It's True: Dan Stevens Poised to Exit Downton Abbey – Should His Role Be Recast?

abbeyRumors of Matthew Crawley’s demise have not been greatly exaggerated.

Multiple sources confirm to TVLine that Dan Stevens is not expected to return for Downton Abbey‘s fourth season — at least not on a full-time basis.

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As TVLine first reported back in March, Stevens — who is currently appearing on Broadway in a revival of The Heiress — was one of a handful of Downton regulars who opted not to re-up through Seasons 4 and 5. At the time, series creator Julian Fellowes downplayed the buzz, telling me, “A lot of stuff started up because he’s going to be on Broadway, but it’s a limited run. But everyone pounced on that.”

And that fact remains, Stevens could very well change his mind between now and February, which is when Abbey‘s fourth season is expected to begin shooting. (Season 3 finally bows stateside on Jan. 6). But as of now, it appears Lady Mary will soon be following sister Edith to Spinsters Anonymous — unless, of course, Fellowes opts to recast.

RELATED | Downton Abbey Boss Addresses Maggie Smith Departure Buzz

And while one insider insists that option is not off the table, Fellowes recently confessed to EW, “I can’t see us doing that.”

What do you think? Should Abbey usher in a new Matthew? Are you still holding out hope Stevens will do an about-face and re-sign? Sound off below!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. S. from E. now says:

    íf dan leaves i am gonna be gone too )=

    • Judith Hooper says:

      Please, Dan, don’t leave Downton! There is no lead who could replace you!

      • Jackie Michaud says:

        I have watched Downton Abbey 1-2-3 season over & over. Dan has been a good supportive actor for Downton Abbey. He & Lord Gratham and Mr Bates are the great strong actors in this series. Please bring Mathew back. He could of been laying there staring at the sky and the man who struck his car could help him and bring him to the hospital, but this time, Mathew could really be cripple and not walk and in a wheel chair , but still a strong character in running Downton Abbey and be with Mary and thier son. Can’t wait to see season 4!!!!!!
        Please bring Dan back.
        I would like to see Megan Follows as a lost cousin comig to live in Downton Abbey.
        J M. April 21-2013

    • BFB says:

      If Dan leaves lots of folks will be gone. I will be very very disappointed but there are enough other interesting story lines to maintain my interest. But, the story lines that made this series exceptional was the M/M story and their individual stories which were very strong in their own right. Please Dan, don’t die on the road!!!

  2. Jane says:


  3. Jas says:

    Someone give this a guy a chin implant. He’s goin’ to fail in America.

  4. darcywilson says:

    You know the christmas special is gonna be a cliffhanger for him then… They’ll do whatever it takes to get him back I think, and I suspect he’s waiting to see if he gets other offers during pilot season in the US.

  5. I know you can’t really force them to renew their contracts, but Dan Stevens chose to exit at a wrong time, when his character is of the utmost importance in the story.

    I fear of a lackluster plot next season due to his exit.

    • Margie says:

      You know, it’s really the fault of whoever drew up his original contract. In the states, actors have a 7-year contract to honor, even if the show decides not to keep them. Whoever gave the Downton people season-to-season contracts goofed.

      • Dobby says:

        That’s not how things work in the UK. Actors don’t sign long-term contracts because, unlike over here, when they make a series, they plan on making a series. And, if that does well, MAYBE they’ll make another one whenever they get around to it. Think of Absolutely Fabulous. They made the first series in 1992 and then another in ’94 and then ’96 and then 2001, etc.

    • Teddie says:

      I fear a lackluster plot if he returns.

  6. Robert Taylor says:

    Things like this always piss me off because, as far as I’m concerned, “Downton Abbey” is a work of art and Stevens is doing the generations who will read and celebrate the series a disservice by not allowing Julian Fellowes to allow his character’s story to reach its natural conclusion.

    • He says he’s going to stick around for 1 episode in Season 4 for conclusion of his character. I think he’s not going to stay longer than that.

      • Amy says:

        If that’s true, it’s such bull. One episode to settle the fate of a central character? The series is based around Matthew and Mary and short of a sudden death, there’s no way to wrap up that storyline in an episode. Matthew dies, the heir drama starts up again, and the previous 3 seasons are somewhat pointless. After all the time building to a certain point, bam, things have to change. (Clearly I have no idea what happens in season 3 since it hasn’t aired stateside yet, just speculating a bit in that regard.)

      • Teddie says:

        Yes, that rumor came out over a week ago. He’ll be in 4.01 but that’s it. There’s no confirmation, but based on this new information it sounds like that will be it.

        • Sarah Dixon says:

          It’s a RUMOUR. As you say, with no confirmation, and there’s no “new information.”

          • Teddie says:

            I meant that this most recent spoiler on this site, stating that at most he would only return for part of the season, jibes with the other rumor about him returning for 4.01 and then leaving. That would be part of the season.

    • C says:

      Ugh – totally agree.

