Why was Hope McCrea missing from Virgin River season 3?

Fans of Virgin River were left puzzled by the absence of Annette O’Toole’s character, Hope McCrea, throughout Season 3 of the popular series. The reason behind this absence, as explained by showrunner Sue Tenney, was rooted in the COVID-19 pandemic and concerns for O’Toole’s health and safety.

Due to pandemic-related restrictions and protocols, the decision was made to significantly limit O’Toole’s on-screen presence to protect her well-being. This meant that Hope McCrea’s appearances were restricted to occasional video calls with Doc (Tim Matheson) and brief remarks scattered throughout the season. Despite not physically being on set, the character’s storyline continued to be woven into the narrative, albeit in a more subdued manner.


Sue Tenney reassured fans that Hope remained an integral part of the show despite her reduced screen time during Season 3. The creative team adapted to the circumstances by incorporating video calls between Hope and Doc, which helped maintain their relationship and advance the storyline in meaningful ways.

In an interview with PureWow, Annette O’Toole expressed her frustration with the situation but appreciated the effort made to keep her character involved. Hope’s storyline took a poignant turn when she was involved in a fatal car accident, a dramatic event that ensured her impact on the season’s storyline would be deeply felt.

As for the broader plot of Virgin River Season 3, the season picked up from the aftermath of Jack’s shooting and delved into various personal and relational challenges faced by the characters. Mel’s journey with pregnancy, Jack’s complicated relationships, and the mysteries surrounding the small town continued to unfold, providing fans with plenty of emotional and dramatic moments.

Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, Virgin River Season 3 managed to navigate through Hope McCrea’s absence while maintaining its core storytelling and character dynamics, leaving viewers eager to see what Season 4 will bring.