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Today in Depressing

R.L. Stine Was None Too Pleased With A Certain Event in Downton Abbey‘s Season Finale

The season finale of Downton Abbey aired on Christmas Day in Britain, but it made its way to TVs in the U.S. just last night. The ending was, er, rather shocking. And author R.L. Stine didn’t like it, no sir. Two more (spoilery) Tweets are after the jump.

Also, beware probable spoilers in the comments. Don’t read on if you haven’t seen or don’t already know what happened in the finale, basically.

In an interview with EW showrunner Julian Fellowes explains why he killed Matthew off in the final episode: actor Dan Stevens didn’t renew his contract, they wanted to keep the character around for as long as possible, and they couldn’t have him leave the show some other way without getting rid of Mary, too, which they didn’t want to do.

What do you think? I personally don’t mind Matthew’s death that much. Wait, that sounds bad. It was emotionally gutting, to be sure. But I don’t share Stine’s viewpoint that they shouldn’t have done it. The constant Mary/Matthew drama was starting to wear on me. Mix it up, I say. Downton is high-drama British TV, and which of us haven’t been given ample feels by British TV already? That’s how it goes. (Doctor Who, Merlin, Sherlock—looking at you) And I dislike it when characters are recast. But that’s just me.

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  • Space Marine Lysana

    I don’t watch the show, but you know what? Sometimes, people do just die at random in real life. Sure, we don’t like being reminded of that, but from what I’ve seen, Downton Abbey’s not a happy place. But then, I wasn’t amongst those who were angry at Joss Whedon for killing off Wash in Firefly. Though I remain resentful of Tad Wiliams for killing off the Atlantean Aquaman despite the fact there’s at least one reboot since that negated that ridiculous human substitute they threw at us. So go figure. It’s all in whose ox is gored, I guess.

  • Brian McDonald

    It’s nice to see that famous people are just as likely to assume ownership of their favorite shows (and then overreact when something they don’t like happens) as the rest of us.

  • Megan Gotch

    I didn’t like his death, but would rahter that than a new actor taking his place. Makes me feel like the show thinks we as viewers are dumb when they do that. Plus already have an attachment to one actor, it would be hard for another to fill those shoes.

  • John Burkhart

    I go the other direction, I’d rather have a “The Other Darren” situation. I hate characters being killed off just because characters leave the show. (Hi, Warrick!)

  • Sporkdelis

    I think Stein thinks we’re still watching “Bewitched” and won’t care if there’s a different guy playing Darrin.

    Well, he’s wrong. Actually, people noticed back then. I’ve heard several of the old ladies I work with get into fits over how the show suffered after they changed actors.

    NOBODY recasts actors anymore. We like actors, we recognize the difference. Even “Two and a Half Men” killed off Charlie rather than recast, and that’s comedy. I’m not caught up enough to watch new episodes, but even if it was over-the-top, they had to do something, and saw sufficient reason why it couldn’t just be a “moving away” solution.

    I don’t know about RL Stein’s television credits, but I’ll guess that prime-time drama isn’t in there.

  • electrasteph

    I thought it was a fine way to handle it. It does make it difficult from a story telling perspective to have two major characters die in the same season, but when it comes to ups and downs on the show; death happens. Certainly puts any future husband of Mary’s in an interesting position – helping to keep Downton alive, but probably not having your own child inherit.

  • Ginger King Brown

    I’m really not liking Dan Stevens right now. Matthew and Mary had been through so much and I was really looking forward to Matthew’s Mary (as she puts it) and having a good marriage. usually everything revolves around unresolved sexual drama, and I really didn’t want that for this show, because they are better then that. I do have to say that if the two widowers get together next season I will stop watching it.

  • AnnaB

    I’m furious that they killed Matthew Crawley, but if it’s a choice between killing him off and having him recast, I’d rather he be killed off, not because it would make the viewers seem dumb, but because it would never be the same and it’s a more horrible death. You might as well be done with a character and kill him.

  • Kate Holloway

    You know what? Shit happens in real life like this too. When I was 19, my cousin died in a motorcycle accident and it sucked. When I was 20, two of my cousins, on the same side of the family as the previous accident died in a car accident at our family reunion. My aunt who lost her son the year previous was there. That’s three in two years. It happens.

    It probably happened way more often back when there was a war, higher infant mortality, and fewer advancements in medical technology so more women died in child birth. If we lived back then, my mother and I would have died while she gave birth to me.

    It sucks, but it happens.

  • acauldronofteeth

    The children of the Crawley sisters require the eternal soul of a parent to be born. Exploring the newly minted “Crawley Curse” is gonna be a blast next season.

  • Rebecca Pahle

    They pretty much had to kill him off—the actor decided to leave the show.

  • Rizz Rustbolt

    I imagine all the Downton Abbey folks sitting around a computer looking at those tweets and wondering if they should feel ashamed or proud.

