It's tough to be a fan of BBC's Sherlock series. With only ten, 90-minute episodes having been released since the show's premiere in 2010, investment in the adventures of the world-famous detective (and his trusty sidekick, Watson) is the province of the waiting fan. It's already been over two years since Season 3's cataclysmic conclusion, with only the special, "The Abominable Bride", to tide fans over the past year.
Season 4 is coming, however, and is set to debut in 2017. Fans have little to go off of on what to expect, but it's promised to be climactic. Other than the new episodes' classic titles and an ominous Comic-Con trailer, we only have word that the new villain, played by Toby Jones (Captain America: The First Avenger), is going to be more than a match for Sherlock, and will be "the purest evil" he has yet faced.
In an interview with Variety, star Benedict Cumberbatch discussed Sherlock season 4 in terms that sound definitely finite:
"It might be the end of an era. It feels like the end of an era, to be honest. It 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."
More heartening, however, was Cumberbatch's sentiment that the thought of never returning to the character was "galling."
Cumberbatch has had a busy schedule of late. This November, he is set to appear in Doctor Strange, an all-new Marvel solo franchise. Marvel even adjusted the production of Doctor Strange to accommodate Cumberbatch's busy schedule with his stage performance in Hamlet and Sherlock season 4. But now that Cumberbatch has been locked into the MCU, it has already been rumored that Strange will appear in next year's Thor: Ragnarok and now confirmed that he will appear in the mega-crossover film, Avengers: Infinity War. This alone doesn't make additional episodes of Sherlock out of the question. Plenty of Marvel's Avenging actors have had time for smaller projects in-between saving the MCU. But with Cumberbatch's star on the rise, it could be that committing to additional seasons of television may no longer be the best use of his talents.
Despite its relatively short seasons, the Sherlock series has already hit some fairly resounding climaxes. As sad as it may be to say goodbye, most fans (including Cumberbatch) would likely prefer going out on a high note than dragging the series past its prime. Hopefully, if season 4 truly is the last, it will send the show out with the bang it deserves.
Sherlock season 4 will air in 2017 on BBC One and PBS.