Professor James Moriarty is a character in the stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Archenemy of Sherlock Holmes, Moriarty is a criminal mastermind whom Holmes describes as the "Napoleon of crime". Doyle lifted the phrase from a real Scotland Yard inspector who was referring to Adam Worth, one of the real life models of Moriarty. The character of Moriarty as Holmes' greatest enemy was introduced primarily as a narrative device to enable Conan Doyle to kill off Sherlock Holmes, and only featured directly in two of the Sherlock Holmes stories. However, in more recent derivative work he has been given a greater prominence and treated as Holmes' primary antagonist.
Moriarty's first appearance and his end occurred in The Adventure of the Final Problem, in which Holmes, on the verge of delivering a fatal blow to Moriarty's criminal ring, is forced to flee to continental Europe to escape Moriarty's retribution. The criminal mastermind follows, and the pursuit ends on top of the Reichenbach Falls, during which both Holmes and Moriarty apparently fall to their deaths while locked in mortal combat. In this story, Moriarty is introduced as a crime lord who protects nearly all of the criminals of England in exchange for their obedience and a share in their profits. Holmes, by his own account, was originally led to Moriarty by the suggestion that many of the crimes he perceived were not the spontaneous work of random criminals but the machinations of a vast and subtle criminal ring.
Moriarty plays a direct role in only one other Holmes story, The Valley of Fear, set before "The Final Problem" but published afterwards. In The Valley of Fear, Holmes attempts to prevent Moriarty's agents from committing a murder. Moriarty does not meet Holmes in this story. In an episode in which Moriarty is being interviewed by a policeman, a painting by Jean-Baptiste Greuze is described as hanging on the wall; Holmes remarks on another work by the same painter to show it could not have been purchased on a professor's salary. The work referred to is La jeune fille à l'agneau; some commentators have described this as a pun by Conan Doyle upon the name of Thomas Agnew of the gallery Thomas Agnew and Sons, who had a famous painting stolen by Adam Worth, but have been unable to prove the claim.
Doctor Watson, even when narrating, never meets Moriarty (only getting distant glimpses of him in The Final Problem), and relies upon Holmes to relate accounts of the detective's battle with the criminal. Conan Doyle is inconsistent on Watson's familiarity with Moriarty. In "The Final Problem", Watson tells Holmes he has never heard of Moriarty, while in The Valley of Fear, set earlier on, Watson already knows of him as "the famous scientific criminal".
In The Empty House, Holmes states that Moriarty had commissioned a powerful air gun from a blind German mechanic surnamed von Herder, which was used by Moriarty's employee/acolyte Colonel Moran. It closely resembled a cane, allowing for easy concealment, was capable of firing revolver bullets at long range, and made very little noise when fired, making it ideal for sniping. Moriarty also has a marked preference for organising "accidents". His attempts to kill Holmes include falling masonry and a speeding horse-drawn van. He is also responsible for stage-managing the death of Birdy Edwards.
Moriarty vows that Holmes faces inevitable destruction if he continues to meddle in Moriarty's plans. Moriarty has full respect for Holmes' intellect and says that it has been an intellectual treat to grapple with him but is also completely willing to kill Holmes should he oppose him any further, showing a ruthless side. He has a fiery temper, furiously elbowing aside people in the train station when Holmes escapes him. Moriarty also has a vengeful streak, pursuing Holmes to Switzerland to kill him for destabilizing his organization. Despite the vast crime ring over which he presides, Moriarty is fiercely independent. When his men fail to kill Holmes, he pursues Holmes by himself, whereas Holmes takes Watson with him wherever he goes. The only individual who appears to have Moriarty's complete confidence is his henchman Colonel Moran.
Holmes described Moriarty as follows:
He is a man of good birth and excellent education, endowed by nature with a phenomenal mathematical faculty. At the age of twenty-one he wrote a treatise upon the binomial theorem which has had a European vogue. On the strength of it, he won the mathematical chair at one of our smaller universities, and had, to all appearances, a most brilliant career before him. But the man had hereditary tendencies of the most diabolical kind. A criminal strain ran in his blood, which, instead of being modified, was increased and rendered infinitely more dangerous by his extraordinary mental powers. Dark rumours gathered round him in the University town, and eventually he was compelled to resign his chair and come down to London. He is the Napoleon of crime, Watson. He is the organiser of half that is evil and of nearly all that is undetected in this great city...
