From 1912 to 1926: How the Residents of Downton Abbey Changed
LADY MARY CRAWLEY (MICHELLE DOCKERY)
We wish we could say that after 14 years Lady Mary got a bit nicer, but as the penultimate episode shows, her mean streak is still alive and well. What has changed for Mary (besides the loss of her husband, Matthew) is her more involved role with the management of the estate. In the show's first episode, she was angry that her mother's fortune and her father's estate would go to an unknown heir. Now, she's a partial owner of Downton, thanks to Matthew, and took on the role of joint land agent alongside brother-in-law Tom. She may never be the Countess of Grantham (tear), but she's effectively taken the reins from her father – quite a feat for a woman who once said that she felt she had no greater purpose beyond "finding a husband and getting out of the way."
LADY EDITH CRAWLEY (LAURA CARMICHAEL)
When we first met Lady Edith, she was the pathetic, oft-forgotten middle sister. She stayed pretty miserable throughout most of the show, and really, who can blame her? She was left at the altar. The man who loved her had a secret insane wife and then was killed in Germany, where he was trying to get a divorce. Then, she found out she was pregnant with said dead man's child. Plus, her sister was pretty much constantly snarking on her. So by the time the final season rolled around, it was clear: Edith was in serious need of a heavy dose of happiness. She got it in the form of Bertie Pelham, the Marquess of Hexam, her now-husband who gave her both a title that outranks the rest of her family and a welcoming home for her daughter, Marigold.
ROBERT CRAWLEY, THE EARL OF GRANTHAM (HUGH BONNEVILLE)
If we've learned one thing throughout Downton's six seasons, it's that the Crawley family's patriarch, Robert, does not like change. Unfortunately for him, there was been quite a lot of it: the loss of his heir, Matthew, for one, as well as a world war, rising taxes, changing politics, shifts in gender roles, shrinking household staffs and really, the start of the disappearance of life as he knows it – which led to lots of grumbles. But throughout it all, there's been one thing that's stayed constant: his love for his wife, Cora.
CORA CRAWLEY/LADY GRANTHAM (ELIZABETH MCGOVERN)
Season one Cora was still the butt of many of her mother-in-law's jokes – mostly due to her American heritage. But over the past 14 years, the jokes died down, and Cora watched her daughters grow up and start their own lives. Now a grandmother, she's carved her own identity at Downton, in particular, working with the hospital.
VIOLET CRAWLEY (MAGGIE SMITH)
Lots has changed at the Abbey over the past six seasons, but one thing has remained unaffected: Violet Crawley. The family's matriarch barely changed at all throughout the show's run. Really – she's even still wearing those corseted, high-necked dresses that were all the rage in the Edwardian era. Some things never change, and in this case, we're thankful: Who else would dole out Downton's much-needed witty one-liners?
ISOBEL CRAWLEY (PENELOPE WILTON)
Isobel's been through a lot of heartbreak during Downton's run – most notably, the loss of her only son, Matthew. Throughout it all, however, she was tireless in her crusades to help others – whether it was Ethel, the former maid-turned-prostitute, or refugees pushed out of their homes after World War I. After finding happiness for others, she got it for herself at the end of the sixth season, when she tied the knot with Mary's godfather, Lord Merton – despite his insufferable sons.
DAISY MASON/ROBINSON (SOPHIE MCSHERA)
Back in season 1, Daisy was Mrs. Patmore's verbal punching bag and a scullery maid who wasn't allowed to be seen by the upstairs staff. Since then, Daisy's done some growing up – and come into her own: She's now a full-on assistant cook with an insatiable thirst for knowledge (and potentially, a budding romance with the footman, Andy).
CARSON (JIM CARTER)
Downton's butler is a married man now – but the biggest change came for him in the show's final episode, when it's revealed that he suffers from tremors (just like the show's creator, Julian Fellowes). It's a condition that eventually forces him to step down from his post as butler into a lesser role – but luckily, he won't be leaving Downton. (Ever.)
MRS. HUGHES (PHYLLIS LOGAN)
Mrs. Hughes is the Violet Crawley of downstairs: she's smart, quick-witted and you can count on her to stay (pretty much) the same, no matter what comes her way. The biggest change for Mrs. Hughes was a happy one: her marriage to Mr. Carson, and subsequent move out of the house's servants' room and into a cottage of the couple's own.
MRS. PATMORE (LESLEY NICOL)
Like her BFF Mrs. Hughes, Mrs. Patmore didn't go through any sort of major transformation throughout the show's run. She's still the cook. She's still sassy. She's still single – although if her flirtations with Mr. Mason, William's father, are any indication, she could be going the way of Mrs. Hughes post-finale!
THOMAS BARROW (ROB-JAMES COLLIER)
While we feel for Thomas (having to hide who you really are is undoubtedly a sad way to go through life), it's hard to have that much sympathy for Downton's resident evil footman-turned-valet-turned-underbutler. But somehow, despite all his evil, from bullying Mr. Bates to blackmailing Ms. Baxter, Thomas still ends up on top at the end of the show: as Downton's butler.
ANNA BATES (JOANNE FROGGATT)
If anyone was put through the ringer over the past six years, it was Anna. First, she was in love with a man who was married to a psychopath blackmailer. Then, her husband was sentenced to death (luckily, his sentence was changed to life in prison and he was later released). After that, she was raped. And then, she was arrested for her rapist's murder. To top it all off, she had multiple miscarriages. Thankfully, all ended well for Mrs. Bates: she ultimately gave birth to a son, and there are no evil valets in sight.
MR BATES (BRENDAN COYLE)
For someone who people were so vehemently against in the first season, John Bates transitioned into a staff member beloved by all. Of course, he had a few bumps on the road to get there, mainly in the form of an ex-wife so vengeful that she killed herself to try and frame him for the murder. Now, he's married to the love of his life, with a son, and no one has talked about his limp for a good three seasons. Sounds like a win-win-win.
TOM BRANSON (ALLEN LEECH)
Perhaps no character has faced more change than Tom Branson – the family's chauffeur/unwanted son-in-law/land agent/beloved family member. Through his marriage to the youngest Crawley daughter, Sybil, he was able to go from working for the Crawley family to being a part of it. If you had said back in season 1 that Tom would be welcomed back to Downton with open arms after moving to America for a few episodes, no one would have believed you. As for his love life – it seems something may be on the horizon with Edith's bouquet-catching editor!