“Is that quite fair to deprive a man of his livelihood when he’s done nothing wrong? Your mother derives some satisfaction from her work at the hospital, I think, some sense of self worth? Would you really deny the same to poor old Molesley? And when you are master here, is the butler to be dismissed? Or the footmen? How many maids or kitchen staff will be allowed to stay, or must every one be driven out? We all have different parts to play, and we must all be allowed to play them.”
—Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham
Set in an Edwardian country house beginning in 1912, Downton Abbey (2010-) portrays the lives of the Crawley family and the servants who work for them. Robert Crawley, the Earl of Grantham, has three daughters, but no sons. Since the title must be passed to a male heir only, Crawley's cousin James and James's son Patrick are the heirs presumptive. Then both James and Patrick die in the sinking of the RMS Titanic. So what will become of the Earl's fortune? This Succession Crisis drives the plot of Downton Abbey. Who knows? Maybe it will be resolved without much fuss.Much like earlier series Upstairs, Downstairs, the drama follows both the aristocratic family who own the house and the large staff of servants who make it tick. The second series dealt with the effects of World War One on the entire household.It is not called Downtown Abbey.
Provides examples of
Almost Kiss: Sybil and Branson, many times through season 2, possibly in the last episode of season 1, too. Anna and Bates, also.
Altar the Speed: Deconstructed, somewhat; Daisy feels pressured into going through with the wedding due to William's impending death, and subsequently feels that the whole thing was a lie - she later thinks differently after actually meeting with her father-in-law and takes his advice to advance up the career ladder for the beginning of Series 3.
It's never directly stated, but Bates is more or less this for Moseley since Molesley not only lost his chance at being employed at Downton when Bates returned but also has a crush on Anna, who is in love with Mr Bates.
Ambiguously Jewish: Cora was born with the very Jewish surname 'Levinson'. The Chronicles of Downton Abbey series companion reveals that her father Isidore Levinson was Jewish, but Martha is not—Cora and Harold were therefore raised as Episcopalians.
The dialogue sometimes has a flavor that is not very period accurate. See article here, see also Badass Boast below.
The portrait of life in a noble house—in particular, the intertwining of the lives of upstairs and downstairs residents—is not terribly accurate. Real-life estates the size of Downton Abbey in that time frame had much more separation between the lives of the masters and servants.
But it should be noted that this is not driven by artistic decisions but rather by actors leaving the show.
Appeal To Inherent Nature: Mary argues that she's inherently contrary and that it would be against her character to want to marry anyone who anyone else wanted her to marry. She proves it when, after falling utterly in love with Matthew, she still turns his marriage proposal down, balking solely because marrying him would fix everything and be what everyone wanted to happen anyway.
The first episode when the ominous "entail" is finally explained to those not familiar with archaic inheritance laws. Robert's lawyer almost uses the exact language, "as you well know..." Yes, Lord Grantham would know about how his money, his real estate, his title, and his life's work will descend upon his death and need not have this basic information conveyed back to him.
Similarly, Matthew is a lawyer who specializes in corporate law. Yet he has to ask his mother whether there's any legal mechanism for him to refuse to inherit the earldom.
Also, in episodes following Kemal Pamuk's death, various characters will go into minor but unnecessary detail about the manner of his death, along the lines of "do you remember the sudden death of that Turkish gentleman?" The ridiculousness of the question even gets lampshaded:
Robert: I think I can be relied upon to remember any guest who is found dead in his bed the next morning.
In the series 2 Christmas Special, Matthew has Robert explaining the practicalities of the Servants' Ball to him, even though Matthew has been the heir of Downton for quite a few years by now and one would have expect him to have been at the ball at least once before...
It is possible, however, that this was Matthew's first Servants' Ball. In August of 1914, Matthew left the Village and soon thereafter went to war. Matthew's opportunities to attend the ball were limited for various reasons between the onset of the Great War and early 1920.
Badass Boast: Cora's explanation for why she is not that upset over the prospect of having to sell Downton Abbey and move into a smaller house: "I'm an American: Have gun, will travel." Of course, this is something of an anachronism, as, while the phrase "Have X, will travel," was common in newspaper classified ads from the early 20th century onwards, the specific phrase "Have gun, will travel," did not become popularized until the 1957 television series of that name.
Beauty, Brains, and Brawn: The three Crawley daughters can be viewed this way, with Mary (socially accomplished, stunning and subject to numerous suitors throughout the series) as Beauty, Sybil (politically inclined and a trained nurse) as Brains, and Edith (learns to drive and works as a farm hand) as Brawn.
Yet Edith shows herself to be plenty Brainy with her articles, and Sybil is undoubtedly beautiful.
Benevolent Boss: Robert. Furthermore; all the Crawleys are rather even-handed with the staff to the point where even Lady Violet goes out of her way to pull strings for characters like William, the footman. Although she was likely trying to do a favour for Robert and Matthew rather than William and Molesley.
Don't let Bates catch you being mean to William or Daisy. Bates also gets his buttons pressed when his estranged wife Vera threatens to ruin the Earl's reputation, as well as the Earl's family and Anna, if he doesn't return to her.
Don't insult William's mother in front of him.
Robert is the most even-tempered man imaginable until his youngest daughter gets herself involved in political riots.
Or his family decides to (*gasp*) eat lunch made by an ex-prostitute.
Never, ever challenge Cora's authority in her house.
And when Sybil dies, Cora goes a little crazy when she starts to think that Sybil's death is Robert's fault.
Carson is a whole panel of berserk buttons.
Anna flatly refuses to have "no proper place" in Mr Bates' life when Vera's final scheme takes effect, and orders him to marry her despite his protests. He doesn't want to drag her into his troubles, but she swears that they "will face [this crisis] as man and wife" and finally lays down the law.
Big Fancy House: And how. The real Highclere Castle has a starring role as Downton Abbey.
Big Screwed-Up Family: By Lady Violet's standards, certainly. For example, Rosamund - a noble lady by birth - married someone of no nobility, and Violet finds no end of chances to pick on her deceased son-in-law; Rosamund's brother, even worse, married an American (albeit one with the money necessary to save/secure the estate and more than willing to adjust to the English ways). With Robert having no sons, the family's best chance to keep the estate in the family name is to leave it to a third-cousin who is a middle-class solicitor from Manchester and a perfect stranger at the start of the series. Then there's Violet's niece who is constantly at odds with her husband as well as coming down hard on her rebellious teenage daughter, Rose, who is caught having an affair with a married man.
