Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes didn't want to kill off Lady Sybil (Jessica Brown Findlay) or Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) on Season 3, but the actors basically boxed him into it.
"You see, in America, it’s quite standard for an actor to sign, at the beginning of a series, for five or seven years," Julian told the New York Times. "The maximum any British agent will allow you to have over an actor is three years. And Jessica and Dan wanted to go. The show had been very, very successful, tremendously so, and they were being offered great opportunities. Don’t think I’m saying it critically — I don’t blame them at all."
However, there's a reason Lady Sybil basically got her own episode for her death, and Matthew's was crammed at the end of the finale.
"With Dan, I had hoped that we would have one episode of this fourth season that I’m writing now, so we could have ended the Christmas episode on a happy note — the baby, everything lovely. And then kill him in the first episode of the next series. But he didn’t want to do that. I didn’t want his death to dominate the Christmas special, so that’s why we killed him at the very, very end. In a way I think it works quite well because we begin Series 4 six months later. We don’t have to do funerals and all that stuff. That’s all in the past by then."
All in the past for them. Not for us, the viewers. Of course, we have to wait a full year for Season 4 to air in the U.S., so maybe we'll have more empathy by then. But right now it seems wrong to jump forward in time, and even more wrong to think Mary will be getting a new boyfriend. And it may even be this guy!
Source: NY Times