Charmed is a classic among nostalgia fantasy TV. Beginning in 1998, Charmed took the novel approach of being a supernatural drama that revolved around women. Prue, Piper, and Phoebe (and later Paige) were adult sisters reconnecting after the devastating loss of their grandmother. None of them were married, and all were at different stages of life. Such a premise allowed the writers to tackle issues like dating, romance, marriage, career building, and of course, sisterhood. Throw in some unexpected magic, vengeful demons, and sibling squabble and you have the recipe for 8 seasons of laughter and drama.
Though Charmed was in many ways about the hardships of being a single woman in the city, at its core, it was always about family. Most episodes had a heartwarming (or heart-wrenching!) undertone, but the show never did seem to take itself very seriously. The sisters felt less like superheroes, and more like women immersed in a magical underworld, in which they fought on the side of good. Their powers developed overtime but the story arcs tended to remain small-scale, and relatively intimate. One innocent to protect, one villain to vanquish, and three sisters to save the day. Let’s be honest, it’s the reason we have Supernatural today.
Charmed was not exactly riddled with intellect, nor was the action particularly scary or thrilling. It was all in good fun but it did give viewers one thing we have to appreciate—a host of powerful female characters, good and evil alike.
15 The Vampire Queen
As far as vampires go, the Vampire Queen in Charmed was something of a marvel with regard to the extent of her powers. Aside from the typical agility, super-strength, and immortality, the Queen was endowed with some incredible extras. Much like Dracula, she had the ability to shapeshift. However, she also possessed enhanced senses, an immunity to most magics, the ability to grant powers, and this really nifty gift of being able to generate and control fire. A lot of this is far outside the normal scope of vampire lore, and made her especially powerful. She could only be killed by a ‘power of three’ spell, or by the Source of all Evil himself. In “Bite Me,” the Queen tried to take control of Paige, making her one of her clan, but the Source (Cole) put an end to that nonsense by taking out the Queen himself. Other queens made small appearances later on in the series, but none left such an impression.
14 Freyja The Valkyrie
The Valkyries in Charmed are a group of immortal demigoddesses led by Frejya, who shares her name with the legendary Norse Goddess. Freyja has a host of active powers, including telekinesis, apportation, and sensing magic. Oh, and she’s an incredible warrior. Though the Valkyries are not necessarily evil, they do look down on men. That being said, they collect the spirits of brave men who have died as warriors and reward them by making them powerful and training them for the world’s final battle. Valkyries do not wish to hurt innocent people, which becomes very clear when Freyja learns that some of her warriors have escaped and are attacking civilians. Freyja immediately puts a plan in action and the Valkyries set out to put an end to the chaos. Freyja is strong and smart and a confident leader. Though she initially lets Piper join her clan, she eventually realizes it’s not Piper’s place, and understood when Piper was ready to go home.
Aviva (portrayed by famed scream queen, Danielle Harris) was born a mortal but began dabbling in witchcraft as a teenager. As a result, she had gained some basic witch powers. Lonely and angsty, Aviva eventually ended up summoning a sorceress named Kali who promised to help her become a part of the Charmed Ones coven, giving her the one thing she wants the most—family. In actuality, Kali is a low-level demon looking to get her hands on the Charmed Ones’ powers. Following Kali’s orders, Aviva befriends Phoebe and gains her sympathy. Despite trying to kill Prue, the sisters recognize that Aviva is being manipulated by Kali, and they end up working with her to take Kali down. By the end of the ordeal, Aviva is ready to resume a normal life, free of black magic. Though she’s not very powerful, Aviva is a really strong character. When she realized her wrongdoing, she took responsibility, and got her life back on track.
Before there was even the Power of Three, there was Patty, a witch with a lot of power, a crappy job, and a complicated love life. After marrying young to a man her mother didn’t approve of (grams really didn’t approve of much) and having three beautiful girls, Patty found herself torn between her legacy and her husband’s wishes. Victor was vehemently against raising the girls with magic and it caused a major rift in their marriage, and eventually led to their divorce. For the most part, Patty is shown as being more of a struggling single mom than a powerful witch. But that certainly deserves its own shout out. Following her divorce, Patty fell in love with her white lighter, a forbidden romance her middle daughter, Piper, would grow up to copy. Together, they secretly had a daughter before Patty was tragically killed by a water demon. Though Patty is dead in the series, we do see her in flashbacks, time travel episodes, and as a ghost.