Book Ends: Robert always seems completely unsuspecting when Telegrams of Doom drop into his hands. Granted, the first was a freak disaster; but the second comes amidst weeks if not months of building unease in the global news.
He was a little distracted by his wife's surprise pregnancy and miscarriage.
British Accents: There are a fair few examples on offer—from RP (Robert's family and guests), Yorkshire (Alfred and Mr Mason are especially bucolic), Glaswegian (Miss Shore) and West Scots (Mrs Hughes).
British Brevity: There are seven episodes in the first series and eight in the second and third (plus the Christmas specials).
In season one, Daisy is the lowest-ranking servant and is not supposed to be seen by any of the family.
Edith seems to have this role within the Crawley family. Even her parents expect her to be the one "taking care of [them] in [their] old age", and are none too pleased at the prospect.
Molesely. Poor chap keeps trying to advance his position within the Earl's household. He's valet to the heir, which means he'll almost certainly be valet to the Earl when the current Earl dies, but he keeps trying to move up now, and every time he gets slapped back down, whether by the surprising return of Bates early in series two, or by his own nervous drunkenness at the end.
Call Forward: Matthew: "[I'm only going] to Coventry. It can't be that dangerous." Within twenty years or so, Coventry will have been bombed almost into non-existence by the Luftwaffe.
Cannot Keep A Secret: Every time a character confesses a secret to another, chances are the person would pass it on to somebody else, or there would be a third person eavesdropping anyway. You'd think after a while nobody would bother to ask people to keep secrets any more.
Cannot Spit It Out: Dr. Clarkson would like to marry Isobel, it seems, but he can't quite form the words in the Season 3 finale.
Card-Carrying Villain: Thomas and O'Brien. It's unclear why they do any of the things they do beyond petty jealousy and the fact that they simply like hurting other people.
During a conversation with a blind soldier during season two, the writers all but outright have Thomas state that his evil is a mixture of Freudian Excuse and He Who Fights Monsters; in his case, him being a homosexual and a servant, which puts him in the position of having to work for assholes who treat him like shit rather than being in control over his own destiny.
Cast Herd: Happens often with the upstairs and downstairs characters.
Character Check: Mary and Edith discuss their apparently ongoing Sibling Rivalryin the wake of Sybil's death, after spending most of the third season interacting with perfect civility, even being friendly and supportive at times.
During the latter half of Season two, Lord Grantham is a jerk to Cora seemingly out of nowhere.
In the series three opener, Robert loses his (that is, Cora's) fortune at the same time as Matthew comes into one. Does that all seem too tidy? Don't worry, Mary immediately as good as demands Matthew's money for the good of the family, and objects so strenuously when he explains that he feels unworthy to take it in the first place that it's uncertain whether they will marry after all.
Continuity Nod: A few, for example regarding changing fashions. Robert's first purchase of a tuxedo is seen (by Violet at least) as a silly dress-up game; a few years later it's a recognised fashion, though not one regarded as suitable dress for a white tie dinner.
In season 3, Anna can be seen wearing Mary's plain nursing dress from season 2 - probably a hand-me-down gift.
Convenient Miscarriage: This trope befalls Cora in the series one finale, presumably to avert the actual wrench that everyone has been anticipating will be thrown into the resolution of the Succession Crisis.
Cool Car: Wealthy Edwardians had some quite imposing brass-era limousines and tourers. Not all the cars should be there, though; any number of steel-radiator Ford Model Ts can be seen in the first series, a style that was first offered in 1917 (and likely not seen in great numbers in the UK until after WW 1).
Cool Old Lady: Violet. "Put that in your pipe and smoke it!". Lady Cora's mother, Martha Levinson also, with her twinkling forward manner and modern attitude
Death By Despair: Matthew believes that Lavinia "died of a broken heart" after finding out that he still loves Mary. It turns out in the third season that she wrote to her father shortly before her death, telling him of Matthew's kindness and nobility, so probably not. It was just the Spanish flu.
Defiled Forever: This attitude runs to the heart of the Kemal Pamuk incident. He says he knows she won't cry out because even to be found with a man in her room would ruin her reputation, knowledge he essentially blackmails her with. Sure enough, when the news inevitably gets out it makes it that much harder for her to find an eligible suitor, and describes herself as "damaged goods".
Deliberate Values Dissonance: Several examples that today are commonplace, like a woman having a lover before marriage, or inter-class marriages, are treated with utter horror by the inhabitants of Downton Abbey. Also, the notion of a lady undertaking any job harder than trying on a dress or flirting is treated with contempt, especially by the Dowager Countess.
The idea that anyone of high station might take gainful employment rather than just manage the estate is initially disconcerting to all of the Crawleys and most of the servants, as well. Some of them gradually warm up to it, although it's still seen as somewhat odd that Matthew would continue his practice as a solicitor (considered a very low-class profession in Britain at the time).
Note well: the problem isn't with him being a lawyer, but rather a solicitor. It wouldn't have been terribly unusual if Matthew had been a barrister, which was one of the few professions which the gentry could take without shame—particularly because it was the best way to get into politics or the judiciary. On the other hand, solicitors, who handle the drudge work of the legal profession in England (providing law-related business advice; drawing up contracts, articles of incorporation, deeds, and wills; settling disputes out of court; conducting legal research; writing briefs; serving as the first contact for criminal defendants) don't generally argue cases, and back then had little chance of advancement outside of becoming a better-known solicitor. As a result, they were viewed with a skewed eye by most upper-class English in those days.
They slam this hard in the opening of the eighth episode of the third season, when Carson discusses that Thomas will have to leave Downton because of his homosexuality.
Carson: I cannot hide that I find your situation revolting, but whether or not you believe me I am not entirely unsympathetic. You have been twisted by nature into something foul and even I can see that you did not ask for it. I think it better that you resign, quietly...
The result of that storyline is arguably a subversion, though; apparently almost everyone already knew Thomas was gay, even some people upstairs, and most are fine with it. Robert even admits that he had some guys come on to him at Eton and was none too fazed by it.
Witness also the complete reversal regarding Edith's courtship of Sir Anthony. From a perfectly acceptable relationship, indeed superior to Sybil's and surprising for an unfavored middle child, with an older gentleman in the first season, Sir Anthony immediately becomes abhorrent to the family in the third. This is because he was injured in the war and lost the use of his right arm. Overnight he went from a good match to a doddering old cripple.
