Sherlock fans were left reeling after Mary Watson was killed off in the first episode of the fourth series.
The character, played by Amanda Abbington, died after leaping in front of a bullet intended for sleuth Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch).
It came at the end of the series opener, entitled The Six Thatchers, which had seen Mary and John Watson (Martin Freeman) become parents and Sherlock start investigating why someone was destroying images of Margaret Thatcher.
Viewers took to social media to express their shock after Mary’s death.
There had previously been speculation about what would happen to Mary, inspired in part by the character’s fate in Arthur Conan Doyle’s original stories.
Amanda – who recently split from real-life partner Martin after a 16-year relationship – has said: “I like the idea of her not being there forever.
“She wasn’t (there forever) in the books, so I don’t think she should be in this. It’s about Sherlock and John, and it should be about them.
“I don’t want her to become the third wheel.”
However, several viewers believe a twist might see the character back on our screens.
The new three-part series of the BBC1 show picked up where the previous season left off almost three years ago.
Since then, fans have had to make do with just a one-off special last year that took the characters back to their Victorian roots.
The next instalment, The Lying Detective, airs at 9pm on BBC1 on Sunday January 8.