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Why Did Shannen Doherty Leave Charmed? Her Feud With Alyssa Milano Revealed

Why Did Shannen Doherty Leave Charmed? Her Feud With Alyssa Milano Revealed

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Shannen Doherty made a big splash in her early acting career, but not always for the best reasons. Her breakthrough role was on the smash-hit series Beverly Hills, 90210. However, the series dropped her after four seasons for negative behavior.

Four years later, it seemed Doherty was making a comeback with Charmed, the cult classic fantasy drama from the WB.

Doherty, however, left the show long before the series finale. Rumors flew for years about what actually happened: did the show fire her, or did she choose to leave herself?

We take a look at the real reason behind Shannen Doherty leaving Charmed, her reported feud with Alyssa Milano, and what she’s been up to since.

Why Did Shannen Doherty Leave Charmed? Was She Fired?

Shannen Doherty was fired from Charmed over the phone but had reportedly already asked to be released from her contract due to friction on set.

Charmed followed the three Halliwell sisters – later four – as they fought against evil as witches in the modern day. It was an almost immediate success, but by season 3, the magic on set started to fade.

Rumors about the tension between Shannen Doherty and her castmates ran rampant in the tabloids. Doherty already had a reputation as a “bad girl,” as she had also been fired from Beverly Hills, 90210 in 1994.

According to co-star Tori Spelling, Doherty was aggressive towards her castmates, even getting in a fistfight with Jennie Garth.

Prue Halliwell (Shannon Doherty) scene in Charmed where she fights a demon

Although Spelling and Garth regretted how things turned out, it seems the “toxic” environment followed Doherty to the set of Charmed.

Tension between her and Alyssa Milano and a frustration over the show’s direction eventually came to a head during the filming of season 3.

In a video interview with Entertainment Tonight in 2001, Doherty said, “There was too much drama on the set and not enough passion for the work.”

It got so bad that Paramount, the studio that produced Charmed, sent a mediator to set to diffuse some of the tension.

It clearly didn’t work, and in December of 2000, Shannen Doherty asked Paramount to release her from her contract. They denied her request and even threatened to sue her if she walked away, according to co-star Holly Marie Combs.

But then, they abruptly changed their minds and reportedly dismissed Doherty through a phone call to her lawyer. The actress was in Canada at the time, filming a TV movie with called Another Day.

“It was really a tacky way to go about it,” lamented Combs at the time.

What Really Happened Between Shannen Doherty And Alyssa Milano?

Alyssa Milano and Shannen Doherty did not get along with each other on the set of Charmed. Their differences led to Doherty leaving after season 3.

“There were times when I’d come in and say, ‘Good morning, Shannen,’ and she didn’t say anything to me,” Alyssa Milano said of their working relationship.

“And there were times when she’d come in and say, ‘Good morning, Alyssa,’ and I wouldn’t say anything to her.”

In her interview with Entertainment Tonight, Doherty didn’t explicitly call out Milano. However, she clearly viewed her other costar, Holly Marie Combs, more favorably. In fact, Doherty specifically said that “there were never, ever, ever any problems between” her and Combs.

Shannen Doherty And Alyssa Milano in Charmed

She did not say the same thing about Milano. What she did say was that she wanted to “work with actors who really, really care and that want to be there every single day.”

“I don’t want to work with people who bitch about their job and complain about it and say that they hate it or anything else.”

Doherty also claimed that Alyssa Milano issued an ultimatum to producers of Charmed. She said that Milano told them that either Doherty walked, or Milano would.

Alyssa Milano denies these claims, however. “I never even thought about doing that,” she said in 2001. “I couldn’t sleep knowing I backed out of something I’d committed to.”

But Milano’s denial is more about her commitment to Charmed rather than a denial of tension with Doherty. In fact, Milano never denied that there was friction between the two of them.

“I think it’s hard when you put…two very different people together,” she said haltingly to Entertainment Weekly in 2001. “I’m very laid-back and passive.”

[…Shannen’s] got a lot of energy, she’s very headstrong, she wants to get the job done.”

Did Shannen Doherty And Alyssa Milano Ever Make Up?

The good news is that these days, both Shannen Doherty and Alyssa Milano are reportedly “cordial” with each other, if not outright friendly.

While promoting her book Sorry Not Sorry in 2021, Alyssa Milano said that she felt like she was “in a competition” with Shannen Doherty during the filming of Charmed.

Shannen Doherty And Alyssa Milano

She said their struggles partly came from focusing on that rather than “it being that sisterhood that the show was very much about. And I have some guild about my part in that.”

For her part, Shannen Doherty admitted in 2015, “Were there times that were rough? Yeah, when you work that closely together there’s always going to be times that are rough.”

Alyssa Milano now says that their relationship is “cordial.” She told ET that she reconnected with Doherty after the latter’s breast cancer diagnosis in 2015.

“When I heard about her diagnosis, I reached out to her,” Milano explained. “And I will send her DMs every couple of months to just check in.”

Milano also said that she has “respect for her. Great actress, loves her family so much, and I just wish I could’ve felt strong enough in who I was to recognize that back then.”

How Was Prue Written Off Of Charmed?

Shannen Doherty’s character, Prue Halliwell, died after the season 3 finale of Charmed. In the season 3 finale, “All Hell Breaks Loose,” Piper Halliwell sadly dies from a gunshot wound. In order to bring her sister back, Pheobe makes a deal with The Source to turn back in time.

Prudence Halliwell in the Charmed TV series

But The Source betrays her and her sisters with Shax, and this time around, both Piper and Prue are hurt.

At the time of filming, it seems the producers weren’t sure who was going to continue on the series. Doherty actually directed the episode herself, and it left the finale open-ended, possibly in case things could work out.

That wasn’t the case, however, and in May 2001 – the same month the finale aired – The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that Doherty was leaving the show.

The first episode of season 4, “Charmed Again,” confirmed that while Piper survived Shax’s attack, Prue did not.

In her place, the episode introduces Paige Matthews, played by Rose McGowan, as a fourth Halliwell. She’s the half-sister of Prue, Piper, and Pheobe, and with her, the Halliwells can continue to have the Power of Three.

In short, Charmed replaced Shannen Doherty’s character with Rose McGowan’s Paige.

Shannen Doherty never reappeared on Charmed after her departure in season 3. In addition, the producers never recast her character, Prue, either.

What Did Shannen Doherty Do After Charmed?

Shannen Doherty continued to work in film and TV after leaving Charmed, including reprising her role from 90210 and appearing in the Heathers TV series.

Actress Shannen Doherty at the Farrah Fawcett Foundation's Tex-Mex Fiesta on September 06, 2019
Credit: DFree / Shutterstock.com

After Charmed, Doherty appeared in four TV movies between 2001 and 2003. Then, the most she acted on a single show was 11 episodes on the 2004 show North Shore. After that, Doherty appeared in seven episodes of the 90210 reboot in 2008.

Shannen Doherty’s roles may have become less prominent than that of Prue Halliwell over the years, but she’s never stopped working.

She even had a small part in the 2018 TV series Heathers. The series was based on the movie of the same name in which Doherty played Heather Duke.

Even when diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015, she continued to act in several television movies and shows.

Sadly, although Shannen Doherty’s cancer went into remission in 2017, in 2020, the actress announced that she now had terminal cancer.

But she is continuing to push through and is reportedly appearing in at least two upcoming movies.

“People with stage four can work too,” she said of filming 90210 after her diagnosis. “Like, you know, our life doesn’t end the minute we get that diagnosis. We still have some living to do.”