The Case of the Fractured Fandom
But then in 2014, just after Season 3 of the show aired, a user posted a very elaborate fan theory online. When I say very elaborate, I mean it was tens of thousands of words of high-minded literary analysis that began by interpreting a BBC report on queer representation and then went on to closely read every episode of Sherlock, the shot composition, the score, the colors, the lighting, the dialogue, the references, the letters in the character’s names, all with a helping of string theory.
The idea all this analysis led to was that John Watson and Sherlock Holmes were not only characters with gay subtext who should be together, they were gay characters who were going to get together in the show. Johnlock was going to happen, for real, most likely in the then-upcoming Season 4.
This became known as the Johnlock conspiracy: TJLC for short. Much of the theory is based on close textual analysis, the kind an English teacher would love. But TJLC wasn’t based only on close readings of the show. You have to understand, Sherlock and John could only be getting together if the creators were lying to viewers—because the creators said, over and over, no way, it’s not going to happen. Now, to be fair, the creators did often lie. Steven Moffat, who was also the showrunner for Doctor Who, is especially well-known for misleading fans and the press about specific plot points in the shows he makes, both in interviews and at panels at fan conventions. But when it came to questions about Johnlock as a romantic pairing, the showrunners became particularly unequivocal.
But among the Johnlock shippers there are further schisms: the "Toplocks" and the "Bottomlocks." I leave it to you to deduce the meaning therefrom, but at a certain "Con" there was a discussion panel where emotions got quite frayed when a panelist who was a Toplock shipper was confronted by Bottomlocks who accused her of being a terrible person for such heresy.