Denser and Wackier: Season two. While the first season is a rather understated comedy of manners, the second is much more densely plotted and veers at several times into full blown Soap Opera. Plot lines involve a con man faking a relative coming back from the dead with amnesia, a suicide-murder frame-up, pregnancy of an unmarried woman, a miraculous medical recovery and a rather superfluous affair. Somewhat justified in that the years it covers include World War I and the Spanish flu pandemic, which brought with them a great deal more death and suffering, and social upheaval, than the residents of Downton would have been used to before the war.
Depraved Homosexual: Thomas' encounters with Pamuk and Crowborough. And in the third season, he's manipulated into this with Jimmy, by O'Brien, who wants to punish him for not supporting Alfred.
Deus ex Machina: The giant pile of Swire money that arrives to save Downton Abbey in Season 3.
Dinner and a Show: Frequently, with the "upstairs" drama often interspersed with the backstage exploits of the servants preparing the meal.
The Disease That Shall Not Be Named: Mrs Hughes has a breast cancer scare in season three, and tries very hard to keep quiet about it to everyone but Mrs Patmore. Though they're willing - albeit uncomfortable - to use the C-word, the straightest use of the trope is when Carson tells Cora she's "ill... perhaps very ill".
Disposing Of A Body: Not so much disposing as in getting entirely rid of it, but disposing in the sense of secretly moving it to cover up a damning situation when Kemal Pamuk dies in Mary’s bed.
Dogged Nice Guy: William to Daisy. In the beginning, Matthew to Lady Mary. Branson to Sybil.
Do Not Do This Cool Thing: Classism, sexism and racism are horrible things... but damn, it must be awesome to be a male member of the British aristocracy in those days! Awesome houses, no need to work, servants to order around for your every whim with no real need to treat them as human beings or build any kind of reciprocal relationship. And throwing them the slightest bone of decency makes you look like Father Christmas.
Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Bates to Anna. Ethel very nearly says this to Mrs. Hughes when the two discuss how her baby son, Charlie, should meet his paternal grandparents in a nicer place than the hovel in which she and the child were living in.
Don't Split Us Up: Ethel's reaction when Major Bryant's parents ask her to let them adopt her baby and have her walk out of his life. She refuses. Until season three, when she gives him to them so he can have a better life
Dramatic Irony: Cora, Anna, and Mary carry a dead body from one end of the house to the other, by themselves, and with only Daisy noticing. The following day, after the body has been discovered, Lord Grantham worries about the ladies and female servants' state of mind. After all:
"We must have a care for feminine sensibilities. They are finer and more fragile than our own."
Edited for Syndication: Originally aired in the U.K. as seven episodes, most of which are about forty-five minutes long, except for the first and the last episodes, each of which clock in at a little over an hour. When Downton Abbey first aired in the US, it was condensed into four ninety-minute episodes of Masterpiece on PBS. The U.S. DVD restores the full-length U.K. version.
The Edwardian Era: Even though Edward VII's successor George V is king during the show's setting, the Edwardian era is generally accepted as lasting until the outbreak of World War One in 1914.
Evil Duo: O'Brien and Thomas. They seemed in jeopardy of splitting up at the end of season one, after Thomas joined the army and O'Brien was atoning for causing Cora's miscarriage, but it didn't last long. As of season three, they've fallen out again over Thomas' mistreatment of Alfred (or something).
Exact Eavesdropping: Thomas hears just enough of the Countesses' discussion of Violet's search for a new maid to think they're talking about replacing O'Brien. Admittedly, it doesn't help that O'Brien herself overhears the Earl and Countess talking about ''firing her’’.
Exiled to the Couch: In the latter episodes of season three, Robert is forced to sleep in his own room for several days while Cora is blaming him for Sybil’s death.
Fallen Princess: Lady Mary after sleeping with Kemal Pamuk and then having to cover up his death.
Fancy Dinner: There are many of these. Matthew screws up at his first one. Also of note is when they try to hold one of these during the war and are severely affected by rationing. And as always, we see these from both the perspective of the Crawleys and the servants, in something of a subversion of the trope (including the "screwing up" bit: Alfred screws up his first dinner by using incorrect service).
Fiery Redhead: Mrs Patmore and Ethel. Averted by Gwen, who has a very sweet temperament.
Thomas, when Bates suggests a search for the missing snuffbox which Thomas had hidden in Bates' room.
Anna, when Bates tells her he bought the rat poison he thinks Vera used to commit suicide.
When Jimmy tells Carson that he feel he ought to go to the police about Thomas's homosexuality, this is Carson's response.
For the Evulz: Thomas and O'Brien, and they often have no identifiable motivation. And ironically, the one thing O'Brien at least thought she had a motivation for (planting a bar of soap so Cora would have a fall, and wouldn't fire her) is the only one for which she actually shows regret.
Foreshadowing: Sir Anthony's comment in episode 3.02 that "there's never been a safer mode of travel" than the automobile.
Genteel Interbellum Setting: Starting at the end of Series 2, all the boxes are checked—on the surface. May count as an aversion or subtle subversion, as the social change of the 20s is definitely present—in the background most of the time, but sometimes (such as Series 3, Episode 8) the tumult comes to the fore.
"Get Out of Jail Free" Card: Branson's hatred of the institution of aristocracy goes out the window when Robert offers to use the old boy network to get the police off his back. He is motivated to agree so as not to drag Sybil down with him.
Girls Need Role Models: Sybil and Gwen. Whilst Mary and Edith partake in the The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry, Anna pines hopelessly after Mr Bates, and Daisy is relentlessly manipulated by Thomas, it comes as a relief to watch Sybil and Gwen form an inter-class friendship based on Gwen's desire to become a typist and Sybil's interest in women's emancipation.
Anna falls into this category - she's shown to be an incredibly competent worker, a loyal friend, and a very dedicated wife. The scene where she demands that Bates marry her in season 2 shows that she's no pushover. Then, with Bates in jail, she doesn't just sit around and mope but finds a way to prove his innocence.
Mrs. Hughes. Fabulous at her job as housekeeper, cool as a cucumber whenever there's a crisis, and a definite Team Mom to the house staff. In Season One she had a chance to marry a man she liked, but turned him down because she realized she was much happier at Downton as a working woman.
Edith starts to move in this direction in Season 3, when she follows in her younger sister's footsteps by writing a letter to the Times criticizing the limitations of the government's attempt at women's suffrage (which restricted it to women over 30 who owned a certain amount of property). Arguably a way to redeem the character in the eyes of this trope after she spent the first few episodes of the season chasing Sir Anthony and then acting like her life was over when he jilted her at the altar. Either that, or the writers are just giving her the plots that would have gone to Sybil had she not been McLeaned.
