As fans gear up to watch the newest outing of the Downton Abbey franchise, Downton Abbey: A New Era, it’s almost imperative to take a walk down memory lane. The show that started it all was a smash hit for a reason – it had romance, drama, mystery, grief, and some of the most unbelievable storylines, at times.
Through the course of 5 seasons, new characters came and went, but the core family and downstairs staff continued to live rollercoaster lives that could get really surreal, really fast. From fake relatives returning from the dead, to heists to save the monarchy, Downton Abbey delivered and how. Here are the storylines that made audiences’ jaws drop in shock.
Fake Cousin Patrick
Downton Abbey went off the deep end pretty early with the “return” of Cousin Patrick, original heir and original betrothed to Mary, from the dead. With a disfigured face and a limp, it was easy for him to fake it for Edith, but it was painfully obvious that she was feeding him most of the information he claimed to know.
A deleted Reddit user said, “At least make the guy British!” and silvousplates joined in saying “I always remember it as the “Schrodinger’s Heir” plot line and it makes me roll my eyes every time I think about it.” Surviving the Titanic wasn’t easy but Fake Patrick almost had people convinced
The Letter Heist From Sampson
Rose breathed new life into Downton Abbey as a character who was introduced after season 1, and her friend Freya’s escapades with the Prince of Wales gave rise to the biggest heist of the century: stealing the Prince’s raunchy letter from a notorious card counter, featuring Mary, Lord Grantham, Charles, and Bates.
Balzy527 thought “That time they had to steal the letter from the Prince of Wales’ pocket or whatever. Lol,” was a silly and wild plotline too, except they didn’t steal it from the Prince, but rather for him since they loved and supported the monarchy so much.
Lavinia Giving Her Blessing Through Ouija Board
Poor Lavinia came and went as a plot device, never really loved by Matthew, and then dying to make space for his romance with Mary to blossom. Her death was one of Downton Abbey’s most shocking, but what was even more so was the Ouija board “approval” that she communicated to Anna and Daisy, downstairs.
Lonely-tourists exclaimed “Definitely Lavinia’s ghost giving Mary and Matthew her blessing via ouija board! Especially because ghosts are never brought up again, even after several characters die tragically!” Many even reckon they saw a shimmering ghost of Lavinia over Daisy’s shoulder. Spooky.
Tom’s Socialism With His Love For Downton’s Aristocracy
Fans loved Tom Branson, sympathizing because he went through so much sadness, but his flip-flopping between socialism and aristocracy was confusing and quite incredulous. He returned from Ireland after burning down the home of nobility, then came back and started helping keep Downton from bankruptcy.
As jm5201977 said, “…the Irish nationalist/socialist working hand in hand with the aristocracy? Really?! A bit hard to believe.” There could have been a gradual shift.
Rita Bevan’s Blackmail Over Gillingham
Lady Mary’s intimate vacation with Lord Gillingham was already scandalous for the century they lived in, but things got really out of hand when the hotel’s chambermaid, Rita Bevan, came by to give Mary the shock of her life and also extort some money with proof of their stay.
The whole situation was made into a huge deal, only to have Lord Grantham pay her off with a fiver. Carmelacorleone wondered “She was ballsy enough come all the way to Downton Abbey, let herself be seen by several people, invent a whole story just to gain access to Mary’s bedroom, to be so easily bought off by Robert’s 5 pounds and the threat of police?”
Edna Braithwaite’s Plot To Marry Tom
There was no housemaid as wily as Edna, yet her plans to rise above her social station were nothing short of absolutely wild and cunning. She knew how to play the long game, so she used both her innings at the estate to get into bed with Tom, then blackmail him into marrying her with false pregnancies.
Pbrooks19 commented on how wild the storyline was, saying, “She somehow has the idea that if she marries Branson, she’ll be welcomed into the family. GIRRRRRL – Branson himself just barely got tolerated as a ‘member of the family’ for the longest time.”
Anna Buying Contraceptives For Mary
For a period show, Downton Abbey was full of scandals. Not only did Mary shock audiences by asking Anna to procure contraceptives for her, but Anna also left fans awestruck with her lack of knowledge about them. As a married woman, she was skittish and inexperienced at the chemist, which was a really absurd sight to see.
_Happy_Sisyphus pondered “I wouldn’t expect Anna to discuss Mary’s sex life with Bates. I also wouldn’t have expected Anna to be so unaware of the topic though. It was like Anna had never heard or talked about a similar device / methods with Bates.”
Robert’s Affair With Jane
As Cora writhed in pain and blood from the Spanish flu in the massive Downton Abbey, Robert chose to get busy in other ways. His friendship with the single mother and housemaid, Jane, came to a head with impassioned kisses, as fans watched this indiscretion with disbelief.
It was so sudden and unexpected, that they were caught off-guard. No_Staff7110 highlighted the absurdity of the”Robert and Jane affair,” saying, “I thought that was going to be a huge blow up, later down the line but it wasn’t.”
Spratt Being An Agony Aunt
A storyline that came from nowhere was Spratt’s secret inner life. The butler was no ordinary house staff – he mo0onlighted as an Agony aunt for none other than Edith’s magazine. His advice was well sought-after and he was quite the writer, enough to be blackmailed by the maid.
This twist was loved by fans. Empressgummybuns said “When Spratt was revealed as the Agony Aunt for Edith’s newspaper, I screamed,” whilechickynuggies15 exclaimed, “Pratt being reveled as the Agony Aunt was perfect – bananas!”
Cora’s Miscarriage By Soap
In an absolutely heartbreaking but shocking moment, Cora was made to miscarry by a spiteful O’Brien who was under the impression that she would be fired. Not only was this an awful thing to do, but also so surreal for domestic help to plan out against their employers.
The downstairs and upstairs shared cordial relations, which was why this hit fans so hard. N0b0dy_n0wh3r3 lamented “I was shocked and I’ll be honest when I say I don’t think I ever forgave O’Brien, no matter how she tried to redeem herself and attempt to be less spiteful… But I’m still salty about the soap.”