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Charmed: 20 Things Wrong With The Halliwell Sisters We All Choose To Ignore

While there’s a newly rebooted Charmed in the world, many still remember the silliness and campiness of the original Charmed. Before the Vera/Vaughn Clan, there were the Halliwells (and Matthews) family. Over the course of eight seasons, fans followed them as they battled demons, fell in love, and saved the world a time or two. It was gloriously over the top in its emotions. At the same time, it was a show about family and sisterhood. There is a reason why it is (mostly) fondly remembered by fans to this day.

At the center of the series stand the Charmed Ones, with the nebulously defined “Power of Three” that can take down the worst demons around. More importantly, however, the Halliwell (and Matthews) sisters all dealt with their own personal demons and family drama. From sharing a house together to dealing with the aftermath of Prue’s (Shannen Doherty) passing, these women worked together to handle it all. Yeah, it was late 90s-early 00s girl power, but it was a message that is still needed. The power of women working together can make the world a better place.

That doesn’t mean that the characters weren’t without flaw though. It would make the show pretty boring otherwise. The Halliwell family, more than most, definitely have their own issues. While the sisters may be the Charmed Ones, it doesn’t excuse some of their behavior over the course of the series. From selfishness to secret-keeping, the list of offenses can certainly range the gamut.

Here are 20 Things Wrong With The Halliwell Sisters We All Choose To Ignore.

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Alyssa Milano as Phoebe Halliwell on Charmed
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20 Phoebe’s Forgotten Martial Arts Skills

Alyssa Milano as Phoebe Halliwell on Charmed

Phoebe (Alyssa Milano) was definitely a character with some issues in the series. Fans credit a lot of those issues to Milano’s greater creative control as the show went on. One thing that has definitely faltered on and off throughout the years was Phoebe’s martial arts skills. The skills were to allow her to be more active since her power itself was passive. That’s fine, but they tended to fluctuate on and off throughout the seasons.

Yes, not everyone with martial arts skills can win every fight. At least, she could have attempted to use them more often. It just seems weird to have a character with this ability and only have her use it some of the time.

19 Got More Unpleasant As The Series Progressed

It’s not a bad thing to have a character go for “good” to “bad” over the course of the series. Such a plot, however, should be intentional, like Breaking Bad. Charmed, however, started with perfectly likable characters with good intentions. Over the course of the series, the Halliwell sisters just got progressively unpleasant. Phoebe descended into self-obsession, Piper turned into a shrill nag, Prue kind of lost her personality, and Paige just fell deeper into the Whitelighter extreme.

These are the heroes of the story though. They’re the biggest force of good in the world. While they should have some flaws, it just feels like those flaws overshadowed any nice part of their characters. In the later seasons, there was just no balance within them.

18 Prue Was Essentially Written Out Of Later Continuity

Shannen Doherty Charmed Prue

Prue’s demise remains one of the biggest moments of Charmed’s original run. Whether or not it made sense to viewers, it still remains a deeply affecting moment that changed the course of the series. Part of Dougherty’s exit did come from a behind-the-scenes feud with Alyssa Milano. Following Prue’s demise, however, she was largely written out of the series. There were mentions here or there over the years. Explanations for why the women could not summon her spirit and things like that.

Ultimately, it felt like Prue and her influence was just erased from the series. If the girls returned to childhood via time travel, she was not present. After some mourning in season four, they never really showed how they were affected by her passing.

17 The Inconsistency Of The Charmed One's Powers

One thing that the reboot seems to have over the original is how the Charmed One's power works. In order for the sisters to tap into that power, then they have to be in harmony with themselves and their emotional state. It doesn’t really work like that in the original series. In fact, the whole Power Of Three is just kind of a nebulous concept rather than anything clearly defined. When you have this big power of good be a mainstay of the series, then it should have some kind of rule around the use of it.

It doesn’t, though. At least, it doesn’t have this in any appreciable way, which just makes the Power Of Three more of a McGuffin than anything else. 

16  Saw The World In Black And White

Sometimes, a black and white view of morality tends to work within the narrative landscape of the world. Good is good and bad is bad. As people tend to grow older, however, they learn that the world functions in shades of gray. The Charmed Ones tend to not have entirely grasped that lesson. Part of it does come from the fact that the world they inhabit tends to function in that paradigm. It changes, of course. Some demons aren’t necessarily bad and some witches aren’t necessarily good.

Yet even with those lessons, the Halliwells tend to have a hard time accepting this sort of middle ground. It leads to them, especially in later seasons, coming across as people who are unwilling to believe that others can grow and change.

