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    Introduced in Series 1 

Mr Charles Carson, the Butler

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/carson2_5952.png

Portrayed by: Jim Carter

"Downton is a great house, and the Crawleys are a great family. We live by certain standards and those standards can at first seem daunting."

  • Badass Baritone: He speaks with a booming, bass rumble.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Although he is very happily married to Mrs Hughes, by the time of the Series’ grand finale he has developed Essential tremor, and must necessarily retire from his cherished role of Downton Abbey’s butler. In a dignified, though understandably emotional manner, he passes the baton to Thomas.
  • British Stuffiness: He's incredibly strait-laced, and views any sort of frivolous behavior or modernity with deep suspicion, disapproval, and occasionally outright horror.
  • The Comically Serious: His stuffy nature can become so excessive that it's an inside joke among some of Downton's other residents. Among his more memorable moments include his epic rivalry with the new telephone, and the reveal of his shameful past as a stage performer, which to him seems to be on a par with murdering someone. There's this lovely little exchange too:
    Carson: We may have to have a maid in the dining room.
    Lord Robert: Cheer up, Carson. There are worse things happening in the world.
    Carson: Not worse than a maid serving a duke.
  • Consummate Professional: He has a very strict code of conduct to which he adheres meticulously, and expects all the staff to follow his example.
  • Dark Secret: He used to be a Vaudeville music hall performer before he came to Downton Abbey, but doesn't pine for those days in the slightest — he can still carry a tune, though!
  • Deadpan Snarker: Deadpan everything, actually. Rarely intentional, with the exception of those people he dislikes (Molesley, Thomas, Jimmy). He is usually meant to be serious, but his comments sometimes are so old-fashioned and snobbish, that he becomes the mixture of The Comically Serious and Deadpan Snarker.
  • Death Glare: He readily produces one whenever he feels a servant is crossing the line, such as merely exchanging a word too many with the people upstairs.
  • The Eeyore: In his tails, he has the look of a very large, chronically depressed penguin.
  • Enraged by Idiocy:... and any hint of sloppiness.
  • The Finicky One: He's an enormous fusspot all throughout the series, but this trait is ramped right Up to Eleven in Series 6, after he moves in with his new wife Mrs Hughes, who discovers that he is compelled to find fault with everything from her cooking, to how she makes the bed.
  • Friendship Moment: A lovely example from Series 5; When Robert is snubbed by the villagers over the leadership of the War memorial committee (Carson is their preferred candidate), and is then teased about it over dinner by the impertinent Miss Bunting, Carson immediately steps in to shut her down, telling the assembled party that the villagers did indeed want Robert to be involved — as patron. Privately, Carson reveals to Mrs Hughes that he only agreed to be involved if Robert could be included too.
  • Good Old Ways: He always looks to the past for comfort and reference in general, and exhibits outright hostility towards any new-fangled gadgetry. Telephones, toasters and the wireless are viewed with particular suspicion.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Although very low-key, when he learns midway through Series 1 that Mrs Hughes has met her old suitor, who has asked for her hand again, he makes a remark that her sort of Old Flame Fizzle must have become fat, horrible, and red-faced and Mrs Hughes probably doesn’t even know what she saw in him. It might be the first hint for the audience that Carson has feelings for Mrs Hughes.
    Carson:(to Mrs Hughes) And he proposed again... and you accepted?
  • Grumpy Bear: He's a model of somber sobriety, rarely smiles, and finds any sort of frivolity an absolute anathema.
  • Ironic Nickname: Back when he was an entertainer, the unsmiling Mr. Carson was known as "Cheerful Charlie".
  • The Jeeves: He's the most senior servant at Downton, and exhibits the loyalty, dignity and authority required to be the perfect English butler.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Grumpy, gruff, classist and bigoted, he's vocally reluctant to bend the old ways, but in the end he always comes around as a very decent man.
  • Just Friends: With Mrs Hughes, allegedly, despite five series' worth of Ship Tease. By the series 5 Christmas special, he's proposed. She says yes.
  • The Leader: Of the downstairs staff at the Abbey.
    Carson: (to Mrs Hughes) They respect you, of course, but I'm their leader.
  • Like a Son to Me: He loves Lady Mary like a daughter he has never had. As the Word of God says, Carson has never had a child of his own, and in his head Mary's become his daughter, whether he is aware of it or not.
  • Longing Look: Very discreet and 'Carsonesque', but we can see how he looks at Mrs Hughes every now and then - although it can be due to the improvisation of the actor who has been a Shipper on Deck from pretty much of the beginning. It becomes overt in Series 5, when he decides that he is no longer content with being Just Friends.
  • Love Martyr: He forgives Lady Mary for all her faults, even if she behaves unkindly and shocks other people. Mary usually treats him well, but in Series 2, when he refuses Carlisle's offer to go with Mary and be their butler, thinking he couldn't work for a man he doesn't respect, Mary is waspishly dismissive and insults Carson.
    Mrs Hughes:(to Lady Mary) Mr. Carson would forgive you if you attacked him with a brick

    Lady Mary: Butlers will be two a penny now they’re all back from the war.
  • Married to the Job: The Crawleys are all the family he has.
    Carson: I had thought I would die in Downton — and haunt it ever-after.
  • Marry for Love:
    • He was madly in love with a girl, Alice Neal and wanted to marry her, but she chose Charles Grigg over him.
    Mrs Hughes:(to Carson, about Alice) But you wanted to marry her.
    Carson: So much I could taste it.
    • In Series 5, he uses the idea of running a B&B with Mrs Hughes as an excuse to share his life with her. When she says she doesn't have money for it, he proposes to her.
    Carson: You can take as long as you like - I won't press you. Because one thing I do know - I'm not marrying anyone else.
    • When Mrs Hughes is afraid that Carson won't find her attractive, since she is a 'woman of late middle-age', she offers him a Sexless Marriage. Fortunately, in Carson's eyes, she is beautiful and he definitely wants a 'full marriage' with her. He would rather let her call off the wedding than accepting this term.
    Carson: (to Mrs Patmore) I could never live in some 'pat-a-cake friendship lie'.
  • Men Can't Keep House: His finicky ways and the constant nit-picking over her culinary ability compels Mrs Hughes to teach him a lesson;— after she fakes a sprained wrist, Carson must prepare their dinner himself, and manages to burn the roast potatoes, then himself on a boiling pan, and finally falls asleep at the table, exhausted.
  • Milholland Relationship Moment: Carson's former stage partner Charlie Grigg turns up at Downton to blackmail him with his music-hall past. Lord Grantham, far from being horrified is actually impressed.
  • Noble Bigot: When Thomas's sexuality is made public in Series 3, he makes it quite clear that he finds the whole matter "revolting". Arguably, he knew already, but having it made public required him to actually confront and deal with the issue head-on.
  • Old Retainer: He's the longest serving member of staff, and has been with the family since before the Crawley girls were born.
  • Papa Wolf: For Alfred — as Jimmy comes to find out.
  • Parental Substitute: Having grown up with him her whole life, Lady Mary is very close to Carson (and he to her) and she often comes to him for advice and a confidence boost (and even a hug!) when she can't approach her parents.
  • Perpetual Frowner: It's extremely rare to see him crack a smile, but if he actually does, it's usually in approval of one of the Dowager's withering quips, or during interactions with his favourite, Lady Mary.
  • Principles Zealot: Carson's the enforcer of old-style etiquette and social class.
  • Renowned Selective Mentor: Although he is initially flapped by Alfred's inexperience, he comes to admire the earnest newcomer's respectful manner and takes him under his wing, showing him the tricks of the servant trade. This is unusual for Carson, and Thomas can't hide his jealousy...
    Thomas: You’re taking a lot of trouble with Alfred. I feel quite jealous.
    Carson: I don’t know why. He asked for help. You never did.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: When Sir Richard dangles a fat salary over his head.
  • Serenade Your Lover: He doesn't sing TO Mrs Hughes, but ABOUT her - he has no idea she heard him.
  • Serious Business: He treats anything related to Downton's quality of service with the utmost import.
  • Ship Tease: With Mrs Hughes throughout all five series.
    • His slightly Green-Eyed Monster behaviour towards her Old Flame Fizzle.
    • He asks her if she will miss him after he goes to Haxby, and in a very moving scene she says, she will.
    • He is cheerfully singing "She Stole My Heart Away" whilst polishing silver after he learns she has been declared cancer-free, while she looks on surreptitiously, biting her lips, fighting with laughter and tears at the same time.
    • He is holding hands with her, while they are paddling to the sea together in the Series 4 Christmas Special.
    • Their shy flirtings in Series 5 before They Do.
    • His idea of 'investing in a property together'.
  • Sugar-and-Ice Personality: He's incredibly stiff most of the time, but demonstrates a softer side with certain people and/or when no one will find out. For instance, he refuses to go to the fair with the rest of the staff, just because they'd feel the need to be on their best behavior if he was there, and instead spends the day with baby Sybbie.
  • Tears of Joy:
    • When Lord Grantham goes downstairs in Series 2 in order to inform the staff about the end of the Great War, we can see Carson fighting with tears.
    • When he clumsily ask Mrs Hughes to marry him and she says an obvious "yes", he tries to suppress his happy tears.
  • They Do: After years and years of Ship Tease, towards the end of the Series 5 Christmas day special he finally asks Mrs Hughes to marry him, and in what is undoubtedly one of the Series' most touching scenes so far, she delightedly accepts his proposal.
  • Understatement: After Thomas's suicide attempt, he remarks that he has "been taken poorly", though he does this so as not to cause alarm.
  • Undying Loyalty: To the Crawley family, especially Lady Mary, his favourite.
  • Wedding Day: Episode 3 of Series 6 depicts his wedding to Mrs Hughes. They marry in a sweet, simple ceremony in the village church, witnessed by both the staff and family, followed by a reception at the school hall. To top it all off, Tom and Sybbie show up as surprise guests, back for good from the US.

Mrs Elsie Hughes, the Housekeeper

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/mrshughes_9482.png

Portrayed by: Phyllis Logan

"Don't push your luck Thomas. Now, tea's over. Back to work."

  • Brave Scot: She has her moments throughout the series, but locking herself in a room with Anna's rapist and threatening him to keep a low profile if he values his life probably takes the cake. Don't Try This at Home.
  • The Caretaker: In the Series 5 Christmas day special, she reveals to Carson that for years she has been financially supporting her mentally handicapped sister, Becky.
  • Career Versus Man: She chooses career... twice. The third time one doesn't preclude the other, as the man in question is her co-worker, Carson.
  • The Confidant: Throughout the series, most of the staff have confided in her with their problems — Thomas, Anna, Tom and even Carson appreciate her sympathetic ear and solid advice, knowing she can keep a secret. Taken Up to Eleven in Series 4.
  • Deadpan Snarker: She also has her moments, particulalry when Carson says something stupid, snobbish, highbrow, or old-fashioned.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: with Mrs. Patmore
  • Hidden Depths: Mrs Hughes may be the kindly, practical Team Mum, but she is anything but naive (she is not at all shocked by Thomas's sexual orientation, even mentioning that he's not the first gay man she has ever known), or timid (she confronts Mr Green and tells him to his face that she knows what he did to Anna). As she herself puts it,
    Mrs. Hughes: I may not be a woman of the world, but I don't live in a sack!
  • Just Friends: With Carson, throughout series 1-4. In series 5 however, she delightedly accepts his proposal of marriage.
  • Kindly Housekeeper: As Housekeeper, she is the second most senior servant, after Carson.
  • Leitmotif: Her theme is sentimental and nostalgic in quality and tone.
  • Longing Look: Towards Carson in Series 5 - although we can see the hints in Series 4 too.
  • Mama Bear: Towards the younger maids, specifically Anna and Ethel.
  • Married to the Job: She turned down a marriage proposal because she admits to this.
  • Not So Stoic: When she sees Carson absent-mindedly singing "She Stole My Heart Away" (undeniably about her), all she can do is bite her lip and beam like a giddy schoolgirl.
  • Old Maid: The "Mrs." is a courtesy title, because the housekeeper is always a "Mrs." She could have had a chance at marital bliss, though... see The Stoic, below.
  • Old Retainer: She's not been around as long as Carson (he mentions that she didn't know Mary as a child) but her tenure is still loyally impressive.
  • Ship Tease: With Carson, throughout Series 1-5.
    • His slightly Green-Eyed Monster behaviour towards her Old Flame Fizzle,
    • He asks her if she will miss him after he goes to Haxby, and in a very moving scene she says, she will.
    • He is cheerfully singing "She Stole My Heart Away" whilst polishing silver after he learns she has been declared cancer-free, while she looks on surreptitiously, biting her lips, fighting with laughter and tears at the same time.
    • He is holding hands with her, and they are paddling to the sea together in the Series 4 Christmas Special.
    • Their shy flirtings in Series 5 before They Do.
    • His idea of 'investing in a property together'.
  • Stiff Upper Lip: If any staff member can be relied on to keep their act together in a crisis, it's her.
  • The Stoic: She sacrifices her own personal happiness when given the opportunity of marriage to continue serving the family.
    William: You're a kind woman Mrs Hughes. I don't know how this house would run without you.
  • Team Mum: To the staff in general, but notably for Anna and Branson.
  • That's an Order!: She's a decidedly decent sort, but doesn't stand for any back-chat from her staff.
  • Tears of Joy: After she learns that she is cancer-free, then hears Carson singing his happy love(?) song, she tries to hold back her happy laughter and tears - due to her previous distress, relief, and the affection she got from Mrs Patmore, Cora, and Carson.
  • They Do: Carson finally proposes in the Series 5 Christmas day special and she delightedly accepts.
  • Thrifty Scot: As housekeeper, she oversees the household's bookkeeping and deals with suppliers of household products.
  • The Topic of Cancer: Early on in Series 3, she finds a lump on her breast and meets with Dr Clarkson for diagnosis. She asks Mrs Patmore to tell Carson that the lump is benign, but it is left unclear as to whether she tells him this so as not to cause a fuss and worry him.
  • Trying Not to Cry: Her professional cool is rarely shattered, but when it is...
  • Wanting Is Better Than Having: It's hinted in the first episode that she sometimes longs for a family on her own, with husband and children. When she gets her 'last' chance, getting a second proposal by her old suitor, Joe Burns, she realizes, she has changed and may not want things she used to want. Although it's clear, it was a very hard decision for her, since she is still fond of him.
  • Wedding Day: Episode 3 of Series 6 depicts her wedding to Mr Carson. They marry in a sweet, simple ceremony in the village church, witnessed by both the staff and family, followed by a reception at the school hall — which is exactly how she wanted it, having refused Lord Grantham's offer to hold the wedding in the Great Hall.
    Mrs Hughes: It's about Charles Carson and Elsie Hughes, and not about this glorious house or the glorious people who've lived in it.
  • Women Are Wiser: She's sensible, grounded, calm and usually impartial to the mayhem surrounding her.

Mrs Beryl Patmore, the Cook

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Portrayed by: Lesley Nicol

"Daisy! What's happened to you? I said you could go for a drink of water, not a trip up the Nile."

