SPOILER Alert: This article contains spoilers from the Downton Abbey series, and it includes potential plot information about Downton Abbey: A New Era.
Downton Abbey fans have grown accustomed to the shocking, heartbreaking, and oftentimes-premature deaths of the beloved members of the greater Crawley family and their staff (remember Season 3?). However, there's one character who everyone can agree is a necessary and irreplaceable part of the franchise: Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham (played by Dame Maggie Smith).
Known for her one-liners, her signature pursed lips, her ability to use her cane as a weapon, and her fierce loyalty to her son and her granddaughters, the Crawley matriarch is the heartbeat of the family.
When Violet confided in her granddaughter, Mary Talbot (Michelle Dockery), that she was sick in the first Downton Abbey film, fans grew concerned that the quick-witted aristocrat would soon die.
According to reports from CinemaCon, which is where a teaser trailer for the upcoming sequel, Downton Abbey: A New Era, debuted, the plot may include the death of an iconic character.
All signs are pointing to the dowager herself, but fans of the original ITV series aren't yet ready to say goodbye (and they likely never will be). Keep reading to find out everything that has been shared about the highly-anticipated sequel.
Violet Crawley could die in 'Downton Abbey: A New Era.'
Though Violet is one of the oldest characters from the original show, who has lived a long and happy life as a member of the upper class, her role as the often-needed comedic relief and the voice of hard-handed honesty is unparalleled.
During the show's six season run, Violet insisted on keeping formal traditions alive. She initially encouraged her granddaughters to marry men from notable families, but she later came around to the idea of them finding happiness through love. Her evolving friendship with Isobel Grey (née Crawley, played by Penelope Wilton), her growing respect for Tom Branson (Allen Leech), and her rapport with the staff members at the Dower House are other notable highlights from her character arc.
Many viewers will, therefore, be devastated if the dowager dies — especially if the Downton Abbey film franchise continues beyond the upcoming sequel.
However, Violet herself has already hinted at her impending demise.
"I had some medical tests a few weeks ago, and I went up to London to hear the results. And I may not have long to live," she tells Mary in the first film. "It won't be too quick, but of course, you can never get a London doctor to be precise."
Reports from CinemaCon indicate that the teaser trailer hints at the death of an integral character. While Violet is the most obvious choice, she did note that her doctor was uncertain about how much time she had left to live.
According to Deadline, the Crawleys have an "overseas journey" in Downton Abbey: A New Era, which could mean that a different grandmother will die.
As viewers will know, Cora Crawley (Elizabeth McGovern) hails from the United States, and her family members still live there. Her mother, Martha Levinson (Shirley MaClaine), has appeared on the series before and caused quite a stir with her granddaughters and with Violet herself.
The Crawleys could be traveling overseas to commemorate Martha's passing. It remains to be seen if a major character will die in the sequel, and if it is either of the aforementioned ladies.
Dame Maggie Smith is part of the cast for 'Downton Abbey: A New Era.'
Per reports from CinemaCon, Downton Abbey: A New Era will also feature a wedding. While the bride and the groom are not yet confirmed, the most likely couple to walk down the aisle is Tom and Lucy Smith (Tuppence Middleton). The pair connected romantically in the first movie, before Lucy found out that she would be inheriting a large estate.
Other details surrounding the plot of the sequel have yet to be revealed, but the cast list has been confirmed.
The stars from the original series, Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Michelle Dockery, Allen Leech, Laura Carmichael, Matthew Goode, Brendan Coyle, Joanne Froggatt, Jim Carter, Penelope Wilton, Kevin Doyle, Raquel Cassidy, and Phyllis Logan will return, and they'll be joined by a few new additions.
Laura Haddock, Hugh Dancy, Nathalie Bay, and Dominic West all have roles in the sequel, but details about their characters have not yet been publicly shared.
Imelda Staunton will also reprise her role from the first movie, as will Tuppence Middleton.
Downton Abbey: A New Era will debut exclusively in theaters on March 18, 2022.