Maggie Smith Teases Downton Abbey Exit: 'I Certainly Can't Keep Going'

Downton Abbey Season 6

Downton Abbey‘s Dowager Countess may be known far and wide for her wickedly dry sense of humor, but Maggie Smith‘s latest comments about her character’s future on the show are no laughing matter. (OK, they’re actually pretty funny.)

Speaking with the UK’s Sunday Times, Smith addresses the long-standing rumors of her departure, and she does nothing to put our worried minds at ease.

“I certainly can’t keep going,” she admits in the new interview. “To my knowledge, [Violet] must be 110 by now. We’re into the late 1920s.”

While this isn’t a direct confirmation of her eventual exit, Smith’s words do nothing to put our minds at ease. Fortunately, this is “nothing we haven’t heard before from Maggie,” executive producer Gareth Neame tells our sister site Deadline, explaining that Smith’s involvement with Downton has always been on a year-to-year basis.

Then again, following the events of the Season 5 finale — in which Carson proposed to Mrs. Hughes, Edith’s big secret finally came out, Mary found a potential new suitor and Tom took off for America — maybe next season should prove to be the last for all of the Crawleys.

Do you think Downton could continue without its matriarch? And when should the period drama finally fade to black? Drop a comment with your thoughts 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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36 Comments
  1. schu says:

    The family is going to be all split up! I’m anxious to see where they take it next season. Perhaps a whole Crawley escapade in America might be in order.

  2. Paul E Aman says:

    This is the one issue the show does not deal with…age. They have jumped ahead every now and then; they started with the Titanic – what 1912; its now 1925; Violet has to be pushing 85 when the series started?

    • Larc says:

      By my reckoning, Violet would be about the same age as Maggie Smith (80) when the last season ended (probably Christmas 1923). This assumes Mary was about 20 when the series story started in 1912 and had been born when Robert was 24 or 25, and Robert born when Violet was 24 or 25.

  3. Larc says:

    I think Maggie’s character is the most interesting one on the show by far. She would be missed, but the Dowager Countess is at an age when death starts to be expected. There are still other interesting characters with story potential, though. I hope Downton can continue through the WWII period at least.

  4. I think the series should end with Violet’s death. She is the heart and soul of the Crawley clan, and I can’t imagine Downton without her.

  5. Michelle says:

    This show has been the most incredible source of entertainment over the last 5 years. I simply can’t ever recall looking forward to turning on the TV as much as I do on Sunday evenings. The characters, the history lessons, the variety of well addressed topics and the detail to etiquette and costume, the dialogue and the incredible wit and charm of Maggie Smith have all left me with a beautifully enriching world to escape to for 9 weeks out of the year! I hope to see it and Maggie Smith continue on past Season 6 even if that puts her at 120! If anyone could live that long with their wit intact it would be her!

    • Dane says:

      Completely agree . The thought that it will end some time is so upsetting. Just look forward to every episode.

  6. Carole Brusa says:

    I’ve never enjoyed a TV more than Downton Abbey….even gave up watching the Oscars for Downtown. Julian Fellows should write a spin off about the earlier years of the Dowager Countess taking place in Russia and romance with the count. Could film it being narrated by Maggie Smith the Dowager and showcasing her dry humor into the script. Plenty of action in Russia during those years!

  7. Ignacio says:

    I think the story could be as longer as producers want. But please do at least two seasons more. If the series end this year, it will be extremely shocking for fans

  8. Twinkie King says:

    Downton Abbey has a lot of possibilities for longevity. I do think they need to deal with the Dowager Countess’ age issue before the story line becomes laughable on the age issue with all the players involved. Of course, the Dowager *could* have been about 65 when the show started out, so perhaps the age thing *could* remain believable for a while longer. Remember, back then, people were thought OLD at 65, but some did live to be much older even in those times.

    • herman1959 says:

      I think that next year should be Downton’s last because the stories are starting to get thin. They could do a small time jump to explain what happens to the main characters – maybe at the retirement of the Carsons.

  9. Kayla says:

    Violet and Isobel scenes are really my favorites at this point.

  10. Mary says:

    And Isis had to be the world’s oldest Labrador Retriever when she bit the dust…

  11. Walkie says:

    She didn’t “tease” her exit. She outright said she’s leaving after season six.

  12. Lyann says:

    We just started watching Downton Abbey last summer and have watch all 5 season and I have now got alot of my co-works watch it and now you are saying it will be over next year I have love watching Coronation street Downton is 10 times better and there is so much history build in to the story lines please let it go on

  13. Ro says:

    I personally think that the show should go on for two more seasons, as I think one season is perhaps to little to wrap everything up.

    Another option is that they wrap up all the current story lines and the majority of the main cast and move the show up 10 years. It would be sort of like starting a new show. Carson and Mrs. Hughes would be retired, as would Mrs, Patmore. Barrow might be the new butter and Daisy the new cook. Anna and Bates could still be around or off in America. As for the family, the kids would be in their mid to late teens and they could sort of take over the Mary/Edith roles (and as much as I hate the idea of Tom dying I want Sibie back at Downton in the future so something would have to happen to make her return.) Other characters like the Dowager and Mrs. Crawly would probably have passed.

