Sherlock fans have a lot to look forward to in the very near future, since season 4 of the BBC series is going to be kicking off the new year. 2016 has been, by a lot of metrics, a pretty rough year. So it will be nice to have something to look forward to so early on in 2017. On the flip side, it is unfortunate in that Sherlock season 4 very well may be the last this series sees of new episodes, and Doctor Strange may be to blame.

Series co-creator Mark Gatiss recently spoke with TV Line about the upcoming three-episode season of Sherlock. For fans of this modern adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's works, his response wasn't overly encouraging. Here is what he had to say.

"We honestly don't know. These three [episodes], we've very, very pleased with them. And everybody's very keen to carry on. It's just genuinely difficult to schedule everyone's diaries. It was a nightmare to schedule this season... and that's not going to go away. I mean, the success of Doctor Strange is not going to make Benedict short of work."

Mark Gatiss definitely has a point, because Doctor Strange was a massive hit for Marvel. So far, the movie has grossed $656 million worldwide and it has yet to open in Japan. Not only that, but he is scheduled to appear in Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War as The Sorcerer Supreme and *spoilers* but the post-credit scene in Doctor Strange set up a sequel quite nicely. That in itself is a pretty full load, but Benedict Cumberbatch is a very in-demand talent, so he will surely be lining up other projects as well.

It is starting to seem like everyone working on the show sort of expected that Sherlock Season 4 may be the last, so they are probably not going to leave us on a cliffhanger this year. That definitely seems to be how showrunner Steven Moffat feels, based on a statement he released about the upcoming season back in April, which also points toward it being the last. Here is what he had to say.

Related: Sherlock Season 4 Trailer Promises Dark Days for Benedict Cumberbatch

"Sherlock series four -- here we go again! Whatever else we do, wherever we all go, all roads lead back to Baker Street, and it always feels like coming home. Ghosts of the past are rising in the lives of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson and terror and tragedy are looming. This is the story we've been telling from the beginning and it's about to reach its climax."

Not only is Benedict Cumberbatch quite busy, but Martin Freeman is also keeping quite busy outside of Sherlock. Oddly enough, he is also part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe since he was in Captain America: Civil War. So Sherlock fans are going to have to squeeze every bit of enjoyment they can out of these next three episodes, because season 5 is definitely starting to seem out of the question. Sherlock season 4 is set to debut on January 1, 2017.

Ryan Scott