How A Sherlock Superfan Affected The Course Of The Show

Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss have spent a lot of hours putting together new episodes of Sherlock, and most of the time the opinion and theories of friends and fans alike don’t come into the writing process. However, this week Moffat revealed during a San Diego Comic-Con panel that one friend and fan of the show did have a huge effect on the way Season 3 was written—and he didn’t even know it. Here’s the amusing story:

There is one from my friend Paul Cornell, a very fine comics writer. [He] came up with the brilliant theory about how Sherlock Holmes got hold of a dead body that looked like himself, based on the fact that the child screamed at him in ‘The Reichenbach Fall.’ And Mark and I looked that and thought ‘That ties off that problem,’ so we nicked it. And I’m not sure we ever told Paul. He, I think was very pleased that he’d actually guessed that. He doesn’t know to this day I don’t think that he made it up!

What Moffat is referring to is the Season 2 finale and the Season 3 opener of Sherlock, which wrapped up a plotline relating to the faked death of our titular hero. During the Season 2 finale, “The Reichenbach Fall,” Sherlock faked his death whilst battling foe Moriarty. While a dead body was present on the scene, the end of the episode featured Sherlock Holmes hiding in the shadows while John suffered near his grave. Then, the Season 3 opener gave us a bunch of interesting theories regarding how Sherlock faked his death, including some outlandish moments but also a story from Sherlock himself, in which he revealed how he elaborately escaped death and used look-alike dead body procured by Molly to prove he was no longer alive.

So, while Moffat says the show usually doesn’t look into fan theories while writing episodes of the drama, in this one case, at least a fan and friend did come up with an idea that had a profound influence on the series. The rest of putting together the series relies on the vast “tonnage” of Holmes stories that have rarely, if ever, been used in TV and film. And Moffat and Gatiss are super concerned about the details. Steven Moffat even says he and Gatiss spend a ton of time looking into the details and fixing some of the "careless" mistakes Sir Arthur Conan Doyle made while writing.

During the Comic-Con panel, footage from Sherlock’s upcoming Victorian special was also released, and Moffat also shared some great tidbits relating to frequent fan-favorite character Irene Adler and her fate on the popular series. It will still be quite some time before we get new episodes of Sherlock, and the one-off special is not even expected to premiere until “soon-ish,” but at least we are finally, at least, getting some great tidbits related to the popular drama once more.

You can check out more from the Comic-Con panel on the next page.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Jessica Rawden is Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. She’s been kicking out news stories since 2007 and joined the full-time staff in 2014. She oversees news content, hiring and training for the site, and her areas of expertise include theme parks, rom-coms, Hallmark (particularly Christmas movie season), reality TV, celebrity interviews and primetime. She loves a good animated movie. Jessica has a Masters in Library Science degree from Indiana University, and used to be found behind a reference desk most definitely not shushing people. She now uses those skills in researching and tracking down information in very different ways.