‘Downton Abbey’ Season 4 Scoop: How Mary Will ‘Move On’ From Matthew

Thu, December 27, 2012 12:27pm EDT by 108 Comments
Downton Abbey Matthew Dies
Courtesy of ITV

Spoiler alert: Stop reading if you don’t want the latest ‘Downton Abbey’ twist spoiled. It’s a life-ruiner, folks.

Downton Abbey fans’ dreams for the future were shattered when Dan Stevens confirmed he wouldn’t be returning to the show for its fourth season, thus leaving Michelle Dockery‘s Mary without her other half. Dan’s final appearance on the show aired Dec. 25 in the UK, and broadcaster ITV released a super spoiler-y press release about his departure the following day.

Update: Read Our Recap Of The Season 3 Finale!

“After three successful series and two Christmas editions of Downton Abbey, Dan Stevens decided not to renew his contract beyond the initial three years he had been contracted,” the statement read. “We wish him every success for the future. Michelle Dockery will be returning to her role as Lady Mary in series four which begins production in February.”

“Over the last three years, audiences across the world have been captivated by the ups and downs of Mary and Matthew’s relationship, culminating in their wedding,” the network continued. “Fans have enjoyed what has become a solid and loving marriage. It is for this reason that the Producers decided Matthew and Mary could not simply be estranged or parted, resulting in his untimely and tragic death at the end of the Christmas episode.”

The statement also gave fans a glimpse of what’s to come when the show returns with new episodes in 2013:

“In the next series, alongside all the usual drama, comedy and romance involving the much loved cast of characters, viewers will see Mary adjusting to her life and attempting to move on without the man she loved.”

Matthew Crawley’s Tragic Fate:

Fans’ minds were blown when news first broke that Dan was considering leaving the show, mostly because no one could fathom how his character could logically be written out without causing Downton to jump the shark.

Well, we finally got our answer Dec. 25 during the final moments of Downton‘s Christmas special, A Journey To The Highlands, when — spoiler alert! — Matthew’s car collided with another vehicle, leaving him dead and bleeding in a ditch. It was pretty brutal.

Adding to the tragedy of it all, Mary had just given birth to their son.

Dan Stevens’ Official Statement About Leaving ‘Downton Abbey’:

“We were always optioned for three years, and when that came up, it was a very difficult decision,” Dan admitted to the UK’s Telegraph. “But it felt like a good time to take stock, to take a moment. From a personal point of view, I wanted a chance to do other things.”

“It is a very monopolising job,” he continued. “So there is a strange sense of liberation at the same time as great sadness because I am very, very fond of the show and always will be.”

He also lamented the end of Mary and Matthew’s fan-favorite storyline: “After everything we have been through it will be sad not to see the relationship continue.”

Sad indeed.

Watch Matthew Crawley’s final scene on Downton Abbey below, then drop a comment with your thoughts on the show’s future:

ITV press release

The Telegraph

— Andy Swift

More Downton Abbey on HollywoodLife.com:

  1. ‘Downton Abbey’ Creator Reveals Prequel Plans For Robert & Cora
  2. ‘Downton Abbey’ Stars Get Glam In Vintage-Inspired ‘Vogue’ Germany Shoot
  3. ‘Downton Abbey’ Season 3 Trailers Reveal New Couples & New Tragedies

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Sm Brown

Posted at 10:45 AM on February 13, 2013  

I hope the writer will consider the fans and replace Dan with another actor. He could have been badly injured not DEAD. Give us a break and get another actor…….

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D.A.D.

Posted at 3:15 PM on February 12, 2013  

Unfortunately, youth is wasted on the young…young people are impatient to “do it all”, get bored easily and don’t always appreciate the blessings of being on a popular show with a cast who was like family. Dan Stevens made his decision to leave Downton Abbey and may it be the right decision for him, even if it wasn’t the right decision for his fans…..

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Jmae

Posted at 11:20 PM on February 10, 2013  

This is one of very few EXCELLENT television programming on today. We make time to watch it! However, we are very sorry that the show/storyline will lose Mathew’s character and the talented actor who played him!!

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Melinda Sellers

Posted at 10:49 PM on February 8, 2013  

Dead men don’t bleed. Come on Downton Abbey, give us triumph with the tragedy of Sybil.

