The BEST Episodes of Downton Abbey

Every episode ever - ranked by fan votes!

Last Updated: Dec 26, 2019

Network: ITV

Downton Abbey depicts the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants in the post-Edwardian era—with great events in history having an effect on their lives and on the British social hierarchy.

Episode 8

#1 - Episode 8

Season 6 - Episode 8 - Aired Nov 8, 2015

Bertie's circumstances change suddenly, leaving Edith uncertain whether to risk telling him the truth or keep her past a secret at all costs. Mary wonders if she can ever make peace with her sister as hostilities escalate, Spratt shows some hidden talents and Molesley's first day as a teacher does not go according to plan. Mrs Patmore's bed and breakfast attracts unwanted attention, leaving her in need of the Crawleys' help.

star 8.21
1,836 votes
Directors: David Evans
Writers: Julian Fellowes
Episode 7

#2 - Episode 7

Season 1 - Episode 7 - Aired Nov 7, 2010

July 1914. In London former suitor Evelyn Napier assures Lady Mary that it was Edith, not he,who spread gossip about her and Kemal. Mary counters by wrecking her sister's marriage plans with Sir Anthony. Robert is reluctant to dismiss John even though O'Brien and Thomas have obtained a letter claiming that he stole from a previous employer. Anna accompanies Mrs. Patmore to London for eye tests,resulting in corrective surgery and whilst there,discovers that John took the blame for the theft for his ex-wife Vera, a fact which Robert is pleased to hear. Thomas, fed up at his failure to get John sacked,and sensing war on the way,joins the Army Medical Corps whilst Sybil finally gets Gwen her secretarial post. Cora is pregnant, a fact which puts the proposed marriage between Mary and Matthew in doubt, should the baby be a son and heir. However,thanks to O'Brien leaving a bar of soap on the floor, Cora slips and miscarries. All the staff except O'Brien cheer William on as he beats Thomas up for his unfeeling remarks on the loss. Matthew nonetheless feels that the engagement was only an act of pragmatism likely to be altered if an heir had been born and decides to leave Downton Abbey. But everybody's news is overshadowed as they hear that,as expected,Britain is at war with Germany.

star 8.21
2,866 votes
Directors: Brian Percival
Writers: Julian Fellowes
Episode 8

#3 - Episode 8

Season 5 - Episode 8 - Aired Nov 9, 2014

Preparations are under way for Rose's wedding, but family tensions on both sides threaten to derail proceedings. Edith's arrangement with Marigold is happily working out, but how long can she and Cora conceal the truth from Robert? Denker reveals an unexpected side to her personality, which causes trouble for more than one of the servants. With the war memorial due to be unveiled, Mrs Patmore is still upset, but Robert has something up his sleeve. Branson comes to a heart-wrenching decision, and the storm clouds that have been gathering over Anna and Bates finally burst.

star 8.13
1,699 votes
Directors: Michael Engler
Writers: Julian Fellowes
Episode 8

#4 - Episode 8

Season 2 - Episode 8 - Aired Nov 6, 2011

As preparations are underway for Matthew and Lavinia's wedding, Lady Sybil's attempt to inform her parents of her wish to marry Branson is unsurprisingly met with shock and horror. Robert is violently opposed to the idea but his threats of social disgrace and disinheritance do not dissuade Sybil leading him to try buying off Branson but Branson's intentions are honourable and he refuses. Lady Grantham, Carson and Lavinia are taken ill by the Spanish flu. Thomas' black market venture was a spectacular failure, leaving him penniless and without a job but Carson's illness gives him a chance to become useful in the house. While Lavinia is resting upstairs, Matthew finds himself alone with Mary and tells her what Violet said to him: that he should marry her. Both of them acknowledge he could not as it would be terribly cruel to Lavinia. However, they then kiss just as Lavinia is coming down the stairs. When her illness delays the wedding, Lavinia tells Matthew that she heard and saw everything. She feels they should end their engagement but Matthew refuses. Fearing the outcome of Lavinia’s illness with regard to Matthew and Mary, Richard Carlisle comes to Downton. Daisy is distressed by William’s father’s request to visit him. Ethel is surprised to learn that Major Bryant’s parents want to see her but his father wants to take her child away permanently. Eventually she determines not to let him go as a mother's love is more important than a wealthy upbringing. Robert finds himself unable to control his desire for Jane, who willingly responds. However, their night-time encounter is interrupted and remains unconsummated; and Jane decides to leave. With the possibility of more trouble regarding Vera's death, Anna insists that she and Bates should marry that she may be able to support him through his difficulties as his wife. They marry in secret, with Lady Mary's permission and she arranges for them to spend their wedding night in a guest room. Cora becomes seriously

