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Henry Talbot Should Be Shot {A Breakdown of Downton Abbey’s Greatest Villain}

by Kellyn Roth |
November 21, 2020

Henry Talbot should be shot.

In this essay, I will break down the reasons Henry Talbot of Downton Abbey should be shot, explain where and how many times I would like to shoot him, and further expound on my personal reasons for said gruesome murder.

Please read on if this is something you wish would happen, too. (No, this is not serious.) (And not meant to be taken seriously.)

As stated in my intro, I am one of many (I’m sure, though I’ve never heard it expressed like so) that believes that Henry Talbot, a character from the later series of the BBC drama Downton Abbey, deserves to be shot.

Specifically, I would like to drag him out into the street and repeatedly plaster his ugly, stringy, way-too-English body with bullet holes until he bleeds out.

Now, before we go any further, I would like to clarify that the actor is not related to Henry Talbot.

There is an actor — whose name I cannot remember and will not look up — who plays Henry Talbot.

Deepest respect. You had an unenviable part, English Actor Dude. Because no one is or ever will be Dan Stevens — and more than that, no one else will ever be Lady Mary’s husband. Not really.

Deepest respect to the actor, I say. It is simply the fictional character who I would like to kill. So, dear English Actor Dude, do not be offended. You done did good. Your character just shouldn’t exist.

Furthermore, they basically boxed you out of the movie, and I must say, even you should be grateful for that. Because we just didn’t want to see you on screen. No one did.

It’s not about you. It’s about the character.

Moving on.

Henry Talbot should be shot.

I’ve said that before, haven’t I? But have I expounded? No. I shall do so now.

Simply put, they introduced Henry Talbot to be a love interesting for Mary Crawley because … she needed a love interest. For unknown reasons. (Ick.)

Personally, I was fine with there being a host of “Mary’s men” and her never deciding to be with anyone. Perhaps she could’ve, I don’t know, actually deepened her relationship with her family — her child, for instance — instead.

Or perhaps she could’ve chosen one of her more interesting suitors. I liked Evelyn Napier and Tony Gillingham, and also that one dude with the pigs. Any of those options would’ve interested me!

Downton Abbey': Meet Julian Ovenden, who plays Mary's newest suitor | EW.com

Particularly the pig dude. Let’s all have a moment of silence for the pig dude. He was super cool and would’ve added so much to the show.

*a moment of silence*

I won’t even begin to get into my actual ship, though. I started to go into a rant about this here, but I confined it to a point below. And since most people don’t seem to like that ship, I’ll, um, keep it there.

Suffice to say my ship, listed below, is the only acceptable ship.

But instead, Downton Abbey brought forth Henry Talbot.

He was boring. He pretended he had real depth but simply … didn’t. He didn’t seem real — it was like he was copied and pasted from another show and suddenly was trying to fit in in a place he didn’t belong.

He was awkward. And uncultured. And he didn’t fit with Mary. He just didn’t.

Let’s talk about some of the ways I hate Henry Talbot most.

1: He and Mary have no chemistry. None.

Like, every time I look at them, I wonder why the creators of the show believed I would believe they really want each other???

Lady Mary Josephine Crawley & Mr. Henry Talbot, married August 1925, at Church of St. Michael … | Downton abbey costumes, Downton abbey fashion, Downton abbey movie

With Matthew and Mary, you could feel it. Down deep in your bones, you could feel that they wanted each other — physically, yes, but emotionally and intellectually, too.

Is Matthew Crawley Coming Back For Downton Abbey The Movie? | British Heritage

They fit. They fit so well! Almost from their first moment on-screen, there was this delightful play and chemistry.

Even when they hated each other (which, let’s face it, was often!), you could still feel it, y’all. I could feel it, and I’m the least emotionally sensitive person in the world.

Why Dan Stevens is Still Apologizing for 'Downton Abbey' - Dan Stevens on Matthew Crawley's Death

Talbot? No. You can’t feel it because there is nothing there. Mary and Talbot don’t work together.

Remember how cringey their reuniting-thingy scene was? It was so cringey. The truth was, Mary wasn’t “trembling at the touch of his hand.” She awkwardly was like, “Yeah, sure, I’m into you.”

But it didn’t ring true. Honestly, no matter what they said, no matter what the actors tried to portray (and talented they are), there is no way they have a passionate marriage. I refuse to accept it. I do.

Ah, pig guy, where are you when I want you!?!

2: He and Downton Abbey have no chemistry.