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Rick

Posted at 10:18 PM on February 8, 2013  

Repeating the birth and parent dying scenario within a few episodes is a cheap emotional shot at the audience. Julian Fellows just killed the show along with Matthew, by that pointless stroke of the pen. A Tragedy is one thing, but this was senseless manipulation. Is Anna on the hit list for Season 4? Oh well, I will be joining many others in choosing not to watch.

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Ken

Posted at 9:49 PM on February 7, 2013  

After the way this relationship went back and fourth to the point of being silly, to kill the character off was a very poor decision. Fans were tiring of the endless plot twists getting in the way of happiness for Mary. Now with more of the same expected with a rash of new love interests I think the story will start a downward trend. The right move would be to find a replacement. Certainly there are plenty of dashing young englishmen that could pick the role up fine. I don’t think the show will ever recover.

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An

Posted at 6:29 PM on February 6, 2013  

Why couldn’t a replacement just been found for Matthew Crawley instead of him dying? Enough drama for Mary.

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Number 6

Posted at 8:34 PM on February 5, 2013  

i have to agree completly with Barbara Lifton.

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Barbara Lifton

Posted at 8:54 PM on January 31, 2013  

Perfect ending for the story given Dan’s decision not to sign on again.
Mary is tough – she will finally have alot of power in the family as the first-born child of the Earl, as the deceased heir’s wife, and as the mother/guardian of the new heir (her son!) She may also receive an inheritance of money Matthew had beyond his investment in Downton. I predict that she will recover from her grief and be as determined as ever to preserve that beautiful estate. AND, she won’t have to compete with Matthew in being the most important parent for their son. I predict that the most devastated characters will be Robert (Earl Grantham), who “loved him like a son”, and Mrs. Crawley. Robert may not recover- but we’ll see.
Dan devoted three years to the role, which he carried beautifully. He has a brilliant acting history of more than ten years in important roles on stage and screen, (you should watch his performances in the German language film “Hilde” and as Edward Freeres in Sense and Sensability for BBC!), and probably wanted to try other challenges as an actor. Rightly or wrongly, he has the right to pursue other professional opportunities. And, that last scene between Mary and Matthew in the hospital after the baby was born was so beautifully done, so emotionally right, that I don’t think it can or will ever be duplicated in the future. I think Fellowes should end the current stories after one or two new episodes, and/or then skip twenty years and feature the new generation entering the WWII era.

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brandaid64

Posted at 1:26 PM on February 15, 2013  

Women couldn’t inherit money in those days.

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Michelle Davis

Posted at 10:00 AM on January 31, 2013  

The funny part is that Edith might be the only Crawley sister to eventually end up happily married.

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Dan

Posted at 5:26 PM on January 30, 2013  

Hmm. First Tom, then Mary—suddenly and tragically widowed, with a child apiece to raise without a spouse at their sides. Whatever will become of these two sad, beautiful people in the prime of life, who had only just consented to a plan, according to Matthew’s wishes, for saving Downton Abbey for the future generations, beginning with their own children.

Naaah! Throwing Mary and the chauffeur together is simply too obvious a solution for a writer like Fellowes.

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A

Posted at 6:52 AM on February 4, 2013  

I admit that crossed my mind as well. It would be easy enough, him offering comfort and insight. Plus when baby Sybil was born, Mary always looked as though she loved her as her own; she is the godmother… although I think the two (as well as fans) will be much too heartbroken to move on just yet. Although with Mary, she may try to hide her grief by “moving on” prematurely. Mary is far too proper to even consider Tom anyway….right?

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Deborah

Posted at 10:17 AM on January 27, 2013  

Jason, the US is just getting it, too, unless the Season 3 DVD was purchased in early January — which anyone on the planet could’ve done.. Check your facts first, and you won’t sound quite so much like a spoiled child.

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Jason

Posted at 8:30 AM on January 27, 2013  

Thanks for the spoiler in Google without even looking at your sites. How about hiding it not making it a headline. Seriously you arrogant Americans think that everyone must have seen it because USA gets it all first. Australia has just started. All I looked up was season 4 on Google and your spoiler hit me on the face.

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Jane

Posted at 9:43 PM on February 2, 2013  

Wow, condemning an entire country as “arrogant” due to a perhaps less than appropriate placement on a Google sort order? The Americans were also inadvertently hit with spoilers as the UK version ended Dec 2012 and has yet to end in the US

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Number 6

Posted at 11:12 AM on January 26, 2013  

Oh My Go*, what if they got Benedict Cumberbatch to replace Dan Stevens

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Josi Pastora

Posted at 3:57 AM on January 31, 2013  

LOL…please, Julian, you can’t do this to Mary!

