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When Calls the Heart co-creator Brian Bird explains Elizabeth’s controversial choice in the Season 8 finale

Elizabeth and Lucas celebrate the beginning of their courtship on Hallmark Channel's When Calls the Heart.
Elizabeth and Lucas toast the beginning of their courtship during the Season 8 finale of When Calls the Heart. Pic credit: Crown Media.

In a recent interview, Brian Bird, the co-creator and producer of the Hallmark Channel’s When Calls the Heart defended character Elizabeth Thornton choosing Lucas Bouchard over her other suitor, Nathan Grant, during the Season 8 finale.

Her decision ended a three-seasons-long love triangle between three of the show’s main characters and upset many fans who thought she picked the wrong guy.

However, in an appearance on the Greenelines podcast, Bird said pairing Elizabeth with Lucas would lengthen the life of the show.

“We believed this choice of Lucas Bouchard would give us more seasons because we have not gone down that road before,” Bird told podcast host Steve Greene.

He said there were too many similarities between Nathan and Elizabeth’s first husband, Jack Thornton, who died at the end of Season 5. Both men were “mounties” (short for Royal Canadian Mounted Police), so pairing Elizabeth with Nathan would have felt like a rehash of the show’s early seasons, according to Bird.

“We wanted to find a new way to do a love story for Elizabeth, so we didn’t just repeat the same storylines,” he said. “I feel a big responsibility to give the Hearties Hope Valley for as many seasons as possible.”

Next great love story

Actress Erin Krakow, who plays Elizabeth on the show, has also brought up the similarity between Nathan and Jack.

During an interview with Entertainment Tonight in May, she said Elizabeth had projected some of her feelings toward Jack onto Nathan. She believes that Lucas is Elizabeth’s “next great love story.”

Bird assured Greeneline’s listeners that Nathan would remain an essential character on When Calls the Heart. Writers have already started work on Season 9 and have devised storylines that will keep him front-and-center in the show.

During the half-hour podcast, Bird also talked about the show serving as a gentle alternative to the programming on other networks. When Calls the Heart is based on a series of books by Christian author Janette Oke. The TV show avoids profanity and limits violence, focusing instead on religious faith and the day-to-day life of a small community.

Bird said he believes this appeals to viewers burned out by the recent volatile presidential election and the ongoing difficulty of the coronavirus pandemic.

When Calls the Heart co-creator and producer Brian Bird said the series will last for more seasons thanks to Elizabeth choosing Lucas over Nathan.
When Calls the Heart co-creator and producer Brian Bird said the series will last for more seasons thanks to Elizabeth choosing Lucas over Nathan. Pic credit: Brian Bird/Instagram.

“The last few years have been dramatic and traumatic,” he said. “People…are starved to death for uplifting entertainment, for hope, for happy endings, for a sense of uplift in their lives and getting past the darkness, the cynicism of our age.”

The return of Abigail Stanton

Finally, he touched on his hope for the return of one of the show’s most popular characters, Abigail Stanton. Played by actress Lori Loughlin, Abigail was written out of the series during Season 6, when Loughlin was indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit fraud and money laundering.

Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, were accused of paying $500,000 and lying about their daughters’ credentials to get the girls into the University of Southern California as recruits for the crew team. Loughlin pleaded guilty and served two months in federal prison.

Actress Lori Loughlin, who appeared on When Calls the Heart during Seasons 1 through 6.
Bird said he hopes that character Abigail Stanton, played by actress Lori Loughlin, could return to the show. Pic credit: Crown Media.

Bird said he would love to Loughlin back on the show, but it’s not entirely up to him.

“If anyone should return to Hope Valley, it should be Abigail,” he said.

Shooting will begin on Season 9 in about six weeks.

When Calls the Heart is currently on hiatus at the Hallmark Channel

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  1. I have never responded to anything when it came to When Calls the Heart but this choice Elizabeth had to make between Nathan and Lucas was the biggest mistake the show has made. Maybe it was the terrible year everyone had to endure that made confusion in the producers of this show. Why ever it happened, I guess it is time for me to shift gears and let this favorite show go because it has no place to go.

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  2. After being extremely disappointed with season eight, my wife and I have decided to stop watching and collecting “When Calls the Heart”.