I’m a pragmatist at heart. I love a good romance, yes, but I also like a nice neat little bow.

I wanted Mary and Matthew to be together for the sake of Downton Abbey as much as for themselves (though I’d have been fine if they burnt Downton to the ground to be together but semantics).

But Henry Talbot and Downton Abbey? Downton Abbey and Henry Talbot? Hownton Tabbey, if you will? I don’t ship it. I so don’t ship it.

Like, can you see them together? Plainly not because he’s rarely at Downton Abbey, and they basically remove him from the movie altogether as if to say, “Henry Talbot is not worthy of the Motion Picture Event that is Downton Abbey.”

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I just can’t ship Hownton Tabbey, y’all. I can’t, and I won’t.

3: does anyone in the whole family think this is a good idea!?

I mean, they do eventually, but if they were to use their Thinky Hats (e.g. their brains which they seem to occasionally lose), they would not approve.

Robert must see that, if Mary marries, she should marry someone focused on protecting the estate — not on his own needs. Yes, she has Tom for that (more on that later), but Henry Talbot is no true partner for Mary.

Downton Abbey Characters |

Who could see that more than Carson? Carson must know this is horrible. That he won’t work for “his Lady Mary.” That their marriage is doomed for failure from the start.

Lady Mary:“Of course. You know me, Carson. I'm never down for long.” | Lady mary, Tv programmes, Downton abbey

Violet naturally doesn’t approve! Sure, she fakes it to make Mary “happy.” But she must be going senile in those moments, because anyone with even a bit of intelligence would see that Talbot could never make Mary happy.

The best quotes from Downton Abbey series 6 episode 4 | Downton abbey series, Downton abbey funny, Downton abbey quotes

I’m not going to go down the whole cast, as it is rather lengthy, but suffice to say, I don’t think anyone in the family should support this union.

Cora might not care but then she is American. You can’t trust Americans.

4: Everyone keeps telling me he’s perfect for Mary. Therefore, he is not.

During that whole last painful season (when, in my opinion, only Edith was really rewarded properly), everyone and their uncle is like, “WOW YOU AND HENRY SHOULD BE TOGETHER YOU’RE SO GOOD TOGETHER.”

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Like even Tom, who I would have previously considered utterly uncorrupted and amazing in every way, buys into it. (See below my possible thought process on this.)

Anyways, everyone is all like, “Gah, Mary, stop ruining your own happiness!” and “Gah, Mary, just marry Talbot already. It’s even in your name. ‘Mary’ him.”

Here’s my conclusion about this: it’s all a conspiracy.

As a Christian in the modern world, I consider it my duty — nay, my calling! — to be suspicious of anything anyone tells me.

Quotes about Downton (97 quotes)

The fact that every character in the show is telling me that Mary and Henry should be together CONCLUSIVELY proves without a SHRED of doubt that they are NOT meant to be together.

I don’t know how I can be any more reasonable or clear than that. I just don’t.

5: There is only one acceptable ship here, plainly.

That ship is Mary and Tom.

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Okay, okay, before you get all up in arms, hear me out. They would be really good together. And I cannot hear any other ship pre-movie.

After the movie, um … I really, um … I really love Tom/Lucy. But Lucy would’ve found herself another hunky Irishman if Tom were already married to Mary at that point.

Downton Abbey's Allen Leech says the movie gives Tom Branson the "ending he deserved"

So since the whole situation wouldn’t have come up, let’s just go ahead and ignore Lucy when it comes to this ship.

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Tom and Mary are perfect for each other. They share similar life experiences. They bonded over losing Sybil and then over being single parents and then over running the estate together.


They work together constantly, and in perfect sync, and just … they’re soooo good together.

Downton' writer admits he considered pairing Lady Mary with Tom - British Period Dramas

But the reality of this is iffy, right?


Speaking of the whole “Talbot is so good with you” conspiracy, Tom played into this, right? So he doesn’t want her if he’s suggesting she marry other men, right?


So there are a couple reasons Tom might hold back.

First of all, Mary is really cruel. So Tom probably didn’t want to deal with that drama of working through all her bitterness to find her soft side. He might’ve wanted to — might’ve seen that softness at times — but the show itself didn’t allow him to.

Also, with Mary being fairly traditional, she probably remembered that until 1907, it was illegal to marry your dead wife’s sister. So that might have caused issues with the family.

Still, who are Mary and Tom to be held back by antique traditions? Both of them, in their individual ways, have rebelled against the status quo again and again.

