Elizabeth Thornton (formerly Thatcher) is the lead character of When Calls the Heart.
Born into a wealthy family in Hamilton, Elizabeth is the middle daughter of William and Grace Thatcher. She has two sisters, one of them being her younger sister Julie and the other her older sister Viola. Her birthday is march 5th.
While in her early twenties, she headed out west to Coal Valley (now Hope Valley) to be a schoolteacher. She first taught in the town’s local saloon (because it was the only place that was big enough to teach about over a dozen children) when she was living with Abigail Stanton in her row house. She married the love of her life, Constable Jack Thornton, and they remained married up until his death. Charles Kensington, an old friend of hers, proposed to her at the end of the second season, but she ultimately refused. She and Jack then went on to date for the third and fourth season, getting engaged to Jack midway through the fourth season and marrying him in the fifth.
In Episode 1, "Lost and Found", Elizabeth Thatcher has been offered a teaching position in the small mining town of Coal Valley and is en route from Hamilton when her stagecoach is robbed by bandits. Arriving several days late and dishevelled from the journey, Elizabeth introduces herself to some of the townswomen, who then discuss with her the circumstances of her job. They inform her of a mine explosion three months earlier that killed many of the men in the town. Due to Elizabeth's age, inexperience, and privileged background, they doubt her ability to properly teach and prepare their children for life after school, but mercifully decide to give her a trial run.
During her first night, Elizabeth tries to adjust to living on her own and accidentally burns down the teacher's residence. Abigail Stanton, a widow who lost her husband and son in the mine explosion, allows her to stay in her home instead and the two become fast friends.
Elizabeth's first morning of teaching is interrupted by a commotion at the mine, which is smoothed over by RCMP Jack Thornton, who introduces himself as the new constable of Coal Valley. Elizabeth and Jack meet formally in the saloon and despite initially friendly introductions, it is discovered that Jack was reassigned to Coal Valley at the request of Elizabeth's father, for which Jack now resents her. The two develop a hot-and-cold relationship but, by the end of the episode, agree to be civil.
Despite some rough patches, Elizabeth proves herself to the children's mothers and is allowed to stay on as Coal Valley's teacher.
Jack and Elizabeth's relationship continues to grow over the next episodes, during which Jack investigates the fire that burned down the church, while they continue alternating between feuding and flirting.
In Episode 5, "The Dance", new miners arrive in town and one takes a particular interest in Elizabeth, named Billy Hamilton. Jack immediately doesn't trust Billy, but Elizabeth ignores his warnings, believing he is simply jealous. In Episode 6, "These Games", Elizabeth discovers that Billy is a conman who pursued her for her wealth rather than herself. Elizabeth is hurt by this and does not treat Jack kindly due to his lack of want to pursue a relationship with her despite being jealous of Billy at the time.
Elizabeth continues to teach the students of Coal Valley, trying to help them as they cope with the loss of their fathers. During that time Jack asks Elizabeth out on a date which she initially refuses but then proceeds to accept and they share a meal at the saloon. After that, Abigail opens a cafe and Elizabeth moves with Abigail into the apartment above it. It is then that Elizabeth's younger sister, Julie, comes for a visit. Julie is a romantic who then became involved with Nate Tolliver, a bank robber who posed as an injured farmer, who Jack was hunting. During this time Jack and Elizabeth have their first "real" date and share a romantic dinner at Abigail's Cafe. Jack is then reassigned to a new post which he had requested when he originally came to Coal Valley. While Jack is on his way to his new post, he hears that Nate Tolliver was heading to Coal Valley and he turns back for fear that Elizabeth would be in harm's way. It turned out that while he was gone, Elizabeth and Julie had been kidnapped by Nate Tolliver and his gang. Jack then saves Elizabeth and refuses the reassignment, staying in Coal Valley.
Jack and Elizabeth finally appear to be in a steady relationship, however soon a woman named Rosemary LeVeaux comes to town to see Jack. It is then revealed that Rosemary was Jack's ex-fiancé and that she broke it off with him. Rosemary was loud and dramatic but caught the whole town's attention, annoying Elizabeth. While Rosemary tries her hardest to win Jack back, she ultimately fails, as Jack is in love with Elizabeth. In the season finale, "Love Comes First", Jack and Elizabeth share their first kiss and Rosemary decides to stay in Coal Valley.
