In response to the U.S. broadcast of Sherlock, "The Empty Hearse", and the episode's many explicit or implied references and call outs to the show's fanbase, Wired's Devon Malony has written about the distinction between being a 'fan-friendly show' and simply being a show with fan service.

He contrasts the attitudes of Sherlock's actors and creators with other serials, such as Star Trek and Supernatural, which he considers to have more reciprocal relationships with their fans.