Professor James MoriartyFictional Villain
Best known as: Arch-enemy of Sherlock Holmes
Professor Moriarty is "the Napoleon of crime," according to fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. Though he appears in only two of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories about Holmes -- The Final Problem (1893) and the novel The Valley of Fear (1915) -- Moriarty has become known as the detective's arch-enemy, a criminal genius who rules the underworld of London. In The Final Problem, Holmes describes Moriarty this way: "He is the organizer of half that is evil and of nearly all that is undetected in [London}. He is a genius, a philosopher, an abstract thinker. He has a brain of the first order." In that story Moriarty died in a plunge from Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland after a fight to the death with Holmes, supposedly on 4 May 1891. Holmes also seemed to have died in the battle, but later made a surprise reappearance in 1903's The Adventure of the Empty House.
Extra credit: Real-life criminal Adam Worth (1844-1902) is sometimes cited as the inspiration for Moriarty... Moriarty was played by Laurence Olivier in the 1976 film The Seven-Per-Cent Solution.
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