- "Think you can trust me?" (punches Artemis) "Now you can trust me."
- ―Holly Short[src]
Do not engage
Holly Short arrived in Haven City on a transport, where an automated voice informed her that she had two minutes until an upcoming security briefing. As she walked along, a news ticker ran by her, stating that the Aculos was missing and that the prime suspect was her father, Beechwood Short. A news broadcast stated that doubts were mounting regarding the handling of the crisis. She pushed through a group of goblins from Howler's Peak and met with Mulch Diggums, a reprobate "giant dwarf" who had just been sentenced to 400 years at Howler's Peak. She asked him what he was in for and he told her it was tunneling and entering, asking her to put in a good word for him, saying that he was an artist. "Yeah, a con artist," she replied and he told her that they would make a great team in crime. She asked if that was his plan and he said it was a lifestyle choice, before showing off her wallet, which he had picked from her pocket. He asked her to think of her children, but she told him that he didn't have any. "Not yet," he replied and she left, him shouting after her that her name was Short and his whole body was short.
At the security briefing, Holly was mocked by one of her co-workers as "Shorty." After an address by Commander Root, she told her that she had a new lead on her father, but Root didn't want to hear it. She ordered her not to investigate, giving her a word of advice that she was 84, young, and had her whole life ahead of her. She could be a good officer if she didn't make things personal. She should let the others take care of the Aculos. Later, with all other active-duty officers on the search for the Aculos, Holly was assigned to a case: a member of the People unaccounted for on the surface. She was ordered to investigate, but not engage. She was launched by Foaly in a lava tunnel, warned by him to not get out until he gave the all-clear, or she would be in pieces.
As Holly prepared to launch, Briar Cudgeon appeared, asking if it was really the best they could do to send in the daughter of the traitor Beechwood Short. Commander Root replied that he wasn't fit to say his name. Holly arrived above ground, where Root reminded her that her orders were containment until the Memory Wipe team arrived. She arrived on-scene at Martina Franca, where she discovered an Italian wedding dance in progress, which was interrupted by a very massive and very ugly troll. Upon seeing the troll attacking a young girl, she engaged the troll and saved the girl, while Commander Root enacted a time freeze. She then despaired as she watched Holly use magic to heal the young girl. The troll continued to wreak devastation, but Holly managed to drive it to distraction until finally the time freeze could be put in place. Commander Root then ordered a mind-wipe of all the humans. She congratulated Holly on her good work and ordered her to get home immediately.
Rather than going home, however, Holly took what Foaly described as a "slight detour." Commander Root asked where she was going and she replied that it was to clear her father's name. Root grumbled that she would have her badge for this. Nevertheless, Holly arrived at the Hill of Tara, unaware that she was being watched by the young Artemis Fowl and Domovoi Butler. She discovered a tag with her father's name, but before she could investigate further, she was shot down by a dart from Domovoi. "We got one," declared Artemis. Commander Root announced that she was launching a full-scale recovery.
Holly awoke at Fowl Manor, where she found herself in a cage. She shouted that she was not happy. She had a chat with Juliet Butler and tried to use her mesmer to affect her, but Artemis appeared, telling her that it wasn't going to work, pointing out the sunglasses they were using as protection. Holly asked what she wanted from him and he told her that she was part of the plan. She asked who was in charge and he told her that he was. He told her that she was invited into his home and had to do whatever he said. She replied that he would have to keep her there forever and that her people would come for her. He told her that was what he hoped she would say. She told him that whatever he was planning would fail, as fairies did not negotiate.
As his plan progressed, Artemis returned to Holly, telling her that he had spoken to her boss and that he thought she had gotten the message. She asked how he expected things to end and he replied that it was with him getting what he wanted, his father's safe return. She countered that it had nothing to do with his father, and that he was enjoying what he was doing, thinking he was outsmarting everyone with his suit and sunglasses. He told her that his father was kidnapped and she replied that her father was dead. He asked if he could trust her and she replied that he had no choice. He took off his sunglasses and asked her about her father had died. She told him that it was on the Hill of Tara, where he was ambushed by one of their own kind because had stolen something called the Aculos. Artemis told her that he had read in his father's journals of the Aculos and a fairy sworn to protect it named Beechwood. Holly told him that her father's name was Beechwood and that he knew how dangerous the Aculos could be, that it was like a skeleton key for the universe, so he hid it. She told Artemis that people considered a criminal for it, and he replied that people said the same thing about his father. She said he knew it wasn't true.
Commander Root sent Mulch Diggums into Fowl Manor and Holly told Artemis that she recognized his sound. Artemis said that things were right on schedule and as Diggums broke into a safe, he asked Holly if she wouldn't mess with his brain if he let her out. She replied that she wanted nothing to do with his brain and he opened the cage, then undid her restraints. He told her that he would expose her existence to the world if she ran. She asked if he thought he could trust her, then decked him in the face, saying that she could trust him now. They found Mulch Diggums at the safe, which turned out to contain the Aculos. Artemis reached out to take it, but Holly warned him that it would kill him if he used it, if any human did. He replied that he didn't need to, that his bargaining position had just gotten a whole lot stronger, and that the fairies outside could not be allowed to hear that they have this. Diggums, however, revealed to him an eye-camera, telling him that they already had.