  • Apron Matron: She runs the kitchen with a rod of iron.
  • Blind Mistake: She's diagnosed with cataracts in Series 1, which causes her to make mistakes in the kitchen... and exacerbates her temper.
  • Double Standard
    Jimmy: Ow! I've jiggered my bloody wrist.
    Mrs Patmore: Erm! I'll have no swear-words in here thank you very much, unless I'm doing the swearing.
  • Fiery Redhead: A definitive example — she sports curly red hair, and the nature of her work exacerbates her temper to the point that she frequently blows up at the other staff members, especially in the early series.
  • Gaydar: She's well aware of Thomas's preference... unlike poor Daisy.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Her work is hot, stressful and requires perfect timing, so woe betide any staff who muck about or indulge in idle chatter when she's got hot salvers ready to be taken upstairs.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Mrs. Hughes, her long-standing co-worker. As the two senior female servants, who are essentially on equal levels of authority, they (for the most part) naturally gravitate towards each other.
  • Hopeless with Tech: Played for Drama in the Series 4 premiere. After a disastrous run-in with the new electric mixer, she lets it slip to Mrs. Hughes that she's afraid all the new electrical kitchen gadgets will make her job unnecessary, saying it makes Daisy look like part of the future and leaves her stuck in the past.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Despite her tempestuous temper, she does care about the other staff (William in particular), and definitely cools off a bit after her eye surgery at the end of Series 1.
  • Kick the Dog: She's fairly beastly to poor Daisy in the early series.
    Mrs Patmore: Take those kidneys up to the servery before I knock you down and serve your brains as fritters!
  • The Matchmaker: A personal loss (her nephew was shot for cowardice) renders her meddlesome and tenacious in her belief that soldiers should not be denied hope, so she frantically encourages Daisy to agree to be William's sweetheart before he leaves for war.
  • Meal Ticket: Literally, for lecherous local supplier Jos Tufton, who wooed her purely for her tasty cooking. She wisely declines his proposal.
  • Meta Gal: Type B. Her take on the Series 3 love quadrilateral:
    Mrs Patmore: You know the trouble with you lot? You're all in love with the wrong people!
  • Not What It Looks Like: Hilariously realised in the (otherwise very tense) Series 6 finale;— having opened her b&b, Mrs Patmore unwittingly hosts a couple having an illicit affair. This is soon picked up on by a lurking paparazzo, and her innocent little b&b is quickly dubbed a "house of ill repute", to her utter horror and the entire households' amusement.
  • Old Maid: Never married, like other servants with demanding schedules. Like housekeepers, cooks are always "Mrs" as a courtesy title.
  • Old Retainer: She's a senior member of staff and mentions she's worked with O'Brien for 20 years, and as she's clearly older than her, her tenure may well be much longer - perhaps even since girlhood.
  • Pair the Spares: In the Series' grand finale, it's clear that she has developed requited feelings for Mr Mason, and with a twinkly smile, he invites her to spend more time at the farm with him and Daisy.
  • Parental Substitute: Following a rocky start in the early years, the mother/daughter friendship that gradually forms between her and Daisy is heart-warming to watch.
    Mrs Patmore: If you were my own daughter I couldn’t be prouder than I am now.
  • Rant-Inducing Slight: Daisy is always on the receiving end of these, being blamed for real but more often imagined mistakes she makes whilst struggling to manage her worsening sight.
  • Sarcastic Devotee: Having autonomous authority over her kitchen domain means she's unafraid to tell it like it is, and as the series has progressed, her quips and witticisms have become a more prevalent character trait.
  • Shipper on Deck: for William and Daisy
  • Supreme Chef: Although she is no Escoffier (as the Dowager Countess snarks in the fifth episode), she is by all accounts excellent at her craft. Thanks to her training, Daisy, her protégée, even makes Harold Levinson—who had a strong prejudice against British cooking—enjoy English food.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: When Mrs Bird temporarily takes over her role whilst she undergoes eye-surgery, she gets Daisy to sabotage her menu, so the family and staff won't prefer Bird's cooking.
  • Team Chef: She and her team work laborious hours to provide up to 8 hot meals daily, staggered throughout the day for the family, and the servants.
  • Tears of Joy: In Series 5, she receives word that her nephew's town, like Downton, is erecting a war memorial for the local soldiers who died, but her nephew is to be left off because he was executed for cowardice. She is very hurt by this snub, but in the finale Lord Grantham invites her to the remembrance ceremony and reveals he has commissioned a special plaque for her nephew's remembrance next to Downton's memorial. Mrs Patmore is deeply touched and moved to tears by this act of unexpected kindness, saying her sister will be happy to know of it.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Cooks were notoriously protective of the running their kitchens and she clashes with Mrs Hughes on occasion with regard to access to the food storage (controlled by the housekeeper).

Mr John Bates, Valet to Lord Grantham

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/bates_4686.png

Portrayed by: Brendan Coyle

"You can change your life if you want to. Sometimes you have to be hard on yourself, but you can change it completely — I know."

  • The Atoner: For his unsavory past as a quick-tempered drunk.
  • Battle Butler: He served under Lord Grantham in the Boer War as his batman — that is, as his military valet/gofer/bodyguard.
  • Be All My Sins Remembered: He doesn't take praise easily, and seems to take the view that he doesn't deserve the kindness meted out to him at Downton — mostly due to his rather shady past.
  • Being Good Sucks: His self-sacrificial inclination and compassion for others (especially Thomas) is rarely self-serving, more often worsening his own circumstances.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For
    Bates: I wish she was the former Mrs Bates, or better still the late...
  • Beware the Nice Ones: On the surface, he's an incredibly polite, softly spoken man who walks with a limp. However, woe betide those who forget that he served in South Africa during the Boer War, and that he was at one time a man with both a drinking problem and a temper, or he might remind you that, bad leg and all, he could easily kill you.
    • Our first taster of this side of his character occurs in Series 1 when he aggressively threatens Thomas over his bullying of William.
    • He also gets his buttons pressed in Series 2 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.
    • In Series 4, he forces Mrs Hughes to tell him the details of Anna's rape ordeal. She lies about the culprit's identity on Anna's request (it was Green), but he suspects, and is perhaps the angriest we have ever seen him, darkly threatening to have revenge on the perpetrator.
  • Blackmail: He is forced to come back to his wife when she finds out about the Kemal Pamuk scandal. Yes, he's blackmailed with someone else's dirty secret.
  • Bully Hunter: The persecution of those less able to defend themselves causes him to see the metaphorical red mist, so woe betide those caught being mean to William or Daisy. At one point he slams Thomas into a wall in William's defense.
    Bates: You listen to me, you filthy little rat: if you don’t lay off I will punch your shining teeth straight through the back of your skull.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: For a variety of reasons, the man refuses to explain anything.
  • Can't Stay Normal: Attempted to correct his limp, but the prosthetic proved rather less effective than advertised.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The return train ticket to London that Lady Mary found in his jacket and burned in the fire, probably believing that it would incriminate him in Green's murder. Actually, it would have (being untorn, hence unused) proved that he didn't go to London after all the day that Green died.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Partway through Series 4, we find out that Bates picked up forging while in prison when he uses it to remedy Molesley's dire finances by writing a fake loan contract, stating that he owed Molesley thirty pounds. This comes back later in the Christmas Special, when Bates forges a note as part of Lord Grantham's plan to retrieve certain scandalous letters written by Freda Dudley-Ward — see her entry in the Guest Characters section for detail.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: He pretty much says this word for word to Anna.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: He and Anna have been through some of the series' most gruelling dramas, what with psycho ex-wives turning up, false murder charges (twice for Bates, once for Anna), imprisonment, and Anna's traumatic rape experience, so when their much longed-for son is born during the series' grand finale, he represents a well-deserved happy ending for the couple.
  • Enemy Mine: Despite years of rivalry throughout Series 1 & 2, he's one of the few people to come to Thomas's aid in Series 3, following O'Brien's plan to out him and get him sacked without reference. After Thomas tells him O'Brien's own dark secret (just 3 little words - "Her Ladyship's soap"), Bates uses it to blackmail her into calling off her unrelenting scheming against the defeated valet. However, he comes to regret being so charitable when Thomas is kept on by Lord Robert — as Under-Butler.
  • Frame-Up: As Series 2 concludes, he is carted off by the police, following his estranged wife Vera's last desperate act of revenge — framing him for her murder, when she had in fact killed herself with a poison-laced pie.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: In Season 4, Bates clearly dislikes the mutual sympathy between Anna and Mr Green, being convinced that Mr Green is up to mischief. Later he shows his true colours.
  • Handicapped Badass: He walks with a pronounced limp due to an old injury he sustained fighting in the Boer War.
  • Hell Hole Prison: At the start of Series 3, he is incarcerated in a particularly grim prison, serving a life sentence for the murder of his ex-wife Vera.
  • Honor Before Reason: God yes. Bates displays a homeric level of compassion, even towards those who treat him far less sympathetically.
  • Insecure Love Interest: To Anna, especially whilst he is incarcerated in Series 3.
  • It's Not You, It's My Enemies: Bates to Anna. She essentially tells him where he can shove it, and they get married anyway as she refuses to have no legal standing in his life, whatever happens.
  • Leitmotif: A sad, mournful piano/violin piece usually accompanies his time on-screen.
  • Manly Tears: He cries private tears when he finds out about his wife Anna's rape.
  • Miscarriage of Justice: See Frame-Up above — this forms the basis of his character arc from the end of Series 2, right through Series 3.
  • Mysterious Past: Which is only revealed midway through Series 1, when he discloses that he was once a drunkard, and had also spent time in prison for a theft his wife Vera had committed.
  • Oops! I Forgot I Was Married: Everyone is pretty shocked when the vile Vera turns up at Downton, looking to drag her "Batesy" back home.
  • The Pardon: By Series 3 Episode 6, Anna's sleuthing finally pays off and he is cleared of Vera's murder. The case against him crumbles when Anna speaks with Mrs Bartlett, who reveals that she had seen Vera making the crust of the fatal pie in the evening of the day that she died — after Bates had left by train to return to Downton. Bates had bought the rat poison, but the poison was only found in the pie and not in the ingredients. So if the pie was made after he left, Vera had to have poisoned it herself. By Episode 7, He's Back at Downton and receives a hero's welcome.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: As of the final episode of Series 4, it is strongly implied that he travelled to London and dispatched Green by shoving him in front of a bus on Piccadilly in revenge for Anna's rape. A train ticket in his coat pocket places him in London on the day of the murder, which Lady Mary burns before it can be used to implicate him. Ultimately the whole matter is completely averted, see below.
  • Red Herring Twist: In episode 6 of Series 5, he finally explains to Anna that although he had bought a ticket to London that day and did indeed plan to kill Green, he didn't go through with it in the end. It is simply enormously bad luck that Green happened to die that day. Ultimately, a witness places him in a pub at the time of the incident, putting Bates in the clear.
  • The Stoic: Most of the time, but also the Stoic Woobie, as seen when he is initially asked to leave Lord Grantham's service, due to his bad leg, in Series 1.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: It seems if there's one person who Bates can't stand more than Thomas, it's Sarah O'Brien, and his sense of justice will not let her get away with scheming against an already broken man. His time in prison has given him compassion for those with absolutely no power, as he explains.
  • Taking the Heat: After Anna is carted off by the police and imprisoned for Green's murder at the end of Series 5, he writes a confession to the police to implicate himself and goes on the run to Ireland. By Christmas, thanks to Molesley and Baxter's sleuthing, a witness has been found to place him in a pub in York at the time of the murder and the case against him (and later Anna) finally appears to collapse. It's something of a character trait, as above, he'd done pretty much the same thing to protect Vera after her thieving.
  • Team Dad: To the younger staff. He's the older male figure most of them come to when in need of advice or support.
  • Vigilante Man: Oh yes. Although he's an undoubtedly good person, he has no compunction with taking the law into his own hands when required. He'll intimidate, beat up, and even seriously contemplate murdering those who threaten the ones he loves.
  • Will They or Won't They?: His love for Anna moves one step forwards and two steps backwards. Finally, it is resolved with They Do when they have a sweet, simple ceremony towards the end of Series 2.
  • You Didn't Ask: As said when the staff are surprised to find out his comrades-in-arms relationship with Lord Robert.

Miss Sarah O'Brien, Lady's Maid to Lady Grantham

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/brien_5330.png

Portrayed by: Siobhan Finneran

"He’ll be lucky if he gets a civil word out of me."

