Charmed is an American television series that ran for eight seasons on the now defunct WB. It was produced by Aaron Spelling and is about three sisters who are the world's most powerful good witches, known throughout the supernatural community as "The Charmed Ones", but known to everyone else as the Halliwells. Each sister possesses unique magical powers that grow and evolve over the course of their lives. The Charmed Ones live together in a house they call the manor and use their supernatural abilities to battle the warlocks, demons and other evil forces that populate San Francisco, California.
The show was the longest lasting of its generation of supernatural-themed shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Roswell. It is also noted for its mixture of multiple genres (from horror and fantasy to comedy and even soap). It also had (at the time) the highest rated debut for the WB Television Network with 7.70 million viewers tuning in for the series premiere "Something Wicca This Way Comes" in 1998 (this was later surpassed with the 2001 debut of Smallville which rated at 8.40 million viewers).
The theme song for Charmed, "How Soon Is Now?" is a cover version performed by Love Spit Love. The same version was previously used in the film The Craft. The original version was written and recorded by The Smiths.
The series ended its run on May 21, 2006 in the US. The Charmed series finale, "Forever Charmed", pulled in a season high of 4.49 million viewers.
Charmed is currently in syndication at TNT.
Charmed is the story of the three Halliwell sisters, Prudence, Piper and Phoebe, discovering that they are the world's most powerful good witches, The Charmed Ones; each gifted with innate magical powers they must collectively use to defend the "innocents" of San Francisco from demons, warlocks and other evil beings. During their fight against the forces of evil, eldest sister Prue is killed, breaking the united Power of Three. However, the Charmed triple-destiny is restored with the introduction of a long-lost fourth half-sister, Paige Matthews, who is half-witch and half-whitelighter. During Seasons One to Four, the sisters' combined destiny was to vanquish the Source of All Evil, the ruler of the Underworld, and his demonic minions. Upon fulfilling their primary destiny, the Charmed Ones were fated to destroy the Nexus; engage in the Ultimate Battle; and usher in the next generation of good witches. On top of their supernatural lives, the four sisters must also contend with serious issues in the real world (such as relationships, careers, marriage, childbirth, illness and death), as well as preventing the exposure of magic, the subject of several police investigations throughout the series.
In order to begin creating the series, Constance M. Burge was hired as the creator as she was under contract with Spelling Television after having conceived the drama Savannah. When pitching to her the theme of witchcraft, she was only aware of the preconceived stereotypes of witches (flying brooms, black cats, and warts), but after heavy research into Wicca discovered that the reality differed immensely from her notions and, instead, she aimed at telling a story of witches who were both good, and looked and acted like ordinary people. With this, her initial concept was a series set in Boston, Massachusetts about three friends and roommates who were all witches. However, executive producer E. Duke Vincent lacked confidence in the idea and asked "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". Aaron Spelling warmed to Burge's ideas and, after the concept was revised to a series about three sisters (now living in San Francisco) descended from a long line of witches, it was pitched to the WB's Susanne Daniels who liked it immediately, allowing the series to begin development.
The series was titled Charmed, after Spelling's suggestion of House of Sisters was dropped, and the three lead roles were cast to Shannen Doherty, Holly Marie Combs and Lori Rom. Constance M. Burge wrote the script for the pilot, and they filmed a 28 minute version (the so-called "unaired pilot", which has never been aired on network television) with which the series was picked-up by the WB. The majority of the pilot had to then be refilmed after Lori Rom quit and Alyssa Milano took her role.
A week before the updated pilot, "Something Wicca This Way Comes" was meant to air, the WB developed concerns about the entire series and considered pulling it. Spelling Television forced it to go ahead and upon its debut, Charmed received massive ratings - the largest for a series premier in the network’s history - and massive Internet attention with dozens of websites focusing on the series, and the beginning of the show's cult fan base. The complete first season of 22 episodes was picked up by the WB after only 2 had aired; the first time it had occurred so quickly in all of Aaron Spelling's long and award-winning career.
Script writing is carried out after group brainstorms take 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 storyline.
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 Holly Marie 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 in fear of coming under criticism for either not being "technically correct enough", or missing the truth completely.
Some designers have discovered the beauty of work of pre-20th century origin. Margo Chase of Chase Design Group bought a book—published in Paris in 1647—from a rare-book dealer and used it as inspiration [for her work].
This new font is sometimes known as "Endor" when downloaded, and it is the same font used for the logo in other countries, such as Italy where the series is called Streghe (Italian for witches). Although the second logo replaced the first in all promotional material by the WB, such as posters and television adverts, the first remained to be used on official merchandise well after the third season, including on the covers of the novel series, the DVDs and the official Charmed magazine.