—Holmes, "The Final Problem"
Holmes echoes and expounds this sentiment in The Valley of Fear stating:
But in calling Moriarty a criminal you are uttering libel in the eyes of the law—and there lie the glory and the wonder of it! The greatest schemer of all time, the organizer of every deviltry, the controlling brain of the underworld, a brain which might have made or marred the destiny of nations—that’s the man! But so aloof is he from general suspicion, so immune from criticism, so admirable in his management and self-effacement, that for those very words that you have uttered he could hale you to a court and emerge with your year’s pension as a solatium for his wounded character. Is he not the celebrated author of The Dynamics of an Asteroid, a book which ascends to such rarefied heights of pure mathematics that it is said that there was no man in the scientific press capable of criticizing it? Is this a man to traduce? Foulmouthed doctor and slandered professor—such would be your respective roles! That’s genius, Watson.
—Holmes, The Valley of Fear
The "smaller university" involved has been claimed to be one of the colleges that later comprised the University of Leeds. However, in Sherlock Holmes: The Unauthorized Biography, the "smaller university" is said to be Durham University.
Conan Doyle's original motive in creating Moriarty was evidently his intention to kill Holmes off. "The Final Problem" was intended to be exactly what its title says; Doyle sought to sweeten the pill by letting Holmes go in a blaze of glory, having rid the world of a criminal so powerful and dangerous any further task would be trivial in comparison (as Holmes says in the story itself). Moriarty appeared in only one book as the author felt having him constantly escape would discredit Holmes, and would be less satisfying. Eventually, however, public pressure and financial troubles impelled Doyle to bring Holmes back.
A point of interest is that the "high, domed forehead" was seen as the sign of a prodigious intellect during Conan Doyle's time. In giving Moriarty this trait, which had already appeared in both Sherlock Holmes and the detective's brother Mycroft, Doyle may have intended to portray Moriarty as a man having an intellect equal or greater than that of Holmes, and thus the only man capable of defeating him. Moriarty died when he fell off the Reichenbach Falls while Holmes, as revealed in "The Empty House", only faked his death to make the few remaining Moriarty henchmen expose themselves.
Moriarty's personal history
"Moriarty" is an ancient Irish name. Moriarty's henchman also has an Irish surname (Moran), and Sherlock can be an Irish surname. Conan Doyle himself was of Irish Catholic descent, educated at Stonyhurst College, although he would leave his family's religious tradition, neither marrying nor raising his children nor cleaving to any politics that his ethnic background would presuppose.
The stories give contradictory indications about Moriarty's family. In his first appearance in "The Final Problem", Moriarty is referred to as "Professor Moriarty" — no forename is mentioned. Watson does, however, refer to the name of another family member when he writes of "the recent letters in which Colonel James Moriarty defends the memory of his brother". In "The Adventure of the Empty House", Holmes refers to Moriarty on one occasion as "Professor James Moriarty". This is the only time Moriarty is given a first name, and oddly, it is the same as that of his purported brother; to wit The Valley of Fear (written after the preceding two stories, but set earlier), Holmes says of Professor Moriarty: "He is unmarried. His younger brother is a station master in the west of England."
In the derivative work by Kim Newman,[who?]Professor Moriarty: The Hound of the D'ubervilles, the author takes the confusion and runs with it to humorous effect, stating that Professor James Moriarty has two brothers, Colonel James Moriarty and Station Master James Moriarty. As a result, all conversations and even the narration become amusing and confusing, until the very end where the sad story behind the triple names is revealed.
Simon Newcomb and other real world role models
ln addition to the master criminal Adam Worth, there has been much speculation among astronomers and Sherlock Holmes enthusiasts that Doyle based his fictional character Moriarty on the American astronomer Simon Newcomb. Newcomb was revered as a multitalented genius, with a special mastery of mathematics, and he had become internationally famous in the years before Conan Doyle began writing his stories. More to the point, Newcomb had earned a reputation for spite and malice, apparently seeking to destroy the careers and reputations of rival scientists.
Gauss' portrait published in Astronomische Nachrichten 1828
A gallows ticket to view the hanging of Jonathan Wild.
