Downton Disaster? Our Theories On Dan Stevens’ Possible Departure Quote

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Dan Stevens hasn't signed on for season 4 of Downton Abbey

Fetch the smelling salts, O’Brien! This quote from Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens in yesterday’s Daily Mail is bound to bring on fainting spells everywhere: “I don’t know if I will be returning to Downton.” NO! Not Matthew Crawley!

But hold on a second. Let’s interpret this statement for a minute. First of all, this is in context of Stevens making his Broadway debut in The Heiress, opposite Jessica Chastain, and clearly falling in love with New York City. “New York for me is going to be one big adventure. I will be taking the whole family out and we will be there for six months.” So he could just be excited about this chapter in his life, and hedging his bets about what Julian Fellowes has in store for his character in the fourth and final season of the hit British series. After all, as we’ve just had spoiled for us, another major character has already croaked in season three.

Or, a more cynical person might point out, Stevens could be acting all Hollywood and stalling to get a better contract for season four, especially now that everyone wants to cast him in everything. (Please, everyone, cast him in everything.) If the powers that be have any sense, they’ll give him what he wants. Just hand over that whole estate — he went to war for you people.

Dan Stevens and Michelle Dockery

Option three (trying not to panic): He knows his character won’t make it. Damn it, Fellowes. We knew you shouldn’t have brought together Matthew and Mary in the middle of the series. Everyone knows that once the main will-they-or-won’t-they couple finally does, the audience collectively experiences character bed death. I just made that phrase up, but it’s true, right? This is why everyone had to break up on Glee; why people always die on Grey’s Anatomy; why Damon and Elena still aren’t together on Vampire Diaries; why Bella got instantly pregnant in Breaking Dawn … you get the point.

But we have faith in team Downton. There’s at least ONE more season of British class angst to be squeezed out of the Crawleys. And then we get to see the prequel! Fingers and toes ever so properly crossed.

Matthew and Mary Crawley's wedding on Downton Abbey

[Photos: ITV/PBS]

Related: Downton Abbey Prequel: We Fantasy Cast Robert And Cora!