The best lines from "Downton Abbey" characters and actors

LOS ANGELES -- The costumes were stunning. The manor house was sublime. And the "Downton Abbey" cast members made the most of their characters.

But it was the smart dialogue crafted by Julian Fellowes, who wrote every episode, that put the drama in a TV class of its own. The sixth and final season begins Sunday on PBS' "Masterpiece" (9 p.m. EST).

Here we revisit some of the best lines, paired with choice quotes from the actors who uttered them. In interviews, it turns out, they didn't need help from Fellowes to make an impression.

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Lady Mary Crawley:

"Honestly, papa, Edith is about as mysterious as a bucket."

Michelle Dockery:

"On first reading Mary in the first episode, she came across as a very cold person and very much a snob, and I think up until the incident with Pamuk, with the Turkish character. Mary became a lot more vulnerable from then on. ... I felt like she softened a little more, because something had actually happened to her."

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Violet, dowager countess of Grantham, and Isobel Crawley:

Violet:

"You are quite wonderful the way you see room for improvement wherever you look. I never knew such reforming zeal."

Isobel:

"I take that as a compliment."

Violet:

"I must've said it wrong."

Maggie Smith (Violet):

"I haven't actually seen it ('Downton Abbey') ... I don't sit down and watch it."

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Robert, Earl of Grantham:

"There is nothing more ill-bred than trying to steal the affections of one's dog."

Hugh Bonneville:

"These days, we have relationships that are forged, consummated and brought to an end within 24 hours. Back then, the pace of life was slower, and I think we like to breathe out and enjoy that world - albeit for only an hour or so, on a Sunday night."

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Matthew Crawley to Lady Mary:

"You've lived your life, and I've lived mine. Now it's time we live them together."

Dan Stevens:

"It's nice that people care, I suppose, about the show, but yeah, you know ... I had to do what I had to do." (On his decision to leave after season three.)

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John and Anna Bates:

John:

"Do you never doubt, for just one minute? I wouldn't blame you."

Anna:

"No, and before you ask, I don't doubt that the sun will rise in the east, either."

Joanne Froggatt:

"There's always up and downs for Anna and Bates. It's not straightforward. They definitely have moments of happiness, but they're not easily attained."

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Mrs. Patmore:

"Daisy, what's happened to you? I said you could go for a drink of water, not a trip up the Nile."

Lesley Nicol:

"Viewers are looking for mistakes (in the kitchen). They are!"