Why ‘Sherlock’ Fans Shouldn’t Give Up Hope On That Elusive Season 5

Courtesy of Todd Antony/Hartswood Films 2016 for MASTERPIECE

Being a Sherlock fan can be downright painful at times, with the long gaps between seasons and infrequent updates on its return. But it's the modern-day adaptation's whip-smart dialogue, epic plot twists, and impeccable acting that keeps audiences returning, knowing full well they'll have to keep playing the waiting game. It's been well over a year since Season 4 ended, and fans are still wondering if Sherlock will come back for Season 5. Like the BBC show's "high-functioning sociopath," I have entered my mind palace and rounded up all of the clues to answer that frustrating final problem.

It's been over a year since Season 4 premiered, and it was received with tepid reviews at best. The plots were unbelievable, the pace felt off, and the finale, "The Final Problem," had a less satisfying conclusion than its preceding seasons. And while the show ended with some pseudo-closure, after Sherlock and Mycroft's evil-genius sister Eurus was locked away once more and John and his friends raised his daughter together, it's not unthinkable that the show would still return.

As for what Season 5 would look like, some have suspected there will be a time jump. In fact, Redditor Tessinator predicted, perhaps ironically, that the fifth installment is "all about Rosie Watson being a precocious, wisecracking junior detective who's even better than Sherlock Holmes at solving crimes." Slugposse, on the other hand, posited on Reddit that the new season will focus "on episode-contained crimes of the week rather than a season-long arc."

It's a pretty sure bet that Sherlockians would welcome any new episodes with open arms, whether or not they live up to the show's glory days. So what's the current prognosis for a possible Season 5? Well, there are several factors:

The Evidence Of The Busy Schedules

One of the reasons why installments of Sherlock take so long to complete is because of how busy everyone involved is, and this possible hiatus looks to be no exception to that rule. "We do have two film stars in the program," showrunner Steven Moffat told The Telegraph back in 2016. "They haven’t needed to do these jobs for a very long time. They’re coming back because they want to."

Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays the titular consulting detective, has had his hands full with roles like Doctor Strange in both his own Marvel film and, more recently, Avengers: Infinity War. Not only that, but he's headlining a new Showtime series, Patrick Melrose, and his non-Marvel film career will no doubt continue to be prolific. Martin Freeman (Dr. Watson) has also been a busy bee, and is starring in a new Netflix movie, Cargo — a post-apocalyptic thriller set in the Australian outback out on May 18. The Hobbit actor plays a Marvel character of his own, appearing in both Black Panther and Captain America: Civil War as Everett K. Ross.

The Case Of The Impending Dracula

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And then there are the showrunners themselves. Steven Moffat and co-creator Mark Gatiss, who also plays Mycroft Holmes, are at work on another literary adaptation — a new Dracula. “I’m really not telling you anything about what we’ve got,” Moffat told Radio Times about their Dracula vision. “We know what we’re doing, but we’re not saying it yet.”

However exciting their Dracula project sounds, Moffat told Radio Times in the same interview that their vampiric series will probably take two years to complete. “We’re not going to do Sherlock whilst we’re doing Dracula," he said. That means audiences will have to wait two more years for Sherlock — if it returns at all.

The Problem Of The Dueling Stars

Courtesy of Ollie Upton/Hartswood Films & MASTERPIECE

Not only that, but it has recently seemed as though Cumberbatch and Freeman are (very politely) at odds about the series. Freeman was recently quoted in an interview with The Telegraph as saying that Sherlock was "not fun any more," citing the high expectations from fans as the number one reason. Cumberbatch responded to that comment in Radio Times, saying, "It’s pretty weak to blame that on fans. You’re either along for the ride or not, and I think to be kowtowing would, in some cases, disappoint fans."

Freeman clarified his comments in an interview with The Guardian, saying:

"I didn’t say that Sherlock isn’t fun for me any more. I never said that. I was talking about different aspects of expectation of some fans. What I resented was it made it sound like I was saying doing Sherlock isn’t fun. There’s a lot of people I love on that show and that show has been extremely good to all of us.”

Does that mean that the dynamic detective duo will never reunite? Not necessarily. Freeman also told The Guardian, "I think there could possibly be more with [Sherlock] — but at the same time, the way that the last one ended did feel like, if there’s more, it won’t be for a wee while."

The Verdict

"Nobody has ever closed the door on Sherlock." Moffat told Radio Times. "We just say the same thing all the time and it gets quoted different ways." He went on to speculate, "I would remain surprised, given the collective enthusiasm we have for it, if we didn't do it again. When? I don't know." This seems promising, if not slightly disheartening that there seem to be no definite plans. But never say never!

"It’s not the kind of show that has to come back all the time," Moffat continued. "It can revisit. Every time Sherlock comes back, it’s a reunion show."

Hopefully, audiences will see the bristly Sherlock and his faithful sidekick Holmes reunite on Baker Street again before too long. Or perhaps Tessinator over on Reddit is right, and there will be a new cast of characters in #221B. One day, Rosie Watson may have a deerstalker cap of her own.