- "You look at people and you see puzzles. I see games. You? You're a game I'll win every time."
- ―Moriarty to Sherlock Holmes [src]
Jamie Moriarty, initially known to Sherlock as Irene Adler, is a criminal mastermind and the nemesis of Sherlock Holmes.
Moriarty is at first thought to be directly responsible for the death of Holmes' lover, Irene Adler. Moriarty is also responsible for 70 murders over her career. It is originally assumed that Moriarty is a man, due in part to her getting a man to speak on the phone for her. It is later revealed that Moriarty is the woman whom Holmes knew as Irene Adler.
Moriarty's true identity is unknown although she is presumably originally from Britain as she speaks with an English accent.
Before Moriarty became well known to Holmes, 37 murders over the course of the previous decade were attributed to the alias simply known as "M." The victims appeared to have no commonalities. Moriarty composed letters to the authorities that evaded analysis and were deemed to be the ramblings of a madman, thereby avoiding any insight into his true nature. Two such messages explicitly mentioned Holmes.
The only information known about the criminal mastermind's character is extracted from an assassin hired by Moriarty, the English man Sebastian Moran. When Holmes tortures Moran (who has been setup by Moriarty), he initially believes that Moran is the notorious "M.". However, he soon learns that Moran is not a serial killer with a penchant for bloodletting but is merely a hired assassin. Holmes learns that Moran was incarcerated during Irene Adler's murder 19 months prior. Holmes is led to believe that it was Moriarty who killed Irene. It is at first thought that Moriarty reserved Irene's murder for himself, as retaliation for Holmes' investigations into his criminal activities.
History as Irene Adler
- "She was, to me, the woman. To me, she eclipsed and predominated the whole of her gender."
- ―Holmes talking to Watson about Irene Adler.
Irene Adler is the identity that Moriarty was known by when she first met Sherlock Holmes. She restored Renaissance paintings and spoke with an American accent. Whilst they both lived in London she and Holmes had a relationship that lasted some seven months.
With Holmes in London
Adler first meets Holmes when he is working on a case. ("The Woman") He first knows Adler as a restorer of old paintings and her house in London where they first meet is filled with paintings. Holmes also finds out that she stole a painting she had been working on for a client, replacing it with a forgery she had painted herself. Adler tells Holmes she was saving it from the owner and he does not turn her in. They quickly begin a relationship that lasts seven months and Holmes is devastated when she is supposedly murdered, an event that leads him turning to drugs.
After her "death"
Joan Watson first hears of Adler's existence when she discovers a pile of letters of correspondence between Irene Adler and Sherlock at the rehab where Sherlock had stayed during his recovery. ("One Way to Get Off") When Watson returned the letters to Holmes, saying that she thought he "might want these", he replied, "Indeed I do", and promptly destroyed them in a blender machine. That night he informed Watson that Adler had died and vaguely hinted that her death led to his addiction and eventual admission to rehab.
Watson soon finds out that Adler was Sherlock's girlfriend and had died in a murder case. ("M.") It was first believed that she was killed by the assassin (then assumed to be a serial-killer) Sebastian Moran. When Holmes questioned Moran he was led to believe that Adler was murdered by Moriarty. He was led to believe that she was specifically targeted due to being close to him – in retaliation for Holmes' investigations into some of Moriarty's crimes. They had only dated for seven months but Holmes cared deeply for Adler, according to him she was different from the others. Adler's supposed death was also the cause of Holmes' descent into drug taking, as after that point he began to lose control and his previous occasional use became much more serious.
Discovery in New York
During an investigation and whilst exploring a house in Queens thought to be connected to Moriarty, Holmes and Watson discover that Adler is alive. Holmes is shocked by this, having previously thought her to be dead. She tells them that she is the prisoner of a man she has only seen in a mask. Adler appears to be traumatised and unaware of exactly how much time has passed since she was taken.
After being checked out in the hospital Adler goes to stay with Holmes and Watson at their house. After the house is broken into Holmes takes Adler to a safe house, planning to go away with her so they can be safe from Moriarty. Whilst Adler is dressing Holmes notices that she is missing a mole that had been on her back when he knew her in London. He realises that she must have had this surgically removed and therefore had not been a prisoner as he had been led to believe. He suspects her of working for Moriarty and they part after arguing.
Adler returns to Holmes home to save him when he is nearly killed by one of Moriarty's assassins that had gone rogue and reveals herself to actually be Moriarty. ("Heroine")
Revelation as Moriarty
Moriarty planted herself in New York to have a Macedonian politician killed with the help of Christos Theophilus, a Greek shipping magnate. Sherlock is angered by her success, and eventually seemingly relapses from the stress, overdosing in the Brownstone and accordingly sent to a hospital. Moriarty visited Holmes there, attempting to convince him to run away with her, saying that she can help him. However, it is revealed that Watson knew she was in love with Holmes, and laid a trap in order to get Moriarty to inadvertently admit to her crimes, knowing that Moriarty would be unable to resist the need to tell Holmes how she had won. She is arrested by Captain Gregson. Watson mentions her lawyer is "sweating bullets" due to her confession on tape.
