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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