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Virgin River fans share confusion over major change in season three

New episodes landed on Netflix on Friday

virgin river s3
Eve Crosbie
Eve CrosbieTV & Film Writer
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Season three of Virgin River has finally landed on Netflix and while fans are thrilled, plenty have taken to social media to express their confusion over one character's absence in the new set of episodes. Warning, minor spoilers head!

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During most of season three, the town's resident busy-body Hope is nowhere to be seen. First, she is called out of town to look after her ill aunt in South Carolina and then gets caught up in a hurricane, further delaying her return to Virgin River. 

When she does make it back home towards the end of the season, she gets into a car accident which leaves her fighting for her life - although this happens entirely off-screen. 

WATCH: Are you watching season three of Virgin River?

Posting to Reddit about Hope's absence in the new series, one fan said: "Hmm I wonder if Hope isn't going to be in this season much. Unpopular opinion (and I know we debate this constantly) but I actually like her. Will be a shame for me if she is mostly absent."

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Another echoed this, writing: "Same here! Like I know she can be childish, but I like how Hope's friendly to newcomers, and the way she just took Mel under her wing when she first showed up."

A third weighed in: "The lack of Hope was sort of odd to me. I wonder if her not appearing is Covid or schedule related."

virgin river hope© Photo: Netflix

Annette O'Toole was unable to film scenes for the third season of the Netflix show

Well, it turns out that her absence was indeed due to the pandemic. Sadly, the actress who plays Hope, Annette O'Toole, was not able to fly to Vancouver last year when filming took place.

Speaking to US Weekly, showrunner Sue Tenney explained: "We were affected by COVID like every other show, and it was impossible for Annette to come and join us up here in Vancouver. Personally, I love Hope. I love the character, so we got busy in the writers' room to see how we can keep her alive in the show, with only having limited access."

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In another interview with Entertainment Weekly, she added that some major storylines that they had planned for this season, namely Doc and Hope's vow renewal ceremony, had to be scrapped in light of the circumstances.

"That was a pandemic pivot. We've worked very hard to make sure she was still very much in the show. If we have a fourth season, everyone is now vaccinated and the pandemic is not what it was. So, I would hope that we would have Annette back."

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