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Inspector Lestrade

G. Lestrade
Sherlock Holmes character
Inspector Lestrade arresting a suspect, by Sidney Paget.
First appearance A Study in Scarlet
Last appearance "The Adventure of the Three Garridebs"
Created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Gender Male
Title Detective Inspector
Nationality British
Inspector G. Lestrade

, or Mr. Lestrade, is a fictional character appearing in several of the Sherlock Holmes stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Doyle used the name of a friend from his days at the University of Edinburgh, a Saint Lucian medical student, Joseph Alexandre Lestrade. In "The Adventure of the Cardboard Box", Lestrade's first initial is revealed to be G. He is described as "a little sallow rat-faced, dark-eyed fellow" in A Study in Scarlet and "a lean, ferret-like man, furtive and sly-looking," in "The Boscombe Valley Mystery". He was summarised by H. Paul Jeffers in the following words:

"He is the most famous detective ever to walk the corridors of Scotland Yard, yet he existed only in the fertile imagination of a writer. He was Inspector Lestrade. We do not know his first name, only his initial: G. Although he appears thirteen times in the immortal adventures of Sherlock Holmes, nothing is known of the life outside the Yard of the detective whom Dr. Watson described unflatteringly as sallow, rat-faced, and dark-eyed and whom Holmes saw as quick and energetic but wholly conventional, lacking in imagination, and normally out of his depth—the best of a bad lot who had reached the top in the CID by bulldog tenacity."[1]


  • Appearances in canon 1
  • History 2
  • Character 3
  • Depiction in derivatives and adaptations 4
    • Granada Television series 4.1
    • In other media 4.2
  • Other appearances 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • Bibliography 8
  • External links 9

Appearances in canon

Case Case Date Publishing Date Location
A Study in Scarlet 1881 1887 London, England
"The Adventure of the Cardboard Box" 1890 1893 London Borough of Croydon
"The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor" 1888 1892 London
"The Boscombe Valley Mystery" 1889 1891 Herefordshire
The Hound of the Baskervilles 1889 1901 Devon
"The Adventure of the Empty House" 1894 1903 London, England
"The Adventure of the Second Stain" 1888 1905 London, England
"The Adventure of the Norwood Builder" 1894 1903 South Norwood
"The Bruce-Partington Plans" 1895 1908 Woolwich
"The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton" unknown 1904 Hampstead, now London Borough of Camden.
"The Adventure of the Six Napoleons" 1900 1904 London, England
"The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax" 1901 1911 Lausanne
"The Adventure of the Three Garridebs" 1902 1924 Middlesex, by Tyburn Tree


In the popular London media, Lestrade is depicted as one of the best detectives at Scotland Yard, chiefly because Holmes regularly allows him to take the credit for his deductions in cases such as "The Adventure of the Empty House" and "The Adventure of the Norwood Builder". In truth, he was already well-established as a respected policeman with 20 years in the Force before A Study in Scarlet. It is observed by Holmes that Lestrade and another detective, Tobias Gregson, have an ongoing rivalry, and he identifies the two as "the best of a bad lot ... both quick and energetic, but conventional — shockingly so." Holmes once remarked in "The Adventure of the Cardboard Box" that, although Lestrade had almost no skill at actual crime-solving, his tenacity and determination are what brought him to the highest ranks in the official police force. His conventional nature leads him to grow frustrated at Holmes' methods, becoming "indifferent and contemptuous" to his exploration in "The Boscombe Valley Mystery". In both "The Boscombe Valley Mystery" and "The Adventure of the Norwood Builder", he states that he is "a practical man" in dismissal of Holmes' apparently trifling actions. Nevertheless, Lestrade's appreciation of Holmes' methods grows — likely aided by being credited with Holmes' successes — and by the time of The Hound of the Baskervilles Watson observes "from the reverential way in which Lestrade gazed at my companion that he had learned a good deal since the days when they had first worked together."

Additionally, despite his disdain for Lestrade's single-mindedness, Holmes appears to have an affection for the detective. In The Hound of the Baskervilles, Holmes comments to Dr. Watson that Lestrade "is the best of the professionals, I think," meaning the professional detectives employed by Scotland Yard as opposed to himself. In the reported cases, Holmes works with Lestrade far more often than any other official. In "The Adventure of the Six Napoleons" it is revealed that Lestrade regularly drops in on Holmes and Watson at 221B Baker Street, sharing the news of Scotland Yard and discussing his current cases with Holmes. For his part, Lestrade gradually develops an appreciation of the detective's methods, going so far as to say at the end of the story "We're not jealous of you down at Scotland Yard. No, sir, we are proud of you, and if you come down to-morrow there's not a man, from the oldest inspector to the youngest constable, who wouldn't be glad to shake you by the hand." Watson notes in passing that this little comment is one of the few instances where Holmes is visibly moved.


