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"Honey, I wrote the book. All the good potions anyway."
—Penny Halliwell[src]

Penelope "Penny" Halliwell (née Johnson), more commonly known as Grams, is the daughter of P. Baxter and Gordon Johnson. She was married four times, the most significant of which being to Allen Halliwell, with whom she had her only daughter, Patricia Halliwell. Through Patricia (Patty), Penny was the maternal grandmother of the Charmed Ones.

As a descendant of Melinda Warren, Penny inherited the power of telekinesis, and was one of the most powerful and Craft-dedicated witches of the Warren line.[2] She was also responsible for the creation of many spells and potions in the Halliwells' Book of Shadows. She raised her granddaughters after their mother's death, and became a guardian spirit of sorts to them after her own passing, providing good advice and even the occasional direct assistance when necessary.

History

Early Life

According to the family tree, Penny was born in a hotel room through a breach birth on June 23, 1937, in Boston, Massachusetts, to her parents, Gordon Johnson and P. Baxter.[3] It was highly likely that P. Baxter had raised Penny in the magical ways before her death in December 1970.[3]

Penny married her first husband, Allen Halliwell, during in the late 1940s, but sometime before or during her marriage, she also had an affair with a demon called The Necromancer, whom she addressed as "Armand". In 1950, she and Allen conceived their only child, a daughter named Patricia. During Patty's Wiccaning, The Necromancer attacked, desiring to absorb the spirits of the Halliwell Matriarchs to resurrect himself, but Penny managed to banish him to the spirit realm, and held a passionate grudge against his memory ever since for this betrayal.

YoungGrams

Penny in the '60s

Though Penny acknowledged that Allen was a sweet man who truly loved her and their daughter, she also held him responsible for "leading her straight down the hippy-dippy trail", and they joined San Francisco's hippie community in the mid-1960s. As a result of this, Penny became a peace-lover, a "flower child" who was naive enough to believe that one could negotiate with evil demons and malevolent warlocks, and that every situation could be resolved by peaceful resistance. She and Allen also made plans to hold a "magical be-in" at the manor and tap into the power of the Nexus.

What Penny did not know, however, was that her best friend, Robin, was actually an evil witch who had been planning to slaughter everyone at the "be-in" with her warlock boyfriend, Nigel. On the night of the be-in, Allen walked in on Robin chanting an evil spell, and Robin killed him with a fireball. Penny flew into a rage upon seeing the carnage, and killed Robin and Nigel in short order.

Her friend's betrayal, her husband's murder, and the vanquishing all served to have a dramatic effect on her for the rest of her life. Penny transformed from a peace-loving witch into a ferocious slayer of demons and warlocks, one who practiced and honored all of her Wiccan abilities to the extent where she became reputed as one of the most powerful witches of her time. She learned how to focus her telekinetic powers, effortlessly employing them to perform great feats, and created spells and potions of her very own. She was also responsible for writing a considerable part of the Book of Shadows.

Later Life and Family

Aunt Gail and Grams young

Penny and Gail.

Later in life, Penny started her own coven with her closest friends and non-magical practitioners as members, including her college sorority sister, Gail Altman, who commented that she was "the most skillful witch any of them ever knew".[4]

Penny married a total of four times (starting with Allen), and was engaged for a total of six times, but the relationships did not work out, which made her extremely cynical towards men. She even placed a curse on her engagement ring so that, whenever she was tempted to enter into a serious committed relationship with a man, she will be reminded of what she hated most about unsuccessful marriages after she put it on: becoming a housewife like Martha Stewart, with no independence, or will, or even personal identity of her own.

However, she always cherished Allen's memory: had her granddaughters not convinced her otherwise when they journeyed back to the past (Witchstock), Penny would have bound her own powers after Allen's death, and she even reflected that no one would ever compare to him, which also explained why all her later relationships failed - she could never bring herself to fully move on from him. Another instance would be during Wyatt's Wiccaning, where Penny observed that the slight resemblance between Wyatt and Allen was a good thing, for the latter was "a good man".

When Patty married Victor Bennett, Penny did not allow her to take his last name, a tradition that will be followed by her granddaughters.

1x17-Grams-Patty

Penny in the early '70s with Patty

Penny witnessed the birth of her granddaughters: Prudence, Piper, and Phoebe Halliwell, and later earned the nickname "Grams". When Patty was forced to give a warlock named Nicholas immunity to the sisters' powers, Grams had no choice but to bind the girls' powers for their protection. During this time, Penny, Patty, and the girls were visited by the future Charmed Ones who came to stop the pact from ever being made. Penny initially believed her future granddaughters to be warlocks, especially after they "kidnapped" their past selves and remained skeptical for a time even after the truth was revealed.

