Here’s what we think we know for sure: After giving fans cliffhanger endings in the last couple of seasons, the upcoming fourth round of Sherlock will feel at least somewhat conclusive by comparison. Season 4 is not planned, however, to serve as the final episodes … but it could be.
The final season worries first started a couple months back when star Benedict Cumberbatch was quoted as saying the show might end with season 4, which debuts Jan. 1 on PBS Masterpiece.
“It might be the end of an era,” he was quoted as saying. “It feels like the end of an era, to be honest. [Season 4] goes to a place where it will be pretty hard to follow on immediately. We never say never on the show. I’d love to revisit it, I’d love to keep revisiting it, I stand by that. But in the immediate future, we all have things that we want to crack on with and we’ve made something very complete as it is, so I think we’ll just wait and see. The idea of never playing him again is really galling.”
But now showrunner Steven Moffat tells EW the Doctor Strange star was misquoted. “This is really worth saying because it’s getting exhausting for us all,” Moffat says. “That’s not what Benedict said. That’s what someone edited his words into the meaning of. It seems to be impossible these days not to be misquoted. He was quite specific about being keen to carry on. He went on to say he’s hard to get us all together. We want to keep the quality up. We haven’t even seen this [season air] yet. We don’t know. We haven’t sat down with the intent to anything yet. But we’re always aware that it could be over. But the fact is Benedict did not say that.”
So it would seem the Case of the Fourth and Final Season is now firmly closed.
But … as we were writing this post, another Sherlock interview popped up in our newsfeed, this one quoting star Martin Freeman hinting that season 4 could serve as the final round (and in a radio interview so we checked to make sure outlets were quoting him correctly).
“Life does sometimes have a way of telling you, ‘This is probably it now,'” Freeman told Jim Norton & Sam Roberts when asked when Sherlock would end. “This last [season] did have a feeling of — I don’t know whether it has a finality to it — but it certainly had a feeling of a pause. It definitely had a feeling of that. And I am never ever afraid of things ending. I mean I am not looking forward to life ending or love ending, but things that we make should end.”
If we had to bet, we’d say another season is more likely than not — once the stars warm up to the idea of shooting some more episodes … but we suspect we’ll be waiting at least a couple years. Ultimately, Sherlock‘s future is a currently unsolvable mystery, something that Holmes would appreciate.