Thomas Barrow is the current butler, succeeding Charles Carson at Downton Abbey, having formerly worked there as junior footman, first footman, head valet, and under-butler, as well as serving in the army as a Corporal and later Lance Sergeant. He arrived at Downton in 1910, indicating in 1920 he had worked there for ten years.
Little is known of Thomas's family, but he does tell Sarah O'Brien and later Jimmy Kent that his father was a clockmaker. As a result, he apparently has a natural affinity with clocks, saying that he grew up with them and "understands" them. O'Brien calls him the house's clock expert. He has worked at Downton for over 10 years, and as a footman used to wind all the clocks in the house. He also appears to be quite talented at cricket, Lord Grantham stating as much, noting he got most of the house team's runs in the 1919 match. He mentions to Bates that he has a cousin in Bombay. He is a homosexual, and once had an affair with the Duke of Crowborough, while the Crawleys were in London. In 1922, he brought his acquaintance Phyllis Baxter into the house to serve as a lady's maid to Lady Grantham. It is only in 1924 that it is revealed that Baxter was a friend of his sister when they were growing up. This is also the first mention of Thomas having a sister, thereby shedding some more light on his background. When Thomas lies about his father's illness in order to go to London to receive treatment to cure his homosexuality, Baxter tells him she feels sorry, as his father was always nice to her. Thomas replies bitterly that he was never very kind to him, implying a difficult relationship with his father.
At the beginning of the series, Thomas the footman has been working toward being a valet, and the position of valet to Lord Grantham looks like it will be his, when suddenly Lord Grantham hires John Bates, who has not been a valet before and walks with a cane. Thomas and Sarah O'Brien, Thomas's friend and Lady Grantham's lady's maid, begin plotting to get John Bates fired, and they try to sabotage his work.The Duke of Crowborough comes to Downton, ostensibly to pay his condolences for the deaths of James and Patrick Crawley on the Titanic. In actuality, Thomas had written to the Duke to advise him that Robert Crawley will contest the entailment, and Mary Crawley will be a wealthy heiress. The Duke wants a wealthy wife (to aid his financial discomforts) and Thomas wants to be hired as his personal valet. When this information proves inaccurate and does not work, Thomas tries to resort to blackmail, with love letters the Duke had sent him. It is revealed that they had an affair (what the Duke calls a summer dalliance) when the Crawleys were staying in London. However, the Duke steals his letters back from Thomas and burns them right before Thomas's eyes.
The new heir, Matthew Crawley, and his mother, Isobel Crawley, arrive. A local man, Molesley, is hired to serve as butler and also as valet to Matthew. Thomas is furious that he was not offered the job.
Thomas later mistakenly makes an advance on Kemal Pamuk, a Turkish envoy who is staying as a guest for a hunt, but Kemal slaps his hand away and says he will tell Lord Grantham if Thomas does not tell him where Mary Crawley's room is. Thomas agrees and takes him to her room that night. The next day he is shocked to find Kemal dead in his own bed. He is one of the few people who knew that Kemal was in Mary 's room the night he died, but it is uncertain if he knows that he died there. He does relate what he knows to O'Brien.
Thomas realizes that his fellow footman William has feelings for kitchen maid Daisy and is planning to ask her to go to the fair. Thomas maliciously asks her first. He shows her how to do the latest dances. Daisy has a crush on Thomas, and Mrs Patmore tries to tell her that Thomas isn't a ladies man, but naive Daisy does not understand why that isn't a good thing. Thomas also makes a comment about William's mother who has died, which results in a fight.
Thomas remains extremely annoyed that he had been passed up for the position of Lord Grantham's valet by "Long John Silver", which is what he calls John Bates when talking with Miss O'Brien about the new valet. He is always at odds with John. Bates catches him stealing wine and threatens to tell Mr Carson, unless Thomas stops insulting William. Thomas and O'Brien attempt to get him fired for theft by planting one of Robert's snuff boxes in his room, but Anna warns him, and he replaces it without informing them. They later try accusing him of being the one who has been stealing wine. He and Ms O'Brien get Daisy to lie to Mr Carson. But Daisy feels guilty and admits that she lied, and then later when Molesley sees Thomas "replacing" Carson's wallet, that he pretends to have found on the floor, back into his jacket, Carson tells Lord Grantham, and they agree to fire Thomas.Thomas realises that his days are numbered, so he has pre-emptively asked Dr Clarkson about joining the army medical corp., to train as a medic, which will also keep him out of active military service as war is looming. He hands in his notice, and everyone is happy to not have the drama of dismissing him.
The First World War (called the Great War) is going on and Thomas, who has enlisted in the army as a medic, is in the trenches, alongside Matthew Crawley.
Despite being a medic, Thomas finds himself still under fire on the front lines. He sees a fellow medic, just beside him, get shot in the head and die. He holds a lighter above the trench wall one night in order to get his hand shot, thus effectively removing himself from the front lines.
Through this action, he gets sent back to Downton Abbey, where he begins to work in the local hospital, alongside Lady Sybil who is working as a nurse.
Thomas develops feelings for a patient, Lieutenant Edward Courtenay, while Edward us recovering from gas-blindness. This is one of the first times Thomas is seen with a very kind and caring side. After being told that he is to be moved out of the hospital to make room for newer, wounded patients, Thomas and Sybil are both concerned for him and try to persuade Dr. Clarkson to allow Edward to stay. Edward committs suicide with a razor he sneaked into his bed. Thomas is devastated, and is left crying, alone again. It is this incident which prompts Isobel Crawley to persuade Cora to turn Downton Abbey into a convalescence hospital for the duration of the war.
As Cora is at odds with Isobel, who is trying to run the place, O'Brien suggests that Thomas be made the manager of Downton, as he knows medicine, knows the house, and will automatically hold Cora in respect. Carson is not pleased, as this makes Thomas his superior.
After the war, Thomas tries to make it as a black market businessman, but he foolishly spends all of the money he had saved buying from a man he had only briefly met in a bar. He bought high-end food stuffs that looked like quality goods. He gives samples to Daisy to cook a cake for Mrs Patmore. She will test it to judge the quality of Thomas's goods before they place orders with him, but the results are disastrous, as the goods turn out to be fake or adulterated. Thomas goes to where he is keeping the goods and destroys them in a fit of rage. He realises that he will be forced to return to Downton Abbey as a footman.
