A 'Sherlock Holmes' Franchise Universe is Being Planned at HBO Max

Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law as Holmes and Watson in Sherlock Holmes

Warner Media is looking to re-revive Sherlock Holmes for a new decade. The Victorian-era sleuth was last seen on CBS's Elementary, which ended in 2019, and on Netflix in the should-have-been-a-theatrical release Enola Holmes in 2020. Though Enola Holmes is well on its way to a sequel (which will probably debut in theaters), there's a distinct lack of Sherlock TV shows at the moment; an opening that Warner is aiming to fill with two projects in development as part of a larger Holmes Franchise Universe. 

Sherlock Holmes has long been a popular property, ever since Sir Arthur Conan Doyle originally dreamed him up in the 1880s. In 1995, it was estimated there were around 25,000 Holmes-related productions and products, and that was 25 years ago, long before either the Guy Richie films or the Steve Moffat modernization put the character front and center of mainstream pop culture. This partly stems from most Holmes stories hitting the public domain just before Congress passed the Copyright Term Extension Act, making it one of the few recognizable characters going free.

As for WarnerMedia picking Holmes as its next major franchise to develop, that was probably inevitable. The company is desperately trying to keep up with its main rival Disney in terms of content, launching HBO Max to compete with Dinsey+ and believing itself to have a hat trick in DC Comics, Harry Potter, and Game of Thrones capable of competing with Marvel, Star Wars, and Disney Princesses. But things haven't quite gone to plan: DC Films has struggled, Game of Thrones ended badly, and the less said about the Fantastic Beasts films, the better. So Warner is turning to Holmes to fill the gap.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, there are currently two scripted series based on Doyle's character in development. They are viewed as laying the groundwork for an interconnected universe based on the world of Sherlock's Victorian London. Both projects are executive produced by Robert Downey Jr.'s Team Downey with Lionel Wigram, who produced the two Richie films, also on board. RDJ played the lead role in Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes and its 2011 sequel.

Downey is not currently attached to star in either project, though that may be due to things being in the early stages. Jude Law, who co-starred as Watson, is not connected or even mentioned, though he is currently under the Warner Bros. umbrella as part of the Fantastic Beasts franchise. But with the future of that series currently in doubt, this may be a consolation prize for having his run as Dumbledore unceremoniously cut short.

HBO Max and Warner Bros Television refused to comment on the projects' statuses, suggesting that the companies are not ready to announce anything until more pieces are in place. Even if Downey and Law do not star in either show, both series are expected to take on the same irreverent tone as the films.

Holmes fans will have to keep an eye out for more news on a possible TV franchise of their beloved detective. Meanwhile, the 2009 and 2011 Sherlock Holmes films are streaming on HBO Max. 


Ani Bundel has been blogging professionally since 2010. A DC native, Hufflepuff, and Keyboard Khaleesi, she spends all her non-writing time taking pictures of her cats. Regular bylines also found on MSNBC, Paste, Primetimer, and others. 

A Woman's Place Is In Your Face. Cat Approved. Find her on BlueSky and other social media of your choice: @anibundel.bsky.social

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