During the five seasons in which Paige Matthews was a lead on Charmed, she managed to die nine times, with each death having a distinct impact on the show. Rose McGowan took over from After Shannen Doherty left Charmed at the end of season 3, Rose McGowan filled in as the Halliwells’ half-sister in season 4, at which point Piper (Holly Marie Combs) and Phoebe (Alyssa Milano) had been witches long enough to amass a lot of power and face off against ever-more-dangerous foes. Charmed consistently put its main characters into situations where they had to risk their lives in order to save innocents and protect each other.
Because Paige was brought into the family after Prue’s season 3 death, she was a constant reminder that Piper and Phoebe could lose another sister. As the least experienced member of the Charmed Ones, Paige was always trying to become a stronger witch, which often resulted in her jumping into battle too quickly, leading to her death and her family’s need to heal her or undo her actions. Though she managed to not face any deadly foes in her first season as a Charmed One, Paige made up for lost time with nine deaths across four seasons.
Death By Poisoned Apple
When Paige died, it often served as a way to motivate her sisters or teach them a lesson about the natural order of the world. In Charmed, season 5, episode 3, “Happily Ever After,” a witch tried to become the most powerful magic user in the world by turning classic fairytales — not the Disney versions — against the Charmed Ones, with Paige falling prey to the poisoned apple from Snow White. It only lasted around half an episode, but Paige’s first death helped her open her heart to her new family and gave Piper a renewed sense of confidence in herself.
While it was ironic to fall to an evil witch (as Paige had been one in a past life), Paige’s first death was clearly more of a device to steer Piper’s character development than Paige’s. At the time, Piper was unsure if she had the power to protect her unborn child. The fairytale style played into childhood ideas of good and evil, and Paige’s swift resurrection was proof that Piper could protect those she loved.
Killed By Phoebe
Because Paige was always trying to live up to how Prue might have done things had she survived, it was important that she eventually learn to value her own contributions rather than constantly comparing herself to Prue. In season 5, episode 7, “Sympathy for the Demon,” the demon Barbas exploited the Charmed Ones’ fears, tricking Phoebe into killing Paige. While Paige’s death confirmed the idea that Phoebe could easily commit evil acts, it also demonstrated how much Paige was loved. Thankfully, that love overpowered Phoebe’s fear, which allowed them to call Leo to save Paige.
Any Barbas episode in Charmed tends to fundamentally change the Charmed Ones, and in this case, the change was for the better. Phoebe learned to trust herself more, and Paige learned that Phoebe would be devastated to lose her. Now that she knew Piper and Phoebe truly saw her as a sister, she was able to grow as a witch, in an arc that the Charmed reboot would repeat after Madeleine Mantock’s exit.
Defeated By A Warlock
Throughout season 5, Paige seemed to keep dying as a way to add impact to a lesson one of her sisters had to learn. In season 5, episode 8, “A Witch In Time,” Phoebe’s repeated attempts to save her boyfriend from dying result in both herself and Paige getting killed by the demon Bacarra. Similar to the plot of Doctor Who season 4, episode 11 “Turn Left,” the only way to bring Phoebe and Paige back was by Piper going back in time to stop Phoebe from saving the man in the first place.
One interesting element of this episode was that, while Phoebe caused the problem and Paige paid the price, Piper was the one with the ability to fix it. This means that Phoebe didn’t even learn the lesson she was meant to get out of Paige’s death. Ultimately, both the death and resurrection were unknown to everyone but Piper, making this an unusually pointless encounter.
Never A Charmed One
For Charmed‘s 100th episode, season 5, episode 12, “Centennial Charmed,” Cole prevented Paige from ever meeting her sisters, which resulted in the creation of a dystopian world where Paige was killed by the Source before becoming a Charmed One. Her death was permanent and had lasting consequences for the family and the world. With Paige dead, demons took over, as Cole trapped Phoebe in the manor, Piper became vengeance-obsessed, and thousands of innocents died.
After only two years, the entire world had fallen apart to the extent that it could not be saved. This was Paige’s most significant death, definitively proving her value as a Charmed One and resulting in Cole’s season 5 death. Though Paige’s death was undone by restoring the original reality, “Centennial Charmed” depicted the most impactful death in the series, barring Prue’s at the end of season 3.
