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Top 10 SAVAGE Dowager Countess of Grantham Moments

VO: Emily Brayton WRITTEN BY: Garrett Alden
Burns have never been so politely worded. For this list, we’ll be going over the sly insults and putdowns delivered by the Dowager Countess of Grantham, Violet Crawley, on “Downton Abbey.” Note that we’ll be limiting ourselves to her sassiest lines, leaving out the more innocently funny moments like when she reveals that she doesn’t know what a weekend is. Our list includes “Avoiding People,” “Reforming Zeal,” “Better Than Nothing,” “Virtues of the English,” “Put That in Your Pipe,” and more! Join MsMojo as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Most Savage Dowager Countess of Grantham Moments Downton Abbey.

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Top 10 Most Savage Lady Violet Moments on Downton Abbey

Burns have never been so politely worded. Welcome to MsMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 most savage Dowager Countess of Grantham of “Downton Abbey” moments.

For this list, we’ll be going over the sly insults and putdowns delivered by the Dowager Countess of Grantham, Violet Crawley, on “Downton Abbey.” Note that we’ll be limiting ourselves to her sassiest lines, leaving out the more innocently funny moments like when she reveals that she doesn’t know what a weekend is.

#10: The Haircut Review

Few people are safe from Lady Violet Crawley’s sharp-tongued remarks, and that includes her family. Of course, one of her favorite targets for ridicule is anything modern or different from her own upper class lifestyle, and in the changing times of Downton Abbey, that means there’s plenty of opportunity for her highbrow zingers. The two dovetail when her granddaughter Mary gets a new haircut, which is shorter than most women wore it at the time, in an effort to get the attention back on her. This prompts Violet to sassily tell her that she’s surprised it’s her and that she thought a man was wearing her clothes. Ouch!

#9: Making Branson Behave

Some major thematic elements in “Downton Abbey” include the struggle and differences between social classes, as well as the seemingly unending scandals involving the Crawley family and their servants and staff members. Both come together when the social chauffeur, Tom Branson, becomes involved with the youngest Crawley daughter, Sybil, who he eventually marries. To ensure that Branson doesn’t stand out too much from the upper class crowd at a party, the Countess claims that she’ll make sure he behaves like everyone else by threatening to hold his hand against a radiator. And while it may’ve been in jest, the Dowager is just savage enough to make us believe that she might actually do it.

#8: “Avoiding People”

Of course, Violet Crawley’s prickly nature isn’t just reserved for her immediate family. She often gets involved in the social life of her frenemy, Isobel, and isn’t afraid to throw a jab in the process. When advising her on an apparently unwelcome suitor, the Dowager Countess tells her that [“There’s nothing simpler than avoiding people you don’t like. Avoiding one’s friends – that’s the real test.”] While much of her dialogue can come across like something Oscar Wilde might have said, this line feels especially inspired by the famed writer’s distinct style. Besides being an excellent witticism, and a veiled insinuation that maybe Isobel likes her suitor more than she lets on, the quote gives some nice insight into the Dowager’s thoroughly introverted nature.

#7: Telephonic Torture

As we’ve established, the Dowager takes none too kindly to change, and that includes new or unfamiliar technology. One of her first encounters with a telephone sees her arguing with an operator while trying to reach a minister. Although ostensibly used for communication, Violet wonders whether the telephone is actually an instrument of torture, given the difficulties she has in making her intentions clear to the person on the other end of the line. We may be living around a century later, but we’re inclined to agree with her assessment, at least sometimes.

#6: An Unfamiliar Sensation

Alongside her impeccable wit and resistance to new experiences, the Dowager Countess also has an implacable attitude. Violet Crawley is supremely confident in herself and her opinions. While this can be admirable sometimes, it also makes her rather inflexible and remote. After firing one of her servants, whom she believes has stolen from her, Violet is called out by Isobel when she is proven to have been wrong. The Dowager Countess refuses to apologize and when her reluctance to admit mistakes is pointed out by Isobel, Violet denies that she’s ever been wrong. Granted, she’d already apologized off-screen to the boy and given him his job back, but it’s still a great moment.

#5: “Put That in Your Pipe”

Quite the opposite of our last entry, one of the things Violet loves most is proving others wrong. When Isobel’s son Matthew asks Violet’s granddaughter Mary to marry him, Mary dithers; as, if her own mother has a boy, Matthew will no longer be the heir to Downton Abbey. Although Violet advises that she accept him before the child is born, showing a surprisingly romantic side, Violet’s daughter Rosamund convinces Mary to delay. When Isobel accuses Violet of influencing Mary’s decision or lack thereof, Violet takes great joy in telling her she’s wrong; adding the early 20th century English equivalent of telling her to “stick it where the sun don’t shine.”

#4: “Virtues of the English”

One of the few people who can regularly manage to match wits with Violet is Martha, the mother of her daughter-in-law, Cora. Violet always takes the opportunity to insult her whenever she visits, and while she has mocked her appearance on occasion, more often than not she uses Martha as a target to vent her feelings towards Americans. A particularly backhanded compliment she gives her, and by extension Americans, occurs when Violet claims to be looking forward to Martha’s visit, since being around her reminds her of “the virtues of the English.”

#3: “Better Than Nothing”

Isobel makes another appearance on our list, but then again, this frenemy is the person who brings Violet’s sassy side out most often. The Dowager strictly adheres to the social niceties, even with someone she often disagrees with… except when it suits her. One such occasion arises when she is entertaining Mary’s godfather for lunch. With almost no one to accompany her, since most of the family is otherwise occupied or elsewhere. Violet invites Isobel. Violet muses that she hopes she can manage to invite Mary’s sister Edith too, to which Isobel responds that she herself alone is hardly a substitute for the rest of the Crawley family. To this, Violet agrees rather too quickly and with plenty of sass.

#2: “Reforming Zeal”

Okay, just one more moment of the Dowager Countess throwing shade at Isobel! Some of their most frequent points of contention stem from Isobel’s modern, progressive attitude, and her willingness to challenge Violet when so many others are not. When Isobel suspects that the village has been giving Violet a yearly award at the summer flower show due to her station rather than merit, she tries her hardest to get the best bloom award instead. The Dowager gives her a shady compliment by telling her she admires Isobel’s desire to improve everything she encounters. Although Isobel takes it as a genuine compliment, Violet’s snarky rejoinder indicates its intent was otherwise.

Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

Thoughts on Jazz


“Put to Bed with No Supper”

Mistaking Lord Grantham for a Waiter

On Vulgar Jokes

#1: “Do You Promise?”

For all her bluster, deep down, Violet Crawley loves her family dearly and does care about their happiness. When Mary becomes involved with the morally dubious newspaper magnate, Sir Richard Carlisle, Violet shows some definite dislike for him. [“I don't dislike him. I just don't like him, which is quite different.”] Oh, well, excuse our error! When Mary finally does wise up and break it off with the creep, Sir Richard leaves in a huff, telling the Dowager Countess that he’ll be leaving and that he probably won’t see her again; leading to a short and epic, harsh response. Just three words, and Violet proves her status as the countess of shade.

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