Gold Digger: Plenty of them! Robert originally married Cora for her fortune. The Duke of Crowborough is interested in marrying Mary only if she inherits the estate. Lady Edith wanted to marry Matthew so she can remain at the estate and inherit in Mary's place. Mary hedges about accepting Matthew’s proposal when it looks like he might not inherit Downton (influence by another, however). Lady Rosamund points out that Mary is marrying Sir Richard solely because he is rich (which isn't entirely true). The debt-ridden Lord Hepworth wants to marry Lady Rosamund so he can buy back the estates of his childhood home.
Good Old Fisticuffs: Thomas vs. William, and our Will valiantly carries the day. You half-expect Mr. Carson or some of the other staff to break into applause.
Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Thomas and O'Brien smoke the cigarettes of evil. In one interview with Rob James-Collier he said he feels that was their common bond; stepping out for a cigarette would give them the chance to get out from under the watchful eye of Mr. Carson and plot their schemes.
Gorgeous Period Dress: The series' producers did an excellent job of dressing the actors and actresses portraying the upper-class characters in the elegant costumes of the last years of The Edwardian Era, and of costuming the performers portraying the various servants in period-appropriate uniforms and outfits.
Happily Married: Robert and Cora, with some bumps in the road that are always smoothed out.
Rosamund and Marmaduke, were, according to all press pack material, happily married until his death.
Violet and her husband, Patrick, fifth Earl of Grantham were this too. Violet gets tearful twice in season three over the mention of his death, so it was a happy marriage until he died.
Sybil and Branson, after a few hiccups in season three due to Tom's actions with an arsonist group that get them kicked out of Ireland are VERY happily married... until, yes, you guessed it Sybil dies in childbirth. There's a pattern here. See it?
Has A Type: Robert has been in a committed, loving relationship with his wife, Cora, for thirty years. He has a brief dalliance, that never goes beyond stolen kisses, with a housemaid who, like his wife, is a brunette with piercing blue eyes and devoted to her family.
Hello, Nurse!: Gender-reversed with Jimmy the handsome footman, who gets both the downstairs ladies, the upstairs ladies, and Thomas to light up with interest, and causes a disapproving Carson to say that hard work and industriousness is more important than being handsome.
Historical In-Joke: While casting about for alternative ways to make money in the third season finale, Robert mentions a chap in America who promises huge returns on investment, some fellow named Ponzi...
Branson and Sybil are prevented from eloping when Mary and Edith, whom Branson taught to drive, chase after them in the car.
O'Brien's goal since the beginning of Season 3 was to make Alfred First Footman, and decides to take revenge on Thomas when he tries to sabotage Alfred. In her plot for vengeance, O'Brien makes Thomas believe new footman Jimmy has feelings for him, which leads Thomas to enter Jimmy's room without permission and attempt to make advances on him while he is asleep in season three. The end result, though, is that Lord Grantham hands Jimmy the position of First Footman precisely to keep him from reporting Thomas to the police.
Holding Hands: Sybil and Branson have a bit of a moment with this in episode seven.
And again in 2x08, after Robert gives his consent to their marriage.
Hopeless Suitor: Poor Molesley. He's got no chance with Anna, considering how desperately she loves Mr Bates. His interest doesn't last for long though.
For the duration of an episode, Edna is blatantly trying to win the affections of Branson, but eventually he admits that he can’t consider loving anyone other than Sybil.
Cora getting pregnant...and then losing the baby. And then finding out that it was a boy.
Bates and Anna's engagement and subsequent happiness come crashing down when Vera appears.
Edith finally gets engaged to Anthony Strallan, only for him to leave her at the altar.
Sybil gives birth to a healthy daughter, only to suffer a violent seizure and die moments later.
Everyone is worried about probable complications with Mary’s premature labour. She and the baby come out of it fine, everyone is ecstatic... and then Matthew is killed on the way home from the hospital a few short hours later.
I Don't Want to Ruin Our Friendship: Isobel Crawley gives a speech to this effect to Dr. Clarkson, without even realizing that he intends to propose. She’s citing this as the reason she doesn’t want to consider remarrying at all.
Idiot Ball: Come season three, it's seemingly taken up residence in Robert's brain. first he discovers he's lost Cora's fortune in an foolish investment (and wonders about reinvesting with "this chap called Ponzi"). Next it's revealed he's been mismanaging the estate for years. Then he refuses to consider Matthew's improvements, even though Downton could be lost again if he doesn't. Finally, he hires a useless doctor to treat Sybil purely because he's a Sir, ignores Doctor Clarkson's warnings about her pregnancy and overrides everyone else's advice to have a caesarean, leading to his own daughter's death.
It made a short outing to Thomas, who ends up outed after losing himself completely over his current crush - this after surviving at Downton for ten years. (Though much of the staff and family mutter awkwardly about having already been aware of his homosexuality.)
If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...: Matthew to Richard Carlisle, if indirectly. In Episode 4 of Season 2, he tells Mary that if Richard Carlisle ever hurts her, he'll have to answer to him. Considering he's now serving as a Captain in World War One, this is a warning not to be taken lightly.
Branson and the other servants are discussing politics. Branson thinks that the outbreak of war will be a good thing for dissolving class tensions. To prove this he points out the capturing of the Tsar and his family. The other staff look horrified.
I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Repeatedly, from all three directions in the Mary/Matthew/Lavinia triangle, though of course a jumped-up commoner like Richard Carlisle wouldn't have so much decency. Lavinia even dies telling Matthew that now he can be with the woman he loves, and it's implied that in the last Ouija board scene it's Lavinia guiding Matthew and Mary to be happy together.
Just Eat Gilligan: All things considered, the household would run a lot smoother if those in charge just got rid of Thomas and O'Brien. And we see this in action in early Season 2, when Thomas is fighting on the Western front... but it doesn't last.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: The Dowager fits this trope; underneath the cold exterior she does care, and is utterly shattered when Sybil dies; she ends up hobbling across the hall, adjusting her veil and looking, for the FIRST TIME IN THE WHOLE SERIES like a devastated old woman who has just lost her granddaughter. It's a sad sight, to see someone so powerful in tears! That's how bad things are - and you know things are bad when even the Dowager is crying!