John Bates is imprisoned after being found guilty at the murder trial for his wife's death, and Lord Grantham needs a replacement valet. Because of the past, he is not convinced that Thomas should get the job, even though he served well in the war and seems to have reformed. O'Brien advises Thomas to take something of his lordship and then find it and return it, to prove his trustworthiness. Thomas lures Lord Grantham's dog Isis away and puts her in a shed in the woods. There is a reward and Thomas anticipates that, as well as the glory of "being a hero by finding her". However, when he goes out that evening to retrieve her, he finds that Isis is not in the shed. He spends all night looking for her, getting muddied and frustrated; but it turns out that she was found and has been returned by a child from the village. Lord Grantham, walking out early in the morning with Isis, is so impressed by Thomas's effort to find his dog that he decides Thomas has changed and is convinced to give Thomas a trial at being his valet, until Bates can be released from his incarceration, much to Mr. Carson's surprise and doubt.At the Servant's Ball at Downton, Thomas asks the Dowager Countess of Grantham to dance, which she is quite pleased to do.
By 1920, Thomas is working as a valet to Lord Grantham and is angry when he is told by Molesley that Matthew will not be bringing a valet to Downton. He worries that he will have to do all the work, as Robert will allow no new hires. Thomas instigates Daisy to go on strike over the fact that a new kitchen maid hasn't been hired, but tells her not to say that he put her up to it.
Working through Cora, O'Brien gets her nephew Alfred Nugent hired at Downton to work as a footman. Thomas and Carson have refused to serve as valet to Tom Branson, so Alfred does it. Later Alfred is serving a valet for Matthew, and, despite the fact that Thomas hadn't wanted the extra work, he is angry that he wasn't asked to do it. Sarah O'Brien is fond of her nephew, and wants to see him succeed. She has considered Thomas a friend, and even told her secrets to him. She asks Thomas to teach Alfred to be a valet to Matthew Crawley. Thomas absolutely refuses. Thomas had struggled, worked and schemed for 9 years to rise to the level of valet in a noble house. Alfred is a barely experienced footman, and Thomas sees it as an insult that he could just fall into the job in a matter of weeks. In Thomas's hearing, O'Brien tells Alfred that he is not vain like Thomas.
Thomas then sabotages Alfred's efforts to clean a spot off of Matthew's tailcoat, resulting in a hole being burned through it. Thomas convinces Lord Grantham that this is proof of Alfred's not being ready for the job. Thomas repeatedly insults Alfred, and Sarah and Thomas each repeatedly try to damage the reputation of the other. O'Brien hides all of Lord Grantham's dress shirts and Thomas gets blamed for losing them. When he confronts her about it, she tells him to keep his histrionics to himself, and later when the shirts mysteriously are returned, she just tells him to go and get his lordship into his pajamas and dismisses Thomas's threats about if anything like this happens again (Thomas after this hides a couple so as not to be caught out again). Thomas knows it was O'Brien or Alfred. He starts a rumour by telling Molesley that Sarah is going to leave Lady Grantham's service.
When Carson tells her of the rumour, she later learnt from Molesley that Thomas told him she was leaving, she knows it wasn't a mistake. She confronts Thomas and threatens him that someway she is going to make sure that things will be wrong for him.
In 1920, a handsome new footman, James, is hired. Mr. Carson introduces the new footman as James so that is the name used upstairs while downstairs, his coworkers call him by Jimmy, the name he prefers. Thomas feels an immediate attraction to him. Sarah sees this. She then begins acting as if their feud is now in the past. John Bates has been released from prison. Thomas is still hoping to remain a valet, as he is told that Carson is "sorting things out", but Robert just wants Bates to rest before he returns to work.
Sarah O'Brien, in an attempt to get Thomas fired, is leading him to believe that James has feelings for him. She encourages James to learn from Thomas and to not say anything when James feels that Thomas is being overly familiar. When James is asked to wind the clocks, O'Brien calls Thomas the clock expert and tells James to get him to show him how. James is uncomfortable with Thomas's familiarity, but he goes along with it, as Sarah leads him to believe his position could be in jeopardy if he doesn't. Sarah also tricks Thomas into believing James has feelings for him, telling him that he won't stop talking to Alfred about him.
When Sybil dies in childbirth, Thomas is reduced to tears, and Anna comforts him outside. He tells her how they worked together during the war, and she was one of the few people that ever cared about him. Jimmy is talking to Thomas about how Mr. Carson seems to favour Alfred for the job of first footman. Thomas impulsively says, "Well, I love you."
Thomas goes into James's room when he is asleep and kisses him, thinking his feelings will be returned.
James awakes and is very angry, reacting violently and indicating he feels nothing for Thomas, which leaves Thomas shocked and upset. To make matters worse, Alfred witnesses this, but Thomas says that he is nothing and no one will believe him. James throws him out, and he sees Alfred, glaring at him from a doorway. O'Brien encourages Alfred to tell Mr. Carson.
When Mr. Carson finds out, Thomas seems to accept that he has to leave. Mr. Carson tells him that Mr. Bates will be taking over the next morning, as valet to Lord Grantham, and he says that Thomas will have to leave Downton, but that he will be given a good reference. Thomas defends Jimmy, saying none of this was his fault. Thomas says he felt an attraction to Jimmy and thought that he felt the same, but he was wrong. According to Mr. Carson, James has every right to report Thomas to the police. Mr. Carson calls Thomas "foul" because of his attraction to men, but despite everything, Thomas sticks up for himself saying "I'm not the same as you, but I'm not foul".
James is satisfied that Thomas will be leaving, but it is not enough for Sarah O'Brien. She tells James that he must insist that Thomas be made to leave without a reference, otherwise, he is to threaten to tell the police of what Thomas has done, and have him sent to prison. Lack of a reference would make it almost impossible for him to find another job. She tells James that unless he insists, that someone like Thomas cannot be allowed to go to another respectable position, people will think that he is a homosexual too, and that they might suspect him of encouraging Thomas's advances. Thomas is devastated and feels he has been "well and truly beaten". Carson sees no option but to refuse a reference, as otherwise, the intervention of the police would cause gossip and scandal. Carson allows Thomas to stay a few days so he can work out his situation and later that evening is found outside by Mrs. Hughes, crying. When she asks Thomas what is the matter, he refuses to tell her on the basis that she will be "shocked and disgusted", but after hearing this she insists that she will "have to hear" what is upsetting Thomas and he reveals to her what has transpired. Later Mrs. Hughes sticks up for Thomas to Carson telling him that James unintentionally flirted with Thomas to help himself get in good terms with the staff and that she did not find it right that Thomas should be ruined by this as he served and was wounded for the King and their country. She also admits to Carson that Thomas is not the first homosexual she has come across.
