5 sci-fi twists that would make Downton Abbey more interesting

Not that anyone asked, but I thought Downton Abbey could be improved by adding some elements from popular science fiction. Because sci-fi improves everything right?

Here are 5 sci-fi twists that would make Downton Abbey more interesting.

A dinosaur visits Downton Abby

It’s in the Matrix

Downton Abbey and everything shown on screen so far isn’t actually in the past, it’s in the future. It’s all a holographic projection. The scenery is pixels and polygons, and the inhabitants are oblivious and living the life they’re expected to. Whereas in reality, they’re being farmed by giant robots who’ve taken over the planet, and are fed an alternate reality where they can worry about piffling little things like dressing correctly for dinner, and making sure tea-time isn’t late.

ITV could start gently teasing this concept, so that the plot twist isn’t a complete shocker when it’s revealed, by showing a few glitches here and there, perhaps for a split second Lady Crawley’s face becomes pixellated, or the exterior of Downton changes into a wireframe model between scene changes, or perhaps Lady Edith’s walking animation doesn’t load, leading her to slide around the house looking like a statue, like in a crappy computer game.

The revelation of this plot twist would likely split the Downton Audience in half, but could lead to some interesting plots:

  • The major characters try to investigate the nature of the Matrix – although likely won’t even be able to understand it, so accept their predicament and continue living as normal.
  • Knowing that life is a lie, some of the characters rebel. The cooks and maids start doing whatever they want and throw all the upper class out of the house. Tom Branson thinks he can fly so jumps off Downton’s tallest point, Daisy turns to drink and starts swearing at everyone, and Mrs Patmore just runs around hitting people with a rolling pin.

Perhaps we’ll be shown this in the very last episode of Downton, where the camera will pan up and through the clouds, and out through the head of a woman laying in a pod, a man who looks just like Lord Grantham. In adjacent pods are the other characters, crouched into foetal position, each with tubes and wires connected to them.

Downton is a spin-off of Primeval

Another one of ITV’s more palatable TV shows was Primeval. It was about a team of people chasing Dinosaurs that have escaped through fractures in time. Not many people know this, but Downton is actually in the same timeline as Primeval, and any episode now we’ll see Abby Maitland or Connor Temple arriving at Downton from the future through a time anomaly, chasing after a rampaging T-Rex.

They explain that Downton is actually geographically located in an area of temporal handwavium, which makes it a hotbed for the anomalies. Sure enough, these cracks in time start to form, and very soon there are velocirapters storming the kitchens, a triceratops ramming the front door down, and Mr Bates has been eaten by an iguanodon. Lord Grantham is obviously very annoyed because it’s ruined the outside dinner party they had planned.

Mr Carson is the last Human alive

The entire Human race is dead, except for one man. Lonely and depressed, some aliens have taken pity on him and given him something to do. In a computer simulation (similar to above) Mr Carson is given a reality where he’s kept busy for the rest of his life, so he doesn’t have to contemplate the horror of being the last man alive, and die alone.

Surrounded by synthetic creatures (possibly robots) who look like they have their own agendas, whilst actually their entire purpose is to keep Carson busy. Leaving things untidy, creasing suits, dirtying the fine silver, giving him lots of butlery stuff to do.

Perhaps the aliens who run this counterfeit reality are studying him, like a museum piece demonstrating a bygone civilization.

Old Lady Grantham is actually Lady Mary from the future

Downton Abbey perfectly demonstrates a period of time that simply doesn’t exist any more. They’ve made references to it countless times that “times will change”. At some time in the future, Lady Mary will discover a time machine and use the opportunity to go back and live in this heyday, even witnessing her own birth and then growing old in Downton Abbey. Of course she’ll have to change her name to Violet, the Dowager Countess of Grantham, but she’s so cunning nobody will notice.

It’s a training simulation for aliens

Remember that episode where Daisy unzipped her Human mask and exposed her green-skinned alien face? No, well it hasn’t happened yet, but it will. Downton isn’t in idylic Yorkshire at all, it’s on a planet far, far away that’s been terraformed to look and feel exactly like Earth, in preparation for the invasion.

These green-skinned creatures know that to conquer their enemies, they have to walk, talk and act like them. Understand them. It makes it easier to invade and conquer all Humans if you’ve got someone on the inside. Wearing a Human suit.

Remember that episode of Voyager where Species 8472 had built a mock Starfleet Academy for the same purpose? It’s the same as that, but the aliens have their information about Human society a hundred years out of date.

This would lead to some interesting storylines:

  • One of the aliens (perhaps Daisy) thinks Humans are “quaint” and decides she doesn’t want to be part of the invasion. She’s forced out of the “training area” but she puts up a fight, blasting more green-skins that approach Downton with her plasma bazooka for trying to take her away.
  • Aliens beaming down to modern Earth dressed like maids, expecting to fit right in, then getting confused when people don’t take them seriously.

Can you think of any other ways to improve Downton Abbey with science fiction jiggery pokery? Let us know in the comments below.

  • Steven Lyle Jordan

    Another thought: Lord Grantham is actually Anthony Laird, a teenager who once read a book called Downton Abbey and loved it. But because of Anthony’s incredible mental powers, he’s tricked a number of people into his suburban house, converted by his mind into a British manor; and they all must now act out his fantasy of being a Lord with family and servants or risk Anthony turning them into Greek statues, or banishing them to “America.”

  • Cathryn Cade

    Thomas the dishonest footman is actually an alien mastermind, there expressly to cause trouble amongst the gentry, the better to destabilize the local economy for takeover … and Bates is his unwilling ally, too honorable to just shoot him, too bedazzled by What’sHerName the maid to admit he’s really a green tower of slime.
    My fave is the Lady Mary/Lady Violet recall you came up with. They are definitely the amoral, entitled pair of the series.

  • If the evil maid of Lady Grantham and her son get eaten by the dinosaur then I’m so down!!!