Dear Downton Abbey Fans, “Brary” was Never Going to Happen and Here’s Why

By Wednesday, February 03, 2016 , ,

I’m taking this post to explain to fellow Downton Abbey fans why a particular bit of fan demand was always off base. Yes, I speak of how so many fans have been shipping “Brary” ever since the beginning of season 4. In other words, Branson plus Mary, or the hope that Tom Branson and Lady Mary Crawley would be romantic interests for one another after they were both so tragically widowed in season 3. I love them both dearly and want them both to remarry happily, but I never joined this bandwagon. I always thought it was a bit odd, but also just knew it wouldn’t work. It’s never going to happen, people, and yes, I feel comfortable saying that even though the final season’s airing hasn’t concluded in the U.S. Here’s why. 

Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley and Allen Leech as Tom Branson in Downton Abbey. Here they are in their freshly widowed grief at the beginning of Season 4 with their young children, George and Sybbie.
Photo Credit: Zap 2 It

1. They’re practically siblings so it would be weird
It’s true that Tom and Mary themselves have no common family genes, but come on y’all. He married her sister. And even when that sister passed away, thus voiding their link in a sense, Tom is still Mary’s brother-in-law. Mary herself has said to him recently, “You’re my brother.” Let’s take a hint, people. Besides, that brother/sister connection has grown quite strong over the past three seasons, never hinting at romance even a little, so I’m surprised that so many fans are still holding onto the idea. Personally, I love them as brother and sister and think that Mary in particular needs Tom as a brother. He’s become one of the few people with whom she can be vulnerable, who can read her, and who can tell her what she may not want to hear and still be sure she’ll listen. Any romantic feelings would just change the dynamic. As brother and sister, they remain objective supporters for each other in a sense. They’re always quick to back each other up, but also don’t hesitate to say hard things to one another. But aside from how awesome their friendship is without meddling with it, it would just be weird for Tom to marry into the same family twice. I’m pretty sure that it was already illegal in the 1920s for brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law to marry each other anyway. And let’s not forget that Tom’s daughter is Mary’s niece and goddaughter, and that Mary’s son is Tom’s nephew. Do we really want to confuse poor Sybbie and George by adding stepdaughter and stepson to the relation explanations? Oh, and stepsiblings in addition to cousins? No. Just no. 
Tom and Sybbie
Photo Credit: Downton Abbey Wikia


Mary and George
Photo Credit: Fan Forum
2. Their personalities would clash romantically
Mary and Tom are both fantastic characters, but I can’t see them working together well as a married couple because they both have extremely strong personalities. They’re both firm in their likes and dislikes and have wills of iron. I can’t see two people as opinionated and stubborn as they are getting along as husband and wife. Just think about their late spouses – Mary needed Matthew’s gentleness and patience to steady and balance her, and Sybil’s sweetness was a saving grace for Tom’s fieriness. Granted, Mary now probably needs someone with a bit more snap than Matthew had, and Tom’s political convictions have changed considerably, but I see them both still needing a gentling presence in a new spouse, especially since they have young children to consider.
Tom and Mary with their dear departed spouses, Sybil and Matthew. Oh, how we miss them.
Photo Credits: Downton Abbey Wikia, FanPop
3. They have completely different goals
Finally, not only would Mary and Tom’s personalities rub each other wrong if their story tried a romantic twist, but also, their focuses are totally different. Ever since inheriting Matthew’s co-ownership of Downton Abbey, Mary’s primary purpose in life has been to run the estate and hold it together for her son to inherit one day. This sixth season in particular has shown just how capable she is as a manager and how determined she is to keep Downton in sync with the modern age. On the other hand, Tom wouldn’t be content to focus only on the estate for the rest of his life. His time as the estate agent was well-spent of course, but I always felt that he would need something else eventually. His recent return to Downton after trying life in America has shown how dramatically his socialist mindset has changed, but still, we’ve now even heard him say outright that he needs something to do that isn’t about the estate. He may have realized that it’s his home, but he and Mary still have different priorities, politics, and general interests. They’ll always be close, but their outlooks are too different to pull together as a couple. 

Have I convinced you yet? Can we officially let go of this bit of fandom? Even the actors who play Tom and Mary, Allen Leech and Michelle Dockery, have both said that they find this idea a little surprising and weird. Without question, Mary and Tom are two of the best characters in Downton Abbey, but I’m convinced that their close brother/sister friendship is part of what’s made them both into what they’ve become. Anything more would throw things off entirely! And I’m just saying…Henry Talbot anyone? So far, he definitely seems to be more than a match for Mary, so I can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t be all about that. Time will certainly tell! 
Photo Credit: Hypable

*I do not own the rights to the photos in this post. All photos used were retrieved from credited Internet sources*

You Might Also Like


  1. AGREED on all counts. LOL I neeeever got the "ship" of Mary/Branson! LOL

    1. Haha, so glad you agree, Meghan!! I just love them as brother and sister way too much to support the idea! I think whenever they both remarry other people, they could have some awesome double dates though :)