The story of Charmed begins with the three Halliwell sisters — Prudence, Piper and Phoebe — coming together six months after the death of their grandmother, Grams. Moving back into the family Manor in San Francisco, the youngest sister, Phoebe, discovers an old book — the Book of Shadows — in the attic. Reading an incantation from it, she unwittingly sets in motion events that fulfill an ancient prophecy. Strange and harrowing occurrences begin which eventually lead the sisters to realize that they are witches.
They discover that they not only possess supernatural powers, but also come from a long line of powerful witches. The first in the line, Melinda Warren, possessed three powers: the power to move things with her mind, to freeze time, and to see into the future. Melinda was burned at the stake in the Salem Witch Trials.(In reality, no one was burned at the stake in Salem). However, before she died, Melinda prophesied that each coming generation of Warren (later Halliwell) witches would grow stronger and stronger, culminating in the arrival of three sisters -- the strongest good witches the world had ever seen; the three sisters would form The Power of Three, the most powerful magical force ever.
Prudence "Prue" Halliwell, the eldest, most over-protective sister, develops the power of telekinesis and can move things with her mind. Her telekinesis is usually triggered by anger, and is first channeled through her eyes. But she can soon channel her telekinesis through her hands, like her ancestor Brianna and her Grams. She later gains the power of astral projection, where she can make a "copy" of herself appear wherever she desires by projecting her consciousness, while her physical body is left standing there unconscious. Her power of astral projection develops from her power of telekinesis, when she feels an overwhelming need to be in two places at once, in the season two episode "Ms. Hellfire". While in that status, she is unable to use her power of telekinesis. In the season three episode, "Primrose Empath", one of the last times she is shown using her astral projection power, she is able to project her "clone", while her physical body stays conscious.
Piper, at first the middle child and mediator, and later eldest, receives the power to freeze objects therefore essentially "stop time". At first, Piper's control of her powers is weak. Her range is not very far, and she cannot keep people or objects frozen for very long. As her powers grow, she is able to expand her range. She can freeze entire rooms, or direct her freezing powers only at certain objects or people without freezing everyone and everything. By season three, she can also keep demons or people frozen while unfreezing only certain body parts, such as demon heads, which comes in handy when she questions them. Piper can also keep people frozen for very long periods of time without her having to be in the room to "hold the freeze". It is only late in season three when it is revealed that her power to freeze works at a molecular level; they work by slowing molecules down to the point where they appear frozen in time. This power later evolves so that instead of slowing molecules down to freeze them, she is able to speed molecules up, causing objects (and demons) to explode. Her freezing power is triggered by fear, panic, or surprise, while her explosion power (before she gains full control of it) is triggered by anger.
Phoebe, the youngest sister receives the power of premonition, which allows her to see future events. Her power is triggered through touching people or objects (or, if the psychic residue of an area is strong enough, simply being in the room). While her premonitions are initially passive, she eventually gains control to the point that the power is considered an active one. Over time, her power of premonition evolves in several ways. She begins having visions of past events in season one's episode, "The Witch Is Back", making her the first of the sisters whose powers advance. Her powers of premonition later grow stronger, so that she is able to feel the emotions in her premonition; for example, she feels her mother drowning when she receives a vision of the past in season two's episode, "P3 H2O". This ability to feel the emotions within her premonitions may serve as a foretelling of her soon-to-come empathic powers. In season five's episode, "The Eyes Have It", after not having had any premonitions in months due to overwork and overstress, she seeks the help of Gypsies to unblock her powers. She gets a "super premonition", in which she astral projects into the future within her premonition; her ability to feel what happens grows so that when she is hurt in her vision, her present self is also physically harmed. Though this type of premonition occurs very rarely, she is also able to astral project into the future and converse with her future self in season eight. Phoebe also has the power to share premonitions with others who have the gift of foresight. Phoebe eventually obtains the active power to levitate, which is useful in combination with her martial arts skills. Her power of levitation is first seen in season three's premiere episode, "The Honeymoon's Over". Her empathic powers, which develop in season six, allow her to read others' emotions and affect the supernatural powers of other beings (whose powers are tied to their emotions). She can channel the powers and reflect the attacks of demons and other magical beings, such as the Valkyries seen in "Valhalley of the Dolls". In season six she has her powers removed for misuse, but is re-awarded her premonition power in the seventh season of the show.