However, once she was convinced, Penny helped to unbless the ring, and even created two new spells for the Charmed Ones in the Book of Shadows: one to return them back to their time, and the other to vanquish Nicholas upon their return. Unfortunately, Penny's first spell failed even with her and Patty casting it, for they did not have enough power. Channeling another version of the Power of Three (Patty, young Prue, and young Piper), the Charmed Ones managed to return to their time, leaving Penny and Patty to confront Nicholas. As things progressed the same way in the future, Penny and Patty were presumably able to give him his ring back without consequence, or him being the wiser about it being unblessed.

From that moment on, Penny and Patty practiced the Craft in absolute secrecy, taking care to erase the sisters' memories of any instances where they saw magic, and telling them that the attic was sealed off whenever they inquired. Later on, when Patty's clandestine love affair with her whitelighter, Sam Wilder, resulted in the birth of a fourth daughter (Paige), Penny helped to keep it secret from everyone, and helped Patty and Sam decide that it was best to give the baby up for adoption. This was so, as during that time, the Elders regarded romances between witches and whitelighters as forbidden to a level much higher than it was during Piper's and Leo's era, and should the truth be revealed, there was a real possibility that all four sisters would be punished by being denied their powers forever.

Grams and Victor fight

Penny arguing with Victor

After Patty's death in 1978, Penny became surrogate mother to Patty's first three children, and would continually argue with Victor about how the girls should be raised. Because of their conflicting views, Victor eventually left his family, and the sisters did not see their father again for almost 20 years. Penny was essentially a single mother from then on, and proved to be a kind yet firm, loving yet passionately protective guardian to her granddaughters: she vanquished all the demons that came after them during their childhood, continued to erase their memories of any magical instances for their protection, secretly cast spells to either discipline them or increase her own patience when they went overboard, and even kept Patty's spirit regularly updated about their growth.[5][6]

Sometime in the early eighties, a future version of Piper and her husband Leo and a past version of Patty approached her for help. She was so shocked that she fainted, as Patty was dead at that time, but when she learned her granddaughters actually became the Charmed Ones, she immediately offered her help. Travelling to the present with the rest of the group, she, Piper, and Patty made an impromptu Power of Three and removed the Hollow from Phoebe, Paige, Past Piper, Billie and Christy, changing the future. Later, after meeting her great-grandchildren, Future Wyatt and Chris, she traveled to Phoebe's loft and helped to make the potion that would ultimately vanquish the Triad. After a big heartwarming family reunion, she and Patty were returned to their respective times by Coop and her memory of the event is erased, despite her wish to remember.

Death

3x17-Grams

Penny with the power stripping potion

Sometime before her death, Grams was ordained as a Wiccan High Priestess, and therefore in an official legal position to perform special magical ceremonies for her family, but her heart condition also worsened. Sensing her impending demise, and feeling it was her duty to protect her granddaughters as best as she could, she created a potion to permanently relinquish their powers, for she believed that they would never be able to come together as sister witches. While telekinetically flipping the pages of the Book of Shadows for the final time in life, Penny and Patty's spirit had a minor argument: Patty argued that it was not their choice to decide the destiny of her daughters, but Penny insisted that they were not ready for such a destiny, and she did not want to put them directly in harm's way. With that, Penny broke the contact with Patty's spirit, and placed the Book of Shadows in a trunk in the attic, but before she could administer the potion, she had a heart attack and fell down the stairs, after which her granddaughters rushed to her side.[7] However, it was too late - she had passed on.

Afterlife

GramsAfterlife

Grams appearing to her girls in Witch Trial

In late 1999, Grams's spirit audibly spoke to each of her granddaughters, attempting to get them to combine The Power of Three into the Power of One. After the sisters succeeded at this, Grams appeared to them from the afterlife, wishing them a happy anniversary of becoming witches and revealing that it was her all along who turned the pages of the Book to help them.

A year later, Grams appears to Phoebe when her granddaughter needs advice on whether or not to give Piper her blessing to marry their whitelighter, Leo, fearing that The Elders would punish the entire family because of it. Grams tells her that while the Charmed Ones are destined for greatness, they have a right to true love as well. She knows the feeling; she was married four times and never found true love. Before she disappears, she tells Phoebe that Piper will know in her heart when the time is right. Later on, Grams, as a High Priestess prepares to bond Piper and Leo through a hand-fasting ceremony, unfortunately, Leo is taken by The Elders. Later that year, Grams successfully performs the hand-fasting ceremony for Piper and Leo.

