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Charles Augustus Magnussen

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Charles Augustus Magnussen
Sherlock (2010)
Vital statistics
Sex Male
Nationality Danish
Died 25 December, 2014[1]
Occupation Newspaper owner
Behind the scenes
Appearances "The Empty Hearse"
"The Sign of Three" (mentioned)
"His Last Vow"
Portrayed by Lars Mikkelsen
"Nothing. There's nothing to be done. Oh, 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 John Watson and Sherlock Holmes [src]

Charles Augustus Magnussen was a powerful and wealthy businessman who owned several newspapers. He was a known blackmailer, referred to by Sherlock Holmes as the "Napoleon of blackmail".[1]

Biography Edit

Charles appears whilst watching a recording of Sherlock Holmes and Mary Morstan rescuing John Watson from a bonfire on Guy Fawkes night.[2]

Later on, Magnussen is summoned and questioned by a parliamentary committee.[1] 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, it is shown 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".

Later, he blackmails one of the interrogators, Lady Smallwood, commenting on her perfume – which is typically used by younger people – and the fact that her husband engaged in an affair with a 15-year-old at some point in the past (not knowing that she was 15) 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. After he falsely identifies them as Lady Smallwood based on the perfume, the assassin turns around and reveals herself to be Mary Watson.

Magnussen knows all about her and her activities as a former CIA agent turned assassin, and fearing that the information would come to light, she attempted to silence him. After the failed attempt, her identity becomes known to both Sherlock and John, who eventually try and trade the information out of Magnussen by giving him Mycroft's government laptop. However, at the turning point it is revealed that "Appledore" is simply no more than Magnussen's mind palace.

Knowing that whatever it was that he wanted to spread, he could spread through his own news channel, Magnussen pictures and stores away his blackmail material in his mind palace, then sends the hard copies somewhere else to be sent for if needed. As they await the authorities, Magnussen exercises his power on John by flicking his face, and his eye, asking him to keep it open. When MI6 arrive, Sherlock shoots Magnussen in the head, knowing it was the only way to get them and everyone else out of his power.

Personality Edit

Cold, calculating, and an egomaniac, Magnussen displayed a disregard for social niceties. A sociopath, Magnussen had a misanthropic view of other people, to the point of possessing a superiority complex.[1] He also displayed traits of extreme arrogance and hubris. Examples of his superiority complex are categorized by his utter disregard for human life, inflated sense of entitlement, narcissistic view on how other people think and behave, and even going so far as to torment his victims to get what he wants.

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

Allusions Edit

Notes Edit

  • During the scene in the Empty Hearse fan club, a headline in the news report ticker can be seen reading "Magnussen summoned before Parliamentary C...".[2]
  • Magnussen is a Scandinavian surname, often used in Sweden, Denmark and Norway. Lars Mikkelsen pronounced this name with a strong Danish accent, suggesting the actor and character shared the same home country.[citation needed]
  • In the Sign of Three, Magnussen sends Mary the telegram signed C.A.M. expressing his regret that her parents weren't alive to attend.

Appearances Edit

Series Three Edit

References Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Moffat, Steven (writer) & Hurran, Nick (director). (12 January, 2014). "His Last Vow". Sherlock (2010). Series 3. Episode 3. BBC One.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Gatiss, Mark (writer) & Lovering, Jeremy (director). (1 January, 2014). "The Empty Hearse". Sherlock (2010). Series 3. Episode 1. BBC One.

Start a Discussion Discussions about Charles Augustus Magnussen

  • The best villain . . .

    25 messages
    • Okay, then it's true that he was hiding hard copies somewhere. I failed to realise that. And I guess we could blame the writers for his dea...
    • maybe those guards were truly loyal and just forgot by accident. No reason is specified beyond the obvious conveniency of them forgetting then...

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