Sherlock co-creator Steven Moffat has suggested that the detective will not be facing his original nemesis Moriarty in future series.
As far as fans know, Moriarty died at the end of series two, having shot himself ahead of Sherlock’s now legendary dive from the top of a hospital building.
But if Sherlock can survive that – and we know that he does – could his arch-enemy also have faked his death?
While Moffat doesn’t answer that question for sure, he has made it clear that Moriarty (Andrew Scott) will not feature heavily in future series of Sherlock and that fans should expect new adversaries for Benedict Cumberbatch's detective.
“Moriarty’s a one-shot deal in the original [books]. I don’t want [Sherlock] to turn into a show that’s about one villain and one hero,” said Moffat.“Moriarty was great because he was a surprise. Every time you bring him back he won’t be as big a surprise.
“We need to find new villains, we need to find new ideas, otherwise the show doesn’t keep growing,” he added, in an interview by Delphine Rivet for French websites reviewer.fr and Le Village.
And Moffat suggested he would be returning to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original stories to seek inspiration for Sherlock's future adversaries.
“There are other great villains in [the Conan Doyle books] that we want to visit. We have to keep the show growing otherwise it won’t surprise you. Once you get the measure of it you’ll just get critical - if we keep surprising you and keeping you off balance you won’t.”
A transmission date for the new run of Sherlock is yet to be announced. Following the finale in January, Moffat and co-creator Mark Gatiss took to Twitter to reveal that the third series had been commissioned at the same time as the second.