Sherlock fans have had a long time to prepare for the idea that Benedict Cumberbatch’s ever-expanding career might not leave much space for regular seasons, and the upcoming fourth might mark a major endpoint. Cumberbatch suggest Sherlock Season 4 is “the end of an era,” and “pretty hard to follow on immediately.”

Cumberbatch offered a scant quote to GQ in a recent profile, suggesting that Season 4 ends with enough closure to keep Sherlock on the back-burner longer than the multiple years fans already endure between seasons. Cast and crew have previously spoken to revisiting Sherlock every few years in the decades to come, something Cumberbatch might be hinting at after Season 4:

It might be the end of an era. It feels like the end of an era, to be honest. It 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.

Set to premiere sometime in 2017, with Toby Jones as its villain, some leading titles, and the first of three new feature-length episodes to be helmed by Doctor Who and The Flash director Rachel Talalay, so reads the first synopsis:

Sherlock will return to screens with three brand-new episodes promising laughter, tears, shocks, surprises and extraordinary cases…

Series four begins with the nation’s favourite detective, the mercurial Sherlock Holmes, back once more on British soil, as Doctor Watson and his wife, Mary, prepare for their biggest ever challenge - becoming parents for the first time.

When last we heard, showrunner Steven Moffat had plotted through a potential fifth season of the series, to say nothing of additional specials in the vein of The Abominable Bride. Along with the surprise resurrection of Season 3 finale “His Last Vow,” Moffat also specified that Sherlock Season 4 would likely see increased roles for the women of the series, particularly Molly Hooper (Louise Brealey) and Mrs. Hudson (Una Stubbs).

In the meantime, stay tuned for the latest Sherlock Season 4 updates as they arrive.

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