Downton Abbey Couples Ranked From Worst To Best

With "Downton Abbey: A New Era" set for a March 2022 release, many of us are excited to see our favorite characters again. The critically-acclaimed TV series ran for six seasons before the cast was reunited in 2019 for a highly-anticipated motion picture — and now they're back for a second movie. Maggie Smith, as Violet Crawley; Michelle Dockery, Mary; Elizabeth McGovern, Cora; Hugh Bonneville, Robert; Jim Carter, Mr. Carson; and many more beloved cast members are set to return for the second feature film (via IMDb).

The series and movie display the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and the servants working at their manor during the early 20th century. Through the years, the large cast experience historical events, scandals, tragedies, and, of course, romances. With the story continuing, many of us are revisiting the old episodes to brush up on the many characters and plot points. The best part about returning to the show is seeing our favorite couples come together, but we have to admit that some of the series' couples would have been better off apart. Today, we're taking a look at the best and worst of "Downton Abbey" couples.

14. Robert and Jane's secret, adulterous romance

This brief romance has to be ranked dead last. If you'll recall, in Season 2 of "Downton Abbey," The Earl of Grantham, played by Robert Crawley, has an affair with the new maid, Jane. Normally, we'd be all for a class-defying romance, especially in a series where that's so rare, but when it comes as a result of Robert cheating on his wife, Cora, it's unacceptable.

At the time, Cora is quite busy managing the estate, which they had turned into a convalescent home for soldiers. Apparently, his wife not being available for social gatherings or to entertain him becomes too much for Robert. When the recently-widowed Jane begins working at the estate, Robert takes an instant interest in her. After the two share a secret kiss, Jane offers to resign to make things more comfortable for him, but Robert refuses. The pair then has another brief encounter in Robert's room, but they're interrupted by Mr. Bates knocking on the door. This second tryst is an even greater betrayal because Cora is sick with the Spanish flu at the time. At least Robert feels guilty enough afterward that he allows Jane to resign and decides to help pay for her son's schooling.

13. Daisy and William's forced marriage

Although the relationship on "Downton Abbey" between the scullery maid, Daisy, and the footman, William, was cute at times, overall, it was uncomfortable to watch how it was forced on Daisy. William had been infatuated with Daisy from the beginning of the show, but Daisy is hesitant to return his obvious affection. However, when William goes to war, Mrs. Patmore pushes Daisy into accepting William's marriage proposal.

Then, when William is badly injured in battle, Daisy is again pushed into taking their relationship further and marrying him. Mrs. Patmore insists that, because William is dying, it would be wrong for Daisy to turn him down. Daisy still doesn't want to accept, even telling Mrs. Patmore, "I can't lie to him at the end. Don't make me be false to a dying man." But, despite her objections, Daisy is backed into a corner, feeling too guilty to reject William when he's dying. The pair marry in one of the Abbey's bedrooms while William is confined to bed, where Daisy stays with him until he dies.

12. Edith and Anthony's failed engagement

Lady Edith is one of the characters who grows the most throughout the six seasons of "Downton Abbey." She starts as spiteful and often jealous of her sister Mary, but she eventually matures and learns to forge her own path to happiness. Along the way, she has many failed attempts at love, one of them being her engagement to Anthony Strallan. 

Though Strallan is quite a bit older than her, Edith is excited at the prospect of their marriage. The actress who plays Edith, Laura Carmichael, said of Edith and Anthony's engagement, "She would have been the lady of the manor, and it would have been all of the things that she'd expected for her life." However, on their wedding day, Anthony decides to call it off at the altar. He claims to be doing it for Edith so that she doesn't "throw away" her life. The whole experience is humiliating and heartbreaking for poor Edith, who thought she was making the safe choice by marrying him.

11. Daisy's relationship with the 'passionate' Andy Parker

After being pushed into a relationship with William on "Downton Abbey," Daisy is fairly hesitant with love. But her relationship with footman Andy Parker seems a lot more two-sided than the one she had with William. Perhaps, that's because of how much her character grows. Of her character, actress Sophie McShera told Tribute Movies, "She was this girl who was terrified of everyone, and now she's this woman who's not afraid to speak her mind and knows what she wants ... and has desires and ambitions, and political opinions."

That growth is especially evident in the 2019 "Downton Abbey" film. Throughout the movie, Daisy is passionate about her politics, and, while she and Andy are a couple, they are not yet married. At the film's end, they are more in love than ever after Andy admits to breaking a pump in a jealous rage after seeing Daisy make eyes at a plumber. Daisy is impressed by his act of passion and thinks it means they are alike. But, we can't help but see it as a mark against Andy. Sure, we all get angry at times, but Andy takes to vandalism instead of communicating his feelings. While it's a step up from her relationship with William, it's hardly perfect.

10. Cora and Robert's up-and-down relationship

You may be shocked to see how low Cora and Robert are ranked on our "Downton Abbey" couples list. After all, the Lord and Lady Grantham are the longest-standing couple on the show, and they definitely share some sweet moments. However, the pair also has many low points throughout their relationship.

