|Created by||Constance M. Burge|
|Starring||Holly Marie Combs
|Opening theme||"How Soon Is Now?" by Love Spit Love|
|Composer(s)||J. Peter Robinson
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||8|
|No. of episodes||178 (List of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Brad Kern
Constance M. Burge
E. Duke Vincent
|Camera setup||Panavision, Single-camera|
|Running time||40–45 minutes|
|Original channel||The WB|
|Picture format||480i (SDTV)|
|Audio format||Dolby Digital|
|Original run||October 7, 1998– May 21, 2006|
Charmed is an American television series created by writer Constance M. Burge and produced by Aaron Spelling and his production company Spelling Television, with writer/director Brad Kern as showrunner. The series was originally broadcast by The WB Television Network for eight seasons from October 7, 1998, until May 21, 2006.1
The series narrative follows four sisters, known as the Charmed Ones, the most powerful good witches of all time, whose prophesied destiny is to protect innocent lives against evil beings such as demons and warlocks. Each sister possesses individual unique magical powers that grow and evolve, while they attempt to maintain seemingly normal lives in modern day San Francisco. Keeping their supernatural identities separate and secret from their ordinary lives often becomes a challenge for them, with the exposure of magic having far-reaching consequences on their various relationships and resulting in a number of police and FBI investigations throughout the series. The first three seasons of Charmed focus on the three Halliwell sisters, Prue (Shannen Doherty), Piper (Holly Marie Combs) and Phoebe (Alyssa Milano). Following the death of Prue in the third season finale, their long-lost half sister, Paige Matthews (Rose McGowan), assumes her place within "The Power of Three" from season four onwards.
Charmed achieved both critical and popular acclaim, with its first episode, "Something Wicca This Way Comes", garnering 7.7 million viewers, breaking the record for the highest-rated debut for The WB.2 The series finale, "Forever Charmed", ended with a season high of 4.5 million viewers.3 In January 2006, Charmed was declared the longest running hour-long television series featuring all female leads.4 The series also received numerous awards and nominations throughout its run, and the franchise, or "Charmed universe", has been developed into other media, including literature, a video game, and a comic book series which, from June 2010, has continued the narrative through Charmed: Season 9, commencing eighteen months after the end of the television series finale.
In 1998, when the Warner Bros. Television Network began looking for new drama series for the 1998–99 season, they approached Spelling Television (which had produced the network's most successful series 7th Heaven) to create it. Expanding on the popularity of supernatural-themed dramas such as the WB's own Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the production company explored different forms of mythology to find characters they could realize with contemporary storytelling.5
Constance Burge was hired to create the series as she was under contract with 20th Century Fox and Spelling Television after conceiving the drama series Savannah.5 When the theme of witchcraft was first pitched to her, she was aware of stereotypes of witches (flying brooms, black cats, and warts). After Wicca research, she changed her perspective6 and aimed at telling a story of good witches who looked and acted like ordinary people. With this, her initial concept was a series set in Boston, Massachusetts6 about three friends and roommates who were all witches.5 However, executive producer E. Duke Vincent lacked confidence, asking "Why would anybody want to watch a show about three witches?" He proposed that the series focus on family values and developed the series-long mantra of it being about "three sisters who happen to be witches, not three witches who happen to be sisters." Spelling warmed to Burge's ideas and, after the concept was re-crafted to be a series about three sisters (now living in San Francisco) descended from a line of witches,6 it was pitched to the Warner Brothers' Susanne Daniels, who liked it, allowing the series to begin development.5
The series was titled Charmed after Spelling's suggestion of House of Sisters was dropped. Burge wrote the pilot's script. They filmed a 28-minute version (the "unaired pilot", never aired on network television) with which the series was picked up by The WB. Upon its debut, Charmed received the largest audience for a series premiere in the network's three-year history.2 The first season of twenty-two episodes was picked up by The WB network after two shows aired.
When the series was in its earliest development stages, Shannen Doherty, who previously appeared in a preceding Spelling Television series, Beverly Hills, 90210, originally auditioned for the role of Piper, while Doherty's best friend and former Picket Fences actress Holly Marie Combs auditioned for the role of Prue. When the roles were officially cast, however, the actresses had been assigned each other's characters; in the 28-minute unaired pilot episode, Doherty played the role of Prue, Combs portrayed Piper, and Lori Rom was cast as the third sister, Phoebe. Rom subsequently quit the series, and a new hour-long premier episode, "Something Wicca This Way Comes", was filmed, reusing some scenes from the original pilot, and recasting former Who's the Boss actress Alyssa Milano in the role of Phoebe.7 Similarly, the character of Andy Trudeau was recast from Chris Boyd in the unaired pilot, to T.W. King, and Dorian Gregory was cast as his detective partner, Darryl Morris.
In May 2001, it was officially announced that Doherty would be departing from the series. The producers originally considered recasting the role with a different actress. Spelling even approached actresses Tiffani Thiessen, who replaced Doherty on his previous series Beverly Hills, 90210, and Jennifer Love Hewitt to take on the role as Doherty's replacement.8 Spelling revealed to Entertainment Weekly, "Tiffani was our first choice to take over for Shannen — even before we asked Jennifer [Love Hewitt], but Tiffani told us she wants to do a half-hour comedy."8 Hewitt also declined the role. Producers then decided to kill off the character of Prue and replace her with a long-lost younger sister named Paige Matthews, played by film actress Rose McGowan, in favor of having "a fresh face" join Charmed.8 Spelling stated, "[The character's] going to be the long-lost sister Alyssa and Holly never knew [they] had. And wait until you see what we came up with to explain why she's been lost: Nobody ever knew she even existed."8
Executive producers Aaron Spelling and Duke Vincent maintained their roles until the series ended. Burge became an executive producer when she was hired to create the series and write the pilot. After the short "unaired pilot" was shown to the WB and the series was picked up by the network, Kern was recruited as the fourth executive producer and as the show runner in order to decipher how the series would develop over the course of its run. While Kern remained with the show until its end, between the second and third seasons Burge was not an executive producer. She remained as executive consultant until the end of season four when she left Charmed.