A bit less so after a genuinely horrendous time in the medical corps. By the end of Season 3 he's been swindled out of all his life savings, threatened with prison, and when for the first time ever he does something selfless he's beaten up by two thugs. It's safe to say that karma caught up with him.
O'Brien: she caused Cora's miscarriage, informed Edith about Kemal Pamuk's death in Mary's bed, told Vera that Bates had broken his promise and came back to Downton (as well as creating another avenue for the Pamuk scandal to potentially ruin Mary's life), almost got Thomas sacked or worse, caused various smaller problems and NOTHING has happened to her. NOTHING!
Kick the Dog: Mary's brutal passive-aggressive mockery of Sir Anthony at the garden party. While Edith definitely deserved to be taken down a peg, her suitor did not, and it verges on What the Hell, Hero? level cruelty.
Kissing Cousins: Second cousins Mary and Patrick were informally engaged, though they didn't have much say in it; Edith was in love with Patrick. Mary and Matthew are fourth cousins, but this is only very technically this trope; fourth cousins have only marginally greater risk of genetic problems than unrelated couples (which on average has the same level of genetic risk as fifth cousins).
Love Triangle: Quite a number. There are three sibling triangles: Edith being in love with Mary's late arranged fiancé Patrick, Edith pining for Matthew, whose interests lie in Mary and vice versa, and Mary incorrectly thinking that Sybil has developed a small crush on Matthew after a Rescue Romance. Mary was also interested in Napier until Kemal Pamuk came along. Then there's William crushing on Daisy, who's crushing on Thomas, who's gay. And then there's Molesley's mild interest in Anna, who's already in UST-territory with Mr. Bates. The third series has the Love Quadrilateral of Daisy -> Alfred -> Ivy -> Jimmy, with Thomas also making his own moves on the latter.
Lampshaded by Mrs Patmore: "You know the trouble with you lot? You're all in love with the wrong people."
Miss O'Brien and Thomas slander Mr Bates on more than one occasion in an attempt to get him fired.
Edith spreads Mary's scandalous affair with Kemal Pamuk, causing Mary to lose favour with potential suitors and leaving her future and reputation in jeopardy. After learning of this, Mary screws up Edith's budding relationship with Sir Anthony.
Thomas tries to stir things up by telling Molesley that O'Brien is planning to quit. It's only down to Poor Communication Kills that the rumour gets as far as it does before being quashed, and all it achieves is to make her dislike him even more.
Kemal Pamuk. In-universe, too. Turned out to be a short-lived and creepy jerkass.
Starting with Season 3, Jimmy. He eventually grows a personality (albeit one of a peacock) and a plotline (albeit one of a jerkass Casanova).
Multigenerational Household: Although technically the Dowager Countess has her own house, she's at Downton so often that by Series 3, you have four generations under one roof.
My God, What Have I Done?: O'Brien first only seems to show moderate guilt when she knows that she is the direct cause of her mistress's miscarriage, but the look of this trope is truly visible on her face when she learns that Cora had never intended to get rid of her and she's now caused them exquisite pain for no reason whatsoever.
Lord Grantham went to New York to find his bride. A significant fraction of the first season's drama comes from the fact that her money can't be separated from the land and title, 30 years later, as they only had daughters.
In later episodes, their money is gone and the money Matthew has he won't give to the estate, so the impoverished posh people need to find some more new money.
No Export for You: An unusual example that took place within the UK. Viewers in Scotland missed out on the series when first broadcast, as the local ITV station had decided that the series was overpriced and unlikely to be a hit.
No Hero to His Valet: Thomas to the Duke of Crowborough, although this is more to do with the fact they've been having an affair and the Duke dumps him. Subverted with Bates and Robert.
The Not-Love Interest: Daisy and Mrs Patmore are inseparable, and the most important person in each other's lives (especially in Daisy's case, who is learning all her life skills from the older woman).
Not So Stoic: Bates. Robert. Even Carson gives Mary hugs when she needs them.
Oblivious to Love: Daisy to William. Mary appears to be oblivious to Matthew's growing interest in her in early episodes. And Isobel, bless her, manages to give the "I Don't Want to Ruin Our Friendship" speech to Dr Clarkson without ever being consciously aware that he wants a Relationship Upgrade! That, it must be admitted, takes a special kind of obliviousness, or possibly tactfulness.
Official Couple: Mary and Matthew. From the start, the romance between these two characters has been one of the primary focuses of the series and the back and forth nature of their relationship has served as a major conversation topic between the rest of the characters.
Officer and a Gentleman: Matthew, once he enlists as a captain in the British army during World War One in season two. It is also revealed that the Earl was this too.
Offscreen Moment of Awesome: In the Christmas special the Crawley family play charades, whilst Richard sneers at them, telling Lady Grantham that he would never allow himself to look so foolish. His turn is next, at which point Violet says: "how soon your maxim will be tested." Unfortunately, we never get to see how he handles it.
In the War, William and Matthew get cut off from their unit and surrounded by Germans for three days, without being captured or seriously wounded. They somehow make it back to their own lines but get listed as MIA in the confusion.
Mrs. Hughes is actually a spinster — she uses "Mrs." as a courtesy title.
This is the reason why the family wanted Mary (who begins the series in her early 20s) to be married off as quickly as possible, "before the bloom is quite gone off the rose," as the Dowager Countess puts it.
Edith is now the one fretting over this, what with one sister engaged and one married and pregnant. And now she's been left at the altar by a man twice her age. That's got to sting.
The Oner: Episode 5 of the second series has an absolutely gorgeous tracking shot showing the wounded soldiers moving into Downton Abbey. It's only a little over a minute long, but that's quite lengthy for a 45 minute episode.
One Steve Limit: Skimming the full character list reveals a few common names (e.g. Charles, John) given to more than one character, but given the setting, most male characters are referred to by their surnames anyway. A minor exception concerning two major characters occurs when the family start addressing Branson as "Tom", which is similar to Thomas. (But conveniently, Thomas has been promoted by now to the point where he's "Mr. Barrow.")
Opera Gloves: The various actresses wear these throughout the series in scenes where they're dressed in formal outfits, starting from episode 1 where Cora is seen putting on a pair of long black gloves while dressing for dinner. (Very much Truth in Television, as properly dressed men and women of the middle and upper classes were expected to wear gloves as accessories to almost everything except bathing suits and sleepwear during The Edwardian Era.)
Oop North: The working-class characters tend to have local Yorkshire accents, with the middle- and upper-class characters having applicable RP accents. Although, it should be pointed out that Robert is still a Yorkshireman born and bred, it's just that people of his class, no matter where they are from in England, always have RP accents, never regional ones. It's down to schooling, and immediate family/peer influences.
