Charmed: The Truth Behind Why Shannen Left(17years late)

Charmed was one of my favorite shows growing up. I loved watching the Halliwell sisters using the powers to vanquish demonic forces. I remember Holly Marie Combs as Piper blowing up demons, Alyssa Milano’s Phoebe beating the crap out of grown men, and Rose Mcgowan as Paige using her telekinetic orbing to turn her opponents own power against themselves. These where the Charmed ones I grew up knowing until I watch the series in its entirety. After watching the show from the beginning the “Wicca Wonder” Prue Halliwell played by Shannen Doherty quickly became my favorite sister. Prue’s death although I knew it was coming was just so frustrating to watch and what’s more frustrating is dealing with inaccurate rumors regarding Shannen Doherty’s departure from the show.

For those of you who have been living under a rock during the 90’s and 2000s don’t know Charmed is a show created by Constance M. Burge. The plot of the show is that the Halliwell bloodline is descended from Melinda Warren a Salem witch who had the power to move things with her mind, freeze time, and see the future. After Melinda was betrayed by her lover Matthew she was burned at the stake as a witch, but before her death, she predicted that each generation of Warren witches would grow more and more powerful until the arrival of three sister witches who would be the most powerful good witches the world has ever known. These sister witches would be known as the Charmed Ones.

Prue was the oldest sister, as well as the bravest and strongest Charmed One with the power to move things with her mind. In the sister’s the third year as witches Prue and Piper are attacked in their own home by the Source of All Evil’s  personal hitman Shax and Prue dies as a result. After the writers killed off Prue, I asked the internet why. Of course, if you ask any Charmed fan they will tell you that it’s because of the infamous feud between Shannen Doherty her former co-star Alyssa Milano. I remember watching a clip from  E! where they perpetuated Doherty’s reputation as being “difficult”. In this clip, they claimed that Shannen’s, “me first behavior” is what caused the conflict between her and Milano and that she demanded to be in the middle of every photo shoot they did. Some rumors go as far as to say that Doherty was fired from the show for being so difficult. Rumors aside if you look at the evidence it is quite a different story.

 For starters, Shannen was not fired.One of the first things that will come up in a simple Youtube search on why Shannen Doherty left Charmed is an Entertainment Tonight interview. In the interview, it is stated that Doherty left Charmed because she no longer found the work enjoyable, and in fact made plans to leave the show as early as the start of season 3. The death of Prue Halliwell was carefully negotiated between Doherty and the studio. Doherty also stated in another interview that as an actress she had the habit of getting bored with playing singular roles and preferred variety. After her departure from the show, she was involved in several television films such as Satan’s School for Girls, Another Day, and Hell on Heels: The Battle of Mary Kay to name a few. Even in the interview with Entertainment Tonight from 2001, the feud between Doherty and Milano is simply acknowledged as a rumor, not a fact.

But if we really want to talk about on set conflict it appears as though most of the conflict had to do with the creative direction of the show. Shannen wasn’t the only person to leave the show around seasons 3. Show creator Constance M. Burge left her executive producer role on the show at the end of its second season due to creative disagreements with co-producer Brad Kern. In fact, many fans miscredit executive producer Aaron Spelling for Charmed’s creation when in actuality this feat was one of Burge’s accomplishments. Robert Masselo’s the shows executive story editor and demonologist who worked on the show’s first and second season also departed from the show. Burge’s and Masselo’s absence was meet with a shift in the series mythology from an emphasis on demons and witchcraft towards greek and Roman mythology. It is also noteworthy that in an interview titled The Women of Charmed Doherty is quoted saying that she wants for the show to continue to grow and to find its voice, something at the time they had yet to accomplish. Doherty also favored a darker tone in the show and after she and other team members left the show the series became campier. Creative differences are more likely the source of on-set tension and disillusionment than a petty conflict between Shannen and Alyssa.  

Speaking of the feud between Shannen Doherty and Alyssa Milano it might have a lot more to do with Milano than a lot of Charmed fans would like to admit. During an interview with Andy Cohen, Milano claimed that being on set was like high school and that sometimes things were rough. It’s a well-known fact that Holly Marie Combs and Shannen Doherty knew each other prior to becoming on-screen sisters and to this day are best friends. The depth of their relationship may have left Milano feeling excluded. In interviews, Shannen has stated that rumors of a feud or a rift have no effect on her numerous times. In fact, while being interviewed about their show Off the Map Doherty and Combs were asked about their former co-star’s high school drama comment and both expressed annoyance toward the statement and weren’t entertained by it in the slightest, which makes it appear as though this has been something that’s been an issue for a while. I might be a stretch but the Charmed writers seemed played off the relationship dynamic their writing. In the episode “The Honeymoon’s Over”, Phoebe expresses to Prue that she feels as though her older sisters are closer to each other than they are to her.  

Phoebe: You’ve known her longer. I mean, there was that whole bonding time before I was even born.

Prue: Okay, she was one and I was three. What did we bond over? Diapers and drooling?…

During that dialogue exchange, Prue dismisses the statement reassuring her little sister that she is equally loved by her (more or less). The feud between these actresses is a lot more mundane then the media would have us believe.

This article is about 17 years late to the story but a lot of nasty things have been said regarding Shannen’s character and much of it stems from her reputation as being difficult. A major influencer in the perpetuation of this assumption about her comes from old rumors about Charmed. Look at the Youtube comments and you’ll see how fans of the show use unsubstantiated rumors to justify they cruel things they say about her. One commenter went as far as to call her a Mean Girl comparing her to Regina George, and some portray her as a manipulative bully. These rumors are tired and inaccurate. Hollywood is all about speculation and rumors which is fine, and everyone is entitled to an opinion and that is also fine, but before you attempt use rumors to justify saying awful things about someone else, at least get your facts straight.

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