Why The Downton Abbey Finale Will Be Really, Really Sad

Downton Abbey has already kicked off its sixth and final season on ITV and will be heading to PBS in the States in the coming months. If you’ve seen the trailer for Downton Abbey, you’ll know that it’s both bittersweet and emotional, so it shouldn’t shock you that the final season might be the same way, as well. Recently in an interview, Hugh Bonneville explained why the series finale, at least, is actually going to be the big tearjerker.

For the last episode, you’ll need some handkerchiefs. I needed handkerchiefs reading it. It wasn’t because it necessarily moved me while reading it, but it was the experience of reading it when I realized it was the last time I was ever going to be reading one of those scripts. That was quite terminal. I suppose the theme is that it’s the end of an era. This estate has to face an uncertain future…

Downton Abbey has frequently been about facing change in an era when that change came abruptly and swiftly. Bonneville’s comments to Collider reflect that this theme won’t really be changing during the Season 6 finale and will in fact be presented as emotionally as possible. While we’ve seen the estate face an uncertain financial future, become a hospital briefly, lose some of its staff due to changing times and circumstances and much, much more, Season 6 will be even more about a changing era. Here’s what Bonneville can tell us about the theme in the Season 6 episodes.

I suppose the theme is that it’s the end of an era. This estate has to face an uncertain future, and that’s characterized in the first episode when a friend from across the county has to sell the family silver to keep going, which so many of these estates did. These estates started eating themselves and their land because that piece of land no longer brings an income. It spirals in on itself until you ultimately have to sell the house, and that is looming on the horizon.

While I think a lot of fans are enjoying the blossoming romance between Carson and Mrs. Hughes and I think a lot of other fans really want to know how Edith and Mary’s romantic futures will be resolved, it’s nice to know that although Downton Abbey is ending, life will go on after the last episode ends. The future of estate life is obviously tenuous. Anyone with a grasp of history from the time, knows that Downton is mimicking what happened to real people living during the era, and while those changes will be tough on both the people living upstairs and the people living downstairs, it also marks the beginning of a brand new world for people of all classes. Because of the nature of the show, it should be a fitting albeit emotional end for the program.

If you are waiting to catch the episodes in the US, you’ll be able to watch Downton Abbey’s final run starting on January 3, 2016. In the meantime, here’s what’s coming up this fall.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Jessica Rawden is Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. She’s been kicking out news stories since 2007 and joined the full-time staff in 2014. She oversees news content, hiring and training for the site, and her areas of expertise include theme parks, rom-coms, Hallmark (particularly Christmas movie season), reality TV, celebrity interviews and primetime. She loves a good animated movie. Jessica has a Masters in Library Science degree from Indiana University, and used to be found behind a reference desk most definitely not shushing people. She now uses those skills in researching and tracking down information in very different ways.