Sacrificing Herself For An Innocent
Though the Charmed Ones were meant to protect the innocent, Paige’s death in season 6, episode 7, “Soul Survivor,” was a consequence of trying to save someone who had willingly made a deal with a demon. Paige’s boss sold his soul and Paige ended up dying and putting her own soul up for auction while trying to save him. Though this would generally be the point where Paige would learn that some people can’t be saved, she was quickly rescued by Piper blowing up the soul contracts.
While the stakes were higher than most of Paige’s deaths, she didn’t learn anything from it. The Halliwells were certainly more powerful than the reboot’s Charmed Ones, but they were becoming arrogant. Because Piper came blazing in, with no long-term consequences for Paige, she actually learned to be more impulsive, making it no surprise that her next death came in the very next episode.
Betrayed By Piper
While Paige’s recklessness certainly didn’t help matters, her death in season 6, episode 8, “Sword and the City” was actually Piper’s fault. After giving in to the power of Excalibur, Piper allowed a demon to kill Phoebe and Paige with bolts of electricity, not even seeming to acknowledge that her sisters were dead as she planned her ascension over the forces of evil. Though Leo was able to resurrect Phoebe and Paige before their souls could move on, Paige acknowledged the growing death trend: “I am getting tired of this whole soul separating from my body thing. It’s getting to be a disturbing pattern.”
Season 6 really showed the trend of the Charmed Ones losing, and Paige’s frequent deaths, though short-lived, were a clear indicator of that. The Charmed Ones were no longer learning from their failures, which doomed them to continue losing. Perhaps the biggest impact Paige’s sixth death had on the story was that nobody seemed to care, setting up an indifference that could only be solved with more permanent consequences.
Killed By A Genie Wish
In season 6, episode 15, “I Dream of Phoebe,” demonic threats took a backseat to personal problems, a trend that got worse as Piper, Phoebe, and Paige got older. After being turned into a genie, Paige’s boyfriend, Richard, was forced to grant the wish that the Charmed Ones would die. Leo accidentally healing Piper in his sleep was the only reason their deaths weren’t permanent.
Paige and Phoebe were able to stop their enemy as ghosts, and Richard wished the Charmed Ones back to life, but their death was only prevented by luck and loopholes. The convoluted nature of the story is a clear sign that the Charmed Ones had gotten too comfortable, requiring the writers to up the stakes or risk losing all the tension. The Charmed Ones’ evil past lives and repeated deaths were no longer enough to keep the witches humble.
Killed By A Demon
In season 7, episode 5, “Styx Feet Under,” Paige put a stop to death by preventing one man from dying when his time came. Piper became an Angel of Death, Phoebe became the next on death’s list, and the instability of fate resulted in Paige’s own death at the hands of the half-demon Sirk. Though Leo and Phoebe were able to barter for Paige’s soul and return it to her body, they all learned about the danger of disrupting the natural order of things.
This was not the first time that Charmed played with the idea of Death as an inevitable force, but it did pose critical questions about the nature of fate and free will in the magical world. Wyatt and Chris Halliwell were quickly growing into their powers, yet it was no longer clear what their mission was supposed to be. After all, Paige’s death was a consequence of trying to subvert a necessary death, despite her job as both a witch and a Whitelighter being to protect innocents.
Died In An Explosion
After nearly two seasons without dying, Paige fell alongside Phoebe in season 8, episode 21, “Kill Billie: Vol. 2.” Just like nearly every other time Paige died, it was a lesson to the Charmed Ones to avoid the lust for power and control that they occasionally fell prey to. The Charmed Ones had taken on the power of the Hollow, alongside the Jenkins sisters, and their combined power blew up the house and killed three of the five participants. Piper had to use time travel to undo the disastrous battle, resulting in a future where they chose compassion instead of power.
While Kaley Cuoco’s character Billie was controversial, the final message of Charmed was not. Paige got a happy ending, as did the other Charmed Ones, but it seems only fitting that her future was reliant on learning to use her experiences to guide others. The Charmed Ones were powerful soldiers in the war against evil, but the series reinforced through every one of Paige’s deaths that power is the enemy, and teaching rising witches and Whitelighters to be careful with it was essential.
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