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Maggie Smith Leaving ‘Downton Abbey’ After Season 6

UPDATE: Well, looks like Maggie Smith is staying put. In a statement to The Wrap, Smith’s publicist denied that she would be leaving the show. “[Smith] has always been on the record as saying she’ll be with the show for as long as the show runs,” the statement reads, although it seems to contradict Smith’s statements to The Sunday Times (read below). However, if the show really is ending next season, as Smith seems to believe, then technically, she is leaving the series after Season 6. But neither the show’s ending nor Smith’s departure has been confirmed by any of the people running the show. So it’s looking like Maggie Smith will be sticking around for the foreseeable future. Original story follows below:

Are the days numbered for the Dowager Countess on Downton Abbey?

Maggie Smith, who plays the witty, acerbic countess Violet Crawley, is reportedly leaving Downton Abbey after Season 6 next year, according to an interview conducted with The Sunday Times. Moreover, Smith seems to be under the impression that Season 6 will be the show’s last, since I suppose we can’t have an endless soap opera where only the kids ever seem to age.

“They say this is the last one, and I can’t see how it could go on,” said Smith, who feels the series is winding down.

“I mean, [my character] certainly can’t keep going,” the 80-year-old Emmy winner added. “To my knowledge, I must be 110 by now. We’re in to the late 1920s.”

To extrapolate a bit, one would imagine they’d kill off the character, since I can’t really imagine a storyline that allows her to leave the series any other way. Besides, it would be a crime to deny the character a dramatic onscreen farewell, every bit as much as it would be crazy to deny Maggie Smith the opportunity to perform it, since it’d be an Emmy clip waiting to happen. But even if this is the end for the Dowager Countess, she won’t be leaving without a sense of melancholy about her departure, and about the show’s likely end.

“When you’re not working it’s scary, and when you are working it’s scary, because you don’t know if you’ve got the energy to get through the day,” she said. “But the bleakness of not doing it, and missing out on the friendships that you make, is too much to bear.”

Of course, while Smith has stated her intention to leave after Season 6 finishes wrapping, it hasn’t been confirmed that the show will be ending. Series co-creator Gareth Neame recently told TheWrap that he recognizes the series has a shelf life. Regarding when the show will end, Neame stated, “I’ve said before that we made the fifth season; we’re now shooting Season 6. We won’t be there in Season 10, so somewhere in the next few years. We’d like to judge when the time feels right.”

Season 6 would probably be a smart time to end it, since the show appears to be running out of murders to have Bates accused of committing, and suitors for Mary to reject. But I admit I’d be sad to see it go. Realistically, it’s a show that could continue for as long as the actors want to do it, since I think there will always be an audience for this type of well-appointed period drama. But maybe it’s best to know when to leave. Regardless, even if the show sticks around for a few more years, I’ll still miss Smith when the time comes.

Maggie Smith Leaving 'Downton Abbey' After Season 6

Credit: PBS

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