It is only the intervention of John Bates who not only takes the matter to Lord Grantham, but uses the information he gets from Thomas to force Sarah O'Brien to make James take back his threat. Bates overhears bits of what is going, and he goes to Mrs. Hughes for the whole story. He tells Anna that he can't let a man have his life taken away. Thomas believes that he is beaten. Despondent because of James's betrayal and that he will have no reference after 10 years service, Thomas considers immigrating to Bombay, where he has a cousin, and is more likely to get a job. He says that he likes the sun. However, John Bates gets Thomas to give him something to pressure O'Brien to make the situation right. Thomas tells him to repeat the phrase "her ladyship's soap". Thomas is very much surprised at Bates helping him. Bates, however, had only thought to get him a reference, and he is not entirely pleased when Lord Grantham decides to let Thomas stay.
Thomas also appears to be quite talented at cricket, Lord Grantham noting that he had gotten most of the house team's runs in the 1919 match. He plays extremely well in 1920, and is again praised by Lord Grantham. Fortunately for Thomas, Lord Grantham doesn't want to lose his most talented player for the yearly cricket match. Thus Thomas is given his current position of under-butler. Thomas had been close friends with O'Brien, "thick as thieves", as Lord Grantham calls them, who is surprised when he learns they have had a falling out. Thomas is playing in the yearly match when the police come to question him. Pushed by his revengeful Aunt O'Brien, Alfred, learning that Thomas was going to be allowed to stay, called them. However, Lord Grantham persuades him to tell the police that it was a mistake, that he saw some horseplay and misinterpreted it, as he was drunk at the time.
More than a year after these events, in the 2012 Christmas Special, Jimmy at first still appears uncomfortable around Thomas, and does not want to be alone with him or even accept the gift of a pop when Thomas offers to buy everyone one. Thomas is still in love with Jimmy, despite everything that has occurred. Alfred confirms that Thomas won't allow a word to be said against Jimmy. Thomas also lends a hand when Jimmy has difficulty lifting a heavy trunk.
Whilst at Thirsk fair, which most of the staff attends, Jimmy wins some money in a bet on a tug of war match that both Jimmy and Thomas take part in. Later, whilst Jimmy is walking alone, two men attempt to rob him. Unexpectedly, Thomas appears and steps in to protect him. In result, he is beaten and robbed in Jimmy's place, after the latter runs away and leaves him there. He fetches Dr. Richard Clarkson and some of the other staff to help Thomas and stays silent whilst Thomas fails to say what really happened, and so avoids telling everyone that Jimmy left him alone to face the two men and gets beaten.Later, Jimmy visits Thomas in his room to ask if he is all right. Jimmy says that Thomas was "brave" and that he feels bad for leaving him. Thomas reveals that he was following him that day as he had seen that Jimmy had had too much to drink. When Jimmy asks why he was doing this Thomas says that he "knows why", implying that he still has feelings for Jimmy. Jimmy says that he can never give Thomas what he wants, and Thomas says that he understands that, but would like them to be friends. Jimmy says he can do that if it is only being friends and the scene ends with them chatting over a newspaper.
Thomas reports on Nanny West out of spite at her presuming to give him orders when he greets Sybbie in her pram. He tells Lady Grantham that he thinks Nanny West is neglecting the children, leaving them unsupervised. Lady Grantham surreptitiously checks up on the nanny and Thomas's warnings prove well founded when she overhears West coldly insulting Sybbie because of her parentage. West is sacked immediately and Cora praises Barrow for his help.
After O'Brien's sudden departure in the middle of the night, Thomas seemingly forms a new partnership with her replacement, former house maid Edna Braithwaite, as they frame Anna for a mistake of Edna's. Later, he spies Edna talking to Tom Branson, and later finds her singing in the boot room. She remarks to him that he should be grateful to be in her good graces. But after her scheme of seducing and blackmailing of Tom Branson is exposed by Mrs. Hughes, Thomas confronts Edna and they exchange insults. Thomas is not affected by Edna's words, and calls her a "manipulative little witch" and expresses his happiness that her schemes have come to nothing. He goes to Lord Grantham and reveals he has a candidate to replace Braithwaite he'd like to put forth.The new lady's maid of Lady Grantham, Phyllis Baxter, shares some past with him. John Bates wonders what she sees in him. Thomas has her spy on the people downstairs and upstairs, telling her not to make him her enemy, as that was the mistake of O'Brien. He becomes particularly persistent when he hears something bad has happened to Anna, making Baxter uncomfortable. However, she remains in his power.
When Robert travels to America to help his brother-in-law who is involved in a scandal, he takes Thomas with him instead of Bates. Thomas returns to find Baxter having formed a bond with Joseph Molesley.Tom Branson, who would have been beneath him, had he still been the chauffeur. He almost gets into an argument with Branson about where to sit in the car when they are going to join the family and other servants in London, which is prevented from happening by Ivy Stuart. Previously, Barrow had seen Branson giving a private tour of the house to Sarah Bunting. He reports this to Lord Grantham, implying the possibility that Miss Bunting might be Tom's lover.
Thomas tightens his grip over Baxter, threatening to go to Lady Grantham and reveal her secret. He is, however, surprised when he attempts to do so, that Lady Grantham has already knows of Baxter's criminal past (Baxter had told her at Mr. Molesley's urging before Barrow could). Cora scolds him for having known about her past and concealed it. He tries to reason he wanted to give her another chance, but Cora reminds him that should've been her decision, not his. She warns him that his job, as well as Baxter's, is now in question, especially now that Cora knows he has been using this knowledge for his own benefit. Yet after saving Edith from a fire that started in Edith's bedroom, he immediately earns Cora's gratitude and his job is secure. He does later tell Baxter's secret to Molesley, who refuses to believe she could be a thief.
Jimmy confides in Thomas after he receives numerous romantic notes from Lady Anstruther, his former employer. He tells Thomas that the latter shouldn't worry about Jimmy's romantic exploits, as one day he'll be a good boy and settle down and that's what they'll all do one day. Thomas remarks that they don't all have the option, hereby foreshadowing his frustration with not being 'like other men' and longing to be more like them, which comes more to the foreground later on in the season. Later in the episode, when Lady Anstruther shows up and lures Jimmy to her room, Thomas agrees to stand guard for him. They spot Lady Mary having secretly spoken to Lord Gillingham. Thomas remarks that she isn't very lady-like after all. Jimmy tells Thomas he sincerely appreciates his friendship, indicating how far they've come since their misunderstandings of season 3. However, Thomas's concern for Jimmy and his sigh as Jimmy leaves for Lady Anstruther's room confirm that Thomas's feelings for Jimmy haven't changed. Unfortunately, due to the fire Thomas rushes to help Edith while Lord Grantham, warning others of the fire, walks in on Jimmy and Lady Anstruther. After Jimmy is dismissed by Lord Grantham, he and Thomas have an emotional farewell. Jimmy tells Thomas he could never have imagined being friends with a 'man like him', but that they have been good friends and that he hopes Thomas will find some happiness. Later on, Thomas talks to Anna and expresses a desire to be more likeable, and she expresses sympathy with him.
