The Hallmark series Good Witch has gone through quite a few iterations over the years, including changing out some major characters. When the movies turned into a TV series, Cassie’s first husband Jake did not continue with the new series. Even though Cassie is now happily married to Sam, her character had previously married Jake in 2009. What happened to Chris Potter, who portrayed Jake, and why did he leave the show?
Jake Was Killed Off ‘Good Witch’
The explanation on the TV series was that Cassie’s first husband, Jake Russell, was killed in the line of duty while serving as chief of police in Middleton. He wasn’t killed in a specific episode or on screen. Rather, his death was addressed when Good Witch returned as a TV show with the episode “Starting Over…Again”, with Cassie now a single mom. Cassie returned to Middleton for Jake’s memorial ceremony, where his death was explained. He was shot in the line of duty and died. Jake’s last appearance on Good Witch was in 2014 on The Good Witch’s Wonder, which was also the last The Good Witch movie before the TV series started.
Jake had two children from his first marriage who were also on the show: Brandon and Lori Russell. Brandon Russell eventually joined the Middleton police department, following in his dad’s footsteps, and was in early seasons of the show himself. Lori became a journalist in the Good Witch universe. She last appeared in the TV series in 2015.
Good witch is not the same without #ChrisPotter.
— Mabel Cecilia Cendón (@CendonMabel) August 9, 2020
Fans still miss Jake on Good Witch, even though Cassie is now happy with Sam.
Chris Potter Didn’t Join the TV Series Because He Had Contractual Obligations with ‘Heartland’
As for Chris Potter, he left the show because he was already committed to a different TV series, Heartland, and simply couldn’t make the commitment when Good Witch transitioned from being a series of movies to being a TV show. Seven Good Witch movies had aired before the TV series premiered its first season in 2015.
Hallmark put out a statement saying they really wanted Potter on the show, but he was contractually bound to Heartland, New York Daily News reported. Bell said at the time that they tried “for months” to get Potter back on the show, Distractify reported.
Bell told fans when Good Witch returned: “It wasn’t our first choice, but rather than not make a show at all, we decided to move forward and try and bring in some new people that would hopefully, in some way, make up for it.”
Her interview about Potter leaving was an exclusive with Zap2It, which is now offline, but it was reported on by some other publications at the time, including Star Tribune.
Bell said about Potter leaving: “We tried very hard for months, but we couldn’t get him back from his other show.”
Chris Potter still stars on Heartland to this day. He has portrayed Tim Fleming since 2007 in 210 episodes, according to IMDb. He has also directed episodes on the series. In an interview with Calgary Herald, Potter said there are pros and cons to being on a long-running, popular show like Heartland.
It’s a catch-22, this business. Because young actors pray for constant and steady work and yet steady work can be a killer of your artistic dreams because you’re not available for anything. So you have to decide: Can I find something in this that feeds my artistic sensibilities and solves the other situation in my life, which is to pay the bills? … My advice to all of the actors, always has been, is never make a career decision while you are on the job. Wait until we wrap and you are unemployed for a month and then you can decide if this show is not good enough for you. Don’t make decisions while you’re still working. It’s a false sense of security.