  • The Atoner: Briefly, and only to Cora, after she deliberately causes her to miscarry.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Ostensibly, with Thomas.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Culminating in her stealthy Series 4 exit, detailed below.
    • As of the end of Series 5, she's abandoned Lady Flintshire too, and is in the service of the new governor of Bombay's wife.
  • Chronic Villainy: Despite a few brief Hazy Feel Turns, and one genuine My God, What Have I Done? incident in Series 1 (see below), over the course of her tenure on the series, she never loses her predisposition for malevolence.
  • Consummate Liar: O'Brien's all honey around Cora. ...and arsenic with everyone else.
  • Dark Secret: She's furious after she overhears gossip and mistakenly thinks Cora is going to sack her, so plants a well-placed bar of soap on her bathroom floor, causing her to slip and miscarry her baby. This comes back to haunt O'Brien in Series 3, following her campaign of revenge against former ally Thomas, and after he has been publicly outed and reduced to a defeated shell by her constant scheming, he relays this one vital weakness to Bates, who only has to whisper "her Ladyship's soap" in her ear (not knowing what that means) to see her backing down in terror.
  • Deadpan Snarker
    O'Brien: If she's got a boyfriend, I'm a giraffe.
  • Didn't See That Coming:
    • A reckless plan to save her job turned into a Type 5 situation. After miscarrying, Cora's baby was revealed to be male, which would have helped to secure the future of the whole estate. Furthermore, Cora had planned to keep O'Brien on anyway.
    • Type 2 occurs when she summons Vera to collect Bates. Instead of focusing her wrath on Bates himself, Vera finds out about Mary's dalliance with Kemal Pamuk and threatens to tell the newspapers. Mary is forced to accept Sir Richard's proposal of marriage in order to kill the story. Whoops.
  • Dirty Social Tricks: Exhibits a practiced knack for humiliating her enemies, both socially and professionally.
  • Driven by Envy: So it would appear — she hates her lot in life.
  • Evil Duo: With Thomas.
  • Evil Mentor: For her bumbling nephew Alfred, having managed to blag him a job as a footman at the start of Series 3. This blatant Nepotism angers Thomas, as he feels he had to fight to be promoted to Footman.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Mess with her nephew at your peril...
  • Evil vs. Evil: In Series 3, O'Brien's championing of Alfred leads to an almighty fallout between her and Thomas, easily her closest companion at Downton and perhaps in life generally. See Revenge Before Reason below for detail.
    Thomas: (smirking) Everything alright, Miss O'Brien?
    O'Brien: Oh everything's alright with me, but it'll be all wrong with you before too long, mark my words.
  • Fag Hag: For Thomas.
  • For the Evulz: Some of her malice is inexplicable, such as disseminating info about Mary's sexual dalliances to Edith. It's possible that O'Brien enjoys the game of exploiting secrets for its own sake.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: The two evil characters frequently plot whilst having a sneaky fag.
  • Gossipy Hen: With Thomas.
  • Hate Sink: Especially in Series 1, although she's still a highly complex, interesting character.
  • Hazy Feel Turn: The business with the soap obviously preys on her, and she does soften up a bit in Series 2, but by Series 3 she's back on form as the scheming old cow we know and love (to hate).
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: She appears to show a kinder side after Cora's miscarriage, but it doesn't last and for the most part her motives are selfish and petty, and unlike Thomas, has no excuse for being so nasty.
  • Karma Houdini: Cunningly, she has remained Cora's most beloved and trusted servant, despite the fact that the rest of the Crawley family appear to know exactly what she's like — even Sybil, who never has a bad word to say about anybody refers to O'Brien as an "odious woman".
  • Maid: As a highly skilled Lady's Maid, she represents the professional zenith of the Maid world.
  • Maiden Aunt: Having no children of her own (or any chance at having any), she seems to treat Alfred as something of a surrogate son.
  • Malicious Slander: Her specialty.
  • Manipulative Bitch:
    • In Series 1 & 2, her schemes include: trying to get Bates fired and to expose Lady Mary's affair with Pamuk, riling Cora up against Sybil becoming a nurse, repeatedly sending Ethel on fool's errands, getting Thomas transferred to the Downton hospital, and then getting him placed in charge of the convalescents in order to take Isobel down a peg, trying to get Mrs. Bird and Mrs. Patmore in trouble for feeding the indigent veterans and telling Vera that Bates is back at Downton.
    • In Series 3, after her falling out with Thomas over Alfred's arrival, she does what she can to advance his crush on the new, pretty footman, Jimmy. She manipulates Jimmy so he won't confront Thomas about his unwelcome advances, but tells Thomas that Jimmy is interested, all as part of a twisted plot to get Thomas outed and sacked.
  • Mirror Monologue: Briefly, just before she regretfully realizes the implications of placing a bar of soap on the floor of Lady Cora's bathroom...
    O'Brien: Sarah O'Brien, this is not who you are.
  • Morality Pet: As of Series 2, 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. Lady Cora becomes one for her as well after Cora's miscarriage, though O'Brien is still not above underhanded schemes to protect her.
  • 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' 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.
    • During her testimony at Bates' trial, she's clearly regretful of how bad it makes Bates look; apparently sending him to the gallows for murder is a bit beyond how vindictive she felt toward him.
  • Old Maid: She's in her 40's, and unlike fellow old maids Mrs Hughes and Mrs Patmore, she shows (and is shown) no romantic interest whatsoever. Unsurprisingly.
  • Perpetual Frowner: It's very rare to see her crack a smile — but if she does, it likely denotes some sort of self-satisfying scheming is afoot.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Thomas sneers at Bates's limp, too. But O'Brien is the one who kicks Bates's cane out from under him.
  • Resenter: Despite her skills, it's clear that a life serving her social superiors has rendered her embittered and underhand.
  • Revenge Before Reason: What starts out as a petty squabble between her and Thomas over the arrival of Alfred in Series 3 escalates into a dangerous series of pranks and retaliations at each other's expense. This back and forth reaches its alarming zenith in episode 7, when she convinces Thomas that his feelings for Jimmy are mutual, leading him to enter Jimmy's bedroom for a midnight kiss. Alfred walks in at the most inopportune moment and witnesses the resulting fallout. It isn't long before O'Brien is whispering in her nephew's ear, encouraging him to report the incident to Mr Carson. Thomas is publicly outed and her revenge is complete. In the Series 3 finale, her plan to ruin Thomas is foiled when Bates (surprisingly) comes to Thomas's aid, by threatening to reveal her own darkest secret — "Her Ladyship's soap" (see above), is all he needs to whisper in her ear to frighten her into backing down.
  • Sneaky Departure: Siobhan Finneran confirmed she would not return in Series 4, and as the series begins, we see O'Brien (in shadow and played by a stand-in) up and leave in the middle of the night, having accepted a post with Robert's cousin, the acidic Lady Susan Flintshire!
  • Thicker Than Water: Despite his obvious flaws and inexperience, she's got Alfred's back covered at all times and always leaps to his defense.
    O'Brien: Pay no attention. You've a nice manner Alfred, you're not VAIN like Thomas.
  • Two Rights Make a Wrong: For all her lecturing at Thomas about playing it smart, O'Brien's schemes have an uncanny knack of blowing up in her face.
  • Ultimate Job Security: Carson comes down a lot harder on other servants for smaller offenses. Mrs. Hughes catches O'Brien ransacking her room in search of a stolen snuff box, which seems pretty damming, but nothing comes of it. This is because Lady's Maids were answerable only to their mistress — Mrs Hughes can forcefully ask O'Brien for her cooperation, but only Cora can hire/fire her, which doesn't seem likely, given Cora's blindness to O'Brien's malicious side.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Deliberately facilitating the death of Cora's unborn baby is easily her most monstrous moment during her tenure as the series's lead villainess.

Thomas Barrow, the First Footman

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/thomasdownton_7964.png

Portrayed by: Rob James Collier

"This isn't her territory. We can say what we like down here."

  • All Love Is Unrequited:
    • He appears genuinely crushed in Series 1 when Crowborough spurns his affections, dismissing him as no more than a "youthful dalliance".
    • In Series 3, he falls head over heels for pretty new footman Jimmy, and is clumsily flirtatious, despite Jimmy's clear discomfort and unreciprocal reaction — see Lured into a Trap below for full detail.
  • Beauty Is Bad: As dishy as he is devious.
  • Blackmail: In Series 4, he offers up Phyllis Baxter as a candidate to replace Edna as Lady Cora's Lady's Maid, with the sole purpose of using his knowledge of her apparently shady past (she stole jewellery from her previous mistress) to force her to act as his eyes and ears below stairs.
  • The Bully: To William (Series 1), Alfred (Series 3) and Miss Baxter (Series 4).
  • But Not Too Gay: In Series 1 and 2. The pilot episode showed that Thomas certainly was able to have a love life, but he only has brief crushes for the next two series. His attraction to Jimmy Kent in Series 3, however, ended this by making his sexual orientation a bigger part of the plot.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Ostensibly, with O'Brien.
  • Character Development: While he never quite loses his habit of scheming and plotting and manipulation, he does become a very slightly kinder and more grateful person toward the end of the series.
  • Chronic Villainy: According to an interview with Rob James-Collier, Thomas didn't learn a damn thing from the events of Series 3, and is still as scheming and conniving as ever. This shines through in the first episode of Series 4, when he conspires to get Nanny West fired for simply giving him attitude — see her entry below for full detail.
  • Conspicuous Gloves: After being shot in the war, Thomas is left with a scarred-over hand. Since Series 2, he's seen wearing a glove at all times, and when off work he wears a flesh-coloured, fingerless one.
  • Cure Your Gays: Self-administered when he tries some shady reparative therapy promoted in a newspaper advert that eventually lands him in the hospital.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    Daisy (on Mrs Patmore's love-life): Why not? She's a woman isn't she?
    Thomas: Only technically.
  • Depraved Homosexual: His encounters with Pamuk, Crowborough and in Series 3, Jimmy.
  • Despair Event Horizon: He's faced a variety of different obstacles over the years (some self-inflicted) but his arrogant pride has usually carried him through and allowed him to bounce back. However by Series 6, as it becomes clear that his job (the only thing he really has) is on the line, he grows increasingly isolated, bitter, and resentful of his fellow staff, and his lot in life. In the finale, he attempts to take his own life — see below for detail.
    Mr Carson: You seem unusually disenchanted with life these days, Mr Barrow.
    Thomas: I can't see the future, Mr Carson.
  • Desperately Craves Affection: He's cold, haughty and is shown to be an incorrigible bastard on many occasions, but his unsubtle flirtations with men he finds attractive (Pamuk, Jimmy) reveal a side to him we rarely see — that of a desperately lonely man in a world where he can never fully be himself.
  • Dirty Social Tricks: He gets a real kick out of humiliating his colleagues, and uses a number of nasty techniques to do so.
  • Driven by Envy: Mrs Hughes thinks he's just jealous because everyone likes William.
  • Drunk with Power: He's on the make, to put it lightly.
  • Dude! He's Like, in a Coma!: He plants a kiss on Jimmy's lips whilst he sleeps, during a midnight visit to the young footman's bedroom. All hell breaks loose, as mentioned below.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: In the Series’ grand finale, it becomes instantly apparent that his suicide attempt, and the compassion meted out to him thereafter, has caused Thomas to have a genuine Heel Realization. He concludes that Being Evil Sucks and decides he wants to become a better person, but feels he cannot stay on at Downton. He therefore bids a tearful, heartfelt farewell to the staff and family before taking on the role of butler in a smaller house. However, the job is limited, boring and he ends up hating it, but salvation comes in the form of Mr Carson’s retirement, and Thomas's story concludes with Carson approvingly passing the baton to him as the new butler of Downton Abbey.
  • Easily Forgiven: Given the various examples of his appalling behaviour over the past five series listed here, it beggars belief that he's managed to hang on to his job at the Abbey...
  • Emerging from the Shadows: In the Series 4 Christmas special, he emerges menacingly from a darkened hallway on the upstairs landing to confront (and surprise) a very shocked Branson, who was at the time giving Miss Bunting an unsolicited tour of the Abbey gallery.
  • Establishing Character Moment / Bitch Alert:
    Thomas: You're late when I say you're late.
  • Evil Duo: With O'Brien through Series 1-2.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • He disapproves of the hospital's ill-treatment of William (whom he hates), causing the entire staff to look at him, stunned.
      Thomas: I'm a working class lad and so is he. And I get fed up of seeing how our lot always get shafted.
    • He tells O'Brien she shouldn't have written to Vera, telling the latter Bates was back at Downton, and genuinely doesn't seem to want to see Bates hanged for Vera's murder.
    • He is fond of Lady Sybil due to their work at the hospital during the war, and is genuinely shattered when she dies in childbirth. In Series 4, it's shown that he has a soft spot for baby Sybbie. It's implied that his fondness for Lady Sybil is why he doesn't hesitate to call Edna a manipulative witch after her attempt to force Tom to marry her fails.
  • Evil Former Friend: Of the Baxter family; Thomas and his sister were friends with the family growing up, which is how he knows (and is able to exploit) Phyllis' Dark Secret — see her entry for detail.
  • Evil Is Petty:
    • He's constantly trying to get Bates fired (admittedly, he was after Bates' job at the time), and flirts with Daisy, just to hurt William.
    • With Bates in prison, he shifts his cross-hairs to Alfred, the new footman. Not only is Thomas protective of his position as Valet, but he kicks out the ladder to prevent anyone else from following him.
  • Evil Mentor:
    • In Series 3, he busily grooms his new protégé Jimmy to become 1st Footman, whilst simultaneously sabotaging rival candidate Alfred's chances.
    • In Series 5, Thomas takes it upon himself to look after new footman Andy, and actually does something nice in catching on to Denker's schemes and getting Andy's money back. It's unclear whether he is doing it to have Andy in his pocket, or is actually being genuinely kind for once. Or does he simply have a bit of a crush?
  • Evil vs. Evil: In Series 3, he and O'Brien have an almighty falling-out over the arrival of her nephew Alfred as the new footman, which causes huge damage to their once tight friendship. See Lured into a Trap below for detail.
  • Eviler Than Thou: In the Series 5 Christmas day special, both the acid-tongued Lord Sinderby and his uppity butler Stowell really don't know who they're dealing with when they insult him, and Thomas takes pride in exacting revenge. After Stowell (whilst drunk) carelessly reveals details of Lord Sinderby's mistress, Thomas anonymously invites her to join a lunch party with the whole Crawley clan present — which leaves Lord Sinderby reeling and Stowell fearing for his job.
  • Fool for Love: Although the opportunity for him to have a same-sex relationship in the Edwardian era is both slim and more importantly dangerous, Thomas is shown to take great risks in the pursuit of love, and is not shy about coming on to men (Kemal Pamuk, Jimmy) he finds attractive, despite the obvious jeopardy this puts him in.
    • Exemplified during the Series 3 Christmas Day Special, where despite Jimmy's previous rebuttal and attempts to get him sacked, Thomas still jumps to his aid when the young footman is attacked by thugs at the village fair and is left beaten black and blue for his efforts.
    Jimmy: Why were you following me?
    Thomas: You know why...
  • Friend to All Children: Surprisingly perhaps, given his character, he's genuinely fond of the Crawley family children, and is quick to oblige when Master George and Miss Marigold gleefully demand piggy-back rides.
  • Freudian Excuse: He was picked on for being "different," hence the rather large chip on his shoulder.
  • Gayngst:
    • This is fully revealed when his mask slips a little during his chat with Lieutenant Courtenay.
    Thomas: All my life they've pushed me around just cos I'm different...
    • Also when he confesses to Bates he envies him — he can never experience being a part of a happy couple that everyone supports.
    • He gets slammed hard with this again in Series 5, the catalyst being Jimmy's departure in episode 2, which upsets him greatly and causes him to again question how he is to ever find happiness. Episode 4 reveals that he has started some sort of course — "Choose Your Own Path" — that offers medical treatment for the "condition" of homosexuality. This quackery, which includes electric shock therapy and saline injections, ultimately ends up poisoning him, and it takes Miss Baxter's intervention (with Doctor Clarkson's medical advice) to make him see sense.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: The two evil characters frequently plot whilst having a sneaky fag.
  • Gossipy Hen: With O'Brien.
  • Hands-On Approach: With Jimmy, when showing him how to wind and set the house clocks properly.
  • Has a Type: Selfish, manipulative Pretty Boys like the Duke of Crowborough, Pamuk and Jimmy are his preference. Worthy, earnest nice guys don't float his boat — as seen when the prospect of looking after "Mr Matthew" causes him to throw a strop, let alone Tom Branson, for whom he outright refuses to act as valet.
  • Hate at First Sight: Bates in Series 1, Nanny West in Series 4.
  • Hate Sink: Especially in Series 1, where he's an utter bastard to William and Bates, although less so in later series, where the complex emotional side to his character has been further explored and presented.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • In Series 1, he attempts (with O'Brien's help) to get Bates sacked by stealing one of Lord Grantham's beloved snuff boxes and planting it in the unwitting valet's room. Luckily, Anna and Bates get wind of his plan, retrieve the stolen snuffbox and replace it, but not before loudly declaring to Carson that there should be a room-search — cue Thomas and O'Brien ransacking their own rooms trying to find the snuffbox in fear of losing their own jobs.
    • His wicked plan to blackmail Baxter blows up in his face in Series 5, after she finally decides she can no longer endure his bullying and comes clean to Cora (she stole jewellery from her previous mistress). As opposed to sacking Baxter, Cora is more angry that Thomas was apparently using this information to control the poor woman and actually considers sacking him over it. Luckily for him, he gets back into Cora's good books after he personally rescues Lady Edith from a fire in her bedroom that very same night.
  • I Am What I Am: Despite exhibiting Gayngst, it's clear that this is directed at society's condemnation of homosexuality, as opposed to self-loathing, and in fact he's readily prepared to defend his orientation:
    Thomas: I'm not "foul" Mr Carson. I'm not the same as you, but I'm not foul.
  • Icy Blue Eyes
  • Impaled Palm: Intentionally got his hand shot by a German sharpshooter in order to be shipped back home. Although, considering what stretcher-bearers went through on the Front, you can't blame him.
  • Interrupted Suicide: By the Series 6 finale, he as been reduced to a devastated, desperate shell and feels he has no purpose in life. In despair, he locks himself in the staff bathroom, fills a bathtub, climbs in, and slashes his wrists. Luckily, Miss Baxter senses something terrible has happened, and races to the scene. She and Andy smash the door down Just in Time for Doctor Clarkson to save his life, and he is put to bed to recover. Mary and Master George visit the next day, which cheers him up no end.
  • It Amused Me: While it's never been directly addressed in-series, Rob James-Collier has said he feels that Barrow's motivations for being such a Jerkass is this, saying that since his job is the exact same thing every single day, he occasionally kicks the hornet's nest just to alleviate the soul-crushing boredom of his life. He might also occasionally waltz over the line into For the Evulz.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: After he and Jimmy make up in the Series 3 Christmas special, following a huge bust-up over Thomas's unsolicited advances, they begin to show signs of their newfound friendship, with Thomas showing no outward signs of his previous feelings. They often play cards together, and despite whatever Thomas may still feel for Jimmy, he remarks before he accompanies Lord Grantham on a trip to America that he hopes to see Jimmy "settled with a nice girl from the village" when he returns. In Series 5, Thomas even facilitates Jimmy's illicit encounter with Lady Anstruther. Better to be his wing-man, than nothing at all, it would seem.
  • Jerkass: He's obnoxious to everyone he works with, except O'Brien (until their Series 3 fall-out), and there's a definite Enforced Cold War between them and the other staff.
  • Jerk Justifications: Subscribes to types 1 & 2.
  • Jerk Ass Woobie: Considering the time period and his orientation, it's hard not to (sometimes) feel sorry for him, for all his nastiness. This is felt most keenly in Series 6, where nearly every other person in the household (except Molesley, Baxter and the children) are now openly showing their distaste and dislike for him. Episode 6 closes with him sobbing by himself downstairs in the darkened kitchen — it's enough to make one want to give him a hug.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: In Series 4, after he is offended by Nanny West, he takes umbrage and conspires to have her sacked. As it turns out Thomas was right about her, albeit inadvertently, when it is revealed that she has been abusing young Sybbie.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: He's often nasty and devious, but when his victim is an Asshole Victim like Nanny West, Ms. Denker, Stowell, and Lord Sinderby, the results are quite satisfying.
  • Leitmotif: Significant scenes between him and Jimmy (the midnight kiss, making friends etc) are accompanied by a sad, ominous, rather tense piano piece.
  • Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: Practically no one was openly gay in the late Edwardian era, and Thomas must look for the signs that signify reciprocity — unfortunately, he's rather green in that regard. To compound matters, the type of men he likes are entirely unsuited to loving relationships.
  • Lured into a Trap: In Series 3, he exhibits an uncharacteristic lack of self-preservation when he falls for O'Brien's lies that his feelings for Jimmy are mutual, leading him to enter the young footman's bedroom for a midnight kiss. Alfred walks in at the most inopportune moment, witnesses the resulting fallout and is encouraged by O'Brien to report the incident to Mr Carson. Thomas is publicly outed and O'Brien's revenge is complete. By the Series 3 finale, he is reduced to a tearful, defeated shell by O'Brien's plan. That is, until he (with Bates' help) recalls her ''one'' vital weakness — the fact that she caused Cora's miscarriage, and rather foolishly relayed this to Thomas. Bates only has to whisper "her Ladyship's soap" in her ear (not knowing what that means) to see her backing down in terror.
  • Malicious Slander: His speciality.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Eager to be promoted to butler or valet as soon as possible, even if it means kidnapping pets.
  • Manly Tears: After Sybil's death, and again in Series 6 after Carson refuses to believe that nothing improper happened between him and Andy.
  • Milholland Relationship Moment: In Series 3, Thomas expects to "shock and disgust" Mrs. Hughes with the revelation that he is gay. She is in fact understanding, most probably due to the below.
  • Open Secret: Carson admits everyone already knew Thomas was gay, but it wasn't official until the scandal with Jimmy, so he didn't have to do anything about it.
  • Out-Gambitted: By the Duke, who steals and burns his love letters before he tries to Blackmail him with them.
  • Pet the Dog: In Series 6, his unexpectedly sweet interactions with young Master George and Miss Marigold (who'd have thought that Thomas would ever give piggy-back rides?) reveal a softer side to his character. Same with his repaying Miss Baxter's kindnesses to him by immediately standing up for her when he thinks she's in trouble.
  • Photo Op with the Dog: Literally. He contrives a mad scheme to impress Lord Robert — kidnapping his beloved labrador Isis, with the plan being to heroically "find" her and thus fall into his Lordship's good graces. Although the scheme initially backfires (Isis is found by a village child before Thomas can return her), Robert is impressed by the fact that Thomas has apparently run himself ragged looking for her. This action directly leads to his promotion to Valet.
  • Rank Up:
    • As of Series 3, he is promoted to Lord Grantham's valet, whilst Bates languishes in prison. He's then made Under-Butler by the finale, when Bates returns.
    • In the Series' grand finale, he is promoted to Butler, following Carson's retirement.
  • Red Right Hand / Scars Are Forever: Wears a black glove on his injured hand.
  • Relationship-Salvaging Disaster: During the Series 3 Christmas Special, Jimmy is attacked by thugs at the village fair and Thomas leaps to his defense, ending up beaten black and blue in the process. This spurs Jimmy into making peace with Thomas, following their fall-out over Thomas's unsolicited advances, although Jimmy insists he can never give him the romantic relationship he is looking for.
  • Schemer: One of his more obvious character traits, Thomas is constantly formulating plans to advance his career, get one over on his enemies, or make a quick couple of quid.
  • Smug Snake: Not nearly as smart as he thinks he is.
  • Sour Outside, Sad Inside: He appears to be a very bitter man, having a ‘constitutional objection to anyone being happy’, according to Molesley. It is not unthinkable that this is his way of dealing with his own unhappiness and that behind his distant and unkind mask lies a vulnerable heart.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Towards Jimmy in the third Series.
  • Straight Gay: In general, he's not in the least bit camp, and his sexuality is only apparent during scenes involving his encounters with other men.
  • Subordinate Excuse: It's not only his ambition that made him want to be the Duke of Crowborough's valet.
  • Sugary Malice: In the Series 4 Christmas Day Special, his resentment at having to wait on Tom Branson (whom he considers a chancer who got lucky in marrying Lady Sybil) bubbles over, and his polite, but dryly aggravating tone (all delivered with a smug smile) smacks of this trope.
  • Tall, Dark, and Snarky: He's tall, has jet-black hair, and possesses a dark, sneering sense of humour.
  • Transparent Closet: In the Series 3 finale, most people's reaction to being told that he's gay is "it's not like we didn't know that already." Even Robert knew.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: Promoted to House Manager during Downton's spell as a convalescent home during the War years of Series 2, and again in the Series 3 finale, when he's promoted to Under-Butler, which gives him authority over every staff member except for Carson.
  • Ultimate Job Security: Can be as rude as he pleases, and no one bats an eyelash.
    • Bates catches him stealing wine, but can't bring himself to have Thomas fired. So what does Thomas do? Pin the stolen wine on Bates!
    • After Thomas is outed in Series 3, rather than being horrified like Carson, Lord Robert exhibits a uniquely upper-class, blasé attitude towards sexuality — he went to Eton after all, where one doesn't bat an eyelid over this sort of thing.
    Robert: If I screamed blue-murder every time someone tried to kiss me at Eton, I'd have gone hoarse in a month.
    • Ironically, once he Took a Level in Kindness in Series 6, he is asked to look for a job elsewhere due to budget concerns. In the series finale, he is invited back with a promotion once Carson is forced to retire.
  • Villainous Breakdown: As seen when the black market comestibles he plans to profit from turn out to be inedible, leading him to trash his storage shed in a tearful, blind rage.
  • Villainous Cheekbones
  • Villain Decay: In Series 1 and 2, he is an incorrigible bastard on many occasions, and represents a dangerous threat who is prepared to cross any moral boundary to get his own way, or even just For the Evulz. However by the end of Series 3, he begins to exhibit moments of helpfulness, even kindness, and the genuine sense of maliciousness he once presented begins to subside –- to the point where, by Series 6, he is viewed as being vaguely tragic by the other staff, and simply a mere nuisance below stairs.
  • Zany Scheme: Which mostly blow up in his face.

