The 1990s were the heyday of witches in popular culture. From kid-friendly films like Hocus Pocus and Kiki’s Delivery Service to horror fare like The Craft and The Blair Witch Project, magical women ruled the decade. One of the most enduring pop culture phenomenon that spawned from this trend was The WB’s long-running drama series Charmed. It was popular enough to last long after the craze had ended.
Focusing on the misadventures of the Halliwell sisters, Piper (Holly Marie Combs), Phoebe (Alyssa Milano), and Prue (Shannen Doherty), the latter eventually replaced by Paige (Rose McGowan), the show lasted for an impressive eight seasons and 178 episodes. Rather than play into stereotypes of witches as green-skinned villains, series creator Constance M. Burge took inspiration from her study of Wicca to portray the Halliwells as decent women who looked and acted like actual people with differing magical abilities.
Expanding on her concept, producer E. Duke Vincent decided that the show should be about “three sisters who happen to be witches, not three witches who happen to be sisters.” Fans across the globe fell in love with its world building, empowered female characters, and its occasional campiness. Given that the show lasted for years, was scripted by numerous writers, and dealt with sticky subjects like time travel, the show occasionally got a little inconsistent in how it portrayed its fictional universe.
From unrealistically passive villains to children who don’t quite look right, we are counting down 20 Things That Make No Sense About The Original Charmed.
20 Paige’s Age
In the series’ hundredth episode, Paige uses her magical powers to see an alternate scenario where she loses her life and her tombstone says that she was born in 1977. However, the show already depicted Paige being a few years old in 1977, when her sister Phoebe was born.
These sorts of continuity errors are usually avoided when the creators of television shows pen a “series Bible”– a reference book used to tell writers new to the series everything they could ever want to know about the show. Perhaps in this case it would be better to create a series Book of Shadows.
19 Prue’s Permanent Disappearance
The beloved character of Prue Halliwell lost her life in the finale of the show’s third season. She never again appeared on the show, in any form. If something like this happened in Grey’s Anatomy, it would be understandable, but the Halliwell sisters communicate with the deceased on a regular basis and often travel through time. You’d expect the remaining Halliwells to try to reach their departed sister at least once.
Fans of the series know that the creative decision to remove Prue from the remainder of the show was rooted in the fact that the actress who played Prue, Shannen Doherty, left the series was unwilling to return to the series under any circumstances.
18 The Sisters’ Inconsistent Powers
Even scientists and physicists who believe that travel between universes could be on the horizon have wildly differing opinions on how exactly it would work. Until someone actually builds a functioning dimensional portal, it’s up to writers of fiction to determine how inter-dimensional travel will work in the worlds that they create. However, that does not mean that the writers of Charmed couldn’t have gone the extra mile to make their inter-dimensional travel rules consistent.
Usually, when the Halliwells venture into another reality, they adopt the powers that they have in their parallel universes. Yet, when Paige enters a reality where she never became a witch, she lacks her Whitelighter powers although she’s still a Whitelighter – the show’s version of a guardian angel.
17 Paige Could Have Gotten Out Of Prison
One episode of the series revolves around Paige being imprisoned. That’s a fine idea for an episode of another series or about another character, but Paige Halliwell has the ability to create spells to help herself out of sticky situations. Why didn’t she just bust herself out of prison?
Some fans have speculated that Paige was unable to get herself out of jail because the cell she was in was enchanted in some way to prevent her from leaving. If that was the case, the show’s writers could have made that clear, lest they drive legions of fans to go to forums to complain. For all we know, Paige was just feeling lazy that day.
16 Villains Turn Down Opportunities To Destroy The Heroes
If fictional characters always acted rationally and intelligently, there would be no such thing as drama. Some internet film and television critics decry every misstep taken by a fictional characters as a plot hole, and that’s just silly. At the same time, writers shouldn’t allow their characters to act unbelievably stupid; that’s just uninspired writing.
Case in point: the Underworld could have eliminated the Halliwells, but didn’t. The denizens of the Underworld have the ability to teleport, but for some unexplained reason they never bother to just enter the Charmed One’s house and put an end to them. If only they had watched the second Austin Powers movie, they would’ve known that the best thing a villain can do when they have access to time travel is to go back in time and defeat your enemy while they’re still in diapers.
