|Opening theme||"Did I Make the Most of Loving You?"|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||6|
|No. of episodes||52 (
|Cinematography||David Katznelson (series 1)
Gavin Struthers (series 2)
|Running time||Regular episodes: 47–53 minutes
Extended episodes: 64–72 minutes
Christmas specials: 92–93 minutes
|Original release||26 September 2010– 25 December 2015|
Downton Abbey is a
The series, set in the fictional
Downton Abbey has received acclaim from television critics and won numerous accolades, including a
On 26 March 2015, Carnival Films and ITV announced that the sixth series would be the last. It aired on ITV between 20 September 2015 and 8 November 2015. The final episode, serving as the annual Christmas special, was broadcast on 25 December 2015. Although there are no plans in place, there are strong rumours of a future film adaptation, with executive producer
The first series, comprising seven episodes, explores the lives of the fictional Crawley family, the hereditary Earls of Grantham, and their domestic servants beginning the day after the
As the eldest daughter, Lady Mary Crawley was to marry her second cousin, son of the then-
A subplot involves John Bates, Lord Grantham's new valet, and Thomas Barrow, who resents Bates replacing him and causing Barrow to be demoted back to footman. Bates and Thomas remain at odds as Barrow works to sabotage Bates after learning he was recently released from jail for theft. In the story line, Barrow, a gay man in late Edwardian England, aided by Miss O'Brien, Lady Grantham's maid, creates havoc for most of the staff. Barrow is caught stealing but hands in his notice as he has joined the Royal Army Medical Corps. Matthew eventually falls in love with Lady Mary, but she rejects his proposal. Cora becomes pregnant, but miscarries after O'Brien, mistakenly believing she was to be fired, retaliates by leaving a bar of soap on the slippery bathroom floor. The series ends just after the
The second series comprises eight episodes and runs from the
Matthew becomes engaged to Lavinia Swire, a wealthy solicitor's daughter, and joins the British Army as an officer. William Mason, the 2nd footman, finally gets permission from his father to join the Army and becomes Matthew's soldier servant. Unfortunately, both are injured in a bomb blast. William dies from his wounds after a deathbed marriage to Daisy, the kitchen maid. Daisy never loved William but Mrs Patmore, Downton's cook, pressured her to make William's last days happy by marrying him.
Mary finally acknowledges her feelings for Matthew, but becomes engaged to Sir Richard Carlisle, a powerful and ruthless newspaper mogul. Their relationship is rocky, but Mary is bound to Carlisle after he squashes a story regarding her past scandalous indiscretion. Bates's wife, Vera, repeatedly causes trouble for John and Anna, who is now his fiancée, and threatens to expose a Crawley secret. When Mrs Bates mysteriously dies, Bates is arrested on suspicion of her murder. Matthew and Mary realise they are in love but Matthew honourably remains committed to marrying Lavinia. Unknown to him, a devastated Lavinia overhears Matthew and Mary declare their love. The Spanish influenza epidemic hits Downton Abbey at the end of the war. Cora, taken seriously ill, survives, but Lavinia, also infected, dies. Barrow is rehired at Downton after helping the staff during the outbreak. Mary and Matthew reunite, while Bates is found guilty of murder and sentenced to death.
Lady Sybil, the youngest Crawley daughter, who hated her stifling aristocratic life, falls in love with Tom Branson, the chauffeur with strong socialist beliefs. They elope to Ireland after receiving Lord Grantham's reluctant blessing.
Ethel Parks, a new housemaid, has a relationship with one of the injured officers, Major Bryant. Mrs Hughes finds them together in bed and dismisses Ethel, but takes pity on her and helps her when Ethel realises that she is pregnant. She has a baby boy and names him Charlie after his father, but Major Bryant refuses to believe that he is the baby's father.
In the third series, 1920–1921, Mary has ended her engagement to Richard Carlisle, despite his vindictive threats to expose her past indiscretion. Mary and Matthew are married in the series première, but Robert (Lord Grantham) learns that the bulk of the family's fortune (including Cora's dowry) has been lost, due to his well-intentioned, but bad investment. In the meantime, Edith has fallen hard for Sir Anthony Strallen, whom Robert discourages from marrying Edith due to his age and infirm condition. At Edith's insistence, Robert gives in and welcomes Sir Anthony, but the latter cannot accept the fact that there is no reservation from the Grantham family, and at the altar on their wedding day announces that he cannot go through with the marriage, devastating Edith.