15 The Endless Relationship Drama

 

Shows are always going to have relationship drama. That’s just the way it is. People get invested in these kinds of fictional relationships. At some point, however, you just need to let the characters be without drama (for a couple episodes anyway). Leo (Brian Krause) and Piper were especially egregious in this. Part of it came from the Whitelight-Witch relationship, but when they got the okay there it just led to something else. Leo becomes an Elder and Piper is upset at his role change, for example. Eventually, they came out stronger for it. At that point was anyone really invested anymore?

Then there was Cole and Phoebe, an even more forbidden love. They went from warm to cold in a millisecond and back again. It just felt that way for every episode. Eventually, something new needs to happen, like maybe just a period of stability.

14 No One Trusted Paige During The "Cole As The Source" Fiasco

Cole becomes the Source of All Evil. While the power did corrupt him majorly, he did try to use it wisely at first. He also wanted to keep it away from the Charmed Ones, lying to Phoebe’s face. The only one who realized something was very, very wrong with Cole was Paige. As the new sister in town, Paige’s concerns were ignored.

Granted, Paige could have done a better job presenting these concerns. When confronted with an unknown and new element, people tend to stick with the familiar. Even so, her concerns shouldn’t have been dismissed so easily. She’s part of the Charmed Ones, so they should have given it equal weight. It may have led to confronting some hard truths, but at least part of their collective would have been heard.

13 A Lot Of Their Attributes Were Informed Rather Than Shown

If you ever want to work in the entertainment industry, a refrain that will constantly be in the back of your head is “show, don’t tell.” By this, we mean that character traits need to exist without being informed about them. The Halliwells suffer from the “tell” half of the equation rather than the show. When Prue decides to become a photojournalist, the audience is told that it’s been her dream forever. Even though there has been no clear indication for the audience leading up to this revelation.

It’s not that the writers can’t tell the audiences these kinds of thing, but there needs to be some build-up. Otherwise, it just comes out of left field and ignores previous canon/plots. Charmed’s canon is already kind of a Gordian knot. 

12 Paige Forgot About Her Social Work Experience

One of Paige’s (Rose McGowan) defining aspects was that she worked as a social worker. She held a degree in it along with a steady job, until her Charmed One duties kind of ruined her career. Following this, Paige goes through a series of temp jobs. A person can do a lot of things with a social work degree. She left her experience on the job out of her resume for the most part. It doesn’t make sense.

Granted they used her temp jobs as a way for her to hone her Whitelighter abilities. The temp jobs and her Whitelighter status tended to converge a lot. She could have done that just as well with a job that made more sense for her character.

11 Piper’s Smugness

All of the sisters had their character faults, especially when they got more pronounced in later seasons. To be fair, none of the sisters were immune to this. Piper (Holly Marie Combs) had the unfortunate trait of being unbearably smug. The smugness tended to rear its head when someone went against her believed worldview and was burned by it. It functioned more like proof that she was right and they were wrong, that’s all that ever was.

It definitely could set people’s teeth on edge. More to the point, the smugness that Piper tended to exude could be paired with an unfortunate nagging tendency. She wanted people in the house and her family to capitulate to her black and white worldview along with her beliefs. It just ended up leaving an unpleasant taste in everyone’s mouth.

10 A Lot Of Infighting

Even if you have the best relationship with your siblings, there will always be fighting. The Halliwell sisters are really no exception to it. Part of it is drama, the series is described as an hour-long drama. Having tension between family members is an easy way to get it going. Even so, the Halliwells did tend to fight amongst themselves a fair bit.

In the end, it built over a) keeping secrets from each other or b) when they had an “evil” teammate. The Cole (Julian McMahon) argument between Phoebe and her sisters got real old, real fast. This is not even touching the whole mess that happened when family members started to discover Chris’ identity.  

9 Had A Hard Time Picking Up When Another Turned Evil

The Charmed Ones tended to go through personality and costume changes once a week. Or, well, so it felt like. From swapping their biological gender to becoming goddesses, they have been through it all. Yet, bafflingly, they never seemed to notice when the personality of one of the sisters shifted from good to evil. Given how often these things happen, you think there would be some kind of action plan in place. No, they just kind of go on with their lives.

More to the point, Phoebe has turned sinister several times through the course of the series. It was a running gag with her past lives that they would inevitably turn out bad.

8 Paige Tended To Go To Extremes With Her Life

People tend to take earth-shattering revelations in a bevy of ways. Paige Matthews takes the news that she is a half-witch, half-Whitelighter as well as can be expected. She does become the sister who throws herself into her witch and Whitelighter educations. That’s honestly a hallmark of her character. When Paige is in, she is all in without any boundaries.