Orbital Kiss: Mary and Matthew. Branson and Sybil in Season 3 after she returns to Downton from Ireland.
OOC Is Serious Business: When Thomas expresses angry solidarity with an injured William, the entire kitchen stops and stares.
Pair the Spares: Edith and Sir Anthony were leaning to this direction, up until Mary spoils it at the garden party. However, he reappears in the Christmas special and they eventually get engaged, only for him to leave her at the altar because he thought she'd be throwing her life away.
Parental Favouritism: Poor Edith. Her mother's hard-pressed to finally choke out something about her being "helpful" as she pets and praises her other two daughters, especially Mary. Lampshaded by the parents:
Robert: Poor old Edith, we never seem to talk about her. Cora: I'm afraid Edith will be the one to care for us in our old age. Robert: What a ghastly prospect.
Carson also admits that Mary is his favourite of the three.
See episode 2x02 for a stellar example; Thomas briefly returns to Downton Abbey after what is implied to be a few years at the front, gets in a few choice insults and leaves to work in the village army hospital without appearing to have changed at all; however, while there, he becomes emotionally attached to a young lieutenant with gas blindness, reading his letters, encouraging him to keep fighting and very nearly coming out to him after speaking about his own difficult past. When the soldier is due to be transferred against his will to another medical facility, Thomas goes to bat for him against the head of the hospital, and after the man's suicide is seen sobbing uncontrollably in a store cupboard.
In the first Christmas special he combines this with a Kick the Dog moment when he kidnaps the dog Isis in the hopes of gaining a promotion for finding His Lordship's lost dog. Isis gets out of the shed where she's been locked, and Thomas frantically searches the woods but can't find her anywhere. When he gets back to the house, all covered in dirt, he's told that a child found Isis and brought her back. He actually pets the dog.
In the second Christmas special, Alfred reveals Thomas still refuses to hear a bad word against Jimmy (despite him nearly sending Thomas to prison and making homophobic remarks about him in front of the other staff), and when Jimmy is attacked by thugs on his way home from the fair, Thomas intervenes and is attacked in his place when Jimmy runs away. He not only doesn't reveal the reason he was attacked to anyone else on the staff, but he asks Jimmy to be his friend - suggesting Jimmy might become a Morality Pet for Thomas in season 4.
O'Brien gets a few Pet the Dog moments when she's the only one to really sympathise with Shell-Shocked Veteran Lang, as her brother went through the same thing.
When the Countess sees a bereft valet (made to feel useless because of his employer's insistence on doing things by himself) and asks him to take her cup.
Thomas gets a lot of these:
When Thomas dances with Daisy, just because she expresses a wish to learn. Even O'Brien smiles.
When William lies dying, Thomas expresses working-class, soldier's solidarity with him.
After the suicide of a blinded officer, Thomas weeps in a closet.
After young Sybil dies in childbirth, Thomas walks out of the kitchen in a daze and weeps by the stairs, having earlier expressed fondness and friendship from their time working side by side in the hospital.
O'Brien's obvious reluctance to testify against Bates.
A particularly lovely one from the otherwise terminally crotchety Mrs Bird who, after reducing Daisy to tears on learning that she's put soap and aniseed into the dinner (to make the family miss the currently-absent Mrs Patmore), then tells her to dry her tears, saying: "there's worse crimes than loyalty."
Pimped-Out Dress: And hats. Oh, the hats. Ladies' hats were probably more elaborate in The Edwardian Era than in any other period before or since. The women's evening gowns are simple in line, but often very heavily decorated. Once again, spot-on; from 1909 or so on, women's dress, particularly formal gowns, moved toward very simple, classic lines reminiscent of the Empire/Regency period as opposed to the elaborate styles of the 1890's and early 1900's. Interestingly and probably not coincidentally, corsets began to fall out of style at this time, to be replace by brassieres and girdles.
Lord Grantham: I'm not asking you to abandon your beliefs, Alfred. Just to introduce a little kindness into the equation. Alfred: Am I not to stand up against evil? Lord Grantham: Evil? Thomas does not choose to be the way he is. And what harm was done, really, that his life should be destroyed for it? Alfred: Well— Lord Grantham: Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. Are you without sin, Alfred? As I am certainly not.
Quit Your Whining: Violet (amiably...for her) says something to this effect to a recently jilted Edith who's worrying what to do with her life.
Rags to Riches: Matthew and Branson each, via the means described under the trope below. On a lesser scale, in series three Robert has bankrupted the estate and there are plans to downsize (they would still appear rich and classy by modern standards, but to them it might as well be poverty), until Matthew comes into (another) inheritance and catapults them back to wealth.
Rags to Royalty: Branson, after he marries Lady Sybil. It starts out as the opposite, with his wife being "cast down" by the match, but when he's forced to flee his native Ireland and Sybil dies in childbirth, the family take pity on him and his daughter and take them in.
Rebellious Princess: Though she's not quite royalty, Lady Sybil is a rebel who is interested in politics, supports women having the vote, wears bloomers, consorts with servants, and in series 2 goes so far as to — shudder — actually get a job as a nurse, not to mention marrying the socialist Irish chauffeur, which her father has a hard time coming to terms with.
Rescue Romance: Played with after Sybil's rescue. Mary assumes that Sybil has a crush on Matthew, but it's Branson who's interested in Sybil.
Revenge: Lady Mary and Lady Edith just seem to chase each other in an endless circle of one-upmanship that increases in cruelty at every new level.
Rich Bitch: Mary and Edith, usually to each other.
Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense: Robert fits this trope, as it is revealed in series three that his poor management of Downton has bankrupted the estate, and it is the former solicitor Matthew and chauffeur/sheep farmer’s nephew Branson who reorder the running of the estate to bail it out.
Riches To Rags: Sybil undergoes this by marrying Branson, although it's an unusual variation in that it's her choice and she welcomes her new lifestyle and claims that she is happy to be “just Mrs Branson”. (This is a very weird occurrence also in that it is synonymous with Branson’sRags to Royalty rise.)
This looks like it is going to happen when Robert loses Cora’s fortune and it looks like they’re going to lose Downton—they wouldn’t be reduced quite to rags, but they would have to suffer a major reduction in their standard of living. Luckily, this is averted at the last minute.
The Rival: Isobel Crawley to Violet Crawley. This seems less so during Series 3, as they seem fonder of each other and even decide to get a car home together.
