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Red Pants Watson [NSFW!] – Where Did John Watson’s Red Underwear Come From?

John Watson’s Red Pants Are Underwear… not Pants!

It’s difficult to be part of the Sherlock fandom without coming across an image or mention of John Watson wearing red pants/underwear somewhere along the line.

Think something like th– oh wait! We should probably tell you now: this is gonna be NSFW, so if that makes you uncomfortable, it’s probably a good idea to bail now. And, if you’re at work… well, bookmark this page and come back to it.

Otherwise… have some fun and think about pictures like Areyoutryingtodeduceme’s “Red Pants Blend”.

Pictures and stories about Watson’s red underwear are absolutely everywhere. In fact, the meme is so popular it actually started a fan-created holiday! We’ll tell you more about that in a minute.

Thing is, if you’re new to the fandom or have never ran across a picture of Watson in red underwear, you may be asking yourself where this all got started. It’s a good question, as this is an interesting meme with a wealth of related content.

First, let’s clear something up. Yes, this meme is titled “John’s Red Pants” and the holiday we’re going to be talking about is “Red Pants Monday.” But, in England, “pants” is a term used to refer to underwear. So, for all you non-Londoner’s out there, remember that “pants,” here, does not mean trousers.

So John’s Red Underwear. Red Underwear Monday. Watson is wearing bright red underwear…

We know, it’s amazing, but try not to get distracted, eh?

Let’s go back to where this all started:

In September of 2011, the well-known Sherlock fan-artist Reapersun published this image. For those of you who’ve decided to read this article in public but are smart enough not to open this image; it depicts a bound Watson wearing nothing but red underwear.

The post was well-received, due to Reapersun’s popularity, the high quality of the artwork, and the uh… very appealing subject matter. Seriously, as long as you aren’t in public, scroll back up and take a look at it. Or, hell, take a look at it, anyway, if pushing your luck is your thing. Despite the image’s popularity, it took a while for there to be a serious follow-up to it.

But, the follow-up did come.

In July of 2012, a little under a year later, Reapersun and her friend Sexlock (a popular fan-artist in their own right) created a collaborative art/roleplay journal on Tumblr known as Reapersex, dedicated to John/Sherlock slash material (fan-works that depict John Watson and Sherlock Holmes as a couple). Their first post reintroduced Reapersun’s depiction of Watson in red underwear with a picture just as beautiful and racy as the last one, which you can see here.

One of the best things about Reapersun’s open involvement in this meme, by the way, is that she’s actually given her opinion on why she chose red underwear and her personal thoughts on it. But, we’ll save that for later. For now, let’s get into how this became a holiday.

The Creation of a Fan-Holiday: “Red Underwear Monday”

Reapersex was really, really popular, and the fandom latched onto the “John’s Red Pants” thing like glue. So, it wasn’t a surprise when another fan decided to take the meme a step further.

On July 30th, 2012, days after Reapersex started, the Tumblr user Lockedin221B (can we just take a moment to point out how great that name is for a Sherlock fan?) made a post on Tumblr saying:

“John’s red pants everywhere… this really helps alleviate that Monday-ness. Can we just make it a regular thing to have Red Pants Monday?” 

We don’t know why Lockedin221B chose Monday, but apparently the answer to that question was a loud, resounding “yes.” A Tumblr dedicated to Red Pants Monday sprouted up, and things really took off. Every Monday, the Sherlock fandom would be absolutely flooded with fan-art, and even some ‘fics. It became, well… a fan-made holiday. Very few memes have created a response like that, and this was well-deserved.

As expected, given the visual nature of the meme, most of the responses have been from the fan-art community. But, with over 200 posts on A03 tagged “Red Pants,” it’s definitely not the only community to take an interest in Watson’s red underwear.

I mean, just look at all this material.


Author Story – Comments From reapersun

We reached out directly to reapersun herself and are so excited to have her thoughts on her meme!