William Mason, the Second Footman

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/williammason_4007.png

Portrayed by: Thomas Howes

"My mum was so excited when I came here. They're proud of me, and I'd hate to spoil that."

  • Adorkable: He's well-mannered, sweet and very put-upon, which all adds to his endearing vulnerability.
  • Anyone Can Die: Having bravely saved the life of Matthew by shielding him from an explosion during the final push at Amiens.
  • Battle Butler: He serves as Matthew's batman in France, and dies from injuries sustained saving his life at Amiens.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Despite his sweet nature, he can definitely handle himself in a scrap, as seen when he gives Thomas a much needed thrashing after he insults his late mother.
  • Break the Cutie: He tries to be positive, but Thomas's cruel teasing eventually causes him to snap.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: He's clearly in love with Daisy although she doesn't want to know with Thomas in the picture. She eventually does see it, once she gets over Thomas, and while she doesn't feel for him quite as intensely, she agrees to marry him in a rushed death-bed service right before he dies.
  • Dramatic Irony: He repeatedly insists that he should be allowed to fight in the Great War, as he believes so much in the British cause. This for what is now recognized as one of the most pointless and wasteful wars in history.
  • The Dutiful Son: He'd rather be working with horses at the family farm, but took the role of Footman to please his parents, so it's a bit of an inversion in his case.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: Thomas vs. William and our Will valiantly carries the day.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Easily one of the warmest characters in the series, with a heart as golden as his flaxen hair.
  • Heroic Wannabe: At the start of Series 2, he's desperate to sign up to the army.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: With Daisy. Thomas Howe is a clear foot taller than Sophie McShera (Daisy).
  • Jumped at the Call: When he is finally called up, he can't wait to do his duty for King and country.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Earnest, sweet and vulnerable, he's perfect bullying-fodder for Thomas.
  • Nice Guy: And a complete Foil to his devious fellow footman, Thomas.
  • Taking the Bullet: For Matthew at Amiens.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: His angelic death scene, surrounded by the staff and family united in grief, is particularly upsetting.

Anna Bates (née Smith), the Head Housemaid

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Portrayed by: Joanne Froggatt

"It’s always sad when you love someone who doesn’t love you back, no matter who you are."

  • Amateur Sleuth: In her efforts to prove Bates' innocence.
  • Big "NO!": At Bates' trial, when the guilty verdict is read out.
  • Break the Cutie: Following her Series 4 rape ordeal detailed below, the normally confident, vivacious Anna becomes (understandably) withdrawn and full of self-loathing.
  • Bully Hunter: She will always tenaciously leap to the defense of anyone being harassed or picked on — even Thomas and O'Brien keep her at a respectful arms-length, never targeting her directly.
  • The Confidant: For Lady Mary, who leans on Anna a lot. Along with her mother, she is the only one she can trust when Kemal Pamuk scandalously dies in her bed.
  • Clear My Name: After it is revealed at the end of Series 5 that Bates wasn't involved in Green's murder, suspicion shifts to Anna. By the finale, she finds herself summoned to a Police Line Up, and is subsequently arrested on suspicion of murder as the series comes to a close. During the Christmas Day special, she is freed from prison after Bates confesses to the crime in her place, despite a witness placing him in York at the time the murder took place. Ultimately, her accuser's testimony wobbles, and in the Series 6 premiere, the real guilty party is identified, confesses her crime, and the case against Anna finally collapses. The entire staff celebrates with a Dance Party Ending.
  • Clear Their Name: Her quest throughout Series 3 is to help prove Bates' innocence. By episode 6, she manages to coerce Vera's friend Audrey Bartlett into giving a testimony, which clears his name and secures his release.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending / Babies Ever After: She and Bates have been through some of the series' most gruelling dramas, what with psycho ex-wives turning up, false murder charges (twice for Bates, once for Anna), imprisonment, and Anna's traumatic rape experience, so when their much longed-for son is born during the series' grand finale (in Lady Mary's bed!), he represents a well-deserved happy ending for the couple.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Although she's sweet, kind and compassionate, Anna is absolutely not a walk-over and doesn't take any shit from Thomas or O'Brien, frequently calling them out on their dreadful behavior.
    Anna: Fight fire with fire, that's what my mum says.
  • I Will Wait for You: Confirms this to Bates, just before he is hauled off by the police.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Thomas directly describes her as such.
    Thomas: She's not an enemy, but she's incorruptible, so we have nothing in common.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: In Series 6, Anna is desperate to start a family with Bates, but following three miscarriages, she despairs over the fact that she may never be able to bear children. Luckily, Lady Mary is on hand to provide the services of her own personal physician, who makes his diagnosis and a plan to operate — she falls pregnant soon after.
  • Maid / Ninja Maid: Anna takes to the role of plucky girl detective like a duck to water.
  • Morality Pet: For Lady Mary. No matter how nasty Mary may be to others, she's unfailingly kind to Anna, genuinely valuing her opinion and going far above and beyond what a lady of the time might be expected to for their Lady's Maid.
  • Nice Girl: She's well liked and respected by the family and staff alike.
  • Parental Incest: In the Series 5 Christmas day special, she reveals to Bates that she was systematically molested by her step-father, to the point where she had to defend herself and eventually stabbed him with a kitchen knife. Her mother tried to hush it up, but not before the police were informed. This incident forms part of the prosecution's case against her.
  • Plucky Girl: 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.
  • Rank Up: As of Series 3 Episode 5, she is officially promoted to Lady Mary's lady's maid. This change heralds a simpler, more mature style of dress for her, more akin to the plain black outfits of Mrs Hughes and O'Brien.
  • Rape as Drama: In Series 4, she is attacked and raped by Green, Lord Gillingham's valet, in harrowing scenes whilst the rest of the household is distracted upstairs during the Nellie Melba concert. After Mrs Hughes finds her in a broken, sobbing state, Anna insists she must tell no one. The repercussions for her marriage are clear when Bates turns up (not knowing what has happened) and she won't let him touch her or walk her home. Even when he does find out the truth, Anna suggests that she is Defiled Forever, and it takes some time for her to be comfortable with Bates again.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: John Bates fits the bill perfectly, luckily for her.
  • Team Mum: For the younger staff.
  • Trojan Gauntlet: In preparation for Mary's illicit weekend away with Anthony Foyle in Series 5, poor Anna is dispatched to the local chemist and is mortified by the whole experience, especially as the chemist is something of a disapproving Sour Prude.
    Chemist: There is always abstinence!
  • Turn the Other Cheek: Despite the fact that Thomas actively tried to get Bates fired all throughout Series 1 & 2, she is shown to possess a dignified level of compassion, lending him a shoulder to cry on and hushing Alfred when he insensitively tells him to cheer up following Sybil's death.
  • Will They or Won't They?: With Bates. They Dofinally.

