The Reason Lady Sybil Crawley's Death In Downton Abbey Was Planned All Along

For fans of beloved period drama "Downton Abbey," Lady Sybil Crawley's death came as a deeply saddening surprise. As the only member of the elite aristocratic family with a more modern, liberal, fair-minded view of the world who dared to break tradition and all class and political laws of the time to love and marry an Irishman who worked as her family's chauffeur, Lady Sybil stood as a beacon of rebellion and love and equality in a stuffy, old fashioned family (via Screenrant).

In fact, countless social media posts, blogs, and other internet chatterings were dedicated to this feisty, fictional woman. In 2017, the official Twitter page for "Downton Abbey" asked fans to share their love of this special young lady, saying, "Lady Sybil truly was a ray of sunshine. Tell us, your favourite memory of Sybil?" The responses were numerous and demonstrated just how many truly fantastic moments the character had. 

One fan replied, "Her wearing a trousers outfit for the first time!" while another said, "When she went to nursing school," and a third recalled, "When she helped Gwen get a secretary job" (via Twitter). Lady Sybil was constantly pushing the envelope for what was deemed acceptable for a woman of her time and her status in an effort to make the world a better place. In fact, in a later episode, the character Gwen recalled Lady Sybil by saying, "Her kindness changed my life" (via Twitter). 

It's safe to say, both her fellow fictional characters and her fans loved her. 

Fans were heartbroken by the death of Lady Sybil

Given the popularity of Lady Sybil Crawley, played by Jessica Brown Findlay, when the character died in childbirth at the end of Season 3, fans were heartbroken. She had won so many victories that it felt she was taken from the family (and from fans) far too soon. 

Fans mourned the loss on social media, saying things like, "Sybil was my favourite character... Why did you have to kill her off ?! So sad..." and "SYBIL WAS MY FAVORITE AND I LOVE DOWNTON ABBEY WITH MY WHOLE HEART" (via Twitter). 

Just after the episode in which Sybil's death occurred, Daily Mail published an article with a headline that read: "Millions of Downton Abbey Viewers in Mourning after Lady Sybil's shocking death from eclampsia." While viewers in the U.K. had already seen the episode long before viewers in the U.S. spoilers were somehow kept to a minimum, meaning U.S. fans were taken by surprise by the tragedy. At the time, Washington Post's political reporter Chris Cillizza, tweeted: "That Lady Sybil thing really shook me up. Damn." Meanwhile, Canadian chef Pamela Foster said, "America now joins the UK to comfort each other in grief, mourning the loss of Lady Sybil."

But while viewers may have been shocked to see the youngest of the Crawley sisters ripped from the storyline of their favorite show, it turns out the writers, showrunners, and actors saw it coming a long, long time in advance.

Why Lady Sybil's death was planned in advance

Julian Fellowes opened up to Vanity Fair about some of her writing challenges, saying, "Jessica had said she was going to leave right from the beginning. She said, 'I'm doing three years, then I'm leaving.' So that was all worked out." Since leaving Downton Abbey, Jessica Brown Findlay has added several credits to her IMDb profile, including appearances in other television shows like The Outcast, Harlots, and Castlevania, just to name a few. She has also appeared in multiple movies.

While the actress had lofty ambitions for 2020, the pandemic put a damper on those, but she's found both hobbies and humor in the meantime. In an interview with The Telegraph, Brown Findlay said she's spent her time in quarantine cooking and knitting, and while she's very good at cooking, she admits she's not at talented at making sweaters, joking, "Everyone's going to be getting really terrible jumpers from me this Christmas." She says her goals for 2020 had been "to do more dancing, travel more, and work really, really hard," and she joked that clearly, the powers that be had other plans. "Whoever's up there was like, 'Ha!'" she laughed. We relate, girl. We relate.

What Jessica Brown Findlay is doing now

But now that the world is starting to turn in a new direction, the actress has her sights set on new projects, and her fans can look forward to seeing many new things from her. According to her IMDb page, she landed the role of Narrator in a mini-series titled "Whatever After" that is currently in post-production, and she also portrays a character named Lea in a film titled "The Hanging Sun," which is also in post-production.

Currently, she is filming multiple episodes of an upcoming television series called "Life After Life." While it remains to be seen whether any of her future roles will capture the undying love of audiences the way Lady Sybil did, we certainly have faith that will be the case; after all, while Sybil's beloved kindness and humor were written into the character, it was Brown Findlay who brought those traits to life. We look forward to seeing what this stunning actress does next!