Spoiler Alert (unless you've been paying attention): Midway through season three it's already widely known that Dan Steven's pivotal character Matthew Crawley will not appear in Downton Abbey's fourth season. What isn't widely known (yet) is how he will exit. Taking into account the series' reliance on historical events as plot devices (the Titanic, World War I, the 1918 flu epidemic) and its increasing sudsiness, here are some probably-not-that-outlandish possibilities...
In New York during the market crash of 1929, he is flattened by a falling stock broker.
Runs off to Morocco with Thomas, Downton's evil gay footman.
Disowned when he loses the family fortune by investing in a silent movie studio just weeks before the first talkie, he is reduced to working as an extra in B pictures; ironically, mostly playing snooty English butlers.
Expires in a tragic Charleston accident.
Anna bludgeons him to death with her umbrella when an offhand remark by Daisy reveals that he murdered Bates' first wife.
Mrs. Patmore's first attempt at fugu goes horribly, horribly wrong.
Locked up in the Tower of London by Edward VIII after being caught red-handed in a compromising position with Wallis Warfield Simpson.
Shanghai'd by the Dread Pirate Roberts.
Rather than write him out of the show, the producers will periodically have a character ask, "Where's Matthew?" and another answer, "In the drawing room with . . ." then the name of some other character not onscreen at the moment.
Goaded by Ernest Hemingway into running with the bulls at Pamplona, he just isn't quite fast enough.
Autoerotic asphyxiation; albeit not his own.
Whatever happens, he is quickly replaced by his identical cousin from Brooklyn Heights. Wackiness ensues.