Lestrade is somewhat difficult to pin down as a character. His impatience with Holmes clashes with his kindness to clients, and his level of education appears limited. Despite being described uncharitably by Dr. Watson, Lestrade is pleasant to him, even implying to Watson in a comic way that he doubts Holmes' sanity in "The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor". He uses basic working-class language without embellishments and occasionally archaic words such as "shivered" for "smashed" ("The Adventure of the Six Napoleons") and described his reaction to a nauseating act of murder as "sickish". He describes himself as being "no chicken" for "inexperienced." ("A Study in Scarlet"). His greatest compliment to Holmes' methods was to describe them as "workmanlike". Although he does place a high value in first-hand detecting, Lestrade is not uneducated. He is fluent in shorthand, dresses well, and his language is predominantly free of street-slang and 'coarse' talk—his only linguistic failing is the aforementioned archaic speech which is more indicative of a rural origin (The Metropolitan Police preferred to recruit the country men as opposed to the London-born.[2]) He has (presumably by reputation) gained the trust of the public enough that he is brought in to a case involving a major landowner of Herefordshire ("The Boscombe Valley Mystery").

Despite a French surname (Lestrade is the name of a village in the Midi-Pyrénées and "l'estrade" means "the raised platform"), he shows no overt French ties. Conan Doyle wrote him as a very particular dresser, who nevertheless will get muddy in the line of work. He prefers to get out and find his evidence in person rather than solve crimes in his head. He closely resembles another Yarder, Peter Jones, whom Holmes describes as "an absolute imbecile" but "tenacious as a lobster" in "The Red-Headed League". His appearance and style very much contrast with Tobias Gregson which visually increases their rivalry. The two were never paired up in the Canon after A Study in Scarlet.

Lestrade is unique in that he works with Holmes throughout most the spectrum of the Canon, from the first adventure to one of the latest, "The Adventure of the Three Garridebs". His character is the only one to appreciably grow and adapt with his exposure to Holmes. By the same token, Lestrade is one of the few people besides Dr. Watson who is capable of moving Holmes on an emotional level in "The Adventure of the Six Napoleons".

Depiction in derivatives and adaptations

The author M. J. Trow wrote a series of sixteen books using Lestrade as the central character, beginning with The Adventures of Inspector Lestrade in 1985. In these stories, Trow shows Lestrade to be a more than capable detective. He is given a first name, "Sholto", a young daughter whom he seldom sees, and a series of adventures set against a historical backdrop. In one book Lestrade meets G. K. Chesterton and in another he suffers a broken leg in a fall from the gangplank of the RMS Titanic.

Lestrade's lack of ability is frequently exaggerated in adaptations, which often characterise him as a bumbling idiot. Notably, Dennis Hoey played Lestrade in most of the Sherlock Holmes films from Universal Pictures starring Basil Rathbone as Holmes. This version had the Yard man as a well-meaning fool patronised by the detective, whose help he greatly appreciated, rather in the manner of that series' version of Doctor Watson (Nigel Bruce). Lestrade is nonetheless a capable officer, and Holmes never questions his honesty or his willingness to solve a case. In the book Sherlock Holmes: The Man and His World by H.R.F. Keating, Keating notes that despite Holmes' accusations of his lack of observational skills, he knows Holmes craves the outré and uses this to collect his interest in the case of "The Adventure of the Six Napoleons".[3]

Granada Television series

Colin Jeavons played Lestrade throughout the Granada Television adaptation of the Sherlock Holmes stories, starting with "The Adventure of the Norwood Builder" in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. The character was portrayed as a capable, if slightly vain, career policeman with a prickly but ultimately affectionate relationship with Holmes – as evidenced in the dramatisation of the aforementioned "We're proud of you" scene. So familiar did Jeavons become in the part that when he was unavailable for "The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans", Lestrade was replaced by another of ACD's Yarders, Inspector Bradstreet. Lestrade's absence was explained as having gone to the Leamington Baths on vacation, and Holmes fumes that he hopes his wife was with him. This is an embellishment on canon, as Lestrade was never shown to be married or attached. In other episodes, Jeavons was given parts originally belonging to other detectives, such as "The Adventure of the Creeping Man" and extra scenes in "The Master Blackmailer" (their version of "The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton"). Lestrade was even mentioned off-screen in the scripts, emphasising his close relationship with 221B Baker Street. Jeavons' portrayal is considered the most faithful to the Canon. In Starring Sherlock Holmes (page 155), David Stuart Davies wrote, "Lestrade was played with great panache throughout the Granada series by Colin Jeavons, who humanised and enhanced Doyle's sketchy portrait of the Inspector." Unusually, in this series, Lestrade's name was pronounced with a long a sound, rhyming with "trade," as opposed to the usual practice in screen or audio adaptations of using the French pronunciation.

