An attempt to provide Data with a challenging Sherlock Holmes holodeck RPG scenario backfires when its Prof. Moriarty character accidentally becomes self-aware.



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Episode cast overview:
Lt. Commander Data / Sherlock Holmes
Wesley Crusher (credit only)
Biff Manard ...
Diz White ...
Ensign Clancy (as Anne Elizabeth Ramsay)
Richard Merson ...
Pie Man


When the Enterprise arrives a few days early at its rendezvous point to meet the USS Victory, the crew have a bit of leisure time on their hands. For Data and Geordi Laforge, it means a trip to the holodeck and 221B Baker St. With Data in the role of Holmes and Laforge as Dr. Watson, they take on a challenge from Dr. Pulaski that Data couldn't solve a genuine mystery. Data has a bit of time adjusting to a real mystery - as opposed to one for which he knows the outcome. In giving the holodeck computer its instructions however, Geordi's specifications for an opponent results in a far superior creation than expected putting them and the entire ship in danger. Written by garykmcd

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Release Date:

3 December 1988 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Although it is commonly believed that Sherlock Holmes has been in the public domain since sometime before the 1980s, the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle estate maintained copyright on the character - a claim set to expire in 2023 - until their claim was voided by a court ruling in 2013, ten years ahead of the planned date. Paramount Studios (producing company of the Star Trek franchise) obtained permission from the Doyles to make Young Sherlock Holmes (1985) (acknowledged in that movie's end credits), but considered similar permission unnecessary for "Elementary, Dear Data," which they believed fell under the parody clause of copyright law, and thus aired the episode without notifying the Doyles. (ST:TNG producer Jeri Taylor, who joined the show in 1990, once incorrectly wrote that Paramount was wholly ignorant of the Doyles' property, but Doyle attorney Jon Lellenberg straightened this out.) The Doyles then wrote to Paramount that they were flattered by the episode, but felt it remained within their legal sphere, so they wanted in on any further Trek usage of their characters. Although Brent Spiner was eager to play Holmes again, nearly 4 years went by before Paramount and the Doyles agreed on a "reasonable licencing fee" for the sequel Star Trek: The Next Generation: Ship in a Bottle (1993). See more »


LaForge and Data remove a piece of paper in which Moriarty draws the Enterprise from the holodeck. Since the paper is holographic, it should've been impossible to remove it from the holodeck. See more »


Moriarty: Whatever I was when this began... I have grown. I am understanding more and more; and I am able to use the power at my fingertips.
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Star Trek: The Next Generation Main Title
Composed by Jerry Goldsmith and Alexander Courage
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User Reviews

Oh no.....a holodeck episode!!!
11 November 2014 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

I noticed that so far every review for this particular episode is great. Well, I don't see it. After all, it's a holodeck episode and to me these particular plots are very unsatisfying and contrived. And, as a fan of Sherlock Holmes, I take no pleasure in seeing these characters brought into the annoying holodeck. In this case, Geordi and Data are playing Sherlock Holmes on the holodeck. However, the program is taken directly from an original story--and Data has memorized EVERYTHING--making the fantasy a complete waste of time. Geordi and the Doctor challenge Data to star in a NEW Holmes mystery--one that the computer could create. In it, their nemesis is Moriarty* and through some strange programming, this character gains sentience and eventually figured out that he was a hologram as well as how to access the control panel and computer!

I found this episode insufferable. The show had practically nothing to do with "Star Trek: The Next Generation"--and seemed amazingly misplaced. Additionally, while it's not as awful as the baseball game episode from "Deep Space 9", I found it very tough going sticking with this one. As a fan of Holmes and sci-fi, the episode really didn't satisfy either.

*Although it's practically a cliché to feature Moriarty, he was NOT a frequent character in the original Holmes novels and only appeared on a very occasional basis. The same can be said for Lestrade--who is only one of many policemen who Holmes works with in the original stories.

4 of 17 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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