    This latest installment contains a very poor message to single mothers about the importance of fatherhood. When Elizabeth picked Lucas as her “lifetime” companion, fatherhood was totally absent from her equation. There wasn’t a single piece of dialogue or narration anywhere in the whole season in which she affirmed or even considered that Lucas would be a good father for her son. Whether or not Lucas has this potential is beside the point—the fact remains that this crucial detail was a NON-ISSUE to the writers, producers, and network executives.

    We find this unacceptable for a series that espouses family values. When selecting a mate, single mothers have a responsibility to think wider than simply who they are “in love” with, because the poor choice of a step-parent can lead to drastic problems…and very often has. Too bad this show didn’t have the guts to make a statement about how the “Me generation” is a recipe rich for familial casualties. Instead, it took the final step in modeling the deceitful fallacy of “following one’s heart” at any expense in the effort to achieve personal happiness.

    We shouldn’t be surprised that the show dropped the ball at this point, because the character of Elizabeth is barely a shadow of who she used to be. When the series began, she was a courageous woman who left behind an affluent lifestyle and ventured into the unknown to be a schoolteacher on the Canadian frontier. Coming to a mining town that had been struck with awful tragedy, she quickly established herself as a true heroine and a role model for women in any time or place. Why? Because she was SELFLESS. She earnestly, generously, and continually gave of her time, knowledge, and energy to benefit the grieving children under her care—as well as their mothers, some of whom were unkind and wrongly judged her.

    Eight seasons later, the once selfless Elizabeth is virtually unrecognizable. After misjudging her best friend and treating her badly, she resolves to make up with her only because she desperately needs her advice. Whatever happened to doing the right thing simply because it’s the right thing, without any personal gain being involved? Again, say hello to the “Me generation” on this sadly degenerated series. How are we supposed to believe that Elizabeth does ANYTHING anymore—including teaching school—for a reason that doesn’t suit her personal ambitions?

    Along the same lines, Elizabeth’s choice of Lucas over Nathan, her other suitor, is also out of character. What attracted her to her late husband Jack was that he, too, was a selfless person who would do the right thing no matter what the cost. Nathan embodies all of the same qualities as Jack PLUS an additional one that makes him even better, in that he’s willing to leave behind his career for the sake of his family (it was Jack’s reluctance to do this that led to his untimely death). To top it off, Nathan is also proven as a good father. But in spite of all that, Elizabeth rejects the selfless man in favor a self-indulgent one. Lucas, the owner/operator of the local saloon, may be more exciting, suave, rich, and romantic, but he’s also moody, irritable, and childish when he doesn’t get his way. Perhaps most baffling of all is the fact that the majority of the show’s fans were very vocal about wanting Elizabeth to choose Nathan, and yet the producers disregarded their preference.

    To all you “Hearties” out there who share our disappointment, we recommend that you join us in boycotting the series until the producers stop churning out this sub-standard excuse for a program that once stood tall for its inspiring lead characters and embracing TRUE family values. They can do better, and they will if you hit them in their pocketbooks. On the other hand, if you keep accepting fluff and nonsense, they’ll pump out even more. We don’t need another politically-correct series encouraging the lie that fathers, at best, are secondary or inconsequential factors in how a child should be raised. We also don’t need a show pushing the lie that following one’s heart will invariably lead someone in the right direction. There’s more to a successful life than self-fulfillment, especially where children are concerned. Very often it’s necessary to sacrifice passion and excitement in favor of doing what’s best for one’s kids.

    Did anyone else notice how Elizabeth’s son was relegated to a background character this season? And that whenever he was mentioned, it was usually in connection with a babysitter? Yet again, the “Me generation” calls the heart! Just get a babysitter, and go have fun. You also may have noticed that when Nathan asked Elizabeth out, he wanted her son to join them. Did Lucas ever mention anything about including the boy on his dates with Elizabeth? No, not once.

    One final thought. It’s suggested in the last episode that Nathan may wind up with Faith, an irritatingly conflicted woman who previously couldn’t recognize true love when it was staring her in the face. If that ridiculous match-up were to be foisted upon us, it would be the final insult to our intelligence. “When Calls the Heart” is already bleeding badly and needs emergency care, not something that would amount to the proverbial nail in the coffin. The show must recover its original values and restore its credibility with the fans who hung in there all these years to experience a better outcome than what season eight saw fit to give them. As it is now, my wife and I wish that we had checked out a long time ago.

    Christopher Dufour
    Pastor, Arising Light International Church

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