Why Daniel Lissing Really Left Hallmark's When Calls The Heart

Daniel Lissing devastated Hallmark fans in 2018 when he left "When Calls the Heart," which centers on a schoolteacher readjusting to life in a 1900s-era coal mining town. The actor had spent the previous four years portraying the role of Jack Thornton on the popular show, which first premiered in 2014. During his time in Hope Valley — the idyllic yet fictional town where the show is set – Lissing worked closely with Erin Krakow, who not only served as the show's lead but also his character's love interest and eventual wife, Elizabeth Thornton. Lissing's final episode, which aired in April 2018, saw his character, Jack, succumb to an untimely death, which left Elizabeth as a widow and expecting mother.

Given that Lissing has always spoken highly of his journey on "When Calls The Heart," fans of the hit show were, of course, anxious to find out why he'd leave everything behind after five seasons. A few days after his finale, Lissing gathered with some of his co-stars, including Lori Loughlin, who has since ditched the Hallmark Network, to discuss his character's tragic end and his motivations for leaving. "Circumstances arose for me where I needed to leave 'When Calls the Heart' for reasons that are very personal to me," Lissing shared during a Facebook Live (via ET). "I went to Hallmark and they were nothing but supportive of me. I went to the girls and they were nothing but supportive of me."

Daniel Lissing doesn't regret leaving When Calls The Heart

Daniel Lissing didn't dive too deeply into his motivation for leaving "When Calls the Heart" but his co-star, Lori Loughlin, suggested during the Facebook Live that his decision came after deciding not to renew his contract with the network. "But we are actors, and actors have contracts and sometimes contracts expire and you have a choice to make," said Loughlin during their Q&A session. "You either renegotiate or you don't, and Dan has chosen to move on, we respect that. No judgment, we love him, we wish him well, he's still part of the Hallmark family," she continued. While Lissing didn't chime in to confirm or deny Loughlin's thoughts, he did call the role "the honor of his career."

That said, Lissing has since revealed that he doesn't regret leaving "When Calls the Heart" behind. "It's funny the way the world works. If I had stayed on the show, and been there during season 6 and shot and all that kind of stuff, then I wouldn't have met [my fiancee] Nadia, you know?" Lissing told ET in February 2020. "And I wouldn't be getting married and I wouldn't be at this place in my life where I feel really in line with what I'm meant to be doing personally and professionally, so no regrets at all." While it's clear that Lissing loves his job, the actor also revealed that his personal life takes precedence over his career. 

Would Daniel Lissing return to When Calls The Heart

Given that Daniel Lissing's "When Calls the Heart" character was written off by way of death, there was little chance that he'd ever reprise his role unless the writers decided to ignore the laws of nature. Lissing did, however, appear as Jack in one episode of the "When Calls the Heart" spinoff, "When Hope Calls," in 2021. While speaking about his decision to return with ET, Lissing revealed that Lori Loughlin, amid her comeback following the college admissions scandal, requested for him to appear on her show. He even seemed open to the idea of future appearances at the time. "If you can give me a good way to do it, that makes sense, then I'll be open to listening," he shared.

Unfortunately for fans, Lissing seemed pretty uninterested in figuring out a way to incorporate Jack back into the original show. "To tell you the truth, I left the show for a reason, and I moved past this character," Lissing shared with Us Weekly. "I don't think that there's any way to bring this character back in any kind of substantial way, based on the stories that 'When Calls the Heart' is telling." Lissing explained that his on-screen wife, Elizabeth Thornton, had moved on with other romantic suitors, and he didn't feel the need to go backward. "Just personally, of course, I've got my eye to the future and some different kind of projects and parts that I'm keen on playing."