What Only The Biggest Fans Know About Hallmark's Good Witch

There aren't many television shows that can boast a 14-year run, but that rare achievement has been earned by "Good Witch." It all started back in 2008, when Catherine Bell — who had recently come off a successful 10-year stint on "JAG" — starred in "The Good Witch," a TV movie for the Hallmark Channel. The spectacular ratings of that first movie spawned several more before ultimately spinning off into a TV series in 2015.

The series ultimately ran for seven seasons until 2021, bringing to an end the adventures of titular witch Cassandra "Cassie" Nightingale (played by Bell), proprietor of the Bell, Book & Candle occult shop in the small Midwestern town of Middleton. Other characters in the series included Cassie's love interest (and eventual husband) Dr. Sam Radford (played by James Denton of "Desperate Housewives" fame) and Cassie's daughter Grace (played by Bailee Madison).

During the course of the "Good Witch" franchise's extraordinary television run, the show built a loyal fanbase, who nicknamed themselves Goodies. Even the most hardcore of these fans, however, might not be aware of some of the show's intricacies. Read on to discover what only the biggest fans know about Hallmark's "Good Witch."

How the show evolved from movies to a series

The Hallmark Channel's association with what came to be its longest-running franchise began in 2008 with the made-for-TV movie "The Good Witch." The movie proved to be a massive success. As The Hollywood Reporter noted, "The Good Witch" was the second most-watched original movie the network had aired up to that point. A follow-up film was fast-tracked, with "The Good Witch's Garden" following in 2009. "It was never supposed to be a franchise," executive producer Jon Eskenas told TV Goodness. "When we did the first movie, it just got these massive numbers, and so then it was, 'Okay, let's do a second.' And there was no planning to do it."

More movies kept coming, with the Hallmark Channel producing a new one each year, including "The Good Witch's Gift" (2010), "The Good Witch's Family" (2011), "The Good Witch's Charm" (2012), "The Good Witch's Destiny" (2013), and "The Good Witch's Wonder" (2014). 

In 2015, in what must have been something of a no-brainer decision, the Hallmark Channel launched "Good Witch," a full-fledged TV series. According to Eskenas, transforming a hit made-for-TV movie franchise into a TV series wasn't as straightforward as one might imagine. "What makes the movies work is you have a very clear beginning, middle, and end," he explained. "[With a series], you may want some of that, but you want to be able to build, too."

The reason Cassie was married in the movies and a widow in the series

In the series of "The Good Witch" movies that preceded the series, Catherine Bell's character, Cassie, was enamored with local police chief Jake Russell, played by Chris Potter (who went on to star in "Heartland"). The characters tied the knot in the third movie, "The Good Witch's Gift." In "The Good Witch's Family," Cassie reveals she's expecting a baby, which arrives in the subsequent film, "The Good Witch's Charm."

When the "Good Witch" series arrived, however, fans of the movies were in for a bit of a shock. Seven years later, Cassie is a widowed single mom after her husband's death. While viewers may have been confused, there was a very good reason for Jake's absence. 

"Chris Potter, who played my husband in the movies, was not available, so it wasn't the original intention, but somehow it worked out because we thought, 'Well, what do we do? How do we stay true to the fans and honor this character that everybody loved?'" Bell told Parade. "So we decided the best way to do that would be to age forward in time."

Good Witch is set in a small Midwestern town, but was filmed in Canada

"Good Witch" is among the many Hallmark Channel movies and series that are set in bucolic small towns in various parts of America — but are actually filmed in Canada. As viewers well know, "Good Witch" is set in Middleton, a small Midwestern town not far from Chicago. However, the show was actually filmed in the Canadian province of Ontario. According to The Cinemaholic, interior scenes were typically filmed in studio facilities in Toronto, while location filming took place in and around the cities of Cambridge and Hamilton. 

In fact, the Toronto Star noted that the house Cassie calls home is a real house in the town of Dundas, just outside of Hamilton. Dubbed the Grey House in the show, the actual abode — known in real life as the Foxbar House — has become something of a tourist attraction for fans of the show (aka Goodies).

"They just want to see Grey House," explained Liz Heersink, the owner of the home, of the fans who keep knocking on her door. "They've come from California, Chicago, Texas, Florida, Australia, and a couple came from Italy. ... It's just craziness. They really want to see the place. A couple of them have cried. ... They get quite emotional."