  • Leslee Bottomley Beldotti

    Considering the fact that they just killed off Sybil last season, having another character die right after the birth of their first child seemed so tragic that it almost wrapped back around to being comedic. Apparently the Downtonverse has a very precise 1:1, birth-to-death ratio.

    Also, the last episode telegraphed Matthew’s death so hard, they might as well have put a blinking neon sign over the character’s head: I’M GONNA DIE SOON!

  • Rebecca Pahle

    “Heyyy, we’re just gonna have the camera linger on Matthew saying goodbye to his mother at the train station, NO REASON.”

  • Anatasia Beaverhousen

    I’m English and have never got the appeal of Downton, only time I’ve seem any of it was when being forced to by my nanna. However I’ve had beloved characters killed off in shows and I’ve been annoyed about it, but would have been far more annoyed if they’d recast them.

  • Anonymous

    Recast? Seriously? Ugh. I didn’t mind the death, his character wasn’t going anywhere dramatically speaking and it opens up a whole realm of possibilities for Mary next season to have to deal with. Drama is pain people. Happy people aren’t interesting to watch. Even in comedy you have to put people in uncomfortable situations to get the comedy. So, yeah, his death was sad but totally justified.

  • Rebekah M. Jones

    Well, not no one. Iron Man 2 recast Rhodey after all! But it does seem rarer now then it used to.

  • Laura Truxillo

    I think it was done very cheaply, especially with the voice-over: “I say, isn’t it wonderful that everything is wonderful? We’ve had some times, haven’t we, y’know, in seasons one and two and this past one. But now everything is wonderful!” *Cut to soundless visual of un-wonderful thing.*

    It’s the sort of gimmick that things it’s awfully clever and self-aware cleverness is more grating than the death alone.

    I’ll miss Matthew, and I do wish he’d have stuck around because I like his dynamic with the rest of the cast, but I don’t think Downton is the kind of show where you just replace an actor like Bewitched. It’s a very organic show.

  • Laura Truxillo

    Shoot. So it’s Edith’s good luck to be an old maid then.

  • Laura Truxillo

    Mmph. Matthew’s Mary is a good point. Mary is such a pointlessly spiteful creature on her own–I breathed a sigh of relief when they got married not for the sake of Downton (because c’mon, we know the show and all), but because she’s much easier to watch when he’s around.

  • Laura Truxillo

    But Howard was so pretty! (But such a dickhole IRL. So…it’s nice that there’s a Rhodey that I don’t feel guilty for liking?)

  • Dessa Brewington

    I agree with Stine. After Sybil’s death, there’s no punch to another one. It’s just the same damn storyline all over again.

  • Camille Monae

    Can we just get rid of most of the upstairs family already?! Mary and Matthew were the LEAST interesting thing about this show. if it weren’t for Bates and Anna I’d have stopped watching after series 1. While watching their picnic scene i tought, “This whole show should just be about them.” Now we have to endure Mary being a widowed martyr next season. blech! BRING BACK SYBIL!! and let’s focus on Edith, Tom, Dame Maggie and the servants.

    The best part of this post is learning that R.L. Stine has a twitter account. I love him!!

  • Anonymous

    Damn yer, Derntern Arbeh!!

  • Anonymous


  • Magic Xylophone

    “And I dislike it when characters are recast.”

    You, like, just mentioned Doctor Who.

  • Rebecca Pahle

    …Doctor Who being the exception. He’s SUPPOSED to change actors, and a big deal is made of it when that happens. When they recast like it’s no big deal though? Yeah, I find that distracting.

  • Rebecca Pahle

    How can one NOT like Don Cheadle? He’s just all-around amazing.

  • Rebecca Pahle

    That reminded me of City of Angels, where Meg Ryan’s riding her bike on a deserted highway with her eyes closed and her hands off the handlebars and OH NO, IT’S NOT LIKE SHE’S GOING TO GET HIT BY A TRUCK OR ANYTHING, OH WAIT.

    Damn you, Downton, for reminding me of that awful movie.

  • sixteenthnote

    Thank you. I’ve had so much death in my family these past few years that I don’t really know what to say to the people who say it’s “unrealistic.” I guess… Consider yourself lucky that it seems unrealistic to you?

  • Brendan Newton

    Reportedly Stine thought it would have worked better if Matthew had looked to be in deadly danger, but then it just turned out to a cat jumping out at him, or one of his friends wearing a scary mask and trying to freak him out. Also, Matthew should wear a Cubs baseball cap and Edith should look about twelve no matter how grownup she dresses.

  • Laura Truxillo

    I don’t dislike him, he’s a fantastic actor and by all accounts, a darn decent human being. I just have trouble seeing him in “fun” roles for some reason. And Howard *is* really attractive until you wiki him.

  • Rebecca Pahle

    Yeah, I totally agree on all counts re: Howard. I just got caught in a momentary bout of Cheadle-love. It happens with me from time to time. Apologies. :)