Moriarty may have been inspired in part by two real world mathematicians. If the characterizations of Moriarty's academic papers are reversed, they describe real mathematical events. Carl Friedrich Gauss wrote a famous paper on the dynamics of an asteroid in his early 20s, and was appointed to a chair partly on the strength of this result. Srinivasa Ramanujan wrote about generalisations of the binomial theorem, and earned a reputation as a genius by writing articles that confounded the best extant mathematicians. Gauss's story was well known in Conan Doyle's time, and Ramanujan's story unfolded at Cambridge from early 1913 to mid 1914;The Valley of Fear, which contains the comment about maths so abstruse that no one could criticise it, was published in September 1914. Mathematician Des MacHale has suggested George Boole may have been a model for Moriarty.
Jane Stanford, in her biography That Irishman, suggests that Conan Doyle borrowed some traits and background of the Fenian John O'Connor Power for his portrayal of Moriarty.
The model which Conan Doyle himself mentions (through Sherlock Holmes) in The Valley of Fear is the London arch-criminal of the 18th century, Jonathan Wild. He mentions this when seeking to compare Moriarty to a real-world character that Inspector Alec MacDonald might know, but it is in vain as MacDonald is not so well read as Holmes. It is averred that surviving Jesuit priests at Stonyhurst instantly recognized the physical description of Moriarty as that of the Reverend Thomas Kay, S.J., Prefect of Discipline, under whose aegis Conan Doyle fell as a wayward pupil. According to this hypothesis, Conan Doyle as a private joke has Inspector MacDonald describe Moriarty: "He'd have made a grand meenister with his thin face and grey hair and his solemn-like way of talking."
Doyle is known to have used his former school, Stonyhurst College, as inspiration for details of the Holmes series; among his contemporaries at the school were two boys surnamed Moriarty.
Depictions and references
Orson Welles played Professor Moriarty opposite Sir John Gielgud's Holmes in the 1950s series broadcast of The Final Problem.
In the BBC Radio 4 November 1992 broadcast of The Final Problem and 24 February 1993 broadcast of The Empty House, Moriarty was played by Michael Pennington.
In the BBC Radio March 1997 broadcast of The Valley of Fear, Moriarty is eventually revealed to be the narrator of the story; the narrator was played by Ronald Pickup.
On The Goon Show, Spike Milligan played a character. "Count Jim Moriarty", which has sometimes been implied to be based on Professor Moriarty.
Moriarty is the only character in the Sherlock Holmes films to have been killed off three times in the same series. All deaths occurred in the Basil Rathbone-Nigel Bruce Holmes films, and all three involved him falling from a great height.
Laurence Olivier appeared as Moriarty in The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976). However, in this version he is not the story's villain, but merely a harmless man who becomes an increasingly paranoid victim of Holmes' delusions, based on the fact that Moriarty indirectly contributed to the death of Holmes' mother, who was his lover.
In Young Sherlock Holmes, Anthony Higgins plays Holmes' schoolmaster, Rathe, who turns out to be an evil mastermind. During the credit roll at the end of the film, Rathe is seen walking to an inn and signs the ledger as "Moriarty", indicating that he will become Holmes' archenemy. Higgins portrayed Holmes in Sherlock Holmes Returns, making him one of the only two actors to portray both Holmes and Moriarty on film, Richard Roxburgh being the other. (Orson Welles has played both Holmes and Moriarty on radio programs.)
In the Disney animated film The Great Mouse Detective, the character Professor Ratigan (the nemesis of Basil of Baker Street, the film's Holmes-trained hero) is an obvious parallel and tribute to the character of Moriarty. Basil also describes Ratigan as "The Napoleon of Crime", the same designation Holmes gave Moriarty in "The Final Problem". After his plan to replace the Queen fails, Ratigan is killed when he falls off Big Ben after a clash with Basil. Ratigan was voiced by Vincent Price, who, in his later years, stated that Ratigan was his favorite role.
Paul Freeman appeared as Professor Moriarty in the 1988 comedyWithout a Clue, revolving around the premise that Holmes is a fictional creation of Watson's, and Watson is the real crime-solving genius; Moriarty is apparently aware of the deception, with 'Holmes' clearly terrified at the thought of facing him, although he shows his skills when facing Moriarty in a duel at the film's conclusion.
