Credit: ITV

SPOILERS AHEAD! 

It was bad enough to have to say goodbye to Lady Sybil
halfway through Downton Abbey Season 3. But Jessica Brown Findlay was ready to leave the show, and they didn’t have much choice but to kill off her character. Unfortunately, that’s also the case with an even more major Downton character: Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens).

Yes, Mary’s (Michelle Dockery) new husband and the guy who saved Downton from Lord Grantham’s bad money management is dying at the end of this season. We’ll lose him in a truly bittersweet way during the Christmas special, which airs Sunday, February 17 on PBS.

Credit: ITV

The Christmas special takes place in Scotland about a year later. You can tell there’s a time jump since, in that finale episode, Lady Mary is pregnant (!) and goes into early labor (!!), rushing home to Downton to deliver a son (!!!). However, when Matthew rushes back to Downton to meet his heir, he is killed in a car accident. (CLARIFICATION: Matthew does get to meet his baby son in the hospital for the first time, but he's killed in a car crash as he rushes to celebrate with the family.)

It’s going to be heartbreaking, but that’s what happens when actors want to leave the show early! At least it opens exciting new doors for Mary on Season 4.