After the tragic and unexpected death of Prue, Piper and Phoebe learn that they have a half-sister named Paige, born to their mother Patty and Sam, her Whitelighter, a sort of guardian angel for witches and future whitelighters. As this type of relationship was forbidden and unheard of at the time, Patty and Sam gave the baby to Sister Agnes, a nun, and the Matthews family later adopted her. Her birth parents requested only that her first name begin with 'P', to continue the tradition. From her Whitelighter father, Paige inherits the power to "orb". At first, Paige can only orb out momentarily and reappear in the same spot; this is triggered by fear and surprise. She quickly develops the power to orb wherever she wants. According to the prophecy of the three Charmed Ones with three distinct powers, the third sister has the power of telekinesis. Being half witch and half whitelighter affects the powers Paige inherits from Patty: instead of telekinesis like Prue's, Paige is able to move an object by calling for it; the object then orbs to her, or to any location she wishes. This power is called telekinetic orbing. Though this power requires the use of verbal commands, she can sometimes use it silently, such as when in a state of enhanced power. In Season 5, Paige reveals that she also has other Whitelighter powers, such as glamouring. Halfway through Season 8, Paige's Whitelighter side develops more fully when she becomes able to magically heal others and to locate charges by sensing them.
A central theme throughout the show's run is the sisters' struggle to balance their normal lives with their supernatural responsibilities. The burden of keeping their destinies a secret from the outside world repeatedly creates tensions in their friendships, workplaces, and romantic relationships. Only a few know their secret and help them on a regular basis. The most important is Leo Wyatt, a Whitelighter assigned by the Elders to guide and protect the sisters. Leo means a great deal to the sisters both professionally and personally: he heals their wounds, advises them collectively and individually, and mediates between them and the enigmatic Elders. He also becomes the love of Piper's life, her husband and the father of her children. Others who keep the Charmed Ones' secret over the years include police inspectors Andy Trudeau and Darryl Morris, tormented half-demon Cole Turner, the mysterious time-traveler Chris Perry, sisters Christy and Billie Jenkins, Paige's husband Henry Mitchell, and the many other creatures in the magical community.
In seasons one through three, the lead actresses are listed by character age: Shannen Doherty, Holly Marie Combs, and Alyssa Milano. After Shannen Doherty's departure, the veteran leading actresses receive the coveted first and last billing with their new co-star in the middle: Alyssa Milano, Rose McGowan, and Holly Marie Combs as "Piper" where Combs received a special benefit for adding the character to her name in the opening credits. Brian Krause, who became a main cast member halfway through the second season, is listed fourth in the credits from season three to season seven. During season eight, however, Kaley Cuoco took the fourth spot.
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. The series ended when its American network, The WB, was shut down in order for it to merge into a new network station. 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. In the United Kingdom, the entire series aired on the digital network Living TV and on the terrestrial channel Five from 1998 until 2006, when Channel 4 purchased the rights to air the final season on its T4 scheduling slot. Currently, all eight seasons of the series are available on DVD, including two all-season collections (The Book of Shadows for Region 4, and The Magic Chest for Region 2). Following the series finale, the show continued in its non-canon series of novels revolving around the principal characters.
|Season||Season Premiere||Season Finale||TV Season||Viewer Rank (#)||Network Rank (#)||Viewers (in millions)|
|1st||October 10, 1998||May 26, 1999||1998-1999||118||1||5.4|
|2nd||September 30, 1999||May 18, 2000||1999-2000||120||2||4.7|
|3rd||October 5, 2000||May 17, 2001||2000-2001||117||2||4.8|
|4th||October 4, 2001||May 16, 2002||2001-2002||129||6||4.2|
|5th||September 22, 2002||May 11, 2003||2002-2003||128||4||4.57|
|6th||September 28, 2003||May 16, 2004||2003-2004||154||5||4.3|
|7th||September 12, 2004||May 22, 2005||2004-2005||132||7||3.5|
|8th||September 25, 2005||May 21, 2006||2005-2006||132||5||3.5|
As the sisters have to struggle with many forces of darkness, death is a common event in their lives. Each of the sisters die at several points in the series, with Piper dying nine times, Phoebe dying eleven times, Paige dying seven times, and Prue dying three times. Except for Prue's death in the third season finale, the protagonists always find a way to return the respective Halliwells back to life through the Cleaners, Leo's Avatar powers, changing time, soul trading etc.
However, not every death on Charmed has been so easily reversed; as several important supporting characters have died without being revived, such as Andy, Cole (2nd vanquish), Kyle Brody, and adult Chris. Although Chris, Kyle, and Cole appear in episodes after their deaths, none are revived: Kyle reveals to Paige that he became a Whitelighter, Cole is in limbo, and Chris' first appearance is as a personification of Leo's guilt, his second is a Chris from a different future.
The sixth season episode "Forget Me...Not" introduced the Cleaners, a pair of magical beings capable of warping reality in order to maintain magic's secret. While occasionally tasked with cleaning up after the Charmed Ones, the sisters generally covered their own tracks. It is never explained why these characters did not intervene during the events of "All Hell Breaks Loose." Some fans claim the events (i.e. Prue's death) wasn't destiny having its way and the Cleaners could have done something to stop this but the elders wanted her to die.
