As part of TV Guide's TV Throwback, we're looking back at some of our favorite shows that deserve another watch. The WB's Charmed, which follows a family of witch sisters (played by Shannen Doherty, Alyssa Milano, Holly Marie Combs, and later Rose McGowan), absolutely qualifies, since there's really nothing like embarking on the original Charmed Ones' journey all over again.
Charmed, which ran from 1998 to 2006, came of age in those special years when the late '90s melded into the early aughts, a time when the women were kickass, the fashion was, uh, interesting, the aspect ratio was a little wonky, and the results were pure magic. Sure, Charmed cranked out some duds, but over the course of its eight seasons, The WB drama also aired some great episodes of television that more than stand the test of time.
If you're not down for a full binge — and we get it; 178 episodes is a lot — you can absolutely re-create the magic of Charmed by revisiting some of series' greatest hits. TV Guide has compiled the top 10 Charmed episodes ever.
We wonder if the Charmed writers realized what an awesome villain they'd created when they first dreamed up Barbas, the demon of fear. Introducing a demon that uses your own fears to kill you (whether it be drowning, earthquakes, or just losing a loved one) provided an awesome opportunity for character development early on in the series, as well as an opportunity for Charmed fans to endlessly debate which fear Barbas would use against them.
"Chick Flick" was another scare-tastic episode in which iconic movie villains hopped off the screen (with the help of a demon, of course) to hunt down the sisters. Bloody Mary, an ax murderer, and even a horror heartthrob chased the Charmed Ones through the Halliwell house, turning something that could have been horrifying into a quirky episode that really helped the show define its tone and style in its second season.
Fans of Cole Turner (Julian McMahon) were thrilled when, years after his death, Cole returned to help Piper (Combs) find her way out of limbo and back into Leo's (Brian Krause) arms. Cole had taken a pretty evil turn during his final episodes as a main character, and he was even killed by his own wife, Phoebe (Milano). This was an upsetting ending for a fan favorite, and "Seven Year Witch" allowed Cole to come back, right some wrongs, and prove just how eternal his love for Phoebe really was.
OK, so this one is a bit silly. The idea that a demon was hunting Kit (the Charmed Ones' feline familiar from the early seasons) was a little off the rails, but it did allow us to get an entire episode of flashbacks featuring the highlights of big Charmed episodes. It had the added bonus of making Phoebe and Paige (McGowan) spectators to their own lives, which created some fun commentary.
How could we not include the episode where Cole's identity as Balthazar was revealed? His entire opening arc on Charmed was one of the best the series ever created. It all culminated in the moment when Phoebe realized who and what Cole really was, and then had to choose whether to vanquish him or believe that his feelings for her were real. Excuse us while we swoon.
While the idea of accidentally getting sucked into a painting is a cool premise, the real masterpiece of this episode was Phoebe's smart spell. Sure, it let her read Latin and have perfect recall, but it also illuminated the fact that one of Phoebe's best traits was her ingenuity, which she never needed a smart spell for in the first place. Plus, how cool is it to imagine that secret worlds exist inside all the paintings hanging on our walls?
Chris Halliwell (Drew Fuller) didn't get a lot of credit for the sacrifices he made (and he often didn't get much screen time either), but "Chris-Crossed" was the exception. In this episode, we finally got to see the horrible future he was trying to overwrite, and it also revealed that Wyatt (Wes Ramsey) was, in fact, the big bad he'd traveled back in time to defeat all along! The time-travel element and the realization that Chris was part-witch and part-Whitelighter made for some huge twists.
As far as Prue (Doherty) episodes go, this one has got to be one of the best. With the help of a magical, demon-catching ice cream truck, we got to see Prue struggle with her rough history with her dad and come to terms with the reasons he left. This episode also created some seriously creepy villains in the form of demonic children who were practically unstoppable — if you don't count the previously mentioned demon-catching ice cream truck that lured them to their own doom. "We All Scream for Ice Cream" was so silly, and yet so good.
Sending the sisters forward in time to see what their lives would be like 10 years down the road was a really cool concept, especially when you look back and realize the show almost caught up to itself by the end of its run. While some of the revelations found in this future were awesome (stronger powers and adorable children), some were shockingly bleak, like the fact that the witch trials had returned and Phoebe was set to be burned at the stake.
Charmed was at its best when it was playing with time travel, which is not usually the case when it comes to TV shows. Sending the sisters back to the '70s had the potential to be ridiculous, but instead, the episode focused on the family dynamics of their younger selves and the unexpected shock of seeing their long-dead mother again. "That '70s Episode" definitely goes down in Charmed history as the very best of the best.
Charmed is available to stream on Netflix. Check out more great '90s series to watch here.
A version of this article was originally published in October 2018.
Looking for more shows to stream? Check out TV Guide's TV Throwback, recommending the best shows to rewatch -- or to discover for the first time -- from 1970 through the present day.
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