ByPeter Flynn, writer at
An advocate for understanding the phenomenological wonder of the moving image. Also Tremors is the best.
Peter Flynn

Does anyone else like the idea that Steven Moffat just accidentally made Sherlock one of the best shows on TV, and is now simply trying to prolong this amazing run before it all comes crashing down? Maybe that's a cynical way to look at it, but when you examine the use of Andrew Scott's Moriarty, you may see what I mean!

It's really hard to say whether Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss are running out of ideas for Sherlock Season 4. The show comes and goes in such bursts that it's hard to even track a discourse of the production. Sherlock Season 4 represents a departure for the show, venturing out from the neat trilogy structure, where it risks being critiqued for jumping the shark or outstaying its welcome. After so much time, Moffat will make sure to keep assuring us that this is the same Sherlcok we left last year, and what better way to do that than by reintroducing fan favorite villain, Moriarty?

But wait. Perhaps Moriarty shouldn't return. Perhaps the cliff hanger at the end of Season 3 should remain one, for any attempt to bring Moriarty back risks acknowledging that Sherlock has lost its freshness. Let's debate the arguments for and against bringing back Andrew Scott as Moriarty in Sherlock Season 4!

A case for Moriarty to return in Sherlock Season 4!

This move for Sherlock Season 4 seems a no brainer for many fans, for Moriarty simply represents the main conflict in Sherlock. We love ourselves some hero villain dichotomy, and it just seems irrational to take that away as this show pushes on into the future.

He's Sherlock's rival

Sherlock and Moriarty
Sherlock and Moriarty

Much as is the situation with Batman and the Joker, the conflict between Holmes and Moriarty seems to be a background necessity. They don't need to always be facing off, but if one of them were to disappear, the compelling dynamic would be lost. The two men are different sides of the same coin. Brining Moriarty back would strangely reflect the case of "The Reichenbach falls", where Arthur Conan Doyle killed off Sherlock Holmes only to begrudgingly bring him back due to fan demand. Will Steven Moffat be forced into a similar situation?

He's tenacious

Fans are somewhat split about the style of storytelling Moffat indulges in where a seemingly impossible situation is left to ferment for a year, before it's answered with a solution that's equally as ridiculous as the setup. After the "miss me?" Season 3 finale, fans are once again speculating over how Moriarty could have possibly survived a gunshot to the face, and bringing him back in Season 4 would force the show back into that crazy question, crazier answer model of story.

A case against Moriarty to return in Sherlock Season 4

So call me a grump or a party pooper all you want, but I perhaps subscribe to this school of thought just a little more. Here are a couple reasons for Moriarty not to return in Sherlock Season 4 despite popular demand.

His death was final

Did we really miss him?
Did we really miss him?

If I could be assigned the role of TV sheriff, I would gladly take it. My job would be marching around all the most popular shows, making sure they didn't render death completely obsolete in their universe. Sure, it's always a little shocking when a character you thought was dead for sure pops up out of nowhere, but an over-reliance on this can diminish any weight a character death could have in future. Sherlock already did this with its titular character, and doing it with Moriarty too could just render the watching experience a case of seeing how Moffat can explain his way out of whatever hole he's dug.

This could lead to bigger things

I'm of the opinion that creators should always reserve the right to deny fans what they want if it provides for a more interesting and propulsive story. So what if people want Moriarty back? Letting his death lead on to bigger things is always more interesting than simply conjuring him up once more. If this could lead to what some people have been calling "the Moriarty collective", where a group of shadowy individuals all assume the role of Jim Moriarty, I would be in total support of it!

What's your take? Should Moriarty be brought back for Sherlock Season 4, or should he be left dead, for the show to move into unknown territory? Write a post about it here on MoviePilot, vote in our poll, or leave a comment below!


Should Moriarty appear in Sherlock Season 4?


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