    • L says:

      Robert, I wouldn’t call Downton Abbey a “work of art” (it’s more of a period soap), but I do agree with you that it isn’t a good move on Stevens’ part. His character is central to the story and I fear the show will suffer if his character leaves/dies prematurely.

    • Carole says:

      Good show Robert Taylor! I agree!

    • victoria says:

      Very well put, I agree completely

    • victoria says:

      Very well put, I agree completely.

  7. slizabeth says:

    NOOOO. That’s pretty upsetting news. Darnnnnn.

  8. Andrew says:

    Sounds like Stevens has been taking lessons from David Boreanaz. He’ll be back if the producers double his paycheck, and that’s likely what’s going to happen.

    • Ros says:

      Why do you have to dawg David Boreanaz? That’s exactly how bad rumors (lies) get started. You have no way of knowing if Boreanaz’s salary was significantly increased, since that info was never published. Furthermore, you’re comparing “apples to oranges”, here, with David Boreanaz and Dan Stevens. Boreanaz is now into his EIGHTH season on Bones, a (full 22-episode) show that has been highly successful because of his superb acting, producing and occasional directing. It sounds like his negotiation for a raise was warranted, IF that’s what actually happened, Again, we have no way of knowing that.

  9. Amy says:

    I hope that something gets worked out so he does come back, even if it is on a limited basis. It’s understandable that he would want to pursue other opportunities, but, and maybe I’m just being a greedy Downton fan, I also feel like he should show some loyalty to the production that helped him get those new opportunities. Hopefully Fellowes can work out a plausible storyline to cut down his screen time and they can work out a part-time deal. At this point, I can’t picture someone else in the role. It’s too prominent of a role to be recast now.

  10. bigfan says:

    What a douche move. 8 hours of british TV is such a sacrifice for creating your career?

  11. Well, based on the third season, which I already saw, I think Matthew can stand to be a series regular or even recurring star for the fourth season. His characters and still is pretty big, but I feel the show has enough subplots and other interesting stories to keep on going.

    A lot of the tension from the first two seasons was the will-they/won’t they thing with Mary, and that has been largely resolved now so I can see him being around a little less in the fourth season and the show being okay.

    There is still Bates and Anna, Edith, the servants, Tom and the baby (I feel this will be a new focus for the show anyway). So yeah, plenty of stories to tell.

    • Teddie says:

      You have to see S3 to understand why the show could work without him. It would be a let-down for hardcore M/M shippers, but based on what has transpired in terms of other plot developments and ratings I think the show would go on. But again, I think making him a recurring character would hamper Mary’s storyline too much.

      • I already saw season 3, and yeah, I think the show can work out without him or with him in very small doses, I don’t think it would hamper Mary all that much, I mean, I can see some ways where she doesn’t have to be with Matthew all the time, so yeah, I think it could work.

        More than that, I trust they have good enough writers to pull it off. The show would change direction a little, but then, the family is changing directions, they are starting to realize they can’t be as they were before the war.

        • Teddie says:

          No, unfortunately, Fellowes writes it all himself. And boy does the show suffer for it.

          • Guest says:

            I agree. Fellowes writes some things well but sometimes he makes it too soapy and he could write the romantic scenes better… He should have a skilled co-writer!

    • zxc123 says:

      I don’t agree. After season 3 his role is still very central to the story. I can imagine a couple of ways in which they could make him recurring rather than a regular but given than other than the scenes with Maggie Smith, his and Mary’s scenes were on average the best parts of the episodes, I can’t see Downton being interesting with him in a reduced capacity. It’s also very, very selfish on his part. He could stay for season 4 on the condition that the season is the last one. Downton is destined to go downhill without him anyway, Julian Fellowees has another series in development and the other actors/actresses are now famous enough to find a job somewhere else.

      • siamesekat says:

        I agree with zxc123: There is no way to continue this saga if Dan Stevens is killed off. Some story lines, of course, will continue, but none will matter, since the character of Matthew is what made everything at Downton tick. Every character’s role pivots around that of Matthew, and replacing Matthew as “heir” with even an infant son will make all fans of Downton Abbey lose interest. The producers of this series gambled very badly when they chose to allow certain actors out of the cast and to exclude others for dramatic effect. I for one will not watch this series any longer if some contrived plot is dreamed up to compensate for Matthew’s “oh so tragic death” by car accident, since such a eventuality will reduce this series’ writing straight down to daytime soap opera level and basic ridicularity. Sorry, Fellowes, if Downton loses Dan Stevens, you might as well close the Abbey up now. Why not have Mary commit suicide out of grief? Have Cora and Lord Grantham lost in a hunting mishap? Kill off Carson and Mrs. Patmore with heart attacks? Have Edith slip and fall to her death while out in garden during a rainstorm? This is the sort of nonsense which will become the likely outcome of playing musical chairs with the cast of this once excellent series. I disagree with Hugh Bonneville in that I do not consider the estate house itself to be any star of this series — its people are what matters to the viewers, not just the sight of the mansion and its grounds.

