"I am sorry about that! I think what emerged is that it's an unwritten rule that you're not supposed to die on British television on Christmas Day, and that, specifically, was not my doing," Stevens told The Independent. "We didn't see that script until the very last minute, so we didn't know exactly how they were going to do it."
Julian Fellowes, creator of Downton, asked Dan to stick around, but the actor wanted to move on because he had a few movies down the pipeline, including Summer In February, which comes out later this month. After Dan refused to stay, Julian says this was the only way Matthew could get written out of the show.
“If he had been prepared to come back for maybe two or three episodes in a series, that would be different. Then we could have had a foreign posting or invented a career that would have made it possible for him to be away," Fellowes told The Telegraph, responding to claims that he "ruined ... Christmas."
"Otherwise we would have had to make this tremendously successful love affair between Mary and Matthew unhappy, which I didn’t feel would be believable ... So we didn’t really have any option. By him dying, their love can remain in tact."
We forgive you, Julian. No, wait, we don't! RIP Matthew!