Scripting was done by a large number of writers. Kern did the most writing, with a total of 26 episodes, as well as directing one of them. The writers with the most writing credits other than Kern include Daniel Cerone, Curtis Kheel, Zack Estrin, Chris Levinson, Krista Vernoff, Sheryl J. Anderson, Monica Breen, Alison Schapker, Cameron Litvack, and Jeannine Renshaw.9 Burge wrote seven episodes for the first and second seasons before leaving her position as executive producer. Scripting was carried out after group brainstorms took place, discussing the events of the episodes, the emotions of the characters, and the mythology involved. Robert Masello, an executive story editor for the series, credits himself as the only demonologist hired for a series, in order to add his experience to the storyline.10
|“||Charmed is the only show that has a licensed fully bonded demonologist, which is me, on staff and as a result because I've written books about demonology and the occult of witchcraft, I'm there to answer questions about how a demon would behave.||”|
However, as Combs revealed in The Women of Charmed documentary, the series aimed at following a mythology created by fantasy, and not adhering to Wiccan rules too closely, for fear of coming under criticism for either not being "technically correct enough" or missing the truth completely.10 Between the second and the third season, Burge left, leaving her former position to executive producer Kern. Burge remained as creative consultant until season four.11 Burge's departure resulted in changes in the story structure of the show, from a "demon of the week" system to using third- or half-season-long story arcs. In addition, more importance was given to the protagonists' personal lives. The serial connection of episodes culminated in the second half of season four. Despite the ratings increasing during season four's final story arc from 4.19 to 4.21, Warner Brothers asked Kern to abandon the serial system. This led to the largely episodic structure of season five, and resulted in the two systems being balanced from the sixth season onwards.
During the show's run, the Warner Brothers Television Network used two official logos to represent the series. The first was used during the first and second seasons and featured the name Charmed underlined and with a triple-aspect symbol above it. The second logo was introduced at the start of the third season and remained until the series ended. It was written in a different font and is still underlined and sometimes featured a triquetra above the name. This logo was designed by Margo Chase. Although the second logo replaced the first in all promotional material by the Warner Brothers, such as posters and television adverts, the first remained to be used on official merchandise after the third season, including on the covers of the novel series, the DVDs, the official Charmed magazine and the Charmed Comics.
The theme song for Charmed is American alternative rock band Love Spit Love's cover version of The Smiths' song "How Soon Is Now?". Before the season eight DVDs went into production, the song's license expired and efforts to get it back in time for the Region 1 release failed. "How Soon Is Now?" was replaced by generic hard-rock instrumental music.
In 1998, the three Halliwell sisters (Prue, Piper and Phoebe) move back into their childhood home, The Halliwell Manor, after their Grams's funeral. When Phoebe comes across the family's Book of Shadows (a family heirloom book containing centuries of knowledge, spells, and magic learned or created by the Halliwell matriarchs), Phoebe learns that she and her sisters are the most powerful witches ever known in the history of Witchcraft and the world, destined to protect both innocents and the world at large from demons, warlocks, and other evil creatures. Phoebe, reasonably thinking the book is a novelty, reads the book's initial inscription—an inscription which also happens to be the incantation which activates the Halliwells' "Charmed" powers once all of the sisters are back at the manor.
By the end of the first episode, each sister learns that she has a unique power and that they can each cast spells and brew potions. Prue, the eldest, had the power of telekinesis—(the ability to move objects with her mind), and in season two she develops the power of astral projection. Piper, the middle sister, has the power to effectively "freeze" people and objects. As she grows more proficient, she learns how to freeze only certain people or objects or body parts, as she wishes. In season three, her powers grow even more, as she is able to make molecules move so fast they explode. Phoebe, the youngest, initially possesses the power of premonition, which evolves into being able to receive visions of both the future and the past. She later picks up the powers of levitation in season three, and empathy in season six, the latter allowing her to sense and tap into others' emotions and sometimes, powers.
During the first two seasons, the sisters would face various evil beings from week to week. However, they discover in season three that their true enemy is The Underworld's ruler, the Source of All Evil. Prue is later killed in the season three finale by The Source's personal assassin, Shax. While grieving Prue's loss, Piper and Phoebe discover that they have a half-sister—Paige Matthews, who had been the secret love child of the sisters' witch mother and her guardian angel ("Whitelighter"), Sam Wilder. Paige's abilities represent her dual heritage as both a witch and Whitelighter; like Prue she possesses a form of telekinesis, but she has to verbally call for objects to teleport ("orb") them to their intended destination. As she learns to control the dual sides of her ancestry, Paige also learns how to orb herself and others, and eventually she receives her own Whitelighter charges to train and protect as they learn witchcraft. Paige, after falling in love with her future husband, develops the ability to heal others with the touch of her hand in season eight.
The Source, responsible for all of the attacks on the sisters, becomes the main villain during season four until he is finally vanquished. After The Source is vanquished, an annual season-long storyline and several multi-episode antagonists were introduced in subsequent seasons (the "Big Bad" television format). These included Phoebe's ex-husband Cole Turner until mid-season five; the scheming, misguided Whitelighter Elder, Gideon, throughout season six; the Avatars—consequentalist Utopia-advocating neutral beings— until mid-season seven; the demon Zankou, until the season seven finale; and in season eight, powerful sister witches Billie and Christy, who fall under the influence of the evil demonic Triad (who earlier featured as early-season three antagonists). On top of the supernatural issues in Charmed, the characters had to contend with serious issues in the day-to-day world of the mortals — such as relationships, careers, marriage, childbirth, illness and the deaths of their loved ones. The sisters also had to fight to prevent the exposure of the existence of magic to the community at large, contending with several police and FBI investigations.
