'Sherlock' Season 3: How did Holmes survive the fall?

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Sherlock Holmes ( Benedict Cumberbatch) seemingly fell to his death in the "Sherlock" Season 2 finale. But somehow he survived. The question before the Season 3 premiere, "The Empty Hearse," is how did he live?

Fans will soon get the answer when "Sherlock" returns.

UPDATE: Here's the explanation given in the Season 3 premiere.

Until then, however, all fans have are theories -- and there are many of them. Is the solution to Sherlock's survival to be found in something crazy like aliens (probably not) or in some ingenious invention? Did his brother Mycroft play a part in the death ruse? How could a doctor like John Watson ( Martin Freeman) be fooled?

"Sherlock" creator Steven Moffatt insists that there is indeed an answer and that viewers will learn it in the Season 3 premiere. "It's not a cheat," Moffatt tells the Daily Mail. "We've worked it out. It all makes sense."

What are the most popular theories about how Sherlock did it? Many people think that Holmes fell only a short distance, landing on a cushioned surface like the top of an open truck. Others think that, however Sherlock faked his death, he did so using the time gained when a bicyclist ran into Watson. Mycroft's assistance -- in creating a fake death or hiring complicit doctors -- might be part of the solution.

One rather detailed theory posited online has Holmes using a rubber ball -- seen in the detective's hands before he fell -- to temporarily stop his own pulse.

These are all possibilities, although Moffatt has insisted that "there's a clue everybody's missed." The actual answer will come when "Sherlock" Season 3 premieres on Jan. 1 (in the U.K.) and on Jan. 19 (on PBS in the U.S.).


Photo/Video credit: PBS