"After three successful series and two Christmas editions of DOWNTON ABBEY, Dan Stevens decided not to renew his contract beyond the initial three years he had been contracted.
"We wish him every success for the future. Michelle Dockery will be returning to her role as Lady Mary in series four which begins production in February.
"Over the last three years, audiences across the world have been captivated by the ups and downs of Mary and Matthew's relationship, culminating in their wedding.
"Fans have enjoyed what has become a solid and loving marriage. 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.
"In the next series, alongside all the usual drama, comedy and romance involving the much loved cast of characters, viewers will see Mary adjusting to her life and attempting to move on without the man she loved."
Meanwhile, The New York Times summarizes the demise of Matthew this way:
"Just when things were going swimmingly for Matthew Crawley at DOWNTON ABBEY — that aristocratic character, played by Dan Stevens, was enjoying his long-delayed wedding to Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery); his wife had given birth to their first child, a son; he was delighted by his fancy new motorcar — an automobile accident he sustained in the show’s Christmas special resulted in his demise, and ended Mr. Stevens’s tenure on the popular period drama."
Stevens, who is currently starring with Jessica Chastain in a Broadway revival of “The Heiress” and has also been a judge of the Man Booker Prize, said that working on DOWNTON ABBEY had been “a very monopolizing job.”
“So there is a strange sense of liberation at the same time as great sadness,” he continued, “because I am very, very fond of the show and always will be.”