At least Piper and Phoebe have lives outside of being the Charmed Ones, even if they sometimes tie back into it. Paige, however, tends to go to extremes. That’s honestly not healthy for someone’s psyche. We need balance in our lives. Paige probably has learned that lesson a time or two, but that doesn’t mean she remembers it.

7 Prue Didn’t Have Much Of A Personality

The thing is, whenever most people who watched Charmed list their favorite sister, they rarely pick Prue. Even though Prue was on the show for about three seasons and her passing had an impact on the series, she didn’t have much of a personality. In the series, people said she was the caretaker and nurturer. Piper, however, fit that role a lot better. Prue was kind, but Paige filled that role a lot better. Prue fell in love with someone she probably shouldn’t have and then lost him, but it’s Phoebe’s story with Cole that’s remembered.

In the later seasons, the Halliwells were each distinct and vibrant. For those first three seasons, however, Prue was an entity but not one that was interesting. It just ends up being a waste to the character. 

6 Piper Was A Bit Of Whiner

After twenty-plus years of believing you were an ordinary human, suddenly having magical powers can throw you for a loop. In such television shows, it does allow for an adjustment period. There is, inevitably, the desire for a “normal life,” whatever that means. Piper, for all of the series, wanted that sort of ordinary life. Since this definitely lends itself into a defining character trait for the character, it leads to her being a bit of whiner.

Piper desires that ordinary life when the balance is upset between this desire and her Charmed One duty, she lets her feelings known. It really gets old after a while because sooner or later, acceptance should be achieved. It just never seems to stick with Piper.

5 Phoebe’s Self-Obsession

One of the chief complaints about the original Charmed series is that when the stars acquired more creative control, things changed, and not for the better. Chief amongst these complaints deals with what happened to Phoebe Halliwell. Sometime around season five, Phoebe made everything all about her. She blamed Cole for the misery that happened in her life, became obsessed with living a future that she saw in a vision, and abused her powers.

It got so bad that her active powers were taken away. Even so, Phoebe still never learned her lesson. She focused on what she wanted above all else, which just made her character grow less likable. Phoebe went from a well-meaning, good-hearted, slightly ditzy character to a jerk who wants people to realize how awesome she is.

4 Hypocritical

For the major force of good in the world, the Charmed Ones had a bit of a hypocrisy problem. It goes hand-in-hand with the refusal to see more than a black and white view of the world. For instance, when Prue fought against the Angel of Demise (Simon Templeman) in “[Demise] Takes A Halliwell,” he pointed out that not all supernatural entities fall in the good-evil designation. Some, such as Demise, just are. Just because one of these beings is acting antagonistically toward the Halliwells, it’s because they won’t let them do their jobs.

The sisters are more than happy to take a moral high ground when others mess up, but when they get into a similar mess, then they expect forgiveness. 

3 Phoebe’s Tendency To Turn Sinister In Past Lives

All of the sisters have gone to the dark side multiple times over the course of the series. There’s, at least, a couple of these episodes per season. Phoebe, however, tends to have a rather distressing tendency to turn sinister in her past lives. The whole reincarnation thing for the Charmed Ones is relatively glossed over, but Phoebe is almost always evil. Until her current incarnation, where there is the possibility of it because she was born near the Nexus or something.

At some point, however, one has to wonder if this continued turn to the dark side is helpful for the character at all. Phoebe is the first life out of all these past lives where she was a relatively good person? It’s just puzzling. 

2 Level Of Professional Success Outweighs Time Put In At The Job

Even though they are charged with saving the world, the Charmed Ones have their own everyday lives to worry about, as well. One of the aspects of the show is that the audience sees them at their everyday jobs. The thing about their everyday jobs is that the Charmed Ones are way more successful than they should be.

Prue’s job at the auction house takes decades of training to reach the expertise she apparently has. Piper’s club, P3, is a wild success in an industry where it doesn’t happen that often. Then there’s Phoebe’s advice column, which becomes a huge success despite her advice being the bare minimum.

Paige, at least, put the effort into her social worker job, but that got eschewed pretty quickly.

1 Took Each Other For Granted

This one is low on the list for one simple reason: every family does it. If we have a tight-knit, happy family life, then we take it for granted. In a show about demons and witches, this is probably one of the most realistic things about it. The sisters, once they fixed their fractured relationship in the first season, just always assumed that the others would be there.

It honestly didn’t even stop with Prue’s passing, though for a while the sisters did treat each other well. Even in the later season, they still took that familial bond for granted. What was the point of Christopher’s (Drew Fuller) sacrifice? He will just be born in a matter of moments anyway. 

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