After the death of Prue, Piper attempts to summon her sister but gets Grams instead. Grams tells her that she must move on with her life so that she must fulfill her destiny. Later on, Grams and Patty were forced to tell the girls of the existence of their half-sister, Paige.

Paige Meets Grams1

Grams hugging Paige

A year later, Grams was summoned to Earth and made corporeal by Piper's unborn child, as Piper wanted Grams to help with her pregnancy. While there, Grams is eaten by the "Big Bad Wolf" while the sisters are being affected by fairy tales. It's during this time that Grams finally meets Paige. From this point on, Grams will have all further meetings with the sisters in corporeal form. Paige was hesitant to accept Penny as her grandmother, having only known one grandmother during her life. Eventually, Penny talked Paige into opening her heart and letting her into it; as she was not trying to replace any of the other family members Paige has loved or lost over the years. [8]
Grams and the Necromancer

Grams and the Necromancer

After the birth of Piper's child, Grams, being summoned to perform Baby Wyatt's Wiccaning, was shocked to discover that the child was a boy. Grams was adamant that no men have been or should be born in the Warren/Halliwell Family, believing that men should not be trusted with witchcraft. After some convincing, and the revelations of her past affair with a demon, Grams was able to release of some of her bitterness towards men, apologized to Piper, and accepted Wyatt into the family, summoning all of the Halliwell matriarchs to bless him in goodness.

Grams40

Grams in Witchstock

A while later when Paige was teleported into the past after putting on a pair of Grams's old go-go boots, Piper and Phoebe summoned her to find out where Paige went. Grams sends the sisters back to "the Summer of Love," during the time when she was a flower child, right before her husband's death while in the present, she attempts to vanquish the Slime Demon along with Leo and the sisters' new whitelighter, Chris. Unfortunately, Paige accidentally changes things, affecting the future, causing the present Grams to revert to her peace-loving self. Gram then attempts talking to the slime before it engorges her. The sisters are able to convince the Penny of the '60s to fight for what she believes in and they are able to change things back to the way they're supposed to be. Chris and Leo believe that present Grams met her demise at the hands of the demon, but she turns up as her old self unscathed, reminding everyone that - as a ghost - she can't die.

A few months after the birth of Piper's second child, Chris, Paige summons Grams so that she could convince Piper to give Chris a Wiccaning. When Grams casts a spell to try and stop Wyatt and Chris' sibling rivalry, she accidentally causes the sisters to revert to their adolescent selves. After arguing with Victor on the best way to handle the situation, Patty appears from the afterlife and takes Victor's side. Angry at this, Penny pettily goes back to the Hereafter. After the situation was reversed, Penny returned, apologized to the family, and performed Chris' Wiccaning.

Grams was not happy to find out that the sisters faked their deaths and gave up the Charmed legacy without discussing it with her first. However, she advised Paige to go and seek out her new destiny.

Two years later, Grams joined the entire line of Warren witches (sans Prue) in the battle against Neena, the first witch. Afterwards, Grams and Patty were forced to lie about Prue's whereabouts, telling the girls that she had been reincarnated. Unbeknownst to the sisters, however, is that they have no idea where Prue is, asking redemption-seeking Cole Turner to find her.

Powers and Abilities

Basic Powers
  • Spell Casting: The ability to cast spells and perform rituals. Penny was noted to be particularly skillful in this fundamental ability - during her years of raising her daughter and granddaughters, she invented spells to discipline them when they got out of hand, and was also responsible for creating many spells in the Book of Shadows.
  • Potion Making: The ability to brew potions. Penny was also noted to be a particularly gifted potioneer, having crafted a great many potion recipes in the Book of Shadows.
  • Scrying: The ability to locate a person or object by the use of a scrying crystal, a map, and sometimes other tools.
  • Mediumship: The ability to see and commune with spirits of the dead.
Active Powers
GramsTelekinesis