Meanwhile, due to dislike and increasing tension, Bates's cellmate tries to sabotage him with a crime that will ruin his chances for a pardon, but Bates is informed by a fellow prisoner about the search, which results in the guards not finding what they are seeking. Back at Downton, Mrs Hughes finds out she may have breast cancer, which only some of the household hear about, causing deep concern, but the tumour turns out to be benign, much to everyone's relief. Tom Branson and Lady Sybil, now pregnant, return to Downton after Tom is implicated in the burning of an Irish aristocrat's house. After Matthew's reluctance to accept an inheritance from Lavinia's recently deceased father and then Robert's reluctance in turn to accept that inheritance as a gift, Matthew and Robert reach a compromise in which Matthew accepts and uses the inheritance to invest in Downton, giving him an equal say in how the estate is run.
Tragedy strikes when Sybil dies from
In series four, 1922–1923, Cora's maid Miss O'Brien, desiring adventure and travel, leaves to serve Lady Flintshire in India. Cora hires Edna Braithwaite, who had previously been fired for her interest in Tom. Eventually the situation blows up, and Edna is replaced by Miss Baxter.
Lady Mary deeply mourns Matthew's death. Matthew's newly-found will states Mary is to be his sole heir and thus gives her management over his share of the estate until their son, George, comes of age. With Tom's encouragement, Mary assumes a more active role in running Downton. Two new suitors — Lord Gillingham and Charles Blake — arrive at Downton, though Mary, still grieving, is not interested. Middle daughter Lady Edith, who has begun writing a weekly newspaper column, and Michael Gregson, her editor, fall in love. Due to British law, he is unable to divorce his wife, who is mentally ill and in an asylum. Gregson travels to Germany to seek citizenship there, enabling him to divorce, but is killed by Hitler's
Anna is raped by Lord Gillingham's valet, Mr Green, which Mr Bates later discovers. Subsequently, Mr Green is killed in a London street accident. A local schoolteacher, Sarah Bunting, and Tom begin a friendship, though Robert (Lord Grantham) despises her due to her openly vocal anti-aristocracy views. In the final Christmas special, Sampson, a
In series five, 1924, a Russian exile, Prince Kuragin, wishes to renew his past affections for the Dowager Countess. Violet instead locates his wife in Hong Kong and reunites the Prince and his estranged wife. Scotland Yard and the local police investigate Green's death. Violet learns about Edith's daughter, young Marigold. Meanwhile, Mrs Drewe, not knowing Marigold's true parentage, resents Edith's constant visits. To increase his chances with Mary, Charles Blake plots to reunite Gillingham and his ex-fiancée, Mabel. After Edith inherits Michael Gregson's publishing company, she removes Marigold from the Drewes and relocates to London. Bricker, an art expert interested in one of Downton's paintings, shows his real intentions toward Cora and is thrown out by Robert, causing a temporary rift between them.
Mrs Patmore's decision to invest her inheritance in real estate inspires Carson, Downton's butler, to do likewise. He suggests that head housekeeper Mrs Hughes invest with him; she confesses she has no money due to supporting a mentally incapacitated sister. The Crawleys' cousin, Lady Rose, daughter of Lord and Lady Flintshire, becomes engaged to Atticus Aldridge, son of Lord and Lady Sinderby. Lord Sinderby strongly objects to Atticus's marrying outside the Jewish faith. Lord Merton proposes to Isobel Crawley (Matthew's mother). She accepts, but later ends the engagement due to Lord Merton's sons' disparaging comments over her commoner background. Lady Flintshire employs underhanded schemes to derail Rose and Atticus's engagement, including announcing to everyone at the wedding that she and her husband are divorcing, intending to cause a scandal to stop Rose's marriage to Atticus; they are married anyway.
When Anna is arrested on suspicion of Green's murder, Bates writes a false confession before fleeing to Ireland. Miss Baxter and Molesley, a footman, are able to prove that Bates was in York at the time of the murder. This new information allows Anna to be released. Cora eventually learns the truth about Marigold, and wants her raised at Downton; Marigold is presented as Edith's ward, but Robert and Tom eventually discern the truth: only Mary is unaware. When a war memorial is unveiled in the town, Robert arranges for a separate plaque to honour Mrs Patmore's late nephew, who was shot for cowardice and excluded from his own village's memorial.
Lord and Lady Sinderby invite the Crawleys to Brancaster Castle, which the Sinderbys rented for a shooting party. While there, Lady Rose, with help from the Crawleys, defuses a near–personal disaster for Lord Sinderby, earning his gratitude and securing his approval of Rose. A second footman, Andy, is hired on Barrow's recommendation. During the annual Downton Abbey Christmas celebration, Tom Branson announces he is moving to America to work for his cousin, taking daughter Sybil with him. Mr Carson proposes marriage to Mrs Hughes and she accepts.
In series six, 1925, changes are once again afoot at Downton Abbey as the middle class rises and more bankrupted aristocrats are forced to sell off their large estates. Downton must do more to ensure its future survival; reductions in staff are considered, forcing Barrow to look for a job elsewhere. Lady Mary defies a blackmailer, who is thwarted by Lord Grantham. Lady Mary becomes the estate agent. Edith is more hands-on in running her magazine and hires a female editor. Lady Violet and Isobel once again draw battle lines as a government take-over of the local hospital is considered.
Meanwhile, Anna suffers repeated miscarriages. Lady Mary takes her to a specialist, who diagnoses a treatable condition, and she becomes pregnant again. Mr Carson and Mrs Hughes hold their wedding reception at the schoolhouse, during which Tom Branson reappears with Sybil, having returned to Downton for good. Coyle, who tricked Baxter into stealing, is convicted after she and other witnesses are persuaded to testify. After Mrs Drewe kidnaps Marigold when Edith is not looking, the Drewes vacate Yew Tree Farm; Daisy convinces Tom Branson to ask Lord Grantham to give her father-in-law, Mr Mason, the tenancy. Andy, a footman, offers to help Mr Mason so he can learn about farming, but is held back by his illiteracy; Mr Barrow offers to teach Andy to read.
Robert suffers a near-fatal health crisis. Previous episodes alluded to health problems for Robert; his ulcer bursts and he is rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery. The operation is successful, but Mary and Tom must take over Downton's operations. Larry Merton's fiancée, Amelia, encourages Lord Merton and Isobel Crawley to renew their engagement, but Lady Violet rightly suspects Amelia wants Isobel to be Lord Merton's caretaker in his old age.  Daisy and Mr Molesley score high marks on their academic exams; Molesley's are so exceptional that he is offered a teaching position at the school. Mary breaks off with Henry Talbot, unable to live with the constant fear he could be killed in a car race. Bertie Pelham proposes to Edith, but she hesitates to accept because of Marigold. Lady Violet, upset over Lady Grantham replacing her as hospital president, abruptly departs for a long cruise to restore her equanimity.
Bertie Pelham unexpectedly succeeds his late second cousin as marquess, moves into Brancaster Castle, and Edith accepts him. Then Mary spitefully exposes Marigold's parentage, causing Bertie to walk out. Tom confronts Mary over her spitefulness and her true feelings for Henry. Despondent Barrow attempts suicide, and is saved by Baxter, causing Robert and Mr Carson to reconsider Barrow's position at Downton. Mary and Henry reunite and are married. Mary apologises to Edith, and the sisters reconcile. Mrs Patmore's new bed and breakfast business is tainted by scandal, but saved when the Crawleys appear there publicly. Mary arranges a surprise meeting for Edith and Bertie, Bertie proposes again, and Edith accepts. Edith tells Bertie's moralistic mother about Marigold; she turns against the match, but is won over after all by Edith's honesty. Barrow finds a position as butler and leaves Downton on good terms, but he is unhappy at his new post.
Lord Merton is diagnosed with terminal