Prior to the release of "Sherlock" season 2, co-creator Steven Moffat offered three words as a teaser: "Woman," "Hound" and "Fall." Those hints were fairly easy to decipher as references to Irene Adler from "A Scandal in Bohemia," "The Hound of the Baskervilles" and Reichenbach Falls, the location where Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes seemingly met his demise during the events of "The Final Problem."
But much like the modern day Sherlock Holmes, the original incarnation of the Great Detective faked his death and continued to have adventures with his partner, Dr. John Watson.
Earlier today at the Edinburgh TV festival, Moffat appeared alongside his "Sherlock" co-creator, Mark Gattis, producer Sue Vertue and Andrew Scott, who played James Moriarty during the first two seasons. During the panel, Moffat revealed that the three teaser words for "Sherlock" season 3 are "Rat," "Wedding" and "Bow."
Thus far, speculation has centered upon the Conan Doyle's "The Giant Rat of Sumatra," "The Noble Bachelor" and "His Last Bow" as the clues laid out by Moffat. However, Gattis has previously confirmed that "The Adventure of the Empty House" would be used for the first episode; as it was the story that confirmed the survival of Sherlock Holmes while reuniting him with Watson and dealing with the last of Moriarty's threats.
"The Giant Rat of Sumatra" isn't actually a Sherlock Holmes story by Conan Doyle. Instead, it was a reference made by Holmes as a story that the world was not ready for during "The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire." In "The Noble Bachelor," Sherlock and Watson investigated the disappearance of a bride on her wedding day. However, Moffat's "Wedding" hint could also refer to Watson's wedding to a woman named Mary Morstan in "The Sign of Four."
While some observers have speculated that the reference to "His Last Bow" is a hint that "Sherlock" is ending after season 3, the original Conan Doyle tale is a spy story set in World War I. As for fears that "Sherlock" is ending prematurely due to the rising fame of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, both actors have expressed their willingness to continue the series. Cumberbatch even said "I'll always do 'Sherlock,'" during a recent interview.
"Sherlock" season 3 will begin filming in January 2013, with a likely Fall 2013 premiere date in the UK.
What do you think Moffat meant by "Rat," "Wedding" and "Bow"? Share your theories in the comment section below!