Mr. Carson’s 10 Best Quotes On Downton Abbey, Ranked

The British drama Downton Abbey is full of witty dialogue, and Mr. Carson, the dry butler, is a veritable fountain of fantastic quotes.

Downton Abbey, the beloved British drama set among the aristocratic elite of the early 20th century, succeeds in part to its writing. While it often falls to soap opera tropes, much of the dialogue is written with attention, care, and wit. So, while some of the events might seem unbelievable, the dialogue and the excellent actors speaking sell it.

This leaves a plethora of quotes to obsess over. One character, the butler Mr. Carson, is a quote goldmine. Throughout six seasons, Carson has offered many wise saws and sharp opinions. Here are his ten best quotes from the series.

10“You Cry, M’lady. You Have A Good Cry. That’s What’s Needed Now. And When You’re Ready You Can Get To Work. Because You Are Strong Enough. You’re Strong Enough For The Task.”

The loss of Matthew, the husband to Lady Mary and heir to Downton, was one felt by everyone. But obviously, the greatest affected was Mary herself. To lose a life partner is something no one should have to suffer through.

Luckily, Lady Mary had someone like Carson. While she hid behind a stone-cold mask, inside she was a mess of grief. This quote by Carson shows how he could see right through her, giving her permission to be vulnerable. His observation as well that she will come out on top of all of it was wise as well.

9“If You’re Asking, Whether I’ll Regret Leaving Downton, I Want To Regret It Every Minute Of Every Day. I Thought I Would Die Here, And Haunt It Ever After”

So much of Downton Abbey involves the struggle between honoring the past and embracing the future. So many of the characters have to confront this theme, both on the aristocratic and servant side of the proceedings. Perhaps no character is more reverent of the past than Mr. Carson. Every impropriety or scandal no matter how small is seen as the end of the world by Carson.

This quote though adds some humanity to the often humorous interpretation of this old world thinking. Downton and everything it stood for was Carson’s life’s work. He knew since his early days of servitude that his career would be his life and that serving the world of Downton was his everything.

8 “You Can Take As Long As You Like – I Won’t Press You. Because One Thing I Do Know – I’m Not Marrying Anyone Else.”

Mr. Carson is a tight-lipped and proper individual. Because of this, he rarely shows much vulnerability. But, when he does it is always memorable. One of the sweetest of these moments was when he opened up to Mrs. Hughes, and expressed his true feelings.

Though a somewhat clunky proposal, Carson’s declaration of love towards Hughes was a rare moment of vulnerability. Rarely does Carson show his true colors, but if he was to do it towards anyone, it would be his true love Mrs. Hughes. This was the moment fans were waiting seasons for, and it certainly was worth it.

7“A King On The Wireless!” -Lord Grantham “I Prefer To Think Of Him On The Throne, My Lord.” -Mr. Carson

As with many moments in Downton Abbey, Rose wanting a wireless was a monumental struggle between progress and tradition. It seemed that half of the household found the device appalling while the other half were excited by the prospects. Finally, Lord Grantham gave in a purchased one to hear the King’s Broadcast.

Even with this royal touch, Carson was still uneasy about the device. This quote both embodies his trepidation about the future as well as his tendency for witty remarks. Cheeky but not disrespectful, this line is pure Carson.

6“I Always Think There’s Something Rather Foreign About High Spirits At Breakfast.”

Think of this line as the more refined version of Chief Hopper’s musings from Stranger Things: Mornings are for coffee and contemplation. This line came after Barrow remarked on everyone’s sour mood at breakfast one morning. Carson’s reply, that breakfast is for solemness and not for cheery socialization, is just quintessential Downton. It embodies a wit and charm that is so alien when compared to how we speak today. Only a character as stuffy and proper as Carson could have said such a quick-witted remark such as this.

5“I’m Not A Complete Stranger To Romance, Mrs. Hughes, If That’s What You’re Implying.”

Mr. Carson is fairly guarded when it comes to his background. But, when season four came around, much more of Carson came to light. Not only did he have a romantic life, but also one of performing. His long-estranged stage partner came back into his life after the two had a falling out over a shared love.

This quote above gave far more insight into Carson, as well as laid the seed for the romance between him and Mrs. Hughes. It also holds that signature sarcasm and scrappiness that everyone loves about Carson.

4“You’re Nervous Because You’re Intelligent. Only Stupid People Are Foolhardy.”

In season four, Alfred the footman looked beyond his current prospects to become a chef at the Ritz in London. This ambition set off a resentment between himself and James, who had no lofty goals. At breakfast one morning, Alfred remarked how he was nervous for his test, and James replied that there’s no reason to care. Carson’s response, listed above, is the perfect reaction to such thinking.

Carson, for all his bristles, really is the point of wisdom for many of these young servants at Downton. He stands as a sort of father figure, spouting advice in the form of snarky remarks. This is one of his smartest and sharpest points.

3“If You’re Tired Of Style, You’re Tired Of Life.”

Carson is not just a traditionalist, but also a romantic. He sees all the pomp and circumstance of these garish dinners, seating, and itineraries as part of the beauty of it all. So, when a traditional dinner is scrapped and replaced with a more casual affair, he remarks with the above quote.

The style of the whole affair is what gives their lives meaning. In Carson’s point of view, throwing away centuries of decorum is a waste, and leaves life meaningless. While progress is better than stagnation, Carson certainly has a point.

2“You Have A Very Poor Opinion Of Your Fellow Man.” -Mrs. Hughs “I Have The Opinion Life Has Taught Me.” -Mr. Carson

Perhaps its the understatement of the year, but Mr. Carson is fairly wary of outsiders. In one episode, he mentions his fear that guests might steal, and the above quote was the subsequent reaction between himself and Mrs. Hughes. Though it is a small line, it’s still very impactful.

Not only does it embody his core beliefs, but it once again shows the attention to wit and detail of the scriptwriters. This small line shows so much in so little, revealing that Carson has led a life somewhat dominated by pessimism and distrust.

1“The Business Of Life Is The Acquisition Of Memories. In The End, That’s All There Is.”

One of the sweetest moments of the whole show produced arguably the best quote. Mr. Carson’s lost love had passed away a few episodes previously but beforehand had admitted she loved him. As a token of remembrance, Mrs. Hughes purchased a frame for her photo to give to Mr. Carson.

She stated that now he would have something to remember her by. His response, the above quote, is such a beautifully simple yet poignant remark. It also goes to the core of so much of Downton as a series. So many of the choices and mistakes made are to honor and remember the past, and the cherished memories of those left behind.

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