British television is so coy, you never know when a new season will arrive! After three years (three years!), our favorite high-functioning sociopath is finally making a return to the small screen for the fourth season of Sherlock on the BBC.
Based on the 19th/early 20th century short stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle about a quirky, genius, pipe-smoking, violin-playing private detective, the series brings Sherlock Holmes into the modern world with aplomb. Since airing in 2010, Sherlock has not only succeeded in introducing the world to international acting treasure Benedict Cumberbatch, it's also done one hell of a job creating confounding mysteries we're still scratching our heads over.
With the upcoming Season 4 now on the horizon, let's get out our magnifying glasses and carefully examine everything we know, from the latest news and rumors to the premiere date, the cast, the plot, spoilers, and theories. Here we go:
'Sherlock' Season 4 News, Rumors & Updates
We know the exact time the first episode of Season 4 will air:
The first episode, "The Six Thatchers" will air New Year's Day at 8:30 pm in the UK, meaning 3:30 pm EST. Time to whip out your pipe and sit in your comfiest chair!
The BBC releases new, enigmatic promo called "It's Not A Game Anymore":
While this promo doesn't give us any new information (unless anyone spots something on the desks and walls around the two protagonists?), it does do its job of hyping us up for the Season 4 premiere.
The BBC releases new Sherlock Season 4 images:
The new images released give us a first look at new villain Culverton Smith and Watson with a baby. Check out a couple of them below and head to the BBC website for the full slide-show.
Benedict Cumberbatch thinks Sherlock Season 4 could be the end:
The BBC's Sherlock star, Benedict Cumberbatch, told GQ UK that he thinks Season 4 might be the end of the series:
“It might be the end of an era. 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.”
While the news is sad to all Sherlock fans, it's understandable given the increasing fame of both Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. Since the first season of Sherlock they've starred in movies and shows such as The Imitation Game (which earned Cumberbatch an Oscar nod), Fargo, the Hobbit movies, and the upcoming Marvel movie Doctor Strange. And let's face it, once you're in a superhero movie you've kind of hit peak.
Sherlock's Facebook reveals new Season 4 episode titles:
While the third episode's title is nowhere to be found (or does that "?" mean more Irene Adler?), the first two are quite telling because they both correspond to titles of Conan Doyle's stories about the famous detective: "The Six Thatchers" is probably "The Adventure of the Six Napoleons," while "The Lying Detective" is likely Doyle's "The Adventure of the Dying Detective."
"The Adventure of the Six Napoleons" is about a man who destroys busts of Napoleon in search of a black pearl, while "The Adventure of the Dying Detective" sees Holmes fake mortal illness to catch a "scientist" who killed his own nephew by injecting him with seemingly the same disease.
The latter correlation also makes sense given the casting of Toby Jones as Culverton Smith (the name of this murderous pseudo-scientist in Conan Doyle's story), who will appear in Episode 2, now titled "The Lying Detective."
Show co-creator says we've all missed something blindingly obvious:
Is a sneaky clue hiding right under our noses? That's what show co-creator and Mycroft Holmes actor Mark Gatiss just suggested at a talk at the Victoria & Albert Museum, stating:
“People also find things that aren’t there. Which is my favorite. And then miss the blindingly obvious things that are there. People read an awful lot into it.”
He also hinted that Season 4 will be the culmination of carefully laid plans:
“There are things that come to fruition in this series which we’ve been planning for years.”
During the talk, Gatiss also put to bed the popular fan theory that Moriarty's suicide was somehow based on a Grimm fairytale:
"That would have required a dossier — like a really annotated episode guide. That's obviously not going to happen, because this has to be something for the casual viewer."
In other Sherlock news, the first promo image for Season 4 was released at the end of August, giving us a look at the slick main duo:
'Sherlock' Season 4 Premiere Date
As per tradition, the Sherlock Season 4 premiere date will be on January 1, 2017.
'Sherlock' Season 4 Trailer
The Sherlock Season 4 trailer was released in July at San Diego Comic-Con. Starting with an ominous, “Something’s coming. Maybe it’s Moriarty, maybe it’s not. But something’s coming,” the trailer is dark and tense throughout. And indeed, this tone is in keeping with what showrunner Steven Moffat said about Season 4 in an EW interview back in March:
"It’s dark in some ways — obviously it’s great fun and a Sherlock Holmes romp and all that — but there’s a sense of… things… coming back to bite you."
Let's just hope it doesn't get too dark and gritty!
'Sherlock' Season 4 Recap And Review
The Sherlock seasons might be short and sporadic by American standards, but after each 90-minute episode there's usually a lot to unpack. Once Season 4 starts on the case, we'll post all our Sherlock recaps and reviews that comb each episode for evidence.
'Sherlock' Season 4 Theories
Throughout its first three seasons, Sherlock has kept us on the edge of our seats with head-scratching mystery after head-scratching mystery. While we've been given plenty of big reveals on the show, there are several questions that continue to spiral through our minds, not least of all: Is Moriarty dead or alive? Here are some of the most popular Sherlock theories making the rounds:
- Moriarty faked his death by using an unloaded gun and a fake blood pouch.
- Sherlock and Moriarty planned the whole thing together. Think:
OK, maybe not. Moving on!
- The Moriarty we've seen so far isn't the real one. Moriarty is in fact a many-faced organization.
- Moriarty is the other half of Sherlock's split personality, as this Redditor posits.