Encouraged by his desire to be 'more like other people' and hoping this will make him happier, Thomas begins making a number of phone calls after seeing an ad in a magazine, inquiring about a service called "Choose your own path". He claims to Carson that he has to go see his father who is ill, but instead uses his time off to go to London to receive what is later revealed to be electroconvulsive therapy in order to change his sexuality. Upon returning from London, he continues to show an unhealthy interest in what's going on with Mr. Bates and Anna regarding the murder of Mr. Green. Later on, Baxter hears a grunt coming from the bathroom. She realizes it's Thomas and asks if she should fetch a man to help him. Sobbing, Thomas opens the door and states that there's isn't a man in the house who'd help him. Baxter tries to get inside and spots a medicine box with needles. Later on, she confronts Thomas, saying that she knows it wasn't his father who was ill but Thomas himself, and that he went to London to receive treatment and is now continuing it himself. She is told by Thomas to mind her own business. As time passes, however, Thomas starts looking more and more sickly, spurring several people, including the Dowager Countess, to remark on his ill looking appearance. After discovering the article in the London Magazine advertising 'Choose Your Own Path', Baxter tells Thomas that she feels sorry for what he's put himself through, indicating that she realizes he's taking some treatment to 'cure' his homosexuality. Thomas angrily tells her not to pity him.Later on, however, a distressed Thomas asks Baxter for help, revealing that the spot where he inserted the syringes has become infected. He confesses to her that he doesn't know what to do, and Baxter tells him to go to the doctor immediately. Thomas tries to confess to her that he wrote a letter to the police telling them that she knew more about the murder of Mr. Green, but Baxter interrupts him and says she already knows that he's done that, but is still willing to help him. They go to Dr. Clarkson together. Dr. Clarkson reveals that Thomas was only injecting himself with a solution of saline, which should be harmless, but that the solution was not sterilized and therefore caused the infection. After asking him what he was trying to do with it, Thomas admits that he was trying to change his sexuality, after which Dr. Clarkson gives him a speech, telling him to accept himself. Upon walking away from the Doctor's office, Baxter tells Thomas that she won't mock him for falling into the trap of the quack treatment, but rather thinks he's a very brave person for putting himself through all that just to get what he wants to achieve. Thomas visibly warms to her after her helping out and calling him brave, and tells her that she's 'a daft one'. After this, their relationship is much improved.
When the staff and the family travel to London for Lady Rose's wedding to Atticus Aldridge, Carson hires a temporary footman, Andrew. Gladys Denker, the Dowager Countess' lady's maid, uses Andy to get free drinks at The Velvet Violin, a basement club. Andy also gambles at the club and has to spend his savings in order to pay for his losses. Thomas, in a rare display of friendship and loyalty, helps Andy avoid Denker's schemes and get the money back that Andy lost.
Due to Anna's arrest, Bates wants to stay at Downton to be close to her so Thomas acts as temporary valet to Lord Grantham when 0 the family travel to Brancaster Castle in Northumberland for a shooting party during the grouse season and to visit Lord Sinderby and Lady Sinderby, Rose and Atticus. He is immediately disliked by the Sinderby's butler, Stowell, who is also rude to Baxter and mocks Branson's background for being Irish and a chauffeur. Due to Stowell's rudeness to Tom, Lady Mary asks Baxter to ask Thomas to get Stowell into trouble with Lord Sinderby.
Baxter and Thomas later plan to give Lord Sinderby "simpler food," and Lord Sinderby berates Stowell, in front of all the guests, for not properly asking who gave the order. He then calls Thomas a "stupid fool" for not giving him the regular entree. Thomas refuses to tolerate this insult, and arranges to publicly embarrass Lord Sinderby by presenting his mistress Diana Clark and Lord Sinderby's illegitimate son in the drawing room during tea with his guests present.When the staff and the family return to Downton, they find that Bates has disappeared due to confessing to the killing of Alex Green. Anna is released from prison and returns to Downton, and Thomas is doubling up as both under-butler and head valet. When Carson announces that a footman is to be hired, Thomas suggests that Andy be rehired, and Carson agrees to this.
Violet confides in Denker that there might be upcoming staff cuts and tells her to keep quiet. The next day, Denker visits the Abbey and tells the staff about these cuts. He asks Carson if this is true, and Carson's manner suggests that it is true, and tells the staff that "it is not something for the here and now". Thomas starts job hunting thinking he will be fired soon, and visits Ripon for a job interview, and later to Dryden Park for another interview. Both places turn out to be unsuitable for Thomas.
Meanwhile, almost all the staff except for Anna and Baxter are trying to warn Andy about Thomas due to Thomas' homosexuality and his previous advances on Jimmy, which results in Andy ignoring Thomas when he offers to help him. However, Thomas notices that Andy is having difficulty reading a book that Mr Mason gave him to aid with his work on the farm. Andy admits to Thomas that he cannot read or write anything but his own name, which was all he needed to get into service. Thomas offers to teach him how to read and write. Andy later apologizes to Thomas about his unfair treatment of him.Unfortunately, later on, Mrs Patmore overhears Thomas talking to Andy about meeting in his room later, unaware that Thomas is helping Andy with his illiteracy. She perceives this to be an intimate meeting and tells Mr. Carson. Carson catches Andy leaving Thomas' room that evening and confronts Thomas about his suspiciously close friendship with Andy. Thomas is offended that Mr. Carson does not take his word that nothing improper happened, causing Thomas more distress in addition to the worry of not being able to find a suitable job.
After Andy's secret is revealed in front of Mr. Mason, Mr Dawes, Mrs. Patmore, and Daisy, Mr. Dawes volunteers to teach him how to read and write properly, dismissing Thomas' suggestion that he and Andy still continue with their lessons, as that may interfere with his teaching method and confusion for Andy. Thomas agrees but is clearly hurt that he won't get to spend as much time with Andy.
Thomas' deep unhappiness and expectation of having no future job causes him to attempt suicide by slashing his wrists in the bathtub. Luckily, Miss Baxter realises Thomas' plan as Mr. Molesley mentions his odd behavior earlier, when Thomas showed rare goodwill towards him by wishing him all the best in the future. Being aware of Thomas' deterioration, she fetches Andy who kicks open the bathroom door, where they find him unconscious, bleeding in the bath. Andy gets Mrs Hughes and they move him to a bed where Dr. Clarkson later lets them know that Thomas will be fine as they got to him just in time.