First, there was Robert's affair in Season 2 with the maid, Jane. Although Cora never discovers his betrayal, it left a sour taste with viewers. The pair comes close to infidelity again when Simon Bricker attempts to start an affair with Cora. Although Cora flirts with him, when Simon comes to her room uninvited, she is quick to tell him to leave. But that doesn't stop Robert from getting in a physical fight with Simon.

Perhaps, the most challenging part of their relationship comes after their daughter Sybil's death. During her labor, Dr. Clarkson recommends Sybil be taken to the hospital, which Cora agrees with, but, sadly, Sir Philip disagrees. Robert takes Philip's side. When Sybil then dies after her at-home birth, Cora is understandably distraught and blames her husband for not heeding the doctor's advice to take her to the hospital. Though the pair eventually overcome all their marital disputes, it's hard to forget these moments.

9. Isobel and Richard's second chance at love

Isobel Crawley enters "Downton Abbey" early in Season 1 when her son, Matthew Crawley, is named heir and the two move close to the manor. A highlight of the show for many fans is watching Isobel's back-and-forth with the Dowager Countess played by Maggie Smith. The pair is constantly on opposing sides of every issue and form a surprising but delightful friendship throughout their many disagreements.

However, between bickering with the Dowager and her many social causes, Isobel doesn't have time for many romantic interests. Her husband died before the show begins, and, for many seasons, it seems she would not find another love. However, after Matthew's tragic death, Isobel seems quite lonely. She eventually forms a friendship with Lord Merton, or Richard Grey, and, in Season 5, Richard plucks up the courage to confess his love and ask Isobel to marry him. His proposal is quite heartfelt, as he assures her he is not proposing because he's lonely or because a wife will make him comfortable but because he has fallen in love with her. Though Isobel does not accept at that moment, the pair does later marry.

8. Mary's second marriage to Henry Talbot

Throughout "Downton Abbey," Lady Mary never struggles to find willing suitors. However, after her husband Matthew's death, it isn't easy for her to find anyone she's interested in. Henry Talbot is the first man she is able to love after Matthew. "I think he ticks most the boxes, if not all of them. Even though Mary's in complete denial of that, to begin with," actress Michelle Dockery said in an interview with PBS.

Henry enjoys driving racecars, and the pair hits it off right away despite Mary's distaste for this hobby. When Mary explains that part of the reason she hates cars is that Matthew died in a car crash, Talbot says he understands. However, his response isn't all that sympathetic, as he immediately continues to push her to come watch him race. However, he does then confess his feelings for her and says she doesn't have to come to the racetrack if she doesn't want to. The pair marries at the end of Season 6. While they are a fine couple, they never quite seemed as good of a match as Mary and Matthew.

7. Mr. Molesley stood by Baxter despite her past

Mr. Molesley is another "Downton Abbey" character who changes a lot throughout the show's run. He starts as Matthew Crawley's butler, but when Matthew dies, he's demoted to a footman. Speaking about his character, actor Kevin Doyle told Tribute Movies, "He clearly is somebody who had ambitions as a young man, and none of them were met ... but ... as the series goes on, you begin to see him getting his just rewards."

Baxter is hired as a lady's maid for Cora in the fourth season. Much like Molesley, she's mild-mannered and kind, and it's obvious Molesley likes her from the beginning. However, Molesley's faith in Baxter is shaken when Thomas reveals the maid's criminal past. Thomas accuses Baxter of stealing from her former employer. Molesley expects Baxter to deny it or have some explanation, but Baxter admits she stole jewelry from her mistress. Molesley wrestles with understanding her past, but he continues to believe in Baxter's goodness and gives her the courage to confess her past to Lady Cora. Molesley and Baxter never do become an official couple, but many are hopeful the second movie will finally bring the pair together (via CBR).

6. Edith's long-deserving love with Bertie Pelham

After her unlucky engagement to Anthony Strallan on "Downton Abbey," it's only fair that Edith has a chance at real love. So, "Downton Abbey" fans were overjoyed when she meets Bertie Pelham. The actress, Laura Carmichael, described the pair meeting as "a really lovely start to their relationship." Bertie is also supportive of her work with the magazine and even helps her get it published, proving he cares about her passions. After working through the night together, he tells her, "You inspire me."

Bertie is quick to fall for Edith and to propose. However, the pair hits one bump in the road when, out of jealousy, Mary reveals that Marigold, whom Edith calls her ward, is actually Edith's child. Though he's at first upset by the deception, Bertie eventually forgives Edith, and the two become happily married. Actress Carmichael said, "I loved playing the wedding scene. It did feel like a very momentous day."

5. Rose and Atticus' interfaith relationship

Though she didn't join the "Downton Abbey" cast until Season 3, Lady Rose MacClare, played by Lily James, becomes an important fixture in the "Downton Abbey" family (via IMDb). Rose is kind-hearted but has a rebellious streak, and, though she eventually meets her match with Atticus Aldridge, their relationship is not without its trials.