Tom Branson - Downton Abbey fan Art (40720938) - fanpop

What better way to make that final rebellion than to cause dear Violet to faint (and then after she recovers she’ll probably be super into it because, like me, Dame Maggie Smith would be sure to recognize a great ship when she saw one)?

And I’ll say this: Tom has the chemistry with Mary (just look at their little fights here and there), he’s good for her, he’s good for Downton Abbey, and they have just … so much in common?

Pin on Downton Abbey

Talbot isn’t good for Mary like Tom is. Tom is just such a good influence on her! They level each other out.

And yeah, maybe Mary doesn’t give Tom an outlet to express his political views. But who’s to say Lucy does?! Lucy literally works directly under a woman whose only job is to TAKE CARE OF THE QUEEN, soooo yeah? Royalist much?

And anyways, politics isn’t everything. Even Tom admitted it when he broke up with Miss Conceited McSnottypants.

Downton Abbey: Scoop on Sarah Bunting's future on the show in season 5 from Entertainment Weekly's Natalie Abrams

So just think about it. It works better than you’d imagine, doesn’t it?

Here’s further proof: the writer played with it but decided it wouldn’t work. For STUPID SHALLOW REASONS that I do not agree with. (See here.)

Like that would be the perfect character growth for Mary, my dear sir?! HOW DARE YOU!!?!?!?

But before I get carried away, let’s talk about my final reason for wanting to shoot Henry Talbot.


Like, look at that stupid face:

Matthew Goode Confirmed He Will Return as Henry Talbot in 'Downton Abbey' Movie - PureWow

How dare he be with my Lady Mary?!

Downton Abbey' movie: What's changed, what stays the same? (spoilers)

Look at the presumptuousness! I didn’t give you permission to be touching her, you jerk!

Henry Talbot — jodockerys: Lady Mary & Henry Talbot - Downton...

He has a stupid face. I don’t like it.

What the stars of 'Downton Abbey' look like in real life - Insider

And that’s it.

That is why I would like to riddle the bleeding carcass of Henry Talbot with shotgun shells.

So. Can we agree that Henry Talbot should be shot?

Further Reading

I advise reading this excellent article written while the last several episodes of this lovely show were still airing. It basically recaps all my frustrated feelings over the way they dealt with the last bit of Mary’s arc.

I also ~somewhat~ approve of this one which is not one, not two, but TEN people Mary could’ve married instead of Henry. Yeah. (NOTE: this does, somewhat tongue-in-cheekily, suggest Anna (& another woman), but … I forgive it because its heart was in the right place. To quote the article, “Those moments in front of the mirror were more intimate and meaningful than any scene Mary shared with Henry.” I quite agree.)




If nothing else, you can’t say that my blog is ever boring, exactly.

Have you ever watched Downton Abbey? Or will you ever watch Downton Abbey? If you have (or, I guess, if you haven’t), do you hate Henry as much as I do? WHY DOES HE EXIST THAT PASSIONLESS WELP OF A MAN GAH!

What do you think of my thoughts?

29 Responses

  1. I’ve never seen Downton Abbey and probably never will, but I believe I agree. Tom seems like a dear soul and poor Henry just needs to move on.

    Though I’ll believe and American over a Britt any day of the week ? ????

    1. Tom is dear! He’s super sweet, and Henry is … ick.

      I would’ve agreed back when this series was set, lol, but not anymore! 😛 Though to be fair I just don’t trust anyone regardless of their nationality these days.

      1. Hello,
        I read so many blogs and articles on the internet everyday but this one about Henry was UNBELIEVABLY accurate. I feel EXACTLY like this!
        The writers missed Tom ALL THE WAY to Downton!
        When you see Tom and Mary in a scene or picture…they remind me of Robert and Cora. IT WAS A PERFECT MATCH!!! He was on the same playing field, she had come to respect him, the family loved him!! What’s up with the writing? I can guarantee that a man wrote those episodes with Henry. haha
        …and yes you can’t beat Matthew!
        I’ve watched a lot of movies and tv shows in my time and It’s extremely rare to see someone not get with the right one in the show, the only thing I can think of that helps this is maybe the writers were trying to down play Mary’s character because of what Edith has gone through for so long, almost like making her shine over Mary. However, even if she got with Tom it wouldn’t outshine Edith at all!
        Well…it’s over and done with you can’t change stupidity (haha) but I agree I can’t stand his face. I thought he was just as snooty as she was.
        To add to all that, WHAT ABOUT THE PIG MAN!!! They were perfect too!?
        Also their characters literally disappeared from the show…it’s like…okay were done, everyone out of the pool! ??

