seems he got it back under control himself. Because when we see him, he is sober, goes to see a psychatrist, take care of Rosie and seems in general to function even if he is grieving.

And especially since the show has no trouble showing is both addiction and weaknesses/faults in our main characters, it seems that if John had a drinking problem, that would've been shown more clear.

As for Harry, I always got the impression that John was tired of seeing her falling off the wagon again and again, and so more or less gave up on helping her. Or that might be me reading too much into things, but it's always been my head canon. 


__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
"We'll live on starlight and crime scenes" - wordstrings
http://i.imgur.com/NzWTIDd.png

Team Hudders!
 
     Thread Starter
 

April 25, 2017 8:58 pm  #5


Re: John and alcohol

I agree that John is not an alcoholic, unlike his sister, but I can see him drinking to drown his sorrows in a real crisis, as it seems he did at the beginning of TLD.  He probably doesn't do it often, though.
 

Last edited by kgreen20 (April 25, 2017 9:01 pm)

 

April 25, 2017 9:32 pm  #6


Re: John and alcohol

We see him drinking alcohol in the situations you have all already mentioned above and he doesn't seem to have a big problem with drinking too much too often, but maybe because of his sister he is concerned that he could also become an alcoholic if he's not careful since alcoholism seems to be in the family?

Last edited by Yitzock (April 26, 2017 3:46 pm)


http://orig11.deviantart.net/078e/f/2015/207/f/e/consulting_detective_2_by_sakuranakamura-d92vt40.pnghttp://orig08.deviantart.net/8f4e/f/2015/198/4/2/blogger_by_sakuranakamura-d91o4zv.png
Clueing for looks.
 

April 25, 2017 9:40 pm  #7


Re: John and alcohol

Yeah, it could be that Harry is the one thing that keeps him in check.


__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
"We'll live on starlight and crime scenes" - wordstrings
http://i.imgur.com/NzWTIDd.png

Team Hudders!
 
     Thread Starter
 

April 26, 2017 3:16 am  #8


Re: John and alcohol

I suspect you're both right.  And he does prefer to drink socially, and is able to control his drinking, unlike Harry.  But in a severe emotional crisis, such as the one that followed Mary's death, I can see him overdrinking in an attempt to drown his pain.  He also overdid it on his stag night, along with Sherlock.
 

Last edited by kgreen20 (April 27, 2017 2:11 am)

 

April 26, 2017 5:30 am  #9


Re: John and alcohol

Well, don't even get me started on 'social drinking'....
But John knows he's overstepped the mark that one time after Mary's death.
That's why he knows he's letting Rosie down.
But being sensible, he quickly nips in the bud the bad practice.


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
http://professorfangirl.tumblr.com/post/105838327464/heres-an-outtake-of-mark-gatiss-on-the
 

April 26, 2017 6:27 am  #10


Re: John and alcohol

I wouldn't say that Harry keeps him check - I don't get the feeling of him being drawn to alcohol and trying to resist.   His drinking seems fairly normal/average to me.  Getting drunk is part of the point of a stag night (even Sherlock indulges on that particular occasion).  To be honest, I suspect the point of Harry's drinking was to set up the phone deduction in ASIB.   It's not meant to apply to John too ... or Sherlock would have made that deduction about John.   And if he was going to have a drink problem, I suspect he'd have had it at that difficult point just before he meets Sherlock. 

Having said that, I do think Sherlock's drug "problem" tends to float in and out of the show depending on how it suits the plot!

 

April 26, 2017 7:03 am  #11


Re: John and alcohol

Exactly, they are just plot devices.


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
http://professorfangirl.tumblr.com/post/105838327464/heres-an-outtake-of-mark-gatiss-on-the
 

April 26, 2017 8:32 am  #12


Re: John and alcohol

Good pints, Liberty. I don't think John has a drinking problem, I never did. It's why it bothers me a bit that several fanfics use that as a kind of fanon.


__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
"We'll live on starlight and crime scenes" - wordstrings
http://i.imgur.com/NzWTIDd.png

Team Hudders!
 
     Thread Starter
 

April 26, 2017 3:48 pm  #13


Re: John and alcohol

I guess people like to extrapolate for the sake of their own stories. I don't think he has a serious problem, but I can see why someone might consider it as a possibility in the scenarios they imagine, if something else terrible were to happen. But in the show John seems to be able to control it when he does go in a bad direction.


http://orig11.deviantart.net/078e/f/2015/207/f/e/consulting_detective_2_by_sakuranakamura-d92vt40.pnghttp://orig08.deviantart.net/8f4e/f/2015/198/4/2/blogger_by_sakuranakamura-d91o4zv.png
Clueing for looks.
 

