- The Dowager Countess has some of the funniest lines in the show.
"What is a week-end?"
Lady Grantham: Good heavens, what am I sitting on!?
Matthew Crawley: Er..swivel..chair.
Lady Grantham: Another modern brainwave?
Lady Grantham: Why does every day involve a fight with an American?
- Right after Matthew and Sir Richard have a fight, following Mary ending the engagement, and deciding to leave Downton Abbey first thing in the morning:
Sir Richard: (to Lady Grantham) I doubt we'll meet again.
Do you promise?
- In the same exchange discussing the lamp broken in the fight. Matthew apologizes for breaking it.
Lady Grantham: Oh no need, it was a wedding present from a frightful aunt. I have hated it for half a century.
- Let's not forget this gem, after Pamuk's death:
Lady Grantham: Of course it would happen to a foreigner. It's typical. No Englishman would dream of dying in someone else's house - especially somebody they didn't even know.
- And when discussing the scandal with Cora
Lady Grantham: We can't have him assassinated. . .I suppose.
Lady Grantham: It's not that I dislike him, I just don't like him.
- When Cora suggests Mary visit New York to cool off from the Pemuk scandal, Violet says she's not that desperate.
- When Cora says "Things are different in America", Violet says its because Americans live in wigwams.
- Anytime Violet shows that singing is beneath her dignity.
- Anything Violet says and does.
- The Dowager Countess' mini-rivalry with Mrs. Crawley is almost too much fun to watch. Their constant one-upping of each other often provides much-needed comic relief in an otherwise very dramatic series.
Violet: You are quite wonderful the way you see room for improvement wherever you look. I never knew such reforming zeal.
Isobel: I take that as a compliment.
Violet: I must have said it wrong.
- After Mrs. Crawley accuses the Dowager of telling Mary to refuse Matthew until Cora's baby is born.
Dowager Countess: Your quarrel is with my daughter Rosamund. I told her to accept him, so put that in your pipe and smoke it.
- Made even better by the quick shot of Carson's rather pleased reaction.
- When Coras' mother is visiting, Lady Grantham has this gem.
Lady Grantham: I'm so looking forward to seeing your mother again. When I'm with her, I'm reminded of the virtues of the English.
Matthew: But isn't she American?
Lady Grantham: Exactly.
- Mr. Carson's reveal of his shameful past as a stage performer, which to him seems to be on the same level as murdering someone.
- That said, Carson's stuffy nature can become so hilarious that it's an inside joke among some of Downton's residents. Among one of his more memorable moments is his epic rivalry with the new telephone.
- O'Brien hazing Ethel.
- Mrs. Patmore unsuccessfully trying to inform Daisy that Thomas isn't interested in her. Daisy doesn't seem to understand what "He's not a ladies' man" and "he's a troubled soul" are supposed to mean.
- This exchange between Lady Grantham and Sybil, right before Edith's wedding:
Lady Grantham: I really think you should go to bed. No bride wants to look tired on her wedding, that means she’s anxious or up to no good.
Edith: I won't sleep a wink.
Sybil: Tonight or tomorrow?
Lady Grantham: Sybil, vulgarity is no substitute for wit.
Sybil: You started it.
- It's EVERYTHING that Sybil does in this scene that sells it. She raises an eyebrow, smiles to herself when she hears "I won't sleep a wink", looks straight at camera, says her line then drinks her tea while looking away. ITS HILARIOUS.
- Although this is a little sad in hindsight, when one realizes that Edith is once again the least fortunate sister even in this regard. Consider that Sybil's marriage to Tom, a handsome and fiery rebel is clearly passionate, considering how quickly she got pregnant, Mary has married the dashing and romantic Matthew and the first two episodes of season 3 made it clear that their relationship certainly does not lack passion. This impending marriage, on the other hand, does not seem likely to yield much in that department.
- The Dowager Countess' disdain for the new-fangled dinner jackets.
