'Downton Abbey' kills off Matthew Crawley: Are you still mad?

dan-stevens-death-downton-abbey-matthew-u-still-mad.jpg Plenty of pop-culture stories from 2013 were fodder for public outrage. As the year comes to a close, Zap2it takes a look back at some of the biggest uproars and asks: U Still Mad?

On the Season 3 finale of "Downton Abbey," Matthew Crawley was quite suddenly killed off in the final frames after having been the focus of the estate's future -- and Lady Mary's affections -- for three seasons.

It came as a huge shock to viewers. Twitter was ablaze with tweets like:

  • "My heart is broken. I thought main characters only died in Game of Thrones."
  • "Ours is a house of mourning. I can't believe Matthew is dead."
  • "If Matthew is dead I absolutely refuse to watch the fourth season of Downton Abbey. I think I'm having a stress-induced stroke. "

That last tweet seemed to be a popular opinion online -- if Matthew is dead, I'm done with "Downton." And that's not all. Fans weren't just mad at the show, but they were mad at actor Dan Stevens. Tweets directed his way included:

  • "To British actor Dan Stevens: you have utterly crushed my spirit and ruined Sunday nights."
  • "My soul is dead - Dan Stevens: How could you do this to me?"

It was Stevens choosing to leave that forced the writers to kill him off. What else were they going to do? Re-cast him? Hardly. Keep him off-screen until "Downton" ends its run? That'd be tricky (and weird). Have him leave Lady Mary and newborn son George? No way. That would have been highly out of character and probably sent the "Downton" fans into even more of a murderous rage than his death did.

But now we're on the cusp of "Downton Abbey" returning for Season 4 in the United States. Creator Julian Fellowes and the actors are not shy about revealing that Lady Mary is in deep mourning for the first few episodes.

However, executive producer Gareth Neame has teased some beautiful scenes that have come out of last season's deaths (Lady Sybil also died, if you'll remember).

" Mary and Tom Branson and Isobel Crawley ... all reflect on their great, deep loves. ... It's a beautiful scene where they describe how deeply they loved their partners and before it gets maudlin, Isobel says, 'Aren't we the lucky ones?' and talk about just having known these deep loves," says Neame.

In fact, perhaps the deaths will breathe a bit of new life into the series. It's not as if Mary and Matthew were going to be happy on the show forevermore -- that doesn't make for a good drama -- so maybe it would have become tiresome to watch the creators continually throw new obstacles in their path.

Maybe Mary's recovery will prove interesting and eventually send her off on some new adventures. So, we have to ask -- are you still mad about Dan Stevens and Matthew's death?

Or are you back in the "Downton" fold and looking forward to Season 4? It premieres Sunday, Jan. 5 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on PBS.
Photo/Video credit: PBS