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Sherlock Season 5 - What We Know So Far

To understand just what kind of pop culture phenomenon the BBC's "Sherlock" was (and, arguably, still is), one only needs to look at the career trajectory of its stars. Before the acclaimed modern-day reimagining of the classic detective tales started in 2010, Benedict Cumberbatch (who, of course, plays Sherlock Holmes) was a BBC regular with a strong theater background and a propensity for portraying real-life figures like Stephen Hawking and Vincent Van Gogh. Martin Freeman (Dr. John Watson) was best known as Tim from the British version of "The Office" and Declan from Shaun of the Dead. Now, their CV includes "The Hobbit" movies and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, along with the umpteen other high-profile projects they appear to be involved in at any given time.  

And still. "Sherlock" Season 4 came out in 2017 so everyone's had ample time to binge on the Baker Street boys' adventures many times over. After the end credits of "The Final Problem" roll, viewers inevitably ask themselves the burning question: When, if ever, will we get a fifth season? Let's take a look at what we know so far about the release date, cast, and plot of "Sherlock" season 5.

What's the release date of Sherlock season 5?

If determining the release date of a normal show's next season is a matter of math and research, "Sherlock" would require the talents of the titular character. The first series dropped in 2010, and the next two followed at two-year intervals, giving you a fairly good idea of the show's production schedule in an optimal situation. However, 2016 only brought a single special episode, and season 4 didn't arrive until 2017, throwing off the whole "a season every other year" schedule. What's more, co-creator Stephen Moffat told Radio Times in 2018 that the release date of the eventual season 5 is very much up in the air. 

The biggest reason for the "we'll see" approach may be that the key people are all crazy busy. Apart from Cumberbatch and Freeman, Moffat and co-creator Mark Gatiss (who also portrays Mycroft Holmes on the show) followed season 4 with a "Sherlock"-style horror drama series, "Dracula," which dropped on early 2020. 

In a 2022 interview with Radio Times, though, Gatiss and Moffat once again noted that the real problem is the two stars' availability. "I'd do Sherlock again tomorrow, why ask me? Mark would do it tomorrow, Sue [Vertue, producer] would do it tomorrow -– we'd all just do it again. It's down to Benedict and Martin," Moffat said. 

For what it's worth, though, the door is open for season 5, should the stars align. Cumberbatch stated in 2021 that he'd be fully on board for more "Sherlock" ... in an ideal situation. "Maybe one day, if the script's right. And I say 'the script,' maybe it could be a film rather than the series. Who knows? But anyway, not for now."

Sure, that might not be the greatest news for people aching for more "Sherlock" as soon as possible, but it's better than never.   

Who's in the cast of Sherlock season 5?

The first and foremost condition of "Sherlock" season 5 ever happening is, of course, the return of Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes and Martin Freeman as Watson. Given that Moffat and Gatiss will likely continue to hold the reins whenever the season actually drops, it's virtually a given that Gatiss will also make an appearance as Holmes' ever-pretentious elder brother, Mycroft. 

Apart from the trio, it's anyone's guess who returns for the hopefully upcoming season. The show could easily bring back any of the living characters, with the most likely comeback candidate being the show's overarching villain so far — Sherlock and Mycroft's even smarter and more troubled sister, Eurus (Sian Brooke). In a show like "Sherlock," the unfortunate fact that a character is dead is no reason for them to stay offscreen, either. Jim Moriarty (Andrew Scott), for one, has been particularly fond of posthumous appearances. 

One actor who unfortunately won't be returning is Una Stubbs, who passed away in 2021 at the age of 84. It's very difficult to see anyone else playing Mrs. Hudson, so even if "Sherlock" does return, the character may be unlikely to.

Of course, chances are that there will be plenty of new villains and interesting supporting characters, as well — and if the history of the show is any indication, they're well worth paying attention to. Count on Looper to keep you posted on any developments on this front. 

What's the plot of Sherlock season 5?

Part of "Sherlock's" allure is the way the show is unafraid to mess with the source material. The heavily modernized and reimagined episodes tend to treat Arthur Conan Doyle's classic stories largely as rough inspiration and fodder for copious Easter eggs, which gives the whole show a welcome combination of unpredictability and familiarity. For every nod to the Reichenbach Falls and "The Hound of the Baskervilles," the show is just as liable to turn a story's premise on its head or even introduce a brand-new concept, like Eurus Holmes.

There are still many Sherlock Holmes stories for the show to draw inspiration from, but as always, it's anyone's guess how Sherlock will treat them. We do know, however, that Gatiss has expressed interest in adapting "The Red-Headed League," a complex heist short story (via Digital Spy). If this plan is still in motion, the case's villain, noted criminal mastermind John Clay, might very well give a worthy challenge to the protagonists.