Benedict Cumberbatch Charms Comic-Con, Teases 'Sherlock's' 'Darkest' and Most 'Ambitious' Season Ever


One day after taking the stage in Hall H for Marvel's Doctor Strange, Benedict Cumberbatch charmed the Comic-Con crowd once again -- this time, for the Emmy-nominated series, Sherlock.

It's been a long wait for season four of the beloved series, which will finally debut in the U.S. and U.K. in 2017. Cumberbatch and company flew out straight from the set after a week of night shoots to attend the annual San Diego convention.

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"We're two weeks from finishing series four. We have to fly back tonight," executive producer and star Mark Gatiss said. "Benedict and I have an enormous scene [to shoot] on Tuesday morning."

"There's about 26 pages of dialogue that we're doing next week. It'll be very interesting," added Cumberbatch.

The British actor celebrated his 40th birthday last week, and the Hall H crowd even did an impromptu rendition of "Happy Birthday" midway through the session!

Fans were given a treat as well -- the first real look at the next three new episodes of Sherlock in an exclusive teaser trailer following Moriarty's shocking declaration that he's back. Like Cumberbatch said, it's dark.

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"There's an evolution to all the characters," Cumberbatch said of the 90-minute episodes. "There's a lot of that in the new season… A lot of things come home to roost. It's the thing of what’s familiar, and it's the thing of what confounds expectations."

"What we're doing now is so ambitious," he added.

Co-star Amanda Abbington echoed Cumberbatch's sentiments, warning that season four is "the darkest that Mark and Steven [Moffat] have written. If we can pull this off, then it's amazing."

"It's a genuine rollercoaster," Cumberbatch said, noting that the signature dry humor is still present. "The learning curve is massive -- with jokes! There are some great jokes. But there are quite a few tears."

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Things got noticeably darker when Moffat warned that some main characters may not make it out alive at the end of season four. "Why is everyone assuming they survive series four?" Moffat teased. Hmmm…

Rumors have circulated that Sherlock could be ending in the near future. Though at the moment, there is no end date in sight, Gatiss joked, "There won't be a season five but there will be a season six."

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In 2015, Cumberbatch became a father himself, welcoming a son with his wife, actor and director Sophie Hunter. When the panelists took a brief moment to congratulate him, the actor blushed at the mention.

Though Sherlock has held several Comic-Con panels in the past, shockingly, this marked the first time Cumberbatch appeared at the convention with his show.

returns in 2017 as part of PBS Masterpiece in the U.S.

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