Steven Moffat will return if Benedict Cumberbatch does

Steven Moffat will return to Sherlock if Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman do

Sherlock cast and crew L-R: Steven Moffat, Sue Vertue, Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Amanda Abbington, Mark Gatiss
Photo: Jeff Spicer (Getty Images)

If Tumblr really does make a comebackit seems only fitting that BBC’s Sherlock, too, would stage its return. After all, we’ve still got Doctor Who and the Supernatural spin-off The Winchesters (for now). The game is still afoot, my boys, and the world still needs you! Or at least, showrunner Steven Moffat does.

Moffat Customs Deadline that he would “start writing tomorrow” if a fifth season of the mystery series was greenlit, but only if stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman signed on. “They’re on to bigger and better things but, Martin and Benedict, ‘please come back?'” the writer joked.

This has been Moffat’s recurring line about the show, although he acknowledged it Radio Times in April 2022 that it was “fair enough” if the actors wanted to bow out since “they were very loyal to that show over a very long life when it definitely became their lowest paying job.”

As for the crime-solving duo themselves, who have since become varying levels of Marvel stars, neither seem particularly enthused about returning. But it’s not a hard “no”: while Freeman is “a fan of things being finite,” he said Wed The Jonathan Ross Show in November that he’s “also a sucker for a good idea and a good script.” He added, “If something comes up that persuades us all—it would have to be us all—then my door would always be open.”

Similarly, in 2021 Cumberbatch said to Esquire, “Oh look, I still say never say never. You know, I really like that character… it’s just, the circumstances need to be right and I think maybe it’s too soon now to see it have another life. I think, wonderful as it is, it’s had its moment for now. But that’s not to say it wouldn’t have another iteration in the future.”

As it happens, there may be lots of new iterations of Sherlock for the BBC series to contend with if it ever returns. The famed detective finally entered public domain in the United States as of January 2023 (per Forbes). If you thought there was already a glut of Arthur Conan Doyle adaptations on the market, well, now Hollywood can adapt the character for free. Perhaps one will emerge to fill the hole in mystery fans’ hearts left by Moffat’s version.

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