Mr. Carson tells Lord Grantham the news concerning Thomas and Lord Grantham suggests letting him stay on working at Downton. Also, Mr. Carson regrets not crediting Thomas with a heart. Mary brings George into Thomas' room to cheer him up and both adults identify with each other and their similar previous bad attitudes and actions. However, it is apparent that Thomas' near-death experience has changed him for the better, as he seems to show self-reproach for what he has done and no signs of the intense despair that he felt before.
When Thomas manages to get them alone, he thanks those who saved his life, and Anna suggests that he think about what made him so low. After securing a new job, he reveals to Miss Baxter that his impertinence and malicious behaviour is what made him so low as no-one liked him because of it. He realises that happiness can come from friendship and promises to be kinder in his new job and make new friends.
Thomas and Mr. Bates part on courteous terms with Bates telling him he would rather part as friends than as enemies.
He then says goodbye to Lord Grantham and thanks him as Downton has helped him grow as a person and taught him many important things, an appreciation that Lord Grantham admires as he wishes him luck in the future. Downstairs, Thomas says farewell to the rest of the staff; Andy again apologising for his earlier treatment of him. Lady Mary comes down with George and Sybbie to say a final goodbye, with George begging Thomas not to go, but Thomas tearfully insisting that he must. Thomas leaves as the staff all recognize that he is a better person now.
In Thomas' new job, he works for Mark Stiles and his wife, an elderly couple with a staff of only three. He is not so fond of the family as they appear to be fairly boring, and is lonely with such a small number of staff who he doesn't know, and he hates it.Thomas visits Downton for Edith and Bertie's wedding on New Year's Eve and notices Carson become angry when the essential tremor in his hand prevents him from pouring out wine. Thomas asserts that he is happy to help, even though he is a guest. Lord Grantham, after having had trouble coming up with a decision on what to do about Carson, suggests that Thomas should return and take Carson's place as butler, with Carson still able to oversee things. Thomas is visibly shocked and moved by the offer, but happily accepts, although is sympathetic for Mr. Carson, which demonstrates that he has truly changed.
Thomas Barrow is perhaps the one character in the series who undergoes the greatest personality change. In the beginning he is often callous and rude, acting as a bully and manipulative. He appears to be a very bitter man, having ‘constitutional objection to anyone being happy’, according to Molesley. Most likely, this is his way of dealing with his own unhappiness due to not being able to freely love and be himself. He often gets people in trouble, usually by presenting his own intentions as good and implying the worst while not knowing for certain the truth. He is extraordinarily ambitious and doesn’t let anything or anyone stand in the way of achieving his goals, even if this means lying, stealing, and blackmailing people. He is not above using crooked methods to further his own career, especially in season 1. However, his schemes rarely work out the way he planned, such as when he tried his hand at the black market after World War I. Despite this, he is easily forgiven by the members of the upstairs, who often gossip about him.
He is a very proud man, with a razor-sharp tongue, biting sarcasm and dry humour. However, he also has a kind, sensitive and caring side, although he rarely allows it to show. It appears that he is much more insecure than he lets on and that behind his distant and unkind mask lies a vulnerable heart. When talking to Jimmy Kent, he remarked that ‘[they] both like to look so sure of [themselves], but that [they’re] not so sure underneath, projecting his own insecurities on Jimmy.
He appears very loyal and selfless to the people he cares about, although there aren’t many. A notable example is his care for Lieutenant Courtenay, a soldier blinded by a gas attack when Thomas was working at the hospital as an army medic. He was also friendly with Lady Sybil at the time, never showing any unkindness towards her. He is subsequently shown sobbing after both their deaths, also emphasizing his great ability to feel and care despite his aloof and cold exterior. Especially with footman Jimmy Kent, he shows a much softer side. He can also be extremely brave when his loved ones are at stake, such as when he took a beating for Jimmy at the Thirsk fair. After going to Dr. Clarkson together when Thomas tried to ‘cure’ his sexuality, Baxter commented that she thought he was very brave to put himself through all that pain just to get what he wants, and that he could achieve great things if he only set his mind to it. After this, he is also more sympathetic and defends Baxter. He learnt to be kinder to the staff long before he attempts suicide due to him feeling, for lack of a better phrase, "the odd one out". The staff continued to treat him horribly mostly for actions he made over 10 years before, just out of his teen years. After Andy arrives the staff resent them from being friends in order to "protect" Andy from Thomas' sexuality. Since the departure of Miss O'Brien to India (curiously implying she had an enormous bad influence over him.) and since putting himself through conversion therapy, Thomas has learned to be more friendly and non-aloof to the staff and the family, creating a friendship between him and the Crawley grandchildren, especially George.
Thomas is a closeted homosexual man, by necessity as a homosexual act was a criminal offence at the time, punishable by imprisonment. This has made him reserved and aloof. It is rare for him to be sympathetic towards others or let his own emotions shine through, as a method to survive in the bigoted environment. A possible explanation for this was given by himself when talking to Edward Courtenay. He appears to develop feelings for Lieutenant Courtenay and confides in him that ‘all [his] life, people have pushed [him] around just because [he’s] different’, referring to his own sexuality. To Anna, he confided after hearing of Lady Sybil’s death that ‘in [his] life, not many have been kind to [him]’. Thus, it appears that the outside world’s reaction to him and his sexuality specifically has made him very bitter. Only one of his relationships that we have seen has gone well for Thomas. He had an affair with the Duke of Crowborough, who then refused to hire him as his personal valet, telling him that ‘one swallow does not make a summer’. After this remark, Thomas attempted blackmail, using the love letters sent by the Duke, but the Duke stole the letters back from Thomas and destroyed them. Thomas later makes an advance on Kemal Pamuk, a Turkish envoy, who threatens to tell Lord Grantham if Thomas does not tell him where Mary Crawley's room is. Later, it is implied that he falls in love with Edward Courtenay, who dies by suicide. Thomas is misled by O'Brien into thinking that Jimmy is a homosexual, and tries to kiss him while he is sleeping, but Jimmy is horrified. Only Richard from the Downton Abbey movie seems to be a potential love interest. Although it appears that he has grown bitter from always having to keep his sexuality a secret for fear of prison and his failed romances, outwardly he remains a very proud man, not ashamed of who he is. Internally however, he seems to harbor a lot of self hatred and insecurity, proven by his attempt to “fix” himself through conversion therapy. In defense of his kissing Jimmy in his sleep, he told Carson after the incident that when one is like him, they must read the signs as best as they can, as no-one dares to speak aloud about it. When Mr. Carson continued to state that he is revolted and that Thomas has been twisted by nature into something foul, Thomas tells Mr. Carson that they are not the same, but he is not foul.
