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January 22, 2013 8:50 am  #141

Re: IOU and it's potential meaning(s)

Sherlock Holmes wrote:

Yeah that makes a lot of sense...all that stuff at the beginning of people giving him tie pins and posing for photographs - it's very un-Sherlock...he must have known Moriarty would be watching him, reading all about it in the papers...they were both playing a game with each other, but Sherlock always had the upper hand because he started the game before Moriarty even realised it.

I think Sherlock decided to became the 'reichenbach hero' and become all well known, is because he was taunting Moriaty into doing what he did (trying to destroy Sherlock's reputation). Sherlock must've thought of what Moriaty would try to do, once he 'built up his reputation of being the clever detective', and so he knew that Moriaty would try to destroy his reputation. I'm just guessing that Sherlock let all this happen in order to eventually kill Moriaty. Altrhough there are lots of things that I don't understand, and I'm probably wrong. Anyway, I'm pretty sure, the reason nobody has thought(as far as I know, no-one has come up with a theory that fits all the facts and explains everything) of the right solution to how Sherock survived, is because we're all overthinking this

That's the thing about fanfiction, it's always a self-portrait
People want to believe what is easy, rather than what is right.
"One begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts"

January 22, 2013 5:01 pm  #142

Re: IOU and it's potential meaning(s)

I tend to agree on the over thinking...but guess we'll have to wait and see.


April 22, 2013 6:06 am  #143

Re: IOU and it's potential meaning(s)

And interesting to see how many IOUs can be found across Europe, e.g.,


April 22, 2013 11:32 am  #144

Re: IOU and it's potential meaning(s)

When I saw Arwel W. Jones and his twitter picture as lord chief justice I came up with another idea that I had in mind for some time. Since it is an official source I don't consider it as spoiler.

You probably know that Holmes sees himself as the "last and highest court of appeal" (The Sign of the Four).
The IOU might simply be an IOU. If a judgement is wrong either the prosecutor or the accused may appeal to the supreme court to change the verdict. He has to sign an IOU.


Last edited by Be (April 24, 2013 8:09 am)


May 26, 2013 10:11 pm  #145

Re: IOU and it's potential meaning(s)

Looked up IOU online:
An IOU (abbreviated from the phrase "I owe you") is usually an informal document acknowledging debt. IOUs usually specify the debtor, the amount owed, and sometimes the creditor. IOUs may be signed or carry distinguishing marks or designs to ensure authenticity. In some cases, IOUs may be redeemable for a specific product or service rather than a quantity of currency.

I find that last phrase important. It can be redeemed for a specific product or service. Not sure how this would apply, but something I wanted to share nonetheless.

"In a world filled with locked doors, the man with the key is king, and honey, you should see me in a crown."

"Every fairy tale needs a good old-fashioned villain. You need me or you're nothing. Because we're just alike, you and I, except you're boring. You're on the side of the angels."

"You're insane."
"You're just getting that now?"

"We stopped checking for monsters under our bed when we realized they were inside us." 


July 15, 2013 7:27 am  #146

Re: IOU and it's potential meaning(s)

Moriarty literally means a fall. I owe you a fall . the i o u's are just reminders.

On the roof Sherlock says  " blah...and I die in disgrace ."  Moriarty replies "  Of course thats the point of all this . "

Disgrace does not mean your name splashed in the papers , its original meaning is DIS /out and  GRACE /the eye of god.  It comes from what people used to call sinners. Moriarty wants Sherlock to fall to hell and burn and loose his soul. I  will Burn the heart out of you / what comes with heart but soul ?
Adler told us Moriarty called Sherlock the virgin , meaning without sin . not sex lol .
So its all about the fall of man and going to hell. As little nicky showed us,suicide is the fastest way .
IOU on the apple . the temptation to sin , IOU on the graffiti , wings ,angel/demon , on the window ? like a mirror ,reflecting the soul . Reminders and threats , your going to hell your going to fall down and get burnt . thats all.

Its  kind of a philosophical red herring but we were warned .
At the end of ASIB Moffat/Mycroft told /asked us
" my brother has the brain of a scientist and a philosopher. What does that tell us about him?"
So what does it tell us about Sherlock    ,  Half is the science , deduction ,etc the other half ? philosophy the science of thinking.....which no one notices or ever talks about.
They do keep asking us to think...........

Last edited by lil (July 15, 2013 2:01 pm)


August 15, 2013 3:34 pm  #147

Re: IOU and it's potential meaning(s)

It could also mean I Or yoU...