The sisters also faced romantic storylines. Prue's featured love interest included Inspector Andy Trudeau, a childhood friend, who dies in the season one finale and a co worker, Jack Sheridan. Piper's central love interest throughout the series is the sisters' Whitelighter Leo; their early relationship was problematic due to the forbidden nature of witch-Whitelighter relationships, and so in season two a love triangle forms with Piper, Leo and her neighbor Dan Gordon. Eventually, the two manage to marry and consecrate their union in season three, and have two sons—Wyatt, in season five, and Chris, in season six. The couple separate due to supernatural circumstances at the end of the fifth season, and later reunite in the sixth; the final episode shows them to have a daughter, many grandchildren, and grow old together. Phoebe's relationship history involved many dates in the first two seasons, and a tortured relationship with half-demon Cole Turner in the show's third, fourth and fifth seasons; they had a turbulent marriage in the fourth, and in the fifth he played the role of an aggressive ex. Phoebe had a number of multi-episode mortal boyfriends in subsequent seasons before meeting a cupid, Coop, in the eighth season, whom she marries and has three children with in the finale episode flashforward. Paige, like Phoebe, had several multi-episode mortal boyfriends, as well as male witch and magic "addict" Richard Montana (season six) and unstable FBI agent-come-Whitelighter Kyle Brody (season seven). In the eighth season, she becomes committed to mortal parole officer Henry Mitchell, whom she marries and—in flashforwards—is shown to have three children with.
|Piper Halliwell||Holly Marie Combs||Charmed One||Main|
|Phoebe Halliwell||Alyssa Milano||Charmed One||Main|
|Prue Halliwell||Shannen Doherty||Charmed One||Main||Recurring|
|Paige Matthews||Rose McGowan||Charmed One||Main|
|Leo Wyatt||Brian Krause||Whitelighter, and Piper's husband||Recurring||Main|
|Darryl Morris||Dorian Gregory||Detective, and family friend||Supporting||Recurring|
|Andy Trudeau||T.W. King||Late detective, and Prue's former partner||Supporting|
|Dan Gordon||Greg Vaughan||Former neighbor, and Piper's former partner||Supporting|
|Jenny Gordon||Karis Paige Bryant||Former neighbor, and Dan's niece||Supporting|
|Cole Turner||Julian McMahon||Half-demon, and Phoebe's first husband||Supporting||Guest||Recurring|
|Chris Perry Halliwell||Drew Fuller||Piper's second son||Guest||Main||Guest|
|Billie Jenkins||Kaley Cuoco||Novice witch||Main||Guest|
The eldest sister Prue Halliwell was born on October 25, 1970. Prue has the power to move objects with her mind using telekinesis with a direct line of sight. As the series progresses, she learns how to channel her telekinetic powers through her hands as well, and gains the power astral projection, which allows her to be in two places at once. Prue, often referred to as "Superwitch", is regarded as the most powerful witch of the Halliwell sisters, as she usually takes charge of situations involving demons or warlocks. She sacrificed a majority of her childhood to help raise her sisters Piper and Phoebe, after the death of their mother Patty and the abandonment of their father Victor Bennett. Taking responsibility for her sisters occasionally leads to clashes with the more free-willed Phoebe, but the two eventually grow closer in the series.
In season one, Prue battles with maintaining control of her newfound powers and keeping her identity as a witch secret. Due to the witchy interferences in both her work and personal life, Prue finds it difficult to rekindle a relationship with her old high school flame Detective Andy Trudeau and stay on top of her new job as an appraiser for Buckland's Auction House. In the season one finale, Prue must come to terms with the death of Andy to a demonic foe. During the first half of season two, she struggles to deal with Andy's death, but later opens herself up to the potential of finding love again, through a courtship with a fellow Buckland's employee Jack Sheridan and a romantic fling with ex-con Bane Jessup. Prue eventually quits her job at Buckland's to pursue her lifelong dream of being a photographer, and subsequently lands a job as a photographer for 415 magazine. During the season three finale, with only three years into the craft, Prue is killed by Shax, a powerful demonic assassin sent by The Source of All Evil. Her death is not established until the premiere episode of season four, which shows an anguished Piper trying to resurrect Prue's spirit. Instead, the sisters' grandmother Penny appears and tells Piper that Prue is still adjusting to being in the afterlife and that she and Patty are helping Prue to process her actual death. She also reveals that Prue cannot be summoned back to Earth because it would not allow Piper and Phoebe to grieve and move on.
In the season five episode "Cat House", Prue is briefly seen when Phoebe and half-sister Paige Matthews visit the past memory of Piper's wedding. However, Prue's face is never shown and only her back is seen. During the season seven finale, it is revealed that Prue had taught Piper's husband Leo Wyatt how to use astral projection despite being "really protective of it".12 Piper, Phoebe and Paige later utilize the power of astral projection to defeat the demon Zankou.12 This is indicated by Piper saying "Thank you Prue," once they reflect on the successful attack.12 In the comic book form of Charmed, Prue was reincarnated into the form of a blonde witch named Patience who resides in Salem, Massachusetts. Upon reuniting with her sisters Piper and Phoebe, as well as meeting Paige for the first time, Prue's presence causes their powers to go haywire because the Charmed prophecy never spoke of a "Power of Four". She then chooses to strip her powers away so that Paige will be the only sister with the power to move things with her mind.
The second eldest sister Piper Halliwell was born on August 7, 1973. One of the reoccurring struggles for Piper as a character is her attempt to maintain a normal life. She has the power to freeze her surrounding environment. When Piper was new to her powers, objects she froze would eventually regain their mobility on their own, usually after several seconds. She later learns to unfreeze at will, even freezing an entire object, then unfreezing only part of it. In late season three, Piper gains the ability to cause objects to spontaneously explode. During her role as the middle sister in the first three seasons, Piper is often regarded as the peacemaker of the trio as she often attempts to keep the peace between Prue and Phoebe. Following the death of Prue, Piper becomes the oldest sister to Phoebe and Paige.
A majority of the first episode of the series focuses on Piper realizing that her boyfriend Jeremy is a warlock, when he seizes upon the opportunity to kill her for her powers, forcing Piper and her sisters to vanquish him. Throughout season one, Piper works at the restaurant Quake as a chef and later as its manager. She also develops an on-again off-again relationship with the handy-man Leo Wyatt who she later discovers to be her Whitelighter – a guardian angel for good witches. Piper quits her job at Quake in season two and ventures into running her own business in the form of the nightclub P3. After breaking up with Leo, due to his Whitelighter duties putting their romantic relationship on hold, Piper begins to date her next door neighbor Dan Gordon in an attempt at a normal relationship. Later in season two, she ends things with Dan and reconciles with Leo. During season three, Piper and Leo are told by The Elders to end their relationship or Leo will no longer be the sisters' Whitelighter. After they attempt to wed in secret, Leo is taken into captivity by The Elders and Piper is left heartbroken. They are finally allowed to wed in mid-season three, after The Elders allow the couple to prove that their relationship will not interfere with their greater calling.
