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Series / When Calls the Heart

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When Calls the Heart is a 2014 Hallmark Channel series based on Janette Oke's Canadian West series. It stars Erin Krakow as Elizabeth Thatcher, Daniel Lissing as Jack Thornton, and Lori Loughlin as Abigail Stanton.

The show premiered on Hallmark as a two-hour pilot film in October 2013. That film featured Maggie Grace as Elizabeth, but the role was re-cast with Krakow when it was picked up as a series.

Set in 1910, Elizabeth Thatcher is a young teacher from an upper-class Canadian family who travels to Northwest Canada to teach the children of Coal Valley, a small mining town nestled in the mountains. There she meets handsome Jack Thornton, a constable of the Northwest Mounted Police (which later became the Royal Canadian Mounted Police). The series follows their romance and the lives of the town's citizens.


When Calls the Heart contains examples of:

  • Adaptational Dye Job Elizabeth is described as a blond with red highlights in the book. In the TV series she is a brunette with red highlights.
  • Adult Fear: Young Rosaleen, whom is mute from trauma of losing her father, vanishing when Elizabeth's back is turned. Gets even worse when Elizabeth realizes she's gone to the dangerous coal mine.
  • Adventure Towns
  • The Alcoholic: Wendell Bacchus, one of the few survivors of the mine explosion.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Elizabeth's younger sister Julie has a bad case of this, mostly because she Thinks Like a Romance Novel. The two men she's shown interest in are the outlaw Nate and ne'er-do-well Tom, both of which she has insisted are "misunderstood".
  • As the Good Book Says...: Said word for word by a conman pretending to be a preacher
  • Advertisement:
  • Badass Preacher: Frank Hogan has shades of this.
  • Bar Brawl
  • The Bartender
  • Beware the Nice Ones: In one episode, Abigail brilliantly bitches out Florence when she overhears her gossiping about how the preacher was in her home after dark. All without raising her voice, and using three paraphrased quotes from the Bible to do so.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Mountie Jack frequently shows up just in the nick of time.
  • Canada Does Not Exist: Notably averted in Season One, when the show makes it no secret that it takes place in northwest Canada. Strongly present in subsequent seasons, when, with the exception of a Mountie as a character and Hamilton as a city, laws, political systems, locations, famous historical artists and inventors, newspapers, and cities are all American. There is even mention of the Mountie running for President, instead of Prime Minister, which is an incredibly jarring experience for Canadian viewers.
  • Canadian Western
  • Chastity Couple: All the courting couples. The show is set in 1910, after all.
    • When conveniently alone on several occasions, Jack and Elizabeth start kissing with great intensity, only to have the camera fade out. It's left up to viewers to decide just how much did or didn't happen afterward.
  • Christmas Episode: "Christmas" and "The Christmas Wishing Tree".
  • Churchgoing Villain: Henry Gowen attends the Sunday gathering just like the rest of the town.
  • City Mouse: Rosemary, the flamboyant, enthusiastic actress from New York.
  • City Slicker
  • Compete for the Maiden's Hand: Billy Hamilton and Jack publicly competed for Elizabeth's affections. She wasn't amused. Later, Charles competes with Jack for Elizabeth.
  • Convicted by Public Opinion: One widow is suspected of burning down the town's church out of jealousy. Her son overhears her "friends" discussing how she's obviously guilty.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Henry Gowen, the series' main antagonist.
  • Culture Clash: A huge plot point in season one with city girl Elizabeth and small town/frontier residents of Hope Valley. Lessened a bit in season two, as Elizabeth has seemed to have adjusted well, but it's still present.
  • Daddy's Girl: Though all of the Thatcher sisters can count, Elizabeth seemes to be the one that her father focuses most of his attention on since Viola is engaged and he is at odds with Julie.
  • Damsel in Distress: Elizabeth, Rosemary, and Julie all get their turns
  • Determined Homesteader's Wife: A few women didn't lose their husbands in the mine explosion and remained this. The ones who did became the Determined Widow.
  • Determined Homesteader's Children: Many of Elizabeth's pupils
  • Determined Widow: Most of the supporting cast at the beginning of the series.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: In "Heart of a Teacher", the whole episode's plot revolves around Elizabeth trying to clear her name and get her teaching job back. She confronts the superintendent of schools in Northern territories about it, who agrees to take back a letter he wrote to smear her name if she agrees to be with him romantically. After Elizabeth declines and the superintendent refuses to take the letter back, Abigail urges Elizabeth to see if the superintendent has approached any other school teachers in this way, as they could help her with clearing her name.
  • Everyone Can See It: Elizabeth's students frequently pester her about her relationship with Jack.
