In BBC's Sherlock series (Series 2 Episode 1, "A Scandal in Belgravia"),

Jim Moriarty says to Irene Adler: "If you have what you say you have, I'll make you rich. If you don't, I'll make you into shoes."

What does he mean?

Googling led me to a link that that is probably enlightening, but unfortunately, not for me.

So if this is a play on words, then what are the possible meanings?


2 Answers 2


Expensive shoes are made from leather. Leather is tanned hide. Hide is skin. Making shoes from Adler is a threat/promise that Moriarty will skin her (i.e. remove her skin, probably while she is alive).

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    Note that Moriarty did not intend to literally skin Adler - he was using an ugly and suggestive metaphor. He was using it to describe the pain (even death) he would inflict on her if she was lying.
    – Daniel
    Feb 22, 2012 at 15:11
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    @Daniel δ: What in the world makes you think that? Pure, unbridled squeamishness? We may also note that the "shoes" version is a just an expansion on his initial reaction, where skinning was specifically what was promised.
    – chaos
    Feb 22, 2012 at 15:16
  • Even for a toughie, skinning wouldn't be the most efficient torture. I should probably have included the word necessarily, but I can't edit my comment anymore. I was mainly establishing the point that it wasn't necessarily literal, for the benefit of @ジョージ
    – Daniel
    Feb 22, 2012 at 15:18
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    Also Moriarty is truly insane (in the TV show where the line originates). I'll not spoil the ending, but really I think he would have shoes made of human skin if the fancy took him. Feb 22, 2012 at 15:34
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    @chaos - indeed. Although I think Daniel's point was meant to be for a general threat rather than specifically for Moriarty's. Feb 22, 2012 at 15:48

It's not a play on words, but Moriaty is being playful here. The fun he's having is in the repetition and juxtaposition of the snowclone "If you X, I'll make you Y".

For purposes of threatening harm for being deceived he could just as easily have said "[...] I'll bake you into a pie", which in context with the preceding statement is a clumsy rhyme without the poetic juxtaposition.

While the literal meaning can be taken as to skin alive, I suspect Moriaty is being metaphorical here.

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