In season five, Piper gives birth to son named Wyatt. She goes to great lengths to protect him, because Wyatt is believed to be The Twice-Blessed Child, the most powerful magical being of all time, which attracts even more demons, warlocks and evil witches into the sisters' lives. During the season five finale, a Whitelighter from the future named Chris arrives to assist the sisters against the ancient Titans of mythology. After The Elders are forced into hiding by The Titans, Chris manipulates events so that Leo has to become an Elder, causing him to separate from Piper. During season six, Piper begins to date again, though Chris (in reality, Piper's second son from the future) tries to stop this from happening. He is able to temporarily reunite Piper and Leo in the episode "The Courtship of Wyatt's Father" in order to ensure his conception. Piper gives birth to present-day Chris in the season six finale. Piper and Leo get back together in season seven. In the comic book form of Charmed, Piper has a third child, a girl named Prudence Melinda, and plans on opening her own restaurant.
The third eldest sister Phoebe Halliwell was born on November 2, 1975. Phoebe has the power of premonition, which enables her to see into the past as well as the future, usually locating a demon in need of vanquishing or an innocent in need of saving. As the series progresses, she gains the powers of levitation and empathy. During the first three seasons, Phoebe is the youngest and most rebellious of the Halliwell sisters. Because of her free-spirited nature, she often comes into major conflicts with Prue, but the two eventually mend their relationship. In season four, Phoebe becomes the middle sister as she attempts to play mediator between Piper and Paige.
In season two, Phoebe is seen re-entering college and majoring in psychology. In the absence of an active power, Phoebe becomes progressively adept at martial arts in order to better fight demons and warlocks. In season three, she enters a relationship with Cole Turner, who is actually the demon Belthazor that was hired to kill The Charmed Ones. Upon this discovery, Cole convinces Phoebe that he, being half human, truly loves her. She decides to fake his death so that her sisters would not hunt for him. Phoebe eventually marries Cole in season four, unaware that he has become the new Source of All Evil and ruler of The Underworld. She later discovers that she is pregnant but her unborn child is magically stolen by The Seer who claims that the child is rightfully hers and never belonged to Phoebe or Cole. Also during season four, Phoebe lands a job as an advice columnist for the newspaper The Bay Mirror.
In season five, Phoebe attempts to live a life without Cole and focuses more on her career, and the sisters finally vanquish him in the episode "Centennial Charmed". Later that season, she begins a romantic relationship with her new boss Jason Dean. In season six, Jason discovers Phoebe's secret identity as a witch by accident and unable to handle the revelation breaks up with her. In the series finale "Forever Charmed", it is revealed that Phoebe falls in love with and marries a cupid named Coop, who was initially sent by The Elders to help Phoebe find love again. Their marriage produces three children, all daughters. Phoebe also becomes a successful author, writing a self-help book on finding love.
The youngest sister Paige Matthews was born on August 2, 1977. Paige is introduced into season four as a reformed alcoholic in her early twenties working for South Bay Social Services as an assistant and would-be social worker. It is revealed that Paige is the daughter of Patty and her Whitelighter Sam Wilder, making her a sister-witch to Prue, Piper and Phoebe. She was given up at birth to protect her from the wrath of The Elders if they were to discover her Whitelighter heritage. Paige goes on to help reconstitute The Charmed Ones by taking Prue's place in "The Power of Three". In a fulfillment of the Melinda Warren prophecy regarding The Charmed Ones, Paige inherits an ability to move objects with her mind to fill the niche of Prue's missing powers. However, due to her Whitelighter heritage, her magical method of movement causes objects to orb from one location to another. As the series progresses, Paige shows that she has inherited a variety of Whitelighter powers such as orbing, sensing, glamouring, and healing.
Paige struggles with living up to the legend of being a whiterider her deceased sister Prue and her title of "Superwitch". During season four, she finds it easier to develop a friendship with Phoebe, while she initially butts heads with Piper, but eventually the two sisters grow to have a mutual respect for each other. In season five, Paige quits her job at South Bay Social Services to become a full-time witch. In season six, she grows tired of unemployment and obtains a job at a temp agency. In season seven, The Elders place Paige in charge of Magic School as the new headmistress, following the death of its headmaster Gideon, who was also known as a powerful Elder that wanted to destroy Wyatt.
In season eight, Paige enters a relationship with parole officer Henry Mitchell, who later discovers her secret identity as a witch and Whitelighter. The two get married in the episode "Engaged and Confused". In the series finale "Forever Charmed", Paige accepts her role as a Whitelighter, aiding many witches and future Whitelighters that include her nieces and nephews. It is also revealed that Paige and Henry's marriage produces three children, which includes twin daughters and a son. In the comic book form of Charmed, Paige finally meets Prue.
Leo Wyatt is introduced into season one as the sisters' handy-man, but they later discover that he is their Whitelighter. Leo has the power to orb himself and others in space and across some dimensions, but most frequently by healing the sisters or their circle of contacts. As the series progresses, Leo also becomes an Elder. In season one, he becomes romantically involved with Piper, but since he is a Whitelighter and Piper is a witch, their relationship is rocky. Leo's magical promotions provide the show's portrayal of a supernatural ladder of success and struggle between career and family. His relationship with Piper is the first of many conflicts between the Halliwells and The Elders. In season three, Leo marries Piper, and later in the series have two children, Wyatt and Chris. In season seven, Leo becomes an Avatar in order to save his family from the everlasting battle between good and evil, until he is made human again as a result of The Elders deciding he can no longer struggle being an Elder and Piper's husband without consequences.