- Mycroft or Sherlock made the Moriarty video we saw at the end of the Season 3 so that Sherlock would be able to come back to London, but he is dead.
- Moriarty is dead, but we'll still see him in Season 4 locked in Sherlock's mind.
'Sherlock' Season 4 Characters
The gaggle of Sherlock characters seem to have leaped straight off the page and arrived seamlessly into the modern world. Check out who's who below:
— Sherlock Holmes: A genius private detective with a photographic memory and problems relating to "normal" people, Sherlock is a complex protagonist and a self-defined high-functioning sociopath.
— Dr. John Watson: Recently returned from the war in Afghanistan where he was a doctor, Watson shares an apartment with Sherlock and documents their crime-solving adventures, while also acting as Sherlock's liaison to the social world.
— Jim Moriarty: Sherlock's arch nemesis is the enigmatic, emphatic, volatile Professor Moriarty. Completely insane and possessing an intellect to rival Sherlock's, Moriarty is the ultimate foe.
— Mycroft Holmes: Sherlock's possibly more awkward older brother works for Scotland Yard and is, as described by Sherlock, "the most dangerous man you've ever met." However, Mycroft has proven time and time again that he cares deeply for his little brother.
— Mary Morstan: While she's introduced as Watson's love interest (and future wife), it becomes abundantly clear that this super-spy has a lot of secrets.
— Irene Adler: "The Woman," the only one to have ever successfully pulled Sherlock's heartstrings while tantalizing his mind, is an unforgettable Sherlock character. Adler is an enigmatic rival, friend, and perpetual question mark.
— Detective Inspector Greg Lestrade: The bumbling inspector with the London police force inevitably and begrudgingly comes to Sherlock when he's stumped on a case.
— Mrs. Hudson: Rounding out the Sherlock characters, the landlady and definitely "not your housekeeper" at 221B Baker St. is the older lady who routinely checks up on the two men upstairs, adding her bizarre anecdotes to the mix of clients and intrigue.
'Sherlock' Season 4 Cast
The Sherlock cast is one hell of a talented bunch. Take a look at some of the main the actors on the show:
— Benedict Cumberbatch: He's been playing the titular character, Sherlock Holmes, since Season 1. He's also known for The Imitation Game, Doctor Strange, 12 Years a Slave, The Hobbit Trilogy, and more.
— Martin Freeman: He's played Dr. John Watson, even with that horrible mustache, since Season 1. He's also know for The Hobbit Trilogy, Fargo, The Office (UK), and more.
— Andrew Scott: The Irish actor has been playing Sherlock's nemesis, Professor Moriarty, since Season 1. You've probably seen him in Spectre, Saving Private Ryan, Alice Through the Looking Glass, Victor Frankenstein and Denial.
— Mark Gatiss: He's been playing Mycroft Homes, Sherlock's brother, since his dramatic introduction in Season 1. He's also one of the writers for Sherlock, and it's clear to see he's got a mind for mystery since he's written and acted in projects ranging from Doctor Who to Agatha Christie's Marple and Poirot.
— Amanda Abbington: She joined the Sherlock cast as Watson's not-so-elementary wife in Season 3. She also appeared in Agatha Christie's Poirot and a myriad of TV shows, including Mr. Selfridge, Cuffs, and Case Histories.
— Lara Pulver: She's been in the Sherlock cast since Season 2, but her character is still as seductively enigmatic as ever. You might have seen Pulver in Robin Hood (the 2009 TV series), True Blood, Edge of Tomorrow, and Da Vinci's Demons.
— Rupert Graves: He's been playing Inspector Greg Lestrade since Season 1. You might have seen him in The Family, The White Queen, Agatha Christie's Marple, Death at a Funeral, and V for Vendetta.
— Una Stubbs: Bringing Mrs. Hudson to life in Sherlock has been a resounding victory for Una since Season 1. What a glorious portrayal! You can also see her in Golden Years, Midsomer Murders, EastEnders, Agatha Christie's Marple, and many more titles.
'Sherlock' Season 4 Spoilers
In terms of new Sherlock spoilers, back in May of this year, Toby Jones was cast as Culverton Smith, who is — as described by show writer Steven Moffat — "one of Doyle's finest villains." While IMDb only credits him as being in Episode 2 of the new season, he could still play a significant role.
He first appears in Doyle's story The Dying Detective, in which Holmes pretends to be deathly ill in order to get Culverton to confess to having infected and killed his nephew with the same deadly virus for scientific study. But what sort of villain will he prove to be on the show?
In other Sherlock spoiler news, the three names in the Tweet below were revealed at this year's San Diego Comic-Con. While we know that Sherrinford is one of the names Conan Doyle played around with for Sherlock, how do you think it'll tie into the show?
Where To Watch 'Sherlock' Online
Although Season 4 isn't out yet, you can watch Sherlock online (Seasons 1 to 3) at the following websites:
— Amazon: You can watch all three seasons of Sherlock on Amazon, paying either $6.99 per episode or $11.99 for each whole season.
— iTunes: You can also watch all three seasons on iTunes for $6.99 per episode.
— Xbox: You can watch Sherlock Season 1 to 3 on Xbox streaming, paying $4.99 per episode or $28.99 for each season.
— Vudu: You can catch all three seasons of Sherlock on Vudu for $4.99 per episode or $14.99 – $19.99 per season, depending on your quality preference.