15 The Source’s Backstory
The Underworld is ruled by a figure known as The Source of All Evil, which has to be the most ominous, ridiculous, and ridiculously ominous job title imaginable. How exactly does one become The Source of All Evil? Surely, there are thousands, if not millions, of Goth and emo teenagers who would love to apply for that job.
Sadly, the show doesn’t provide us with any consistent rules about how one becomes The Source. In season four, characters say that one must touch the magical book known as the Grimoire to become The Source, but later Barbas claims that he can become the Source simply by using his powers.
14 The Sisters Use Their Magic For Personal Gain Without Consequences
The show establishes that good witches do not use their magic for selfish purposes, and if they do, they will face supernatural repercussions. Of course, such a rule puts limits on what the show’s writers can and cannot do with their characters, so they seemingly ignored their rule when it became inconvenient.
In a humorous moment, Phoebe transforms a rival advice columnist into a turkey, recalling a running gag from an earlier television show about the trials and tribulations of being a witch – Bewitched. While the joke worked as a cheap visual gag, Phoebe never faced any magical repercussions for her misdeed. Perhaps the universe just wasn’t paying close attention that day.
13 Multiple Pipers
While the show’s supernatural elements recall the movie Practical Magic, the show’s time travel episodes seemed derived from the Back to the Future trilogy. More specifically, the show seemingly borrowed the idea that if someone changes a timeline, it might lead people to fade into oblivion.
In the show’s fourth season, Pier travels through time to prevent Phoebe from saving Miles. Once her mission is accomplished, the other version of herself that Piper’s time travel shenanigans created just fades away. Somehow, in season eight, when time travel creates two Pipers they combine into one being. Why? Who knows? After dozens and dozens of episodes, the show’s fan base had learned to roll with these inconsistencies.
As it’s a long running show involving demons, Charmed was inevitably going to use demonic possession as a plot point; it’s kind of what demons are most known for. However, when one of the Halliwell sisters gets possessed, it often takes a ridiculous amount of time to notice that something is amiss, mostly to keep an episode’s plot moving forward.
The sisters are supposed to know each other very well, and they also know that demons exist and can possess people. When a sibling starts acting out of character, the other two should start suspecting demonic activity, but they often don’t. This just goes to show that just because they are the most powerful witches of all time, doesn’t mean they have common sense.
11 The Halliwell Men
When Wyatt is born, Grams becomes upset, as she believes that “men can’t be trusted with magic.” She also says that no male has been born into the Halliwell line for eons and treats her great grandson as if he has the Bubonic plague.
This makes no sense as Wyatt isn’t the first male Halliwell in a ridiculously long amount of time – family records show that Grams had a brother. Also, if she grew up around her (presumably) magical brother, why on earth would she be so upset by the existence of another male Halliwell? Maybe Grams forgot to take her medication that morning.
10 The Elders
In the universe of Charmed, good magic is overseen by a group of beings called the Elders. In the first four seasons of the show, the Elders are mysterious, strict, and morally upright guardians who are almost never seen. We also learn that the Elders were powerful enough to entomb the mythical Titan for being immoral and then created the gods of Mount Olympus. They sound pretty good-hearted and powerful. As the show went on, the elders went from being able to make gods to needing witches to protect them. Why the sudden downgrade? We get no answers. Their morals diminish as well, as they become less and less willing to help those in need.
9 Wyatt’s Hair Color
As Piper’s son was being born, her sister Phoebe said that she had a premonition that her child would have dark hair. She didn’t need to be a rocket scientist to come to that conclusion, as both Piper and the child’s father, Leo, had dark hair. Yet, somehow despite Phoebe’s premonition and his parent’s hair color, Piper and Leo’s son, Wyatt, was born blond.
While this inconsistency is small, it is part of a larger pattern of inconsistency within the smaller details that make up Charmed. Either that, or dark-haired children are incredibly difficult to find in Hollywood, which seems very unlikely.
8 Phoebe’s drinking
In the episode “The Importance of Being Phoebe”, a shapeshifting demon named Kaia transforms into Phoebe. In some episodes of the show, these sorts of scenarios result in the other Halliwell sisters not noticing that something is odd until the story is half over. Here, when Kaia pretends to be Phoebe, Cole Turner immediately sees through her facade because according to him, Phoebe doesn’t drink. Cole is blatantly wrong, as Phoebe had been seen drinking multiple times over the course of the series.