Darryl Morris is introduced into season one as the partner of Detective Andy Trudeau for the San Francisco Police Department. At first, Darryl is suspicious of the sisters' recurring connection to mysterious murders and crimes. However, a few months after Trudeau's death, the sisters' reveal to him that they are good witches trying to bring justice and protection to the world. Throughout the series, Darryl helps them cover up unsolved cases related to demonic activity, granting them favors and giving them general support. However, when he is almost killed by The Cleaners in season six, he tells the sisters that he wants nothing more to do with them. Realizing how much good the sisters do for the community, Darryl forgives them and continues to do them favors. After season seven, Darryl and his family move to the East Coast.
Cole Turner is introduced into season three as an Assistant District Attorney. He is half-human and half-demon by blood, and better known to the demonic world for over a hundred years as the legendary demonic assassin, Belthazor. Cole possesses a number of magical abilities; the most commonly are the power to teleport and the power to throw projective energy balls which could stun or kill. It is revealed that Cole was sent by The Triad to kill The Charmed Ones, but instead falls in love with Phoebe. Though Cole eventually completely rids himself of his demonic nature and marries Phoebe in season four, he never gains the trust of Paige. Cole later returns to evil after unwillingly becoming the new Source of All Evil. As the Source, Cole is eventually vanquished by The Charmed Ones, only to come back from death itself in his attempts to win Phoebe back. By this point he is the most powerful being to ever exist. Driven insane, Cole is, through his own doing, once again killed by the sisters in season five. Cole returns in the season seven episode "The Seven Year Witch", who claims that he is caught somewhere between life and death, atoning for his sins.
Chris Halliwell is introduced into the season five finale as a Whitelighter from the future. He arrives to assist the sisters against The Titans. After The Elders are forced into hiding by The Titans, Chris manipulates events so that Leo has to become an Elder, causing him to separate from Piper. In season six, Chris reveals that he is Piper and Leo's son and traveled back in time to prevent Wyatt from growing up to be the evil dictator he becomes in the future. In order for this to happen, Chris set up a scheme where most of The Elders would die so that Leo could become an Elder and he could become The Charmed Ones' new Whitelighter, allowing him to get close enough to Wyatt to protect him. During the season six finale, future Chris dies at the hands of Gideon and present-day Chris is born. The adult form of Chris reappears in the season seven episode "Someone to Witch Over Me" and again in the series finale "Forever Charmed".
Billie Jenkins is introduced into season eight as a young college student and a new charge for Paige. Billie has the power of telekinesis, the ability to move objects with her mind. While the sisters assume new identities during the first few episodes of the season, she keeps their secret and does some of their magical legwork for them. Billie spent most of the season trying to find her eldest sister Christy, who had been kidnapped 15 years ago by The Triad. Billie is eventually reunited with her sister, but does not know that she had been turned evil under the influence of demons. After Christy briefly sways her to betray The Charmed Ones, Billie eventually sides with them in the series finale and is forced to kill her sister in self-defense.
Andy Trudeau is introduced into season one as the sisters' childhood friend and Prue's high school sweetheart and first love. He works as a detective for the San Francisco Police Department and is coincidentally assigned to almost every police case that involve the sisters. Andy eventually discovers that they are witches and serves as the sisters' initial connection to the police force. In the season one finale, Andy is killed by the demon Rodriguez, who also happens to be one of the Internal Affairs officers that was investigating Andy's "unsolved freaky cases".
Dan Gordon is introduced into season two as the sisters' new next-door neighbor. During the season, Dan begins to date Piper. She eventually breaks up with Dan after realizing that her heart will always belong to Leo. After they break up, Dan becomes suspicious of Leo and askes his brother-in-law who works for the State Department to check Leo's records. When his brother-in-law discovers that Leo was a soldier in World War II and died in the war, Dan presents the information to Piper, unaware that she already knew this. In the season two finale, Dan learns the truth about Piper and her sisters after a wish granted by a genie from Piper, who accidentally wishes that Dan could "move on" with his life, turns him into an old man. After the wish is reversed, Piper is heartbroken when Dan tells her that he wants nothing more to do with her. In order to help ease Dan's mind, Piper wishes for the genie to make him forget about learning the truth and for him to truly move on with his life. Dan eventually moves to Portland to take a job offer.
Jenny Gordon is Dan's niece who moves in with him after her parents move to Saudi Arabia on business. Whilst living with her uncle, Jenny forms a bond with the sisters and often turns to them for advice on female issues that she was not comfortable talking to her uncle about. Midway through season two, Jenny moves back with her parents.
The following is a list of recurring characters from Charmed who have appeared in several episodes over more than one season.
- Penelope "Penny" Halliwell – (Jennifer Rhodes) The sisters' grandmother.
- Patricia "Patty" Halliwell – (Finola Hughes – Seasons 1–5, 7–8) The sisters' mother.
- Victor Bennett – (Anthony Denison – Season 1; James Read – Seasons 3–8a) The Halliwell sisters' father.
- Samuel Wilder – (Scott Jaeck – Seasons 2, 5, 8) Paige's father and Patty's whitelighter.
- Bob Cowan – (David Reivers – Seasons 4–5) Paige's boss.
- Glen Belland – (Jesse Woodrow – Seasons 4–5) Paige's best-friend.
- Elise Rothman – (Rebecca Baldingb – Seasons 4–8) Phoebe's friend and boss.
- Sophie – (Amanda Sickler – Seasons 5–8) Phoebe's assistant and friend.
- Sheila Morris – (Sandra Prosper – Seasons 5–7) Darryl's wife.
- Jason Dean – (Eric Dane – Seasons 5–6) Phoebe's former romantic interest.
- Younger Wyatt Halliwell – (Jason & Kristopher Simmons – Seasons 5–8c) Piper's elder son.
- Older Wyatt Halliwell – (Wes Ramsey – Seasons 6–8) Piper's elder son from the future.
- Older Chris Halliwell (Drew Fuller - Seasons 6–8) Piper's younger son.
- Inspector Sheridan – (Jenya Lano – Seasons 6–7) Darryl's professional partner.
^a Anthony Denison originally portrayed the Halliwells' father in the first season episode "Thank You for Not Morphing" in which he was named Victor Halliwell. This was later retconned by the end of the first season when, in "That 70's Episode", it is stated that Halliwell is Patricia's maiden name. Victor's surname was changed to Jones in the second season episode "Pardon My Past" (where it is listed in a family tree) and then finally to Bennett, in season three, when James Read assumed the role.