  12. Lore says:


    • Monica4185 says:

      You will see them together a bunch in S3. Also as of S3 the inheritance thing changes, he is not thar important to that issue anymore. Just S3 and believe the show wont suffered.

  13. Amanda says:

    I really hope they work it out as well. It sounds like they do have till Feb before it’s official. I just can’t see how they’ll write him out and I hope they don’t kill off Matthew. Or if Dan only wants to do a few episodes why not bump him down to recurring status like what happens for our shows?

    • Teddie says:

      How does the heir and the female star’s husband become a recurring character? It would be awkward.

      • Amanda says:

        If they get divorced, if Matthew has to go to America/elsewhere, or even if he does get killed off he’ll still only be in a few episodes. There are plently of options to do this and if he appears in season 4 it’ll be recurring or as a guest star.

        • L says:

          Huh? Who says they’ll divorce? I honestly don’t see that happening (I’ve seen s3)…Either he’ll get killed off (unless the role gets recast) or he’ll be dealing with the estate off-screen.

  14. ben says:

    It is extremely difficult to see how Downton Abbey could continue in any meaningful way without Dan Stevens. He and Mary are the real heart of the show. I say this even though neither are really my favourite characters; but no matter what you think of them, they are not ancilliary, while essentially everyone else is.

  15. Sam says:

    Seriously what an idiot. I hope he flops in America with my love.

  16. Morgen says:

    It’s a soap opera. Granted, a superb one. But nonetheless, characters leave or die. The show will go on.

  17. Leah. says:

    I’m am late to the Downton party. I just marathoned the first two seasons and this news has popped my period drama buzz. Not cool, man. Not cool. Please recast.

  18. meggo says:

    NO NO NO! that is so upsetting to hear. What is it with British actors quitting shows so easily?! They have a good steady job, why not keep it the same?

  19. Jen says:

    Lady Mary cannot be a spinster if she is married, even if briefly.

    • Kim says:

      right, she’s a widow – much more “respectable.” It’s actually the best position for a woman (in the time period).

  20. SVPW says:

    The initial contracts were for 3 seasons. He did 3 seasons. If he comes for a partial, why is that a big deal? This is supposed to be an ENSEMBLE show. Another upstairs actor departed the show mid season 3 (who and why would be major spoilers) but that’s OK? I am sorry as this is clearly an unpopular move but people may choose to move on and what is wrong with that? Morgen stated it perfectly. This is a soap opera. If he leaves, he will not be the first. This show was only meant to be 3 seasons. There’s a fourth season because of the insane popularity and the dollar signs that accompany it. I watched all of season 3, mildly enjoyed it and am ready to move on. If he stays, good for him. If he goes, again, good for him.

    • Britta Unfiltered says:

      I like you that you don’t say what the spoilers are. That is very kind of you to refrain from spilling the beans. Many others would not hold back. Also, I like how calm you are about the whole thing. SVPW is the voice of reason. I feel like I need to take lessons from you on how not to freak out when my favorite characters leave other shows I watch. Downton Abbey I don’t care very much about, but there are other shows that do this to me with getting rid of my favorite characters that cause an apocalyptic meltdown inside my head.

    • L says:

      Yes, this is a soap opera. But Matthew & Mary are-as Ben put it, the “heart of the show”. Fellows had a clear direction of where he wanted to take the show. He always made it clear that they were the future of Downton Abbey. Now if Stevens leaves, the audience will be cheated out of the story Fellows wanted to tell. That’s the point.

      As for the exit of the “upstairs actor”-s/he was never central to the story, the way Matthew Crawley IS. Besides there wasn’t that much Fellows could do with the other “upstairs” character anyway. S/he had run his/her course.

    • ben says:

      The initial contracts were not for three seasons. There was not initially “meant” to be three seasons. I’m not sure where you get that from.

      • L says:

        Actually, Ben, SVPW is correct. Fellows did initially plan for 3 series. He didn’t, however, foresee Downton Abbey becoming so popular and ITV wanting to milk it for all its worth.

        Dan Stevens has also said so, that he thought it was only supposed to be three series.

  21. Jenny says:

    He’s a bum actor who really couldn’t be bothered to actually act in series three. I think he’s being ridiculously selfish (and idiotic) and unfortunately for us he is an integral part of the show. The last three seasons will render Mary’s inheritance and their romance plot line which is unarguably one of the bigger parts of the show, null and void. I’m not a big fan of his but goddamn it Stevens should act a little more like Matthew on this one with his overwhelming annoying sense of nobility and loyalty and give his character and Downton the closure they deserve.

    • Teddie says:

      If Mary has a boy, the inheritance plot will be resolved. And if the romance ends, too bad. They had one good season of a happy marriage at least.

      • Jenny says:

        I would prefer her to have a girl. Have Matthew die. The entail broken and let Mry and her daughter have Downton like they deserve.