Romanticism Versus Enlightenment: A recurring theme is the polarization of the household between the more modern members who want to embrace change (notably Matthew, Sybil, and Edith upstairs; Gwen, Thomas, and Branson downstairs), those who would rather leave it the way it is/return to the past (Robert and Violet upstairs; Carson downstairs), and those happy to compromise (particularly Cora, Mrs Hughes, and Mrs Patmore). Things start to reach a head in series 3, as Matthew and Robert are now co-owners of the estate and have wildly different ideas about how to run it.
Rule of Three: Used In-Universe. After the sinking of the Titanic and the death of the Turkish gentleman, Daisy is certain that something else is bound to happen. It takes two years, but sure enough... Maybe people should listen to Daisy more often. Cruelly averted in series three, though, when tragedies come in four.
Branson turns down Robert's offer of a bribe to abandon Sybil.
Ethel refuses to give her baby to Major Bryant's wealthy parents, as she believes it's better for him to grow up with a poor but loving mother. This is later averted in a redux of the same situation.
Matthew refuses Reggie Swire's inheritance claiming that it would be "taking money under false pretenses" as Reggie didn't know the truth of him and Lavinia. Of course, after two episodes he's given a convenient excuse for accepting.
Several, regarding the Kemal Pamuk affair, but someone spills the beans.
Mrs Patmore regarding Mrs Hughes' cancer scare.
Self-Made Man: Matthew and Richard Carlisle. Lampshaded by Carlisle himself when he explains to Mary that he sees no shame in not being from "old money".
In the background, Cora's father, as well.
Separated by a Common Language: In the Season 3 premiere, Martha says of her car that "I hired it in Liverpool". Being an American, she should have said that she rented her car.
Perhaps she was being uncharacteristically diplomatic and using English terminology?
She was just being an American during the time the show takes place; "rent a car" is attested only in the 1920's and in any case, such phraseology is frequently changed when the speaker is in a new environment.
Serious Business: Oh no! We may have to sell our enormous castle and move into a slightly smaller mansion!
Shipper on Deck: Carson, Cora, Robert, The Dowager Countess, Rosamund, possibly Branson, even Isobel and Anna, EVEN LAVINIA AT THE END OF HER LIFE...at this point, is there anyone who doesn't ship Mary/Matthew? Apparently so, for Martha Levinson isn't fond of them to begin with, but it grows on her.
Maybe Edith. Sir Richard.
Mary, for her part, ships Anna/Bates rather blatantly.
Cruelly subverted/deconstructed with O'Brien in series 3. After discovering that Jimmy not only suspects that Thomas has a crush on him, but is revolted and a whisper away from reporting him to Carson, she starts encouraging Thomas that Jimmy feels the same way. This hearsay evidence is enough to convince Thomas to sneak into Jimmy's room half-undressed and kiss him as he sleeps.
Ship Tease: If Carson cheerfully singing "She Stole My Heart Away" whilst polishing silver after Mrs Hughes is declared cancer-free—while that lady looks on biting her lip and beaming like a giddy schoolgirl— isn't this, then nothing is.
Shirtless Scene: Branson gets a partial one in season 1 and then a full one in the 2012 Christmas Special.
Also Jimmy's when Thomas happens to stumble upon him undressing...
Shot at Dawn: The fate of Mrs. Patmore's nephew, for cowardice.
There was in fact a real Earl of Grantham. The title was created in 1698, but became extinct upon the Earl's death in 1754, because he had no surviving male heirs. Ironically, this also averts the trope of did not do the research, for the press pack states that the First Earl of Grantham (in the show) became earl in 1772, eighteen years later.
Though it's played for laughs, acting was seen by many at the time to be just as disreputable a profession as Carson believes it to be.
It may seem to views like an Ass Pull to have Lavinia die of the Spanish flu rather than Cora, especially when the latter was initially responding worse to it. However, part of what made the 1918 flu unique was that, unlike other strains, most of the deaths were from teenagers and young adults with healthy immune systems. The actual death came from the immune system overreacting to the flu and drowning the person in their fluids, which was more likely the more robust it was.
Sibling Rivalry: Between Mary and Edith. Culminates most viciously in the end of the first series when Mary learns that Edith ruined her reputation by informing the Turkish ambassador of the circumstances of Pamuk's death, and ruins Edith's prospect of a good and happy marriage in revenge.
Lady Mary's unfortunate dalliance with the Turk wasn't just unlucky, but very nearly a social disaster, and not merely because he died.
From the second season, housemaid Ethel loves a man in uniform, and when caught with one is sacked without notice and without references. The gentleman has to put his pants back on. Pregnancy leaves her destitute and him...mildly inconvenienced when people try to rub his nose in it.
By the third season, Ethel has become a prostitute. It goes as well for her as you might imagine when she asks for help. Her son's grandparents are divided: the grandmother is sympathetic and caring, the grandfather heaps her with recrimination and hatred. When Mrs. Crawley takes her in as a maid (and later cook), her cook has nothing but contempt for her and eventually leaves Mrs. Crawley's service over it. Lady Violet doesn't care for it either, and eventually helps Mrs. Crawley get her a position in London, away from the village and its gossip.
Cousin Rose's mother even calls her a slut in the 2012 Christmas special for wearing a dress in the latest fashion. Lady Violet, of all people, defends her ("Dear me, that's not a word you often hear among the heather"). Amusingly, she then says she has no place to criticize when she wore the latest fashions of the 1890s:
Violet: Oh, my dear, in my day I wore the crinoline, the bustle, and the leg-of-mutton sleeves; I am not in a strong position to criticize.
And when Matthew is killed in an accident right after the birth of his son—we’re even treated to a shot of an unsuspecting Mary holding their infant in the hospital right afterwards to close out the episode.
Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Let's see, an ambitious redhead that doesn't want to stay in service but go out and make it big. Hmm. Where have we heard that before, Ethel? Although there are some differences: Gwen's ambition ran only to the much more realistic goal of becoming a secretary; Ethel wants to be a movie star. And Gwen actually works toward her goals (with some help from Lady Sybil), while Ethel seems to think she should just be handed them.
Also, after Sybil's death, Rose seems set to take her place as the upstairs "modern girl", although, in true M*A*S*H fashion, there are clear differences between their characters (Sybil was an idealistic reformer and Rose is a party girl). Time will tell if we also get a replacement for Matthew.