Violet: Certainly not! Oh, do you think I might have a drink? (turns and sees it's Robert) Oh, I'm so sorry. I thought you were a waiter.
- Robert Crawley, Earl of Nonchalance:
Robert: If I'd screamed blue murder every time someone tried to kiss me at Eton, I'd have gone hoarse in a month.
- As everyone discusses the deadly serious topic of Branson's involvement in the burning of an English family's castle in Ireland, Violet can't help repeatedly bringing up how ugly the place was.
- Robert cementing himself as not the brightest man by suggesting he invest the family's finances with an American chap named Ponzi.
- Even better, you can see Matthew facepalming at the suggestion.
- This exchange (about Thomas after he was outed)
Mrs Hughes: Do you think he's the first of. . .that type I've met?
Carson: I should hope so!
- Molseley dancing like a maniac after being hit by the liquor meant for O'Brien.
- While it happens in the middle of a very serious scene, this troper found it hilarious that Robert was commended for being smart enough to use modern methods to handle the finances at Downton, thus saving it from future financial ruin, after he spent several episodes fighting tooth and nail whenever Matthew tried to implement said methods.
- About Cora's pregnancy:
Robert: How could this happen?
Cora: The doctor will tell you the details by a glass of whiskey.
- New footman Jimmy is irritated when Carson introduces him to the Crawleys as James:
Jimmy: I was Jimmy to Lady Anstruther.
Carson: I don't care if you were Father Christmas to Lady Anstruther!
- The clash between The Dowager Countess and Cora's mother, Martha Levinson. Played to absolute perfection by Dame Maggie Smith and Shirley MacLane. A propper, aristocratic British Matriarch + An eccentric rich American matriarch = fun for everyone!
- It's not strictly from the show itself, but Graham Norton decided to share some Tweets with Dan Steven on his show after Matthew's death. Watch the segment here.
"Matthew had BETTER be in a coma and not dead. And don't use the doctor that killed off the sister".
- When Mrs. Hughes reveals that a person standing in the airing cupboard can listen to a conversation in the kitchen through a vent, so she knows why Bates suddenly left with his wife, Vera.
Carson: If I were a gentleman, I would not wish to know.
Mrs. Hughes: But you're not.
Carson: Fortunately. [closes door]
- Daisy the Deadpan Snarker when Ivy and Daisy discussing Ivy's plans for the evening.
Ivy: What do I wear?
- Violet is outraged to hear Isobel describe her new life after Matthew's death, and tells her there's no need to eat off a tray!
- Matthew notes in a letter how stupid he was to not get his will in order after getting married. Violet responds "I'm afraid I have to agree with him there," which is filmed almost like a Shakespearian aside.
- After Violet comments on Branson's lack of conversational skill:
Robert: Not everyone can be Oscar Wilde.
Violet: Thank heavens for that.
- Robert managing to say without a hint of irony how great it would be to have people serve your every need, while Carson is serving him dinner.
- Carson's biting Sarcasm Mode throughout negotiating with Molseley to replace Alfred.
- The militaristic soundtrack during Alfred's cooking class.
- Carson getting Squicked out by Mrs. Patmore talking about how hot Rudolph Valentino is.
- Mary casually discussing how Thomas will love scoping out the hot ship's crew if Robert takes him to America.
- The final shot of series 4 (minus the Christmas special): Violet, Rosamund, and Isobel all surreptitiously leaning forward to watch Mary's suitors all driving off together.
- "What is the plural term for suitors?"
- Violet's gobsmacked face when Isobel and Lord Merton start getting along.
- When Mary meets with Jack Ross to convince him to break things off with Rose, the entire scene is more or less very bittersweet from start to finish. There is one amusing quip from Mary, though. When Jack guesses that Lord Grantham wouldn't be very happy to have a black in-law, Mary says, "To be fair to Papa, I think he'd be more shocked by the fact that you're a singer in a nightclub."
- This exchange, as Carson gets the servants to help setting up the bazaar:
Jimmy: Will we be paid extra?