      • Barney says:

        As I understand Brit law, if Matthew dies before the Earl, Mary’s son would not be the heir. The next closest male relative would become the heir and the Crawley’s would be back to square one. Maybe the burned Canadian will show up again.

        • Pixley says:

          The heir is Robert’s closest male relative through the male (Crawley) line — meaning if Matthew and Mary have a boy, he is closer to Robert by blood than a 4th/5th cousin would be. Plus, Robert would be the boy’s grandfather! The only thing that doesn’t happen if Matthew dies first is Mary never gets to be Countess of Grantham.

          • Piers says:

            I don’t think so. If there is a Crawley of Matthew’s generation in the direct male line, they would be the heir. The laws of primogeniture don’t jump a generation through a female descendant.

        • Sarah Dixon says:

          Wrong. If Matthew dies before Robert, his son is still the heir. The son will be the closest male relative in the male line,

          • Sarah Dixon says:

            Sorry, this is confusing, Barney and Piers are wrong, Pixley is right. Briefly, if Matthew and Mary have a son, he’s the heir to the earldom. Their son doesn’t descend through the female line but the male (as his father is heir due to being descended from the third earl). There isn’t, Piers, another male Crawley of MC’s generation – you can be sure that this has been gone into VERY thoroughly by someone like Murray.

  22. Lisa says:

    Dan, Dan, Dan, love you in this series & really think you should stay and see it through. I am sure there are many out there in Hollywood whispering sweet things in your ear but maybe you should stop and pay a visit to Shelley Long or David Caruso. They also made the decision to leave their individual successful series and both regretted their choice. Take a look at the title of the show if you are not sure….this is not the Dan Stevens show!

  23. Teddie says:

    I don’t think he is central to the show, Mary is. She has always been the lynchpin character. And the central issue has been the heirship to the estate. So long as she has a baby boy, that will be settled, and Matthew can leave.

    IMO he should just be killed off. It would be silly to have him pop in and out, and make no sense. Plus it would hamstring Mary’s potential future plotlines. What would she do, hang around and wait for him to come up on weekends? No new conflicts or love interests? It wouldn’t work. The show is a soap.

    Trust me, the fact that a couple was built up for two seasons means nothing on this show. M/M fans would not be the only disappointed ones.

    Plus he’s being a drag on the show because his heart is not in it anymore. His acting in S3 is so-so, below par if you ask me.

    I just hope they don’t disappear him for the whole season and then bring him back for a miracle reunion. Cheesy and insulting, especially considering the injustices other characters and couples have suffered.

    • ABC says:

      Now that you’ve mentioned it, they can actually kill him off once they know that Mary is pregnant with a baby boy. Problem solved.

      • Guest says:

        I thought first that it would be better for the show that both he and Mary moved away somewhere and sometimes came visiting, but now I start to believe it is better to kill him off – as long as Mary will have a baby boy to have the inheritance settled. Downton will loose far too much without Mary, she is the show’s most important character and Michelle Dockery is brilliant!

      • Sarah Dixon says:

        And how do they know that? scans? in 1920?

  24. Trenton says:

    He could take a year off….think spend time in america or somewhere else on business or for some reason, and come back. Meanwhile Mary could find out she is preggs after he leaves and deals w/ that alone and he makes it back for the birth ;p

    It’s not like traveling in that era was a fast process…so that buys them time to truly figure out a way forward whether he comes back or not. I don’t see him really going all the way through this. He is quite young and if he plays this right could go the way of Benedict Cumberbatch and parlay his BBC hit to Hollywood.

    You don’t leave a hit show for just a regular pilot in America. Maybe if he got on w/ S.H.I.E.L.D (I love Joss…and he has a history of taking smart chances w/ actors…but I’m surprised by the lack of star power on that show,) I could see what he is thinking.

    He is probably at the top of the list to replace Daniel Craig as bond…assuming they don’t go for another uberly visceral version or do something interesting like have a Female Bond….

    It seems like Downton is akin to True Blood and Game of thrones in terms of filming schedules and shorter episodes…giving the actors enough time to do one or maybe two movies a year…which seems smart allowing him to up his profile…

    Hope he comes back b/c Downton won’t go on forever, though of course it could…but British shows tend to do have short half-lives…but also tend to off their characters quite frequently. Look at Being Human…the entire cast is gone same with Misfits

    • Teddie says:

      Dan as Bond? Really? He would be a real step-down from Daniel Craig. I mean, I like Dan but seriously? He does not deserve that. I guess weirder things have happened.

      My BiL is a hardcore Bond fan and I doubt he would care for Dan’s style AT ALL.

      • Trenton says:

        Its not like he couldn’t put on muscle…its just they always seem to change up the style with Bonds. Brosnan was more suave than fighter…Craig is pure visceral rage….my guess is the next one is going to be far more cerebral. More like a mind thriller with less focus on action and more on the story. Skyfall was a huge departure from the normal formula…and with its monumental success my bet is they keep going towards that.

