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'When Calls the Heart' returns without Lori Loughlin — here's what happened

The Hallmark Channel addressed the actress's exit very early on in a new episode.
/ Source: TODAY

One of TV’s more unusual mysteries was solved Sunday when viewers learned just how “When Calls the Heart” would handle the exit of Lori Loughlin, who was let go from the series in the wake of her involvement in the college admissions scandal.

Fans of the Hallmark Channel show didn’t have to wait long during the new episode to see what fate awaited Loughlin’s character, Abigail, the mayor of Hope Valley.

The episode opened with Elizabeth, played by Erin Krakow, narrating a letter.

Lori Loughlin
Erin Krakow and Lori Loughlin on a 2018 episode of "When Calls the Heart."Everett Collection

“We never know how life will turn,” she began. “It’s been a week since Abigail got word that her mother had taken ill back east. True to her nature, Abigail wasted no time in rushing off to care for her.

“Abigail is much more than a friend, she’s family. I will miss her and Cody deeply, we all will, but we must get by as best we can. ... We all keep Abigail and her family in our prayers in her absence and wish her Godspeed. In her absence we must soldier on and we will. We are a community, we are strong, we are Hope Valley.”

“When Calls the Heart” was in the midst of its current sixth season when news broke that Loughlin, 54, and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, were among dozens of parents charged in the college admissions scandal.

Loughlin and Giannulli are accused of paying $500,000 in bribes to get their two daughters into the University of Southern California. They have pleaded not guilty to charges of money laundering and conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

The show went on an unplanned hiatus so it could make changes and remove Loughlin from scenes she had already filmed, Entertainment Weekly reported.

Her former co-stars have spoken about the situation, thanking fans for their continued support of the show. Last week, Jack Wagner even likened Loughlin’s exit to “the five stages of grief.”