WARNING: Major spoilers for the Season 14 premiere of Heartland are ahead!
Since 2007, viewers have been tuning in to the Canadian series, Heartland, for their weekly doses of family drama and romance against the backdrop of a sprawling and picturesque ranch.
The widely beloved series became the longest-running Canadian drama ever in 2015, and it returned for an unprecedented 14th season on Jan. 10.
However, the season kicked off with an irrevocable change for Ty.
What happened to Ty on 'Heartland'?
While many fans were hoping that Season 14 of Heartland would open with more of the feel-good storylines it's become known for, it soon became clear that a tragedy would propel the season's plot forward.
In the first few scenes of the Season 14 premiere, Ty Borden collapses. Viewers soon learn that he is dealing with complications resulting from the gunshot wound he received at the end of Season 13.
He ultimately dies from his injuries. Amy is widowed, and she's now tasked with raising their daughter, Lyndy, alone.
After his death, the season has a time-jump to one year in the future. While fans are in the early stages of mourning, the other characters have at least moved past their immediate grief.
As Season 14 progresses, viewers will get to see Amy navigate truly being alone for the first time in well over a decade.
Fans are devastated by Ty's death, especially since his romance with Amy was one of the all-time fan favorite storylines on the show. But many, Graham Wardle included, are hopeful that it will allow Amy and the other characters to grow.
Why did Graham Wardle leave 'Heartland'? He said he's "following [his] heart."
After the Season 14 premiere aired to Canadian audiences on Jan. 10, Graham spoke in a CBC video about why he wanted to move on from the show.
First, he described his 14-year tenure on the series as both a "blessing" and a "gift." Though the series has often showcased beautiful life moments, Graham said that there are times when realistic heartbreaks must be shown.
"I also think that there's a really good story, a really good truth that everything comes to an end, that everything dies," he said. "So make the most of what you have. And live it to the fullest."
Graham then stated that he been feeling like he needed to "move on" from the show for years. He finally answered that call ahead of Season 14.
"I have been feeling this call to move on, and I have been trying to bargain with it. I have not made this decision lightly," he shared. "I have spent a few years now contemplating and trying to figure out how to honor myself... It's been a long process."
He does believe that he made the right decision for himself.
"The long and short of it is I'm following my heart," he continued. "I don't know where it's leading me, but that's what life's about: trusting, having faith, and going forward."
The actor then discussed what exactly led him to feel "ready to move on."
"I have reached a tipping point internally of knowing and having a connection to myself, where I don't ignore what I feel called to do, what I feel I need to do, what I feel pulled to do," he said.
Graham said that once he reached that point, he couldn't "turn back."
"It's not easy at all," he added. "Trying to be as thoughtful, caring, and empathetic to the implications of this decision. It is very challenging to do in any circumstance in life."
As for how he feels about Ty's death, Graham felt that it "honors all parties involved."
"I don't think Ty wanted to die, I don't think Ty was planning to die, I don't think Ty was like, 'Oh, that's it, I've done all my stuff.' But I don't think life works in that way anyway. People pass on and we say it was before their time; they died young," Graham continued.
Before officially exiting the Heartland universe altogether, Graham said that he hopes fans "heal" and "feel comfort" by watching the storyline.
Amber Marshall teased that Season 14 will be for "healing."
Actress Amber Marshall, who plays Ty's paramour, Amy, on the show, spoke to TV, eh? following the Season 14 premiere about what his death will mean for her character.
"The story of Amy and Ty has been very prominent since Heartland's beginning. Graham and I have had many beautiful stories on Heartland over the years and have remained very close friends off-set as well," she said.
She said that there were no hard feelings between her and Graham and that they "spoke often throughout the season."
"There are things in our lives we can never prepare for. And when something devastating happens it feels as though our world is ripped apart and could never be put back together," she added. "I know fans of the show will be deeply saddened by the loss of Ty and I hope that they can join Amy and the Heartland family during this season of healing."
"There will always be events in our life that are out of our control and upset us," she continued. "Instead of attacking them, or shutting down, we experience the most growth when we remain open and understanding."
Heartland airs on Sundays.