In other media

  • John Colicos played both Lestrade and Professor Moriarty at the same time in 1989 TV role of My Dearest Watson. Colicos and Colin Jeavons are so far the only actors to play both the policeman and the villain.
  • Dennis Hoey played Lestrade in several of Universal's Sherlock Holmes films starring Basil Rathbone.
  • Archie Duncan played Lestrade in the 1954–55 Sheldon Reynolds French-made series Sherlock Holmes.
  • Patrick Newell played him in the 1980 Sheldon Reynolds Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson series made in Poland. This had Geoffrey Whitehead as Holmes and Donald Pickering as Watson.
  • Borislav Brondukov played him in all five films of the Soviet series Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson starring Vasily Livanov.
  • Frank Finlay played him twice, in A Study in Terror and Murder by Decree, both focusing on non-canon stories with Holmes investigating the Jack the Ripper murders.
  • Roger Ashton-Griffths played Lestrade in Young Sherlock Holmes (1985); his taking credit for solving the mystery earns him a promotion from Detective to Inspector.
  • Jeffrey Jones played Lestrade in Without a Clue
  • Kenaway Baker made a brief appearance as Lestrade in Incident at Victoria Falls
  • Lestrade was played by Peter Madden opposite Peter Cushing as Sherlock Holmes in the 1960s BBC series Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes.
  • Ronald Lacey played Lestrade in the 1983 film The Hound of the Baskervilles, starring Ian Richardson as Holmes. (Lacey would later play the Sholto Brothers in the Granada television production of The Sign of the Four with Jeremy Brett as Holmes.)
  • Donald Gee played Inspector "Giles" Lestrade throughout most of the entire BBC Radio canon opposite Clive Merrison's Holmes beginning with the November 1989 broadcast of A Study in Scarlet and ending with the October 13th 1993 broadcast of "The Second Stain". Stephen Thorne took over the role beginning with the January 12th 1994 broadcast of "The Cardboard Box" and ending in the March 29th 1995 broadcast of "The Retired Colourman"; he returned to the role in the BBC Radio series The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes's June 15, 2004 broadcast of "The Striking Success of Miss Franny Blossom", the January 2nd 2009 broadcast of "The Eye of Horus" and the January 16th 2009 broadcast of "The Ferrers Documents".
  • Eddie Marsan plays him in Guy Ritchie's Warner Bros. adaptation Sherlock Holmes, alongside Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law (2009). This incarnation of Lestrade expresses a high level of irritation for Holmes, who in turn regards him with affectionate mockery. Lestrade nevertheless depends on Holmes, calling him to crime scenes and even allowing a fugitive Holmes to escape police custody. He briefly reprised the role in the 2011 sequel Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.
  • William Huw portrays Lestrade in the 2010 direct-to-DVD Asylum film Sherlock Holmes. In this film, Lestrade does not seem to recognise Watson (Gareth David Lloyd), and often takes credit for Holmes's accomplishments. He becomes involved in the chase of a criminal mastermind dubbed "Spring-Heeled Jack", who uses several mechanical creatures to commit crimes across London.
  • In the 2010 BBC TV series Sherlock, Detective Inspector Greg Lestrade is played by Rupert Graves. In this series set in contemporary London, Lestrade is depicted as a competent detective who uses Sherlock Holmes as a consultant on difficult cases. The two characters seem to have a complex working relationship. Some of Lestrade's officers are openly hostile to Sherlock and protest his involvement with cases; Lestrade himself oscillates between respect for Sherlock's intellectual abilities and annoyance with his callousness (for example, Sherlock never bothering to learn his first name). Both are not above doing 'petty' things to annoy each other (Lestrade carrying out a fake drugs bust on Sherlock's room to retrieve a piece of evidence; Sherlock repeatedly stealing Lestrade's warrant card). Lestrade's underlying respect and overall faith in Sherlock are probably best demonstrated in his stated opinion that "Sherlock Holmes is a great man, and some day, if we're very very lucky, he might even be a good one." This incarnation of Lestrade also interacted with Sherlock and John socially on at least one occasion and in "The Reichenbach Fall" he was visibly disturbed at the thought of issuing an arrest warrant for Sherlock. Lestrade was also marked as one of Sherlock's three friends by Jim Moriarty. It is notable that, while many of the characters, when learning that Sherlock faked his death, react with anger (John Watson) or utter shock (Mrs. Hudson), Lestrade's first response (after playfully addressing him as "you bastard") is to happily hug the detective.
  • James Fleet portrayed Lestrade as the lead character in the BBC Radio 4 drama series called The Rivals in 2011. Each episode had Lestrade team up with a different fictional Victorian detective, Sherlock Holmes' "Rivals" in the field. The series returned in 2013, but the role of Lestrade was recast and played by Tim Pigott-Smith due to James Fleet's non-availability. Fleet returned to play Lestrade when The Rivals was renewed for a third series in 2015.
  • Sean Pertwee plays Lestrade in the season two premiere of Elementary,[4] where his first name is given as Gareth. His character recurs later in the season, as well.
  • Mikhail Boyarsky played the role of Inspector Lestrade in the Russian TV adaptation, Sherlock Holmes.
  • In the 2014 NHK puppetry Sherlock Holmes, Lestrade is a tall, slender, and earnest blond schoolboy with the atmosphere of mod who lives in Cooper house of Beeton School. He often solves a trouble with Holmes for he is a member of life guidance committee. Though he and Holmes trust each other, Grimesby Roylott, who is in charge of the committee hates Holmes. In some cases, he requests Holmes to solve troubles. He is voiced by Daisuke Kishio.[5] In the episode 6 of the series, he tells Holmes and Watson that his given name is Gordon.