        That being said who else is there really that is young to late 20’s and isn’t an established big star? Aiden Turner from Being Human and The Hobbit maybe? I mean someone like Tom Hardy could take it but usually A list people don’t take that job. There is really no one out there…it all depends on what direction they take the Bond Saga going forward…but I’d be surprised if a young male lead star of one of Britain’s biggest shows isn’t on that list.

        • Teddie says:

          Frankly, I think Allen Leech, the Irish actor who plays Branson, would be better. He has far better range (action, drama, comedy), is capable of both cerebral and physical acting and is already in much better shape. And the accent is not a problem: he can do all of them. Plus, he is a better on-screen kisser and just more masculine in general.

        • Trenton says:

          I remember how people hated the notion of Daniel Craig till the first Casino trailer…. fairly sure Branson is about 5″7 on flats by the by

      • bigfan says:

        Agree. Ludicrous suggestion that he would be considered for Bond. Please.

  25. ABC says:

    His character is so central to the show. I hope they don’t kill him off. Although I’m not sure recasting will work…

  26. mia says:

    Recast sure. As long as the chemistry is right, I’m good.

  27. BritLover says:

    As much as I enjoy his character…. reeeecaaaast.

  28. EveatEden says:

    Ugh, sooooo not cool!

  29. Chuck Finley (AJ) says:

    I don’t get how people that have seen season 3, or any of the show, can say it can go on without his character. I’ve seen season 3 and that is bull. He is the heir and actively pushing his new plan for running Downton on everyone. What are they going to do, just have him get mad and take his toys and leave? He is ruining the show for what amounts to selfish reasons.

    • Teddie says:

      I have seen all of S3 and I almost feel he’s run his course. He just needs to produce a boy. In case you didn’t notice, there is a substitute male there to continue what he started. I won’t say who it is so as not to spoil it. They were happy all season, which can’t possibly continue for another season unless you want to turn them into dull Cora and Robert. Which maybe they could do, but then the two actors would have even less to do and he would get more bored.

      And BTW, having seen S3 I can say stuff can happen that you never thought would or should happen at the end of S2. Stevens leaving in part would not be the worst thing to happen to this show since S2 ended.

  30. Rachel says:

    Never thought of Dan as a DAVID CARUSO. Don’t do it. Grass is always greener. With that says, if he goes, I doubt I’ll still watch. C’mon, Dan. STAY!!!!!!

  31. Ella says:

    Oh nooooo. I never liked him and Mary together to be honest but even then, he’s one of the best things about the show.

  32. Nina says:

    Isn’t this old news? Just give him the money he wants. There, problem solved.

  33. Sophie Cathe says:

    Why he wants to leave? If Dan is really leaving, I hope they find another excellent actor to replace the role, because Mary and Matthew deserve a happy life, they are perfect together.

  34. Sarah says:

    People, please. This is totally unsubstantiated tabloid rumour in the UK,and no-one apart from the writer knows WHAT is going to happen – and that includes Michael Ausiello and his “multiple sources.” The only thing that is known for sure is that S4 starts filming in February. And, no, Teddie – there isn’t another man to provide an heir (if you mean Branson). If MC doesn’t have a son the only way there will be an heir is Robert marrying again and having a son with his new wife.

    • Teddie says:

      LOL of course Tom can’t provide an heir! I mean Mary would have a boy, by Matthew, and he would be the heir. Matthew was the only male Crawley left, so his son would be the heir.

      Sure we don’t know anything for sure. Maybe it’s a fakeout. But sometimes where there’s smoke there’s fire, and there’s been a lot of smoke. They haven’t denied it, have they? Why not?

  35. l says:

    I think it’s tragicomic that these actors (stevens and brown-findlay) think that they still have the support of the fans after ruining the show. Well, they don’t.

    • L says:

      Well, to be fair, unlike Stevens’ character Matthew, Sybil wasn’t that important to the show.DA can definitely survive her loss, so I can forgive Brown-Finlay for leaving. Besides, I don’t think there was much storyline potential for the Sybil character anyway. Married (middle class) women with children in that time period had very little options of finding work-definately NOT in nursing. Nurses were required to be single at least until after WO II, I think. And the women’s rights was given to Edith.

      I’m not really that pleased with Stevens, IF he is indeed not coming back. The loss of his character would completely mess up DA. We’d be cheated of seeing the story unfold as Fellows intended. That being said, I understand that he must be sick of it’s soapiness and doesn’t want to stay stuck to this project indefinitely. It was supposed to be three years.

      Anyway, I hope they can work it out. That he comes back at least on a part-time basis (i.e. taking care of the estate off-screen, but that we also see him from time to time with Mary, the family, servants, etc). And if not, well Fellows should consider recasting the role. Then Stevens will see how expendable he is.

      • Teddie says:

        JBF was given crap writing and almost no screen time. Fellowes didn’t care about her character, although he should have. Plus she had much better offers coming her way and is now making a film with three big stars. She would have been crazy not to leave.

