TFC Guide to shipping: MYSTRADE

Mystrade is the ship name for Mycroft Holmes and Greg Lestrade relationship. The characters are from Sherlock. The BBC adaptation first aired in 2010 and was a juggernaut of the 2012 fandom culture or what we called here at TFC the golden era of fandoms. Do you want to know why this ship is so special?


The Sherlock fandom gave us a great number of interesting phenomena. One of them was Mystrade. Why? Well, the characters involved in this ship didn’t meet on-screen until season 3 but the fandom shipped them since season 2. It is important to notice that 2 years separate these two seasons. So why were they shipped?

How did it all start?

The fandom took notice of Mycroft and Lestrade knowing each other (and being potentially romantically involved) on the 8th of January of 2012 when The Hounds of Baskerville (Season 2, Episode 2) was first aired. In this episode, Lestrade goe on holiday at the same spot Sherlock and Watson are doing an investigation. Sherlock immediately suspects his brother sent the detective to check on him since he had been snooping around a secret government facility. Lestrade seems angry at the presumption and says the line that would put a new ship on the map ‘I don’t just do what your brother tells me’ which implies that he does that. It was never clarified during the show if Mycroft had sent Lestrade there but it showed these two knew each other and communicated behind the scenes.

Why are they shipped?

You will never find an answer to why two (or more) characters are shipped. If it exists, it will be shipped but here are some theories of why Mystrade came to be a staple of Sherlock fandom.

They look good together

Why denying this is an important factor in the pull of a ship. If two characters look aesthetically pleasing together someone is going to ship them. In this case, Mycroft and Lestrade are both attractive middle-aged men whose personalities play well together. The ice-man and the man that cares a lot.


Their  jobs overlap

Both are public servants of a sort. Mycroft is a (very) high ranking government official and Lestrade is a police officer. The government and the force. It is very likely that they not only met because of Sherlock but they probably knew of each other existence because of their line of work.


They are Sherlock parental figures

This one is obvious. Both are Sherlock guardians before John Watson appears in the consulting detective lives. They care about him as he was their child so is easy to assume they would work together to check on Sherlock when he is acting up.


The leftover syndrome

Another term created by TFC! The leftover syndrome happens when the fandom already decided on which. is going to be the main ship but there are a few “leftover” popular characters to be paired up. In the case of Sherlock the main ship was Johnlock and since female/Male ships are usually not that popular in fandom (especially at that time) the fan favourites that were left to ship were Mycroft, Lestrade and Moriarty. The latter was shipped with Sebastian Moran a non-existent character that was created by the fandom. So that left Mycroft and Lestrade on their own.

Mystrade Moments

These two only shared TWO scenes but interacted only in one. During the first episode, we could see Lestrade in the background while Mycroft was talking to Sherlock and John and in Season 3 episode 3 Lestrade goes to Mycroft secret office to help find Sherlock. This doesn’t mean the fans didn’t read between lines… I mean that was the usual thing to do in the sherlock fandom after all. So here are the main moments between these two:

The Hounds of Baskerville (Season 2, Episode 2)

The moment that ignited the ship. This episode made clear that Mycroft and Lestrade knew each other and opened up infinite scenarios. Lestrade referred to Mycroft as sherlock’s bother. Taking into consideration Mycroft’s rank calling him someone else’s brother showed a level of intimacy that the fandom quickly picked on.


The Sign Of Three (Season 3, Episode 2)

During Sherlock’s chaotic best man speech at Watson’s wedding, he explained how easily he coukd kill Lestrade and Mycroft but the fact that he didn’t pause between the two imaginary scenarios made it seem that in order to kill Lestrade, Sherlock just had to break into Mycroft home and suffocate him in his sleep.

Christmas special: The abominable bride

Sherlock went into his mind palace and there he met with Mycroft and Lestrade. Since it was Sherlock’s mind it meant he saw them as a set.

The final problem (Season 4, Episode 3)

This episode tried to please all shippers. In the case of Mystrade, it was clear they went for an open ending. After the traumatic events that went down, Sherlock asked Lestrade to take care of Mycroft because he wasn’t as strong as he seemed. Lestrade promised he will. Even though they didn’t share screen time it was enough to make the shippers happy at the time.


This ship probably ranks in the top 3 of Sherlock ships after Johnlock and Sherolly and competing with Adlock. The ship currently (2/1/2022) has 11289 works on its Ao3 tag. Mystrade ranked into the top 100 most popular ships of Ao3 for 7 years straight (2013 – 2020) It made it to the 45th position during the first Ao3 ship stats and its best placement was on the 34th place in 2015. 2021 was the first year the ship failed to rank into the top 100 most popular ships of the archive.

2013 – 45th place on the Ao3 ship stats.

2014– 37th place on the Ao3 ship stats.

2015– 34th place on the Ao3 ship stats.

2016– 40th place on the Ao3 ship stats.

2017– 42nd place on the Ao3 ship stats.

2018- there wasn’t a ship stat because changes on ao3 made it impossible to gather accurate data.

2019– 49th place on the Ao3 ship stats.

2020– 56th place on the Ao3 ship stats and last year ranking within the top 100.


Usual tropes

The @mystrade-reading-club created a very complete list of tropes associated with this ship. You can download it here! If you can’t download it leave a comment and we will send it to you! Here on TFC, we choose the most seen tropes in mystrade fanfics:

  • Mycroft offers Greg money to spy on Sherlock (Greg doesn’t take it)
  • Mycroft and Greg first met each other years ago
  •  Sherlock sets them up as a joke but it backfires spectacularly on him
  • Mycroft and Greg get together at Christmas
  •  Sherlock blurts out a deduction about Greg or Mycroft’s feelings before they have
    confessed to the other
  • Mycroft and Greg slowly get closer over a matter of years
  • Greg very slowly learns to trust Mycroft
  • Greg can’t stand Mycroft at first until he gets to know him better
  • Sherlock finds out his brother is dating Geoff and is not at all happy
  • Sherlock accidentally deduces they’re dating at a crime scene
  • John actually figures out they’re dating way before Sherlock, but never mentions it
  • Sherlock snitches on the Mystrade relationship with Holmes parents (intentionally or
    by accident)
  • Sherlock breaks into Mycroft’s flat/house and discovers something he shouldn’t
  • Greg and John commiserate on the pains of dating a Holmes
  • Mycroft overworks himself to the point Greg has to step in/assist
  • They share Mycroft’s umbrella
  • Lestrade is the only one that can call Mycroft by a nickname
  • Sherlock constantly “erase” the memories of them being together
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Hamlet is our Editor-In-Chief and co-founder of The Fanfic Collective. She has a degree in Communication Studies. Hamlet is currently an English teacher and part-time dancer. She landed on the world of fanfiction after reading a Jonas Brothers fic when she was 12. Her main fandoms are Sherlock, The MCU, Good Omens and Buzzfeed Unsolved. You can catch her on AO3 as Igraine_Smiley.

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