Carson: No, but if you play your cards right, you'll avoid being clipped around the ears.
- Slade constantly getting on Carson's nerves with his American service style.
- "Daisy, may I ask why you are holding Lady Sybil's biscuit jar?"
- Carson, Anna and Mrs. Hughes stopping Tom's plot to throw slop on Gen. Strutt. They thought he was going to kill him!
- Tom arriving so he and Sybil can announce their engagement, unknown to everyone.
Tom: I'm here.
- Cora's increasingly horrified expression as the lovers explain their future plans.
- The darkly comic Mood Whiplash caused by Pamuk's death. From a passionate love scene to "He's dead. I think he's dead".
- Robert and Violet awkwardly trying to pose for a photo with the Catholic priest who baptized Sybbie.
Cora: Are you afraid you will be converted while your back is turned?
- Sybil gasping at Mary when she walks out of the sitting room when they were talking about Pamuk's death.
- When Mary tells Matthew the story of Perseus, Sybil can be seen intently listening.
- How easy it was that Violet could see through Edith and Rosamund's plan to have Edith give birth in Switzerland.
- Edith and Violet discuss giving up Edith's unwanted baby in Switzerland.
Edith: Is it alright that it should grow up Swiss?
Violet: Switzerland has everything, except perhaps conversation. And one can live without that.
- Poor old Molesley inadvertently dyeing his hair blue. (He'd been attempting to cover his grey hairs with black dye, but went overboard, turning his hair a sort of midnight blue colour.)
- Really, that whole subplot was gold. Highlights include Robert asking Molesley if he had any "Latin or Spanish - or Irish?" blood, and then telling Carson that Molesley was not to come upstairs until his hair was no longer blue.
- There's a crisis at Downton, and Robert is frantically running from room to room to alert people. Imagine his surprise when he stumbles upon Jimmy and Mrs. Anstruther getting... ah... frisky! He goes from screaming "Fire! Fire!" to deadpanning "There's a fire."
- Mrs. Patmore's fury with Daisy (who refuses to put those "bally books" away and has been shirking her duties). When Daisy says she's been studying the "glorious revolution of 1688", Mrs. Patmore snarls "There'll be a glorious revolution down here if you don't watch it!"
- The Crawley's totally over the top reactions to Sybil wearing pantaloons. Downton's known for it's long reaction shots, but this scene really lingers on everyone: Cora seems on the verge of fainting, Violet is decidedly not impressed, Matthew is clearly enjoying the fun while poor Robert is just confused. Then of course you've got Branson grinning at the window, hinting he was in on Sybil's plan.
- Martha arriving in Series 3 Episode 1 and unleashing the bells of hell onto Downton with her American ways. Tis very funny.
- After all the drama and suspense over Robert finding out Edith has an illegitimate child, his only reaction is pretty much "Cool, I'm in on a family secret for once!" Also, the way Marigold's looks put him in mind of Gregson rather than his own daughter.
- Presumably, this was unintentional but it gets a few childish sniggers.
Robert: Still in one piece, thank God.
Matthew: Touch wood.
Robert: I never stopped touching it.
- Violet's furious reaction to Susan's announcement of her divorce and mentioning that is she expected to be a "good loser"; Violet says there is nothing "good" about what Susan did — and the pursing of the lips seals it too; it's all funny, mostly because Violet is from the 1840s and grew up in a time where Susan would have been beaten with a cane for speaking like that. She's probably thinking "Can I get away with hitting her and not be seen?".
- Violet promptly standing up when the King's voice comes over the radio, getting the rest of the family to follow.
- After Simon Bricker spends a whole dinner shamelessly flirting with Cora, Robert goes to bed demanding she tell him to stop flirting...with Isis!
- Daisy (the lowest ranking servant) actually believing she'll meet the Duke of Crowborough back in the first episode.
- Violet and Edith's desperate attempt to get the dinner party conversation back on track after Robert storms out from Bunting pushing his buttons one too many times.