The Untold Truth Of The Charmed Reboot

The original "Charmed" series aired on the WB from 1998 until 2006 and spanned eight magical seasons. It starred Shannen Doherty, Holly Marie Combs, and Alyssa Milano as Prue, Piper, and Phoebe Halliwell, three sister witches who spent their days (and nights) fighting demons in San Francisco. After three seasons, Doherty's character was killed off and "Charmed" introduced the Halliwell's long-lost sister Paige Matthews (Rose McGowan) to reconstitute the Charmed Ones. The Constance M. Burge-created show has been off the air for almost two decades, but its fandom is still very much alive, with several cast members still attending Comic-Con events and regularly talking about Charmed on social media.

Fans have been calling for a "Charmed" reboot from the moment the series went off air. The show's popularity elicited a short-lived comic book spinoff which continued the Halliwell's story, but it wasn't until 2013 that CBS green lit a TV reboot of "Charmed." This reboot eventually came to fruition in 2018, but as it transpired, no original characters or cast members were involved with the series.

The "Charmed" reboot, which airs on The CW, has four seasons in total. It stars Madeleine Mantock as Macy Vaughn, Melonie Diaz as Mel Vera, Sarah Jeffery as Maggie Vera, and Lucy Barrett as Kaela Danso who replaced Mantock for the fourth season. The series has gone through some changes since it first appeared on the small screen in 2018. Here's the untold truth of the "Charmed" reboot.

How did the Charmed reboot come about?

Just as the original "Charmed" series was a product of its 90s and early 00s environment, the reboot is firmly grounded in modern culture and societal issues, with a focus on intersectional feminism. The CW officially described the show as a "fierce, funny, feminist reboot of the original series" with three sister witches fighting demons and "tearing down the patriarchy" (via Entertainment Weekly).

It took five years for CBS to bring the "Charmed" reboot to the screen. In 2013, the television network ordered a pilot script from Christopher Keyser and Sydney Sidner, however, ultimately passed on the script and put the reboot on the back burner. In 2017, CBS tried again, this time with "Jane the Virgin" showrunner Jennie Snyder Urman at the helm. She teamed up with writers Jessica O'Toole and Amy Rardin (also from "Jane the Virgin") and Brad Silberling to direct the pilot.

Speaking to Muse TV about why she wanted to reboot "Charmed," Urman said, "It felt like this is the moment where you want to see really strong, empowered women kicking a**. It feels very important at this moment in our world." However, Urman specifically set out to create a more diverse show than the original series by centering women of color and addressing sexuality and intersectional issues. "We had seen four white witches, so, frankly, we didn't want to repeat that. We wanted this to be new heroes and a different family," she told Tell-Tale TV.

How much of the show is based on the original?

Despite claims from cast members like Rupert Evans that The CW's "Charmed" is "a completely different show" than its namesake, it's easy to draw parallels between the reboot and its predecessor. "This is a love story between three sisters — the core of the show remains the same," the series creator, Jennie Snyder Urman confirmed (via Deadline). However, Urman also emphasized that it's a reboot, and not a sequel. She didn't want to step on the toes of The WB's "Charmed," which ended with satisfying conclusions for Piper, Phoebe, and Paige, along with their children. Those stories have been told already, she explained, but noted that the original series helped build the foundations of the reboot, which "[pulls] a lot from their mythology," per Muse TV. "My goal would be that it pays homage to the original while becoming something of its own," she said.

You don't have to be a superfan to notice the similarities between the two shows — which extend beyond the title and a trio of sister witches. In the original, Ted King played Prue's love interest Inspector Andy Trudeau, who can be likened to Mel's partner, Detective Niko Hamada (Ellen Tamaki). Similarly, just as Piper fell for her whitelighter, Macy and Harry make a magical pairing and Maggie falls for Parker Caine who's half-demon. Some storylines are also reminiscent of the original show. A few episodes into Season 1 we meet Alastair Caine (Craig Parker) who's hell bent on releasing the Source of All Evil, a very familiar evil force from the original series.

The CW's Charmed went through some rewrites

Thanks to The CW's open ethnicity casting call, "Charmed" definitely got the best actors possible to play Macy, Mel, and Maggie. However, this also meant that "Charmed" went through some rewrites to make its central characters as authentic as possible. As TVLine noted, the "unofficial names" for the magical trio included Madison, which later became Sarah Jeffery's character Maggie (Margarita). Their family name also changed from Pruitt to Vera, to represent their Latin heritage.