Good Witch brought Hallmark's first-ever same-sex kiss in a TV series

While it's no secret that Hallmark Channel hasn't always won accolades for its progressiveness, "Good Witch" did manage to provide its network with something of a milestone in that respect. That took place during an episode during the show's seventh and final season. In the scene, Joy (played by Kat Barrell) and Zoey (Kyana Teresa) are seen dancing at a soiree and lean in for a kiss — which just happened to be the first-ever same-sex kiss to air on a Hallmark Channel series. Meanwhile, TVLine noted, Joy and Zoey were also the first LGBTQ couple ever featured in a Hallmark series.

As TVLine pointed out, though, the couple wasn't technically a first for Hallmark Channel overall, since an earlier Hallmark holiday movie, "The Christmas House," previously featured Hallmark'd first same-sex couple and first gay kiss. 

Nevertheless, the kiss was still a big deal, something made clear by Teresa in an Instagram post. "If you're not making history, you're not doing it right," she wrote. "Thank you to everyone [who] helped this story become a reality and to everyone who rallied for it until the very end and beyond. It means more to me than you'll ever know."

Catherine Bell's relationship with her onscreen daughter carried through in real life

As the storyline jumps ahead seven years when "The Good Witch" movies morphed into the "Good Witch" series, the baby daughter that Catherine Bell's character welcomed is now a teenager, played by actor Bailee Madison. As Bell told Parade, tossing a teenage girl into the mix added a whole other element to the storytelling that Bell found exciting from an acting perspective. "That also provides fun tension between a mother and a teenage daughter, who has some of my witchy abilities, but maybe doesn't know how to use them so well, and how does this mom help her daughter?" Bell mused, adding, "So, it ended up being a great, I guess, happy accident in that regard."

Playing mother and daughter for all those seasons resulted in Bell and Madison developing a similar relationship offscreen. "We all adore her so much and I really still feel like she's my daughter," Bell gushed to MediaVillage

Madison exited the show at the end of the fifth season, with her character graduating high school and heading to college, and Bell admitted that it wasn't much of a stretch to express the emotions her character was experiencing. "When Grace went off to college, I really felt like a proud mom," she shared. 

Good Witch was more popular than people realized

Given that there have been 12 movies and seven seasons of the series, there's no denying that "The Good Witch" had plenty of time to make an impact on the television landscape. Whether or not it actually did, however, depends on who you ask, given that the show garnered a huge, loyal fanbase while managing to mostly slip through the cracks of mainstream television criticism.

That was evident in a 2017 New York Times piece about the show, boasting the cheeky headline, "Have Your Grandparents Told You About 'Good Witch'?" As the article pointed out, "Breaking Bad" was regularly the No. 1 show on basic cable — and coming in at No. 2 was "Good Witch," raking in an impressive 2.5 million viewers with each airing. 

To put it in perspective, Bell spent an impressive 10 seasons as Sarah "Mac" MacKenzie on "JAG," yet that was a mere fraction of the time she spent playing Cassie on "Good Witch." "I have been with Hallmark for 12 years," she said in a 2019 interview with MediaVillage, two years before the show was canceled. "'The Good Witch' was the first movie franchise they did. It makes me feel old!" 

What an actual Wiccan witch thought of the series

As film and television depictions of witches go, Catherine Bell's Cassie Nightingale was pretty benign. As a piece on the show in The New York Times pointed out, Cassie's witchcraft was "mild and undefined," although she "knows just which tea or lotion will help a customer through a minor life crisis." Cassie's real power, declared the Times, was the "uncanny intuition she uses to nudge people toward the right path."

While that may seem to be at odds with Hollywood's typical depiction of witches, stirring bubbling cauldrons and flying on broomsticks, an actual practitioner of Wiccan witchcraft thought the Hallmark Channel's depiction was pretty spot on. "The 'Good Witch' series depicts magic more as I see it in my life than as any other fiction has ever depicted it," declared actual Wiccan witch Mackenzie Sage Wright in an essay for HubPages. In Middelton, Cassie's magic helps people tap into their own hidden inner resources to solve their problems and answer big life questions — something right in line with the experience of the author, a self-described "Wiccan of 25 years." As Wright pointed out, Cassie's witchcraft "seems to be more based on a positive attitude, wisdom, natural remedies, and using your head."

