More from EW
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UPSTAIRS: Earl and Countess of Grantham (Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern)
British law dictates that the Crawley family estate must go to a male heir, but Robert and Cora have only girls, which meant Downton's future was cast in doubt last season when the heir presumptive (and their daughter's potential suitor) died on the Titanic.
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UPSTAIRS: Lady Edith, Lady Mary, and Lady Sybil Crawley (Laura Carmichael, Michelle Dockery, Jessica Brown-Findlay)
Robert and Cora Crawley's three daughters long for a higher purpose — which they each find in different ways when World War I comes to Downton in season 2.
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UPSTAIRS: Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham (Maggie Smith)
Robert Crawley's meddling mother feels no pressure to stay out of her daughter-in-law's business, even though Downton Abbey could have faced financial ruin if it weren't for Cora's family fortune from America.
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UPSTAIRS: Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens)
The dashing third cousin once removed of the Earl of Grantham became the heir presumptive to Downton Abbey when Lady Mary's suitor sank with the Titanic. Though he becomes taken with Lady Mary, she doesn't realize she loves him until it's too late — so he finds a new fiancée in season 2.
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DOWNSTAIRS: Mr. Bates and Anna (Brendan Coyle, Joanne Froggatt)
He's an ex-soldier who was hired as the Earl of Grantham's valet despite his war injury; she's the adorable head housemaid who tends to Mary. The two quickly fell for each other in season 1 and seem destined for something more in season 2.
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DOWNSTAIRS: Thomas and O'Brien (Rob James-Collier, Siobhan Finneran)
The footman Thomas may not get along with the rest of the staff, but he found an ally in fellow misanthrope O'Brien, who serves as Cora's maid. Now the secretly gay Thomas — who left his post at Downton in season 1 — is a medic, while O'Brien continues to be a cranky schemer.
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DOWNSTAIRS: Mr. Carson (Jim Carter)
The crusty butler oversees the male staff as well as the food, wine, and dining room. An employee of Downton since he was a young man, Carson's an old-fashioned fellow who has a particular affection for feisty Lady Mary.
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DOWNSTAIRS: Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan)
As housekeeper, she's responsible for the upkeep of the home and all the female staffers — and is so committed to her job that she gave up a future with a nice gent during season 1 because it would have taken her away from Downton.