Did Sherlock have a secret, final episode that never aired? Here’s the origin of this theory and what really happened with Sherlock’s finale.
Sherlock is one of the most popular and successful adaptations of the famous detective Sherlock Holmes, but sadly, its final season was underwhelming, which led to the belief that there was a secret episode from season 4. Created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes is one of the most beloved characters in literature, and his popularity has been such that he and his cases have been adapted to all types of media for over a century. The rights to the character have allowed different artists to make various changes to the Great Detective and his stories, and among those who made significant changes to them and succeeded at it is the BBC’s TV series Sherlock.
Created by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat, Sherlock brought the famous detective and the most popular characters from Conan Doyle’s stories to modern-day London, adapting some of his best-known cases to the modern city and its technological advances. Sherlock (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) was accompanied by his best friend and partner John Watson (Martin Freeman), and the series also brought notable characters like Sherlock’s archenemy Jim Moriarty (Andrew Scott), and his Scotland Yard ally Greg Lestrade (Rupert Graves). Sherlock also saw the fake death of the detective at the end of season 2, after which the series wasn’t the same.
Sherlock was brought back in season 3 and his and John’s adventures continued in a fourth and final season, which is widely considered as the series’ worst. Sherlock season 4 introduced a third Holmes sibling, Eurus (Sian Brooke), and presented stories that were hard to follow and believe, leaving viewers disappointed. This underwhelming final season of Sherlock made way for a “myth” about a secret episode of season 4, which led to wild theories on how the BBC kept it secret and how the episode would be released.
Will There Be More Episodes Of Sherlock?
Theories about a secret fourth episode of Sherlock season 4 began after the second episode, “The Lying Detective”, aired. Some fans believed that the line “there must be something comforting about the number three. Everyone always gives up after three”, said by Culverton Smith (Toby Jones) was a secret tease of a fourth episode that would be released as a final surprise to fans of the series. Others believed that Sherlock’s finale, “The Final Problem”, was all a dream of a comatose John after he was shot by Eurus at the end of “The Lying Detective”, so it was a “fake” ending and the real final episode was going to be released later. Speculation about a secret fourth episode of Sherlock’s final season went as far as to make way for a theory that claimed the BBC One series Apple Tree Yard was the mysterious episode. Unsurprisingly, Apple Tree Yard was a real TV show and a fourth episode of Sherlock season 4 was never released, so “The Final Problem” was the real conclusion to the series (and it was revealed in it that John was shot with a sedative, so the episode wasn’t imagined by him).
Rumors about Sherlock season 5 began in 2017, shortly after season 4 aired, but at the time, a new season wasn’t possible due to Cumberbatch and Freeman’s busy schedules. Back then, Gatiss said season 5 could take longer than two years, and in 2021, Cumberbatch said he would be up for a return to 221B Baker Street, but the main cast was too busy. The latest “update” on a possible fifth season of Sherlock happened in April 2022, with Moffat sharing that he’s still open to bringing the Great Detective back, but again, it all depends on Cumberbatch and Freeman’s availability. Sherlock, then, doesn’t have a “secret” final episode nor are there actual plans for a revival/fifth season, so as underwhelming as it was, “The Final Problem” is the real ending to the series.