"Many Happy Returns" is a seven minute long prequel mini-episode to series three of Sherlock. It was first released on the BBC iPlayer on 24 December, 2013, before transferring to the interactive Red Button service on 25 December, 2013, and was available for viewing until 2 January, 2014.
A Buddhist ceremony in the Himalayas is being conducted by a hooded abbot. He goes along the line, saying "Tashi dalek" to each monk in turn. He pauses at the last monk and instead pulls back their hood, to reveal a blonde drug smuggler.
In a pub, a bearded Anderson has just relayed this case to DI Greg Lestrade, saying that the abbot was Sherlock Holmes. Greg says that it wasn't, as Sherlock is dead after falling from the roof of St Bartholomew's Hospital. Anderson then tells him about the Incident in New Delhi.
Inspector Prakesh is facing the paparazzi. He relays the story of the case, saying he could find the killer by calculating the distance the chocolate flake had sunk into the victim's ice-cream cone. He leaves the room and finds a mysterious man outside. He tells the man that solving the case was all done to him and checks that he does not want to take any of the credit.
Anderson reminds Greg that Sherlock never took the credit when he solved all of Greg's case. In response Greg lists three cases he solved by himself: The Klein Brothers, the Tower House case, the Kensington Ripper. Anderson then tells Greg about the Hamburg case of the Mysterious Juror.
A foreman addresses a jury, asking whether Herr Trepoff is guilty of his wife's murder. Eleven jurors all say he is not guilty, but not the mysterious juror at the end. The sensation of Trepoff's sentence is then reported in two newspapers.
Anderson insists that the mysterious man is Sherlock, but Greg thinks otherwise. He reveals that Anderson lost his job from fantasizing about Sherlock before leaving the pub to visit John Watson. Greg visits John's house, bringing a box of Sherlock's possessions that had been left at his office. These items include a DVD, the uncut version of John's birthday message from Sherlock.
Later on, John is having a glass of whisky alone and decides to put on the DVD. Sherlock is on camera at 221B Baker Street getting ready for the birthday message. He rechecks his excuse and decides on a suitable ending for the message. John expresses his wish that Sherlock should stop being dead. Sherlock then speaks his message for John, but John pauses just before the end to answer the door.
In the pub, Anderson smiles at the fact that Sherlock is returning. Greg passes a newspaper with the headline The Game is Back On and smiles cynically at it. Back in John's house the DVD plays and Sherlock smiles and winks at the camera.
- Sherlock's visit to Tibet is a reference to "The Adventure of the Empty House", where Holmes mentions he met the Dalai Lama.
- The ice cream deduction is based on "The Adventure of the Six Napoleons" where Holmes solved the mystery of Abernetty family by noticing the depth to which the parsley had sunk into the butter.
- The trial of Herr Trepoff is a reference to The Trepoff murder case mentioned in "A Scandal in Bohemia".
- The yellow mask in the box from Lestrade is a reference to "The Adventure of the Yellow Face".
- According to the football results seen in the paper, Man City vs. Ajax 2-2 and Schalke vs. Arsenal 2-2, the episode takes place 7 November, 2012.
- This incident is documented in John's blog which is dated 5 October.
- The Pink phone from "A Study in Pink" is seen in the box from Lestrade.
- According to Anderson's map, after Hamburg, Sherlock is sighted in Amsterdam, and then Brussels.
- There is no jury system in Germany, it was abolished in 1924. However, Mark Gatiss mentioned on Twitter that he is aware of the lack of a jury in Germany and that's why they called it unusual circumstances.
- We are briefly introduced to Charles Augustus Magnussen’s news corporation in this episode—CAM Global. A newspaper by CAM Global can be spotted after Trepoff is declared guilty.
- Benedict Cumberbatch – Sherlock Holmes
- Martin Freeman – John Watson
- Rupert Graves – Greg Lestrade
- Jonathan Aris – Philip Anderson
- "Sherlock Mini-Episode: Many Happy Returns - Sherlock Series 3 Prequel - BBC One". BBC. Retrieved 2014-07-13.
- Sherlock mini episode to air on Christmas Day via BBC Red Button, Paul Jones, Radio Times, 3rd December, 2013.
- Sherlock mini episode: new details and times released, Susanna Lazarus, Radio Times, 22nd December, 2013.
- Lidster, Joseph. "Many Happy Returns". BBC.
- "Mark Gatiss on Twitter". Twitter.