Holly Marie Combs’ credits change in the Charmed’s opening montage include a subtle clue to the beloved show’s behind-the-scenes drama and contract negotiations.
Premiered in 1998, the series originally starred Combs, Shannen Doherty, and Alyssa Milano as the titular witchy trio, with Doherty being replaced by Rose McGowan from season four onwards.
Famously featuring a Love Spit Love cover of The Smiths song ‘How Soon Is Now?’, the opening credits changed across the eight seasons to reflect a shift in the actresses’ star power and contracts.
The Charmed Opening Credits Changed A Lot For This Reason
When the show made its debut on The WB, Doherty, who played the telekinetic witch and elder Halliwell sister Prue, was arguably the most famous of the three leads.
Off the back of her Beverly Hills, 90210 fame, the actress was therefore featured first in the opening credits montage. Holly Marie Combs, who played time-freezing middle sister Piper Halliwell and was known for the CBS series Picket Fences, was billed second.
Alyssa Milano, who is known for her roles in in early 1990s sitcom Who’s the Boss? and soap Melrose Place, joined Charmed as Phoebe following Lori Rom’s exit. (Rom had filmed the pilot, which was reshot with Milano.)
For the first five episodes of season one, the Insatiable actress was billed last in the montage, hence after Doherty, Combs, and supporting actors T. W. King and Dorian Gregory. However, she was given the “and,” which normally is the result of a special contract clause and is used to draw attention to the actor’s name.
In episode six of the first season, titled ‘The Wedding From Hell’, Milano features third for the first time. But it’s the change in Combs’ position that seems to puzzle some Charmed lovers to this day. Fans of the show noticed the montage had not just simply tweaked the billing order but had also introduced a different wording.
Why Does Holly Marie Combs Feature Third In The Charmed Opening Credits?
Following the departure of Shannen Doherty and the addition of Rose McGowan as Paige Matthews in season four, the opening credits changed again.
Combs didn’t just move from second to third, but her name was also accompanied by the formula “as ‘Piper'” that would stick till the eighth and final season.
The reason for Combs’ featuring last among the leads may be proof of a renegotiation of her contract when Doherty left in 2001, as well as Piper becoming the Halliwell’s eldest sister after Prue’s passing.
At this point, Milano was probably the most famous of the three protagonists (and one of the most prominent characters, if not the most prominent, in terms of storylines). She was therefore was billed first, with McGowan, who had starred in Scream but was a new character in Charmed, billed second. Combs was left third, but was given a unique wording, possibly as a result of renegotiations of her contract between her agents and the show’s production.
She was the only cast members to have her character’s name featured in the opening montage, a detail that certainly was able to catch the viewers’ eye.
The Charmed Reboot And Holly Marie Combs’ Criticism
Officially ordered to pilot in 2018, the short-lived Charmed reboot had attracted criticism from the OG cast, particularly Combs. Upon finding out that the series was being rebooted with a feminist angle, the Pretty Little Liars star didn’t mince her words when expressing her outrage at the original cast not being involved in some capacity.
“Let me say first that I appreciate the jobs and opportunities the new Charmed reboot has created. But I will never understand what is fierce, funny, or feminist in creating a show that basically says the original actresses are too old to do a job they did 12 years ago,” Combs tweeted in May 2018.
Her words (and a video of her and McGowan seemingly trashing the reboot, saying it “sucks”) prompted one of the new Charmed cast members, Sarah Jeffery, to address the issue on Twitter in October 2018.
“You know, I saw this earlier and I refrained from saying anything,” Jeffery captioned the video of Combs and McGowan mocking the new series.
“I thought, better to just let them shout into the abyss. But I do want to say, I find it sad and quite frankly pathetic to see grown women behaving this way. I truly hope they find happiness elsewhere, and not in the form of putting down other WOC. I would be embarrassed to behave this way. Peace and love to y’all.”
Combs then responded, writing: “People speaking, excuse me typing, derogatory accusations of a person’s character despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary because of a difference in opinions about a tv show is just plain wrong. And also personal gain honey.”
Holly Marie Combs Tried To Deescalate The Charmed Reboot Drama
Combs has since tried to clarify her concerns, blaming those on the “corporate level”.
“My Charmed friends … I would like everyone to stop. Truth be told and it will be told is that our issues were and are at the corporate level. And we have the receipts. Just as the new cast were asked to be people they were not we were given ultimatums that were crazily unfair,” she tweeted in 2020.
“And I will say to the ladies of the reboot… stick together… negotiate together and know that the discourse between us, you guys and crews being discarded and replaced is what they bank on. Division. That is all. Blessed be.”
The reboot aired for four seasons on The CW. In May 2022, it was announced that the fourth season would be it’s last.