12 Great Moments of Downton Abbey

By Saturday, May 21, 2016 ,

Photo Credit: Wallpaper Cave
Missing Downton Abbey? I understand. And so, it’s time to dip back in and talk about all-time favorite moments from the series. Believe me, this list was SO HARD to compile. Honestly, I could probably write an individual post for each character’s best scenes. But as that would take forever, I’ve done my best here and hope you’ll add your own! I just tried to go with the ones that came to mind quickly as I considered each season. 

Season 1 

Sybil encourages Gwen 
Sybil’s relentless efforts to help housemaid Gwen find a secretary job solidified her as one of the sweetest and most genuine characters of Downton. I’m thinking particularly of the exchange in which Gwen expresses discouragement over a canceled interview. True to form, Sybil offers nothing but smiles and gentle words of support, assuring Gwen that they mustn’t give up. She encourages, “No one hits the bull’s eye with the first arrow,” reminding both Gwen and viewers that perseverance is key. 

Anna tells Mr. Bates she loves him 
Photo Credit: Anna May Bates Tumblr
Oh, how we love these two. And Anna’s not much for ceremony, is she? Her declaration of love for Mr. Bates is one of her first moments of vulnerability with him, but if he won’t say it, then by golly, she will! Their feelings are in the open after this scene, and we also have an early glimpse of Mr. Bates’s troubled past. From this moment, I was all about this couple. I just love them and love the dialogue:
Anna: I love you, Mr. Bates. I know it’s not ladylike to say it, but I’m not a lady and I don’t pretend to be. 
Bates: You are a lady to me. And I never knew a finer one. 

Season 2 

Mary wishes Matthew luck at the train station 
This scene in which Mary bids Matthew “such good luck” and gives him her lucky charm as he goes off to war has become one of the most iconic moments in the entire show. I’ve heard it consistently brought up in interviews both with the actors and creators of the show, and with good reason. It’s a wonderfully constructed sequence, from the costumes to the dialogue to the beautifully swelling music. But the tension and unspoken emotions are what give this scene such power. Both want to admit love for the other, but they hold back and talk about surface level concerns instead. Both know Matthew could very well be going to his death, but the topic is firmly avoided. You ache for them but also want to tell them to say what they’re longing to say while there’s time.

Matthew and Mary’s snowy engagement 
I mean, what do we even need to say about this part? It’s probably the most romantic moment in any season of Downton. We’d been waiting so long for it and it exceeded all expectations. Matthew and Mary are finally free, they’d just shared a lovely dance, and then the last barrier between them disappears in the clouds of beautiful, falling snow. And then season 2 closes on their happy laughter. What more could you ask for? I never get tired of this scene. 

Season 3 

Tom and Sybil’s reunion at Downton 
As much as I like Tom Branson, his leaving pregnant Sybil behind while he fled the police frustrated me, even if they did agree to it previously. But when they’re reunited at Downton, his sobs of relief cut to the quick. They embrace and kiss rather fiercely and it gives quite a lot of feels. I think it’s an important and clearly moving moment for them, not to mention the beginning of a transition in Tom’s feelings toward Downton Abbey and his new family there.

Season 4 

Carson comforts Mary 
The friendship between Mr. Carson and Lady Mary has always been one of my favorites to watch. In many ways, he’s a better father to her than Robert, and this scene demonstrates that amazingly well. Mary rarely becomes vulnerable in front of Robert, but here, she completely breaks down in Carson’s arms and he is unfazed by it. I appreciated that Carson was one of the primary people to bring her out of her heavy grief after Matthew’s loss. For all of Carson’s stern dignity, we know a big, tender heart beats beneath it all, and his steadfast devotion to Mary is sweet to watch. Without fail, this scene turns me into a sobbing child every time I see it. 