Gwen Dawson, a Housemaid

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Portrayed by: Rose Leslie

"Dad will think I'm a fool to leave a good place and Mum will say I'm getting above myself, but... but I don't believe that."

  • Earn Your Happy Ending: As mentioned below.
  • Fiery Red Head
  • Happily Married: In the second episode of Series 4, Mrs Hughes receives a letter from her, and apparently she's doing well and married.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: She's determined not to follow the prescribed path for women of her social status (essentially service or farm work) and strives to make a better life for herself.
    Gwen: We're not like that. We don't think our dreams are bound to come true... because they almost never do.
  • Maid
  • Mood-Swinger: She's combative and feisty one minute, the next she's wallowing in self-pity.
  • Odd Friendship: With Lady Sybil, who goes far beyond what an Earl's daughter would normally do to help her maid leave her father's service.
  • Plucky Girl: She even shows something of a Fiery Redhead nature, especially when O'Brien steals her type-writer and presents it to Carson.
    Gwen: Why's that down here? Who's been in my room? They had no right!
  • Pursue the Dream Job: She's desperate to become a secretary, and eventually, towards to the end of Series 1, her determination (and Sybil's support) pays off when she lands the position of secretary for a fledgling telephone company.
    • In Series 6, it is revealed that she has made a successful career in government alongside her husband, and helps to support young women from similarly disadvantaged backgrounds to progress their careers.
  • Put on a Bus: To Westeros, at the end of Series 1.
  • Small Town Boredom
  • The Bus Came Back / Back for the Finale: She returns to Downton in episode 4 of Series 6, having left the Abbey staff at the end of Series 1.
  • You Go, Girl!: She’s breaking every rule — In 1912, women were not expected or encouraged to have a profession and work in an office, so she represents the pioneering new wave of female independence coming through at that time.

Daisy Mason (née Robinson), a Kitchen/Scullery Maid

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Portrayed by: Sophie McShera

"Thomas is lovely in every way. He’s funny and handsome, and he’s got such lovely teeth."

  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Her crush on Thomas early in the series (which he exploits to make William jealous).
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: She bonds with Mr Mason (following initial reservations - see below), William's widowed father, after he tells her how special she is to him following William's death.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: In Series 3, she bugs Mrs. Patmore to hire a kitchen maid for months. Just when she's finally about to tell Alfred that she fancies him, she's introduced to new kitchen maid Ivy, who he immediately starts flirting with.
  • Better as Friends: She and Alfred, although it's a tough, upsetting decision for her as she did love him.
  • Break the Cutie: A couple of instances cause her great upset — notably the guilt she felt at marrying William on his death-bed, and in Series 3, Alfred's disinterest in her and pursuit of Ivy breaks her heart.
  • Butt-Monkey: Due to being one of the youngest, most junior staff members, and for having a rather gullible personality.
  • Call to Agriculture: In the Series' grand finale, she finally decides to take up her father-in-law Mr Mason's offer, and moves onto the farm with him.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Where Alfred is concerned, but in general she has this problem on most matters.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: She is stated to have had a tough childhood and is from the very lowest, dysfunctional end of the working classes.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: It's a subtle example, but at no point since has the series presented anything like the black and white flashback she has of Kemal Pamuk's body being carried across the landing mid-way through Series 1.
  • Hero's Muse: For William, who always says he will bear anything if she is with him.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: In Series 1, she's in love with Thomas of all people, which seems less forgivable in light of the revelation in Series 3 that just about everyone else knew that Thomas was gay.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: With William.
  • Green-Eyed Epiphany: In Series 3, her interest in newcomer Alfred is only piqued when she sees him enjoying Miss Reed's attentions.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: She's furious that Ivy is the subject of Alfred's affections, and takes her anger out on the poor girl.
  • History Repeats:
    • In Series 3, her aggressive attitude towards junior member of staff Ivy draws parallels with her own poor treatment at the hands of Mrs Patmore during Series 1.
    • Jimmy flirting with Ivy, supposedly to bully Alfred who is genuinely interested in her, parallels the former Love Triangle between Daisy, William and Thomas. Especially if we consider Jimmy as Armoured Closet Gay...
  • Limited Advancement Opportunities: It's likely down to the series's Comic-Book Time, but she remains a lowly scullery maid for a good 8 years before she is promoted to Assistant Cook. She has to complain to make it happen.
  • Literal-Minded: Not quite as extreme as the trope usually suggests, but she does get ridiculously stuck on the fact that she didn't quite feel for William what he felt for her, and acting like that completely invalidates their marriage. There's also the fact that, as the Dowager Countess points out to her later, her marrying him in order to "keep his spirits up at the end" was actually a very strong expression of love.
  • Love Triangle: In Series 3, she's part of the Love Quadrilateral of herself -> Alfred -> Ivy -> Jimmy, with Thomas also making his own moves on the latter.
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: She's one of eleven, as her mother was a true Victorian and produced a vast brood of children.
  • My Significance Sense Is Tingling: In the war years of Series 2, a dramatic scene of William (and Matthew) getting caught in an explosion quickly cuts to Daisy back at Downton, who is visibly shaken and falters mid-task.
  • Naïve Everygirl: Oh yes, and although she has toughened up a lot since the first series, Daisy still, at times, reveals herself to be a highly impressionable young woman.
    • In Series 5, she falls under the influence of socialist firebrand Sarah Bunting, who, as well as teaching her rudimentary mathematics, fills Daisy's head with revolutionary ideas.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: In the first episode of Series 6, Daisy's father-in-law Mr Mason faces eviction from his farm at the hands of a newly-rich couple, the Hendersons, who have bought the whole estate. Daisy, outraged at this situation, lays into Mr Henderson at the estate sale with an impassioned speech, but he instantly shuts her down, making it very clear that she has now made her father-in-law's situation far worse. Daisy decides that she Must Make Amends, and campaigns to have Mr Mason re-housed thereafter.
  • Pair the Spares: In the Series' grand finale, she decides to give Andy a chance (following initial reservations) and begins a proper relationship with him.
  • Rank Up: As of Series 3, she is promoted to Assistant Cook.
  • Rear Window Witness: Whilst up early to light the bedroom fires, she catches Lady Mary, her mother and Anna moving Pamuk's body across the landing back to his own room in the bachelor's corridor, after he has scandalously died in Mary's bed.
  • Scullery Maid: Her role through Series 1, to the first part of Series 3.
  • She Knows Too Much: Having witnessed the corpse-related escapade above, it plays on her mind, and in the end it is she who informs Edith (after coaxing) of Mary's bedroom antics, thus starting the whole Kemal Pamuk scandal.
  • Supreme Chef: As early as the Series 2 Christmas special, Miss Shore remarks that Daisy could be a sous-chef in London or head cook of any house in England less grand than Downton. By Series 4, she's really come into her own in the kitchen, and her food is by all accounts excellent if a bit plain (but of course, that's what the English have prided themselves on since the 1700s). She even gets invited by Lady Grantham's brother Harold—who came to England fully expecting to hate English cooking—to become his cook in New York, but she turns him down.
  • Unwitting Pawn: In Thomas's Series 1 plan to get Bates sacked. The scheming footman convinces her to give a false report to Carson, incriminating Bates in the theft of wine.
  • Widow Woman: Becomes one after William's death, only a few hours after their marriage.

Tom Branson, the Chauffeur

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Portrayed by: Allen Leech

"Sometimes a hard sacrifice must be made for a future that's worth having."

  • Affectionate Nickname: His big brother, Kieran, calls him "Tommy".
  • Best Friends-in-Law: With Matthew.
  • Birds of a Feather: Begins a friendship with Sybil based on their shared interest in politics and women's rights. Later episodes reveal their rebellious natures and disregard for society's class divisions.
  • Blood on the Debate Floor: His conversations on political reform impress Lady Sybil, but land her in a dangerous situation at an aggressive rally in Ripon. (He's absolutely aghast when Sybil is injured; his anguished "Oh no, please God no" is the first overt clue to his feelings for her.)
  • Bromance: With Henry Talbot, throughout Series 6.
  • Character Development: He becomes much less dogmatic and prickly about his politics as time goes by, even eventually admitting that there might be some good things about capitalism.
  • Commonality Connection: He and Matthew bond and find mutual support over their both marrying Crawley girls, as well as the fact that Matthew recognizes that he, like Branson, was once an outsider at Downton.
    Matthew: If we're mad enough to take on the Crawley girls, we've got to stick together.
  • Didn't See That Coming: He sings the praises of the Second Russian Revolution, and confidently insists the revolutionaries won't kill the Tsar's children. In a later episode, his effusive, slightly smug passion for Soviet Russia is drastically muted when he finds out that the Bolsheviks have bayoneted the Tsar's innocent children to death...
  • Dogged Nice Guy: He's really determined to win Lady Sybil, having fallen head over heels in love, and spends a great deal of time trying to convince her that she should do the same.
  • Fanservice: His medical exam for entrance to the army features three! whole! buttons undone on his shirt. (Hey, you take what you can get with these period pieces.) And in the Series 3 Christmas Special, he is actually shirtless for roughly three seconds.
  • Fee Fi Faux Pas: Once married to Lady Sybil, he makes loads, from not changing for dinner to using the wrong forms of address — not that he gives a shit.
    Violet: He's still dressed as the man from the Prudential I see.
  • Fish out of Water: In Series 4, whilst attending a particularly glitzy party at the Abbey, he describes himself as such word-for-word.
  • Get Out!: After Larry Grey rears his ugly head again at a dinner in Series 5, and once more voices his disgust over Sybil marrying him (amongst other things), Tom explodes with rage, calls Larry a bastard (which would be shocking for the period), and tells him to get the hell out.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: He forms a very unlikely one with Violet after Sybil dies; she gives him social advice at parties and dances with him, and also goes out of her way to find ways of including him in the family business.
  • Kissing Under the Influence / Sex for Solace: He enjoys an illicit one-night encounter with Edna in Series 4, but is quick to tell her the next day that It Doesn't Mean Anything. She, of course, has other ideas...
  • Like Brother and Sister: By about Series 5, Mary and Edith fully consider him their brother, due to his marriage to their late sister Sybil, and refer to him as such several times.
  • Mistaken for Terrorist: When an important general is dining at the Abbey in Series 2 during the war, he hatches a plot to attack him with something concealed inside a soup tureen. When the other staff catch onto his plan, they assume that he has a gun or a bomb and intends to murder the general. Instead, the tureen contains ink, engine oil, cow excrement and other icky substances to render the general Covered in Gunge.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: After Edna is fired for coming on to him in Series 3, Tom asks Mrs. Hughes to write her a good reference, out of guilt that he may have led her on. This comes back to bite both of them hard in the fourth Series premiere, when Edna uses that reference to get herself back into Downton when Cora interviews her.
  • Not Helping Your Case: He doesn't exactly receive a red-carpet welcome (perhaps understandably) when he revisits Downton as Lady Sybil's husband, but he doesn't help himself with his tetchy, chippy attitude and over-zealous politicking. Matthew even calls him out on it:
    Matthew: You don't make it easy for them. D'you really think you can recruit Cousin Robert for Sinn Féin?
  • Odd Friendship: With Mary of all people. After the deaths of Sybil and Matthew, they form a bond over their shared grief at having lost their spouse, close friend/sister, and at being single parents.
  • Panicky Expectant Father: As seen whilst Sybil is in labour — with good reason.
  • Patriotic Fervor: His storyline addresses this the most. He's very active in Irish Nationalism (although, as he points out, he's hardly limited to that in his politics) and he had a cousin killed in the Easter Rising. There's also a moment where he and Sybil spar over it when she doesn't understand (due to mostly being given the English side of things) why Tom has such a strong dislike of the English government and military.
  • Please Don't Leave Me: Says this to Sybil over and over again as she dies of post-partum eclampsia.
  • Principles Zealot: His high-minded ideals are often a little too inflexible.
    Branson: (on wearing morning dress) You see I don't approve of these costumes, I see them as the uniform of oppression and I should be uncomfortable wearing them.
    Violet: Have you quite finished?
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: In Series 3, finally.
  • Put on a Bus: At the end of the Series 5 Christmas special, after a suitably moving farewell speech led by Lord Grantham, he and Sybbie bid farewell to the family and leave Downton for good to start a new life in America.
  • Rags to Royalty: He starts out as the family chauffeur, but through dogged perseverence, he ends up married to Lady Sybil and a member of the noble Crawley family.
  • Rank Up: As of Series 3 Episode 7 he is made Estate Manager for Downton.
  • Rant-Inducing Slight: Don't bring up politics over dinner.
  • Saying Too Much: In the Series 6 finale, he is the one who tells Mary about Marigold's true parentage, thus kicking off the biggest row ever witnessed on the show between the Crawley sisters.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: When Robert offers him money to forget about Sybil, he refuses.
  • Ship Tease: A budding relationship with Edith's editor, Miss Edmunds, is teased in the grand finale.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Due to the veritable class-chasm between him and Lady Sybil.
  • Start My Own: In the grand finale, he and Henry Talbot open a car dealership — Branson & Talbot – as joint owners, which acts as an outlet for their shared love of cars.
  • Strawman Political: Used as a Plot Device to encourage Sybil's rebellious streak.
  • The Bus Came Back: In episode 3 of Series 6, he and Sybbie show up as surprise guests at Carson and Mrs Hughes' wedding. To the delight of all gathered, he vows to stay on at Downton for good.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: He delivers an almighty one to Mary in the Series 6 finale, after she cruelly tells Edith's fiancé, Bertie Pelham, about Marigold's true parentage.
    Tom: You're a coward Mary. Like all bullies you're a coward.
  • Token Minority: To some degree, a token Irishman. There might well be other Irish servants, and there are certainly Irish-descended ones (O'Brien for one, and Bates's mother was apparently Irish), but he's the only one who is a member of the Irish Nationalist movement.
  • Tsundere: Privately, Sybil reveals to Mary that he really isn't as anti their family as he appears to be — in fact, he's hoping for their approval.
    Sybil: He puts a tough face on it and says things that make everyone angry, but he so wants your good opinion. I can't tell you how much.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Mid-way through Series 3, his revolutionary ideals turn ugly and he arrives at Downton on the run from Ireland, having been present at the ransacking and burning of a noble Anglo-Irish family's castle. The Crawleys are disgusted, especially as he left the heavily pregnant Lady Sybil behind.
  • Will They or Won't They?: With Sybil — They Do.
    • Then with Sarah Bunting in Series 4/5 — they don't; her over-zealous, firebrand behaviour puts even him off.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Following his anarchic escapades in Ireland, detailed above, Lord Grantham uses his influence to call off the authorities, on the condition he does not set foot on Irish soil.
  • You Keep Telling Yourself That: How Robert, Carson and the more conservatively inclined residents of Downton generally react to his socialist diatribes.

