Everyone Panicking About the Possibility of Sherlock Ending After Series 3 Needs to Calm Down

All week long I’ve been seeing news pieces about Sherlock pop up in my Google reader, with some variation on “OMG, Series 3 Will Be The Last For The Show!” or "No More Sherlock, Say It Isn’t So?!!” attached.  I swear, I have seen some version  of this article at least 36 times in the past three days, and that’s not counting the emails I’ve received on the same topic. Everyone seems to be suddenly and absolutely convinced that Series 3 will be the show’s grand finale, and is freaking out accordingly.

My thoughts on this boil down to: Everyone, please chill out. 

Since I am not best friends forever with either Steven Moffat or Mark Gatiss, I certainly don’t have any insider information that proves we’ll get a Series 4. But, I think Sherlock himself would berate the (many, many) authors of these articles for seeing without observing and/or not doing their research.  Could Sherlock end next year? It’s certainly possible. But I think it’s unlikely, and I certainly think there’s no reason to panic at this juncture, particularly when the third series doesn’t even exist yet.

Excuse me while I put my earhat, John deerstalker on.

First, let us consider the source. Every single one of these panicked news reports can ultimately be traced back to the same source – an initial report in the UK’s Daily Express citing “unnamed sources” who claim that while stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman “love the show,” it is a “question of schedules” now that the two of them have snagged so many mainstream film roles, and, subsequently, the third series will be the end of things. To put it kindly, anything you read in the Express should generally always be taken with a boulder of salt. They aren’t quite the Mail, but they aren’t that many rungs up the ladder of credibility, either. Every single time they run an article like this it’s always quoting some “unnamed source” or “industry insider” – but, shockingly enough, they never ever attach names to this link bait.  It happens so frequently (anyone remember that piece that swore up and down Cumberbatch was headed to Doctor Who?) that one might be forgiven for suspecting their “sources” are the interns down the hall.

Secondly, the Express piece deliberately lifts its end quote from an interview that Cumberbatch did with Shortlist Magazine that was published last month – it’s not recent, the context has nothing to do with the series ending (rather, it’s focused on whether they’ve talked about Series 3 filming yet) and going by the tone of the rest of the interview, the comment certainly seems to be in jest. Yet its insertion here is used to imply something entirely different - therefore that seems pretty safe to ignore in this particular context.

Moreover, we’re still four months away from the start of filming on Series 3. Other than Moffat or Gatiss (and possibly Cumberbatch or Freeman), no one can possibly know anything concrete about what the new season of Sherlock will look like, what stories it will adapt or what the inevitable ending will be. Given that the principals involved are all busy with various other projects – The Hobbit, Doctor Who, August: Osage County or whatever it is that Cumberbatch is currently working on – the idea that they’ve all sat down secretly and discussed wrapping up the series already seems ludicrous.  Everyone involved with this project seems to view it as a labor of love and the major players have repeatedly indicated that they’d be open to doing the series for as long as they can keep it going. Cumberbatch himself has gone on record as saying that he’ll “always do Sherlock” and that he’d like to play the great detective when he’s fifty (which is at least fifteen years from now, just so y’all know.)

Hardcore Holmesians are justifiably anxious about “bow” being one of Moffat’s “three words,” because the last Conan Doyle story happens to be called His Last Bow and ushers Sherlock off to retirement.  However, technically, that “story” is actually a collection, and contains several other adventures that have nothing to do with putting the detective out to pasture. So, again, we have no idea which of those stories will be featured in Series 3, and things could go in a variety of directions.

The point is: we don’t know what’s going to happen, but it seems pretty safe to say that no one in the press does either. Remember, we’re dealing with the production team that sat on the news of the Series 3 renewal for an entire year before they announced it to the public.  Does it seem likely that suddenly a scheduling story as big as the show’s possible cancellation would suddenly just be out in the press? And that’s not even taking into account the fact that the show is a ratings, critical and financial success for the BBC (notice all the tie-in merchandising), who would therefore probably be more than motivated to work out contracts and deals for a continuation.

Could Sherlock hang up its scarf next year? Of course! Cumberbatch and Freeman are both poised on the brink of movie stardom, after all, and Moffat’s certainly no slouch in the projects-in-production department himself. But the signs certainly point to the possibility of cancellation being much less than what’s being reported all around the internet right now. 

Everyone, seriously, take a deep breath. We’re going to be okay.

Lacy Baugher

Lacy's love of British TV is embarrassingly extensive, but primarily centers around evangelizing all things Doctor Who, and watching as many period dramas as possible.

Digital media type by day, she also has a fairly useless degree in British medieval literature, and dearly loves to talk about dream poetry, liminality and the medieval religious vision. (Sadly, that opportunity presents itself very infrequently.) York apologist, Ninth Doctor enthusiast and unabashed Ravenclaw. Say hi on Twitter at @LacyMB

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