^b Rebecca Balding had a guest role in the first season episode "The Fourth Sister" in which she played a woman named Jackie. The actress later returned in the fourth season as a new character, Elise Rothman, Phoebe's boss at The Bay Mirror.
The series began its first season on October 7, 1998 and aired for eight years until its finale on May 21, 2006. During its eight seasons, 178 episodes were aired, making Charmed the longest running hour-long television series with all female leads at that time13 (Desperate Housewives took over that title in 2012). The series ended with the merger of The WB into the competing UPN network, creating The CW, and a lack of room on the combined new network's schedule. Each season consists of 22 episodes with the exclusion of the fifth and sixth seasons which contain 23 episodes including their double-episode premiers and double-episode finales.
Specific Charmed episodes are detailed in the following by-season articles:
Critical reception of Charmed has been generally favorable and positive. The Entertainment Weekly critic Karyn L. Barr, in her retrospective review of the first season, argued that "for seven seasons, the Halliwell sisters have charmed the pants off audiences with their wonderful Wiccan ways", labelling it as a "crafty cult classic":14
Magically delicious the 1st, 3rd, and even 20th time ... this supernatural Spelling series remains spellbinding thanks to its proper balance of quirky humor [and] drama...die-hard and not-so-die-hard fans will still be charmed, I'm sure.—Entertainment Weekly, January 31, 2005
During the first season, EW writer Ken Tucker, speaking on the comparisons between Charmed and rival series, argued: "spike-heeled where Buffy is fleet-footed, Charmed is Charlie's Angels with a Ouija board". As well as the show's action sequences—describing the Halliwells as "superheroes"—he notes that the series "plays up the stars' separate-but-equal charms" and admires both its "casting and pop-culture timing".15 The Guardian agrees with Alyssa Milano's description of Charmed as "perfect post-feminist girl-power", praising the balance between action and emotion as the "three sibling sorceresses know mischief, but are accessibly feminine".16 EW critic Gillian Flynn states that "the charm of Charmed is that it knows what it is: a guilty-pleasure fantasy", and gave credit to its mythology as well as the grounded characterisations of the sisters: "they call otherworldly beings 'dude' and get peeved over wondrous inconveniences".17
During the third season, PopMatters' Michael Abernethy credited it as "more enjoyable than most shows in the good vs evil genre" largely due to the strength of the performers. He also recognised the use of humour in creating "unexpected turns in stock storylines [which are] more interesting than one might expect". The monster of the week format is frequent during the early-half of the series, however Abernethy states that, despite this, "the writers tend to explore the sibling dynamics to keep the show from growing redundant".18 Christel Loar, also of PopMatters, agrees that "episodes go beyond the demon-of-the-week formula to tap into the relationships of the characters and their...flaws. Charmed...succeeded by combining sisterhood with the supernatural". She also claims that the Halliwells' struggle for normal lives, "stability, and a sense of self is one of the reasons Charmed strikes such a chord with its viewers".19 Leigh H. Edwards, during the fourth season, asserts that the show effectively "explores some big questions (free will... who is running the universe)", whilst paying attention to domestic issues including sibling rivalry, absent parents and love troubles.20
Reviewing the final season, EW's Aubry D'Arminio asserted "A FITTING FINALE?... There's nothing like watching our witchy sisters kick evil's tail once and for all". She also described the lack of bonus features on the DVDs as "criminal considering it was TV's longest-running [all-female lead] show".21 In PopMatters' conclusion of the last season, Jon Langmead argued that the series' run had many appealing elements including "smart casting", and "an attention to relationship drama that was smarter and more nuanced than it ever received credit for":22
Largely because of its Aaron Spelling-pedigree, Charmed rarely got notice for, more often than not, being smarter and more entertaining than much of its competition. It never got the critical nods ... but Charmed had plenty to offer and was often much better than it needed to be.—PopMatters, December 4, 2007
Ever since the end of the series in 2006, academics have appropriated its content and released essays and articles pointing out to the fact that Charmed is again more than meets the eye. It has been the subject of several collective books such as "Investigating Charmed: the magic power of TV" edited by Karin and Stan Beeler (I.B.Tauris, 2007) which adopts a gender perspective to carry out an in-depth analysis of third-wave feminism as shown in the series. In 2012, French professor and essayist Alexis Pichard delivered a lecture about intertextuality and postmodernism in Charmed at the Université de Rouen (France).23
|Season||Season premiere||Season finale||TV season||Viewer rank (#)||Network rank (#)||Viewers (in millions)|
|1||October 7, 1998||May 26, 1999||1998–99||11824||2||5.8|
|2||September 30, 1999||May 18, 2000||1999–2000||12025||3||5.1|
|3||October 5, 2000||May 17, 2001||2000–01||11726||2||5.3|
|4||October 4, 2001||May 16, 2002||2001–02||12927||2||4.8|
|5||September 22, 2002||May 11, 2003||2002–03||12828||3||4.6|
|6||September 28, 2003||May 16, 2004||2003–04||15429||2||4.5|
|7||September 12, 2004||May 22, 2005||2004–05||13230||3||3.6|
|8||September 25, 2005||May 21, 2006||2005–06||13231||2||3.9|
|1–8||October 7, 1998||May 21, 2006||1998–2006||128||2||4.8|
Charmed has gathered several awards and nominations.32 The series was nominated for four Saturn Awards during its run, including Best Network Television Series for its first season and two nominations for lead actress Shannen Doherty. Rose McGowan won a Family Television Award in 2005 for Favourite Sister, whilst co-star Alyssa Milano has been nominated for a Kids' Choice Award, Teen Choice Award and Spacey Award. McGowan, after having also appeared in feature film Grindhouse, won a Spike Award for Femme Fatale in 2007. Holly Marie Combs has been nominated for three Best Lead Actress in a Science Fiction Series RATTY awards, having won once in 2003. Charmed has also received recognition for its young actors, having been nominated for five Young Artist Awards, with guest star Alex Black winning once for his role in the fourth season episode "Lost and Bound".
