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Charles Augustus Magnussen

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Charles Augustus Magnussen
Sherlock (2010)
Magnussen
Vital statistics
Sex Male
Nationality Danish
Died 25 December 2014 (Killed by Sherlock Holmes)
Occupation Newspaper Owner
Behind the scenes
Appearances Series Three
Portrayed by Lars Mikkelsen
"There's nothing to be done, I'm not a villain; I have no evil plan, I'm a businessman, acquiring assets. You happen to be one of them. Sorry! No chance for you to be a hero this time, Mr. Holmes."
― Magnussen to Sherlock Holmes [src]

Charles Augustus Magnussen is a powerful and wealthy man who is the owner of several newspapers. He is a known blackmailer, referred to by Sherlock Holmes as the "Napoleon of blackmail" (in parallel to the description of Moriarty, in Sherlock's words in the short stories, as "the Napoleon of crime").

Biography Edit

Series Three Edit

The Empty Hearse Edit

Charles makes his first appearance in a small cameo at the end of the first episode The Empty Hearse watching a recording of Sherlock Holmes and Mary Morstan rescuing John Watson from a bonfire on Guy Fawkes night.

The Sign of Three Edit

During John and Mary's wedding, Sherlock reads one of the telegrams sent to Mary on the occasion of her marriage, which states "Oodles of love and heaps of good wishes from Cam. Wish your family could have seen this." It is assumed that this is Magnussen, taunting Mary on what is supposed to be the best day of her life, by reminding her that he knows how to  find her.

His Last Vow Edit

In the introduction of "His Last Vow", we see Magnussen being questioned by a parliamentary committee. It becomes clear that he owns a newspaper and is meeting with many of Britain's top officials repeatedly. Magnussen denies any ties and lets it hang, however, when the camera shifts into his view, we see that whenever he looks at someone, he views information about them already recorded, and at some point, makes a quick deduction about an MP's "Pressure Point".

This is all done in a way to make it look as if the glasses he wears are projecting some sort of image. Later, we see him blackmailing one of the interrogators, one who wears "Claire-de-la-lune" perfume. And as his triumph gift, he holds her hand, and licks her across the face. The lady is extremely unnerved and disgusted by him. Later, Sherlock breaks into his office, and finds him close to death at the hand of an assassin. An assassin that we all know. Mary Watson.

Mary shoots Sherlock, hits Magnussen, and escapes. It turns out that she is an international assassin originally recruited by the CIA, and then went "freelance".  Magnussen knows all about her and her adventures, so she decided that she wanted to silence him. Sherlock attempts to trade the information out of Magnussen by giving him Mycroft's password-protected (and GPS-located) laptop, and then it is revealed that the place he hides all of the blackmailing material was, instead of a vault dubbed "Appledor" by Sherlock, inside his head, his mind palace.

Knowing that whatever it was that he wanted to spread, he could spread through his own news channel, he destroys all the evidence, yet keeps the knowledge in his head. Magnussen exercises his power on John by flicking his face, and his eye, asking him to keep it open.  In the end, MI6 barge in, and Sherlock shoots Magnussen, knowing that without the actual vaults, all the information would die along with him.

Personality Edit

Cold, calculating, Machiavellian, malicious and an egomaniac, Magnussen displays an extraordinary intellect rivalling that of Sherlock Holmes, but also a callous disregard for social niceties (even resorting to urinating in the fireplace at 221B Baker Street upon his first meeting with Sherlock and John), as well as displaying traits of extreme arrogance and hubris. His extraordinary intellect was his greatest possible weapon, and often engaged in what could be called psychological warfare with Sherlock and John.

He was often cruel and manipulative, not caring about the feelings of others except when they served his purposes. Magnussen also had an extremely eidetic memory, utilising this trait to store incriminating data on individuals of importance in a massive repository located in his mind palace, which Magnussen used to deduce the so-called "pressure points" of individuals to exploit their weaknesses and blackmail them into subservience. 

This particular ability, however, proved to be his downfall as without hard copies, all the pressures points died with him. It is also the reason why Magnussen is easily threatened in front of a gun.

Allusions to the Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Edit

​Notes Edit

  • In The Empty Hearse during the scene in the Empty House fan club, a headline in the news report ticker can be seen reading "Magnussen summoned before Parliamentary C...[cuts out here]".
  • Magnussen is a Scandinavian surname, often used in Sweden, Denmark and Norway. In the episode "His Last Vow" he pronounced his own name with a strong Danish dialect, suggesting that he shared the same country as the actor that portrayed him. Magnussen means "Great One", perhaps a reference to the character's immense power.
  • Magnussen's physical appearance is very similar to that of Vladimir Lenin, who once said "What is to be done now, comrades?" which was mirrored by Magnussen's statement "There's nothing to be done!" Like Magnussen, Lenin was very manipulative, intelligent and had a fixation with controlling people.
  • Magnussen was played by Lars Mikkelsen whose younger brother Mads played Hannibal Lecter in the TV series Hannibal. Like Magnussen, Hannibal is a psychopath but is obsessed with good manners in stark contrast with the barbaric and repulsive Magnussen who insults people at every opportunity.

Appearances Edit

Series Three Edit

References Edit

Start a Discussion Discussions about Charles Augustus Magnussen

  • The best villain . . .

    6 messages
    • "The best villain"....... HAHAHAHAHA.... NO (I mean, have you seen Moriarty? HE was the best villain and NOT Magnussen. Yeah, he killed peop...
    • Yeah but Moriarty thought the best way to win was to shoot himself... hardly genius, is it? (Less he faked it...)
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