Mr Joseph Molesley, Butler at Crawley House

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Portrayed by: Kevin Doyle

""I'll do this" he says. "I'll take the other. I'll tie that."... I'm just stood there like a chump, watching a man get dressed."

  • Always Someone Better: Especially with regard to his career.
  • Butt-Monkey: Poor old Molesley, he never seems to catch a break.
  • Can't Hold His Liquor: While waiting on the family, he takes ill... from sampling too much of the wine.
  • Draft Dodger: He's petrified of heading off to the trenches in Series 2, and when Isobel busts the Dowager's plan to keep him safe, he is forced to concoct a lung condition, which Dr Clarkson finally accepts as grounds for exemption.
  • Drop-In Character: Through Series 1-3, he doesn't work at the Abbey, but often pops in to see the other staff.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: By the grand finale, he ends up working full time at the local school (his dream career), and moves into a cottage in the village.
  • Gag Haircut: In Series 5, he's worried about his greying hair, and (hilariously) manages to accidentally dye his hair blue in an attempt to look younger, much to Lord Grantham's horror.
    Lord Grantham: Please keep Molesley in the kitchens in until his hair stops turning blue!
  • Hidden Depths: Series 5 reveals he has an interest in history, did well at school and hoped to become a teacher but was forced to start working to help his family.
  • Hopeless Suitor: Nice try, Molesley, but Anna's taken.
  • I Will Protect Her / You Leave Her Alone!: In Series 4, he shows uncharacteristic pluck when he leaps to the defense of Miss Baxter, after he witnesses Thomas's attempts at blackmailing her (see her entry for more detail).
  • The Jeeves: For Crawley House, the home of Isobel and Matthew.
  • The Munchausen: The hilarious self-promotion of his batting skills during the build up of the Series 3 finale cricket match predictably ends in disaster — when he's out for a duck.
    Molesley: Cherish the ball — don't crush it.
  • New Job as the Plot Demands: In Series 4 — road-worker, delivery boy, fill-in footman etc, following the death of his employer, Matthew.
  • Pursue the Dream Job: As mentioned above, he had always hoped to be a teacher, and in Series 6, he is given the opportunity by the kindly headmaster of the village school, who offers him a position after he passes a general knowledge exam. After a rocky start, he soon has the class enthralled following a Rousing Speech, based on his experience of being a servant and following his dreams to teach.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: To the point of Flanderization in the latter series. After a fairly serious start in Series 1, where he is presented as a dignified, senior servant at odds with his new employer Matthew's modernist views, his primary role from series 3 onwards becomes that of a lovable buffoon who can never catch a break. Series six finally seems to take pity on him, giving him the opportunity to be an unofficial teacher at the village school.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: As of Series 3.
  • Series Continuity Error: A mild example, but prior to Series 4, his given name was noted as being "Alfred" in the scripts and series companion books. However, in Episode 6 of Series 4, he reveals his first name is in fact Joseph.
  • Ship Tease: With Miss Baxter.
  • Slipping a Mickey: He makes an absolute tit of himself at the Gillies Ball during the Series 3 Christmas Special thanks to a drugged drink.
  • Spanner in the Works: He derails Thomas's plans at the end of Series 1 when he accidentally walks in on the footman stealing and reports him to Mr. Carson. Mr. Carson believes Molesley because he doesn't work in the main house and thus has no knowledge or bias towards the growing tensions against Thomas.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: By Series 6, he and Miss Baxter have become increasingly close, to the extent that they will often sit next to each other in the servants' hall (not during meals, when order is strictly determined by rank) and band together when one or the other of them is in trouble.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Every time he gets ahead, something happens to pull him back down.

Mrs May Bird, Cook at Crawley House

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Portrayed by: Christine Lohr

"I do not believe it is part of my duties to wait on the likes of her."

  • Apron Matron
  • Deadpan Snarker
    Mrs Bird: ...If you want your garden party to be run by Blind Pew.
  • Didn't See That Coming: She's shocked when Isobel gives her her notice in Series 3, after she refuses to work with ex-prostitute Ethel.
  • Old Maid: Cooks are always "Mrs" as a courtesy.
  • Pet the Dog: Mrs Bird is justifiably pissed when she finds out that Daisy had tried to sabotage her cooking, but she is also the first one to comfort Daisy since she was acting out of loyalty to Mrs Patmore.
  • The Rival: Initially for Mrs Patmore, who was very worried the family would prefer Bird's cooking whilst she was away in London for her eye-surgery. They eventually discover they are Not So Different, and bond through shared exasperation over Mrs Hughes' control of the food store.
  • Servile Snarker: As evidenced by her very first exchange:
    Matthew: Mrs Bird, Lord Grantham has rather a favour to ask of you.
    Mrs Bird: I'm surprised Lord Grantham knows that I exist, sir.
  • Slut-Shaming: Her brief and entire role in Series 3 is doing this to poor Ethel. However, due to Deliberate Values Dissonance, even some of the more regularly seen and well-rounded characters (Mrs Patmore for one) are shown to have much the same prejudice towards Ethel, believing that even being near an ex-prostitute is enough to "taint" their own reputations
  • Sour Supporter: She's a bit of an old grump, but does mellow a little.
  • Team Chef: For Crawley House, the home of Isobel and Matthew.

    Introduced in Series 2 

Ethel Parks, a Housemaid

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Portrayed by: Amy Nuttall

"I want the best, and I'm not ashamed to admit it."

  • Break the Haughty: Goes from a cocky, self-assured maid to being pregnant and bare-foot in the space of an episode.
  • Defiled Forever
    Mrs Hughes: You've broken the rules, my girl, and it's no good pretending they're easily mended.
  • Don't Split Us Up: Ethel's reaction when Major Bryant's parents ask her to let them adopt her baby, Charlie, and have her walk out of his life. She refuses. Until Series 3 that is, when she finally relents and hands Charlie over so that he may enjoy a better life.
  • False Widow: How she explains away her illegitimate child, Baby Charlie. Luckily, this is the late 1910s, the era of World War I and the Spanish flu - both providing good excuses for the existence of young single mothers. Ethel chooses the latter, as it also explains why she isn't getting a war widow's pension.
  • Fiery Redhead: Well, definitely gobby redhead.
  • Inferiority Superiority Complex: She appears to have very little sense of propriety, given her lowly position in the staff pecking order.
  • Interrupted Intimacy: Mrs Hughes bursts in on her and Major Bryant getting it on in an unused room — which leads to her immediate dismissal, and Surprise Pregnancy.
  • Lethal Chef: In Series 3, Isobel's charitable act of taking her on as a cook/housekeeper blows up in her face when she finds out just how bad a cook Ethel actually is.
  • Maid
  • The Oldest Profession: As Series 3 begins, it is confirmed she is working as a prostitute, after Isobel spots her at the charitable centre for 'ladies of the night' she is supporting. This ultimate fall from grace finally convinces her to hand Baby Charlie over to Mr & Mrs Bryant (his paternal grandparents) in heart-breaking scenes mid-way through Series 3.
  • Put on a Bus: All works out in the end for Ethel, and she leaves the series at the close of Series 3 after Mrs Bryant kindly orchestrates a job for her closer to the Bryant household (and therefore Baby Charlie) so she may watch over her son.
  • Rebellious Spirit: As O'Brien says:
    O'Brien: You've got a cheek for your first day.
  • Servile Snarker: Amongst the cheekiest of the staff.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: She is convinced she's going to make it big as a movie star, for no apparent reason.
  • Small Town Boredom: Which likely motivates her rather rash behaviour and poor judgement.
  • Stigmatic Pregnancy Euphemism: She admits to Mrs Hughes that she's been telling people Baby Charlie's father "died from Spanish Flu", so as to avoid any further scandal.
  • 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? Though the show is quick to differentiate her from Gwen; Gwen has a more realistic goal (becoming a secretary) and is also willing to do the work it takes to achieve that goal, whereas Ethel expects glory to just be handed to her.
  • The Tease: With the officers convalescing at Downton, which leads to a Surprise Pregnancy — her illegitimate son with Major Bryant is born mid-way through Series 2.
  • Trash Talk: Easily amongst the gobbiest of the staff.
  • What Were You Thinking?: Shacking up with random men (and getting pregnant) was a massive no-no in the Edwardian era.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: She really wants to become the protagonist of a Rags to Riches story, like in the magazines she reads.

Jane Moorsum, a Housemaid

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Portrayed by: Clare Calbraith

"I want to be with you. Let me."


Mr Henry Lang, (temporary) Valet to Lord Grantham

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Portrayed by: Cal Macaninch

"Have you any idea how scared they are? How scared they all are?"

  • Bad Dreams
  • Catapult Nightmare: He is shown to suffer from vivid night-terrors due to his experiences in the War and bursts from his bed screaming, terrified that he will have to go back to the trenches.
  • Morality Pet: For O'Brien, whose brother suffered similar trauma.
  • Put on a Bus: Suffering from shell shock, he is dismissed after his condition makes employment in a private house impossible.
  • The Quiet One: He's very softly spoken, so much so that Lord Grantham has to angrily ask him to speak up at one point.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Following his horrific experiences of trench warfare.
  • There Are No Therapists: More or less true at the time.
  • War Is Hell: One of the characters used to fully embody this trope.

Miss Marigold Shore, Lady's Maid to Lady Rosamund

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Portrayed by: Sharon Small

"Is Mr Bates the one Lady Rosamund told me about? The murderer?"

  • Bodyguard Betrayal: She is revealed to be having an affair with Rosamund's suitor Lord Hepworth, and presumably leaves her service soon after.
  • Brutal Honesty: Like her mistress, she tends to rub other people up the wrong way.
  • Christmas Episode: Her sole appearance was in the Second Series Christmas Day Special.
  • Interrupted Intimacy: After Anna notices Hepworth taking her by hand upstairs during the servants ball, she notifies Mary, who in turn speaks to Rosamund. The three go upstairs and catch Hepworth and Shore in bed together, thus revealing their affair.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: She's a complete stirrer, and is shown to have rather loose morals (see below), but she does advise and encourage Daisy to stand up for herself and demand career advancement, even if the approach she suggests is unsuitably petulant.
  • Maid: She's presented as Rosamund's new lady's maid and spends most of her time at her Ladyship's London residence, 35 Eaton Square.
  • The Mistress: For Lord Hepworth.
  • Servile Snarker: For a visiting servant, she is very opinionated and causes disruption among the Downton staff, especially between Daisy Mason and Mrs Patmore.
  • The Unapologetic: After she is discovered in bed with Hepworth, she's not sorry at all and defiantly says "Don't worry, we will!" when told she is expected to leave by morning.

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    Introduced in Series 3 

Miss Reed, Lady's Maid to Martha Levinson

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Portrayed by: Lucille Sharp

"Mrs Levinson knows you make fun of her — but she makes fun of you."

  • Big Ol' Eyebrows
  • Blithe Spirit: Her brash, American ways unnerve the Downton servants.
    Miss Reed: I'm American, Alfred. And this is 1920. Time to live a little!
  • Femme Fatale: Begins flirting with the callow footman Alfred the moment she arrives at Downton.
  • Give Geeks a Chance: In a move that would be considered highly improper and pretty shocking in 1920, she kisses Alfred on the mouth to cheer him up after he is the victim of Thomas's schemes.
  • Maid: She's Martha Levinson's lady's maid and accompanies her during her 1920 visit to England. However, by 1923 Martha reveals she has left her service (having had her head bitten off one too many times, as her son's valet reveals).
  • Seemingly Wholesome 20's Girl: She looks the part of a demure maid, the reality however...
  • The Tease: To Alfred.

Alfred Nugent, a Footman

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Portrayed by: Matt Milne

"Tea spoon, egg spoon... melon spoon, grapefruit spoon, jam spoon..."

  • The Apprentice: His scheming aunt O'Brien quickly takes him under her protection.
  • The Big Guy: He's 6'4", which causes the Dowager Countess to remark that she thought he was "walking on stilts" whilst waiting at table.
    Carson: You're too tall to be a footman - no footman should be over six foot one!
  • Dogged Nice Guy: In his pursuit of Ivy.
  • Fee Fi Faux Pas: His lack of experience and using incorrect "silver service" style at dinner anger Carson when he first arrives.
  • Gentle Giant: He's a naive, earnest sort of chap—so nothing at all like his auntie.
  • Love Interest: He piques Daisy's interest, particularly after she sees him enjoying Miss Reed's attention.
  • Love Triangle: In Series 3, he's part of the Love Quadrilateral of Daisy -> himself -> Ivy -> Jimmy, with Thomas also making his own moves on the latter.
  • Naïve Newcomer: He has NO experience working in a private house, which is instantly apparent when he joins the below-stairs team.
  • Nephewism: His close familial connection to O'Brien was required to justify her epic Series 3 fall-out with Thomas. Only something as personal as the bullying of a family member could spur O'Brien into going Mama Bear on Thomas, her only friend and ally.
  • Nice Guy
  • One Head Taller: Than pretty much everyone else at Downton. He's a clear foot taller than Ivy, his crush.
  • Pursue the Dream Job: In Series 4, he's determined to better himself by becoming a chef, and heads to London to take the culinary exams for a placement at the Ritz. He comes in fifth with only 4 places on offer, but manages to scrape a place when the fourth-placed candidate drops out.
  • Put on a Bus: To the Ritz Hotel, mid-way through Series 4, as mentioned above.
  • The Reliable One: Carson definitely comes to see him as such, once he has helped him find his feet, and is quick to point out his diligence and good work ethic when rival footman Jimmy's praises are being sung.
  • The Rival: With Jimmy — for the position of First Footman.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Despite having little experience working in a private house, he is O'Brien's nephew, which helped land him the position as Footman.
  • Sorry to Interrupt: He bursts in on Thomas's unsolicited midnight call to Jimmy's room and is shocked to find them (apparently) kissing. O'Brien then coerces him into telling Carson.
  • Spanner in the Works: Unknowingly of course, but his very presence at Downton drives an unprecedented wedge between firm allies Thomas and O'Brien.
  • Supreme Chef: With no formal training—just what he picked up as a waiter and some things he learned from Mrs Patmore—he comes in fifth for a spot at the Ritz out of a field of what looked like at least ten, and probably more. The Ritz! He clearly has the touch.
  • Thicker Than Water: His aunt is usually the first person to criticise sloppy work and is a dangerous enemy to have below stairs—luckily for him, he's her beloved nephew.
  • Unlucky Everydude

James "Jimmy" Kent, a Footman

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Portrayed by: Ed Speleers

"It's not what you think!!"