In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003), the film adaptation of the graphic novel by Alan Moore, Richard Roxburgh portrays the main villain named the Phantom, whose true identity was eventually revealed to be Professor James Moriarty, who also posed as the League's recruiter M; with a blackmailed Dorian Gray as his agent, Moriarty acquired samples from the League with the intention of duplicating their powers for his own goals. Three clues to the Phantom's real name were subtly slipped into the course of the film's dialogue. In the climax, Moriarty alludes that he somehow survived his confrontation with Holmes at Reichenbach. After a confrontation with Allan Quatermain ends with him stabbing Quatermain in the back while he is distracted, he is shot down by Tom Sawyer (with Quatermain's rifle) while trying to escape. Roxburgh also portrayed Holmes in the 2002 TV adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles, making him one of the only two actors to portray both Holmes and Moriarty on film, Anthony Higgins being the other.
In the 2009 film, Sherlock Holmes, Moriarty appears as a shadowy, mysterious villain employing Irene Adler. The role is uncredited, although rumors circulated that the character was played by Brad Pitt, who had expressed interest in playing the character. Jared Harris played the role in the sequel, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. In addition to his credentials as a mathematical genius, celebrated author and lecturer, he is described as a boxing champion during his school days at Cambridge, and a close friend and consultant of the British Prime Minister. Mycroft Holmes also describes Moriarty as one of England's foremost intellectuals. During the film, he attempts to provoke a war using advanced weaponry that he has developed (Moriarty was perpetrating a similar scheme as the Phantom in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) while sending an assassin into a crucial conference using an early form of plastic surgery. With Watson having deduced his assassin's identity while Moriarty is occupied in a chess game with Holmes, Moriarty and Holmes clash, with the fight ending as Holmes pulls Moriarty over the edge of a balcony into a waterfall, knowing that he cannot defeat Moriarty in a direct fight due to a recent injury and wanting to protect Watson from Moriarty's revenge. Although Holmes is shown to have survived at the end, Moriarty's fate is left ambiguous.
Eric Porter portrayed Moriarty in two episodes of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, starring Jeremy Brett as Holmes: "The Red-Headed League" and "The Final Problem", and briefly in the Return of Sherlock Holmes episode: "The Empty House". The first two stories were filmed in 1985, with Jeremy Brett as Holmes, and David Burke as Watson, and the third in 1986 with Edward Hardwicke taking over the role of Watson. He also appeared as a hallucination in the Return of Sherlock Holmes episode "The Devil's Foot". In the feature-length episode The Eligible Bachelor (an adaptation of "The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor"), Holmes describes Moriarty as "a giant of evil" and says, "Moriarty combined science with evil. Organization with precision. Vision with perception. I know of only one person that he misjudged. Me. ... I regret Moriarty's death [because] without him, I have to deal with distressed children, cat owners—pygmies, pygmies of triviality."
In the cartoon Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century, Moriarty (voiced by Richard Newman) was the one behind nearly all the crimes. He had been cloned back to life by a rogue geneticist, requiring Holmes to be 'resurrected' as well in order to match him. The body of the original Moriarty was still covered in ice behind the waterfall he fell from during his battle with Holmes.
In the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Trials of the Demon!", both Holmes and Watson guest star. Watson mentions Moriarty, suggesting he might be the one responsible for stealing the souls of women (the real culprit is Jim Craddock). Holmes quickly ruled out Moriarty as a suspect based on the choice of weapon.
"Elementary My Dear Winston", the third episode for the 1989 season of The Real Ghostbusters, features Holmes, Watson and Moriarty by way of "belief made manifest": so many people believed in them that they became real. Moriarty now has supernatural powers and employs the Hound of the Baskervilles as his henchman. Holmes and Moriarty are both sucked into the Ghostbusters' storage facility while wrestling, in the same manner as the conclusion of "The Final Problem".
Anthropomorphic incarnation of Moriarty appeared in the anime series Sherlock Hound, voiced by Chikao Ōtsuka for Japanese and Hamilton Camp for English. During the series, Moriarty is the main villain behind every crime in almost each episode. As many characters were depicted as an anthropomorphic dogs, Moriarty himself is seen closely resembling wolf.