    It would sort of be like a new show, and give the old show new life. Also we would get to see the UK at a really interesting time: Wallace Simpson, the rise of Hitler in Germany, socialist and fascist movements in the UK, and eventually WWII.

  14. Candy says:

    Glad you figured that all out– that would have been too much brain power for me!

  15. Corrie says:

    I just wanted to say that I knew I liked Maggie Smith from the 1st time I really
    noticed her acting! Which was during the Potter series, I really admire the experience that this strong #independent woman has racked up during her life!!! That’s all folks!! Shake & bake to this incredible person/soul! I only wish to be at least half of the person you’ve created for yourself Maggie Smith!!! Thank you for sharing your experiences & being the person you are w/o compromising who you are to get ahead!! I’ve never seen the show that this article is referring to, but Maggie Smith is someone that I aspire to be like someday…. at least the parts that she has decided to share with the #WorldWideWeb & #PlanetEarth

  16. Ally Oop says:

    Maybe she’ll run off with that Russian prince. This season’s Downton Abbey left things open for almost every character to leave except for Mary and Cora. I am still hoping something happens to make Tom stay.

  17. Ally Oop says:

    Maybe we can get a spinoff with Tom and Sybie in New York!

  18. Charles Carbery says:

    Madame Smith should go at a ripe old age of 150!

  19. Huge Fan says:

    I hope Downton Abbey goes on forever. It’s a wonderful show. I always hate to see it end and have to wait for the new season. If Maggie Smith dies in real life, then there won’t be any other option on the show. However, I think it would be a horrific loss if she left before her time. I like all of the characters on the show, or at least most of them, but she’s outstanding. I don’t know what we’d do without her.

  20. Hester Cohn says:

    D.A. is at least or better than “Upstairs Downstairs”, and how long did that last?

  21. linda mogio says:

    I never want it to end. If the show hadn’t rushed through time (1912 through 1927) in five seasons it could have gone on forever. I know, I’m dreaming.

  22. RockyColo3 says:

    I love the series, but I think the end of Season 5 actually tied it all up, and I would have been content if it was the last. Will watch 6, but expect it to be a prologue to a story that is complete.

  23. Will Smith says:

    My prediction is that the Earl of Grantham next year will divorce wife Cora and marry Daisy, the cook’s helper downstairs. Lady Edith will discover that her lover, thought to be dead in germany, is alive and serving as a missionary in the Belgian Congo, will take little Marigold and become an African. Lady Mary will confirm what has long been suspected, and undergo surgery to become a male of the species, becoming Lord Marvin. Tom Branson will, indeed, move to America, change his name, and become a United States Senator.

  24. Downton Abbey has been a wonderful return to beautiful ethics and very good, decent human-beings! The family and most of the cast; have modeled people who love, respect and care for each other very much. It is like the “old greats” where people respected and valued one another for themselves;against the backdrop of a privileged physical environment. The backdrop of the elegant country home/castle; a very elegant Dowager Countess(a very bright,quick-witted, erudite “lady” and also;Isobel–learning the ropes from The Dowager!).; Time for “polite company” and safe/social talk;dancing; musicians. The period clothes for men and women are just beautiful; jewerly for the women and all the scenery is just beautiful!! A trip back to yesterday; we never knew! This entire production has been and I pray—continues indefinitely; with or without The Countess(Dowager); for a view into the “better side of life—-people can respect and enjoy one another!!!!

  25. Becky Kern-Taylor says:

    Well I have purchased all five seasons and will purchase the 6th season and when it is over I will CRY AND CRY AND CRY. I have watched every episode several times and each time find something new to giggle or cry about. As one posted comment stated, it is so nice to watch these wealthy lovely people, that have so much heart, travel through life so elegantly. NEVER have I enjoyed a show so much, and if you think about it all 5 seasons is the equivalent of probably 20 movies. Never have I wanted a movie to go on for that long. The acting, the dialogue, the settings, the characters, the respect, the kindness, the intrigue, the plots, the clothing, the different characters, everything about the series is just done so so well.

  26. dan blackman says:

    sad, but I have really really enjoyed every minute of this series

  27. MEG says:

    Everything has an end, I just want it to be a happy one, for everybody, up and down the stairs of Downton Abbey. And certainly we cannot do without the superb wits of the Dowager Countess and I don’t want to see her death… I better get the season finale!
    I’ve been faithful fan, buying all the series with the Christmas’ extra DVD. I’ll treasure it to watch in my golden years : ) Thanks to Julian Fellowes and all the cast for a marvelous gift to us all!

  28. John Clayton says:

    Downton Abbey is a classic ,please don’t overdo it! It will be enjoyed for years to come.

  29. John Clayton says:

    Does anyone know when the DVD season 6 will be available?

  30. Donng Young says:

    I think this show could successfully continue on even through the great depression but that was only in America in the ’20’s so how would that affect England? and I think continuing the story line on to America to follow Tom would prove very interesting.