        • L says:

          Respectfully disagree. JBF was given enough screen time. You seem to keep forgetting that she (or Branson) weren’t the main characters. They’re also Fellows creations, NOT yours, so he could do whatever he liked with them.

          • Sarah says:

            Well, hooray. You get it if no-ne else does. Fellowes can do what he likes.

          • Teddie says:

            I am hardly the only fan who complained about the writing in S3. With regard to all the characters, and much of the plot. Fellowes can do what he wants, but I don’t have to pretend it’s good.

      • tom says:

        Fellows has already killed Dan…so why are we still talking about this..what an idiot, I thought he was a crrative writer..he did not leave room forStevens to return!

  36. La says:

    I actually think that the actors leaving downton are two of the least skilled, so i’m not too worried. Except for them, I can’t see them making it in America with their mediocre skills. The show and the sets have made them look good, but if you concentrate on their individual scenes, you see what I’m talkin about.

    • L says:

      This isn’t about Dan Stevens or his “skill” (or lack thereof), it’s about his character. Matthew Crawley is essential and getting rid off him would throw DA completely off balance. Fellows would have to write something completely different than what he had planned.

      • Sarah says:

        This is about the only sensible comment I’ve seen. Dramatically it makes no sense for Matthew to go, Fellowes has spent three series GETTING him here, and if you knew anything about the writer you’d know his agenda – my money’s on Robert…

  37. L says:

    If it’s true that he isn’t planning on returning, I really hope he reconsiders. I don’t think it’s a good idea for him to leave. Not for him and certainly not for the show. His character is too important, too central to the story. If he really doesn’t want to come back-and that is his right-Fellows would have to alter his direction of Mary and Matthew becoming the new Earl and countess. DA would become even more of a mess, something completely different than Fellows initially intended. That would be such a shame.

    So, I pray that Stevens is aware of the consequences of his departure to the show. And if it is indeed definite that he isn’t coming back, then I think Julian Fellows SHOULD recast the role. It’s the lesser of 2 evils. Matthew Crawley is an essential character (and of course I love his love story with Mary too), so we just can’t afford to lose him. And that way we don’t get cheated out of the story Fellows originally had in mind.

  38. Jill says:

    I only watch for Bates and Anna anyway so his leaving wouldn’t bother me that much.

  39. Templar says:

    While I have nothing against Dan Stevens, IMO he’s always played Matthew as though he was bored with the role. I could adjust to a new actor playing Matthew/

    • Teddie says:

      Exactly, he’s bored with the role. It was obvious all of S3. If he comes back, he will be even more resentful and drag the whole thing down. That’s not fair to the other actors who give it their all every scene.

      • Sarah says:

        He was a judge for a major literary prize in the UK which meant he was reading the candidate books between takes,and I agree, it showed.

  40. dorsky says:

    i just hope really, really, hope that dan stevens reconsiders.,.. because i don’t think a recast will do. No sir, matthew crawley is dan steven period. No other actor will do.

  41. Lauren says:

    This is terrible news. I really hope dan stevens reconsiders. He’s been such a big part of the show for 3 seasons and everything will change (for the worse) if he leaves. I don’t know why he wants to leave a successful show… but I can’t help but feel annoyed at him for wanting to do it. Actors who jump ship from the show that made them famous annoy me. Thanks for leaving the fans in the lurch.

  42. BGC says:

    Not only would his leaving ruin several story lines in the show, which of one, unfortunately, as everyone has pointed out, is one of the main story lines with Mary, I think that move would seriously hurt his career. I mean, let’s face it, I would have no idea who he was if it weren’t for Downton. Downton is basically what has given him the fame he has and although I, of course, wish him well on his endeavors, I think it’s terrible of him to just up and leave the show. I think he owes them, as well as the fans, more than just an abrupt 1 episode wrap up. Personally, if that’s his choice, then I think they should recast the role, as much as it pains me to say it, because without his character, Mary’s character would undoubtedly suffer, as, again, would many other story lines. Unfortunately, no matter what they choose to do without him, the show will hurt some ensuing his departure. For me, at least, it would take some time to become accustomed to the change. On the other hand, the writers have yet to disappoint, so it could make for an exciting prospect of what they’ll come up with to carry the story along. It’s probably what they were thinking when they made Branson a larger part of the story in the third series, keeping their options and story lines open. And though I would definitely feel bad for Mary and would miss Matthew and/or Stevens depending on their choice of which direction the show would go, I cannot object to allowing Leech a larger part in the show…if he wants it, of course. But after all, he’s sticking around, isn’t he? I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see what happens in this year’s Christmas special to see which tables are turned…

    • Teddie says:

      My concern is that many consider him an integral part of the show/story. And it’s true, as Mary’s husband and the heir he is. But it seems as if he doesn’t want to return for the whole series, only for a few episodes. Since there are eight episodes in a series, maybe he would do four?