James Denton honed in on the secret of the show's success

So, what's the secret sauce that goes into a Hallmark Channel franchise that enchanted millions upon millions for well over a decade? Ask "Good Witch" star James Denton, who played Dr. Sam Radford, and he'll share his unique perspective on a question he's thought long and hard about. As Denton told MediaVillage, he realized the show had a solid chance at success, given the combination of how well the movies had done and Catherine Bell's proven popularity as a TV star. "Did I have any idea it would be the No. 1 show on the network?" Denton said. "No, but it's not a shock."

Ultimately, Denton attributed the show's allure to its optimism, something he felt was sorely missing from television. "People want something positive," he explained. "I think they're tired of watching people being awful to each other and they can turn on Hallmark Channel and see people treating each other well and have a happy ending. I really believe that has a lot to do with it."

Bell also has some insight, particularly since she was not only the show's star, but also its executive producer. Speaking with MediaVillage, Bell alluded to the fact that "Good Witch" is for women — and features women both in front of and behind the camera. "It is very important to have more women writing, producing, directing," Bell said.

The owner of the real house where Good Witch was filmed knew the series was ending

In 2021, the Hallmark Channel announced that "Good Witch" had been renewed for a seventh season, set to debut that May. While the show was in production in Canada, however, there were clues and hints that the seventh season might also be the show's last. 

That was the case for Liz Heersink, owner of the house in Dundas, Ontario that doubled for Cassie's crib on the show. As Heersink told The Hamilton Spectator, she had an inkling the show was coming to an end during the production of that last season. "I was told they were shooting two endings," Heersink explained. "Okay, I thought, that's the end of the show." 

Star Catherine Bell confirmed that two distinct endings were filmed, one that would set up an eighth season and another that would serve as a series finale by wrapping up the story in a nice, neat bow. "We did two versions," Bell said during a joint fan Q&A with co-star James Denton on Facebook. "We didn't know we were not coming back, but there were two options." Bell hoped that the chosen series finale ending would resonate with fans. "There's definitely a nice wrap-up," she said. "They won't be feeling like it was a cliffhanger or anything like that."

The stars of Good Witch reacted to the show's cancellation with gratitude

In July 2021, fans of "Good Witch" received the disappointing news that "Good Witch" would not be returning for an eighth season. 

While "cancellation" is rarely a word that an actor wants to hear, the overwhelming feeling from the cast was one of gratitude. "I am so grateful for seven seasons ... and 13 years (of movies) of being a part of 'Good Witch,' working with the KINDEST and most talented cast and crew, producers, network! It has always felt like family," Bell said in a message she shared on Instagram. All in all, she wrote, the 14 years she spent playing Cassie were overwhelmingly positive. "But I am definitely smiling because it happened," she reflected.

Her co-star, James Denton, also offered his thoughts on the show's end. "It would be unseemly to complain about your show being canceled after seven seasons, and I won't," he declared in a statement issued to Deadline. "I've been very fortunate to have been on other long-running series, but 'Good Witch' was special." 

There's a possibility that Good Witch could return

It didn't take long after the cancellation of "Good Witch" for the buzz to begin about a possible series revival. Speaking during the 2022 Television Critics Association press tour (via TVLine), Hallmark Channel exec Lisa Hamilton Daly responded to a question about reviving the show. "As far as 'Good Witch,' I think we're always interested in thinking about what we can do with our most popular IP [intellectual property]," she said, but was unable to commit to any concrete plans. "I can't announce anything specific about that," she added.

One person who was hopeful about a "Good Witch" revival was star James Denton. "I think there's a chance. I know [with] the popularity of the show and the circumstances under which it ended sort of abruptly that it would not surprise me if we revisit it," Denton told TV Insider while promoting his latest project — a Hallmark Channel holiday movie.

However, he was also quick to point out that talk of a "Good Witch" revival was pure speculation at that point. "Nobody's made me an offer," he admitted. "There's nothing in the works, but I think the odds are decent just because I know the network respects the franchise. It ran for 14 years between the movies and the series. So I think there's a decent chance, but I had to say in the same breath there is nothing in the immediate works."