Downton Abbey Spoiler Alert: ITV Addresses Cast Member Departure

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With Downton Abbey Season 3 not even premiering in the U.S. until January 6, ITV has come out and revealed a MAJOR plot point from the Christmas special that just aired overseas.

WARNING: Read no further if you wish to remain in the dark...

Mary and Matthew at the Altar

Matthew Crawley is dead.

Considering Dan Stevens' desire to leave the program after three seasons, ITV has released a statement in which it spoils Matthew's impending fatal car crash for American viewers and explains why it chose such a dark path:

“Over the last three years, audiences across the world have been captivated by the ups and downs of Mary and Matthew’s relationship. It is for this reason that the producers decided Matthew and Mary could not simply be estranged or parted, resulting in his untimely and tragic death at the end of the Christmas episode.”

His contract up, Stevens recently told Great Britain's The Telegraph that he simply "wanted a chance to do other things."

The post-Season 3, pre-Season 4 Christmas special in which Matthew dies will air at the end of 2013 in the U.S.

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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