      But since he IS so integral, having him there for only half the season would be awkward. If he is essential, he should be there for most if not all of them. Even in S2 during the war he was constantly popping back to Downton or shown on the battlefield. I just feel if a central, lynchpin character suddenly disappears for half the season and then returns it leaves all sorts of balls in the air. Other characters can’t move on, the plot doesn’t really move forward. Things stagnate.

      Matthew dying would be sad and tragic but the finality of it would allow the story and characters to develop other plot lines. And really, the focus of the show is the estate and the Earldom. As Robert said, they are only custodians. So long as Matthew produces a boy/heir and the estate is financially sound, he has served his purpose.


      • L says:

        I disagree…Matthew could easily be tending to ‘estate business’ offscreen, while the other sl’s (including Mary’s) move forward. And still make regular appearances when the script calls for it. So, yes coming back part-time is definitely doable. It’s better than not coming back at all and forcing Fellows to completely alter his story…

  43. Larc says:

    I’ll be sorry to see Dan Stevens go, but careful casting should produce a suitable replacement. I think they could find somebody whose acting style lacks the periods of melodrama that Stevens occasionally lapses into. The last thing Fellowes should consider is writing the Matthew character out. He’s too much a storyline anchor for that.

  44. Jinjeon says:

    So British people have their own Katherine Heigls and David Carusos. Good for them!

  45. Eve says:

    I think it is terribly sad he wants to leave, yer I understand that he wants to move on. Maybe Dan, you could be on a part time basis, ie Mary and Matthew move out, and Matthew doesn’t visit as much as Mary? But I think if we want to be fair to all of the actors, (despite being a huge fan) I think the series should end after a s4 Christmas special, or the show ill drag out and lose it’s special place on TV. If Dan HAS to leave, then possibly make it so he goes to work abroad, or is just recurring, but killing him off would IMO be too much for Mary, after losing her sister and it will destroy a main story line which I favour. Now if what I have seen for the Christmas special of s3 (as I am from the UK) is true, then possibly the succession role is solved. But also, he must think of his impact, what will happen to Isobel, least of all Mary. So I hope Dan at least returns part time, for key scenes like a possible birth. but of course we can’t force him, though it would be a grave loss if he did leave altogether.

    • Dizzle says:

      Exactly. And with the short seasons and filming schedules, there’s no reason why – if he came back for the first episode – they couldn’t film some more scenes with him at the time, then spread them out over the season. With so many characters and storylines it wouldn’t be a huge loss if he was only in 1/2 scenes an episode.

      • Teddie says:

        They offered JBF the option to return for fewer episodes in S4 and she turned them down. Sometimes an actor just wants to move on. It is actually a grueling filming schedule because of multi-actor scenes.

  46. Madworld430 says:

    I think is a mistake. He can still make movies and do Downton, they only film 8 episode per series and a christmas special. If he were filming 22 to 24 like the american series, and he wanted to leave to do movies I would understand, but it’s only 8. It’s a mistake of huge propotions. That said I really don’t think the show will suffered if he leaves. He might be the heir of the title but in S3 something happens with the estate that changes things.

  47. Dizzle says:

    I don’t understand why so many people are up in arms about this decision. If it is true, the actor has every right to leave, and the show will compensate. People were alarmed when Caruso left NYPD Blue but then Jimmy Smits came on board and the Diane/Simone years are often thought of as the best of the entire show. Nobody knows yet how this is going to go down, or how the show will storyline this potential departure, or the ensuing look of the show. No point getting upset when nothing has even been scripted or filmed yet! I’m going to focus on the fact that we WILL be getting a new series of Downton, regardless of who is in it!

    • Pixley says:

      Completely different situation, because of the supercouple factor. This would be akin to Patrick Dempsey leaving Grey’s Anatomy. Narratively speaking, this is one-half of Downton Abbey’s supercouple (and yes, I know Downton has other couples but Matthew and Mary do get the largest portion of airtime *as a couple*). Even Heigl wasn’t that — Alex/Izzie were a couple, but not THE main couple. This seems unprecedented, to me, simply because of the role of the character (who simply exists *because* of the love story/family story and for no other reason).

      I’m trying to think of the last time a relatively popular show was *forced* to break up a supercouple because one of the actors wanted to leave. I can’t recall, but maybe someone has a better memory than I do.

      • Sarah Dixon says:

        Supercouple? Mary and Matthew? in S3 watching paint dry would be more exciting.

        • CB says:

          What, are you a sour-grapes S/B shipper? JF has written iconic scenes between them throughout all 3 seasons. Yes, Mary and Matthew are a supercouple. Deal with it.

          • Teddie says:

            You sound more sour grapes to me. Not everyone finds M/M captivating. i don’t.