Each of the actors has different racial heritages: Madeleine Mantock identifies as Afro-Caribbean and Caucasian, Melonie Diaz is Puerto Rican, and Sarah Jeffery is of African, Indigenous Canadian, and English descent. The actors' backgrounds were written into the series, too. "They have different fathers and that comes into play in their racial identities," Jennie Snyder Urman explained (via Deadline). Their racial identities also come into play with how Macy, Mel, and Maggie learn and perform magic — it's not exactly the same as the original series. "We want to explore their unique heritage and the way their different cultures intersect with witchcraft," Urman explained.

There were also several plot changes between the show's initial announcement and the pilot reaching TV. Initially, Galvin Burdette (Ser'Darius Blain) was supposed to move to Hilltowne with Macy as her "documentary filmmaker-boyfriend," per TVLine. However, as production on the series began, the character changed into Macy's scientist co-worker, and instead of already dating at the beginning of the series, they meet and start dating in Season 1.

Members of the original cast of Charmed reacted badly to the reboot

After The CW officially announced their "fierce, funny, feminist reboot" of "Charmed," members of the original show's cast voice their disappointment and anger about the news on social media. In fact, Holly Marie Combs, who played Piper Halliwell, slammed the reboot. She began by criticizing the network for capitalizing on the original cast and crew's hard work, before she called out the show's "fierce, funny, feminist" tagline, which she took as an attack on the original series. The reboot's official synopsis also included a line about "tearing down the patriarchy" which Combs felt undermined the original series and the work of her actor-turned-activist co-stars Rose McGowan and Alyssa Milano. "Also, this kinda stuff given all that Rose and Alyssa have done lately ... um no. Just No," she wrote on Twitter.

A few months later, Combs addressed the reboot again. She posted a message saying on Twitter saying, "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 noted that her biggest gripe was with the network and the reboot's marketing, but she didn't leave it there. The actor spoke to McGowan (who played Paige Matthews) about the reboot on TikTok, where the pair mocked the show. "It sucks," McGowan announced, before adding, "I haven't seen it, I can't say that" (via Daily Mail).

Alyssa Milano and Shannen Doherty's responses were more supportive

The original series' two other leading ladies, Alyssa Milano and Shannen Doherty, were a little more pragmatic in their responses. Milano, who played Phoebe Halliwell, spoke to ET about the reboot. "I wish that they would have come to us and we would have been involved since the beginning ... [but now] I think that that ship has sailed for me," she said. However, she expressed her support for the new series, telling the outlet that she hopes it reaches a new generation of fans and impacts their lives the way the original series did.

Like Holly Marie Combs, Doherty (Prue Halliwell) took to Twitter to explain that she wasn't particularly thrilled by The CW's "fierce, funny, feminist" marketing tagline either, calling it "terrible and a bit offensive." However, she later reached out to her "Charmed" fans and implored them to be open to the reboot. "You have to think about what Charmed did for you when it was on and think about what that's going to do for a new generation. Embrace it, you guys," she said during a Q&A at Comic-Con Paris in 2018 (via TVLine).

Holly Marie Combs and Rose McGowan's comments started a feud

Alyssa Milano and Shannen Doherty's respectful words weren't enough to cancel out Holly Marie Combs and Rose McGowan's criticism of the reboot. The CW star Sarah Jeffery responded to Combs and McGowan's TikTok video on Twitter. "I saw this earlier, and I refrained from saying anything," she wrote. "But I do want to say, I find it sad and quite frankly pathetic to see grown women behaving this way."

Jeffery continued in a subsequent tweet where she expressed compassion for the actors, but criticized them for putting down women of color. "I would be embarrassed to behave this way," she said. Shortly afterward, Combs clapped back at Jeffery on Twitter, calling the actor's comments "bulls**t." She didn't directly name the reboot star, but criticized "people" who type "derogatory accusations of a person's character" over a disagreement about a TV show, saying it "is just plain wrong."

Meanwhile, McGowan responded to Jeffery in an Instagram Story, saying she had no clue who the actor was until she tweeted her response. "[It's] absolutely nothing to do with race," McGowan said, explaining that she's "been too busy fighting monsters" (a reference to Harvey Weinstein) and campaigning for what she calls a "Cultural Reset" (via E!). The actor added that her real problem was with the network profiting off of the original cast's legacy and she disagrees with the show on principle. "Reboots will always be the shadow, the originals will always be the sun. I wish you well," she concluded.