Throughout season 2, Elizabeth and Jack share a hot-and-cold relationship made complicated by family matters and former beaus. At the end of season 2, after they are trapped in the mine during a storm, they have a long-overdue heart-to-heart and they admit their love for each other and share another kiss. Later, Jack prepares to propose; however, Charles beats him to it. Charles is turned down by Elizabeth and the season 2/3 holiday special sees Elizabeth and Jack mending their relationship once and for all.
Elizabeth continues teaching and then tries to get more supplies for the school considering more people are coming to work for the railroad. After she gets fired because of a letter from a person who helps you with teaching jobs, she quickly goes to Cape Fullerton to fix it. It comes to light that he wrote that letter because Elizabeth turned him down on his advances and he had done this to other women who were scared to say anything or they would lose their job. She could not fix it and heads back to hope valley in which she teaches their new teacher that teaching should be fun. She becomes their teacher again. On a love note, this season Elizabeth and Jack continue to court and everything is fine. Elizabeth shows some interest in wanting to be married to Jack. When Jack needs to leave for the northern territories, he proposes and she says yes.
In the final two episodes of season five, a mountie arrives in Coal Valley with news that Jack was killed in a landslide. Soon after his death, Elizabeth begins to experience pregnancy symptoms and Abigail informs her that she is pregnant with Jack's child.
In the Christmas special before Season 6, she gives birth to Jack Jr., named after her late husband. While she initially struggles with Jack's absence, she eventually becomes thankful for little Jack as a way to remember him.
In Season 6, a new mountie, Nathan Grant, comes to town. While he is initially cold, he warms up to Elizabeth and begins to have feelings for her. However, Elizabeth is interested in another newcomer in town, Lucas Bouchard. At the end of the season, Elizabeth chooses to dance with Bouchard in a Ladies' Choice dance.
She was taking care of her son Jack Jr and her heart was with two men Lucas Bouchard and Nathan Grant and at the end of Season 7 she hug Nathan and Lucas was shocked.
After hugging Nathan, Elizabeth doesn’t see either him or Lucas much for several months. She tells Rosemary that when Nathan was almost shot, she realized she cared more for him than she realized. Nathan asks her on a date, and after she hesitates, he offers to bring the kids along. The date never takes place since Elizabeth stops short of the door.
Helen Bouchard, Elizabeth’s editor, comes to town and spends time going over her manuscript. Many rewrites are needed.
Elizabeth encounters Nathan by the pond, where he confesses his love to her. She becomes upset and tells him she can’t lose him like she lost Jack, and rides away in tears. Things become awkward between them.
Seeing several heated discussions between Nathan and Elizabeth, Lucas comes to her door at night, telling her that he had to set her free to decide who to be with. Elizabeth is visibly upset.
At the end of the season, Elizabeth receives a galley copy of her manuscript. Looking over the manuscript, she removes her wedding rings from Jack. The following day, she encounters Lucas in the cafe, but their conversation is cut short.
After taking with Rosemary, Elizabeth goes to the jail to see Nathan. She informs him that she loves him, but is not “in love” with him. She has been trying to replace Jack with Nathan. Later, she looks for Lucas at the saloon but is informed that he left town. Elizabeth runs down the road out of town, searching for Lucas.
Not knowing what else to do, Elizabeth goes to a bridge at the edge of town. Lucas is there too and they kiss. A little while later, they celebrate the publishing of her book with a date in the library, surrounded by countless candles.