  • The Charmer: He has a natural air of confidence and grace that Alfred does not possess, and so sees the role of First Footman as his natural right.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Carson has his number, and gives him a severe bollocking on more than one occasion for picking on Alfred, who he has firmly taken under his powerful wing.
  • Deceptive Disciple: Thomas is very quick to take Jimmy under his wing and “teaches” him how to win Carson over — by sabotaging Alfred. Cordial relations are fleetingly short, however, as Thomas's unwelcome flirting starts to grate...
  • Dirty Social Tricks: As Series 3 progresses, he does whatever he can to discredit Alfred, both socially and professionally, in his goal to be First Footman — as shown when he sabotages Alfred's service, causing him to slop langoustines all over the Dowager Countess.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": He's not happy at all that Carson insists he go by his proper name "James" when in presence of the Crawley family.
    Carson: I don't care if you were Father Christmas to Lady Anstruther, here you are "James".
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Indulges in a quick smoke and cards with Thomas & Alfred in Series 4.
  • Hired for Their Looks: Footmen were employed to be noticed, with good looks and poise that brought pride to the family they served. Carson has to concede that Jimmy fits the bill perfectly.
  • Honey Trap: Unknowingly, as part of O'Brien's plan to out Thomas.
  • Incompatible Orientation: In Series 3, Thomas falls for O'Brien's lies that his feelings for Jimmy are mutual, leading him to enter the young footman's bedroom for a midnight kiss. Jimmy angrily rebuffs his unexpected advances and barks it's Not What It Looks Like at Alfred, after he witnesses the resulting fall-out. Jimmy then gets a bad case of Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today? the next morning, after O'Brien frightens him into aggressively convincing Carson to refuse Thomas a reference, by suggesting that his silence on the matter may imply compliance....and enjoyment.
    Jimmy: Can’t a red blooded man compliment a pretty girl?
  • Interrupted Intimacy: In Series 5, he and his amorous ex-employer, Lady Anstruther, are caught in bed together by Lord Grantham of all people, after he bursts into her room to warn her of a fire on the upstairs landing. This offence leads to his immediate dismissal.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: He walks in and insults Alfred's attempt to learn to dance with Daisy, while also shooting down Daisy's hopes that Alfred's interested in her rather than Ivy. He then starts to dance with Daisy himself... only for Carson to walk in and start berating him for it, specifically comparing him to Alfred who is not dancing.
  • Love Triangle: In Series 3, he's part of the Love Quadrilateral of Daisy -> Alfred -> Ivy -> himself. He also finds himself on the receiving end of Thomas's not-so-subtle advances.
  • Lust Object:
    • Thomas welcomes him with a beaming smile and clearly takes an instant shine to the handsome newcomer.
    • Lady Anstruther, his much older ex-employer clearly sees him as such too.
  • Meet the New Boss: Essentially, Jimmy is a rebooted Thomas, with Alfred as the new William.
  • Mistaken for Gay: By Thomas, thanks to O'Brien's meddling.
  • Mistress and Servant Boy: The risqué mistress-servant relationship he shared with his much older ex-employer, Lady Anstruther, which has been alluded to since his debut, is explored further when she visits Downton in Series 5. Turns out, she can't keep her hands off him, and takes him to bed the night she arrives.
  • Mr. Fanservice: In-universe. He causes quite the frisson of excitement amongst the ladies below stairs, and even Lady Mary is impressed.
    Lady Mary: Well done, Carson, that must have cheered up the maids.
  • Pretty Boy: With his curly blond hair and cheeky, cherubic face.
  • Pride: He's ambitious and confident in both his good looks and ability, which leads him to act in a rather selfish, rude manner on occasion.
  • Put on a Bus: After Lord Grantham discovers him in bed with Lady Anstruther, he sacks Jimmy immediately. He leaves Downton the next day at the beginning of episode 2 of Series 5, after bidding a genuinely fond farewell to Thomas.
  • Rank Up: As of the Series 3 finale, he finally gets his way and is promoted to First Footman.
  • Relationship-Salvaging Disaster: During the Series 3 Christmas Special, he is attacked by thugs at the village fair and Thomas leaps to his defense, ending up beaten black and blue in the process. This spurs Jimmy into making peace with Thomas, although he insists he can never give him the romantic relationship he is looking for.
  • The Rival: With Alfred — for the position of First Footman.
  • Shirtless Scene: Within 10 minutes of his arrival, Thomas catches him en déshabillé.
  • Sleeping with the Boss: Well, ex-boss, but even so it's pretty clear from Series 5 that his relationship with Lady Anstruther was always of a physical nature.
  • The Social Darwinist: As Series 3 progresses, it becomes clear he is something of a lone wolf, and is not above using underhand actions to achieve what his sees as his natural right — the role of First Footman.
  • Unsportsmanlike Gloating:
    • To Alfred mostly, over his feelings for Ivy and her lack of reciprocity — behaviour which frequently lands him in hot water with Carson.
    • Also seen at the village fête during the Series 3 Christmas special, where his cocky posturing following the Downton team's victory in the tug-of-war directly leads to both he and Thomas being assaulted by the furious losing team.
  • Unwitting Pawn: In O'Brien's scheming to bring down Thomas.

Ivy Stuart, a Kitchen/Scullery Maid

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Portrayed by: Cara Theobold

"I hope we’re going to get on."

  • All Love Is Unrequited: She's infatuated with Jimmy, and he mildly flirts with her, but doesn't seem interested in pursuing anything serious, much to her chagrin.
  • Hello, Nurse!: Alfred takes an instant shine to her, and poor Daisy is jealous of her looks and popularity.
  • Love Triangle: In Series 3, she's part of the Love Quadrilateral of Daisy -> Alfred -> herself -> Jimmy, with Thomas also making his own moves on the latter.
  • Make-Up Is Evil: Mrs Patmore is furious when she catches Ivy wearing rouge (no doubt to impress the chaps), and demands she scrub it off immediately.
    Mrs Patmore: Not in this house, Miss Hussy!
  • Naïve Everygirl: She's fundamentally sweet-natured, but rather clutzy in her flirting with the male staff.
  • Put on a Bus: At the end of Series 4, she's preparing to leave for America to become Harold Levinson's cook.
  • The Rival: For Daisy.
  • Scullery Maid: She replaces Daisy after she moves up to assistant cook.

Edna Braithwaite, a Housemaid

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Portrayed by: MyAnna Buring

"Must I? I said I'd meet Tom Branson for lunch in the village."

  • All Love Is Unrequited: Her plan to win Branson's heart never comes to fruition.
  • Christmas Special: She makes her debut in the Series 3 Christmas Day Special.
  • Evil Makeover / Breakout Villain: In the Series 3 Christmas Special, Edna is blonde, very pretty and merely something of a Dogged Nice Girl in her flirtations with Branson. However, when she returns to Downton in Series 4, she is given a far more severe look, dark hair, pallid skin and an all-black outfit, which all helps to accentuate her newly upgraded role as the lead female Schemer below-stairs.
  • Evil Duo: Thomas briefly takes her under his wing in Episode 2 of Series 4.
  • Fanservice with a Smile: For a housemaid, Edna is hot.
  • Forbidden Friendship: Headstrong and determined, she immediately sets her sights on Tom Branson, even going so far as to give him a Forceful Kiss whilst he is undressing.
  • Giggling Villain: She has an evil chuckle to herself when Anna, having actually done nothing wrong, gets a slapped wrist for being overly aggressive towards her.
  • Ignored Enamored Underling: Try as she might, Branson's heart still belongs to his late wife, Lady Sybil.
  • Leitmotif: Edna has her own slinky, serpentine theme to accompany her time on-screen in Series 4.
  • Maid
  • Put on a Bus: Following her clear interest in Tom Branson, Mrs Hughes finally decides that she's probably not cut out for life as a maid and dismisses her without warning. Tom, feeling guilty that he may in some way have lead her on, asks Mrs Hughes to give her a good reference. The Bus Came Back in Series 4 to the horror of Carson and Mrs Hughes.
  • Rank Up: She has honed her skills following an unceremonious sacking in Series 3, and trained (so she says) as a Lady's Maid.
  • Schemer: In Series 4, when the opportunity presents itself to return to Downton, she cleverly manoeuvres herself into the position of Lady Cora's new Lady's Maid behind Mrs Hughes' back, knowing full well she would never be allowed back to Downtown otherwise.
  • Social Climber: Her ultimate goal is to become a member of the Crawley family, and sets her sights on Tom Branson to achieve this, considering that he's baby Sybbie's father.
  • The Social Darwinist: She'll do anything necessary to advance her career.
  • Stalker with a Crush: On Branson — mild and relatively harmless in Series 3, but ramped right up upon her return to Downton in Series 4.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Yet another lustful maid (following Ethel, then Jane) who can't keep her hands off those upstairs.
  • Villainous Cheekbones
  • Villainous Crush / Baby Trap: In Series 4, her determination to win Tom escalates, and following a drunken one-night stand, her immediate response is to say And Now You Must Marry Me and suggest she's pregnant.
  • Villain Ball: Mrs Hughes comes to Tom's aid, following the above, by confronting Edna with a copy of Marie Stopes' birth-control manual she has found in her room — the implication being that Edna isn't pregnant at all and is looking to trap Tom. Her plann foiled, Edna immediately leaves Downton in high-dudgeon......again.
    Mrs Hughes: The truth is, we were mad as hatters to let her back in the house.
  • Villainesses Want Heroes: Her unscrupulous pursuit of the good-hearted Tom Branson.

Miss Wilkins, Lady's Maid to Lady Flintshire

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Portrayed by: Simone Lahbib

"It's a treat to have a kindred spirit come to stay, it really is."

  • Beleaguered Assistant: To the acidic Lady Flintshire.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: O'Brien finds a kindred spirit in her opposite number.
  • Christmas Special: She makes her debut in the Series 3 Christmas Day Special.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Wilkins is furious that her mistress Susan gushingly praises O'Brien's hair-dressing skills whilst dismissing her own, and sets out to humiliate her opposite number.
  • Hoist by Her Own Petard: Believing that O'Brien is trying to upstage her and steal her job, Wilkins attempts to spike her drink to get her drunk and embarrass herself. When an angered O'Brien finds out, she starts to actively try to steal her job, and actually succeeds at the beginning of Series 4.
  • Maid: Whether it's justified or otherwise, her mistress Lady Flintshire finds her stylistic skills to be sorely lacking.
  • Old Maid: Just like O'Brien.
  • Prim and Proper Bun: Which adds to her austere, dour character.
  • Similar Squad: Stern, dour, resentful and envious, she's a literal north-of-the-border facsimile of O'Brien.
  • Slipping a Mickey: She tries to spike O'Brien's drink with whiskey in an attempt to humiliate her at the Gillies Ball. She fails — O'Brien is far too savvy to fall for one of The Oldest Tricks in the Book.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: In Series 4, it becomes clear that Susan has actually poached O'Brien from Cora — Wilkins therefore presumably loses her place.

Mr McCree, Butler at Duneagle Castle

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Portrayed by: Ron Donachie

"I'll announce dinner in ten minutes."

  • Christmas Special: He appears in the Series 3 Christmas Day Special.
  • The Jeeves: For Duneagle Castle.
  • Large and in Charge: He’s an enormous great polar bear of a man, and it's doubtful he stands for any nonsense from his staff, who appear to remain in respectful silence during the somewhat monastic servant's dinner.
  • The Leader: He heads up the Duneagle Castle staff, and is a local Scot.
  • Perpetual Frowner
  • Similar Squad: He's stern, somber and reserved, and in the same way that Wilkins = O’Brien, he's a north-of-the-border facsimile of Carson.
  • The Stoic: His manner is solemn and rather grim.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: It's entirely possible that due to his employer Shrimpie having to sell up, he lost his job soon after the events depicted in the Series 3 Christmas Special.

    Introduced in Series 4 

Nanny West

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Portrayed by: Di Botcher

"Please don't touch the children, not without my permission."

  • Adult Fear: Incarnate — the very idea of a trusted, live-in employee secretly abusing one's children is every parent's worst nightmare.
  • Babysitter from Hell: Of the incredibly dark variety.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Friendly and jolly to the family — viciously sneering to poor Sybbie behind their backs.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Bossing Thomas around is never a good idea, and he conspires to have her sacked.
  • Control Freak: She is very controlling with her young charges, and when Thomas shows a soft spot for Sybbie, she tells him to back off politely, but very firmly. She also won't even let Isobel see her grandson when she pays a call, citing unsuitable timing.
  • Drunk with Power: The position of Nanny is unique in that it falls somewhere between the family and the servants, but doesn't really belong to either group. She doesn't report to Carson or Mrs Hughes like the other staff, and enjoys an elevated autonomy, which is why she feels she can boss Thomas about.
    Nanny West: You're a member of staff, and the orders I give are to be obeyed.
    Thomas: And aren't you a member of staff?
    Nanny West: Not in that way.
  • Evil All Along: Throughout her episode she's full of bluster and very bossy to Thomas (which he probably deserves) but she appears to be good with the children, so initially it's even possible to feel slightly sorry for her when Thomas gives a false report on her actions to Cora out of spite. However, it's genuinely shocking when, just before the episode finishes, Cora catches her calling Sybbie a "chauffeur's daughter" and a "wicked little cross-breed" in chillingly aggressive tones — an offense which leads to her immediate dismissal. Turns out Thomas was inadvertently right.
  • Hate at First Sight: Thomas — and it's mutual.
  • Monster of the Week: Downton-style.
  • Parental Substitute: As expected of the English aristocracy, the Crawleys employ a nanny to take care of young Master George and his cousin, Sybbie.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Has no trouble bullying and starving a two year-old.
  • Villain Ball: A few ill-timed, particularly nasty words are her undoing.

Mr Septimus Spratt, Butler at Dower House

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Portrayed by: Jeremy Swift

"I'm perfectly capable of serving luncheon to three ladies, so why are you here? I think it's my job you're after."

  • The Bully: To poor Molesley, who he mistakenly thinks is after his job.
  • The Comically Serious: He's even more deadpan and monotone than Carson (which is saying something) and has quite an odd, gloomy, almost robotically stiff manner — you half expect him to rumble "you rang?" at any moment.
  • Control Freak: He runs the Dower House with a rod of iron, and is utterly flummoxed when Denker, the Dowager's new Lady's Maid, arrives and starts messing with his schedule...
  • Creepy Monotone: He addresses Molesley in a quiet, threatening voice...
  • Death Glare: ...whilst fixing him with a vaguely psychotic gaze.
  • Dirty Social Tricks: Worried when he thinks Molesley is after his job at the Dower House, he sets out to sabotage his service by instructing him to pick up a boiling salver, which he drops in screaming, inappropriate surprise in front of his prospective employer, Lady Shackleton.
  • Drama Queen: As the Dowager puts it, Spratt is as touchy "as a beauty losing her looks".
  • The Jeeves: For the Dower House, home of Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess.
  • Moustache de Plume: He's a Spear Counterpart, which is hilariously revealed in the Series 6 finale, when he outs himself as Edith's mystery advice columnist, "Cassandra Jones"! Slightly surprisingly, his most popular subject matter is "how to keep one's husband happy"...!
  • No Fame, No Wealth, No Service: He's quite the snob, and even sees waiting on someone as respectable as Doctor Clarkson as beneath his dignity. Amusingly, when he announces the good Doctor at luncheon, he can barely hide his disapproving, disdainful tone, but when he announces Lady Shackleton seconds later, his voice is full of beaming approval.
  • So Much for Stealth: In Series 6, he creeps out of the house on several occasions to provide food or blankets for his fugitive nephew, who he is sheltering in the Dower House's potting shed — but Denker clocks him on every single occasion, no matter how quiet he thinks he's being, and uses this knowledge to Blackmail him when the need arises (see her entry below for detail).
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Between him and Denker, the Dowager's new Lady's Maid. Spratt is quite grand and a complete control freak, and Denker is very self-important, so there is instantly something of a riot behind the scenes at the Dower House soon after her arrival.
  • Tranquil Fury: Never once raises his voice when threatening Molesley — and is all the more menacing for it.

