Downton Abbey Recap

Downton Abbey Series Finale Recap: How Did the Crawleys Say Goodbye?

I hope you adequately savored that final shot of a snow-covered Downton Abbey on Sunday, because it was the last one we’re ever going to get.

The PBS drama ended its six-season run on a high note, giving us pretty much everything we could have possibly hoped for: Edith and Bertie are married, Mary and Henry are expecting a “young Talbot,” Tom and Laura are on the cusp of romance, Anna and Bates are the proud parents of a healthy baby boy, and Thomas has been given new purpose as Downton’s butler. (Sorry, Carson!)

Heck, the 90-minute affair even brought an end to Denker and Spratt’s timeless feud, which could have easily been the subject of a high-octane spinoff.

We’ve assembled a gallery of the best moments from the series finale below, which you should peruse after grading the super-sized sendoff. Then, one last time, drop a comment with your full review of the episode.

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. Annie says:

    *coughs* erm…was I the only one kinda hoping that Mary and Branson would end up together or

    • Alessa says:

      You’re not the only one though. Sadly, Fellowes decided it was better to shove Talbot down viewers throats than explore what might have been with Tom and Mary. :(

      • alanlicious says:

        Yikes. Tom & Mary “together” in the other sense? That might’ve been a bit incestuous. Mary & Matthew were pretty close to incestuous (albeit they were DISTANT cousona, i know)

        Getting involved with your (dead) sister’s husband…DA wasn’t a soap opera lol (although there were moments it may have bordered on it)

        There’s nothing wrong with a strong, platonic bond between male & female characters. I for one am glad the show never went there with them. It made them more…….admirable in a way

        • JoMarch says:

          Actually, DA was MOST definitely a soap opera, just in period dress. However, dead sister’s husband seems a bit yucky even for a soap opera.

        • Wendy says:

          Yes, nothing wrong with not sleeping with your in-laws and keeping things just friends. The qualities that Tom most loved about his wife are probably the qualities he would want in a future partner. Edith’s editor (Laura?) seemed more to his liking.

    • I am so so satisfied with this. Love that Edith finally got her happy ending.

    • I thought that for a while – but then Mary really is a snob and I think she would think she was betraying Sybil for some reason. Tom will end up with the Editor, who is like minded.

    • Kathy says:

      The UK Law of Kindred Affinity would have prohibited Mary and Tom from marrying. It stated that one could not marry your sibling’s surviving spouse. I know changes were made in the 1940’s or thereabouts, but at the time of Downton Abbey, this still would have been in affect. I suspect Julian Fellowes knew he would take flak for that had he gone down that particular road!

  2. Ben says:

    As usual, I felt like the Dowager stole the episode with her reaction to Spratt. It was fitting she had the final say.

  3. Bonnie says:

    I wonder why Fellowes chose the only sad ending in the character of Carsen?
    The plot was redeemable with Barrow being asked to return, but still sad with a long-faced Carsen dealing with a incurable neurological palsy. Kinda felt sorry for the old bloke.

    • Tee says:

      The last season kind of destroyed the Carson character for me. I liked him throughout, except for the last season. His expectations of Mrs. Hughes, his putting “the Holy Family” before everyone including his wife, his refusal to adapt and change with the times, and then his forced resignation due to “the palsy”…I just feel that the Carson I know and love went away once he and Mrs. Hughes began to plan their wedding.

      • Megan says:

        I wonder if he had dementia and Parkinson’s.Some of things he was saying to people made no sense.

        • GregK says:

          He probably had “essential tremor” which might not be a symptom of anything serious. I get these too. He should do what an aging, gray haired Terminator does in Terminator Genisys when he gets shaky hands: karate chop a table twice and vehemently declare “I’m old, not obsolete” Now that I am in my 70’s, I say this most everyday. Dementia also unlikely, just aging brain problems.

    • JoMarch says:

      I didn’t see Carson’s ending as sad. People get old; they get sick, and he had to retire some time. He was still keeping a position of respect.

  4. Bonnie Horner says:

    Thank you for such a well written and awesome acted show that makes everyone around the world appreciate how a show can touch all of our lives no matter, race, money, background, or religious beliefs.

  5. so all but six series regulars either paired up or hinted at pairing up and those six didn’t really have much of a choice give they consist of a widow, two spinsters, and three gay men.

    • Ben says:

      A bit confused about this. Barrow, obviously. The Dowager. And then Clarkson, who wasn’t gay. That’s all in the main cast I can see that were not connected.

