When Charmed premiered in 1998 on the WB, it started out as a show about the fierce, insoluble magical bond of sisterhood. By the time it ended in 2006 it had transmogrified to instead become a testament to the fierce, insoluble magical bond of fandom.
It was amazing how much nonsensical drivel the loyal fans were willing to weather over the years, even after they replaced one of the main three characters. Charmed appeared to make the rules up as it went along, and it showed.
However, even when they faced the greatest and most formidable evil of all – Kelly Cuoco (not necessarily her character on the show... just Cuoco) – their shiny adult-sized "Limited Too" clad spirit endured. Almost a decade after the show called it quits, and the fans still aren’t over it.
What kind of show could possibly inspire such devotion? What dark secrets lurk under the charming surface, waiting to be revealed?
It's time to find out, with the 15 Behind-The-Scenes Secrets About Charmed That You Never Knew.
15 Shannen Doherty’s mysterious absence
The eldest (and most pernickety) Charmed sister, Prue Halliwell, died during the 2001 season 3 finale “All Hell Breaks Loose”. A powerful demon assassin named Shax was sent by The Source of All Evil to do away with the Halliwell sisters, and after some time travel and a musical chairs of people trying to sacrifice themselves for one another, Doherty was dead. This is a TV show, so there must have been a reason behind this... right?
Why did Shannen Doherty leave? Most of the cast didn’t even know for sure, and the fans were left grasping at straws and message boards, helpless to do anything but watch. Nobody knew why Doherty left, but scandalous theories abounded.
At the time she claimed that it was to pursue other projects, but as we now know, she left to court fame and fortune. However, there were also were rumors back then of bickering among the cast and speculation ran amok that there was more to Doherty’s disappearance from the cast than any of the Charmed team was letting on.
14 Alyssa Milano hated Shannen Doherty — but they made up after Shannen got cancer
Years later it came out that the set had had a very “high school” environment, with Doherty acting as a diva on-set and butting heads with Alyssa Milano. In 2013, Milano told Andy Cohen that "Holly and Shannen were best friends for like 10 years before the show started, so it was very much sort of like high school."
"I would hope that in our thirties it wouldn't be like that anymore," she continued. Holly Marie Combs had a Twitter retort to that assessment, however: "Working on Charmed was nothing like high school. I went to high school. It was a very important job to me and always will be." Doherty even chimed in: "OK, gang, there's no drama. Let's not feed into it!!"
Maybe there isn’t any drama now — Doherty and Milano made up after Doherty’s serious breast cancer diagnosis in 2015 — but at the time there was plenty to spare. Milano, a child star darling of the ‘80s and a teen icon of the ‘90s, was the real golden goose of the Charmed cast, so her needs were put over those of Doherty.
13 Rose McGowan stokes controversy by saying she would have joined the IRA
After the eldest Halliwell’s untimely death, the producers cast Rose McGowan as the sisterly replacement so that the show could still use the kludged-together vehicle of the Power of Three.
If that’s not a kludge, then what do you call a secret illegitimate step-sister coming out of the woodwork just as Prue was stepping out of the picture? Regardless, the show continued on for five more years so the match must have worked well.
In 2008, McGowan starred in a film called Fifty Dead Men Walking about the Irish Republican Army (IRA), a terrorist group prominent in the 1970s for using civil violence in an attempt for freedom for Ireland from British control.
McGowan said at a news conference that she would have joined the IRA had she lived in Ireland at the time. Those statements led Martin McGarland — the IRA informer whose autobiography served as the plot of the film — to denounce her to the BBC: "Rose McGowan's comments were insulting to victims of IRA terrorism and she should apologize.”
12 Shannen Doherty's cancer
Diagnosed in early 2015 with breast cancer, Shannen Doherty has since found out that it has spread. "Initially I was like, 'I'm strong. I got this!'" she told Entertainment Tonight.
"And then, as time sort of went by, I started thinking that I wasn't going to live. That was the next phase. I sat down with my husband, I remember we were in New York together, we were at this Italian restaurant in Brooklyn, and I looked at him and I said, 'You better enjoy every single second that you have with me ... because I'm going to be dead in five years,'" she said.
Since she made her illness public in 2015, Doherty has been very much in the public eye throughout her whole journey, and an unprecedented outpouring of public support for the actress has erupted since then.
Her social media posts are now enough to warrant a front page slot of Elle. After years in the shadows of other celebrities, she’s back in the spotlight for a tremendous comeback — though it surely didn’t come about in a way that anyone would have wished for her.
11 Affairs of the heart
There were so many illicit hookups behind-the-scenes of Charmed.Shannen Doherty and Julian McMahon had a sordid and steamy affair going on, and then there was the media fanfare around the electric pairing of Alyssa Milano and Brian Krause. One has to wonder: how did any work get done on that set?