        1. Thanks for your comment! I’m so with you! I miss this TV show, and I just wish it’d gone a different way. Some of the teasers for the new movie coming out at a bit hinted at trouble between Mary and Henry, and I was like, “… I wonder who could’ve called this …”

  2. I’ve never seen Downton Abbey but I *want* to, someday. When I’m considered old enough by the people who tell me what I can and cannot watch.

    I imagine I’d just get mad at the screenwriters for creating TEN possible love interests for Mary. Like, sheesh, people. I don’t even know ten guys my age that I’d consider being /friends/ with, let alone marry, okay?

    1. Totally! It’s quite good, though it is a slightly more adult show. Not necessarily in content so much as themes. So I get parents being hesitant.

      Right, though!? Mary always impresses me that way. But she is super rich!

  3. I’ve seen the first couple seasons of Downton Abbey! I never watched far enough to where they introduced another love interest after Matthew’s death, though. Can’t honestly say whether or not I want Talbot to be shot but now that you mention it, I do think Tom and Mary make a good ship.

    1. Yeahhh, I mostly rewatch the first few seasons for that reason. I just lose interest after maybe season 4. Or even a bit before that, honestly. I stopped watching for a long period of time after various events played out and I was like, “I’m done with this.” But then I had to come back later on. 😛

  4. Oh my word, this post was a riot! But, ick! Sorry Henry is such a sore spot. O.o I’ve never watched Downtown Abbey, but I think my eldest sister has. I do want to watch it though, now when I do I can have a nerf gun at the ready for the moment Henry Talbot comes on screen. XD

  5. This was hysterical! And I completely agree!! I’m glad I’m not the only one. I held out hope that Henry Talbot wasn’t really in the last movie because he died. How? I didn’t care as long as he was dead and she was free of the guy who just seems sleazy to me. I don’t see why they went and ruined the show with putting her with him. He’s such a bore.

    I really wanted a Tom and Mary ending. I agree, it would’ve shown how much Mary changed and how Tom really came into his own. I think they have short changed Tom. And the chemistry between them was undeniable. Julian Fellows robbed everyone of the ending the show deserved.

    1. YES! I quite agree with you. There’s just something sleazy about him that I can’t describe – and yet he doesn’t even have enough personality to be truly sleazy somehow?

      Yes! It would’ve been so sweet and shone loads of growth in both of them!

  6. That was hilarious! Pig dude!!! But I do love Matthew Goode (he makes for a very sexy vampire in A Discovery of Witches), that being said, NO ONE COULD EVER REPLACE DAN STEVENS’ Matthew – or Mary & Matthew’s relationship. But Dan wanted to leave. I wish he stayed! I ldo love stringy English bodies tho – Matthew Goode has a lovely one. No one can ever be as beautiful as Dan Steven’s tho…I agree with you on that.

      1. (Note: been informed by a troll that he was not the Ford v Ferrari guy, but I don’t keep track of such things. Still, thought it was worth mentioning as I wouldn’t want the inaccuracy up there.)

  7. Love your take on Henry Talbot! I have got to agree with you 100%. Henry does NOT belong with Mary and there was no on screen chemistry between them. Personally Henry seemed a male gold digger to me. I mean he even mentions to Mary about “what a catch” she is.

    But I felt it necessary to write and say that the person who is really at fault with the whole Henry Talbot story line is Julian Fellowes. He created this story line and, ultimately, it was his brilliant idea to hire Matthew Goode to play Henry. Matthew Goode can’t even be bothered to show up in the second movie. What cheek!

    I always wanted to see Mary end up with either Charles Blake (the pig dude 🙂 or Evelyn Napier. I think that Charles Blake would have been a great choice. I could never see Mary with Tom though. Love Tom but I couldn’t seem them crossing the line to become lovers.

    In the end it is my opinion that we all need to direct our hatred of Henry Talbot/Matthew Goode to Julian Fellowes who created this character and then matched him with Mary. Maybe he could fix this horrible story line with another car accident?

    1. Horrible as another car accident would be for Mary, I am very tempted to say that’d be a good idea. I’d be all too happy to have Henry Talbot out of Mary’s life.

      And yes! Charles Blake would’ve been a great addition! They were super fun together.

What do you think of my thoughts?

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