star 8.12
2,757 votes
Directors: James Strong
Writers: Julian Fellowes
Episode 5

#5 - Episode 5

Season 2 - Episode 5 - Aired Oct 16, 2011

Set in mid 1918. 16 October 2011 Set in mid 1918. Robert receives some shocking news from the front. William has sustained serious damage to his lungs and is unable to recover, prompting him to ask Daisy to marry him before he dies. Meanwhile, Matthew has suffered damage to his spinal cord, causing him to lose mobility and feeling in his legs. Worse still, he subsequently learns that his injuries have made him impotent. Lavinia insists that this changes nothing and that she is not concerned about having a sexual relationship and children but only wants to care for him. However Matthew tells her to leave and forget him, while Mary attempts to nurse him back to health. Despite not truly loving William, Daisy is pushed into marrying him by Mrs Patmore, who wants William to die happy, and by William's wishes that Daisy is left with a widow's pension so that she can be looked after. They marry while William is bed-ridden, surrounded by the other staff, Edith and the Dowager Countess. William dies in his sleep, not long after, with Daisy by his side. Bates is taken aback when Vera threatens to expose old secrets about Mary and Pamuk's death. When Mary discovers this, she confesses everything to Richard Carlisle and asks him to help. While he accepts, he does so expecting her to marry him, as she is now in his debt, even going as far to announce their engagement in the newspaper without informing her, leaving Mary in a difficult position. Carlisle tricks Vera into signing a contract, preventing her from selling the story to anyone else, but on finding out she warns Bates that she will still bring him down. A new maid, Jane is hired

star 8.08
2,625 votes
Directors: Brian Kelly
Writers: Julian Fellowes
Episode 5

#6 - Episode 5

Season 3 - Episode 5 - Aired Oct 14, 2012

An exciting offer for Edith divides opinion. Isobel throws Ethel a lifeline. New maid Ivy is attracting attention below stairs, and Alfred's interest is resented by Daisy.

star 8.03
2,897 votes
Directors: Jeremy Webb
Writers: Julian Fellowes
Episode 7

#7 - Episode 7

Season 5 - Episode 7 - Aired Nov 2, 2014

Rosamund shows up at Downton following Edith's surprise departure. Rose is pleased to introduce Atticus and his parents to everyone. Anna and Bates think about a fresh start, now that that their problems seem to be behind them. Molesley is worried after Daisy becoming disillusioned with her studies. Mary and Blake seize a chance to send Gillingham a strong message.

star 8.02
1,713 votes
Directors: Philip John
Writers: Julian Fellowes
Episode 5

#8 - Episode 5

Season 1 - Episode 5 - Aired Oct 24, 2010

August 1913. O'Brien and Thomas continue to spread their malice,ensuring that Lady Edith learns from Daisy where Kemal died and attempting to frame John Bates for the theft of a snuff-box though Anna,clearly fond of John,ensures the plan backfires on them. Thomas's gossip also discredits Lady Mary's eligibility as a bride and the family must entertain the middle-aged Sir Anthony Strallen as a prospective husband. Mary is bored by him and it brings her closer to Matthew but Edith seems genuinely interested in him. Mrs. Patmore,the cook,must accept that her eye-sight is failing and Lady Sybil continues to encourage Gwen in her secretarial applications whilst Isobel actually teaches Lady Violet some altruism at the annual produce show.