Thomas’s father was a clockmaker, and Thomas has a natural affinity with clocks, calling them living things. His relationship with his father was difficult and abusive , as implied by his comment to Baxter that his father was ‘never very kind to [him]’. It has been pointed out that his tendency to taunt Bates and bring out the aggressive side of him, especially while he was still a footman, is typical of abuse victims. When he enraged Bates by asking Daisy out on a date to embarrass William in his footman days, Bates slammed him into a wall in the hall of the upstairs bedrooms. Thomas just takes it and doesn't flinch, another sign that he may be used to physical abuse. This remains unconfirmed, although it would concisely explain his abrasive behaviour towards others and his general bitterness.
It is often speculated that Thomas's failed relationships and frustrations over the constant suppression of his homosexuality and never being able to explore who he is freely have made him bitter and left feeling unloved, causing him to lash out against even those closest to him and hold a high sense of false pride as a defense mechanism. His resentment of others, especially towards the Bateses (“The happy couple and everyone’s so pleased for you”), is probably born out of his own unhappiness. At times when he is most vulnerable, for example when he was facing unemployment with no reference, his confident exterior cracks. It is at such times that he told Mrs. Hughes that he was afraid he might ‘shock and disgust’ her with his sexuality, or admitted to Bates that he envied him for his happy relationship and good relations with the other downstairs staff. He remains a proud man, however, not welcoming pity even when he was ill from the quack ‘homosexuality cure’. His quest to change his sexuality after Jimmy’s sacking may have had its roots in his loneliness after losing his only friend (and love interest) at the house. The drastic measures involved in this (such as electroconvulsive therapy and investing a lot of money in this) show a certain level of pain, desperation, and determination towards changing himself behind his usually well-maintained behaviour. In the end, Thomas is his own worst enemy, acting how he does to survive the bigoted environment he lives in and pushing people away to protect himself.
To begin with, Thomas is good friends with Sarah. They are as "thick as thieves" according to Lord Grantham. The two of them are constantly plotting to get John Bates fired, although none of their schemes are successful. She has considered Thomas a friend and he even knew her darkest secret.
Thomas and Sarah become bitter rivals when O'Brien's nephew Alfred Nugent comes to Downton to work as a footman. He didn't always like being a footman. She is fond of her nephew, and wants to see him succeed. She asks Thomas to teach Alfred to be a valet to Matthew Crawley. Thomas absolutely refuses. Thomas had struggled, worked and schemed for 9 years to rise to the level of valet in a noble house. Alfred is a barely experienced footman, and Thomas sees it as an insult that he could just fall into the job in a matter of weeks. Thomas then sabotages Alfred's efforts to clean a spot off of Matthew's tailcoat, resulting in a hole being burned through it. Thomas convinces Lord Grantham that this is proof of Alfred's being not ready for the job. Alfred is demoted back to being a footman. Thomas repeatedly insults Alfred, and O'Brien and Thomas each repeatedly try to damage the reputation of the other. Sarah takes a stack of Robert's dress shirts and hides them so that Thomas is blamed for losing them, when his lordship cannot dress or dinner. When Lady Edith is left at the altar, Sarah says that she wouldn't be able to handle the shame. Thomas makes the nasty comment that it's a good thing no one has ever asked her.When Thomas starts a rumour that O'Brien is going to leave Lady Grantham's service, it is the last straw, and O'Brien vows to get revenge. She tells Molesley to tell him that she may make some honest mistakes of her own and later threatens Thomas that soon everything will be "all wrong" with him. She plans to get him fired with no chance of a good reference and therefore almost no chance of getting another job. To do this she makes Thomas think that Jimmy Kent has romantic feelings for him. When Jimmy tells O'Brien that he is uncomfortable with how familiar Thomas is, she convinces him not to do anything. This ends in Thomas kissing Jimmy whilst Alfred happens to see everything. In reaction to this, she talks Jimmy into asking for Thomas to be sacked and Alfred into calling the police, although ultimately her schemes come to nothing, and Thomas keeps his job.
To begin with, Thomas is extremely annoyed that he had been passed up for the position of Lord Grantham's valet by "Long John Silver", which is what he calls John Bates when talking with O'Brien about the new valet. Throughout the first series, he is always at odds with Bates, trying to get him fired for theft so that he could become a valet.
During the second series, the animosity between Thomas and Bates is not seen much, due to many reasons, one being that Thomas was in the Army Medical Corps for a short time and then Bates is arrested, tried, and sentenced to hang, for the murder of his ex-wife Vera. Thomas wins Lord Grantham's favour and Bates's job as valet when he takes Lord Grantham's dog, so that he can be a hero by finding her. Isis has gone missing from where he'd hidden her, and he spends all night looking for her. Lord Grantham, however, is so impressed by Thomas's effort to find his dog that he ends up giving Thomas a trial as his valet.
In Series 3, Thomas still feels animosity toward Bates. Anna is renting out Vera's residence that was Bates's mother's house, but Thomas says that a murderer shouldn't profit from his crimes. When Bates is released from his wrongful conviction, Thomas is bitter that his former rival has returned. Thomas still hopes that Lord Grantham will decide to retain him as valet. He makes the comment that "It's Barrow now, Mr. Bates. And yes, I'm still here, and busy as a bee." However, it is increasingly obvious that Lord Grantham expects Bates to return to the job.He is subsequently embroiled in the scandal with Jimmy, the footman, and almost accepts it as inevitable when, during Episode 8, Carson tells him that Bates will be returning to his former job the next morning. To Thomas's great surprise, Bates decides to strike up a temporary alliance against O'Brien with him (which Anna heartily disagrees with). John Bates has found out the story from Mrs. Hughes and learned that Thomas could possibly be sent to prison for criminal assault, a fate he would wish on no man. Though Thomas has schemed against him for years and plotted to get him fired, he has to help. Bates tells Anna that he knows how it feels to find yourself trapped and feeling your control of your own life slipping away. He gets Thomas to tell him something that will make Sarah O'Brien stop pushing Jimmy into threatening to go to the police, if Thomas is not dismissed without a reference, due to his homosexuality. When Lord Grantham subsequently decides to keep Thomas at Downton, he discusses it with Bates. He dislikes the idea that Thomas will be staying on. The antagonism between the two appears as Bates comments "Couldn't Mr. Barrow just stay until after the match, milord, and then go?" and then further saying "He might not want to stay, milord, after the unpleasantness." Later, Bates tells Anna that he was a fool, and, if he had just stayed out of it, Thomas would have been out of their lives forever. Overall, the relationship between Thomas and John is not exactly hate, but it's not a fully-fledged friendship, either. Thomas is amazed that John Bates his longtime rival will help him. He says that prison has changed him. Near the end of show when Thomas temporally leaves Downton, Bates and Thomas shack hands and seem to depart on good terms. Bates even says to Thomas that he would rather they depart as friends then as enemies.