Atticus is Jewish, and, while the young couple falls in love and gets engaged quite quickly, their interfaith relationship is met with pushback from both their families. Their parents exchange ignorant insults with each other at a dinner before the couple's wedding. One opponent to their marriage even tries to set Atticus up to look like he cheats on Rose at his bachelor party. But the truth eventually comes to light, and Atticus and Rose eventually happily marry. In a show without a lot of diversity, it's wonderful to see a romance that overcomes their differences and defies the norms of the time.

4. Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson's late, but true, love

If there's one thing that's certain, it's that "Downton Abbey" would not be the same without Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson. As the butler of Downton, Carson has a leadership position among the servants. He's very traditional, with a stubborn attitude. Likewise, Mrs. Hughes has her role in running the manor's day-to-day as the head housekeeper. Though she also knows how she likes things to run, she's less stern than Carson and often softens him.

They make a good team throughout the whole series, but their relationship remains professional for most of it. Speaking about the slow burn of the romance, Jim Carter, who plays Mr. Carson, said, "We got together at the speed of Galapagos tortoises." But, in the Season 5 finale, Carson finally proposes to Mrs. Hughes. The pair has many sweet moments, and, in a rare instance of sharing his emotions, Carson speaks about Mrs. Hughes to Mrs. Patmore, saying, "In my eyes she is beautiful ... I am happy and tickled, and bursting with pride that she would agree to be my wife." Soon after his conversation, the couple ties the knot in Season 6, Episode 3, for a satisfying conclusion for viewers who watched them fall in love for years. 

3. Anna and Bates' enduring love

Another "Downton Abbey" fan-favorite romance is between Anna, the lady's maid, and John Bates, the valet. The two meet at the beginning of Season 1 when Bates joins the staff at Downton. The actor, Brendan Coyle, described Bates as a "mysterious character" when he first arrives. He struggles with his position as a valet due to a leg injury, but Anna is quick to encourage him to stay, despite the pair not knowing each other well. From that point, the two slowly grow closer, and their friendship eventually blossoms into romance.

Though Anna and Bates are clearly in love, their relationship faces many roadblocks on the way to happiness, the first of which is the arrival of Bates' first wife, Vera. She tries to stop Anna and Bates' relationship, but things only get worse when Vera dies, and Bates becomes a suspect in the murder. Instead of letting that dissuade her love, Anna insists they get married before the investigation into Vera's death goes further. Soon after their marriage, Bates is arrested. It's once again proven how enduring their love is when Anna stands by his side until he's eventually released. Joanne Froggatt, who plays Anna, said, "She's a real trooper to stick by him, but that's because they're so in love."

2. Mary and Matthew's push-and-pull relationship

The will-they-won't-they relationship between Mary and Matthew Crawley is a driving force throughout the first three seasons of "Downton Abbey." Matthew is introduced in Season 1 when Lord Grantham's original heir dies on the Titanic, and Matthew Crawley, a distant cousin, becomes the heir of Downton. Matthew and Mary's relationship gets off to a rough start, as Mary is angered by the laws that make it so Downton cannot be left to her. The pair also comes from different worlds, but, despite those differences, their chemistry is undeniable.

It was wonderful to watch how they grow from barely tolerating each other to Mary confessing her feelings and Matthew proposing marriage. But, it's not smooth sailing from there. When Mary wavers in accepting his proposal, Matthew calls the whole thing off. In Season 2, it's clear they still have strong feelings for each other, but Matthew is engaged to Lavinia Swire. After Matthew starts to recover from war injuries, Lavinia sees Mary and Matthew kiss. When Lavinia dies of the Spanish flu, Matthew feels too guilty to rekindle a romance with Mary, and their love is blocked again. Then, at the end of Season 2, much to the excitement of longtime fans, Matthew proposes for a second time. Though Matthew sadly dies at the end of Season 3 after the birth of their first child, for many "Downton Abbey" lovers, Mary and Matthew's romance is the ultimate love story.

1. Sybil and Branson's class-defying love

Arguably the best couple in all of "Downton Abbey" is Lady Sybil and Branson, who arrives at Downton as the new chauffeur. A relationship between a lady and a servant would be a huge scandal, but Sybil is unconcerned with social rules. Though he works for an aristocratic family, Branson is an Irish socialist, and when Sybil becomes more involved in politics, the two connect. Branson is clearly charmed by Sybil's disregard for authority and looks proud of her when she shows off new pants to her disapproving family in Season 1, Episode 4.

They grow closer over time, and, in Season 2, Branson confesses his love for Sybil and tells her, "Truth is, I'll stay in Downton until you want to run away with me." But, while Branson pushes for their relationship to move forward, Sybil hesitates, as she knows choosing Branson could mean losing her whole family. Once the war is over, Sybil finds Branson, and they agree to run away together. Their romantic getaway is stopped by Mary and Edith, however, who convince Sybil to come back and tell their family. As expected, Lord Grantham reacts terribly when Sybil announces her intentions to marry someone from a lower class. But, after Branson refuses to take his bribe to leave, Robert eventually gives his blessing. Though it all ends tragically with Sybil's death, we'll always remember Sybil and Branson as a couple who cross social boundaries to be together.