Other appearances

  • Inspector Lestrade[6] is a logic puzzle game online through Everett Kaser Software.
  • In the alternate history novel Anno Dracula, Lestrade becomes one of the new-born during the reign of the Prince Consort, and is one of the investigators assigned to the murderer known as "Silver Knife" (who is actually John Seward).
  • Lestrade is briefly mentioned in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume I.
  • Lestrade is a recurring character in the Moonstone Books versions of Sherlock Holmes adventures. His "We're proud of you" speech is adapted for a scene in Holmes' birthday in "Return of the Devil".
  • In the TV show Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century one of the main characters was Inspector Beth Lestrade, a descendant who is quite efficient in her own way and has inherited Doctor Watson's diaries.
  • In "Bat Attack/The Ballad of Reading Gaol" the DWAM comic strip adventures, Lestrade is aided in a case by the Tenth Doctor and Rose Tyler. When the Doctor wishes his name out of the case to Queen Victoria Rose's suggestion of "Sherlock" gives Lestrade a pseudonym.
  • A search engine, the Inspector Lestrade, is used by MacIntosh, a "fast, lightweight meta searcher."[7]
  • "The Inspector Lestrade Award" is a rising term among message boards for a person who is "almost correct." It has shown up on zdnet and "Bad Astronomy and the Universe Today" forum[8]
  • The Peterson Pipes company has a Sherlock Holmes (Return) Series of handmade pipes with silverwork. Two Lestrade pipes are in the collection.[9]
  • He appears in the book series The Boy Sherlock Holmes as the son of a ferret-faced inspector by the same name who dislikes Sherlock greatly.
  • In the novel The Canary Trainer, Sherlock Holmes uses "Inspector Lestrade" as an alias while investigating the phantom of the Paris Opera while incognito.
  • Lestrade appears as a Non-player character in the Sherlock computer adventure game.
  • Lestrade appears as a woman inspector with her first name being "Gina" at the most recent game of popular saga "Ace Attorney", Dai Gyakuten Saiban: Naruhodō Ryūnosuke no Bōken.

See also


  1. ^ P. 95. Jeffers, H. Paul. "Bloody Business: An Anecdotal History of Scotland Yard (C)1992 edition printed by arrangement with Barnes and Noble.
  2. ^
  3. ^ P. 112, Keating, H. R. F. Sherlock Holmes: The Man and His World; Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, (c)1979 ISBN 0-684-16269-5
  4. ^
  5. ^ Shinjiro Okazaki and Kenichi Fujita (ed.), "シャーロックホームズ冒険ファンブック Shārokku Hōmuzu Bōken Fan Bukku", Tokyo: Shogakukan, 2014,
    p. 11, p. 32 and p. 53.
  6. ^ Everett Kaser Software - Inspector Lestrade
  7. ^ Welcome to Northern Softworks
  8. ^ Bad Astronomy and Universe Today Forum - View Single Post - Alert! Zetatalk gives exact date of pole shift!
  9. ^ Peterson Sherlock Holmes Pipes


  • "Starring Sherlock Holmes" David Stuart Davies; Titan Books, 2001

External links

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