Thomas's relationship with Daisy was rocky, at first. She was infatuated with him, blatantly smitten, but he only bothers with her to annoy the other footman, William Mason. He manipulates her and uses her against Bates, getting her to lie to Carson several times.
She eventually gets over him, finds her voice and starts telling him to stop "being so unkind." She is the only one who does not see Thomas as an unkind person, just that he acts unkindly sometimes (sometimes meaning nearly always).They become friends as time goes by, when he comforts her and asks what's wrong when she's crying over Alfred leaving. He recognizes the mistakes she's made (he's just made them himself) and tries to comfort her. When Mrs. Patmore calls Daisy back into the kitchen, she says, "And Mr. Barrow, you quit teasing her!" To himself, Thomas comments, "I wasn't, actually." And for the first time, he wasn't. He was actually being kind to her.
Edward Courtenay while Edward was recovering from gas-blindness. This is one of the first times Thomas is seen with a kind and caring side. Edward is despondent and fears he will never see again. Thomas tells him that he has to fight and get through this. Thomas reveals that he himself has always been pushed around, because he was different. When Edward asks him how he is different, he tells the Lieutenant that the reason is not important, and it is not shown that Edward shared Thomas' feelings. After being told that he was to be moved out of the hospital to make room for newer, wounded patients; Edward dies by suicide with a razor he sneaked into his bed. Thomas is seen crying, alone once again.
Edward Courtenay and try to convince Dr. Clarkson to let him stay on instead of being transferred. After Lady Sybil's death, Thomas is seen crying and when comforted by Anna, he says that not many in his life have been nice to him, and that she was one of the few. His misery continues the next day when at the breakfast table with the other servants. Perhaps because of his bond with Sybil, Thomas is close to her daughter, speaking kindly to her when he encounters her in her pram. He does not like Nanny West and warns Lady Grantham that she is leaving the children unattended at times. Although Thomas did like Lady Sybil, he does not share the same feeling about her husband Tom Branson. Thomas is angry that he has to serve Tom because he was a chauffeur and believes he should be treated the same as him. We see that Branson also doesn't like Barrow, when Thomas gets punched by William Mason, Branson says "Got what he deserved."
In 1920 Thomas develops an attraction to the handsome new footman Jimmy Kent. After Thomas's relationship with O'Brien ends away, Jimmy is the only member of the downstairs staff whom Thomas likes. He begins to behave very uncharacteristically. He goes out of his way to see and talk to him. Thomas also begins smiling a lot more. Thomas comes to his door, while Jimmy is getting dressed. Thomas starts to think that Jimmy has feelings for him. This is partly wishful thinking and mostly O'Brien's efforts to lead Thomas to believe that Jimmy returns these feelings, in an attempt to get revenge on Thomas by getting him fired. At the same time, O'Brien encourages Jimmy to learn from Thomas, as he has Lord Grantham's ear, and can further his career, and to not say anything when Jimmy feels that Thomas is being overly familiar. O'Brien has Jimmy go to Thomas to show him how to wind the clocks. Thomas holds Jimmy's hand while standing behind him with his other hand on Jimmy's shoulder. Thomas frequently touches Jimmy, who is uncomfortable with Thomas's actions, but he goes along with it, as Sarah leads him to believe his position could be in jeopardy if he makes a fuss about it and that it is a good thing that Thomas likes him. Sarah tells Thomas that Jimmy has a crush on him and that he won't stop gushing to Alfred about Thomas.
Jimmy comes to Thomas with his problems. He wants the job of the first footman, but thinks that Mr. Carson favours Alfred. Thomas impulsively says, "Well, I love you." That night Thomas goes into Jimmy's room when he is asleep and kisses him passionately, thinking his feelings will be returned. Jimmy awakes and is very angry, reacting violently and indicating that he feels nothing for Thomas. He throws Thomas out of his room leaving him with tears in his eyes standing in the hallway.
To make matters worse, Alfred sees it and tells Mr. Carson who says that Thomas will have to leave Downton, but that he will be given a good reference. Thomas defends Jimmy, saying none of this was his fault and that he was an innocent victim. Thomas says he felt an attraction to Jimmy and thought Jimmy returned it, but he was wrong. According to Mr. Carson, Jimmy has every right to report Thomas to the police. Mr Carson calls Thomas "foul" because of his homosexuality but despite everything, Thomas sticks up for himself saying "I'm not the same as you, but I'm not foul".
Jimmy is satisfied that Thomas will be leaving, but it is not enough for Sarah O'Brien. She tells Jimmy that he must insist that Thomas be made to leave without a reference, otherwise, he is to threaten to tell the police of what Thomas has done. No reference after 10 years would make it almost impossible for him to find another job. She tells Jimmy that unless he insists that someone like Thomas cannot be allowed to go to another respectable position, people will think that he is sympathetic and then they might suspect him of encouraging Thomas's advances. Thomas is devastated by Jimmy's betrayal. He still believes that Jimmy himself would not be capable of this and that someone has put him up to it. He even loses the will to fight for himself, as he later tells Bates, he feels as if he has been "well and truly beaten". Carson sees no option but to refuse a reference as otherwise, the intervention of the police would cause gossip and scandal. It is only the intervention of John Bates who not only takes the matter to Lord Grantham, but also uses information he gets from Thomas to force Sarah O'Brien to make Jimmy take back his threat, that allows Thomas to keep his job. Jimmy is unsure about Thomas staying, but Robert tells him at the same time that he has been promoted to the job of the first footman.
More than a year after these events, in the 2012 Christmas Special, Jimmy at first still appears uncomfortable around Thomas, and doesn't want to be seen alone with him or to even accept the gift of a drink when Thomas offers to buy everyone one. Thomas is still in love with Jimmy, despite everything that has occurred. Alfred confirms that Thomas won't allow a word to be said against Jimmy. Thomas, despite his bad hand also lends help when Jimmy is doing something difficult like moving a heavy trunk.
At the fair in Thirsk, Thomas follows Jimmy, as he knows that he has had too much to drink and is carrying the money he won in a bet. Later, whilst Jimmy is walking alone, two men attempt to rob him. Thomas appears and steps in to protect him, and tells Jimmy to run. Thomas is beaten and robbed in his place, after Jimmy runs away and leaves him there. Jimmy fetches Dr. Richard Clarkson and some of the other staff for Thomas and stays silent whilst Thomas fails to say what really happened, avoiding telling everyone that Jimmy left him alone to face the two men and get beaten.
