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Steven Moffat issues foreboding message about ‘Sherlock’ season 4

After torture, murder, and interpersonal mayhem, it's hard to imagine things getting worse. 


Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Internet Culture

Posted on Aug 27, 2014   Updated on May 30, 2021, 5:03 pm CDT

According to Sherlock writers Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, the show’s fourth season will be even “darker” and more “devastating” than before.

For context, the third season of Sherlock opened with Sherlock being tortured in a Serbian prison, following his apparent death and the suicide of terrorist supervillain Moriarty. By the season finale, John’s new wife had betrayed him and shot Sherlock in the chest, and Sherlock had killed a man in front of multiple witnesses. But according to a recent interview with Steven Moffat, “We have a plan to top [season three]. And I do think our plan is devastating.”

This seems to be a common theme at the moment, with Moffat’s other show, Doctor Who, also taking a darker tone in its latest season.

anytime steven moffat declares a new series of sherlock or doctor who will be DARKER!!11!! and SADDER!! i just roll my eyes

— Hannah (@Hanxx) August 26, 2014

great so in Season 4 we can expect darker and more devastating episodes that’s great because Sherlock getting shot wasn’t that at all

— alex (@AlexGroapa) August 27, 2014

PhotoManip: My answer to all the talk about how #Sherlock S4 will be so much darker ??????????

— anyon (@anyo_haseyo) August 8, 2014

“Darker Sherlock episodes” It’s as if the previous seasons weren’t depressing enough.

— Grizzel Calida (@GrizzelCalida) August 27, 2014

So, how will Sherlock get darker? Perhaps John and Sherlock will investigate someone who tortures puppies and kittens. Maybe the show will get more explicit during the scenes where murder victims are blown up or dismembered. Or, horror of horrors, we’ll finally see Sherlock wind up in jail as a result of one of his many crimes.

Of course, the most likely explanation is that the show will get darker by killing off Mary Watson, thus giving both John and Sherlock some an extra excuse to be angry and miserable. John’s wife dies in the original Sherlock Holmes stories, and the show already has a pretty terrible track record with female characters. But since Steven Moffat likes to pride himself in his unexpected plot twists, he might just surprise us yet.

At this point Mary’s survival would seem relatively “dark” in itself, because it would require John to raise a child with someone who lied to him throughout their relationship, and shot his best friend in the chest.

Photo via 3series/Tumblr

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*First Published: Aug 27, 2014, 12:36 pm CDT