star 8.02
2,967 votes
Directors: Brian Kelly
Writers: Julian Fellowes
Episode 6

#9 - Episode 6

Season 1 - Episode 6 - Aired Oct 31, 2010

May 1914. Encouraged by politically aware chauffeur Tom Branson, the socially conscious Lady Sybil espouses politics as a means of aiding equality for women and the lower classes, to her father's anger. At a political meeting she is injured in a scuffle and rescued by Matthew. A grateful Lady Mary accepts Matthew's proposal of marriage but tells her mother she feels she should come clean about Kemal to him. Rumours about this indiscretion are now rife and Cora tells her mother-in-law how she helped Mary move the body. Edith continues to see more and more of Sir Anthony whilst O'Brien and Thomas continue to persecute John. They tell Carson they saw him steal wine and get Daisy to support them. However Daisy does the decent thing and admits she was put up to it. Bizarrely, John, though he knows Thomas to be the wine thief, offers no explanation, confessing to being a former alcoholic and offering his resignation.

star 8.01
2,845 votes
Directors: Brian Percival
Writers: Julian Fellowes,Tina Pepler
Episode 7

#10 - Episode 7

Season 4 - Episode 7 - Aired Nov 3, 2013

Cora's playboy brother has got himself into a spot of bother and Robert has to make a trip to America to bail him out. Blake and Mary are forced to put aside their differences to deal with a new farming venture on the estate. When Violet is taken ill, help comes from an unlikely quarter. In spite of Mrs Hughes, Mrs Patmore and Carson's attempts to keep the peace, romantic tensions below stairs cause problems.

star 8.01
2,161 votes
Directors: Edward Hall
Writers: Julian Fellowes
Episode 4

#11 - Episode 4

Season 2 - Episode 4 - Aired Oct 9, 2011

Set in early 1918. Ethel's flirting with Major Bryant lands her in trouble as preparations get under way for a concert at Downton. Tensions flare between Isobel and Cora, Edith receives worrying news about Matthew and William, while Branson declares his feelings for Sybil. Robert receives a letter from Carlisle, which causes him concern forcing an uncomfortable conversation with Mary. Mrs Bird's soup kitchen receives a helping hand from Daisy and Mrs Patmore. In the servants’ quarters Mrs Hughes makes a shocking discovery that ends in tears for one member of staff.

star 8.01
2,892 votes
Directors: Brian Kelly
Writers: Julian Fellowes
Episode 1

#12 - Episode 1

Season 4 - Episode 1 - Aired Sep 22, 2013

Mary is finding it hard to come to terms with Matthew's death. Robert and Violet fall out over how to handle the situation. Jimmy takes an interest in Ivy, while Carson receives an unwelcome reminder from his past.

star 8.01
2,175 votes
Directors: David Evans
Writers: Julian Fellowes
Episode 5

#13 - Episode 5

Season 4 - Episode 5 - Aired Oct 20, 2013

Change is in the air as an exciting opportunity for Alfred creates tension between Ivy and Daisy. Isobel appeals to Violet's charitable nature, but it does not come without a fight, and Branson considers a new future for himself and baby Sybbie.

star 8.00
1,982 votes
Directors: Philip John
Writers: Julian Fellowes
Episode 3

#14 - Episode 3

Season 6 - Episode 3 - Aired Oct 4, 2015

Preparations for the wedding of Mr Carson and Mrs Hughes are under way. Edith meets up with an old acquaintance. Spratt has something to hide.

