The Most Famous Actor to Portray Sherlock Holmes: Recognizing the Iconic Performers

Choose the actor you think is the most famous!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on Feb 28, 2024 06:59
Unravel the mystery of the most iconic detective, Sherlock Holmes, as portrayed by the finest actors in the world at StrawPoll! We cordially invite you to join our thrilling quest to rank the most famous actors who have brought the legendary sleuth to life on screen and stage. With thousands of polls and rankings on diverse topics, StrawPoll is your ultimate destination for voicing your opinion. Delve into the captivating world of Sherlock Holmes, and vote for your favorite portrayal or suggest a hidden gem that we might have missed. Deduce, debate, and decide who deserves the crown for the best Sherlock Holmes in our enthralling ranking. The game is afoot, so let the thrilling chase begin!

Who Is the Most Famous Actor to Portray Sherlock Holmes?

  1. 1
    Basil Rathbone
    Unknown authorUnknown author · Public domain
    Basil Rathbone - considered the most iconic portrayal of Sherlock Holmes, Rathbone played the detective in 14 films from 1939 to 1946.
  2. 2
    Jeremy Brett
    Veronika - Czech Republic · CC0
    Jeremy Brett is known for his attention to detail and dedication to the character, Brett played Holmes in the Granada Television series from 1984 to 1994.
  3. 3
    Robert Downey Jr. is although his portrayal may be controversial among purists, Downey Jr. brought a unique and entertaining spin to the character in the 2009 film and its sequel.
    Robert Downey Jr. in other rankings
  4. 4

    Benedict Cumberbatch

    Benedict Cumberbatch
    Cumberbatch's portrayal of Holmes in the BBC series "Sherlock" has gained a huge following and has been praised for its modern take on the character.
    Benedict Cumberbatch is a distinctive and captivating voice known for its deep, rich tone and incredible versatility. His voice has gained immense popularity and recognition in various forms of media.
    • Characterization: Ability to bring characters to life with distinct voices
    • Tone: Deep and rich
    • Versatility: Ability to portray a wide range of characters
    • Accent: Fluency in different accents, including British and American
    • Clarity: Clear and precise enunciation
    Benedict Cumberbatch in other rankings
  5. 5
    Peter Cushing is known for his many horror film roles, Cushing played Holmes in a series of films in the 1960s.
    Peter Cushing in other rankings
  6. 6
    Ronald Howard
    ABC Television · Public domain
    Howard played Holmes in the 1954-1955 TV series "Sherlock Holmes", which was the first American television adaptation of the character.
  7. 7
    Miller played Holmes in the CBS series "Elementary", which takes place in modern-day New York City.
  8. 8
    Lee played Holmes in the 1991 film "Sherlock Holmes and the Leading Lady".
    Christopher Lee in other rankings
  9. 9
    Clive Brook
    Fox Movietone · Public domain
    Brook played Holmes in the 1929 film "The Return of Sherlock Holmes", which was one of the first sound adaptations of the character.
  10. 10
    Michael Caine
    TonkBerlin · CC BY-SA 4.0
    Caine played Holmes in the 1988 film "Without a Clue", which is a comedic take on the character.
    Michael Caine in other rankings

Missing your favorite actor?


Ranking factors for famous actor

  1. Acting Skill
    How well did the actor embody the character of Sherlock Holmes? Did they capture his intelligence, demeanor, and quirks?
  2. Body of Work
    How many times has the actor portrayed Sherlock Holmes, and how well did they maintain consistency in their performance over time?
  3. Popularity
    How well-known is the actor to the general public, and how much did their portrayal of Sherlock Holmes contribute to their fame?
  4. Cultural Impact
    How much did the actor's portrayal of Sherlock Holmes influence the popular image of the character and impact the world of entertainment and media?
  5. Fanbase
    How dedicated and influential is the actor's fanbase in promoting their portrayal of Sherlock Holmes?

About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most famous actor to portray Sherlock Holmes. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or actor is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 168 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each actor once every 24 hours. The rank of each actor is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.

More information on most famous actor to portray sherlock holmes

Background Information: Who is the most famous actor to portray Sherlock Holmes? Sherlock Holmes is a fictional detective created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1887. The character has become a cultural icon and has been adapted into various forms of media, including television shows, movies, and books. The character's popularity has led to numerous actors taking on the role of Sherlock Holmes, each bringing their own interpretation of the character to the screen. One of the most famous actors to portray Sherlock Holmes is undoubtedly Sir Ian McKellen. McKellen played the character in the 2015 movie "Mr. Holmes," which focused on an aged Sherlock Holmes reflecting on his life and career. The movie was critically acclaimed, and McKellen's portrayal of the iconic detective was praised for its depth and nuance. Another notable portrayal of Sherlock Holmes was by Robert Downey Jr. in the 2009 movie "Sherlock Holmes." Downey's performance was praised for his energetic and quirky take on the character, which brought a fresh and modern twist to the classic detective. Downey reprised his role in a sequel in 2011, further cementing his place as one of the most famous actors to portray Sherlock Holmes. Other notable actors who have portrayed Sherlock Holmes include Benedict Cumberbatch in the BBC's "Sherlock" series, Jeremy Brett in the 1980s ITV series, and Basil Rathbone in a series of movies in the 1930s and 1940s. Overall, the character of Sherlock Holmes has been brought to life by numerous talented actors over

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