Big changes The CW's Charmed made to distinguish itself from the original series

The CW's "Charmed" follows a similar pattern with reboots which viewers may have noticed in the late 2010s and 2020s. It still pulls storylines, character arcs, and mythology from its predecessor, but it's determined to bring something unique to the small screen, too. Just like "Bel Air," the reboot of "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air," "Charmed" is a much darker version of the original show. Speaking to Muse TV at San Diego Comic-Con in 2018, Jennie Snyder Urman explained that the drama would have elements of horror, as well as comedy, in a way that's different from the original series. "The scares are really dark and I like that darker energy," she said.

So, despite those obvious parallels between the original show and the reboot, it seems The CW's series has done a lot to distinguish itself from its predecessor. Not only are the settings very different (the first season takes place in Hilltowne, Michigan, and the second season takes the Charmed Ones to Seattle), but the show has changed fundamental magical lore. First, the show reveals the less-than-angelic history of whitelighters, then their sacred Book of Shadows is destroyed in Season 1.

Most notably, though, the series removed the classic rhyming element from its magical spells. There was "something about the rhyming that felt like it belonged to that show [the original]," Jennie Snyder Urman revealed (via Deadline). "We did not want to limit ourselves," she added.

Creative differences

The "Charmed" reboot got off to a strong start, establishing a strong sisterly bond between Macy, Mel, and Maggie. The trio take their roles as protectors of the magical community seriously and by the time the Season 1 finale rolls around, they've managed to defeat Alastair, who tried to unleash the Source. It's all in a day's work for the Charmed Ones, of course.

However, it wasn't such smooth sailing behind the scenes and creative differences meant the show changed hands quite a few times. Jennie Snyder Urman played a significant role in creating and developing "Charmed" during its early production, but she did not step up to the plate as the showrunner during Season 1. She was still working on "Jane the Virgin" and developing a spinoff "Jane the Novela" (which The CW ultimately passed on). Instead, Urman continued to executive produce and write for the show while Carter Covington ("Faking It") helmed the series.

Covington left "Charmed" after one season and was replaced by husband and wife duo Liz Kruger and Craig Shapiro to "take the show in a new creative direction for Season 2," per Deadline. The pair's previous experience includes serving as showrunners on "Salvation" and, as Screen Rant noted, they "have shown a tendency to emphasize character development." If you've watched Season 2, you'll know Kruger and Shapiro used their creative power to really dive deep into the backstory of the Vaughn-Vera sisters by introducing Mel's dad Ray Vera (Felix Solis Santiago).

A behind-the-scenes romance on Charmed

When a cast and crew are spending 10+ hours a day together, six or seven days a week, it's not surprising that romances start to form. Back in the day, Shannen Doherty dated her "Charmed" co-star Julian McMahon (who played Phoebe's demon ex-husband, Cole) and Holly Marie Combs married the show's former key-grip David Donoho.

A relationship also blossomed on the set of the reboot between Sarah Jeffery and Nick Hargrove, who played her character's on-screen love interest Parker Caine. The pair met on set in 2018 and for about a year appeared to be nothing more than close friends before they sparked romance rumors in 2019. The couple, who preferred to keep their relationship private, only confirmed their relationship, which began sometime in Jun 2019, after months of speculation. Jeffery publicly called Hargrove her boyfriend in a behind the scene snap from the "Charmed" set which showed the dressed as their characters Maggie and Parker from the Season 2 episode "The Rules of Engagement." "Fake wedding, real bf. How'd I swing this?" she captioned the picture.

On Valentine's Day in 2020, they both shared posts on Instagram to celebrate their relationship. Jeffrey wrote a sweet tribute to her boyfriend, while Hargrove posted a series of photos with the caption "The wine tastes better when I'm drinkin it with you." However, the couple split later in 2020, some time after their one-year anniversary in June. At the end of the year, Jeffery confirmed the split in a since-deleted Instagram Story post.

The real reason Madeleine Mantock left

It's always hard for a show to continue on when a pivotal character leaves — just look at Nina Dobrev on "The Vampire Diaries." However, the original "Charmed" persevered after losing Prue, and the reboot found a way to move forward after Madeleine Mantock's character Macy was killed off in the heart-wrenching Season 3 finale which saw her sacrifice herself.

