Through six seasons, Downton Abbey kept us on the edge of our seats with its plot twists and unforgettable dialogue. It also kept us in tears, as we followed Mary and Matthew’s star crossed romance, Anna and Bates’ struggle to stay out of prison and Edith’s doomed love life.
From week to week, we never knew where the tears would come from. At any given moment, any character could have found themselves in heartbreaking circumstances and the waterworks would start. Grab the tissues, because we’re looking at Downton Abbey’s 10 most tear jerking moments.
10 THOMAS THINKS JIMMY LOVES HIM
In his time at Downton, Thomas didn’t do much to earn our sympathy, or that of his co-workers. We understand that much of his meanness comes from his internal unhappiness at being a gay man in a society where he can never be out.
His loneliness is noticeable when new footman Jimmy joins the staff and Thomas develops feelings for him. Though he knows Jimmy isn’t interested, Thomas still pursues him and it’s hard to watch him realize that they will only ever be friends.
9 EDITH IS CONNED BY A PATRICK CRAWLEY IMPOSTER
The show began with original heirs James and Patrick perishing on the Titanic, throwing the future of Downton into chaos. Thankfully, Matthew turns out to be a good guy and things work out for the best.
For a short time in season two there were questions about Matthew’s status when a wounded soldier claiming to be Patrick Crawley shows up at the manor. Edith immediately believes him and renews her feelings for him. His story is unverifiable, so everyone else thinks he’s a con man. In another blow for Edith, he eventually leaves in shame, though it’s left up in the air whether he was actually Patrick.
8 WILLIAM AND DAISY’S WEDDING
Kitchen maid Daisy Mason was a sweet girl who kept developing crushes on the wrong men. William Mason was a footman who had feelings for Daisy, though she only saw him as a friend. She agrees to be his girlfriend so he will have something good to focus on during the war.
William is badly injured saving Matthew, and his last wish is to marry Daisy. They have a beautiful ceremony before he passes away, giving closure to William and his father.
7 ETHEL GIVES UP HER SON
House maid Ethel becomes pregnant by Major Charles Bryant while he is at the hospital set up at Downton. Bryant refuses to acknowledge the child before he is killed in battle, leaving Ethel and her son Charlie all alone.
When Bryant’s parents find out about Charlie, they offer to raise him, but Ethel cannot have any contact with him. At first she refuses, but when things become dire for her and Charlie, she decides he’s better off with his grandparents. Amy Nuttall breaks our hearts as she shows us Ethel’s pain as she seemingly loses her son forever.
6 LAVINIA CONTRACTS SPANISH FLU
Mary and Matthew’s relationship hits an obstacle when he returned to Downton with his new fiance Lavinia Swire. She was a lovely girl who everyone, even Mary, took a liking to. Despite his efforts to push her away, she stayed with Matthew through his paralysis.
When Spanish flu came to the village, she became one of the casualties, remarking that it was for the best, since she had seen Mary and Matthew kiss and knew they wanted to be together. Though her character didn’t do much, her death had an immense impact on the Crawley family.
5 MATTHEW IS PARALYZED
After the strides they made in season one, we thought season two would finally find Mary and Matthew admitting their feelings for one another. Sadly, Matthew was injured in the war and came home paralyzed. Depressed about his situation and assuming he was no longer good enough, he tried to push away Mary and Lavinia.
It was devastating to see the confident Crawley heir full of self loathing and despair. This being Downton Abbey, his paralysis didn’t last long, but it altered his relationship with both women.
4 MARY CRIES ON CARSON’S SHOULDER
Following Matthew’s death, Mary fell into a deep depression. However, she used her temper and a cold facade to avoid dealing with her grief. Her family implored her not to give up, as that’s not what Matthew would want, but she wasn’t ready to feel his loss.
In the end, it took a few hard words from Carson to snap her out of her stoic demeanor, leading to one of the series’ most heart tugging moments, when Mary’s wall finally collapsed and she sobbed on Carson’s shoulder. It was rare for Mary to be so vulnerable, but she trusted that Carson would keep her confidence.
3 MARY AND MATTHEW FINALLY GET MARRIED
Not all the tears were sad tears. In season three, we finally got the moment we’d all been waiting for when Mary and Matthew got married. Their roller coaster relationship had us extremely invested in this happy ending, so of course we cried along with everyone in the church.
Considering the Crawley’s standing, the whole event is treated like a royal wedding, with the village basically coming to a stand still. As the couple finally affirmed their love and celebrated their future, we were hoping for a longer amount of happiness, but really we were just overjoyed to see them have this moment.
2 MATTHEW’S CAR ACCIDENT
Knowing something is coming and being prepared for it are two completely different things. We knew Dan Stevens was leaving, and we figured his exit would be permanent. However, when Matthew’s car swerved over a hill and flipped on top of him, we were not ready for the feelings that scene would invoke.
After questioning whether it would even be possible he and Mary had just welcomed their son George to the world. After what happened to Sybil, the whole house was tense about her delivery, but for once everything was right with the world. Until it wasn’t. Frankly, we haven’t stopped crying about this loss yet.
1 SYBIL DIES
While Mary and Edith were busy sniping at one another, Sybil was the one who wanted to become a nurse and learn to live on her own. She went against her family’s wishes and married former chauffeur Tom Branson, making us love her even more.
During her labor, when Dr. Clarkson said she had eclampsia while Robert’s surgeon said she was fine, we knew things weren’t going to end well. Sybil delivered a beautiful girl, she and Branson had one night as a family, then she passed away. For fans it was such a shocking turn of events, that we never quite recovered, and are still blaming Robert and his doctor.