Charmed followed three sisters — Phoebe (Alyssa Milano), Piper (Holly Marie Combs), and Prue Halliwell (Shannen Doherty) — as they lived in San Francisco, Calif., and learned to harness their abilities as powerful witches. While viewers tuned in every week to see them fight evil, the actresses were fighting with each other behind-the-scenes.
The series ran for seven years
Created by Constance M. Burge and produced by Aaron Spelling, Charmed debuted in 1998 and ran for eight seasons before going off the air in 2006. With more than 150 episodes — 178 to be exact — Charmed became the longest-running female-led show in TV history beating out Laverne and Shirley for the top spot, according to E! News. ABC’s Desperate Housewives later claimed the title.
Holly Marie Combs and Shannen Doherty were ‘dear friends’ before ‘Charmed’
Doherty and Combs knew each other before Charmed. According to a 2018 interview Burge did with InTouch, the two actresses worked well together. So well, in fact, that Spelling had been “extremely supportive of the idea of casting Shannen Doherty as Prue” even after her controversial exit from Beverly Hills, 90210, in 1994. Plus, they were friends.
“She [Combs] was also dear friends with Shannen,” Burge said, “so they had terrific chemistry with each other.”
Their close friendship may have been a selling point for Spelling to hire Doherty but it may have also led to drama between the three main cast members. Although in the beginning, it seemed there hadn’t been any tension at all.
“It’s like a big slumber party every day. We giggle a lot,” Milano said in an E! special.
Doherty and Combs were even bridesmaids in Milano’s 1999 wedding to musician Cinjun Tate.
Shannen Doherty left because of ‘too much drama on the set’
By the third season of Charmed tensions were high between the main cast member namely Milano and Doherty. Ultimately, Doherty said her goodbyes after directing the finale episode of season 3 which led to her character getting killed off the series and later replaced by Rose McGowan.
Doherty opened up about her exit during an interview with Entertainment Tonight
“There was too much drama on the set and not enough passion for the work,” she said, leaving many to assume she’d been referring to Milano. “You know, I’m 30 years old and I don’t have time for drama in my life anymore.”
She continued, saying she and Combs never had any issues and that they remained close.
“She is one of my best friends and I love her dearly. And there were never ever ever any problems between the two of us, and we will always be pals,” Doherty said.
Alyssa Milano admitted there were ‘definitely rough days’
During a 2013 appearance on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, Milano opened up about her reported feud with Doherty, comparing it to high school.
“I can tell you that we were on the air with her for three years and there were definitely some rough days,” she said. “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 feel like that anymore.”
Combs and Doherty responded to Milano’s comments on Twitter. Combs called Charmed “nothing like high school.” Doherty agreed, adding there hadn’t been any rehashing of old drama.
Milano’s high school comment came up again in 2015 when Combs and Doherty did a radio interview together.
“She didn’t go to high school! What are we talking about here? Her mother was at my wedding? Like, why? We were all friends and at times we weren’t,” Combs said.
Doherty chimed in saying, “Were there times that were rough? Yeah, when you work that closely together there’s always going to be times that are rough.”
Whether or not Charmed resembled high school behind-the-scenes, watch the entire series on Netflix and see Combs and Milano reunite as guest stars on Grey’s Anatomy.