Jimmy later goes to see Thomas alone in his room and ask if he is alright. Jimmy says that Thomas was "brave" and that he feels bad for leaving him. Thomas disagrees and says that he should have run, if he didn't get away what was the point of Thomas doing any of it. He reveals that he had been following Jimmy that day as he had seen that Jimmy had had too much to drink. When Jimmy asks why he was doing this, Thomas says that Jimmy "knows why", implying that he still has feelings for Jimmy. Jimmy says that he can never give Thomas what he wants, and Thomas says that he understands that, but would like them to be friends. Jimmy says he can do that if it is only being friends and the scene ends with them chatting over a newspaper.By 1922 they begin to show signs of their new-found friendship with Thomas showing no outward signs of his previous feelings for Jimmy. They often play cards together and despite whatever Thomas may still feel for Jimmy, he remarks before he accompanies Lord Grantham on a trip to America that he hopes to see Jimmy with a girl when he returns.
Thomas and Andy know each other during the preparations for Lady Rose's wedding, when Andy was hired as a temporary footman due to the sumptuousness of the event and the limited staff. The young man is later deceived by Danker, that pin money from Andy to drink like a sponge in a tavern where it is possible to gamble.
Thomas, however, who took a liking to Andy, puts Danker into trouble with the owner of the tavern, making the woman shell out the money in debt and also with the rest of the staff of Downton, who remain startled by a drunk Danker. During the 2014 Christmas Special, Mr Carson wants to hire a new footman and Thomas and takes this opportunity to advise him to hire Andy, since he had proved adept at Lady Rose's wedding. After an initial hesitation, Carson takes on Andy, influenced by the good words of Mrs Hughes. Andy and Thomas seem to have established a good friendship, but Mrs Hughes and Mrs Patmore don't look favourably the relationship between the two men. After a period of separation, in which Andy also avoids to stay too long in the same room with Thomas when possible, the young footman is helped by none other than Thomas when he offers to teach Andy to read and write, having discovered the secret Andy was hiding in shame. Andy also apologized to Thomas for the misconduct that has had against him, and the two go back to being friends. Andy, in the boot room, also reveals to the Bates that he is not interested in the rumors about Thomas and the couple doesn't seem to hinder the friendship between the two young men as Mrs Patmore and Carson do.When Thomas tries to commit suicide, it is Andy who breaks through the bathroom door and rescues his friend, helped by Ms Baxter.
During the King and Queen's Royal Visit, Thomas and the King's Royal Dresser Richard leave Downton Abbey to go to York. While in York, Thomas and Richard prank call Mr. Wilson, persuading him to send all of the footmen back to London. Later on that night, Thomas is arrested and Richard, using his position within the Royal Household, manages to get him released from prison before telling Thomas to be a bit more circumspect in future. The next day, before Richard is due to leave, he kisses Thomas however they are interrupted by Andrew Parker who informs them the King and Queen are leaving. Richard gives Thomas a key ring to remember him by until they can meet again before leaving Downton.
- "Can't have you wobbly at both ends."
- — To Mr Bates.
- "Imagine Carson without a footman, like a ring master without a pony."
- —Thomas in Episode 2.02.
- "In my life, not many have been kind to me. She was one of the few."
- —Thomas talking about Lady Sybil.
- Thomas: "All my life they've pushed me around... just 'cause I'm different."
- Edward: "How? Why are you different?"
- Thomas: "Never mind. Look... look, I don't know if you're going to see again or not. But I do know you have to fight back."
- — Episode 2.02
- "I'm not foul, Mr Carson. I'm not the same as you, but I'm not foul."
- —Thomas defending himself to Mr Carson.
- "When you're like me Mr Carson, you must read the signs, because no one dares to speak out."
- —Thomas talking about being gay.
- Baxter: "Please accept our best wishes for the future..."
- Thomas: "What future?"
- — Episode 6.08
- Mary: "Have you been lonely?"
- Thomas: "If I have, I've only myself to blame. I've done and said things. I don't know why, I can't stop myself. Now I'm paying the price."
- Mary: "Strange. I could say the same."
- — Episode 6.08
- "You had faith in me when I had none in myself... and I'm grateful."
- —Thomas thanking Miss Baxter for her kindness.
- "I must go, Master George, but remember, I will always be your friend wherever I am."
- —Thomas saying goodbye to George Crawley.
Behind the scenes
- Julian Fellowes, the writer of the show, has said that Thomas is not as smart as he thinks he is.
- Speaking about Thomas's relationship to Sarah O'Brien, Rob James-Collier calls her Miss O.B. and says that Thomas and O'Brien met through the common bond of smoking together outside to avoid Mr Carson. He describes both of them as ambitious and says that they will stop at nothing to get ahead, and that Thomas opposed Alfred becoming a valet, because, as he was being rapidly pushed by O'Brien, Thomas feared that Alfred might be coming after his own job next. Collier believes, in their escalating feud, that O'Brien will always be willing to go one step further and that's what makes her scary. He feels that even if Thomas were able to forgive her and tried to reconcile it would not be in her to do it.
- Julian Fellowes relates that the character of Thomas is based on a dresser in his "theatrical past".
- The status of Thomas' mother is unknown, but some have interpreted a mention referring to her in past tense to Matthew in the trenches during World War I as an indication she is dead.
- Thomas shares a very close relationship with the children of Downton Abbey, particularly little George - a striking parallel to Carson's relationship with Lady Mary as a little girl.
- Thomas's age and year of birth are unknown. The only clue as to his age is that in Episode 5.08, Thomas is decorated with the 1914 Star. This star was given to officers and men who served in France or Belgium in 1914; the minimum age for overseas service in the British Army at this time was nineteen. Therefore, the absolute youngest Thomas could be is 19 years old in 1914 (birth year of 1895). However, it is very likely that he was older, as this would mean he was fifteen when he was hired in 1910 - the age of a Hall boy, not a junior footman, who usually would have been older.
- In Episode 3.08, Thomas says "ten years" as to how long he has been working at Downton. As well as this, in Episode 6.02, set in 1925, Thomas tells Mr Moore that he arrived at Downton "as a junior footman fifteen years ago".
- Episode 5.08 - see this image.
- "The Chronicles of Downton Abbey: A New Era" by Jessica Fellowes, Matthew Sturgis.
- Masterpiece Series Three promo "Downton Abbey: Robert James-Collier speaks on Thomas and O'Brien"
- "The Chronicles of Downton Abbey : A New Era" by Jessica Fellowes, Matthew Sturgis.