Maggie Smith Wants ‘Downton Abbey’ Producers to Kill Off the Dowager Countess

Maggie Smith reportedly wants out of Downton Abbey after the third season:

Dowagercountess"Maggie has asked Julian to write her character out," the U.K.'s Daily Mail is reporting. "She is filming until August and then wants to leave, going out on a high. She thinks that three (seasons) is enough and she wants to get back to the stage and big screen."

Smith's Dowager Countess, a master of the potent one-line put-down, is one of the show's pivotal characters. The Daily Mail's source says she is likely to be struck down by a fatal illness at the end of the third season, which ITV is currently filming in the U.K.

UPDATE: A Carnival Films rep. denies the report. "We never comment on future story lines but it's not true that she's leaving."


  1. VDUFFORD says

    ‘Downton Abbey’ is a great program and It might be interesting to Maggie Smiths point,for her to depart. She maybe right about leaving on a high note. Can’t help thinking though what an opportunity for the writers and Shirley MacLaine to develop her character!

  2. Matt26 says

    NO! My fav. character in the series. She knows when to get out. Her one liners in the first series were brilliant, but not so good on the second. I will miss her, but I understand her point.

  3. J. Leo says

    If it is such a pivotal character why are t5hey not looking for someone to take it over? I’m sure there are some equally gifted actors who would love to do such a great role.

  4. Derek Pearce says

    Ah, but J. Leo, no one would be able to do that character justice the way Maggie does. She owns that one now! I can see them introducing a similar type of character and easing them into the series after she’s gone. Bummer, though.

  5. Glenn says

    Love her, but I really don’t think you could call her character “pivotal.” She almost never propels any of the major plotlines. She’s there to provide a certain atmosphere and some comic relief — and she does a fabulous job of it.

  6. TJ says

    “Why aren’t they looking for someone to take it over?”

    Because nobody puts baby in the corner, and no one can replace Maggie Smith, ever.

    I enjoy the show, pretentious, guilty pleasure soap opera that it is, but count the seconds between visits with the Dowager Countess. Sigh.

  7. uffda says

    It’ll be a dead Downton after she dies. But really, she needs to continue being grand in even grander formats.

  8. bobbyjoe says

    Downton Abbey tends to progress through the years at a fairly rapid rate. If it continues at the pace it has set, we should be in the mid 1920s or so at the end of the third season, or about 15 years after the events in Downton began. And Maggie’s character was no spring chicken back in 1912, so it would actually be fairly realistic if she passes away by the end of the third season. I’d hate to see her go, but I think Downton could handle it. I wonder if Shirley McClaine’s character isn’t knowingly being introduced to eventually fill the “wise-cracking older lady” position.

  9. Bob says

    Love her — and MY guess is that, because the timeline would suggest she kicks off, that Julian brought it up to Maggie, and made the deal that she can announce it as her choice.

  10. Lily says

    The producers would have done better to let the Dowager Countess die instead of Cybil, and now on top of this, Matthew will be killed off in a car accident. Show is becoming too negative and depressing for my taste.