[Ronnie] Hi there! We just wrote an article investigating the history of Red Pants Watson and were hoping to get your feedback on its accuracy 🙂

[reapersun]  Hi~ It seems mostly accurate; I don’t know about the correlation between ReaperSex and RPM because RPM kinda came out of nowhere for me, but I didn’t feel like it started as a response necessarily to the roleplay blog, since that blog wasn’t getting a lot of attention until about halfway through, though I could be wrong. One other thing I want to mention is that part of the reason it blew up was because I kept doing art trades with some of the other popular artists and even buying some commissions and asking for John in red pants for my own collection; at that point it was my own thing, I wasn’t trying to blow it up into a meme, it was just a cute thing that was easy to ask for when trading art, but I think that played a part in making it more visible and prompting more people to draw it, so it could be considered a little artificial or “forced” in that way. It was almost a little bit of a bummer when it really blew up, because then there were people making red pants art who didn’t even know who I was, and since it had been originally something I felt was very much my own weird thing, that felt very strange. A lot of the original red pants artworks were either trades/commissions or gift arts for me, so once RPM started, they weren’t really gift arts anymore, but rather a community event that existed separately from me, and it took me longer than I’d like to admit to grasp that. I once told someone at a convention that that artwork you have linked was the “first red pants artwork” just to make conversation, and they very clearly didn’t believe me ;w;

I think that was the moment I really realized it. I’m still really proud and happy that something I started became so beloved by the community, even though it wasn’t “mine” anymore.  Any time a community comes together like that over something fun is always a great experience, I don’t want to take away from that.

Was Red Pants Watson referenced in the show?

As far as we can tell, no. This isn’t surprising—it’s a racy subject, and the network would be reluctant to bring it up (explicitly, at least) in the series, itself. Though, we’re holding out hope.

That said, there are rumors that the cast knows about it. Now, as there isn’t video evidence of this, there’s no way to back up these claims, but according to a post made by Deviantart user Drauthor, John’s Red Pants came up during Mart Gatiss’ “The Game is On Q and A.” Most of the cast were confused, but Martin Freeman responded with: “I know. I know what that is,” then called it dirty and the show went on.

Assuming this is true, then we sure hope he meant that in a good way.

Where’s the Red Pants Meme at and Where’s it Going?

Unfortunately for the world at large, the meme did experience a decline in popularity over time. Apparently, sexy underwear has a limited shelf life.

We know; we’re disappointed, too.

Luckily, the meme and its associated holiday didn’t completely die out like some people claim. Go back up to that Tumblr link we gave you earlier. You’ll see new posts there several times a month. Even the ‘fic community helps to keep the holiday going; AOOO has 214 hits for the term “Red Pants,” and there’s at least one new one every month.

What’s more, even if the meme did die out completely, there’s enough extant material to keep you occupied for ages.

We mean that literally. Empires will fall and rise and your grandchildren will meet their own grandchildren before you exhaust the supply of pictures of John Watson in his sexy red underwear.

And we’re not even including comics and ‘fics in that estimate.

But, don’t expect a sudden jump in the meme’s popularity without something big happening.

Red Pants Monday is still a fixture in the Sherlock community, but as it grows older, it’s being overshadowed by newer sexy memes. We doubt it’ll ever fade completely, but it may well wind up relegated to the memories of long-time Sherlock fans.

Wait, What Was That About Reapersun’s Comments on the Meme?

Reapersun has been asked about this meme. Yes; this got so damn big that she had to make a couple of comments.

Reapersun made two interesting points. We’ll knock the easy one out of the way first:

Why did she choose red?

Well, the answer is simple; it’s Reapersun’s favorite color to work with. However, Reapersun’s commentary on the effect of those red briefs is more interesting.

Reapersun has lightly criticized the choice of red underwear. She’s quoted as saying that the red underwear seems

“out of character because John seems like a more practical guy… But then he does wear those occasionally whimsical sweaters so who’s to say? I think they’re a bit juvenile for him, at the very least, and something about a dude wearing underpants that are slightly too young for him is kinda cute.”

Cute indeed. But, it’s a good point—throwing something (sort of) innocent and youthful into such a practical, mature character is a solid way to create an interesting contrast and get people hooked.

And come on, they do look great, don’t they?

Need more Sherlock Memes? Check Out These Other Articles!

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connor johnson

Connor Johnson

Hey-ya! I'm a freelance writer based in Boston, Massachusetts. I've been writing for a little over three years now, handing everything from legal articles to manufacturing whitepapers. I'm a huge fan of superhero comics (both Marvel and DC), and spend my free time writing fiction, playing bass, traveling and exercising. If you want to see more of my work, check out my website: connordjohnson.com

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