star 7.99
1,736 votes
Directors: Philip John
Writers: Julian Fellowes
Episode 7

#15 - Episode 7

Season 6 - Episode 7 - Aired Nov 1, 2015

The Crawleys watch Henry compete in a motor racing event, an occasion that leaves Mary reeling. Violet hatches a plan which surprises the family and delights Miss Denker, and learns more about Amelia's intentions in befriending Isobel. Molesley and Daisy rise to the challenges of examination day, Andy's secret is brought to light, Thomas feels isolated, and Mrs Patmore and Mrs Hughes teach Carson a lesson.

star 7.99
1,736 votes
Directors: David Evans
Writers: Julian Fellowes
Episode 8

#16 - Episode 8

Season 3 - Episode 8 - Aired Nov 4, 2012

There's excitement in the house and village as the annual cricket match approaches, and the event brings out Robert's competitive side. Violet's great-niece Rose shows up but a trip to London reveals there is more to her than meets the eye. Matthew and Mary look like they are keeping secrets from each other. Thomas finds out that his future lies in Carson's hands.

star 7.99
2,421 votes
Directors: David Evans
Writers: Julian Fellowes
Episode 3

#17 - Episode 3

Season 3 - Episode 3 - Aired Sep 30, 2012

Edith's big day finally arrives, but will the family be convinced that Strallan's age does not matter? Mary takes matters into her own hands - but the price could be high.

star 7.98
2,708 votes
Directors: Andy Goddard
Writers: Julian Fellowes
Episode 2

#18 - Episode 2

Season 1 - Episode 2 - Aired Oct 3, 2010

September 1912. Designated heir Matthew Crawley and his mother Isobel arrive and move into a house in the grounds of Downton Abbey but Matthew is uncomfortable with having servants and is not keen on an arranged marriage - something he has in common with Lady Mary. Robert's mother Violet looks down on them as they are not from her class - Matthew is a working solicitor and Isobel,a trained nurse and doctor's widow,who nonetheless impresses when she helps at the local hospital and saves the life of one of Robert's tenants. Cora upbraids the two nastiest servants,O'Brien and Thomas,for sneering at the Crawleys but impresses upon Mary the financial need for the marriage. Carson is blackmailed by Grigg, a man with whom he once had a music-hall act but Robert takes his part and sees Grigg off. Whilst Carson feels foolish for having a less than aristocratic past he is supported by Bates and the two men become friends

star 7.98
3,204 votes
Directors: Ben Bolt
Writers: Julian Fellowes
Episode 1

#19 - Episode 1

Season 3 - Episode 1 - Aired Sep 16, 2012

Cora’s mother arrives for Matthew and Mary’s wedding. New footman Alfred strives to meet Carson’s high standards, under the watchful eye of his aunt O’Brien.

star 7.97
2,696 votes
Directors: Brian Percival
Writers: Julian Fellowes
Episode 1

#20 - Episode 1

Season 2 - Episode 1 - Aired Sep 18, 2011

Set in November 1916, the episode begins with the arrival of Ethel, a new housemaid, and the first appearance of John Bates' wife. With Matthew and Thomas fighting in France, those left behind at Downton organise a benefit concert to help fund the local hospital. Lady Mary receives shocking news. Branson reveals his feelings to Sybil who wants to train as a nurse

star 7.97
2,994 votes
Directors: Ashley Pearace
Writers: Julian Fellows
Episode 8

#21 - Episode 8

Season 4 - Episode 8 - Aired Nov 10, 2013

Rosamund comes up with a plan to help Edith deal with her problem, but Violet may be about to see right through it. Isobel is the object of someone's attention, while Mary asks Gillingham for a favour. Rose is frustrated when things do not go her way and Alfred realises too late that he may have made a mistake. Just as Bates and Anna seem to be getting over the worst, some unexpected news shakes her up.