James "Jim" Moriarty is played by actor Andrew Scott in the modern-day BBC adaptation, Sherlock, as an extremely volatile "consulting criminal" who develops a murderous obsession with Holmes. In the Series 2 finale The Reichenbach Fall he frames Holmes and threatens his friends to drive him to suicide. He seemingly shoots himself to make sure Holmes commits suicide. However, at the end of "His Last Vow", his face appears on TV screens across the country as a mostly static image, only the mouth moving in a way similar to that of a ventriloquist's dummy.
In the US television series Elementary, Moriarty is equated with Irene Adler (played by Natalie Dormer). As with Moriarty, she is first mentioned in the twelfth episode of the first season ("M"). Holmes tracks an apparent serial killer who uses the name "M"; upon his capture, he is discovered to be Sebastian Moran, Moriarty's henchman, whose seemingly random murders were actually assassinations carried out for his employer, whom he claims to have never met. In the season finale, "Irene Adler" is revealed to be an alias created by Moriarty in order to get close to Holmes and observe him (a male voice who spoke to Holmes as "Moriarty" over the telephone is revealed to be a hired actor). The episode "We Are Everyone" reveals her true name as Jamie Moriarty and she continues to write letters to Sherlock from prison.
In the Russian television series Sherlock Holmes, Moriarty is a professor of Mathematics (played by Alexey Gorbunov) who is attempt to assassinate the queen. He appeard as head of criminal network across London, named as The Cabmen Gang.
Jeremy Brett and Edward Hardwicke played Holmes and Watson in the Sherlock Holmes TV series made by Granada Television. Eric Porter played the professor. In the late 1980s, Brett and Hardwicke appeared in the stage play The Secret of Sherlock Holmes by Jeremy Paul, a regular contributor to the series. The only characters in the play are Holmes and Watson and it highlights many aspects of their relationship from their first meeting to the Reichenbach Falls. In the second half it is indicated that Moriarty never existed: he was a figment of the imagination of Holmes who needed a worthy enemy as much as he needed a devoted friend like Watson. In The Final Problem, Watson and Moriarty never actually meet in person.
T. S. Eliot, a fan of Sherlock Holmes fiction, used the phrase "the Napoleon of crime" in homage to describe Macavity in Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. There are further likenesses between the two as T.S. Eliot talks of Macavity's virtues in stealth, his tall and thin stature with sunken eyes and a domed forehead. All of these descriptions are matched precisely to the Moriarty of Conan Doyle.
In Neil Gaiman's Hugo Award winning short-story A Study in Emerald, the Moriarty and Holmes of an alternate history reverse roles. Moriarty (who, although never named as such in the story, is identified as the author of Dynamics of an Asteroid) is hired to investigate a murder. The murder has apparently been carried out by Sherlock Holmes (who signs his name Rache, an allusion to Conan Doyle's first novella starring Holmes and Watson, A Study in Scarlet, in which "Rache" — German for "revenge" — is found written above the body of a murder victim), and Doctor Watson. The story is narrated by Colonel Sebastian Moran, given the rank of Major (Ret.) by Gaiman.
In Detective Comics 572, the fiftieth anniversary of Batman's first appearance, Batman and several other DC characters met descendants of Moriarty and Dr Watson. Prof. Moriarty appeared in a flashback sequence; a 135-year old Holmes had a brief cameo at the end of the story.
In a 2006 comic book story featuring Lee Falk's The Phantom, the 19th Phantom has to fight Prof. Moriarty; the climax of the story features the Phantom and Moriarty falling down a waterfall in the Bangalla jungle. At the end of the story, Moriarty is shown to be alive, as he returns to London to find "a detective named Sherlock Holmes".
Dorothy Sayers's story The Adventurous Exploit of the Cave of Ali Baba is consciously modeled upon "The Final Problem". Lord Peter Wimsey is apparently killed, only to return from the dead at the end of the story and reveal he had faked his death in order to trap a very dangerous super-criminal. The debt to the original Doyle story is explicitly acknowledged in Sayers' story, in a passage in which Wimsey refers to the criminal he is tracking as "The Moriarty of this gang".