  • Fair Cop: Constable Jack Thornton of the Northwest Mounted Police
  • Family Versus Career: An ultra-rare male version for Jack. He got over it.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: The main two couples fit this perfectly: Rosemary "Levaux" Coulter (sanguine), Jack Thornton (melancholic), Elizabeth "Thatcher" Thornton (choleric), and Lee Coulter (phlegmatic).
    • Some other adult characters into all 4 roles as well, though there are a lot of melancholics in town: Abigail Stanton (phlegmatic), Bill Avery (melancholic/choleric blend), Henry Gowen (choleric/melancholic blend), Pastor Frank Hogan (melancholic), Dr. Carson Shepherd (melancholic), Florence Blakely (choleric), Dottie Ramsey (sanguine), Clara Stanton (melancholic/phlegmatic), Jesse Flynn (sanguine), Mollie Sullivan (melancholic), Cat Montgomery (phlegmatic/melancholic), Michael Hickam (melancholic), Julie Thatcher (sanguine), Tom Thornton (sanguine), Faith Carter (phlegmatic), Charles Kensington (melancholic), Shane Cantrell (melancholic), Ray Wyatt (choleric) AJ Foster (choleric/sanguine), Katie Yost (phlegmatic), Murphy McBride (sanguine), Ned Yost (sanguine).
    • These four personalities can be seen on a child's level too: Robert (sanguine), Cody Stanton (melancholic), Opal (sanguine/phlegmatic), Hattie (choleric), Harper (phlegmatic/melancholic), Phillip Cantrell (melancholic), Timmy Lawson (melancholic/phlegmatic), Emily Montgomery (sanguine), Gabe Montgomery (melancholic/choleric), Miles Montgomery(phlegmatic), James Fermont (sanguine/choleric).
    • Elizabeth's family: William (choleric), Grace (phlegmatic), Viola (melancholic), Elizabeth (choleric), and Julie (sanguine).
    • Jack's family: Charlotte (choleric), Jack (melancholic/phlegmatic), Tom (sanguine).
  • Girls Love Stuffed Animals: Elizabeth's youngest student, Opal, loves her teddy bear Brownie and carries him everywhere she goes.
  • Give Me a Sign: Clara Stanton asked for a sign from God that she should testify in court
  • Gossipy Hens
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Jack to Elizabeth
  • Horseback Heroism: One of Jack's favorite ways of saving the day.
  • Hot Teacher: Elizabeth has no shortage of suitors.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Began slowly in season two, but as of season five, most of the episode titles excluding the Christmas specials have the word heart in them.
  • Instrumental Theme Tune
  • I Will Wait for You: Julie to Tom before he leaves Hamilton due to the fallout from the automobile accident.
  • Lady in Red: Rosemary, as much as a character from a show based on Christian romance novels can be.
  • Lecture as Exposition: Elizabeth's lessons often parallel the themes of the episode.
  • Maternal Death? Blame the Child!: Subverted. A student of Elizabeth's, Philip, initially fears his father does not love him because his mother died giving birth, but the truth is his father is distant because of working hard to provide for them. With Elizabeth's encouragement, Philip and his father mend their relationship.
  • Meaningful Name: Wendell Bacchus, an alcoholic with the same name as the Greek God of wine.
  • Meanwhile Scene: Used very frequently throughout the series.
  • Monochrome Casting: Well, it is set 1910...
    • Subverted slightly as of season four. At least one black woman appears as an extra in the background for many scenes, and in one episode, the town's new welder is black.
  • Mustache Vandalism Rosemary does this at one point to a picture Jack drew of Elizabeth.
  • Old-Fashioned Rowboat Date: Elizabeth and Jack have one of these early in their relationship, before either even officially admitted being attracted to the other. Unfortunately Elizabeth notices a spider on her shoulder, causing her to panic and fling herself at Jack, nearly overturning the rowboat.
  • Old Flame: Rosemary to Jack
  • Outlaw: A few, most notably the man Julie Thatcher takes under her wing.
  • Pinkerton Detective
  • Preacher Man
  • Put on a Bus: Abigail, when Lori Loughlin's arrest as part of a massive college cheating scandal forced producers to write her off by stating Abigail had to leave town suddenly to look after her sick mother.
  • Running Gag:
    • Elizabeth and her terrible cooking skills.
    • Rosemary's past roles being the title character of the play, e.g. a chambermaid in The Chambermaid and a fortuneteller in The Fortuneteller.
  • Schoolmarm
  • Second Love: Elizabeth for Jack, Bill for Abigail, Lee for Rosemary, just to name a few.
  • Sherlock Scan: A lighter version from Jack.
  • Shoo Out the New Guy: James Brolin is introduced in the first season finale as Judge Jedidiah Black, has a badass Establishing Character Moment, and... is explained as having been written out in the season two premiere by Henry Gowen due to a snakebite.
  • Shopkeeper
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Julie and Tom and Elizabeth and Jack, to a lesser extent.
  • "Wanted!" Poster: With aforementioned man on it.
  • Wedding Finale: Lee and Rosemary wed in the season three finale, "Prayers From The Heart".
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Nora's accent is occasionally New England, Western, Southern, and Midwestern. It is notably not Canadian in any discernible way.


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