As the time freeze that had been placed over Fowl Manor started breaking down outside, Briar Cudgeon took control and ordered a troll sent into Fowl Manor. Those inside braced themselves, Holly telling Artemis that what they were facing was a creature that could consume humans in 2.97 seconds and fairies in less than one. She warned him that things were going all the way. She told Domovoi that she would need her gun and Mulch Diggums sheepishly produced it, having stolen it. Artemis admitted to her that he not read much on trolls in his father's journals, asking if there was anything he needed to look out for. "The teeth," replied Holly.
Working together, the group managed to topple the troll. Domovoi Butler, however, was badly injured and on the verge of dying. Artemis pleaded with Holly to help, but there was nothing she could do, as her magic had been blocked by Briar Cudgeon at the same time he sent the troll in. As Artemis mourned his dying friend, outside, the officer Chix Verbil requested to be allowed to restore Commander Root's magic. Though Briar Cudgeon wouldn't allow it, Commander Root told him that she hadn't made him a captain for nothing. He shouted for his squad to unblock magic and as the magic poured back into her, Holly smiled and flew over to Domovoi, pressing her hands against his body and bringing him back to full health. The time freeze then collapsed and the fairy forces pulled out, but Artemis said that he had a plan.
A friend's eye
Inside Fowl Manor, Artemis explained to Domovoi and Juliet the jam that they were in. He couldn't give the Aculos to Opal Koboi because it was too dangerous her hands, but it was too dangerous for him to use either. Just then, Holly Short appeared, saying that while it was too dangerous in Artemis's hands, it wasn't in hers. She said she was breaking every rule in the book and he told her that he would trade the Aculos for his father. She asked how she knew she could trust him and he replied that his father used to say that "a friend's eye is a good mirror." She asked if they were friends and he agreed, shaking her hand, that they were forever friends. The proceeded to the Fowl Manor Library, as Opal Koboi was preparing to dispose of Artemis Fowl Sr. Holly told the young Artemis that she wasn't sure if this would even work, but recited an incantation: "Carry me always. Carry me well. I am thy teacher of herb and spell. I am thy link to power arcane. Forget me, and thy magic shall wane."
At first, nothing seemed to happen, but then Artemis Fowl Sr. appeared within Fowl Manor. Artemis Fowl Jr. introduced Holly to him as the daughter of Beechwood Short. He told her that her father was a great man and a dear friend. He told her that he had been trying to protect the Aculos, and did, with his life, a hero, like her. He then handed her a list of names of Opal's accomplices, telling her she would want to investigate. Artemis then took her hands in a final embrace before she used the Aculos's power to exit Fowl Manor. Back in Haven City, Commander Root told her that the Aculos was safe at last, now that they knew their enemies thanks to her. She told her to curb her maverick streak and she would someday make a decent officer, saying that Haven City needed fairies like her. She then asked her to investigate every name on her father's list. "Me?" asked Holly, and Root asked "Well,, who else am I talking to?" Holly then returned to the office, where she received a rousing round of applause from her team. "Here we go," she told them. Later, she flew alongside the two Artemis Fowls, Domovoi Butler, and Mulch Diggums, just after Diggums was broken out of a MI6 interrogation center.
In a deleted scene, Holly Short tested out her Neutrino 2000 weapon, twirling it and finding it to be "Armed and Ready." In "Mulch Meets Butler," Holly Short approached Artemis Jr. and told him that the fun was over and he was under arrest. He asked her if she remembered that he had invited her into the house, reminding her of the rules, that she had to obey him or she would lose her magic forever. Short then turned to Mulch Diggums, who was standing at a shattered window, telling him to restrain the young Artemis or he would spend the next thousand years in a cell filled with goblins. He told her to bring it down, that he was having a bit of a day.
Personality and traits
Holly Short was a driven individual and determined to be the best in the Lower Elements Police. Although skilled at the tools of her trade, her greatest assets were her quick wit and unorthodox methods of problem-solving. Her skills have prepared her for many situations, but nothing could quite prepare her for Artemis Fowl.
Artemis Fowl Jr.
When he kidnaps Holly they get off to a rocky start. Holly hates him. Later they learn to trust each other and become allies. After the troll attack, they become close friends. She is later found flying with Artemis Fowl Jr. while they break Mulch Diggums from M16 Red Fort Interrogation Unit.
Mulch and Holly had met and were semi- friends, Mulch might have had romantic feelings for Holly. After Mulch and Holly met at Fowl Manor, however, they became closer.
Behind the scenes
Holly Short's actress, Lara McDonnell, is featured discussing the character in the behind-the-scenes featurette released alongside the film. She describes her character as one who loves action, who speaks her mind and is a bit of a rebel. According to Kenneth Branagh, she is junior member of LEPRecon who is looking for promotion and perhaps feels that she deserves it. He continues that the fact that both she and Artemis Jr. are very smart and believe that they're right means that a lot of sparks fly when they're together. Author Eoin Colfer describes the character as very feisty and one of only a few females in LEPRecon. McDonnell first read the Artemis Fowl books at age 10 after having finished the Harry Potter series and wanting to read a series featuring another magical world. Her agent then e-mailed her saying that he had for her an audition for Artemis Fowl, which she felt was big. She did her first screen test in Dublin, Ireland and then came to London and met Artemis Fowl II for the first time. Judy Hofflund describes McDonnell as "stunning," stating that in her opinion, she had the role of Holly Short the moment she saw her.