Wouldn’t Cole know Phoebe’s drinking habits at this point, considering their history together? Furthermore, shouldn’t writers in the Information Age know that when they slip up like this, fans will fixate on it forever?
7 The Cleaners
The Cleaners are similar to the Men in Black, but instead of preventing normal people from learning of the existence of extraterrestrial life, they serve to prevent humanity from learning about the existence of the supernatural. Whenever the existence of magic becomes apparent to people, the Cleaners arrive to erase any evidence that magic exists.
However, they weren’t introduced until season six. Prior to that, the Charmed Ones revealed the existence of magic to a number of people, and the show never bothered to explain why they didn’t arrive to “clean up” these earlier events. The characters are not fan favorites due to this glaring plot hole.
6 Paige’s Funeral
When Paige passes away, her funeral was attended by a select few, including a handful of members of the leprechaun community and Glen Belland, who had been friends with Paige since the two of them first met in kindergarten. That’s all?
Paige had a biological family and an adopted family – the only way that someone like her would have a funeral with so few attendees would be if they were some sort of pariah, which Paige certainly was not. Even if Paige become a bit less social when she discovered magic, surely more people would have attended her funeral simply to be polite.
5 The Necromancer
Like many other witches in the Halliwell family, Grams fell for a bad boy, though her boyfriend was badder than most; he was a demon known as the Necromancer. Grams ended the relationships in a pretty blunt way – by banishing the Necromancer. The Necromancer waltzes back into Gram’s life decades after their relationship ended so that he can give Wyatt a blessing – what a forgiving guy! Then the timeline of all this gets nonsensical.
Grams says she banished the Necromancer when her daughter Patty was an infant, and then says that he had been banished seventy years ago. How can this be, when within the episode Patty is only in her early fifties? Someone could explain this inconsistency as the result of time travel, but it’s probably just the result of sloppy writing.
4 Leo’s Teleportation Powers
Piper’s love interest, Leo, was immortal for a while, so he was a World War II veteran despite the fact the he looks like he’s in his thirties. During his wartime service, Leo made some huge mistakes, like leaving a pair of brothers, Nathan and Rick, to their fates. The brothers vow revenge but know that they cannot physically harm him because of the powers Leo holds as a Whitelighter. They instead try to hurt Leo’s charge, Maria.
During their pursuit of Maria, they encounter Leo and restrain him so that he can’t stop them from hurting poor Maria. Leo is restrained for some time despite the fact that Leo has teleportation powers. Did he forget about that?
3 Piper’s Understanding Of Whitelighters
A marriage, particularly a long-lasting and successful marriage, will teach you a lot about your spouse and the things that set them apart from other people. If you have a spouse who was, for example a vegan, you’ll likely learn a lot about veganism over the course of this marriage. This rule apparently did not apply to Piper.
Despite being married to Leo, a Whitelighter, she doesn’t understand much about them and is shocked to learn that Whitelighters can have children with mortals. This is, in spite of the fact that she had a premonition that she would have Leo’s child. Are witches just prone to memory loss? Surely there’s a spell to fix that.
2 Alternate Realities
The same way that many modern high schoolers were introduced to the concept of alternate realities through Rick and Morty, an earlier generation was introduced to the concept through Charmed. The difference between the two shows’ use of alternate timelines as a plot device is that when Rick and Morty‘s alternative timelines are nonsensical, it’s more forgivable, as the show exists in the realm of absurdist comedy.
One of the alternate timeline snafus in Charmed was when Paige accidentally altered the past so that Piper never lived to become a mother. Yet, somehow, Piper’s descendants are still alive in this timeline. This only makes sense if Wyatt and Chris are so powerful that they sprung into existence without ancestors.
1 Leo’s Healing Powers
Like other characters on the show, Leo has healing powers. However, the show establishes that he, like all Whitelighters, is unable to bring people back from the dead. In the episode “Love Hurts”, Piper and Leo switch bodies so that Piper can use Leo’s powers. During this period, Leo perishes, but Piper saves him using his powers.
Why is Leo able to save himself if Whitelighters cannot bring people back to life? If Leo can bring people back to life, why hasn’t he bothered to bring back Prue and numerous other good people who lost their lives over the course of the series? Is Leo secretly some kind of heartless fallen angel or is he just beyond stupid?
What else makes no sense about Charmed? Let us know in the comments!