Every now and then I stumble across Sherlock/Harry Potter crossover fanart, which features the cast of Sherlock in Hogwarts robes. In some cases, the fandom pretty much unanimously agrees on a character’s house; (for example, Molly is always portrayed as a Hufflepuff and Mycroft and Moriarty are always portrayed as Slytherins). In the case of Sherlock and John, however, there seems to be a huge divide. With Sherlock, the debate lies in whether he is a Ravenclaw or a Slytherin, and with John the debate lies in whether he is a Gryffindor or a Hufflepuff. I have my opinions on both, but for this particular post, I’m just going to focus on John.
I believe that John is a Gryffindor, but before I explain my reasons for that, I want to explain my reasons for why I don’t see him as a Hufflepuff. Because quite frankly, I can understand it. Hufflepuff would easily be my second choice for him. I just don’t think that he meets the standards for Hufflepuff as well as he meets the standards for Gryffindor.
The defining trait of Hufflepuff is loyalty, and it is John’s loyalty to Sherlock that primarily seems to encourage fans to Sort him this way. While I agree that John is undoubtedly loyal to Sherlock, I disagree that John actually possesses Hufflepuff-level loyalty. (No offense, John.)
You can’t base someone’s loyalty as a whole on their loyalty to one specific person. Yes, John is incredibly loyal to Sherlock. But what about the other people in John’s life? Sarah, perhaps? Jeanette? How about all of the other girlfriends who didn’t even get any screen time? John doesn’t appear very loyal to them. Think about the way that Jeanette reacted during the Christmas scene in Scandal: To most people, canceling your plans to make sure that your best friend doesn’t overdose seems like a reasonable, selfless thing to do. Jeanette wouldn’t have gotten angry like she did if this was the first time that John had canceled plans with her for Sherlock’s sake. If that was enough to make her break up with him, it must have been something that John was doing on a regular basis. Then, to prove my point even further, John offers to walk her dog, and thus reveals that he can’t even keep all of the women he’s dated straight in his mind.
Now, for those of you who are about to say I only feel that way because I’m a Johnlock shipper, the same argument can apply to John’s non-romantic relationships. What about his sister, Harry? You know, that sister who gets mentioned all the freaking time, but we never actually see? John even admits in A Study in Pink that he and Harry don’t get along, and during the scene in Scandal where Sherlock deduces him at Irene’s house, we find out that he hasn’t phoned her. Does this sound like a loyal brother to you? Don’t get me wrong; I’m not trying to suggest that John doesn’t care at all. Obviously he cares, otherwise she would not be in his life at all. He does seem to be making an effort, but considering that Harry has been trying hard to reach out to him, and that she probably needs someone to help her get through her alcoholism and divorce, you would think that John would neglect her a bit less.
Okay, so John is not loyal to everybody. But still, you might argue, his loyalty to Sherlock is so strong, that surely that is enough to make him a Badger? I say no, simply because of his reasons for being loyal to Sherlock— at least initially. Things are different later on, of course. (I’m thinking specifically of John grabbing on to Moriarty during the climax of The Great Game, but I’m sure there’s plenty of other examples.) After a certain point, John is indeed immensely loyal to Sherlock just because he’s Sherlock, but to me that is something that transcends Houses. Gryffindors and Slytherins are also known for going great lengths to protect their best friends, significant others, family members, or other such figures of importance in their lives, and Luna Lovegood is proof that Ravenclaws are willing to go those lengths too. If your bond with another person is strong enough, I doubt that there is much you wouldn’t do for them, no matter what your House traits say, and John and Sherlock undoubtedly have a friendship that runs on the deepest levels possible.
Let’s talk about the scene where John first meets Mycroft, for a moment. John turns down Mycroft’s offer to spy on Sherlock for monetary gain, and Mycroft remarks, “You are very loyal very quickly.” But is he? I mean, think about it— this guy called John on a pay phone; demonstrated that he can control CCTV cameras; pressured him into getting into a strange vehicle without telling him his destination; confronted him in a mysterious warehouse; refused to tell him who he was; revealed that he knew who John was, his potential address, and the fact that he had a therapist; and offered him money to do something dishonest for him. Do you really think it was loyalty to Sherlock that made John turn down this offer, bearing in mind that John had only met Sherlock the day before? Personally, I think that most normal, sane people would turn down this offer, no matter what the job was. That situation was sketchy as hell! As far as bad first impressions go, Mycroft Holmes went above and beyond.
So no, John was not always as devoted to Sherlock as he is now, which brings me to my first point as to why I believe John is a Gryffindor. Consider the reason why John first decided to become more than Sherlock’s potential flatmate: Sherlock brought John back to the battlefield, so to speak. Before John’s infamous “Oh God, yes,” line in Study in Pink, Sherlock was strictly a random guy who could probably help John pay the rent. After that, they became, for lack of a better word, colleagues. What sparked that transition? John wanted to go back to the battlefield. At that point in time, it had nothing to do with Sherlock. It was all about John wanting to feel like a solider again. To me, that screams Gryffindor.
And let’s talk a little bit more about John being a soldier. Because technically, John was an army doctor— this implies that he spent more time treating the wounded that actually fighting in the war himself, but the series suggests multiple times that that was not the case. Remember when John is strangling Sherlock in Scandal, and he says, “I was a soldier. I killed people.”? Obviously he did more than doctoring. In fact, the only times the show ever mentions the fact that John is a doctor are when Sherlock requests his medical expertise, when John got the job in Banker, and when he’s being addressed as “Dr. Watson.” Otherwise, the emphasis on John’s military career seems to be his experience in the battlefield, as evidenced by his psychosomatic limp, his expert skills with a gun, and the way John himself speaks of it. In other words, had the focus been on him being a doctor, then those who say that John is a Hufflepuff would have a slightly more convincing argument. Instead, the focus is on him being a soldier, which evokes Gryffindor.
Lastly, we must consider John’s bravery. Being brave alone is not enough to make one a Gryffindor— consider Cedric Diggory and Nymphadora Tonks, both Hufflepuffs. Not only is John brave, but he also values bravery. He is not pleased when Mycroft refers to bravery as “the kindest word for stupidity.” Sherlock tells John not to make people into heroes, because he can see that John holds such people in high regard. John isn’t just brave and a hero in himself; he also believes in bravery and heroes, more so than a non-Gryffindor would.
Conclusion: Although he does have Hufflepuff-level loyalty for Sherlock, Sherlock had to appeal to John’s Gryffindor traits in order to receive that much loyalty from him; plus John does not extend that much loyalty to other people that he probably should. Although being a doctor also suggests Hufflepuff, being a soldier suggests Gryffindor, and John identifies primarily as a soldier. Therefore, John Watson is a Gryffindor.