How to catch up on ‘Downton Abbey’: 6 easy recaps before seeing the movie

Eat your popcorn with your pinkies out

How to catch up on ‘Downton Abbey’: 6 easy recaps before seeing the movie
Elizabeth McGovern stars as Lady Grantham and Hugh Bonneville as Lord Grantham in Downton Abbey [Photo: Jaap Buitendijk/Focus Features]

Julian Fellowes created a cultural phenomenon when he came up with the idea for Downton Abbey, the beloved upstairs/downstairs drama that ran from 2010-2015 on ITV in the U.K. and PBS in the United States. The series follows the aristocratic Crawley family and the devoted staff of their elegant castle in Yorkshire (which you can stay at thanks to Airbnb) as they live through changing times.


Fellowes is hoping to recapture the magic when Downton Abbey comes to theaters in a feature-length film that rejoins the Downton Abbey residents as they await a visit from the king and queen. The movie opens today (Friday, September 20).

Of course, the series ended years ago. While you may remember some of the details—like Dowager Countess’s greatest quips, or the names of each of Lady Mary’s dead lovers, or the name of Daisy’s dead husband—even the most ardent Downton Abbey fan may have forgotten a detail or two.

But don’t worry, you’re not alone. It’s nearly impossible to track each plotline that unraveled upstairs and downstairs over the course of the show’s six seasons. After all, the show spanned 14 years from the sinking of the Titanic to ringing in New Year’s Eve 1926, and it boasts dozens of characters, each with their own plotlines. Thankfully, the movie does a good job reminding viewers of the most salient points. However, there’s still a lot to remember.


Here are a few easy ways to brush up on all things Crawley before seeing the movie:

  • PBS has its own recap here, if you want the inside scoop.
  • If you can’t quite remember how Downton Abbey ended, Refinery29 answers that very question here, and Town & Country gives it their own spin here.
  • British outlet Digital Spy got a Downton Abbey star to tell fans what they need to know before they see the film.
  • If you remember the ending, but can’t quite remember what each of the approximately 47 characters was doing and why they were doing it, Vulture runs it down.
  • If you don’t even know what you need to know, Screenrant has a useful referesher.
  • Vanity Fair has a six-season refresher that will give even casual fans the information they need to watch and maybe even enjoy the movie.

If you prefer to watch the series and have nothing else to do between now and the film’s premiere (or don’t mind waiting a few days to grab tickets), catch up online. Here’s where it’s streaming:

  • If you’re a PBS member and bless you for that, every single season of Downton Abbey is currently available to stream on PBS Passport.
  • Amazon Prime members can watch all six seasons of Downton Abbey on Prime Video. (Thanks, Jeff Bezos!)
  • For the Amazon agnostic, the series is also available for purchase via iTunes and Google Play.

About the author

Melissa Locker is a writer and world renowned fish telepathist.


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