April 26, 2017 5:22 pm  #14


Re: John and alcohol

Yeah, that is true. 


__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
"We'll live on starlight and crime scenes" - wordstrings
http://i.imgur.com/NzWTIDd.png

Team Hudders!
 
     Thread Starter
 

September 28, 2017 11:23 am  #15


Re: John and alcohol

Didn't John try to drown his sorrow in Many Happy Returns? And, by the way, NOT being affected by the amounts of whisky we see him have in his tumbler is for me a rather clear indicator that he has quite a bit of drinking experience - he also was obviously not happy with the rate of alcohol consumption Sherlock had planned for the stag night (not that the planning made any sense, anyway...)

And then it's a question of definition: I have an article here (from the Sueddeutsche Zeitung - not a sensationalist rag) that claims that alcohol is addictive from the very first drop. Only, the people who define addiction enjoy drinking as well, so nobody admits it. If you disagree with that idea, just try to completely stop (the Sherry in the trifle counts!) for a month... I'm not trying to say that this "normal" sort of alcohol addiction necessarily causes problem - lots of people drink regularly and function normally (though I've also seen them increase the dose more and more...). But I do think that anything that you can't do without is an addiction - whether it's alcohol, chocolate or jogging...

 

September 28, 2017 4:28 pm  #16


Re: John and alcohol

I am tee total and very anti-alcohol.  I think many people drink far too  much or are simply too reliant upon it.
John is over using, certainly in TLD.  
But I do feel he will be fine.


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
http://professorfangirl.tumblr.com/post/105838327464/heres-an-outtake-of-mark-gatiss-on-the
 

September 28, 2017 4:37 pm  #17


Re: John and alcohol

I'm a teetotaler, too, besleybean.

Don't forget that alcoholism seems to run in John's family.  His sister is an alcoholic, and it's a good bet that one of his parents, at least, was, too--his father, perhaps.  I can definitely envision John drinking too much when he's under terrible stress, as he was following Sherlock's fall and supposed death, and then during the weeks after Mary's death.  However, he's not hooked on it as Harry is, thankfully.

 

Last edited by kgreen20 (September 28, 2017 4:40 pm)

 

September 29, 2017 8:11 am  #18


Re: John and alcohol

We don't know if any of his parents had issues with alcohol, so that's speculation. We clearly see in TLD that he drowns his sorrows in alcohol. But he clearly stops before it goes out of hand, and to me, that's the only time we've seen John consume alcohol in a negative way.

Yes, he had a glass of whisky in MHR, but we have also seen both Sherlock and Mycroft have a glass in dire situations. As long as it's that one glass, or that one time, I don't see any problem with it. 

Then again, I'm also the kind of person who can easily enjoy a beer on a Wednesday evening, just because I like the taste of it. So I'm not against alcohol on general principle.I guess where we are at will colour how we view what's on screen.


__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
"We'll live on starlight and crime scenes" - wordstrings
http://i.imgur.com/NzWTIDd.png

Team Hudders!
 
     Thread Starter
 

September 29, 2017 10:35 am  #19


Re: John and alcohol

I suppose I'm just used to people drinking too much!  And I agree that it's about our own perceptions.  It seems to me perfectly normal to have a whisky at home if you're not planning on driving.  So maybe I don't pick up on it ... but still, I think we've been shown very little.  Of course he wants to get drunk on his stag night: most people do!   As I've said further up the thread, I think that Harry's drinking was added for the sake of the deduction in ASIP, rather than to show that the whole family have a problem with alcohol.   So I'm not seeing John as particularly worse than the average person.   I would say that if they were trying to show him as having a serious drink problem, they didn't put in enough information.  However, I can see that for some viewers, they did put in plenty of indicators.  And I'm sure I remember somebody saying that Moftiss said he had a drink problem?  Although I don't remember the quote or the context. 

 

September 29, 2017 6:02 pm  #20


Re: John and alcohol

Is there any way to find out whether or not Moffat and Gatiss did say that?
 

Last edited by kgreen20 (September 29, 2017 6:03 pm)

 

Board footera

 

Powered by Boardhost. Create a Free Forum