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Number 6

Posted at 12:07 PM on January 24, 2013  

i can’t stop thinking about how the 4th season will be. it might be stupid because Matthew is dead, but i love this show and i can’t wait to watch it.

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Deborah

Posted at 11:19 AM on January 24, 2013  

Too much grieving at Downton. This was my very favorite show. Now, all I can think is, “Stupid, stupid show.” I’m through being jerked around. I will not be watching season 4. I would spend too much time wondering who was going to be killed off next. Major mistake.

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sukha

Posted at 10:15 PM on February 7, 2013  

I hardly every watch tv, but I have been totally committed to Downton. I also never comment on line like this. But, a great show has been ruined and that calls for comment. After this episode I won’t watch it any more. It was a great run, but this very bad choice by Julian Fellowes is, I think, a fatal blow for the show. What is the opposite of artist? Con- artist? Someone who manipulates for self-gain without care for the other? This piece of writing just seemed so stupid, so wrong on so many levels. Cheap shot to put a death scene just after a birth again. I don’t mind sad. I don’t mind tragic. Millions of perfect choices in this show, but one big wrong choice this time. Not going to bother watching anymore.

I would have tried to keep Dan because this is one of the most successful shows on tv at this time and his character is central to that popularity. Of course, if there is no possible way to renew his contract, then at the very least, come up with a better way for the character to exit.

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Number 6

Posted at 10:15 AM on January 24, 2013  

I agree completly with Firoozeh.

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Firoozeh

Posted at 2:08 AM on January 24, 2013  

It was totally heart breaking to see Mathew dead at the end of the season. What’s going to happen to his plan fot Downton Abbey? He will never enjoy his son and the family will be greiving again. Plus what man is as beautiful as Mathew to replace him in the show? Where and how would Mary find another man? I thought this was a bad ending.

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Number 6

Posted at 7:09 PM on January 23, 2013  

Matthew Crawley your are a blokehead to be driving so fast down a one way road and getting yourself killed. Dan Stevens you are a cruel person to you fans for not wishing to sign a contract to go on for another season. I’m still going to miss you in the show.

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Marsh A. Mellow

Posted at 6:56 PM on January 23, 2013  

Dan Stevens I love You. Why do you have to leave?

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Broken Heart

Posted at 6:54 PM on January 23, 2013  

I love Matthew so much in the show, I can’t understand why he wouldn’t want to renew his contract. When he died at the end I was heart broken, I started to cry. Plus, Matthew and Mary made the perfect couple. I know that it is all just on TV, but they were so adorable together. I wonder how the 1st episode of the 4th season will start. it’s going to be so sad.

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Ivana Party

Posted at 6:36 PM on January 23, 2013  

I totally agree that this is bullsh**. i don’t ubderstand why Dan Stevens would want to leave the show. It’s an amazing show.

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Atlanta Brave

Posted at 11:12 AM on January 21, 2013  

this is bull$h!t. i hate television. every time something like this happens, i’m brought back to reality and reminded that it’s just fake and the writers do whatever they want to suit the circumstances. then i get mad at myself for getting sucked into the story and even watching it in the first place. what a waste!

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Connecticut Sam

Posted at 11:24 PM on January 20, 2013  

Dan is stupid to leave the show, she should stay with it until the end. He is staring in a play now, and I hope that he comes back.

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Mike Dremel

Posted at 5:23 PM on January 16, 2013  

Okay, I’m not thrilled that 1) we here on the far side of the Atlantic get spoilers, and 2) that the Matthew Crawley character AND Sybil perish in the same season. I understand and support an actor’s right to not renew a contract, but still, this leaves a definite gap. People don’t like change, especially with something that’s finally established. That said, let us remember previous long-running shows that had major characters depart, such as in M*A*S*H, wherein Trapper John goes back to the states and COL Henry Blake was killed, yet the introduction of BJ Hunnicut and COL Sherman Potter brought in new blood and story lines that kept the series going. So have some faith, dear fans and viewers, and roll with the changes. We’ll know soon enough if the new casting makes continued viewing worth our wile.

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Carol Aguilar

Posted at 8:08 AM on February 4, 2013  

I think it selfish for Dan Stevens to not do at least one more season. He says it was a “hard decision” but seems he didn’t consider the other cast members, writers and the millions of viewers. He has singlehandedly spoiled a terrific series.

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