‘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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Joan Grootveld

Posted at 5:06 PM on April 25, 2013  

Until I read the press release about the fact that Dan Stephans elected to not renew his contract, I was hoping for a “Dallas-style” opening of Downton Abbey, Season 4, in which Matthew woke up from a terrible nightmare of dreaming he had died. Now I realize that this won’t be an option. This is a real tragedy because Mary and Matthew’s romance was the stuff of which dreams are made, and they had finally made it safely through World War I and the trials and tribulations of missed opportunities and aborted romances to their marriage at the premiere of Season 3. At least Matthew saved Downton Abbey from mismanagement, had a year of wedded bliss with his beloved Mary, and produced the Downton heir. The storyline reminds me of Thornton Wilder’s The Bridge of San Luis Rey in which the characters died after achieving their life’s purpose. Although I am brokenhearted as I anticipate Mary’s grief during the next season, I will be glued to my easy chair as I look forward to new characters, storylines, and Maggie Smith’s magnificent performance as the Dowager Countess of Grantham, my favorite character.

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Susan Sullivan

Posted at 5:06 PM on March 21, 2013  

I prefer to have an actor leave a show with an opening to return, suspense. I believed that Matthew would be hospitalized (could be his season 4 off) and then return healthy and healed in season 5. Then Dan would have his Broadway time and the fans would get him back. He was such a lovely character, so unlike most men today that we the audience could get caught up in the fantasy of such a wonderful man. I watch tv to escape kembalfrom my stress and my life for a couple of hours. I fear killing off characters isn’t wise when all is going well. Try adding new ones and stop thinking the ones the audience love are replaceable.

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Lillian Negri

Posted at 4:55 PM on March 15, 2013  

Don’t ever stop Dowton Abbey…I loved Matthew and his character will be missed but Downton must go on. This series is what we needed for a long time…and obviously the world agrees.

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maria cristina restrepo

Posted at 4:49 PM on March 7, 2013  

It will be really hard for Julian Fellowes to recuperate his show into an escapist story turned tragic Dostoievsky. I think he might loose a big part of his audience if he does not thinks of something spectacular in the first two or three chapters.

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April

Posted at 12:19 AM on March 6, 2013  

Matthew was a great guy! He was good to the servants and supported the underdog. I don’t think I could watch the upcoming season if Mary doesn’t find someone like him. She needs to be taken care of, but not with someone with bad intentions. He needs to be just as upstanding, living and respected. It was so refreshing to see two people in love without drama.

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janetswanborn

Posted at 1:44 AM on March 5, 2013  

The guy was perfect. Therefore, we can do without him.

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Virginia Jones

Posted at 2:16 PM on March 3, 2013  

Like so many fans I was terribly upset by Matthews death UNTIL I read that Julian Ovendun was going to be in season 4 . He will make everyone happy that Dan Stephens is gone. He is better looking and a much better actor. Completely different. He might even get Mary to quit being such a b_______.

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Deborah

Posted at 2:44 PM on March 3, 2013  

That’s very good news. I’m not familiar with the gentleman you are talking about, but I’m encouraged by your positive outlook for the show. I’m so sad that people may stop watching it because the keep killing off characters who have been so well-developed they seem real to us. Thank you for sharing your hopeful outlook with us.

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Anne. Smith

Posted at 1:02 PM on March 6, 2013  

In case anyone is trying to find out about Julien , I spelled his last name wrong. The correct spelling is with 2 e’s. Obenden

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Anne

Posted at 4:11 PM on February 28, 2013  

it is a real pleasure to watch this series , sorry about Mathew , wish it was not so

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Ann

Posted at 12:39 PM on February 26, 2013  

Can’t wait for season 4 to start! It is so refreshing to see a movie without swearing and violence. Love this and it should be made into a movie.

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Katie Scarlett

Posted at 1:11 PM on February 25, 2013  

Boy was I shocked. I couldn’t believe it. And, I still can’t believe it!!! So, I’m thinking shame (!) on Dan Stevens, himself. Yes, he wants to try new things, but, my god, of ALL times…! I am hoping that, as only fiction can pull off, Matthew isn’t dead after all, that it’s just a REALLY bad wreck. It CAN happen. It can! A great amount of creativity, but yes, yes, yes!!! Lord, please!!! SOMEthing. I agree that another actor could be inserted for Matthew who WOULD BE suitable to the part. SINCE we viewers know the reason is BECAUSE OF Dan Stevens, I think we would be accepting and even receiving of the new actor. We’d be doing OUR best from reeling and he would be doing HIS best trying to be up to the level that Dan Stevens was – in addition to, bless him, trying to please the fans. And we WOULD be nice to him, WOULDN’T WE???!!! … Let’s hope for a speedy and terrific recovery for Downton Abbey! And a speedy and terrific recovery for the viewers, bless us. (P.S. I would think that the fellow actors of Downton Abbey weren’t too thrilled with this either. Let’s hope no more actors – nor actresses, decide to leave. There’s more love to share – and memories to warm our hearts.)

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janetswanborn

Posted at 1:44 AM on March 5, 2013  

Oh, he’s dead. Staring eyes.

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Kathleen Stokes

Posted at 12:30 PM on February 23, 2013  

Dead people don’t bleed. Just saying….

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janetswanborn

Posted at 1:43 AM on March 5, 2013  

Well maybe he started bleeding before he died.