- Jack Thornton (Husband, deceased): Upon his first meeting of Elizabeth, he was interested in her. After meeting, he figured out that Elizabeth's father had sent him to protect and watch over her. Since he had given up an opportunity that he had hoped for to 'babysit' Elizabeth, he was upset that she had been the cause of his new mission. However, he grew to like and then fall in love with her over time. However, the arrival of actress Rosemary LeVeaux reveals that Jack was briefly engaged before moving to Coal (Hope) Valley. This revelation causes a strain on Jack and Elizabeth's relationship. Jack tries to convince Rosemary he has moved on and despite her advances, she eventually comes to realise they have both changed and they could not have a relationship as they once did. Jack finds out that Elizabeth may be leaving, and in a last effort to convince her to stay, he takes her on a walk, gives her a framed picture of them that he himself had sketched, and asks her not to leave. He tells her she's the "only one", to which she replies that she's "not going anywhere", and they share a kiss. Throughout season 2, Elizabeth and Jack share a hot-and-cold relationship made complicated by family and former beaus. At the end of season 2, after they are trapped in the mine during a storm, they have a long-overdue heart-to-heart and they admit their love for each other and share another kiss. Later, Jack prepares to propose; however, Charles beats him to it. Charles is turned down by Elizabeth and the season 2/3 holiday special sees Elizabeth and Jack mending their relationship once and for all. In season 3, Jack begins the new year knowing that Elizabeth only has eyes for him and that her relationship with Charles is over for good. Jack's mother shows up unexpectedly and meets Elizabeth and is suspicious of her, but through staying she sees Elizabeth for who she really is: a genuine, good person. Halfway through season 4, Jack goes off on assignment to the notorious Northern Territories after his friend is killed in action in Jack's place. Prior to leaving, he proposes to Elizabeth and she eagerly accepts. She understands Jack's choice but struggles to find happiness outside of teaching. He briefly returns during the season 4/5 holiday special, much to Elizabeth's delight, but has to leave soon after. Early in season 5, Elizabeth is in the mercantile, where Florence rushes in. She ushers her outside to find an army of mounties walking through the town, coming home from the Northern territories. Elizabeth runs to look for Jack and when they finally reunite, they waste no time in getting married. A few days after their wedding, Jack is again sent away on assignment, but Elizabeth joins him on the trip there in place of their honeymoon. At the end of the second-to-last episode of season 5, a mountie arrives in Hope Valley seeking Elizabeth, bearing the news of that Jack has died. Elizabeth falls to the ground in grief, comforted by Abigail. The last episode starts with Elizabeth returning home from an off-screen trip to Hamilton, still in mourning. She tries to adjust to life but finds a painful reminder of Jack everywhere she goes. Abigail hands her a letter she received from Jack before he left for the Northern Territories; in it, he explains to Elizabeth he will be with her always and hopes she can find love again. She later discovers she is pregnant and gives birth to a son, Jack Jr., in the season 5/6 holiday special. She is reunited with Jack after Nathan and Lucas leave.
- Lucas Bouchard: She chose him to dance with during the Ladies Choice in the Season 6 Finale. Lucas has taken Elizabeth on many "non-dates". Lucas has taken Elizabeth places that Nathan hasn't. Lucas leaves with Nathan.
- Nathan Grant: In the Season 7 Finale, she ran to him giving him a hug that was "heard around the world". She was scared because she thought that Nathan might have been shot and killed. Nathan just has the courage to ask Elizabeth to go out with him before he goes and helps Bill transport a criminal in the final episode of Season 7. Nathan immediately leaves town with Lucas.
- Abigail Stanton: A Coal (Hope) Valley woman who lost her husband and son in the mining accident. Abigail is a very kind woman, and she stands strongly for the things she believes in. She is one of the first women to welcome Elizabeth and the two women quickly become friends. Together, Abigail and Elizabeth move into the rooms above the cafe as Abigail opens it. She is a strong independent woman that is set on doing the things that are right and tries to help Elizabeth.
- Charles Kensington III: An old friend of Elizabeth's whom she reconnects with while in Hamilton. While the relationship to Elizabeth is purely platonic, Charles quietly hopes to pursue a romantic relationship. While visiting the Thatcher's home on business, he is encouraged by Viola to tell Elizabeth how he feels and to convince her to come back to Hamilton for good. In response, he travels to Hope Valley and proposes to her - despite her being in a relationship with Jack. Elizabeth is shocked and turns him down. He is not seen again for the rest of the series.
- Rosemary LeVeaux: A flamboyant, enthusiastic actress from New York. She was briefly engaged to Jack Thornton before he moved to Coal (Hope) Valley, but they both realized that their feelings were not romantic. Rosemary immediately disliked Elizabeth but eventually came to really care about Elizabeth. In season 3, Rosemary's friendship with Elizabeth deepens and she finds a true friend in her. She happily accepts a marriage proposal from Leland Coulter and the couple weds with Elizabeth and Abigail as her Maids of Honor. In season 5, after Jack returns and the wedding is on the horizon, Elizabeth chooses Rosemary and Abigail to be her Matrons of Honor at her wedding. When Elizabeth is in mourning, Rosemary willingly fills in for her at the schoolhouse to give her time to grieve and is a source of comfort for her. After Jack Jr. is born, Elizabeth chooses Rosemary and Lee to be his guardians.