Sam Thawley, a Gardener

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Portrayed by: Jonathan Howard

"I had to come. I had to see you....were, you know, all right after that ruckus."

  • Boy Meets Girl: He's instantly smitten with Lady Rose, having met her whilst she was posing as a maid to gatecrash a tea-dance organised for local servants (he's a gardener on the neighbouring Easingwold estate).
  • Dogged Nice Guy / Love Confession: He follows Rose back to the Abbey in the hopes of pursuing a romantic relationship, convinced she is a fellow servant.
  • The Dulcinea Effect: He gets into a huge fight protecting Rose from a thuggish type who tries to force her to dance with him.
  • Forbidden Friendship: Rose does genuinely like him, and they make a handsome couple, but the class-chasm between them precludes her from taking it further.
  • Genre Blindness: With her cut-glass RP accent, Rose is quite clearly not a maid.
  • Hunk: For Rose, Sam is clearly a handsome "bit of rough".
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: After he turns up at the Abbey, Rose, feeling guilty for leading him on, borrows Anna's old maid uniform so as to keep up the pretense, and lets him down gently by saying she is already betrothed to a local farmer.

Mr Alex Green, Valet to Lord Gillingham

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Portrayed by: Nigel Harman

"You’re not telling me that sad old cripple keeps you happy?"

  • Asshole Victim: By the Series 4 finale, he's reported dead, having supposedly slipped and fallen in front of traffic on London's Piccadilly. The Series 4 Christmas Day Special strongly implies Bates was the responsible party, exacting vengeance for Anna, though it turns out in Series 5 that Bates is innocent—he never made the journey. In the Series 6 premiere, it is revealed that his killer was one of his previous rape victims, and her confession puts both Bates and Anna in the clear.
  • Bait the Dog: He uses his jocular charm to lull Anna (and the audience) into a false sense of security, whilst biding his time to strike (see below).
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Harman states his character is "too good to be true and has absolutely no redeeming qualities" — he's right.
  • The Charmer: Shamelessly flirts with Anna upon his arrival at Downton, to Bates's chagrin.
  • Evil All Along: As detailed below.
  • Hate Sink: The single biggest one of the second half of the series, inspiring nothing but hatred even in death courtesy of both his assault of Anna and the subplot of his murder taking up all of Series 5 and lasting all the way to the Series 6 premiere.
  • The Hedonist: He organises a frantic game of cards for the staff during the upstairs dinner party.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Before he strikes, he pens Anna off in the kitchen and toys with her awhile.
  • Jerkass: A complete and utter bastard, as it turns out.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: His true colours are revealed when he forcefully attacks and rapes Anna downstairs in the boot-room during Dame Nellie's concert. He is utterly remorseless afterwards, and when challenged by Mrs Hughes, he tries to slime his way out of it by suggesting both he and Anna were to blame. In Series 5, the investigation into his death reveals that Green was a serial rapist, and had attacked several other women previously to Anna.
  • The Slacker: During the entire episode, he doesn't actually do any work.
  • The Sociopath: Ticks most of the boxes...
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome
  • Villainy Discretion Shot: We're spared seeing him actually sexually assault Anna, but her screams betray his actions.
  • Weasel Co-Worker: He loves having a good time and a laugh and quite often palms off his work to other people so he can spend time hanging around.

Miss Phyllis Baxter, Lady's Maid to Lady Grantham

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Portrayed by: Raquel Cassidy

"I'm grateful for this job Thomas and we both know why, but what's this all about?"

  • Dark Secret: Thomas knows something she wants to keep secret about her background and uses it to his advantage all throughout Series 4 to blackmail the poor woman. All is revealed in Series 5 when Baxter, unable to endure any more of Thomas's bullying, admits to Cora that she went to prison for three years for theft, having stolen valuable items of jewellery from her previous mistress. She later reveals more; she was coerced into stealing the jewellery by a footman named Peter Coyle whose corrupting influence she had fallen under. Despite promising to run away with her, once she handed over the jewels, Coyle fled, leaving her to take the full blame. Cora is shocked, but doesn't make a hasty decision to sack her, considering her work to have been excellent up to that point.
  • Dirty Business: She's clearly uncomfortable having to act as Thomas's below-stairs spy.
  • Forced into Evil: Well, not exactly evil, but certainly she's forced into duplicity by Thomas.
  • Maid
  • The Mole: Because of the hold he has over her, she is coerced into acting as Thomas's eyes and ears below stairs, and befriends the staff to gain their trust.
  • My Significance Sense Is Tingling: In the Series 6 finale, whilst out walking with Molesley, her instinct tells her to check on Thomas, who has been acting strangely. After racing back to the Abbey, she and Andy discover his suicide attempt — just in time to save him.
  • Mysterious Past: Teased all throughout Series 4, and finally revealed in Series 5 — she spent three years in prison for stealing jewellery from her previous mistress.
  • Nice Girl: Stealing incident aside, her primary character schtick is generally being a kind, warm, lovely human being.
  • Odd Friendship: By Series 6, with Thomas. You wouldn't expect someone to become friends with their former blackmailer, but that's Phyllis Baxter for you.
  • The Quiet One: She speaks in a very soft voice and mostly just observes conversations rather than be involved — likely because of the above.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: Despite the fact that Thomas did his best to make her life hell all throughout Series 4 with his blackmailing schemes, she shows real compassion towards her old nemesis in Series 5, and comes to his aid when it becomes abundantly clear that his attempts to "cure" his sexuality are actually poisoning him.
  • Textile Work Is Feminine: She's a dab hand with her sewing-machine.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: She and Molesley have become increasingly close, and by Series 6, they have essentially become The Confidant to each other and otherwise band together.
    Thomas: Mr Molesley more than likes you.

Mr Ethan Slade, Valet to Harold Levinson

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Portrayed by: Michael Benz

"Would you care for one of these? I think they're quite nice!"

  • Adorkable: So darn sweet, and totally unaware of his own overly perky enthusiasm.
  • Christmas Special: He makes his debut in the Series 4 Christmas Day Special.
  • Culture Clash / Enthusiasm vs. Stoicism: American exuberance meets British equanimity head on.
  • Fish out of Water: As an American servant, he doesn't quite get the English manner of service and is far more perky and over-familiar than Carson would stand for.
    Carson: Have you lost mind? You're a footman, not a traveling salesman! Please keep your opinions on the catering to yourself!
  • Keet: He's marvelously sweet and friendly — you half expect him to blurt out "gee whiz, mister!" at any moment.
  • Love at First Sight: He's instantly taken with Daisy.
  • Naïve Newcomer: He seems quite young and inexperienced to be a valet.
  • Nice Guy: Perhaps a little over-nice in Carson's opinion.

    Introduced in Series 5 

Miss Gladys Denker, Lady's Maid to the Dowager Lady Grantham

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/denker_745.png

Portrayed by: Sue Johnston

"There's fun to be had round here — if you know where to look for it."

  • Blackmail: In Series 6, she discovers that Spratt has been harbouring his fugitive nephew in the potting shed, and uses said information to keep him in check.
  • Drunk with Power: Literally, in her case. Lady's Maids were answerable only to their mistresses, so even Carson has no authority to stop her from going out and getting absolutely annihilated, even when she's supposed to be on duty.
  • Evil Old Folks: Despite her brisk, professional manner, there's definitely a far darker, licentious side to her character.
  • For the Evulz: In contrast to O'Brien's bitter hatred, Denker does everything because she absolutely loves being a pain.
  • Lady Drunk: She's a right old lush, and after a heavy night down The Velvet Violin, she dances round the servants' hall singing her drunken head off.
    Denker: It's a long way to Tipperary! It's a long way to goooooo!
  • Large Ham: She's quite theatrical, especially when she thinks she's got an edge over Spratt.
  • Lethal Chef: She has no aptitude for cooking, which her rival Spratt uses to his advantage when trying to show her up in front of the Dowager.
  • Maid: Her debut marks the first time a lady's maid of Violet Crawley's has actually appeared on-screen. Lady's Maids named Simmons and Smithers are referenced in Series 1 and 3 respectively, but never actually appear.
  • Manipulative Bitch: With a practised, faux-congenial manner, she wraps Andy round her little finger, and sets him up as The Mark in a scam to blag free drinks (see below).
  • Old Maid: Like all of the older, female domestic servants in the series, she is an unmarried spinster.
  • Opportunistic Bastard: She's constantly looking to get one over on Spratt, and enjoys causing trouble amongst the Abbey staff, using any tidbit of information she begs, steals or borrows to do so.
  • Never Mess with Granny: She's a bossy old curmudgeon, and doesn't suffer fools gladly — which is probably a good thing, given that her employer's manner definitely requires that her staff possess a thick skin.
  • The Roper: As part of a scam she has arranged with the manager of The Velvet Violin, a grotty basement gambling den, she convinces poor new footman Andy (and others like him, no doubt) to gamble away his savings. In return for her procuring skills, the manager allows her to enjoy free drinks all night.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: She's full of her own importance, and considers herself to be "interesting, exotic and attractive"....which is clearly up for debate.
  • Sycophantic Servant: She constantly creeps up to the Dowager (mostly to bolster her own position) and is very quick to go on the attack, should anyone mess with "her lady".
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Between her and Spratt, the Dowager's butler. Spratt is quite grand and a complete control freak, and Denker is very self-important, so there is instantly something of a riot behind the scenes at the Dower House soon after her arrival.
  • Villain Ball: Her schemes against Andy unravel when Thomas comes to his aid. Instructing Andy to sit tight and not get stiffed on the craps table again, Thomas wins back the newbie's money by playing pontoon, before sabotaging Denker’s scam by telling the dodgy geezer in charge that she has been loudly boasting about their arrangement, leaving her to face a crippling bar bill of £4 (over £200 in today's money).
  • What Were You Thinking?: After finding out about Dr Clarkson's changed allegiance over the running of the village hospital, she takes it upon herself to accost him in the street, accusing him of treason because, naturally, crossing the Dowager is the same as crossing the Queen. Violet is far from grateful for Denker's show of support — the house has been disgraced. "It is not your place even to have opinions of my acquaintance, let alone express them!" Violet shrills, and she is to be sent packing with a "tepid" reference. Denker ends up having to Blackmail (see above) Spratt into convincing the Dowager to keep her on.

Lady Mary's Hairdresser

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Portrayed by: Jamie Bradley

"Oh! It eez wonderful on you Milady! Mais, supérbe!"


Andrew Parker, a Footman

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Portrayed by: Michael Fox

"I want to be a footman now, and this is the first step."

  • The Apprentice: Thomas takes him under his wing soon after he joins the staff.
  • Deceptive Disciple: A mild example — when Andy first joins the staff, he allows Thomas to take him under his wing, and is pleased that a senior member of the household has his back. However, come Series 6, Andy has cooled right off, and is almost downright rude to Thomas, who (quite correctly) theorizes that the other staff members have warned Andy off him, following the Jimmy fiasco in Series 3.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: In the latter half of Series 6, he develops a crush on Daisy that remains unrequited (Daisy initially feels she could do better) until the grand finale.
  • Last Episode, New Character: Debuts in the finale (episode 8) of Series 5, and joins the household staff permanently in the Christmas special.
  • The Mark: Poor naïve Andy finds himself the subject of Miss Denker's schemes (see her entry above for detail) just as soon as he joins the staff.
  • Naïve Newcomer: In his debut episode, he's only just been promoted from Hall-boy, which is about as junior as it gets in service.
  • Never Learned to Read: Thomas discovers his troubling secret, but offers to teach him on the quiet to spare his embarrassment.
  • Pair the Spares: In the Series' grand finale, Daisy finally decides to give Andy a chance (following initial reservations) and begins a proper relationship with him.

Mr Stowell, Butler at Canningford Grange

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Portrayed by: Alun Armstrong

"I know a lot about his dirty-fingered Lordship, and he's forgotten that."

  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: He's obsequiously polite to the Sinderbys in public, but due to their Jewish heritage and recent ennoblement, he cuts them to pieces in private.
  • Break the Haughty: He foolishly decides to boss Thomas about — and almost loses his job over it (see below).
  • Christmas Special: He makes his debut in the Series 5 Christmas Day Special.
  • Control Freak: Runs the Sinderby household with a rod of iron.
  • The Jeeves: At Canningford Grange, the home of Lord Sinderby and family.
  • No Fame, No Wealth, No Service: He's a complete snob, and views Branson as an irrelevant upstart as well as, in private, the very family he serves.
  • The Stool Pigeon: He's one of the few who knows Lord Sinderby's dirty little secret — the fact that he has a mistress, Diana Clarke, and even a young son with her — and it doesn't take much for him to blab to Thomas.
  • Villain Ball: Whilst slightly tiddly, he foolishly reveals details of Lord Sinderby's mistress and illegitimate son to Thomas. Having been previously offended by Stowell's haughty ways and Lord Sinderby's rudeness, Thomas uses said information to his advantage and invites an unwitting Ms Clarke (and her son) to Brancaster, which leaves Lord Sinderby reeling and Stowell fearing for his job.

    Introduced in Series 6 

Rita Bevan, a Chambermaid

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Portrayed by: Nichola Burley

"Don't you know me Lady Mary? Because I know you."

  • Blackmail: She found out about Lady Mary's secret weekend of illicit romance in Liverpool with Anthony Foyle the previous year whilst attending to the couple as their chambermaid, and turns up at Downton threatening to blackmail Mary for £1,000 (about £55,000 adjusted) to keep quiet.
  • Maid: She's a chambermaid at the Liverpool Grand.
  • Opportunistic Bastard: Presuming that she hasn't pulled the same scheme on other unwitting Ladies, she takes advantage of her access to Lady Mary's hotel bed-chamber to snoop out potentially scandalous information, ripe for blackmail.
  • Smug Snake / Smug Smiler: She's mightily pleased with herself when she confronts Lady Mary with her blackmailing threats, even going so far as to lie her way into her bedroom to demand the money.
  • Villain Ball: Ultimately her Evil Plan is stuffed when she barges into the library and blabs her scheme to Robert, who her sends her packing with £50 (still a lot of money) whilst keeping a confession he dupes her into signing as security.
    Rita: [to Mary] Aren't you the lucky one... but then, I suppose you always are.

    Introduced in the Downton Abbey movie 

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