A 'Sherlock' & 'Doctor Who' Crossover Won't Happen But Here's Why You Shouldn't Be Upset
The Doctor Who and Sherlock fandoms are a tricky landscape. There's a lot of overlap, for one, and legendary amounts of passion. There's also a lot of division, and a lot of Steven Moffat. So what happens when you combine all of these things? Well, we might never really find out now: Moffat's confirmed a Doctor Who / Sherlock crossover is not meant to be. Alas.
Moffat talked the crossover potential at a Q&A over the weekend, throwing out Sherlock stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, and co-creator Mark Gatiss as the spoilsports stopping this thing from blowing up the tumblrs:
They’re all in the way. I’m not the killjoy, it’s that lot. It’s probably not going to happen.
But here's my question: In what world would I actually want a Doctor Who/Sherlock crossover to appear on television? In fantasy gifsets, yes, it's fucking amazing. But there's a bit of a gulf between what works in tumblr gifsets and meticulously edited fan videos and what works on actual TV. Because there's something missing from Moffat's explanation for why it might not work:
You know in some ways, I think Mark [Gatiss] has got a point when he says that however good you imagine [the crossover], it would be almost better in your imagination than it would be if the two grand old egotists actually met. They’d just both go off in opposite corners and sulk that there was someone cleverer than them
That thing is genre. Sherlock, for example, doesn't exist in a universe that would allow for Doctor Who. This ain't Lost, and this ain't Alias: You can't just throw sci-fi mythology in there and expect everyone to just shrug and be like "cool." Can you imagine if a TARDIS just plopped down in Season 4 of Sherlock all nonchalant? That wouldn't just be jumping the shark, that would be tapdancing on the shark and then gutting it in front of us. Moffat's already a divisive showrunner — this would make him legendary, and probably not in a way he wants.
That's not to say that the characters of Sherlock and the characters of Doctor Who could never meet: Doctor Who, for its part, is practically tailor-made for the Doctor to pal around with Sherlock Holmes, or Arthur Conan Doyle, or any combination. Having Benedict Cumberbatch be there as Sherlock's Sherlock is what wouldn't make a damn lick of sense — but the Doctor's already spent time hanging with Agatha Christie, and Shakespeare and plenty of others. The dude gets around, and surely there's some alternate dimension or far-off planet where he could meet the fictional detective.
So, no, a Sherlock/Doctor Who crossover can't happen in canon. A Sherlock Holmes/Doctor meet-up, though, very well could. And if you're just invested in seeing the Doctors hang with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman's interpretations, well, I've got news for you: The Internet's been doing that for ages.
Like, they've done it a lot.
In fact, they often bring Supernatural into it, too, just for good measure: