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Exclusive: Most of Downton Abbey Cast Re-Signs Through Season 5! Who's Holding Out?

Downton Abbey Seasons 4 and 5Heirs shmeirs! Whether it’s Matthew or the man without a face who inherits it, the future of Downton Abbey is secure!

Sources confirm to TVLine exclusively that most of the principal cast of PBS’ cultural phenomenon — including Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary), Elizabeth McGovern (Cora), Hugh Bonneville (Robert), Joanne Froggatt (Anna) and Brendan Coyle (Bates) — have inked new deals through the show’s fourth and fifth season.

Those who have yet to sign on the dotted line (the key word there being yet) are Dan Stevens (Matthew), Siobhan Finneran (O’Brien) and Jessica Brown Findlay (Lady Sybil).

Abbey to Take on Mad Men at the Emmys!

The cast’s original pacts carried them through the currently-in-production Season 3 (slated to air stateside in January 2013). The new contracts were inked despite the fact that Abbey has yet to be officially renewed beyond Season 3.

Last month’s Season 2 finale drew a series-best 5.4 million viewers and earned PBS its best numbers in three years.

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137 Comments
  1. NCSouthernBelle says:

    C’mon Dan!

    • Maya Madelene says:

      Highest ratings ever? Then keep it up by putting the Titanic Series on in April.
      Jullian Fellowes did a great jobs with it, I seriously hope PBS pops it online as well.
      Some of us don’t own televisions:) We’re children of the net.
      I can’t believe I have to wait until September for season 3 of Downton! UGH!

    • Sheila Ricca ricca says:

      Lest we forget, Downton Abbey is the main character. If the storyline stays true to that, then the show can continue indefinitely. Having said that, Mathew has to come back in season 3. and finally marry Mary. Dragging this romance our any further, and it will loose credibility. Now Thomas, can a leopard really change its spots, and will he stay in service, or find other paths for his conniving mind? And what about Daisy? I think all the main characters are excellent, but can we lose Edith, or Sybil and Branson? The obvious is to exploit the Irish problem, but I always questioned why if Branson was such an Irish patriot, why he was even in England, let alone romancing an marrying a member of the English upper crust. Shirley Mclaine will definitely add a whole new dimension as Lord Gratham’s mother in law.

    • Kay Marinn says:

      I came on the site to find out if there will be a Season 3 and happily find there will be a 4 & 5. Hooray!! Season two was truly spellbinding. The last two hours were sheer pleasure. That ending set me up with loads of romantic daydreams. It was perfect as are Michele D. & Dan. Love them all, but those two are just wonderful.

  2. Tess says:

    Tbh, the only one that matter is Maggie Smith and whether or not she has signed on for more.

    • ML says:

      How is Maggie Smith the only one that matters? Do you watch the show? She’s great but she comes in with her one liners but the stories hardly rely on her. I think losing Michelle Dockery would be a bigger loss. Thank God she signed on.

      • Maria says:

        Amen to that. This show is *nothing* without Michelle Dockery. She is the heart of this show. Plus, the only reason I tune in.
        And of course Maggie Smith. I’m sure the rest signed on again..

    • Tr says:

      True, she’s the first reason I started watching Downton Abbey.

    • Heather says:

      I think losing Dame Maggie would be like when ‘The Sopranos’ lost Nancy Marchand. The series kept going, but never quite as good as it was initially.

  3. kt says:

    Great! But what about Maggie Smith?

  4. te says:

    I don’t see the name “Maggie Smith” on either list. On the other hand, her character isn’t getting any younger. On the third hand, she’s one of the series’ most valuable assets.

  5. Shazay says:

    Love this show!!! Hopefully Maggie Smith is in as well! I wonder how the show could fare without Matthew…I think it could get by without Sybil and O’Brien….but I do love them!

  6. Irishgirl says:

    Maggie Smith?? Laura Carmichael?? Penelope Wilton?? What about them?

    • Ben says:

      Sophie McShera. Jim Carter. Phyllis Logan. There are so many people, and I hope to see them all willing to return at least, so the story can do what it does.

  7. Alenis Escudero says:

    OMG!! This show is nothing without Maggie Smith and Dan Stevens (and Elizabeth McGovern and Hugh Boneville). He (Dan) for sure will sign.

    • shirley says:

      Right! Plus I mainly watch DA because of Matthew and Mary. Julian Fellowes can always write
      a superb after-the-wedding storyline about them.Please powers-that-be,sign on Dan Stevens
      and Maggie Smith for seasons 4 & 5.

    • charles salverde says:

      Dan Stevens has left the building……………..that is, Downton Abbey!

  8. Montie says:

    Um, what about Maggie Smith? She’s the best part.

  9. Chris says:

    What about Allen Leech? He’s a series regular for season 3 but will he be back for 4 and 5?

  10. Pixley says:

    Had to guess, I’d say Dan Stevens’ new management is looking over the contract, and the delay is probably financially-related (his stock…increased tremendously after S2 ;).

    Wonder if the other two holdouts have similar management (though I honestly don’t think JBF wants to stay that long…)

  11. Mr Loiter says:

    Lady Sybill, my favorite character. I imagine they are trying to pay her a lot less than others because she’s so far not seen as a central character. But if they keep going forward in time by years each season, she will become very important to the show.

  12. Amy says:

    Jessica’s probably getting so many offers elsewhere but I hope she signs on because that will most likely confirm that her character will survive season 3. Which is growing concern. Fellowes loves to make us cry and if they kill off Sybil or her husband Tom, I’d probably way less interested in this show. Same goes for Maggie Smith.

    • Ashton says:

      Love Sybil/Branson,I’m rooting for them and their marriage. Really hope they don’t kill off Sybil and leave him grieving with a new baby.

      • SidheRa says:

        I’m more worried about the opposite – I’m waiting for them to kill off Branson and leave Sybil crawling back to Downton. *shudder*

        • Waytogohomesteader says:

          Me too. Since Dublin was the site of violent outbursts, I’m afraid that they’re going to send Sybil back to Downton with the baby in any case. After all, Branson is protective of her and certainly would want his baby out of harm’s way. And then he could get killed. Either way, it’d be terrible.

        • Elle says:

          That would be terrible. Tom has one of the most interesting storylines IF Julian Fellowes does NOT mess with Tom’s plotline like he did with Season 2. I’m glad he is now a main character, it’s about time! We know he’s political and now a journalist. This could mean some REALLY good scenes with the Irish conflict and him being married to an English aristocrat with a baby on the way. Not to mention a lack of serious eye candy if Allen Leech was not there. :-)

      • Scotsman says:

        The Irish angle with Sybil/Branson has a lot of possibilities. I am guessing one of the two will be back during and after the troubles and perhaps in Season 4, will move to the USA. This would be an ideal scenario, comparing life in the US with England. I want to see ALL the actors back. They are all superb, starting with Maggie Smith.

      • joy says:

        nice prediction!

    • doc says:

      me too,I’m over the Matthew/Mary and Bates/Anna plots.Just get on with it!Let’s see the others get their screen time like Sybil/Tom, lots to work with re:their characters with the Irish War.And the villians need more to do!:-) Not everyone thinks Mary hung the moon,she’s my least fave even tho Michelle Dockery is great.

    • Maya Madelene says:

      I bet Sybyl will die during childbirth and I bet the kid will be sent to downtown because Tom will go mad and do something crazy – he’s socialist , not a lunatic hahahaha!
      I for one love Jess and I think Allan in great too.
      My have is Daisy, Mary and Maggie

  13. ggny says:

    guessing Dan is looking for more money since he is the star of the show and Jessica is looking at other offers…idk why the hell Siobhan is holding out

    • Heather says:

      No way is Dan Stevens “the star” if there is a star. Was it ever established that Matthew’s dead father was an only child. Guess we are about to find out there was an off-screen cousin of Matthew’s who is young and middle class (perhaps they’ll cast a natural blonde this time).

      • Lisa says:

        How can you say that Matthew(Dan Stevens)is not one of the main stars when he is the HEIR to DA?? There would have been no story at all without that character!!I would say he is a very CENTRAL character and therefore the star(amoung others).

  14. ggny says:

    also i would like to know about the other key characers…The Earl,Carson,Daisy,Edith,Thomas are they all already signed on?

  15. Anonymous says:

    Maggie smith is more than just the icing on the cake (best part in my opinion!); she does have substance in her part as the dowager. I would like to see a pre-season 1 series of downton focusing on Cora and her fortune which saves the estate and events leading up to season 1. We could finally see the original heir patrick and the crawley girls as children.

    • William Moran says:

      Maggie Smith has given substance to all kinds of parts for decades..she is and actress of remarkable talent and heads up the stellar cast.

      • charles salverde says:

        What will Julien Fellows do to make Season 4 REAL? I wonder if Season 4 will fall flat?
        I’m not holding my breath!

  16. L2u9 says:

    Maggie Smith NEEDS to be in both of them as well as Jim Carter a.k.a Mr. Carson, Laura Carmichael and Jessica Brown Findlay, of course Dan Stevens and Allen Leech they ALL need to be in Downton Abbey series 4 and 5.

  17. Heather says:

    Oh Matthew… really feeling a David-Caruso-leaving-NYPD-Blue vibe coming off Dan Stevens and Lord knows it didn’t work for him when compared to his replacement, Jimmy Smits.

    • William Moran says:

      Things did not work out well for David Caruso, but then again, George Clooney did leave ER, and that sure worked for him.

    • Sells says:

      Where are you getting that from? He’s heavily used in the promo of the show still (recent photos published in the UK included him) and I’ve never heard on his twitter or anywhere else him knocking the show. His Twitter background has the DA poster! He’s always had nothing but good things to say about DA and his fellow cast members and with Caruso there were rampant rumors about his unhappiness on the set. Likely what’s causing the delay is the fact that he is with new management and there are *several* names missing, so this is not a comprehensive list. There is still more shooting to do with series 3 and at the end of the day, the following facts have been established in that Matthew is an only child, so losing Matthew means losing potentially the main heir to Downton and that combined with the fact that Matthew and Mary’s pairing in a main reason many people watch (won’t say everyone) and it’s in everyone’s best interest to work something out. At this point, I’m not concerned that the 3 in question won’t sign. I think if there was a good possibility they wouldn’t, Michael would not have added the yet but rather would have shown signs of concern. Just my opinion.

      • Heather says:

        Prediction for solving the heir issue if Dan Stevens makes the bad move of leaving. Matthew and Mary get married in Season III and if Dan Stevens won’t come back, just make Mary find out she’s pregnant and her son can be the heir.

        Or they write out Cora (sorry Elizabeth McGovern), Robert gets remarried and fathers a son by his second wife.

  18. Rrrobertttt says:

    Thomas? What about the evil, gorgeous, evil Thomas?

    • Maya Madelene says:

      I was impressed with the gay storyline there and then they cut it off.
      I’m not gay, but I really thought it was gutsy putting that into a period drama so maybe we need someone rich to ‘befriend’ Thomas and make him a man of money, then he can playboy it out a little more;)

      • Jt Wagner says:

        Divajt. I love Thomas as well. They need to give him a boyfriend, so he can break more ground. I think the Jimmy character, is finally befriending Thomas. And for now maybe a foundation is being established. The beating he took under the bridge was very well blocked.

  19. Kayla says:

    Bates and Anna are all I need.

  20. sammy says:

    The ones not mentioned more than likely are back as their characters are growing in season 3 and are pretty popular with fans esp female ones lol…Allen Leech, Rob-James Collier etc. I would assume that the above mentioned holdouts are probably negotiating new terms with their agents. Dan signed with WME,let’s all hope he doesn’t see HWood dollar signs. He’s terrific as Matthew. Would hate to lose Maggie Smith.

  21. Jesse says:

    I would be very surprised if Dan Stevens or Siobhan Finneran didn’t re-up with the show; they both have good, meaty storylines and their parts are great ways to advance their careers. I would guess that there may be logistics involved and that we shouldn’t jump to conclusions and assume they’re hold-outs.

    Jessica B-F, on the other hand, strikes me as someone with a potentially big career who has never been critical to the main storylines in the show. If someone is going to take a risk and try to cash in on Downton before the show ends, my money is on her.

  22. TheBeach says:

    You know Maggie Smith will return just for the sheer enjoyment of going head-to-head with Shirley Maclaine.

  23. @ says:

    How many seasons does a “mini series” have???

    • Ben says:

      Downton Abbey is not, and never was, a mini-series, other than to American networks and awards ceremonies.

      • William Moran says:

        Americans have a need to fit all programs into some category for awards season. Fact is we have nothing here that is in the same class as Downton Abbey….the 1939 classic GONE WITH THE WIND was put on film with loving care and the same careful attention to every frame. Other than that we do not seem to get this quality here..

        • Cheri Campbell says:

          i see ‘mad men’ as a similar quality period drama…different period/but painstaking attention to details & dynamics of the time…very similar in treating race/gender equality as DA treats class.

  24. Sarah says:

    Nooo. Come on Dan and Jessica !! It wouldn’t be the same without either of you !

  25. claire says:

    I hope all of the actors sign on for season 4 and 5. Downton Abbey has style and class. This show is superior in acting, storyline and holds your interest no matter how long the telecast. (Sometimes in the US on PBS it runs for 60 minutes or longer.) However, I have recently read the book, “The World of Downton Abbey” and got dvd season 1 and 2 to get current with the series. I only became a viewer for Season 2 Ep 2 to the end of Season 2. I hope they also keep the same writer, Mr. Julian Fellowes, going fwd. If any of the current cast members do not sign on for one reason or other, I hope the replacement will be of the same excellent acting ability. That is to say they will have style and class, (first rate)

  26. Laurie says:

    Rob James-Collier?? D: don’t leave Downton, Thomas!! It needs you and your attitude!

  27. Kate says:

    If Bates and Anna weren’t coming back neither was I. LOVE THEM.

    Now we know for sure our Bates is set free. No one can write 3 seasons of a prisoner storyline.

  28. sandy says:

    all except knowing about maggie it fits perfectly. michael, i’m SO glad you got the scoop about the show. sybil will die in childbirth leaving branson and the family to fight about the baby (maybee aunt edith will raise the child). o’brien killed vera (with whom she had some sort of a relationship)and is in prison. matthew never gets to marry mary because patrick is real and returns to claim the estate. matthew returns to manchester to practice law. so, no harm, no foul. ?bad hypothesis?

  29. joanna says:

    We need dan stevensn and thoas and obrien, mrs hughes and carson. Maggie smith character will most likely pass on to her heavenly reward either during S3 or S4.I can do without Daisy, Sybil and branson but I love them all. Isobel yes, dr, Mosely and Mrs Bird, meh.

  30. lizbit says:

    ALL of the actors on this show are excellent at their craft, every single one of them, that’s why they were chosen. The actors themselves have said that. It’s so refreshing to see even those with main roles realize that this is an ensemble cast and they all have a role in making Downton Abbey the great show that it is. No egos at play here. Here’s hoping that ALL of them will be returning for the extra seasons.

    • Donna says:

      I agree wholeheartedly that all the actors and characters are superb!! This is the best Masterpiece Theatre I’ve seen to date and I’ve seen most of them, not that they aren’t all superlative! This series is like a well run ship each character fills his/her spot and leaves us (me anyway) waiting and wanting more. I hope this goes on way past 5 seasons, it gives us something to look forward to in the darkest days of winter! I love It!! All of it!! I watch each episode a few times, the first for the story line and the second or third times to take in all the wonders of Highclere Castle..the rugs, the furnishings, the opulent fairytale like rooms.. I for one will have serious withdrawal when this series if finally over..

  31. Susan says:

    I would be lost without all the characters. I am lost having to wait for Season 3. I cannot imagine Downton without Dan Stevens. Downton must run for decades!!!

    • carla says:

      Hope Matthew,john and anna return also maggie smith some talk that there is going to be a new footman a nephew to siobhan in real life.Cant wait for the new series to start again.

  32. Bonnie says:

    I started watching because of Dame Maggie Smith and Brandon Coyle.

  33. Rose says:

    I’ll live without Obrien

  34. Mindy says:

    Oh won’t you stay… just a little bit longer?

  35. rachel says:

    if dan stevens is having trouble finding a pen or something, i have one he can borrow. on a related note…2013?!?! ugh.

  36. airhead says:

    i can survive without thomas and o’brien, but it won’t be downton abbey if anyone else leaves!

  37. Laura says:

    Is there a way to watch it online? It’s not broadcasted in Argentina, and I’m dying to watch it!

    • Kathy B. says:

      go to pbs.org They allow the showing of the most recent episode for the week after.
      Last Sunday was the episode where the DA staff go to the faire, and this Sunday
      will be the last episode of season 3, so Monday you can watch that episode. In the US
      you can buy the DVDs at pbs.org. Don’t know how easy to receive them where you ar e.

  38. AnitaJ says:

    I really hope that Dan Stevens to sign on as well if there are more seasons to come. He and Michelle Dockery is so wonderful to see together and have a great chemistry between them so I would really miss it very much if I never again get to see more scenes with them together in any future seasons.

  39. Sue Klempan says:

    I would be sad to lose Sybil, she is a gentle soul. We need at least one. O’Brien needs to be there, even though she drives me wild. Matthew should not go…come on Dan…Maggie is intregal…I am for no loses only gains. I still miss William and Lavinia. Hey, I miss Pharoah and I didn’t even know it wasn’t Isis…

  40. Pinnty says:

    Downton Abbey airs on Film & Arts, for all of Latin america, including Argentina. Season two airs in May, if I’m not mistaken.

  41. Mark says:

    I will not be surprised if some of the old casts will leave the show. The timeframe for DA is huuuge for every episode so we wouldn’t expect Violet Crawley to be alive by 1930s or 40s.

  42. Ellen says:

    Thank goodness for Michelle Dockery! She’s the heart and soul of this show. Everyone else is great, but it’s Michelle’s riveting performances that make this show extraordinary. Hope Dan signs on as well–their chemistry is so special.

  43. IheartLA says:

    Dan!! Don’t keep us waiting!! Put that ink down at once!! Dame Maggie, we love u!! :)

  44. William says:

    This Okie is in love with Anna

  45. taybad says:

    What about the rumor that Hugh Grant was being wooed to play a cameo as King George V? That would be awesome. You can’t deny the show deserves something like that, it is so good.

  46. Scotsman says:

    Great news! They are all fantastic actors. Hope Maggie Smith is back even if we see her once in a while. Bates, Thomas, Mary, Anna are my favourites and they’re all back, except Thomas. Hope that Maggie Smith has not decided to retire…

  47. Julia VE says:

    January 2013 seems like an eternity away. Why does it take so long to get it broadcast in the U.S.?

  48. Judith Harrison says:

    I even love the reruns. I have spent many enjoyable hours watching. The whole cast is just wonderful. Can’t wait until Season 3 starts.

  49. brenda says:

    we can always keep our bad guy in Abbey. He has a way of stealing the seen. If he would be nice once in awhile, he could steal anyone women’s attention/heart. You know that newspaper man.

  50. mary lyons says:

    My sister sent me the DVDs from Ireland. I cannot get enough of this show and sad that it will be until January, 2013 before it comes back. I love every character. I enjoy reading the comments on line too.

    • Catherine says:

      I LOVE this show and don’t think I can wait until next January! I hope all the characters come back. It is a classic!

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