Downton Abbey: Bringing Characters to Life–and Death

[No Spoilers Below for those DVR and Netflix viewers]

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, reportedly sick of his Sherlock Holmes, killed him off only to have to resuscitate him years later from his waterfall drop with Professor Moriarty.  The public outcry at their favorite character’s death was so severe (and the author’s writing in other areas not so popular) that the detective did, in fact, return.

Sunday night, millions of Americans had to suffer the terrible death of a fan-favorite on PBS’s Downton Abbey that the British already experienced a few months ago.  The next morning, people admitted to crying and going through the same stages we all go through in real life.

I’m always amazed by the gift of good writing that can not only “bring a character to life” but to death as well.  Perhaps, if you were to go to and look up the star’s activities you might discover that 2013 has three films featuring this actor and the sudden death seems more logical–but who really wants that easy of an answer?  It seems only just, in a way, that if you watched Mary and Matthew struggle to finally get married with a joy-filled kiss in the snow on Christmas last season that you should also go through their unhappiest times.

When I had invested 2,000 pages of reading in Herman Wouk’s masterpieces The Winds of War and War and Remembrance I was startled to find the eldest son  Warren actually not surviving the battle of Midway.  It didn’t make sense; he was going on to a promising career in politics.  I was furious at Wouk for exposing me to reality during my escapism.  I can only imagine what Downton Abbey‘s creator, Julian Fellowes, must be enduring these few days.

I admire Fellowes’ courage for putting his fans through this death–but also am pretty angry at him.  But that’s one of those stages I’m supposed to go through–even in fiction.

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About Kevin Walsh

Kevin began in 2013 as an experiment that was as simple as "What's a blog?" and ended up becoming a forum for fellow writers. He's been a high school teacher for 28 years and worked as an administrator and instructor in colleges for 10 years since then. Contact him at: He is also the producer of the web-series and blog, www.DiggingDetroit, founder and producer for MMD Productions at which offers quick, professional photography, video and multimedia solutions for individuals, organizations and businesses. His high school media production text, "Video Direct," has been used in 40 states--and he occasionally still sells a few. He is the current president of the non-profit DAFT (Digital Arts Film and Television) which sponsors the Michigan Student Film Festival. He lives in Royal Oak, Michigan, is married to Patrice and is tolerated by his two kids Aidan and Abby who have all graciously allowed him to write about them on occasion.

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