Sherlock is currently running the risk of having a world where no one technically dies! You can have the most conclusive, brutal death scene possible, but as long as you can give a clever enough explanation a year later, you'll be fine. Imagine Steven Moffat writing Game of Thrones! Every character would be back next season, but hours would have to be dedicated to explaining their wacky escape plans that let them survive!
Here's how you write incredible television that captivates the minds of a mass audience; just create ridiculously improbable situations, and disappear for up to two years! That's at least Steven Moffat's approach to keeping fans of Sherlock engaged! All we have to tied us over until Season 4 is speculation upon how Moriarty could possibly be alive. Strangely enough, that's a very similar situation to the one we were in a few years back, when Sherlock survived through planning a bunch of contingencies, surviving his hitting the pavement by, well, not hitting the pavement, and even having time to make fun of a few fan theories in the meantime.
Let's give the BBC some more fodder, then, by running down some of the best fan theories of how Jim Moriarty could possibly be able to return to Sherlock Season 4. Moffat has painted himself into a corner somewhat by literally having Moriarty shoot himself on screen. At least Sherlock had the convenience of plummeting out of shot before his supposed death. Moriarty shot himself, with blood pouring over the set for the audience to see. More ridiculous circumstances means more ridiculous theories, so let's run through a few!
Moriarty's gun wasn't loaded
This one is the most straight-forward and theatrical theory. I mean when you have no clue of how something conspires on TV, just explain it away with production values. Of course the gun was empty, because Andrew Scott clearly didn't die on set. Or maybe he did. I wouldn't be surprised if Moffat actually killed an actor to get fans guessing.
This theory suggests there could have been a squib in Moriarty's collar, giving a visceral quality to his staged death. What sways me from this idea is the fact he would have to pretend to be dead for so long afterwards. It's also hard to believe that Sherlock, a connoisseur of corpses, would look at Moriarty and just think "well I guess he's dead. I'd best get on with this scene!"
Sherlock was in on the plan
This one takes a little tweaking of allegiances and logic to make work. The idea of Sherlock and Moriarty both disbanding their legacies at once in an agreed pact needs to have Mycroft out of the picture. Since it was Sherlock and Mycroft's initial plan to allow Moriarty to ruin Sherlock's rep in order to gain intel on his network. It seems Sherlock and Moriarty will have to be made slight frenemies for this to make sense. While that will no doubt complicate things for Season 4, the semblance of an allegiance between Sherlock Holmes and Jim Moriarty will no doubt be interesting.
"Miss Me?" was faked
Let's be honest with ourselves. The final moments of Sherlock Season 3, where Moriarty's face asking "miss me?" is plastered over every screen in England is hardly definite proof that Moriarty is alive. This is like seeing a movie starring an actor who passed away and saying "woah how did he do it?" My point is that this is the perfect way to generate hype for Sherlock Season 4, and may not actually go anywhere. So why the "miss me?" moment in the first place?
Well, this could have been a ploy on the part of Sherlock and Mycroft in order to prevent Sherlock's extradition from the UK. Apparently, Sherlock is the only person in the world who can combat Moriarty's shenanigans, and a mere gif is enough to trick the entire world. A slightly more inventive take on this is one that could lead to a much more exciting show in Season 4.
Andrew Scott is not Jim Moriarty
At least, he is not Moriarty in his truest form. Some fans may decry the notion that Andrew Scott is in fact not the definitive version of their favorite villain, but the fake Moriarty theory opens up a set of interesting possibilities for Season 4. Firstly, the alias, Rich Brook, who Sherlock meets in Season 1, could well have been legit. The actual Rich Brook could have been on the biggest acting job on behalf of someone much more sinister. More likely is the idea that the Andrew Scott we see on screen is Moriarty, but is only the acting stand in for him; a conduit being given orders by the brains of the operation.
Most exciting is the idea that the Moriarty we know is most certainly dead, but the organization surrounding him isn't. This opens up the possibility that Moriarty isn't one person, but is in fact an idea encompassed by many people.This both mystifies and solidifies his network, and presents a more imposing villain for Sherlock to face in Season 4!
Are there any better theories that you would like to see come to fruition, or made fun of in Season 4? Write a post here on MoviePilot, and let's get the Sherlock fandom talking!