August 18, 2013 2:19 pm  #148

Re: IOU and it's potential meaning(s)

Just found this in a list of logic symbols (as in philosophical and mathematical logic):

The statement A ⊕ B is true when either A or B, but not both, are true. A ⊻ B means the same.

I ⊕ U

Either I or you.

You can find the list here.

It comes quite close to what Moriarty says to Sherlock when visiting him at home in ACD's "The Final Problem". And as Moriarty is originally a mathematician it could make sense.
Also, in the tea scene, you can see Sherlock smiling after finding the apple. I think that he got the IOU immediatly. When repeating "I owe you.." later in the lab, he is thinking about the actual words Moriarty said ("...a fall.")


August 18, 2013 2:20 pm  #149

Re: IOU and it's potential meaning(s)



January 19, 2014 2:54 pm  #150

Re: IOU and it's potential meaning(s)

~~"I shall get level with you, Altamont," he said, speaking with slow deliberation. "If it takes me all my life I shall get level with you!"

"The old sweet song," said Holmes. "How often have I heard it in days gone by. It was a favorite ditty of the late lamented Professor Moriarty. Colonel Sebastian Moran has also been known to warble it. And yet I live and keep bees upon the South Downs."

Doyle- His Last Bow


April 6, 2014 11:50 pm  #151

Re: IOU and it's potential meaning(s)

After reading 3 pages of these amazing theories, I have come to a few conclusions. Kind of.

So- Even though I don't think this is a red herring, something in the back of my mind is telling me that it is.

For some reason, I just want to believe that IOU simply means that Moriarty owes Sherlock some bad deed (Sherlock ruined Moriarty, maybe Moriarty is saying that he owes it to Sherlock to ruin him too?)\

However, I am ignoring my over-practical conscience, and instead, decided to look on youtube for these theories.

Oh, how wonderful it is to be formulating a theory while the rest of my family is doing whatever non-obsessed people do. 

Watch this video:

No, I know what you're thinking. "Ugh why can't this woman just explain her theory on here? She must be SO lazy! I hate when people make me go to another link to watch/read things... *grumble grumble*"

Yes. I know that all you do that, because I do also. However, I am only copy/pasting this link, because I am incapable of explaining the theory myself. It is amazing, in no way covered on this page, and definately NOT a coincidence. 


"In 900 years of time and space, I've never met anyone who wasnt important" -Eleventh Doctor 

"Sentiment is a chemical defect found in the losing side" -Sherlock

April 13, 2014 4:30 pm  #152

Re: IOU and it's potential meaning(s)

I also noticed that the apple used, is red, not green.  As a Tarot reader, I often interpret the colours in the cards, as well as the symbols, numbers & pictures.
Red is the colour of energy, aggresion, love/lust & action.  While green would be money, envy...
Just thought I'd add that!
Love this thread!


July 26, 2016 4:32 pm  #153

Re: IOU and it's potential meaning(s)

Are you familiar with this IOU theory?

I wanted to share it with you, because I couldn't find anything about it in the forum. And it is too much fin speculating about it. ;)

So this theory is saying that IOU is possibly shorthand and could mean = IT IS JOHN for example. I do believe that it is a bit too far fetched to be honest. Chances are high that this whole IOU thing is a mere stylistic device used for the show and nothing really more. But what a fantastic idea from that fan and my jaw dropped because some things just fit too good to be coincidence. For example:

Firstly there is the fact that the jury woman in the court is using shorthand. And this happens very shortly before the first IOU appears (carved in the apple).
Aaaaaand secondly... An info about Pitman's Shorthand appears on one of those floating articles in Sherlock's mind palace in TAB????? The universe is rarely so lazy. Why else could it be there? Ok, maybe it could be a hidden reference to canon. I'm not familiar with canon, so I don't know, but I've read that shorthand does appear there. (Not sure if i especially Pitman's Shorthand)

Last edited by Rache (July 26, 2016 4:34 pm)

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Breathing is boring!

English isn't my first language, feel free to correct me via PM!

July 26, 2016 5:10 pm  #154

Re: IOU and it's potential meaning(s)

It does seem like far fetched a bit. I don't think Moriarty's message was "IT IS JOHN", because why would he want to say it anyway?

Though i like the idea about shorthand...


July 30, 2016 1:12 pm  #155

Re: IOU and it's potential meaning(s)

Yes, maybe it's not "it is John" but mybe it is shorthand nontheless and has another meaning... ;)

- - -

Breathing is boring!

English isn't my first language, feel free to correct me via PM!

July 30, 2016 7:10 pm  #156

Re: IOU and it's potential meaning(s)

I only know it as 'I owe you' and that's what Moriarty says, doesn't he?


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