As well as the success of its cast, Charmed has accumulated awards for its production. The series won two ASCAP Awards for its music composers, Tim Truman and Jay Gruska, and a Hollywood Post Alliance Award for Outstanding Audio Post in Television for its final season. The Hollywood Makeup Artist and Hair Stylist Guild nominated the episode "The Devil's Music" for Best Contemporary Hair Styling in 2000. Directors of the series have also been acknowledged, including John T. Kretchmer who was nominated for a RATTY Award for the series premier "Something Wicca This Way Comes".33 NAACP Image Awards, which honors African-Americans, nominated Janice Cooke Leonard for an Outstanding Directing in a Dramatic Series award in 2006. The series has also received further nominations from the International Horror Guild, TV Guide Awards, Teen Choice Awards, amongst others, for best television series.
The series also received a Certificate of Merit from the Entertainment Industries Council's EDGE Awards which recognizes media that promote firearm safety and discourage gun violence.34 Charmed has been acknowledged internationally, having being nominated for a Spanish TP de Oro and having won a Cable Guide Award in the United Kingdom for Favourite Sci-Fi/Fantasy Series in 2001. Executive producer Aaron Spelling has also won several awards for his contribution to television, including a BAFTA for Excellence in Television, and a Producers Guild of America Lifetime Achievement Award.35
In 2006, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences declared that, following the January 22 broadcast of "Payback's a Witch", Charmed became the longest running hour-long series in television history featuring all female leads.4363738 The series surpassed Laverne & Shirley (as well as other shows, including Sex and the City and Designing Women) in achieving the milestone. The accolade applies to hour-long television series with multiple female leads (Murder She Wrote being the longest running with a singular female protagonist).4 Executive producer and show runner, Brad Kern, stated that "it's a remarkable accomplishment... It's something we're all immensely proud of",4 whilst lead actress Rose McGowan described it as "a huge achievement".39
In 2000, Cult TV Awards placed Charmed within its top 100 cult television series of the century at number forty-four.40 The depiction of witchcraft in Charmed has also had a significant impact on popular culture. In 2008, the religious organisation Beliefnet accounted the Charmed Ones as the eighth most significant fictional witches in history, behind the Weird Sisters from William Shakespeare's Macbeth and the Biblical Witch of Endor. Beliefnet praised the cultural image of Charmed for its female empowerment, mythology and how the sisters "managed to solve their cases" week-on-week.41 The previous year, AOL Television ranked each Charmed One within its top fifteen of the greatest witches in television history — Paige twelfth, Prue ninth, Phoebe seventh and Piper third.42
Charmed has been labeled "television's first primetime show to focus on a coven of witches".43 Several post-Charmed television shows involving witchcraft have been compared to the series, including The Secret Circle. Mehera Bonner of Wetpaint Entertainment described the latter as "much darker than Charmed, and more insular".43 Kristina Adams of Heart of Glass magazine wrote that the reason The Secret Circle drew comparisons to Charmed was "because it focused as much on the Wiccan side of things as it did on the magic and the relationships of the characters".44 British supernatural series Merlin and Hex were also compared to Charmed. TV Equal's Amie noted that there were "certain elements" in Merlin that reminded her of Charmed.45 Tanner Stransky of Entetainment Weekly described Hex as "the U.K.'s edgier, oversexed response to Charmed".46 Other critics viewed the show as a "British take on" Charmed,47 and noted it had "a very similar appeal".48 In her review of Hex, Nancy Amazon of Kissing Fingertips suggested that,49
It isn't enough anymore for a show to just reveal "woohoo, she has some powers!" That's where shows such as Buffy and Charmed really have had an influence. They've spoiled us. Anyone who has watched those shows expects there to be some powers, some magic, some supernatural twist. What really needs to get moving to catch our attention is the character development.
Charmed has also been referenced in television shows and films. The series was mentioned in two episodes of the second season of Popular.5051 In the 2002 teen comedy film Big Fat Liar, 14-year old Kaylee (Amanda Bynes) recalls watching an episode of Charmed where Phoebe cast a spell on Cole.52 Charmed was referenced several times in the Australian soap opera Neighbours. The first was in a 2003 episode when teens Serena Bishop (Lara Sacher) and Erin Perry (Talia Zucker) had a conversation about whether they preferred Prue or Paige.53 Another reference was in a 2005 episode, when teen Bree Timmins (Sianoa Smit-McPhee) talks about The O.C. and says that it is the best show on television since Charmed.54 In the season four episode "Me and the Devil" of True Blood, main protagonist Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) tells a witch named Marnie Stonebrook (Fiona Shaw), that one of her favorite television shows she watched as a child was Charmed.55
Ever since the show quit airing on The WB, TNT airs two episodes every weekday morning at 8 am and 9 am Eastern. For many years, it aired a third episode at 10 am Eastern, but this ended around 2009. WE tv recently began airing two episodes each weeknight at 6 pm and 7 pm Eastern
Other countries where Charmed airs include the following:
TNT has released full episodes of Charmed for viewing with their "DramaVision" video player on the network website.84 Similarly, Netflix released the full series, via their Instant Streaming, from July 1, 2011.
External to the television series, the Charmed franchise has been officially expanded and elaborated, by authors and artists, within the so-called "Charmed universe", or "Charmedverse". This has been through literature, comic books, magazines, and a video game, alongside other media.
Charmed novels have been released since 1999 by publisher Simon Spotlight Entertainment. The first, Eliza Willard's "The Power of Three", was a novelization of the series premier episode "Something Wicca This Way Comes". All other novels, apart from "Charmed Again" which documents the events of the two-part episode of the same name, are original stories revolving around the four Charmed Ones and their allies.
The novels follow no strict continuity with the television series or each other, and are sometimes considered to be non-canon by fans. This is due to there being a period of roughly a year between the original idea for a novel and the finalized product, causing difficulties for authors who are unaware of how the television series will develop and change during the writing process.85 Despite this, however, editors function as the medium between the author and the production company, specifically creator Constance M. Burge. Therefore, the television producers have final approval of everything in the novels,85 which could indicate that the literature conforms to the established canon of the series and the so-called "Charmed universe".