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Ameila

Posted at 5:03 PM on February 21, 2013  

PBS is a great TV station there other shows are also good too.Can’t wait to the next season.I’m sad to see Dan Stevens go but he wasn’t always on the show and I still watched.It was a great twist to the show this is so exciting.Way to go PBS don’t forget to make a donation if you can afford it.I’ll never forget Dark Shadows so many stars built their careers from that show.Thanks PBS.

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Kimberly

Posted at 4:49 PM on February 20, 2013  

If I were writing the show, I would have it turn out this way. . . Matthew as part of his bargain for bailing out Downton, got them to agree to abolish the end tail and make it so that Mary would inherit if and when he died. That way his son will inherit the title, but Mary will control the estate. Mary then learns that she can no longer stick to the old ways, and ultimately after fighting off suitors looking for money, she falls in love with a rich american businessman, or maybe an actor – even smarmier in Mary’s eyes. This at first goes against everything she holds dear, but love prevails. I would enjoy seeing her learning to run the estate with Branson at her side (this would also create some fun tension.) Just my two cents.

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Zinda Edgar

Posted at 3:23 AM on February 20, 2013  

I think Dan Stevens leaving left a hole in the series, especially after they put so much into his making it through the war, not being able to walk and then killing him off. I do believe he should have stayed another year, I think the popularity of the show and all the hype around him went to his head. But like the Kennedy’s tragedy does occur in certain families so let’s just move on without him and hope for no more death..

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Judie Semberski

Posted at 12:15 AM on February 19, 2013  

Why do so many actors when they get into a successful series, commit professional suicide by feeling they need to try other ventures? Great shows like Downton don’t come along very often, and I feel sorry for Dan that he would turn his back on such a wonderful part, with such a huge audience to venture toward some unknown acting role. So many actors have fallen down big time when they chose that road.

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Terra Talks

Posted at 1:16 AM on February 19, 2013  

Exactly! This is (was) a wonderful part … he couldn’t renew for another year? I realize that he’s currently on Broadway in the Heiress but while its a nice play, it’s not exactly as much exposure as Downton Abbey …

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janetswanborn

Posted at 1:48 AM on March 5, 2013  

True, Judie. I cold list them all day.

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Sgrimes

Posted at 11:02 PM on February 18, 2013  

What’s wrong with getting another actor–a Matthew double–to take over? It’s been done before and the viewers would soon adapt. Too crummy to end M&M”s relationship. Until I read the press release, I thought we were left wondering if Matthew was dead or only seriously injuries. It’s not too late.

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Barbara Huffman

Posted at 7:20 PM on February 18, 2013  

It’s will be sad not to have Matthew on the show in Season 4. I will continue to watch because I love all the characters on the show. I’m sure Jullian Fellows will come back with an interesting storyline. Best wishes to Dan Stevens in whatever he chooses to do..

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cynzabyn

Posted at 6:25 PM on February 18, 2013  

First Sybil now Matthew sorry too much for me. Life makes me cry. I watch tv to take me away not make it worse. You have lost a fan.

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Donnaw721

Posted at 2:25 PM on February 18, 2013  

Yes, two deaths are too much for one season… should have let them enjoy the baby for a little and get Matthew’s plans for Downton further underway. I know a year went by but could have had another year and then let him die.. I do agree with another person that posted that death for Matthew was the only way I would have wanted to see him and Mary split.

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Mel

Posted at 8:50 AM on February 18, 2013  

I am not thrilled that the Matthew Crawley character is dead but I do believe that any other plot line that kept Mary and Matthew apart would not be believable. I am sorry that some people will never watch the show again, there are still many interesting plot lines to follow. Edith is evolving into the modern woman of the twenties, and I was uplifted with the new found forgiveness of Jimmy toward Thomas who is one of my favorite characters. I will miss Matthew but there is so much more to Downton Abbey.

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Ann

Posted at 12:45 PM on February 26, 2013  

I agree 100% The show is a smash hit!!

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MeTu

Posted at 1:43 AM on February 18, 2013  

2 deaths in 1 season is unacceptable…now my head hurts;o(

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Ellen Collins

Posted at 12:33 AM on February 18, 2013  

After the initial shock I decided his death was best for the shows future. He saved Downton with his money, saved Mary from her worst self and gave the family an heir. What else was there for him to do? I think the show will get interesting again.

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Ron Kafka

Posted at 11:19 PM on February 17, 2013  

DAMM!!!!

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Terra Talks

Posted at 10:53 PM on February 17, 2013  

I am heartbroken … such a shame to ruin a wonderful relationship, and what a cruel way to end it. Its also a shame that an actor would deliberately sabotage his career by disappointing the very people that pay to see him. I for one would hesitate to watch his “other things” without thinking of how he backed out of this one.

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verysad

Posted at 11:40 PM on February 13, 2013  

I just finished watching Season 3 and am so terribly sad that you had to kill off Matthew. I think too that you could replace him with another actor.

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MH3

Posted at 10:51 PM on February 17, 2013  

I agree!

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Penny Gerbode

Posted at 2:13 AM on February 18, 2013  

I just the last show of the 3rd season. I am devastated! Two wonderful actors left this season. No one can replace Matthew! Maggie Smith carry on though. You are the gem of the show.

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Tina

Posted at 7:35 PM on February 25, 2013  

Oooohhh the drama this event only adds to the reality of the show…..life goes on. There is so much talent within the current actors and new to be introduced actors how could it not.

 
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