Mary discusses Rose with Jack Ross 
I find this scene fun because it so excellently demonstrates both the changing times and how much Mary has grown. It brings together two characters that are so unlikely to interact, and they both show respect for each other. An earl’s daughter and a black jazz singer having tea together? It’s definitely the 1920s, folks! I found Jack a dynamic, cool character who certainly brought a new energy to the ensemble. Plus, in season 1, Mary scoffed at Matthew for being a lawyer, and now in season 4, she’s holding a civil conversation with a band singer. On top of which, she compliments him and shows faith in his character. There’s class and respect on all sides, and it’s an incredibly enjoyable exchange. 

Season 5 

Rose covers for Lord Sinderby 
I thought Lady Rose’s marriage to Atticus Aldridge and the tensions accompanying it were some of the most interesting aspects of season 5. Their religious differences sparked immediate conflict, the strongest objections coming from Atticus’s father, Lord Sinderby. But a few months after the wedding, he receives proper humbling when his former mistress and illegitimate child arrive unannounced at a huge family gathering. Hardly missing a beat, Rose saves his skin by running up to the woman and greeting her as an old friend. Her resourcefulness and quick thinking do her credit, and I think the scene also shows how much she’s grown up since we met her. Her prim flightiness has been replaced with a womanly dignity that cares deeply for others. And it’s a moment of reckoning for Lord Sinderby, for his prejudices have been challenged and Rose’s generous spirit has forced him to self-examination. 
Photo Credit: Downton Abbey Wikia

Season 6 

Violet’s first good one-liner of the season 
I’m speaking, of course, of when Violet dryly quips to Isobel, “Does it ever get cold on the moral high ground?” This might hit the top five of my favorite Dowager quotes ever. So perfectly and quintessentially Violet-like. And what’s more, the scene in which she says it is a pretty enjoyable exchange between her and Isobel, and it’s also the moment when Violet rightfully punishes Denker with fear of dismissal. How I miss that lovely, witty Dowager Countess! 

Violet tells Mary to make peace 
With Edith and with herself, to be precise. I’ve discussed at length how much I love Mary’s development in season 6, and this scene with Violet and her visit to Matthew’s grave afterwards are amazing turning points in it. Violet and Mary are quite similar – sharp, clever, fierce, and hiding soft hearts beneath a load of tradition and societal expectations – so it’s ultimately Violet who can help Mary face her bad behavior toward Edith and her fear of loving again. Their conversation here and Mary’s subsequent moment at Matthew’s grave show Mary at her most vulnerable, which we don’t often see, so they’re incredibly moving moments. The cemetery scene makes me cry buckets every time.

Edith and Mary’s reconciliation 
This is another scene that makes me tearful. Mary and Edith have never seen eye-to-eye and have both been downright cruel to each other. But for all their differences and petty bickering, they’re sisters, as this scene so beautifully reminds us. It’s a poignant moment where they both seemingly choose to look beyond their feuding and remember the bigger picture. Many fans express frustration over their inability to get along, but honestly, I think they’re a good representation of real-life siblings who don’t naturally get along. And this scene shows that there’s hope for those too! Edith’s words are truly stirring: 
“Because in the end, you’re my sister. And one day, only we will remember Sybil. Or Mama or Papa, or Matthew or Michael, or Granny or Carson, or any of the others who have peopled our youth. Until at last, our shared memories will mean more than our mutual dislike.” 

New Year’s 1926 
It had to be quite a challenge to figure out how to close a show like Downton Abbey, but I couldn’t have been happier with the result. As everyone laughed and toasted and kissed each other Happy New Year to the beautiful tune of “Auld Lang Syne,” I was feeling every happy emotion possible. They were all reflecting on times gone by and looking forward in hope to the future, and I was bursting in love for all of them as I wished them well even though the cameras were moving away from their lives. How I love those Crawleys and their entourage!
What are your favorite moments of Downton Abbey? What seasons were your favorites? I'd love to hear and discuss more!

*Unless otherwise noted, the photos in this post are DVD screen captures. I do not own the rights to the photos with Internet source credits. No copyright infringement intended*

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