Forty three novels have been written in the Charmed series thus far. Ten include Prue and the original line-up of Charmed Ones, whilst the remaining thirty three feature Piper, Phoebe and Paige. Two of the novels, "Seasons of the Witch" and "The Warren Witches", are anthologies of short stories. Most focus on the Charmed Ones, however some of the stories in "The Warren Witches" place greater emphasis on the sisters' ancestors, the Warren line of witches, whilst the novel "Leo Rising" features Leo Wyatt and his sons Wyatt and Chris Halliwell as protagonists. Writers of the series include Hugo Award-winner Diana G. Gallagher, Paul Ruditis, and Laura J. Burns.
On March 15, 2010, Zenescope Entertainment announced that it had acquired the rights, from CBS Consumer Products, to publish comic books and graphic novels based on Charmed.878889 Previously, in December, 2009, Broken Frontier had revealed that Zenescope had been granted the license to Charmed and were planning to release the first issue of a spin-off comic book series in summer 2010.90 The first advertisement for the series, a poster featuring a triquetra symbol and the tag line "The Girls are Back" written in the series font, appeared in the December 16, 2009 issue of Zenescope comic book Escape From Wonderland #3.91 Zenescope's comic series will feature original stories set after the television series' eighth and final season, with Issue #0 being released in June 2010 and the first issue proper, Issue #1, premierming at the San Diego Comic-Con International in July.87 The first publication, Issue #0, is entitled "Source Book" and will act as a "prequel to the comic book series and [a] catch up on the Charmed universe".92 Cover artwork for the first two publications has been released online.92
The two writers of the series will be Paul Ruditis, who has written several Charmed novels, and Raven Gregory, writer of Zenescope's Wonderland comics.87 Interior artwork will be produced by Dave Hoover, who released model sheets of the three Charmed Ones as early as summer 2009.9093 Cover art has also been created by Eric Basaldua.90
If everything goes according to plan I'll be working on a "Charmed" comic book based on the hit TV series published by Zenescope Entertainment. To get the job I had to compete with others vying for the same gig, and our task was to do model sheets of the girls showing how we would draw them. The art would be approved by the studio. The odd thing about this was that they supplied no photo reference, so I searched the internet high and low looking for the best possible pictures. Of the three girls, I thought Alyssa Milano would be the easiest to draw, but she turned out to be the hardest. She sort of changed her look more often than the other two, Rose McGowan and Holly Marie Combs.—Dave Hoover, deviantART, March 13, 2009
The first press release from Zenecope Entertainment indicated that Charmed, based on the "ultra-popular" franchise, would be a natural addition to the publisher's pre-existing "sultry and strong female characters". Editor-in-Chief, Ralph Tedesco, also announced that "the key to this series success is to strike a nice balance in creating a brand new, intriguing storyline for fans of the television show while also not alienating Zenescope and comic book readers who haven't really followed it before".87
In-Fusio, DC Studios and Fox Interactive developed an action, platform video game based on the television series, entitled Charmed. The game was released by In-Fusion in Europe and China in January 2003, and in North America in September 2004.9495 Players take the role of one of the Charmed Ones and must rescue the other two sisters from the first on-screen incarnation of The Source of All Evil. It is set during the first half of the series' fourth season, following Paige Matthew's introduction between "Charmed Again" and "Hell Hath No Fury", and prior to the Source's vanquish in "Charmed and Dangerous".
Charmed's executive producers Brad Kern, Aaron Spelling and E. Duke Vincent developed a one-hour pilot episode for The WB Television Network in early 2005, entitled Mermaid. It was written by Kern and filmed in Miami during Charmed's seventh season, at the same time as "Something Wicca This Way Goes?".9697
As work progressed on the fifth season's double-episode premiere, "A Witch's Tail", the theme of mermaids was recognized to have potential for its own series,98 even though the episode was never meant to be a backdoor pilot for a television spin-off.
The series plot99100 is centered on a mermaid, Nikki, who is rescued by a young man when she washes ashore in Miami. Her savior, Matt Johnson, is a lawyer living with a roommate and engaged to the daughter of his boss. Initially, he is in utter disbelief of Nikki's nature, until it is proven true. According to the series mythology, mermaids are a race of creatures whose evolution took place underwater. The mermaids originate from a sunken city and have supernatural abilities, including superhuman strength and agility, as well as being able to see in the dark, read emotions and have a connection with other sea creatures. However, another race of creatures who began their existence underwater, but have since adapted onto dry land, include Luger who is hunting Nikki. Nikki, meanwhile, attempts to enact a normal life by working as a waitress at a local restaurant while living with Matt and his roommate. She begins assisting Matt in his attempts to help people: as the villainous Luger assesses, mermaids are drawn to protecting the innocent, it's "in their blood".
During the casting process, Kern "looked in London and New York and New Zealand, Hollywood, Florida, Melbourne and Sydney" and, after interviewing around 300 people, discovered "a fresh new face" in Australian Nathalie Kelley who played the lead role of Nikki. Geoff Stults was then cast as Matt, and Roger Daltrey as principal antagonist Eric Luger.101 Brandon Quinn, who later went on to play Homeland Security Agent Murphy in Charmed's eighth season, played Matt's "goofy best friend" in Mermaid.102 He spoke of his roles in both series:
[In Mermaid I was the party man...in the pilot, I had no job; I was a permanent bachelor. And when Brad [Kern] told me about [Agent Murphy], he was, like, 'He's a Homeland Security agent, he's 180 degrees opposite from what you played in my pilot this year, but I really think you could do it.' And I was, like, 'Wow, thanks for trusting me with Agent Murphy.'
Additionally cast in main roles were Ana Ortiz103 (who went on to star in Ugly Betty) and Beatrice Rosen104 who, along with Quinn, developed a recurring role in Charmed's eighth season as Maya Holmes, an innocent whose image Piper Halliwell inadvertently uses as her false identity 'Jenny Bennett'.
The pilot was considered to have a good chance of being picked up, but when The WB and UPN merged into The CW, the resulting network passed on the show. Speaking on the failure of the series to be picked up, Kern also revealed that 20th Century Fox and Fox Entertainment Group "decided at the last second to cut the budget in half", which resulted in the number of shooting days to be reduced, thus decreasing the quality of the pilot in being able to "'sell' the concept".105
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- Official website at Turner Network Television
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