Used in a unique and strictly platonic sense between Thomas and O'Brien. He's attractive, young, gay and snarky; she's a plain, stern woman in her forties, and it generally seems as if their only interest in each other stems from a mutual desire to cause trouble. However, it's rather sweet when you find out that they have consistently and faithfully stayed in touch with one another during his years at the front, and she appears to genuinely worry over his welfare and displays a great deal of happiness (for her) when he returns safely from the war. Though this all pretty much goes out the window in series three, when they’re carrying a Conflict Ball.
Notably averted between Mary and Edith; in the first season the two oldest Crawley sisters genuinely loathe each other and have no Aww, Look! moments to soften it.
They give each other begrudging well-wishes during their respective weddings.
Following the death of Sybil after giving birth in the fifth episode of the third series, Edith asks if she and Mary can ever be friends. Mary responds "No. But here and now, we'll pretend." Contrast this with Violet's surprising tenderness and comfort to everyone, including Carson, and her hidden tears as she slowly walks from the foyer to the drawing room.
The second season does give one moment, when Edith tells Mary about Matthew being MIA, not out of a desire to hurt her, but because she genuinely believes Mary ought to know. It's not much, but it is something after how much they're been at each other's throats.
Throwing Off The Disability: Matthew goes from experiencing confusing tingling feelings to becoming fully erect (what are you sniggering at?) in the course of one episode, barring the occasional Hand Wave that he'll need to "take things slowly".
Though the way time works on this show, the space between the two episodes could have been months.
Time Skip: Several times at regular spaced intervals throughout. The first series begins in 1912 (sinking of the Titanic) while it ends in 1914. The second series begins two years later in 1916 and ends in 1919. There’s a one-year gap between the series three finale and the same season’s Christmas special.
Tomboy: Lady Sybil is less interested in ladylike pursuits than her sisters, dislikes fiddly corsets and skirts and eventually begins wearing ankle-length culottes instead of a dress.
Took a Level in Jerkass: Robert in Season 3 seems to become vastly more arrogant and reactionary while his mother, formerly the show's token conservative, mellows somewhat and is given more chances to Pet the Dog. A lot of the change seems to stem from his disapproval of his former chauffeur now being a member of the family, his wounded pride at having to take Matthew's money, and his general creeping irrelevance to the household as a whole — he still feels all the same responsibilities as patriarch of the family, but regularly sees his opinions ignored or mocked as outdated.
Took a Level in Kindness: O'Brien. Edith, after caring for the injured soldiers staying at Downton. Mary also grows far nicer over the course of the series (as Matthew points out at the end of series three). Violet in series three.
Unexpected Successor: Matthew Crawley goes from being a Mancunian lawyer to the heir of the Earl of Grantham and his estate, thanks to a couple of casualties in the line of succession and the current Earl's lack of a male child. Not that either Matthew or Robert are thrilled about this at first.
The Unfavourite: Edith; Mary's the eldest and Sybil's the tearaway, but Edith is just the unassuming, dutiful Middle Child, and nobody pays her much attention. Lampshaded in the Comic Relief parody when she is introduced as "Daughter Number Two".
Martha comes all the way from America to attend Mary's wedding but doesn't bother to show up for Edith's.
Unique Pilot Title Sequence: The opening credits of the first episode follow the news of the Titanic sinking towards the main characters; all the other episodes use a more domestic credit sequence.
Upstairs Girl: Sybil and Branson are married and expecting a child by the Christmas special.
Wartime Wedding: William leaves to fight in WWI and asks Daisy to marry him when the war is over; she doesn't love him and wants to turn him down, but accepts because Mrs Patmore tells her that William should not have to go to war heartbroken. He is mortally wounded in the trenches, and marries Daisy hours before his death because he wants her to have a widow's pension.
Webcomic Time: While the first two seasons quite explicitly take place over eight years (April 1912 to January 1920), the characters tend to act like it has been a shorter period of time, and the younger characters do not seem to have aged eight years. In particular, (nearly) eight years go by with none of the Earl's daughters getting married. At their ages, in that era, this would be a huge problem—although the war provides some excuse for the delay, it's still cause for scepticism.
Subverted with poor Edith and Sir Anthony in the next episode.
Wham Episode: The ante-penultimate episode of series 2 - where to start? Richard tries to pay Anna to spy on Mary, Carson finds out and refuses to work for him; Matthew gets almost total use of his legs back over the course of about ten minutes, and Violet wastes no time in trying to set him back up with Mary; Ethel bursts in on dinner to present her lovechild to its grandparents; Bates reveals he bought the rat poison his wife used to kill herself; Thomas invests all his money in a black market business and gets screwed over; Sybil elopes with Branson and her sisters chase her down and bring her back to the house. [Deep breath]. Think that about covers it.
Series 3, episode 5 - Sybil's death rattled viewers to the core.
Though it didn’t necessarily have a big effect on the future events of the plot…can it fit the definition of a Wham Episode?
And then there’s the series three Christmas special, when Matthew is brutally killed in an automobile accident in the final seconds…right after everyone started breathing a sigh of relief that the succession was finally in the bag.
Wham Line: Even if you knew this was coming, the last line from the first series changes everything:
Mrs Patmore forced Daisy to pretend to be William's sweetheart as he went to war. It started with Daisy giving him a picture and ended with a deathbed marriage. Daisy got increasingly unhappy with the lie and ended up calling the cook out for it.
When Mary walks in on Matthew and Mr. Murray discussing the management of Downton on the morning after the death of her sister, Sybil, she rather genteelly chews them out for their poor taste.
Cora blames Robert for Sybil's death after he makes the wrong call in a case of conflicting medical advice, and he accepts that there's some truth to this, despite Violet's attempt to comfort him.
Ethel when she gets involved with Major Bryant. Anna even tried to warn her.
Will They or Won't They?: Mr Bates and Anna, Matthew and Mary, Branson and Sybil, and Robert and Jane. Arguably Edna and Branson, too.
Answers so far, in order: They Do, They Do, They Do... until something terrible happens, They Don’t. And They Don’t.
Whole Plot Reference: The flower show conflict is pretty much a straight rerun of the Best Picture-winning 1942 film Mrs. Miniver (except that the old man is not killed in a German air raid the same night).
Zany Scheme: All of Thomas' schemes to become Lord Grantham's valet, but plotting to steal and then return his beloved Labrador, Isis, takes the cake.
Zany, perhaps, but note that this was the scheme that ended up getting him the job. Lord Grantham was so touched by Thomas spending all night out searching for his dog, that he decided to give Thomas a try after all.