11 Darla The Succubus
Darla is a succubus to whom Phoebe develops a psychic connection. Each night, as if in heat, Phoebe dreams of seducing men, having passionate s*x, and then murdering them. Turns out, that’s exactly what Darla is up to. Running a dating service to get quick access to her victims, Darla’s definitely clever. Plus, she’s got that wicked super-strength and that not-so-sexy elastic tongue that she uses to drain men of their testosterone. Yikes! In a strange turn of events, Prue is transformed into a man and uses her disguise to try to attract the succubus. It works (which seems strange since she’s after testosterone–she might want to target jocks instead, but what do I know?). Despite being immortal and having regenerative abilities, Darla is no match for Prue’s power, and she burns to death in her own apartment. Not the night she was hoping for.
10 The Siren
The Siren may be evil, but her thirst for vengeance is not unjustified. Once a mortal, she had fallen in love with a married man. But when the affair came to light, no blame was placed on him. Instead, she was burned at the stake. So it’s only fair to say that she has reason to be upset. Now, equipped with a Siren’s son to lure married men as well as telekinesis, the ability to control fire, and super-strength (to name a few of her powers), The Siren is out for blood. She preys on married couples, making the men fall for her before burning their wives to death. Pure evil. Her biggest mistake, though, was putting the moves on Leo. Since he was protected from her fatal kiss by his white-lighter powers, all it really did was weaken him. That really upset his wife, Piper. Unable to fight the Siren effectively while pregnant, Leo ends up being the one to take her down.
9 Maggie Murphy
Sweet, sweet Maggie Murphy (portrayed by Amy Adams) wasn’t a demon or a baddie of any kind, but she also wasn’t a witch. In fact, she had no powers, unless you count her unstoppable need to be charitable and kindhearted. When the Halliwells are alerted to Maggie’s dire situation—something that causes her such bad luck that those around her keep getting hurt—they soon find out she wasn't at all innocent. Her warm heart has caused her to be tapped as a future white-lighter, and the evil ruining her life is none other than a dark-lighter. The Spirit Killer not only surrounds Maggie in bad luck, but drains her sense of worth until she becomes deeply depressed and suicidal. After saving her, Maggie is able to go back to do-gooding, with the added help of some good luck. Her goodwill is as admirable as any power.
The Halliwell sisters inherited their Charmed nature by being a trifecta of magic that comes from a long-line of powerful blood. In short, every Halliwell woman has been incredibly strong, and Grams is no exception. A force to be reckoned with, even in death, Grams has a presence of authority that one would not want to toy with. She’s witty with a cynical sense of humor and a relatively dark outlook on love and life. But her love for her granddaughters is the strongest there is. Grams bound the sisters’ powers when they were children in an attempt to keep them safe. So after her sudden death, their magic returns. The sisters were not raised to know about magic so the shock of it all makes them resent Grams for a while. But that doesn’t last because after all, she’s the heart of the family. Whenever she can help, she’s there, both in memory and in actual spirit. Did I mention she was super powerful?
7 Billie Jenkins
Billie Jenkins: Powerful Witch and Rogue Demon Hunter. It’s a pretty good tagline for a business card. Billie (portrayed by The Big Bang Theory star, Kaley Cuoco), is an orphaned witch who upon discovering her powers, read up on demons, and decided to single-handedly take them down. She also turns out to be Paige’s charge. One night while Billie was fighting a demon, Paige orbs in, having been subconsciously called upon by Billie herself. Billie ends up moving into the Halliwell home as a protégé. Under their training, she becomes more and more powerful and completely embraces her destiny as a good witch. When Billie finds out that her sister’s kidnapping when they were children was of a supernatural force, she makes it her mission to get her back. Things don’t go quite as planned. In the end, Billie does the right thing. In this case, it means she kills her sister, the only family she has left. That being said, the Halliwell’s remain her surrogate family.
