My Six Favorite Clyde Moments on Elementary

Joan, Sherlock and Clyde - Elementary

The program Elementary is many things. At its heart, it is a police procedural. But, it goes so much further than that. It is also a modern retelling of Sherlock Holmes. And it is a story about friendship. Furthermore, it is a story about human frailty and psychology.

Programs such as Elementary that for the most part deal with serious topics need something to soften them a bit, in my opinion. This softening can be done in many ways. You can have a character that provides comic relief via snarky comments or literal comedy. Another way to soften a program is to include animals.

On Elementary, we have Clyde the Tortoise. Clyde is very popular. So popular that he even has his own Facebook and Twitter accounts! I don’t know where he finds the time to be so active on social media, but perhaps he has trouble sleeping like Sherlock. And, not only that, but there is Clyde swag for those so inclined! No joke, this little guy is on top of the world!

It is not hard to understand why he is so popular – he is just adorable! For the record, Clyde is a Russian Tortoise, played on screen by two different tortoises that are swapped out for each take. I looked it up, and tortoise is a subspecies of turtle that lives on dry land. Let’s take a look at our dauntless tortoise and my favorite moments involving him.

Rescuing Clyde

Joan, Sherlock and Clyde - Elementary

We first meet Clyde in season 1 during episode 13, “The Red Team.” While Sherlock was investigating the fact that Len Pantecorvo, an acquaintance from a conspiracy theory website, was not responding, Len was discovered to be dead. Sherlock found Clyde at Len’s home and decided to rescue him. As it turned out, there was also a listening device hidden in a fake rock in Clyde’s habitat, so his existence was important to the investigation.

Now, despite making several jokes about cooking Clyde, Sherlock had no intentions of harming Clyde and instead welcomes him into the Brownstone. This was the start of a quirky and fun relationship.

Clyde the Consulting Detective

Clyde - Elementary

Sherlock has been known to use Clyde as part of his investigative process. In season 1, episode 19, titled “Snow Angels,” the city is in the grips of a raging blizzard, and yet an ambulance carrying stolen money seemingly disappears.

In order to help visualize what could have possibly happened to the ambulance, Sherlock creates a map showing the checkpoints within the city. Clyde plays his part well as the missing ambulance, complete with a red cross made of tape on his shell.

Clyde the Alarm Clock

Clyde - Elementary

Like any working turtle, Clyde must earn his keep in the Brownstone. Thus, Sherlock presses him into service when needed. One of those instances is his sometimes use of Clyde as an alarm clock for Joan. In season 2, episode 3, titled “We Are Everyone,” Sherlock first uses Clyde to wake Joan up. I have previously written about the creative ways that Sherlock uses to wake Joan up in My 5 Favorite Methods Holmes Used to Awaken Watson on Elementary.

Clyde the Model

Clyde - Elementary

Ever fashion forward, Clyde is always stylish, but sometimes more so than others! In season 2, episode 19, titled “The Many Mouths of Aaron Colville,” Clyde sports the most adorable knitted shark themed sweater. A real step up from the red tape in “Snow Angels” right? Mrs. Hudson was apparently feeling worried about Clyde surviving the harsh winter and knitted some sweaters for him. J. Crew has nothing on Clyde!

Clyde’s Living Arrangements

Clyde - Elementary

In the beginning of season 3, Sherlock returns to New York from London. Joan has moved out of the Brownstone. In episode 4 titled “Bella” it is revealed that Sherlock and Joan have a shared custody of Clyde where he gets Clyde on the weekends and Joan has him during the week. It is nice to know that when Sherlock left unexpectedly for London at the end of season 2, Joan took the homeless tortoise with her. Another rescue!

Clyde, being a sensitive tortoise, does not like it when “mommy and daddy,” as he refers to Joan and Sherlock in his Tweets, fight, so he was delighted when Joan moved into the basement. Just imagine them hanging around the Brownstone, Clyde munching lettuce and Joan and Sherlock bantering over some case. Even the hardest heart must melt at that thought!

Clyde the Artist

Clyde - Elementary

Clyde likes to stretch his creative wings sometimes. Living in a habitat can be awfully confining, so was it really a surprise that he let Sherlock think that he enjoyed painting? Recall that in the third season, episode 13, named “Hemlock,” Sherlock attaches a paintbrush to Clyde and allows him to create a work of art. Sherlock claims that Clyde enjoyed it, and what’s not to like? Move over Jackson Pollock, there’s a new artist in town!


Do you enjoy it when Clyde appears on Elementary? Do you look forward to his appearances? Do you follow him on social media? If you have another favorite Clyde moment that I did not mention, be sure to let me know what it is in the comments section below!

  • Lee Ann

    I love Clyde! For a tortoise, he has a very humanizing touch.

    • ptjackson

      Absolutely! Thanks for your comments!

  • Mark Trammell

    I also loved it when Clyde helped Holmes pick out a music playlist in that one episode. (Technically, Holmes was playing him various songs and putting them into categories of likes and dislikes, but you know what I mean.)

    I always meant to go back and watch the episode online so I could freeze frame it and see what might feature on a turtle’s playlist, but never got around to it. Not sure which episode it was, but it was definitely this season!

    • ptjackson

      Oh, dear – how in the world could I have forgotten that?? Thanks to the wonders of search engines, I have discovered it was in the episode “One Watson, One Holmes” and I found an image of Clyde’s likes and dislikes – see below!

      Thanks for pointing this out!

      • Mark Trammell

        Awesome! Thanks!

        • Mark Trammell

          Hmm…so Clyde is not a TSwift fan, but likes….Goatwhore? Yikes!

          • Mark Trammell

            Looked them up…I remember now. Their music was used on that episode where the murdered computer guy was a big death metal fan, and Holmes listened to his favorite music to try and get inside the victim’s head, so that makes more sense now!

          • ptjackson

            Clyde’s likes are a quite a mix, from Brahms to Goatwhore, which I have never heard of…. 😎 Yeah, I’m old! LOL….

  • Asyoulikeit

    First of all, it’s noteworthy that if this tortoise is named Clyde, it’s most probably a nod to river Clyde in Glasgow, Scotland. It’s a nice way to acknowledge Conan Doyle’s country of origin, Scotland. Secondly, Sherlock Holmes stories were written around the same time as Darwin and Conan Doyle was very interested in Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. Hence the involvement of animals in many of the cases in the canon. Finally, we know that Elementary is quite green when it comes to environmental issues and ecology, especially concerning bees. So, all the more reason why we should enjoy Clyde and what he/she/it brings to the show.

    • ptjackson

      Thanks so much for pointing out all these connections – I had no idea and love to learn this kind of information!

  • quite entertaining article

    • ptjackson

      Thanks- glad you enjoyed it!

  • mlaiuppa

    I really enjoy when Clyde appears. Especially when he sports one of his sweaters (which can be had on Etsy. I looked it up.)

    I wish we’d see more of Clyde. His story line seems to have dried up of late.

    • ptjackson

      Yes, when he was put in hibernation, I thought that was it for the season, but then they brought him out, but you are right, not nearly enough!!

  • Fernando J. Villaseñor

    Clyde rocks!