In Season One's "Wicca Envy", Prue is framed by her boss Rex for stealing a tiara. In order to keep from going to jail, the sisters are forced to recite an incantation that will remove all of their powers and put them into a lanturn. When they were about to hand it over to Rex, Leo "healed" the Book of Shadows which gave the sisters their powers back. Later in the episode, the sisters decided to burn the spell and agree to always keep their powers. In Season One's episode "Love Hurts", Piper casts a spell to switch her power to freeze time with Leo's power to heal in order to save him from the arrow of a Darklighter. The spell was meant to switch only their powers, but it also caused Phoebe to obtain the power of Telekinesis whereas Prue developed the power of Premonition. After they work out the kinks in their new powers, they use the same spell to get their powers back, and then agree to destroy the spell.
In Season Two's "How to Make a Quilt Out of Americans", the sisters' grandmother's old friend, Gail Altman, and her two friends chanted to summon the spirit of a demon named Cryto. The reason for this was that they wanted to be young and healthy again (Gail was in fact dying of cancer). Cryto however wanted something in return and the offer of a body was not enough, he wanted the powers of the Charmed ones. So Gail made a potion that would allow the Charmed ones powers to be stolen and then tricked them into drinking it. When Cryto got what he wanted he killed the other two women that had helped Gail gain youth and health, and threatened Gail with death if she did not obey him. When the Charmed ones realized that they had lost their powers they had to make Cryto use the power he did not know he had which was astral projection. When he was forced to astral project upstairs to try and stop Phoebe (Alyssa Milano), the body that was left motionless was force fed the potion and the Charmed ones read out a spell which returned their powers.
In Season Four's "Charmed and Dangerous", the Source used the Hollow to obtain the sisters' powers. He managed to steal Piper's and Paige's, but was not interested in obtaining Phoebe's because her powers were too weak. But Cole used the Hollow against him, and with some help from the Seer, their powers were returned and Cole, unknowing to the charmed ones, obtained the sources powers, and a piece of the Source's essence with them that proceeded to possess Cole over the next several episodes until Cole's first true vanquish.
In Season Five's "Siren's Song", Piper and Leo were having couple-problems. Piper was upset that her husband did not understand the burden of being pregnant while Leo was frustrated that his wife did not understand the importance of being a whitelighter. In order to make them understand each other's burdens, unborn baby Wyatt swapped his parent's powers, making Piper the whitelighter and Leo feel the nausea of Piper's pregnancy symptoms. In the end, Piper and Leo learned to understand each other better and unborn Wyatt switched their powers back.
In Season Six's "The Power of Three Blondes", three evil sisters, Mabel, Mitzy and, Margo Stillman, used a spell to steal the sisters' identities in order to steal their lives. After they obtained their identities, they used a spell in the Book of Shadows to steal their powers. However, since it's a spell to call a witch's powers, Paige's whitelighter powers were kept and she orbed out with Piper and Phoebe. Paige then went received help from two gremlins to help find Chris. By provoking Mabel in front of Chris, he realized that their identities were stolen and made the three sisters use their powers against each other which in turn made the fake sisters lose their powers (as did the real Charmed Ones in an earlier season when Cole recruited a demon to anger the girls). With their identities returned, Piper, Phoebe and Paige used a spell from the Book of Shadows to take back their powers and strip Mabel, Mitzy, and Margo Stillman of their own powers. They were then arrested for the murder of the neighbors who live opposite the Halliwells.
In Season Seven's "Ordinary Witches", Phoebe is convinced that Piper must see this demon-free world the avatars promised, so she casts the same spell to switch her and Piper's powers. During the transaction, Zankou appears and causes their powers to fly out the window, into ordinary people. These two people are freaked out at first, but then decide to keep the powers and use them for personal gain. After showing the man with Phoebe's power what the future without demons holds, and the good they can do, they are convinced that the girls must get their powers back. In Season Seven's "Something Wicca This Way Goes", Zankou throws a potion to steal Piper's powers, a potion for Phoebe's, but luckily Paige is able to keep her powers as Zankou uses his potion on her astral self. They later vanquish Zankou along with the Nexus, and, knowing that everyone thinks they are dead, assume the identity of three normal women to lead a demon-free life, away from magic.
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, the WB asked Brad Kern to abandon the serial system in the future. This led to the largely episodic structure of season five, and resulted in the two systems being balanced from the sixth season onwards.
In the third season, it was revealed in order for adults to see fairies, they must cast a spell or believe in fairies and be sprinkled with fairy dust. However, after this point, the Charmed Ones were able to see fairies without the aid of the spell or the dust, including Paige, who never had the spell cast on her (at least, not on-screen).
Gradually from the fourth season, besides keeping the dominance of creatures with attributes explicitly created to conform to the storylines, Charmed started to rely more heavily on using creatures from classical (i.e., Greek and Roman) mythology as well as from miscellaneous folklore items well-known in contemporary culture, such as leprechauns and dwarves.