6 Christy Jenkins
Christy had it rough. After being kidnapped at a young age by demons of the Triad who believed she and her future power would be the key to Ultimate Power, Christy spent her days being brainwashed by the side of evil. Though there is some debate as to whether her true nature is evil, or if she is a victim, the bottom-line is that Christy can’t be trusted. When Billie and the sisters find her, they think she is an innocent they have been sent to protect. But in actuality, Christy is playing them. She convinces Billie that the Power of Three will be corrupted and used for evil, getting Billie involved in her plan to take the sisters down. Both sisters are very powerful and become a dangerous duo, until Billie finally sees Christy for what she is. Unwilling to let her sister bring her back to the good side, Christy launches a fireball at Billie, who deflects it back at her. And that’s the end of Christy.
5 Kyra The Seer
Though Kyra (portrayed by Buffy/Angel star Charisma Carpenter) was not the show’s first Seer, she was by far the more interesting one. Her visions and the ability to see the future is a great and invaluable power to demons for whom seers work. However, Kyra wasn’t like other seers. She was intrigued by the emotions she saw in her visions of humans and longed to be like them. Her desire to be human drove her to betray the underworld, and in helping Leo, she unintentionally made herself an ally to the Charmed Ones. Kyra went through great lengths to be good and Leo tried to bargain with the Elders to let her become human. But she was eventually punished for her betrayal of the demons. Her death hit the Charmed Ones hard, but it was the late Prue who found a way to send Kyra back, human and all.
Making her debut in Season 4, Paige came in as a semi-replacement to the late Prue. In actuality, she was more of a replacement for Phoebe, taking on the lost and naïve youngest sister role which Phoebe had recently outgrown. As a half-sister who had been raised by adoptive parents and orphaned as a teenager, Paige came with a lot of baggage. Understandably, she had trust issues, and was overwhelmed by her new found siblings...oh, and that whole ‘now you’re a witch’ thing. But in spite of it all, Paige proved herself to be worthy of the power. She was struggling to build a career as a social worker, but remained free-spirited and independent. Though it was a rocky start, the new trio eventually found its footing, and Prue became a distant memory. Introducing a new third sister was a bold move, but Paige’s hardheadedness and warmhearted nature was a welcomed addition to the family.
Phoebe had one of the show’s most interesting story arcs. She started out as the unreliable, flaky, little sister with a tendency to be selfish and self-pitying. When strange things started happening, Phoebe was the only one open-minded enough to embrace the idea that they were witches with a destiny. She was driven by this sense of purpose, but disappointed by the realization that she had only gained a passive power. Eager to find her inner-strength, she went back to school, and started training in self-defense. Phoebe became the show’s embodiment of female empowerment. She had an admirable attitude and was all about doing what was right at any cost. When she wanted something, she learned how to put in some work to get it. By the end of the series, not only did she no longer need looking after, but she was ready and willing to mentor Paige. From baby to big sis, Phoebe really got herself together.
Because Prue was the eldest, she was graced with the strongest power of the three. She was also the one the other sisters would lean on for help, and she was repeatedly credited for raising them at the cost of having her own life. Prue had to grow up fast and it made her the responsible mom-type. It was sometimes frustrating how negative and overbearing she could be (and that uptight act really didn’t suit the revealing wardrobe she was given). All the same, she was smart, strong-willed, and a driven career woman. It’s unclear how much growth Prue could have really experienced throughout the course of the show, and it’s possible she was written into a bit of a box. Still, it was entirely unexpected to see her go. Unfortunately, Shannen Doherty did not leave on good terms, so her afterlife was never properly dealt with; and in a supernatural show, that just felt wrong.
Piper really was the Heart of the Halliwells. As the middle sister, she was thrust into the role of peacekeeper between the overbearing maternal figure (Prue), and the overly immature youngster (Phoebe). Piper always did an upstanding job at mediating tension. She always knew the right thing to say, and both sisters could always count on her for support. Piper was level-headed and well-grounded. In terms of character growth, this never changed, but we did get to see Piper evolve outside of the middle-sister role. Throughout the series, she had a mature (sometimes tragic) romance with Leo and became a wife, and a mother. Not to mention, after losing Prue, she stepped gracefully into the eldest sister role. She took a no-nonsense approach to vanquishing, embraced her power, and didn’t let it get in the way of anything else she wanted in life. Piper really was the “have it all” woman of the 90's. Sure, she struggled, but she never broke.