What Holly Marie Combs Had To Say About Alyssa Milano's Feud With Shannen Doherty

There have been long-standing rumors about the drama between Shannen Doherty, who played eldest sister Prue Halliwell, and Alyssa Milano, who played youngest sister Phoebe Halliwell, on the set of "Charmed," which was thought to be the reason Doherty chose to leave the popular show after three seasons. Now co-star Holly Marie Combs, who played middle sister Piper Halliwell, explained on Doherty's podcast "Let Me Be Clear" what she knew about the real reason that Doherty left "Charmed." It sounds like it came down to the show's producers being forced by Milano to pick between her and Doherty, and they clearly went with Milano.

Here's some of the backstory. On "Charmed," which ran from 1998 to 2006, the women played sisters who discover they're witches and have to protect the innocent — and themselves — from various forces of evil. Doherty's character was killed off in the Season 3 finale — an episode that she directed. Fans hoped that Prue would be magically revived and come back for Season 4, but that didn't happen, and now we know that Milano was the reason why.

This is a decades-long ago situation, but Doherty explained she was bringing it up again because, even now, she frequently gets asked about why she quit "Charmed." "I just don't feel like I have to keep telling a lie," Doherty said. "The narrative that I quit was assigned to me by other people." She said her agent thought if people knew she'd been fired, it would be bad for her career. 

Holly Marie Combs was caught off-guard with Shannen Doherty's firing

On the "Let's Be Clear" podcast, Holly Marie Combs unloaded about the situation of Shannen Doherty being fired from "Charmed." She said the news completely blindsided her, and she talked with a producer after learning that Doherty wasn't on the show anymore, saying that she hadn't signed on to do the show without her. Combs told Doherty on the podcast that the producer said, "'We didn't mean to — but we've been backed into this corner — we're basically in a position where it's one or the other. We were told it's her or me and Alyssa [Milano] has threatened to sue us for a hostile workplace environment.'"

Combs expanded on how she thinks a lawsuit from Milano could have been justified. Milano "was documenting every time she felt uncomfortable on set for whatever reason," Combs said, "whereas you and I refused to speak to [the on-set mediator], so that's where the deck was stacked." There weren't any details as to what had made Milano complain, and Combs said there were "no on-set brawls. There was no [...] harsh words exchanged."

We do have some hints of a toxic environment from Doherty's perspective. After the news broke in 2001 that Doherty wouldn't be coming back to the show, she was asked about it on Entertainment Tonight. She said, "I don't wanna work with people who b**** about their job and complain about it." It seems like a clear reference to Milano.

Holly Marie Combs didn't want to be on Charmed without Shannen Doherty

Holly Marie Combs theorized on "Let's Be Clear" that maybe it was easier to fire Shannen Doherty because Doherty had been fired from "Beverly Hills, 90210" not that long before, and so her leaving the show would fit into a narrative of her being difficult to work with. But Combs defended Doherty's reputation. "There is not a director who would not work with you again. There's not any one of our crew members [who] did not have a great time working with you," she said.

After Doherty left the show, Combs said she wanted to leave, but she'd be sued if she actually walked away from the show. Then when Rose McGowan came in to replace Doherty as a long-lost half-sister (you can't have the power of three with just two sisters), it sounds like the hostile workplace environment persisted. This time it was for McGowan and caused by Milano.

In a series of now-deleted tweets in 2020, McGowan said of Milano, "You threw a fit in front of the crew, yelling, 'They don't pay me enough to do this s–t!' Appalling behavior on the daily. I cried every time we got renewed because you made that set toxic AF," as E! reported.

Alyssa Milano hasn't ever said she threatened to sue Charmed

Over the years, Alyssa Milano has also been asked about the tension between her and Doherty. On an episode of "Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen" in 2013, there was no hint from Milano as to her being involved in why Doherty left at all. She said, "I don't know if she got fired, we never really found out what happened." However, she did say the atmosphere on set made her feel like she was back in high school.

But by 2021, Milano seemed to be bearing at least a bit of the blame over what happened, though without giving any specifics. "I think a lot of our struggle came from feeling that I was in competition rather than it being that sisterhood that the show was so much about," Milano told Entertainment Tonight, "and I have some guilt about my part in that."

Milano hasn't yet publicly responded to what Combs and Doherty said on the podcast, but she did post something for her 51st birthday on X, formerly known as Twitter. It mentioned life lessons, including those of resilience, gratitude, and empathy. As for Combs and Doherty, though they still got heated over discussing what happened, Doherty did make clear that "there is zero hate here. The past is definitely over and done with." Even though there may be zero hate, we don't think the three original Halliwell sisters will be getting together anytime soon.