At the time of these clandestine pairings, the tabloids were all over the romances and the stars were not too coy about their feelings towards their significant others-- lingering glances and amorous goo-goo eyes made the public at once sick to their stomachs but also rabid for more.
One problem with these two fairytale romances, though, is that both men were married to other women at the time, and both wives were presumably not aware of the situation.
How could they not have seen the headlines? Also, to add insult to injury, all of the other Charmed characters were dating people as well.
10 Brian Krause's drunk arrest
Brian Krause played the Whitelighter angel. He was a straight up angel, and Piper’s husband/ex-husband/future husband Leo on Charmed. However, Krause’s life was anything but charmed after the show ended in 2006. After his fiery year-long fling with Alyssa Milano fizzled out along with the marriage that the affair ruined, Krause lost himself in his work... and possibly some other things.
In 2010, Krause was denied boarding to an AirTran flight to LAX when the captain said that he was too drunk to come onboard. Krause refused to leave, however, and argued with the employees in an increasingly disorderly manner until the police were called to arrest him.
He spent the night in a local jail. His people had no comment on the event. There seemingly haven’t been any incidents since, which means this was an isolated incident-- or perhaps his PR team handlers are better than we give them credit for and one just slipped through the cracks.
9 The original cast belittles the reboot cast
It’s never a particularly nice experience to feel replaced, but in acting, actors are often completely recast. When The CW announced a rebooted Charmed series on January 5th, 2017, Holly Marie Combs, aka Piper Halliwell, was quick to respond on Twitter with the simple message: “We wish them well.”
Alyssa Milano, who played sister Phoebe Halliwell, answered next with a message of love to her fans who had dominated Twitter with their excitement that morning: “#Charmed fans! There are no fans like you. You’re the best of the best,” with a throwback photo with guest star Billy Zane.
Rose McGowan had an interesting take, however. On her Twitter, she posted a picture of all four Charmed sisters with the cryptic words “Irreplaceable.” McGowan is known for her controversy and brutally truthful attitude on life.
The sentiment “irreplaceable” is puzzling, especially considering the fact that she was originally brought in as a replacement.
8 Eric Dane's scandalous tape and time in prescription drug rehab
You may have forgotten that the McSteamy Grey’s Anatomy heartthrob Eric Dane was on Charmed from seasons 5-6, but we haven’t. How could we? He even dated onscreen girlfriend Alyssa Milano in real life.
Even when he left, at least we still had the fond memories and respect for the actor... or at least until 2009, when he appeared without clothing on Gawker with his wife Rebecca Gayheart — convicted of vehicular manslaughter of a nine-year-old boy in 2001 — and Miss U.S. Teen Kari Ann Peniche, who had been stripped of her title for posing in Playboy. The trio were sitting in a hot tub and fooling around, though no sexual acts were seen.
A video clip shows them talking, drunk out of their minds, about what their "other industry" names would be. Dane and Gayheart’s representative spoke to People Magazine to say: "Although the participants are nude, the tape is not a 'sex tape.'”
Kari Ann Peniche made an appearance on VH1’s Celebrity Rehab: Sex Addiction earlier that same year (though she was kicked off the show bad behavior). Dane followed suit by checking himself into rehab for prescription drug addiction in 2011.
7 Rose McGowan's sexual assault
Rose McGowan has been hailed by media outlets, fans, and activists as a fresh breath of air in Hollywood for speaking out about her own negative experiences in the industry and calling for change.
"This town is a very patriarchal figure," she told Buzzfeed, “And I was raised here by... the men in this industry. How to be, what not to do — what to do.” The first prominent instance of sexual assault came during McGowan’s performance in 1995’s Doom Generation when, during her audition, they forced her to lay on top of another actor.
While that may have been an unfortunate and uncomfortable accident, it wasn’t helped when, during filming, another unnamed actor “[squeezed] a water bottle into [McGowan’s] crotch, telling the director ‘Oh, I think it’ll help her act better.’... From the very earliest, I realized I had no protectors.”
Unfortunately, things got worse for McGowan on that front. She told Buzzfeed about her crusade to lengthen the statute of limitations on sexual assault charges: “That's murder. You're killing somebody. You are taking part of someone's soul. It's happened to me,” she confessed. "It alters the course of your life... my life.”
6 Rose McGowan has been blacklisted in the industry for speaking out about sexism
Some believe that McGowan was blacklisted from mainstream Hollywood as a result of a tweet where she made disparaging remarks about a casting note from Adam Sandler’s movie The Do Over.
