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11 most devastating Downton Abbey moments, ranked 

Tissues at the ready!

Emmy Griffiths

Downton Abbey has been a beloved staple on our screens for many years now - with both the TV series and the film being a huge hit among viewers. Now that the much-anticipated movie sequel is in the works, we have taken a look at the most heartbreaking moments of the series... 

MORE: Will Lily James be in the Downton Abbey sequel?

Lady Edith is left at the altar

Lady Edith finally thought that she was getting the life that she wanted in marrying Sir Anthony Strallan. However, their wedding celebrations go up in smoke when Strallan backs out of the wedding.

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At the time, she said: "I’m a useful spinster, good at helping out. That is my role." Of course, she eventually finds happiness and does marry - but it didn't make her disappointment hopes any less heart wrenching to watch!

Matthew humiliates Molesley 

Before Matthew truly accepted that he was Lord Grantham's only male heir, he certainly went through a stage of denial where he didn't want anything to do with the upper-class society he found himself in - including having poor old Molesley as a valet. After mocking Molesley's career, he realises his mistake, apologises and begins to respect his new valet's work. That being said, we'll never forget Molesley's stricken reaction to Matthew's criticism. 

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Bates tries to fix his limp 

In a heartbreaking episode, Bates attempts to fix his limp, which he had ever since being injured in the Boer War, by buying a fraudulent 'limp corrector'. The corrector is hugely painful, and Bates ends up throwing it away - but his hopefulness that it would work is simply heartbreaking to watch. 

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Thomas Barrow thinks Jimmy likes him 

Thomas might be a villain most of the time, but his struggle with being a gay man in the 1920s in genuinely harrowing to see, particularly when he  finally thinks he has found a partner in the new footman, Jimmy. However, he dramatically misreads the situation, leading to him believe that he needs to resign from his position at Downton with no reference after ten years of work.

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Lady Mary grieves for Matthew 

As a steadfast, blunt character, seeing Lady Mary fall apart after Matthew's death was truly devastating, especially when she fell apart in her father figure Carson's arms after he comforts her and gave her "a draft of self-confidence" that she can continue without her husband.

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Mrs Patmore thinks she is going blind 

Although it was used for comedic purposes in season one (who can forget the Crawleys serving a salty pudding to Sir Anthony Strallan?), Mrs Patmore have a breakdown over losing her eyesight was genuinely very touching, as was when she had to stay in hospital alone during her eye surgery. Fortunately, everything went well and she was back to her old, bossy self in no time! 

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Cora loses her baby 

Thanks to some meddling by O'Brian (who very much regretted her actions), Cora loses her baby after slipping on soap left by her lady's maid after taking a bath. The most heartbreaking moment had to be when Lord Grantham confirmed that they had been expected a son before breaking down in tears. Same, Lord Grantham. Same. 

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William dies after getting his final wish to marry Daisy 

Even years after this episode aired, it still leaves us reaching for the tissues! William and Matthew are caught up in the same explosion in WWI, with William's injuries being too severe to recover. As such, his final wish is to marry Daisy so that she can receive a widow's pension, resulting in a devastatingly sad bedside ceremony. 

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Anna is assaulted 

In a shocking moment in the show's history, viewers were left reeling when Anna is assaulted by Mr Green. After being found by Mrs Hughes, she keeps her attack a secret from her husband, Mr Bates, in case he goes after the visiting valet. 

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Lady Sybil dies after giving birth 

Shortly after giving birth, Dr. Clarkson was proven right all along when poor Sybil suffers from eclampsia and dies surrounded by her shocked family and devastated husband, Tom. As the kindest, more caring Crawley sister, her death left fans horrified at the show's dark turn. 

MORE: Everything we know so far about the Downton Abbey film sequel

MORE: Downton Abbey actor set to star in exciting new movie - see the trailer

Speaking about leaving, Jessica Brown Findlay previously told Radio Times: "I didn’t want to fall into my comfort zone too much. My contract was ending and I was unsure about signing away another year. Leaving me terrified, and that’s what made me want to do it.

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Matthew dies in a Christmas Day car crash 

We thought we'd settle in for a sweet episode of Downton on Christmas Day when our fictional world was turned upside down at Matthew's shocking death. The fan favourite had just welcomed a baby boy with Mary, and was joyfully driving back to the house when he swerved to avoid a vehicle, and was killed instantly. Happy Christmas, everyone! 

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WATCH: Our saddest Downton Abbey moment 

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