Kidnapping of Kayden Fuller
After her capture following the assassination of Christos Theophilus, Moriarty is interned in a federal "black site", guarded by agents specifically chosen for her inability to seduce them - the head agent at the site confirms Holmes' deduction that he is gay - whilst the FBI produces a case for her trial. During this time, she bartered several key pieces of information for various liberties, and left the site at least once. She occupied her time during her imprisonment painting, including one such painting of Watson. Following the kidnapping of Kayden Fuller by her previous lieutenant, Devon Gaspar (who Holmes identified as such after hearing his voice on a ransom call), she was once again removed from the site in order to aid Holmes and Watson in their investigation. She provided several portraits of Gaspar and his associates, which had been weaponised to contain the coordinates of a ledger she kept of "interesting facts". After the hidden information was found, she was returned to the black site. She escaped the prison, severely injuring herself in the process, but goes out of her way not to kill any of the guards. She finds the building where Kayden - who, it was revealed, was her daughter - was being kept, killing everyone else inside. After recapture, she was once again imprisoned.
Although she is presumably in prison by this point, Moriarty continues to maintain a correspondence with Sherlock, the two exchanging letters as they muse on their similar views of the world around them. Even after learning who and what she really was, Sherlock noted in a conversation with Marcus Bell that Moriarty was the "love of [his] life" despite her being an unrepentant sociopath. Moriarty also maintains some discreet connections to the outside world, which she once used to target and kill a gang boss who had recently attempted to kill Joan.
Whilst living under the name of Irene Adler, Moriarty has a relationship with Holmes that spans some seven months. While Sherlock generally finds relationships boring and women only useful to satisfy physical needs alone, for him, quote, "Irene was different." Whilst she intended to have him assassinated, as he was investigating several crimes that were her doing, soon after she meets him, and ends up falling in love with him. Not wanting to kill him, while wanting to continue her business without being investigated by Sherlock, led to her faking her own death, which left Sherlock reeling from her demise, and thus off her trails. She has declared that nobody is to hurt him in any way. Even after her secret identity as Moriarty is revealed and it looks like she has won, she still visits Holmes in hospital, and asks him to go away with her. Despite the role he played in her incarceration, she still cares for him and has kept the original protection in place, that Sherlock is not to be harmed in any way by her successor(s) or anyone that he/she may oversee. Even after she has been caught, Jamie stays in contact with Holmes via letter, writing to him and asking him to write back soon.
Moriarty and Joan Watson first meet whilst Moriarty is still pretending to be Irene Adler. It is Watson who realises that Moriarty is in love with Holmes and encourages him to make it look like he had taken an overdose so that she will visit him in hospital. They record the conversation and so gain incriminating evidence against Moriarty.
Moriarty comes to value and respect Watson, going so far as to protect her when Elena March, a gang boss Watson got locked up, tries to have her assassinated. Moriarty arranges for March to be killed, and sends Watson a letter, expressing her admiration, and anticipation of their next game. Additionally, the protection Sherlock has been given over the years has also been extended to her, making her just as untouchable as Sherlock.
Kayden Fuller is Moriarty's nine-year-old daughter. She was given up for adoption soon after her birth, but Moriarty continues to love her, as evidenced when she rescued her when the girl was kidnapped by Moriarty's former employees. To drive home her love for Kayden, Moriarty had to severely injure herself to sabotage the restraints binding her; after the rescue Moriarty needed immediate medical attention.
Moriarty has various employees who have helped her in her criminal activities.
Sebastian Moran is an assassin known as "M", hired by Moriarty to kill various people ("M."). He receives his instructions by coded text message. Whilst Moran is in prison, Moriarty stages a crime scene using Moran's MO so that the police and Holmes will believe the assassin "M" killed Irene Adler. After Moran is in prison he gives Holmes information on Moriarty and Moriarty threatens to kill his sister if he does not kill himself.
Devon Gaspar acted as a disguise for Moriarty when dealing with people involved in her criminal empire. She used him for two reasons: to avoid meeting face-to-face with someone and to not let Moriarty's gender get in the way of business. She eventually used Devon to call Sherlock and to give him a case. ("Risk Management")
Isaac Proctor was an agent and assassin for Moriarty. He was given orders to assassinate John Douglas when Douglas was beginning to reveal he knew why Irene Adler had to die. When the police tracked him down through paint he bought for Moriarty he went on the run. When he found out his get-away car, that was supplied to him by Moriarty, was rigged to explode he decided to ruin Moriarty's plan by killing Sherlock Holmes. He was killed by Moriarty when Proctor broke into Sherlock's home to kill Sherlock. ("The Woman")
Jordan Conroy was the personal bodyguard for Andrej Bacera, a Macedonian ambassador who was involved in the Greek-Macedonian naming dispute and Macedonia's admission to the European Union. During a visit to New York City to meet with the United Nations, Conroy allowed Theophilus to enter Bacera's home and assassinate Bacera and his wife. After Theophilus completed his job and was ensured his children were alive, Conroy completed his job and killed Theophilus. ("Heroine")
Unlike the other agents, Christos Theophilus was forced into doing what Moriarty wanted when she kidnapped his daughter. Theophilus was compelled to become a Greek nationalist when Andrej Bacera, a Macedonian ambassador who was involved in the Greek-Macedonian naming dispute, visited New York City for a United Nations meeting. He was to kill Bacera because of the naming dispute and to stop Macedonia from being admitted to the European Union and be killed in turn by Conroy, in return for which he was guaranteed his daughter would return to their home safely. ("Heroine")