Since Mantock's departure, there's been speculation about why she left and whether showrunners Liz Kruger and Craig Shapiro killed Macy off in an attempt to follow the structure of the original series. However, in a statement she issued to TVLine, Mantock revealed it was her decision to leave the series. "Playing Macy on Charmed for the last three seasons has been an immense privilege and I have so enjoyed working with our fantastic producers, creatives, cast and crew," she said. "I'm incredibly grateful to The CW and CBS Studios for my time on the show and for being a brilliant support in my difficult decision to leave. Huge thanks to our fans who can look forward to, what I know will be, a spectacular fourth season." Meanwhile, Kruger and Shapiro told TVLine that they left the door open for Mantock to return "one way or another."

As for why she left, Mantock didn't say, but she appears to have left in order to pursue other creative projects. She has since appeared on the stage in a West End production of "Blithe Spirit," per Instagram.

More changes for Season 4

Madeleine Mantock's shocking exit wasn't the only change between the third and fourth seasons of "Charmed." After two years as showrunners, Lisa Kruger and Craig Shapiro stepped aside to let Jeffrey Lieber, Joey Falco and Nicki Renna take the helm. "We have treasured our time on 'Charmed' during the last two seasons and look forward to continuing on as executive producers while we pursue our development with CBS Studios," the couple said in a joint statement issued to TVLine. They added how excited they were for fans to see what the new trio had in store for Season 4.

Along with Lieber, Falco, and Renner, the fourth season of "Charmed" welcomed a new Charmed One. Lucy Barrett joined the cast as Mel and Maggie's new long-lost sister (sort-of, it's complicated) Kaela. Before the premiere of Season 4, Barrett shared some behind-the-scenes footage of the "Charmed" set on Instagram. Alongside it she wrote, "We're having soi much fun making season 4 and now you're gonna [have] soi much fun watching it!"

However, for every new cast member, another one leaves, and Charmed News confirmed the series regular Poppy Drayton had officially exited the show. Playing Abigail Jameson-Caine (aka the Demon Overlord) and frenemy to the Charmed Ones, Drayton's character develops a lot over the series and it's interesting to watch. Eventually, though, Abigail puts her demon days behind her and departs to spend time with her sister and niece.

Bad ratings mean bad news

Sadly, TVLine has reported that "Charmed" has fallen victim to The CW's onslaught of canceled shows, following in the footsteps of the likes of "Dynasty," "Legends of Tomorrow," and "Legacies."

Lucy Barrett's new character Kaela was well-received and her romance with Dev (Kapil Talwalkar) was one of the season's highlights, so why was "Charmed" canceled? Well, in the end, it really came down to numbers. "With an average of 650,000 total viewers weekly, Charmed was running on borrowed time at the network," Collider commented. This number is significantly lower compared to 1.33 million views weekly during the first season, which TVLine reported.

While the cast didn't immediately comment on the show's cancellation, "Charmed" writers were quick to address the end of the show on Twitter, where they promised fans closure. "We — the writers — were always aware that cancellation was possible. As such, we wrote toward closure ... So, if you've been with us, and are willing to stay with us, we promise you won't be left in the lurch."

Some of the original show's fans couldn't get on board with the reboot

In the end, whether a show lives or dies depends on fans, viewers, and numbers, and the "Charmed" reboot just didn't have enough of all three for The CW to keep it going. Even with original "Charmed" star Shannen Doherty encouraging her fanbase to give it a chance, some of the original show's fans just couldn't get on board with the reboot.

The CW bosses intended to capitalize on the franchise's already existing "Charmed" fandom and pay homage to the existing series. However, after four seasons and steadily declining ratings, it became clear they hadn't succeeded in drawing in enough original fans. "If @cw_charmed had included the original P3, maybe they could've stuck around longer than the original," one fan wrote on Twitter while others concurred and celebrated the reboot's cancelation using the hashtag "#CancelCharmed." Other members of the original fandom took to Reddit to discuss the reboot's cancellation with many of them praising The WB series over the latest iteration.

Ultimately, The CW's "Charmed" brought four strong women to the small screen and ushered in a new age of representation and magical adventures. While some fans of the original show couldn't get on board with the reboot, it had started building up its own fanbase (a petition was even launched to save the show) and to them it will be remembered as an integral part of the "Charmed" universe.