In Nicholas Meyer's 1976 novel, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, Prof. Moriarty is portrayed as Holmes' childhood mathematics tutor, a whining little man with a guilty secret. He is incensed to hear that Holmes, apparently under the influence of cocaine, has depicted him as a criminal mastermind. Due to Holmes' worsening condition, Moriarty threatens to tell the authorities about Holmes' addiction. Dr. Watson seeks the help of Sigmund Freud, who uncovers the truth behind Holmes' perception of "the Napoleon of Crime". This is one of many works to seize on the fact that Moriarty never actually shows his face in the Holmes canon. The novel, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, was made into a 1976 film and starred Laurence Olivier as a very different sort of Professor Moriarty.
In the 1979 novel, Enter the Lion: A Posthumous Memoir of Mycroft Holmes, written by Michael P. Hodel and Sean M. Wright, Jerrold Moriarty, the father of the Professor and his brothers, is Mycroft Holmes' immediate superior in the Foreign Office and plays an important part in a plot by former Confederate officers to involve the British government in a scheme to overthrow the United States government. His exposure by Mycroft and Sherlock leads to his suicide to avoid arrest, for which Professor Moriarty blames the Holmes brothers, and provides an explanation as to the antagonism between Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty. The Professor himself makes two appearances in the novel.
Michael Kurland wrote a series of novels in which Moriarty is the hero: his crime organisation is the method whereby he raises funds for his experimental physics apparatus. In the first book of the series, The Infernal Device, he foils[why?] a plot against Queen Victoria, reluctantly allying with Sherlock Holmes.
John Gardner has written three novels featuring the arch-villain: The Return of Moriarty, in which the Professor, like Holmes, is shown to have survived the meeting at the Reichenbach, The Revenge of Moriarty and Moriarty (released posthumously in 2008 after the author's death in 2007). In these novels, Moriarty is depicted as a Victorian-era Al Capone or Don Corleone, single-handedly controlling London's organized crime structure. "The Professor" is not really Moriarty, but Moriarty's younger brother, also named James, and as brilliant as his older brother, whom he impersonates, disgraces, and murders, later stealing the deceased man's identity.
Moriarty appears in Alan Moore's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Recruited from university by British Intelligence, he supposedly set up his criminal empire as part of an undercover operation to monitor crime in London which got out of hand, to the point where the 'cover' became more real to Moriarty than his role in British Intelligence. Having survived the encounter with Sherlock Holmes, he went on to become head of British Intelligence under the code-name "M" but still maintained his criminal interests. He instigated the creation of the League as a covert ops unit with plausible deniability and used them to recover an anti-gravity mineral called Cavorite which had been stolen by his crime lord rival The Doctor. He used the Cavorite to bomb the East End of London in an attempt to destroy The Doctor but was thwarted by the League which had uncovered the double-cross. Following his supposed death (indicated, but not clearly portrayed, as he "falls" into the sky while clutching the Cavorite), he was ironically succeeded as "M" by Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock's older brother. In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier, it is suggested that Jack Kerouac's Dean Moriarty (from On the Road) is his great-grandson, and the rivalry between the two criminals is continued by the fact that The Doctor's great-grandson is Kerouac's other creation, Doctor Sax. In the third volume, set more than six decades later, Mina Murray comes across his carcass, still holding onto the cavorite inside a block of ice floating through space.
Kim Newman's novel Anno Dracula depicts Moriarty as the spokesman of a league of villains drawn from popular fiction. In this Moriarty is a vampire and is no longer interested in criminal pursuits as he now has an eternal life which he can dedicate to intellectual contemplation. Newman has also written a series of short stories about Moriarty, narrated Watson-style by Colonel Moran, in which Moriarty interacts with many of his fictional contemporaries. They have been collected in Professor Moriarty: The Hound of the D'Urbervilles. One of the stories, "The Red Planet League", first appeared in Gaslight Grimoire. Another story, "The Adventure of the Greek Invertebrate" (a play on "The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter", which introduced Sherlock Holmes' brother Mycroft), features Professor Moriarty's two brothers, also named James, the colonel and the station master, and offers an explanation for the lack of variety in their forenames. The last story, "The Problem of the Final Adventure", retells The Adventure of the Final Problem from the other side, revealing there was more going on than Watson (and perhaps Holmes) realised.
Commenting on Nero Wolfe's prolongs struggle with the powerful crime boss Arnold Zeck, Michael Dirda — book critic for The Washington Post — wrote "I was thrilled when Wolfe finally encountered his own Moriarty in the archvillain Arnold Zeck". British author and literary critic David Langford has also noted that the relationship between Zeck and Wolfe compares to that of Moriarty and Sherlock Holmes.
