Played brilliantly by Michelle Dockery, Lady Mary Crawley is better than you and won’t let you forget it. The beautiful eldest sister of an aristocratic family and beneficiary of the Grantham fortune, Mary isn’t exactly approachable. However, beneath her icy exterior and inherited airs, she is a simple girl who’s fiercely protective of her own dark secrets.
One of those secrets is a disastrous one-night stand in Season 1 with the exotic but unfortunately weak-hearted Kemal Pamuk. The Turkish Rico Suave’s unexpected flop during their union leaves Mary with an understandable fear of commitment and all the more reason to be wary of interlopers.
What never flags, however, is Mary’s loyalty to her family. Although even her relatives aren’t immune to her sharp tongue (except, of course, dearly beloved and equally sharp-witted Grandmother Dowager Countess), Mary will defend the Crawley name to the end. It’s this loyalty that initially had her keep charming cousin Matthew (Dan Stevens) at arm’s length. Season 1 chronicles the various ups and downs of the young (and, don’t worry, only distantly related) couple as stubbornness, secrets, and worldwide conflict perpetually keep them apart.
In Season 2, however, time and World War 1 mellows Mary. With Matthew away in the trenches of France, Mary falls prey to newspaper magnate Sir Richard Carlisle (whom fans of an equally character-driven show may better know as Ser Jorah Mormont). Unlike in Game of Thrones, however, Sir Richard is anything but a lovestruck confidante; he uses Mary’s failed romance and subsequent cover-up of Kemal Pamuk’s death to keep her in his newly rich clutches.
But when Cousin Matthew arrives back on the scene, Mary can’t help but give into her heart. (It probably doesn’t hurt that actor Dan Stevens cuts a fine figure in a uniform). However, this time Matthew is promised to another heiress — the milktoast Lavinia Swire — proving to Mary how much she wants what she can’t have.
Thankfully/tragically — depending on whether your glass is half full or half empty — Spanish Influenza brings these two crazy kids together, finally. At the end of Season 2, with the frail Lavinia recently departed, Matthew and Mary realize life is too short. And so, once again, Matthew gets down on bended knee to ask the question Mary and Downton’s many fans have so desperately been waiting to hear.
Season 3 finds Lady Mary happily married to dashing Matthew. Having successfully bypassed potential fertility issues, all seems right in this young woman’s world until tragedy and a lack of airbags cast her world once again into shadow, leaving fans to wonder: Will Lady Mary Crawley ever find happiness again?
Mary was introduced in Season 1, Episode 1: "April 1912."