          • L says:

            I agree, that Matthew and Mary were/are the main couple and main love story. They’re definitely my favorites (and didn’t find them boring at all) but I’m aware that not everyone feels the same way. Whether you like or dislike them, it’s entirely subjective. There’s no wrong or right opinion. So can we please get along, instead of turning this into a shippers war or whatever? I also don’t understand why S/B fans always have the need to trash Matthew and Mary. So immature. They’re different couples with different dynamics. One is not “better” or “worse” than the other. It’s just a matter of taste. I’m not really a fan of S/B (they were written awfully in s2, so it was hard to get behind them however they had some sweet scenes in s3) or Anna and Bates, but I don’t feel the need to bash them, out of jealousy and bitterness.

          • Sarah says:

            No. Robert and Jane shipper for ever. Deal with THAT. And learn the meaning of iconic.

      • Teddie says:

        But he doesn’t just exist because of the love story. The love story was so he could marry Mary, keep the estate in the immediate Crawley family, provide an heir. Without a male Crawley the title would have died with Robert. Matthew kept the title going, and if he has a boy he will preserve it for the future. PLus, Mary gets Downton, which is what she always wanted. She wanted Matthew too, but Downton means the world to her. When she thinks they are going to lose it, she is devastated.

  48. Tom says:

    Sounds like Mr. Crowley might be booking a flight on the Hindenberg at the end of this season. Wouldn’t a marriage to Lady Mary followed by Matthew’s untimely death basically fix the entail problem — at least for another generation? All the better if Matthew gets Mary knocked up (with a male heir of course) before he gets knocked off. Then widow Mary would be free to date next season. Send in the replacement actor. I hope Dan Stevens talks to his agent about this decision because it sounds fairly easy to fix script-wise

    • Piers says:

      Not necessarily. If Matthew dies the nearest male Crawley of Matthew’s generation [if one exists] becomes heir. The only way for Mary’s son to inherit is if Matthew is Earl when he dies. And that means killing off Hugh Bonneville first.

      • Pixley says:

        Thank you for this — I wasn’t aware of it. Although it makes it more depressing…it also makes it less likely that Fellowes would kill off Matthew (because not even Mary having his son would prevent the last three years from being completely null and void if Matthew dies). Fascinating…

        • Sarah Dixon says:

          Utter rubbish. I can assure you that if Mary and Matthew have a son, he will be earl. Doesn’t matter if Matthew dies before Robert, that just means that the son will succeed to the earldom after his grandfather rather than his father. Piers is talking nonsense (and I’ve studied this for years).

          • Pixley says:

            Ah, OK. Thanks for clarifying — I appreciate it. I don’t know much about this and am trying to learn.

        • Teddie says:

          WHy would him dying make the last three years null and void? It still happened, they were happy, it still counts. And if they have a boy there is an heir and the Earldom is safe. They will have fulfilled their destiny by reproducing.

      • Sarah Dixon says:

        No, wrong. Matthew’s son can succeed to his grandfather even if his father is dead. There is no other heir apart from Matthew, anyway.

        • Tara says:

          OK. But what if Canadian Patrick rears his head again?

          • Sarah says:

            If – BIG if – he can prove he IS Patrick Crawley, then he’s Robert’s heir. Patrick is much more closely related to Robert than Matthew is.

          • L says:

            Canadian ‘Patrick’ is gone. He was a fraud. Doubt we’ll be seeing him again.

          • Templar says:

            That’s what they said about Stefano Dimera on Days [how many times?].

          • L says:

            LOL…Templar, that is true ;-) However, while Downton Abbey, is very soap-y, it still has a long way to go before it reaches DOOL’s epic levels of absurdity and O.T.T-ness.

            I personally think ‘Patrick’ will never be seen again, let alone seen…but, ya never know.

          • Templar says:

            It would really throw a curve ball if he came back and was proven to be Patrick, because Edyth would be all over him like a cheap suit. And if she married the heir there would be hell to pay with Mary.

    • Teddie says:

      ITA and it would be much more interesting to watch than another season of M/M cooing at each other.

      • You're fooling no one says:

        snowandsadness, please go back to Tumblr and stop spamming this post with all your rabid Dan Stevens hate. It’s nothing but a desperate, albeit futile, attempt to make it appear as though the majority of fans share your opinion when we can all see it’s just you.

        • Teddie says:

          WTH? What hate? Quit trolling. You want to see DS hate, check out his own fans’ reactions.

        • Teddie says:

          BTW, plenty of other posters here have stated that they are not that impressed with his acting and/or that they feel he can move on and it won’t kill the show. Don’t act like it’s just me, because it’s not. I don’t hate Dan and I don’t blame him for wanting to move on. I recognize that he has been a central character, but if he wants to leave they can deal with it. It happens all the time.

  49. Anneliese Schnieder says:

    Since the Mary/Matthew story line is one of the more important ones in Downton Abbey, I say recast him. There are a lot of good and better British actors who can easily replace Dan Stevens. Without Mary/Matthew I wouldn’t watch the show nor purchase the DVD(and I bet I’m not the only one). Also I bet without the Mary/Matthew story line the show will be ruined and there will not be anymore series.