With a new movie on its way, Downton Abbey has proved to be an extremely popular period drama that audiences can’t get enough of. The era in which its set is a very appealing aspect of the show, as viewers are able to see what life was like back then for the different classes.
But it’s also the characters that keep viewers hooked, with their trials and tribulations, class separations, romantic hiccups and family disagreements. As the series rolled on, each character’s personality became more clear, making the Downton Abbey casts scale of likability more apparent.
Relatively speaking, the servants at Downton Abbey are treated well compared to how some workers would’ve been taken advantage of at that time. Having said that the work is still hard, so it would have been ideal for servants to stick together and share in their difficult lives to make the load a little easier.
However, O’Brien seems to live a very bitter life and doesn’t really show much kindness to anyone. Any glimpse of humanity is often muddied by a cantankerous, ulterior motive. For example, upon deciding she doesn’t like Bates, she humiliates him by kicking his walking stick away in front of the aristocracy. Although it may be argued that when she does love people she really stays loyal to them, it can’t be helped for anyone in the audience to simply dislike her.
Lord Grantham may be thought of as an unusual choice to be at the lower end of a likability scale, but he has made some shocking errors simply because he was too stubborn or felt he was above others.
Sybil’s death was one of the most shocking in Downton Abbey and partly pinned to Robert’s conscience because he was so unwilling to listen to his wife and doctor, who knew Sybil well. If he had not overruled their decisions, there may have been a fighting chance for his daughter. Generally, he is an approachable man, but his attitude can really let him down.
It seems that Mary chooses to have an attitude that almost makes people steer clear of her. She doesn’t suffer fools gladly and can have moments of unfair and unwarranted rudeness towards others, namely her sister, Edith.
Admittedly, Mary does soften throughout the series. She isn’t the worst person to work for and can regularly be seen chatting with her servants, either to help them or gain advice. Mary is a blend of all the parental figures in her life. She sticks to her guns like her father, is understanding like her mother and has the quick wit of her grandmother. Surprisingly, Mary still has her sad and tragic moments in Downton Abbey, but viewers wouldn’t necessarily pick her as the nicest of the characters.
Tom started off in the servants’ quarters and then made his way to the upstairs part of Downton Abbey because of his relationship with Lady Sybil. There are two sides to how his pursuit of Sybil played out. Firstly, there was his romantic side that compelled him to just follow his heart and not conform to class restrictions, which would have left him heartbroken.
The other side to Tom was his unwillingness to adhere to what he should have been doing in the eyes of the era they were living in. So, although morally he didn’t do anything wrong, his actions weren’t totally socially acceptable for the time, and it could be argued that they revealed a disrespecting side to him that doesn’t make him the most likable character.
6 Mrs. Patmore
The cook at a stately home is of course going to feel the heat of, not just the kitchen itself, but also from their boss or the upstairs family, with demands that can sometimes be a little much. Unfortunately, the pressure Mrs. Patmore is under can get filtered down to the likes of Daisy, making Mrs. Patmore seem unnecessarily bossy.
Having said that, it’s just because she cares about her job and always strives for perfection. She does look out for Daisy and wouldn’t want to intentionally upset her. The different sides to Mrs. Patmore are what make her likable, but also a little too standoffish.
5 Mr. Carson
One of Mr. Carson’s best traits is his dedication to his job. As the butler, he oversees everything, knowing exactly how the Crawley family operates and what is best for them. The commitment to his job is what can sometimes make him a difficult character to like, but ultimately, he is one of the best.
Carson is always concerned about the family’s wellbeing and is willing to do whatever it takes to protect them. His job is his life, but he does allow for a love to develop between him and Mrs. Hughes, revealing a softer, loving side to him that only makes him an even better person.
Lady Edith is portrayed as being somewhat downtrodden, especially towards the start of the series and often by her sister Mary. It seems she has to fight her way to gain attention from anyone and her love life was seemingly a never-ending pattern of heartache, eventually influencing the patronizing nickname “poor Edith.”
She is, however, a kindly woman and she never truly wants to hurt anyone unless she’s had to stand up for herself. The way she’s been treated is what’s caused her dour demeanor. She doesn’t always come across as the warmest of people, with quotes that can sometimes go against her personality in Downton Abbey, but getting to know her proves that she is lovely, which evolves throughout the series.
Daisy lives in the shadows of Mrs. Patmore in the kitchen, always trying her best to be a great assistant. Her mistakes in her job can throw her into a panic and it can take a while for her to settle down again, but it’s just because of a lack of confidence.
She is easily described as being meek and mild, but there is also a strand of strength that runs through her. Her selflessness really came to light when she married William before he died, even though she didn’t want to, letting audiences really understand what a good person she is. She later grew close to her father-in-law and once again showed the care she has for other people – a trait that is beautiful to watch.
At face value, Violet is a hard woman to deal with. She says exactly what she thinks and isn’t afraid to quip at someone else’s expense. But somehow, that’s exactly why viewers take so well to her. Almost every scene that Violet Crawley is in is sure to feature some of the funniest quotes on Downton Abbey. She’s a character that audiences can’t take their eyes off of.
Although her hard exterior is always present, she has also got a very soft side, which is occasionally revealed when her granddaughters turn to her for advice or a sad event occurs in the family. She’s the type of woman people wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of, but her combination of sharp wit, saying what she means and her capacity for love of her family, makes her one of the most likable (and rewatchable) characters on Downton.
Anna is like a sweeping breath of fresh air in the servants’ quarters. Her chirpy nature is sweet and innocent but her mild manner is not to be mistaken as the traits of a weak woman. She is steadfast and when she believes in something, she will stand up for what’s right.
The love between her and Mr. Bates is so pure that it really was one of the best romances to watch develop on Downton Abbey. She obviously cares deeply for him but does not usually let her private life get in the way of work, as she commits to whoever she serves at Downton. The Crawley family is patently grateful to have her, just as audiences are grateful for her goodness, making her the most likable character on the show.