The note read: "Wardrobe Note: Black (or dark) form fitting tank that shows off cleavage (push up bras encouraged). And form fitting leggings or jeans.” After the incident went viral, she checked her phone to see that her agency, Innovative Artists, had dropped her. Two days later she went on Good Morning America to talk about the “systemic abuse of women in Hollywood.”
However, does this blackballing go further than some tweets? All this could have been a catalyst for an attempt to silence her that had been a long way coming ever since she took a more outspoken, social justice stance in recent years.
Perhaps someone higher up was afraid of what she might divulge more-- which later happened. Elaborating on a cryptic rape encounter that McGowan had hinted at in other interviews over the years, she all but named the Studio Head responsible for her rape in a series of explosive tweets.
5 Alyssa Milano blames business manager for financial ruin
In the wake of financial disaster, Alyssa Milano filed a $10 million lawsuit against former business manager Kenneth Hellie and his firm Hellie, Hoffer & Co. for severe misconduct in June 2017.
According to the suit, Hellie’s actions left Milano and her husband David Bugliari in millions of dollars of debt with ruined credit. She accuses the firm of “severe misconduct,” but that doesn’t even begin to cover it.
Hellie and his associates allegedly forged her signature on checks for tens of thousands of dollars, even loaning her money out to other clients without Milano’s permission. Hellie failed to pay overdue bills and even taxes while receiving assurances that she was in good financial shape.
All the while, Hellie and his cohorts gave her investment advice that was for the benefit of Hellie’s own financial interests — they did not tell her that the investments they recommended were merely to boost their own stocks.
4 Doherty was on a show in the 200s where she’d break up with people’s significant others for them
In 2006, Shannen Doherty was right smack in the middle of her fall from grace. She took a strange offer from the Oxygen Network for an ethically suspect show which was titled Breaking Up with Shannen Doherty.
Doherty’s contribution to the mélange was a show in which she, acting as herself, broke up with people’s significant others for them.
Doherty, along with unhappy individuals who sought to end their relationships, would make up a strange fictitious situation that the clueless significant other would stumble into. Together, they’d perform the Punk-style test to see whether or not these unsuspecting mates had what it took to be tolerated for a little bit longer.
After 13 episodes, the series came to an end, and it was never mentioned again.
3 Scandalous tapes galore
Three members of Charmed were incorrectly reported as having had nude images leak by Media Mass. Even the former child star Alyssa Milano, who served as the inspiration and facial model for The Little Mermaid's Ariel herself, was not immune from controversy.
Although her “tape” was more controversial because of its political underpinnings — she made a Funny or Die sketch parody-ing an actual tape and, instead, used the platform to make a statement about the Syrian refugee crisis.
Then, in 2016, Rose McGowan became the victim of a leak. Screenshots made the rounds online but the identity of the man in the video with her remained unclear. Newly single after a divorce from Davey Detail, McGowan was not the only star to have their private information hacked and distributed without their consent.
Other members of the camp included Jennifer Lawrence, Leslie Jones, and Vanessa Hudgens among others, all of whom had risqué pictures leaked in the same timeframe.
2 Alyssa Milano’s private item stolen at the airport
Alyssa Milano had her breast milk taken from her at an airport. It was confiscated by Heathrow Airport authorities based on their laws prohibiting liquids and/or bodily fluids.
Mere hours after she’d tweeted that “pumping on a plane is difficult," she let loose a Twitter storm about how the breast milk had been confiscated. The rant went as follows: “@HeathrowAirport just took my pumped breast milk away. 10 ounces. Gone. Not okay. They said they would let the pumped milk through if I had the baby with me. Why would I need to pump if I had the baby with me?”
The Official Heathrow Twitter responded that the 100 ml rule was in effect, but Milano took further insult that they hadn’t bothered to work with her or even test the liquid to make sure it was okay. Many other sympathetic mothers took to social media to defend and support her outrage at this treatment.
1 Rose McGowan raised in the Children of God religion
Rose McGowan was raised in the Children of God. The Christian organizational commune, founded by David Berg in the late ‘60s and located in Southern California, had offshoots in Europe as well. It was in the Italian chapter that McGowan was raised.
Her father was an artist who wanted “to change the world with love.” Instead of a hippie paradise, however, McGowan said the growing up in the religion it was more like growing up in the Medici court. "It was a high-wire act to stay alive," she said. "From about 3, every room I go into, I immediately look for what I would kill somebody with if I had to defend myself."
Any mention of the Children of God orginization might bring to mind their legacy of horrible sexual abuse. McGowan and her family escaped when she was 10, as her father feared their leader’s newfound ritualization of pedophilia.
"I was not molested because my dad was strong enough to realize that this hippie love had gone south," she explained.
Can you think of any other dark behind-the-scenes secrets about Charmed? Let us know in the comments.
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