star 7.97
2,009 votes
Directors: Edward Hall
Writers: Julian Fellowes
Episode 3

#22 - Episode 3

Season 1 - Episode 3 - Aired Oct 10, 2010

March 1913. Gwen,one of the maids,has bought a typewriter and has applied for a secretarial post. Most of the staff are dismissive of her aspirations but the family - except Violet of course - are supportive and youngest daughter Sybil offers to supply a reference. Evelyn Napier,considered an eligible catch for Mary, arrives for the hunt,bringing his handsome friend Kemal Pamuk,a Turkish diplomat,who throws himself at her. He goes to her room at night for sex,during which he dies of a heart attack. Mary,Cora and head housemaid Anna return the body to his room and agree to say nothing but are seen by Daisy the kitchen maid. The gruesome twosome of O'Brien and Thomas are also suspicious. Matthew spends a delightful day with Edith,the youngest daughter,whilst Mrs. Hughes literally helps Bates out of a painful situation and they become friendly.

star 7.97
3,056 votes
Directors: Ben Bolt
Writers: Julian Fellowes
Episode 1

#23 - Episode 1

Season 1 - Episode 1 - Aired Sep 26, 2010

April 1912:- The heir to the title of Earl of Grantham,long time inhabitants of Downton Abbey,perishes on the 'Titanic'. Robert,the benevolent current earl,owes his wealth to his American wife Cora but they have only three daughters,who cannot inherit by law,so another heir must be found by marrying off Mary,the eldest girl. The Duke of Crowborough is a possibility but he is a closet gay who only has eyes for Thomas,the handsome but obnoxious footman,and soon departs. Robert's mother,the dowager,and Cora decide that the next best candidate is Matthew Crawley,a distant cousin,but Cora knows that the spirited Mary will not be happy with their choice. Downstairs there is also unrest as Thomas is passed over for promotion to valet in favour of Robert's batman from the Boer War,John Bates,who now limps due to a war wound. Along with Cora's maid Miss O'Brien, Thomas schemes to discredit Bates in the eyes of butler Carson and forces his resignation but Robert intervenes and keeps him on.Thomas vents his anger on second footman William but he has an ally in the sensible housekeeper Mrs. Hughes.

star 7.96
3,669 votes
Directors: Brian Percival
Writers: Julian Fellowes
Episode 5

#24 - Episode 5

Season 6 - Episode 5 - Aired Oct 18, 2015

Neville Chamberlain visits Downton for dinner, and is drawn into Violet's plan to save the hospital, with distressing consequences for everyone. Andy finds an unexpected confidante while helping Mr Mason move into Yew Tree Farm, Mary is uncertain if she has met her match, Edith meets Bertie Pelham in London, and Spratt comes to Denker's aid. Mrs Hughes struggles to keep Carson happy, while Mary thinks secrets are being kept from her.

star 7.95
1,751 votes
Directors: Philip John
Writers: Julian Fellowes
Episode 7

#25 - Episode 7

Season 2 - Episode 7 - Aired Oct 30, 2011

Set in 1919. As the residents try to return to normal life following the armistice, Matthew begins to suspect that he can feel his legs. Then one day, seeing Lavinia drop a heavy tray, he suddenly gets up from his chair. Major Clarkson admits that he had been informed of this possibility by another physician but was sceptical about it himself and didn't want to raise their hopes. As a result of his recovery Matthew announces that he and Lavinia intend to be married soon. This Violet to inform him that Mary is still in love with him but Matthew feels obliged to marry Lavinia as she was prepared to sacrifice her life for him. Meanwhile, Richard Carlisle distresses Anna by asking her to spy on Mary and his behaviour leads Carson to reject his offer of employment. Bates reels from the news about Vera after it appears that she committed suicide in order to frame him. Thomas embarks on a new money-making scheme in the post-war black market. Robert is attracted to the new maid Jane and illicitly kisses her. Contemplating life after the war, Sybil makes the drastic decision to elope with Branson. However, Mary discovers her plan and, along with Edith and Anna, seeks them out and persuades Sybil to return and plead her cause openly to their parents.

star 7.94
2,651 votes
Directors: James Strong
Writers: Julian Fellowes