days kristian alfonso hope mashup

Images: John Paschal/JPI, Jill Johnson/JPI, Paul Skipper/JPI, NBC/Courtesy of the Everett Collection

The actress wasn’t kidding when she warned fans that there would be no real sendoff for Hope.

On and off since 1983, Days of Our Lives viewers have thrilled to the exploits of Hope Williams Brady. We’ve fallen in love with her (and along with her). We’ve laughed with her. We’ve cried with her. We’ve even felt a mite guilty for not turning away when she was enjoying sexytime with true love Bo. And on Wednesday, Oct. 14, it all came to an end. Kristian Alfonso aired for the last time in the iconic role that she’d played for 37 years.

You’ll recall that when the veteran actress was informed that the powers that be wanted to remove her from the canvas for several months in order to set in motion a new storyline — a romance with a Navy SEAL — she decided that the time was right to write a new chapter in her life and her career. At that point, she had already taped what it turned out would be her last scene ever on the show. Which meant that, as she’d forewarned us, there would be no real sendoff for her character. So how did we leave Hope? Or rather, how did she leave us?

In the episode, the detective and her son, fellow cop Shawn, looked over new information regarding the fate of her daughter and his sister, Ciara. We don’t need to remind you that after Hope and son-in-law Ben watched a car blow up — with Ciara in it, or so they think — they were informed by the bride’s kidnapper Vincent that he had fatally shot her before the explosion. Ben balked at that; Hope, less so — a point of contention as far as Alfonso was concerned. “She wouldn’t” buy Vincent’s story in a million years. Without irrefutable proof, pshaw. “Not ever.” The actress also took issue with the fact that Hope didn’t hold Ben at all accountable for Ciara’s “death,” this despite the fact that his past murder spree was what set in motion the tragic chain of events. But we digress…

Midway through Wednesday’s Days of Our Lives, as Ben grew frantic to hear from his mother-in-law, the show at last cut away to Hope and Shawn. Reading from a report, she said, “In conclusion, the melted metal fragment recovered at the scene is consistent with the casing from the bullets found in the weapon.” In that case, she continued, “maybe Ciara didn’t scream for help because she… ” Hope couldn’t finish the sentence; she just let her son hold her.

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“Let go, Shawn. I really am leaving.”

Later in the episode, which would’ve had to have tried to be less Hope-centric than it was, our heroine began to spiral. They had Vincent’s confession, they had a bullet casing… Ciara’s rings… her DNA… Still, “there’s that one-in-a-million chance that she’s still alive,” said a tearful Hope, trying desperately to convince herself that it was true. Failing to do so, she reluctantly called Ben but hung up before answering his plea for an update. “I can’t tell him on the phone,” she informed Shawn, who beseeched her to stay where she was and let him go fill in Ben. “Will you come back? I need to know that you’ll come back,” she sobbed. After he promised that he would and left, she held Ciara’s photo the way that she wanted to her daughter and had herself a good cry. We cut back to her again at the end of the hour and found her weeping on the floor (a moment juxtaposed with Ben unpacking Vincent’s supposed murder weapon).

More: Hope and Bo’s love story [PHOTOS]

And that was that as far as Alfonso’s appearances on screen went. Hope’s absence from here on out would have to be addressed in future episodes. Deep sigh. It doesn’t feel quite right, does it? And by “quite,” we mean “at all.” We’d say that it was strange that NBC didn’t do a big promotional campaign — “Be there for the end of an era,” something like that. But then again, it wasn’t much of an ending. The network apparently didn’t want Alfonso to go, either. As executive producer Ken Corday told Entertainment Weekly, he was downright “dismayed” by her decision to leave.

Perhaps anticipating how unsatisfying that goodbye was going to be, Alfonso took to Instagram to share a farewell montage that was at least a little bit more fitting, considering what she and Hope have meant to us over the decades. Included in the sentimental journey are backstage clips and images of Alfonso with everyone from Peter Reckell (ex-Bo) to the late Peggy McCay (Caroline).

In the accompanying caption, the fan favorite wrote, “Being today is my last air show, I wanted to share some of my favorite memories on set and behind the scenes. I hope you enjoy it.

“And,” she added, “thank you from the bottom of my heart for welcoming me into your homes all of these years — and for making me a part of your lives. Thank you, Ken and NBC for a beautiful ride.”

Wow. Hard to believe that the era has ended. Luckily, we suspect Alfonso has an inkling of how much she’ll be missed. As for us, we have a lifetime of memories of her adventures as Hope. On the off chance that your memory needs jogging, let the below photo gallery help. It takes you through Hope’s whole life in pictures.