Maggie Smith's Downton Abbey exit suggests a series finale is ahead
Bad news, Downton Abbey fans: One of your most beloved people says she's ready to put the show behind her. We can't help but wonder: Is the show ending too?
In a recent interview, Dame Maggie Smith said she was ready to be finished with her time at Downton Abbey, citing believability as her main reason. Smith, who is 80 herself, commented on how her character has presumably aged during all of Downton's numerous time jumps. "I mean, I certainly can't keep going. To my knowledge, [Violet] must be 110 by now."
Technically that's true, but it doesn't make the revelation any easier. For five seasons, Smith has remained the true star of the show's massive ensemble cast. Her character Violet's quips and comebacks continually keep viewers in stitches and the residents of Downton in check. Without her, it's entirely possible her snooty, rich family would somehow be even, well, snootier. During the recent fifth season in particular, Violet's interactions with Isobel were one of the only reasons we never fell asleep mid-episode. They remained the driving force for entertainment throughout the short season.
"They say this is the last one," Smith said of the upcoming sixth season. "I can't see how it could go on."
While one more season with Violet seems like a blessing, the thought of a seventh season without her seems unfortunate... and perhaps unlikely.
In an interview with TheWrap, Downton co-creator Gareth Neame suggested a series finale was in sight. "I've said before that we made the fifth season; we're now shooting Season 6. We won't be there in Season 10, so somewhere in the next few years. We'd like to judge when the time feels right."
Those few years could come sooner than you might expect. As of right now, NBC Universal (who owns the rights to Downton Abbey) has yet to renew the series for a seventh season. And Neame and Smith aren't the only two Downton crew discussing an ending. Neame's creating partner, Julian Fellowes, has also recently hinted that an end is not only inevitable but fast-approaching.
"It's not really my decision. I don't own Downton Abbey now," Fellowes shared. "So, I could walk away, but I wouldn't walk away. It's too much my baby. [But] it won't go on forever — I'm not a believer in that. But I can't immediately tell you where the end will be."
After much consideration, we hope the show ends with Violet. We love everyone on Downton, but our hearts belong to Smith. Without the dowager countess, we're not sure the family can stay together. Ultimately a mid-season ending for Violet and then a few episodes left to tie up loose ends at Downton might be the best for the show. It's the only way to guarantee they go out strong.