    • Maureen says:

      I’m also confused by this. The only gay man I knew of was Barrow. And the only other man not paired up is Dr. Clarkson, whom I had zero impression was gay. So who are the other gay men you are speaking of? And the only woman not paired up was Violet.

      • Maureen says:

        I did just now remember Spratt and Denker.

      • Barrow obviously, spratt, and Doctor Clarkson are the three gay guys. Doctor Clarkson revealed he was gay in his conversation with Barrow about Barrow’s problems with his sexual identity when Barrow got sick using the injections he bought to cure his gayness. the widow is Violet and Danker and Rosamund are the spinsters.

        • Liz985 says:

          I never got the impression that Dr. Clarkson was gay. I think his conversation with Barrow was more along the lines of him being a more enlightened medical professional, relatively speaking, and giving Barrow support. He had, on more than one occasion, challenged the old orthodoxies and beliefs, as when he called out the London doctor who mishandled Sibyl’s delivery. Plus, he did want to marry Isobel and seemed quite put out when she chose the other guy. I think an established bachelor of his age wouldn’t have the need for a beard at that late date. As for Spratt, for me as a viewer, his sexuality was a non-issue, but I think it’s almost funnier if wasn’t gay. I mean, a stuffy old butler writing a ladies agony column? That’s Julian Fellowes at his best.

          • Megan says:

            Clarkson isn’t gay either.He loved Isobel and wanted to be with her and she wasn’ t interested. As a dr, he probably has seen other people trying the cure like Thomas did and wanted them to stop.

        • Megan says:

          Spratt’s not gay. He like’s to have a secret identity Just like a lot of people on the internet like to pretend they are someone else.

  6. Lyn says:

    Was the girl who caught Edith’s bouquet her editor? I couldn’t place her.

    • Tee says:

      Yes. I got the impression that her catching the bouquet hints at a possible future with Tom, due to his “we like powerful women here” comment before she sat down in the church, and then catching the bouquet.

    • SM says:

      That was her paper’s editor.

  7. sammy says:

    MARY AND TOM? THIS IS DOWNTON ABBEY (WHERE PEOPLE FOR THE MOST PART BEHAVE LIKE PROPER PEOPLE!) Not BOLD AND THE BEUATIFUL! GOOD LORD! The mere thought that ppl wanted Mary and Tom to end up together?? I feel like The Dowager at her clueslessness at what a weekend is. No!
    Tom was in love with Sybill. She was his world. Yes he has to move on. But it doesnt have to be with Mary. His sister for all intents and purposes! No I won’t have it!

    It was a brillaint episode that hilighted what I loved about Downton. Its a family show. Tradition and Change working hand in hand. They found the balance at the end. Sundays shall not be the same.

    • PatriciaLee says:

      My 90-year-old mother kept expecting/hoping for Mary-and-Tom, and mostly all she watches other than Downton Abby are endless news programs. Go figure, because I can’t! I have only seen this last season, with her, and she is looking forward to our sharing the whole series via dvd. So her Sundays with Downton will continue. You need to introduce Downton to a viewing buddy, too. I’m with you on Mary and Tom, NOT. Fellowes made the right call and plotting. Mary, definitely, needed to marry someone who would get her out of the house, sometimes…haha.

  8. Jenna Smith says:

    No way were servants treated as depicted in Downton Abbey! Julian Fellows must be getting paid extra for masquerading the truth! Historical records show that servants were ill fed and over-worked! A maid giving birth in a Lady’s bedroom?? Get real Julian! What is he smoking? Happy happy endings like this one are boring!! Im glad the series is over! It offended our intelligence! Good riddance.

    • Sheryl says:

      Why on earth would you watch a show that bored you and offended your intelligence.

    • PatriciaLee says:

      Historical fiction writers have studied these topics in minutiae for decades. Some were treated well, and some weren’t. The sense of responsibility for the area surrounding the great house was real, dating from Medieval times. As far as babies, they have always dropped when and where they wanted, down through the history of mankind. Well crafted happy endings give hope.

    • Ben says:

      All of our TV Shows are historical documents, didn’t you watch Galaxyquest?

