3 Virgin River characters who left the show unexpectedly

VIRGIN RIVER - Annette O’Toole as Hope McCrea of VIRGIN RIVER - NETFLIX (c) 2020
VIRGIN RIVER - Annette O’Toole as Hope McCrea of VIRGIN RIVER - NETFLIX (c) 2020 /

Virgin River premiered on Netflix in December 2019 and has released four beloved seasons as of this writing. While we wait for the fifth season to premiere later in 2023 and reunite us with all of our favorite characters, it’s the perfect time to look back at the past.

Even though the series centers on Mel and Jack’s love story, the ensemble cast of truly colorful characters making up the picturesque small town makes the show super cozy and charming. Whether we love to hate a character or just love to love them, this town has so many wonderful characters.

That’s why it’s never fun to watch one of them leave. Some character have left Virgin River, both the town and the series, for good. Some of them have come back, others we hope will come back soon (looking at you, Ricky!), but the exits, departures, or brief absences of these three characters came as a surprise to fans.

Why did Lilly leave Virgin River?

In season 3, Hope’s best friend Lilly (played by actress Lynda Boyd), was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. While Hope was away, Lilly passed away and marked the end of one of the best supporting characters in the series and a beloved member of the Virgin River community.

For the viewers of the series, Lilly’s death was certainly unexpected. But for those who have read the books in Robyn Carr’s book series, you know Lilly also dies in the books. While Boyd later reprised her role as Lilly in season 4 to bring Hope closure, the actress went on to star in the series Family Law.

Why did Paige leave Virgin River?

In the first season of Virgin River, Paige Lassiter (played by actress Lexa Doig) had a much larger presence. As the mother of Christopher and the owner of a bakery truck, she was a central figure in the town. However, due to circumstances involving Christopher’s father, Paige leaves town to keep herself and her son safe, leaving him in the care of Preacher.

Although Doig makes a guest appearance in season 2 and lightly recurs in season 4, Paige seemed to disappear from view in spite of her storyline being a large part of the series. That could have something to do with Doig’s role in the Aurora Teagarden Mysteries movie series, which released eight installments since Virgin River started in 2019.

Why did Hope leave Virgin River?

During the third season of Virgin River, which filmed during the end of 2020 and premiered in July 2021, Annette O’Toole had a reduced role as her main character Hope. As the mayor of Virgin River and a friend to all, her absence in person was deeply felt.

However, O’Toole had to take a step back from the series due to factors related to the pandemic. She may not have appeared on set with her co-stars, but she remained a presence in the series via limited remote video calls. Although Hope was in a tragic accident at the end of the season, O’Toole returned for the fourth season once again in a series regular capacity.

Watch Virgin River season 1-4 now on Netflix, and stay tuned for news and updates on season 5!

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