Moriarty appears in a short story by Donald Thomas, in his collection The Secret Cases of Sherlock Holmes, as the mastermind of a blackmail plot involving the alleged bigamy of Prince George. His younger brother, Col. James Moriarty, appears as the antagonist of another short story in Thomas' The Execution of Sherlock Holmes.
In The Mandala of Sherlock Holmes, set during Holmes' three-year fake "death", Holmes encounters Moriarty during his trip in Tibet, where he learns that Moriarty is actually "the Dark One", a former Tibetan mystic possessing great psychic powers who lost his memories in an attack on the Dalai Lama, only for his near-death experience on the Reichenbach Falls to restore his memory, albeit leaving him horribly crippled and disfigured by his injuries. He attempts to acquire a legendary crystal that would allow him to wield even greater power, but, although Moriarty acquires the crystal, boosting his powers and healing his injuries, he is defeated when it is revealed that Holmes is partly possessed by the spirit of the Dark One's old rival, allowing Holmes to wield similar powers to Moriarty's and delay him long enough for Holmes' ally, Huree Chunder Mockerjee, to knock the crystal away from Moriarty and into Holmes' hands, allowing Holmes to turn Moriarty's powers against him, vaporising his body and destroying him once and for all.
In The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King, an elderly Holmes and his protégée, Mary Russell, are pursued by Moriarty's middle-aged daughter, also an Oxford mathematics don, and a criminal kingpin in her own right, who threatens Holmes' remaining friends as she attempts to force Holmes to kill himself after signing a fake confession 'admitting' he framed her father as a criminal out of jealousy and that most of his cases were solved by others. The detective provokes her by noting that her father essentially committed suicide by confronting Holmes in such an isolated spot without any weapons, resulting in her accidentally shooting herself when struggling with Mary Russell in a fit of rage.
In Anthony Horowitz' 2011 novel, The House of Silk, the first "official" (authorized by Doyle's estate) Holmes story since Doyle's death, a chapter is dedicated to Watson's meeting with a secretive criminal mastermind. This character is not definitively identified, however it is heavily implied that he is James Moriarty. Watson later states that he believes this to be the case, and in an appendix Horowitz states the identity of the character outright.
In various books in David Weber's "Honorverse" series, the name Moriarty has been applied to a defensive weapon system developed by the Republic of Haven. The system is deployed as a missile fire control system, for system defense against naval assaults. The concept, while easily countered by "Mistletoe" missiles (a variation of the "skipper" missiles seen in the movie Wing Commander), is nonetheless the inspiration for the Manticoran development of the "Mycroft" defensive weapon system in A Rising Thunder.
In Artemis Fowl, the first book in the young adult Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer, LEPrecon officer Jullius Root remarks about the criminal mastermind Fowl's criminal activities and his abduction of officer Holly Short: "Too much damned TV. Thinks he's Sherlock Holmes". Foaly corrects him, saying "...That's professor Moriarty ... Holmes, Moriarty, they both look the same with the flesh scorched off their skulls.'"
In the video game Portal 2, Wheatley mentions Holmes and Moriarty, comparing Chell's (Holmes') pursuit of Wheatley (Moriarty) to the endless fight of Holmes and Moriarty.
In The Lost Cases of Sherlock Holmes, Moriarty is unmasked as the villain in the 16th and last mystery, but while his scheme is foiled, the Professor escapes when Holmes must focus on disarming a bomb inside the Big Ben clock tower.
In the computer adventure Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened, Holmes encounters Moriarty locked in a Switzerland mental hospital in 1895 (four years after "The Final Problem"), where the Professor has suffered severe brain injuries from the Falls. Not recognizing Holmes in disguise, Moriarty is tricked into thinking his nemesis is in the hospital lobby, and charges from his cell in a frenzy, giving Holmes a diversion so he may investigate the asylum's secrets further. By the opening of the sequel, Sherlock Holmes versus Arsène Lupin, or Sherlock Holmes: Nemesis, there has been no word of any mental recovery or escape attempts by Moriarty. Holmes remarks to Watson, "If there had, we would be on the way to Switzerland already."