Grams moves the sisters out the manor

PennyTelekinesis

Penny using Telekinesis on The Necromancer

  • Telekinesis: The ability to move objects and beings with the power of one's mind alone. Penny's telekinetic power dramatically surpassed even that of Prue's during her early years as a Charmed One—in 1975, when the Charmed Ones visited the past, Penny mistook them for warlocks and repelled them through an intricate path out to the porch, and also used it to undo Piper's "freeze" on Andy. During Piper's and Leo's wedding, she used it to play "Pachelbel's Canon" on wind chimes, and in later instances, she was shown using it to send her opponents flying great distances with dramatic impacts, all of which testify to her formidable strength and expert skill as a potent telekinetic witch.
Other Powers
Spirit Powers
  • Wisping: As a ghost, Penny possessed the power to teleport through white-lights. This power, much like orbing, surrounded her in swirling white orbs until she vanishes and appears elsewhere.
  • Summoning: The ability to draw or transport another dead being from the afterlife.
  • Spirit Writing: Penny once wrote a message to Prue, Piper, and Phoebe on the Book of Shadows, wishing them "Happy Anniversary" on their first year as witches.
  • Invisibility: As a spirit, Penny was naturally invisible to the naked eye.
  • Intangibility: As a spirit, Penny was intangible and could pass through objects.
  • Voice Echo: Penny could project her voice to the living from the spiritual plane.

Professional Life

Nothing was revealed about Penny's professional life. However, she presumably had a job with a good income, and it was once shown that she was particularly interested in IBM stocks (That '70s Episode), which implies that she was possibly an active investor.

After she retired, she moved out of the manor into a smaller apartment in the city so that Patty and Victor Bennett could start their own family. When the couple divorced, Penny moved back in with her daughter and granddaughters. While Patty went to work, Penny looked after her granddaughters, teaching them how to cast spells and brew potions. After Patty died, it was highly likely that Penny came out of retirement as she had to raise her granddaughters and to make ends meet, though it was never revealed as to what kind of job she had.

Etymology

  • Penelope: Name of the faithful wife in the "Odyssey," from Gk. Penelopeia, probably related to pene "thread on the bobbin." Used in English as the type of the virtuous wife (1580) as it was in Latin.
  • Halliwell: Derived from any of the several places named with the Old English pre 7th Century elements "halig" meaning "holy", plus "well(a)", a well or spring. These places include Halliwell in Lancashire, recorded as Haliwell circa 1200; Holwell in Dorset and Oxfordshire appearing respectively as Halegewelle and Haliwelle in the Domesday Book of 1086; Halwell and Halwill in Devonshire, recorded as Halgewilla in 1086, and Holywell in Northumberland, Kent, Cambridgeshire and Cornwall.

Notes and Trivia

Small triquetra The Penny Halliwell article has a Photo Gallery.
Penny Family Tree

Penny and Jack on the Family Tree

  • The Warren Family Tree lists Penny's birth year as 1937. This is most likely an error, considering her daughter was born in 1950, making Penny only 13 at the time.
  • On the Halliwell Family Tree seen in "Pardon My Past", Penny is listed as being married to Jack Halliwell, who died in 1964 and Penny herself is listed as dying in 1968.
  • The Family Tree states that Penny had a brother, Gordon Johnson II, though his existence is disputed by Penny herself, who mentioned that Wyatt Halliwell was the first male born in the family.
  • In "Just Harried", Penny states that Piper has to keep her last name, because all women in her family do it. However, it was later revealed that Penny herself changed her last name from Johnson to Halliwell when she married Allen Halliwell. However, she kept his name in her other marriages.
  • In the picture in "How to Make a Quilt Out of Americans", it is shown that Penny had dark hair when she was young, but in "Witchstock", she had red hair.
  • Piper states in That '70s Episode that Penny has a heart condition, which further explains the heart attack she died from.
  • Penny is seen undoing little Piper's freeze on Andy in "That '70s Episode", by removing it with her telekinesis.
  • Kaley Cuoco, who portrays Billie Jenkins in Charmed's eighth season, is currently portraying a main character in a sitcom called The Big Bang Theory named Penny.
  • Grams being born in Boston could have been a nod to the fact that during the series' original conception, the Halliwells were all roommates in Boston.
  • Penny is one of only four characters that appeared in every season of Charmed. The other three are Piper, Phoebe and Leo. Penny is the only recurring character to appear in all seasons.
  • In "Be Careful What You Witch For", it is revealed that Prue went through a rebellious stage at seventeen until her violent boyfriend attacked her, who disappeared not long after that. Piper mentioned that Grams went crazy when she found out and started to wonder if she had something to do with it.
  • Penny has appeared in the following novels: Charmed Again, Demon Doppelgangers, and House of Shards. In addition, she also appeared in the following short stories in The Warren Witches: The Crucible, Patty's Awakening, Something Old, Something New, Preconceived, and Family History.
  • Grams's counterpart in the reboot series is Marisol Vera (a combination with Patty), the mother of the Charmed Ones with the power of premonition. She was the Elder witch who raised two of her daughters while giving her firstborn away.

Appearances

Penny Halliwell has appeared in a total of 15 episodes and 5 comic issues throughout the course of the series.

External Links

References