    • Jake says:

      Yes, wouldn’t that be fun, watching some depressing show about people treating each other badly – there’s too much of that on TV already, we don’t need to see more…

  9. Sissy says:

    Managed to keep a stiff upper lip until Mrs. Hughes started singing. Christmas and a wedding at Downton, picture perfect. Hail to fair Edith FINALLY getting her happily ever after with husband Bertie and little Marigold. Would I buy an used car from Talbot and Branson? Heck yeah! And one last note…poor dead Isis would have caused less discussion if she had given birth in Lady Mary’s bed. Really, with all those men in the house, surely someone could have carried Anna to another room?

    • Morisot says:

      I, too, was fine until Mrs. Carson started singing “Auld Lang Syne”.

      There were two sour notes.

      Carson’s meltdown at the reception. The Carson I know would have either finished pouring with the other hand or quietly sought help. Thomas still could have stepped in and helped. And the family still could have noticed and come to the same resolution. (Carson would rather fall on a sword than cause the family even the slightest embarrassment!)

      And yes, Anna giving birth in Mary’s bed ! No way! (Heck, my membranes ruptured and I finished cleaning the house before I went to the Doctor. And he sent me to the hospital. And we all were fine.) Anna could have walked to another room or, like Sissy said, one of the men could have carried her.

      These were, erm, two blots on an otherwise fitting and lovely ending to the series.

      (And I don’t want any specials down the line — someone will have died or there would be relationship troubles—please, just no!)

      • Sissy says:

        I totally agree with Morisot on Carson’s meltdown at the reception. It also surprised me that he didn’t keep that stiff upper Butler’s lip and quietly ask someone to assist in pouring champagne for the guests. He would not dare to cause embarrassment to the family when so many swell guests were in the house. His consternation would have come after the party in his downstairs office.

    • Megan says:

      I felt bad for mrs hughes.she deserved a better ending. If she was born in a different time she probably would have been a judge or a professor. also a few of the LOVE matches felt forced and fake.

  10. Drew says:

    I was kinda unimpressed with it as a series finale. It felt like any old season finale. The only real closure came from Carson, whose story mirrored the changing times.
    I was hoping for more about what happened through the rest of their lives. Times are going to get really hard, pretty soon. A show set in the past gives you the rare opportunity to flash forward. I wanted to see old Mary sitting in a rocking chair in the 1970’s, going on about the changing times, the same way Violet does on the show.

    • herman1959 says:

      It was a nice ending with no surprises; they just HAD to have the Christmas wedding and they did. Now, I’m looking forward to the return of Grantchester.

    • JoMarch says:

      One of the best series finales was “Six Feet Under”; it progressedthe characters and even showed some of their deaths. Very well done. DA went the easy way, tying up everything in a nice bow for a good-feelings episode. People watched it for escapism so I guess that’s the only way it could go.

    • Megan says:

      I kind of picture the house becoming a museum in the mid fifties and George, rose and mary’s other sons having a big reunion for the whole town. And what’s left of the family and staff and their families all come after being scattered during the war.

  11. Ro says:

    The comments in the photo gallery are hilarious!

  12. danoregon says:

    Was that the first reference to Carson’s and Mrs. Hughes first names?
    Thought it was great. I too had always wondered about what made the British different. Glad to find out it is the weather.

  13. Curly says:

    I enjoyed the finale from beginning to end and didn’t mind all the happy endings for the most part. Last week’s episode was the one I had long wait for with Edith finally having it out with Mary. I’m still hopeful for a future Christmas episode to see Tom get his personal life settled, it feels like they dropped his romantic life completely this season, but clearly the Magazine editor gal is supposed to be his suitable match. I don’t just enjoy the different couples I have always gotten a kick out of seeing how the staff and family react towards modern inventions entering their lives, so it was fun to see the hairdryer introduced & perplex Daisy. I had no idea electric hair dryers existed back then. I am curious if Bertie will adopt Marigold or is she to remain Edith’s ward all her life? It would have been ok to me for Violet and Isobel to remain single together since they made such a fun friend couple who didn’t need a man any longer. I’m going to miss this series so very much.

  14. CW says:

    This is how a series finale should be handled. Just perfect! What a wonderful cast, crew and creator/writer! Oh, how I’ll miss this show.

  15. Liz985 says:

    Nice little touch was that George gets to grow up with his favorite butler, just as Mary did. Now Julian Fellowes needs to jump 20-25 years ahead and we need to see George’s post-WWII Downton Abbey world.

  16. Morisot says:

    What a wonderful series. The vision. The attention to detail. The story. The actors. The beautiful production. Outstanding on every level. Bravo !