Doherty attending the premiere of
Shannen Doherty has appeared in numerous television programs and motion pictures. After her television debut in
Father Murphy in 1981,
 she landed her first major role in the dramatic western television series
Little House on the Prairie (1982–1983), and reprised her role in its three television specials.
 Doherty received two
Young Artist Award nominations for playing the oldest Witherspoon sibling Kris in the family drama
Our House (1986–1988).
 She appeared in four films during the 1980s, including the positively-received, animated film
The Secret of NIMH (1982)
 and the cult classic
 Her breakthrough role was as
Brenda Walsh in the teen drama
Beverly Hills, 90210 (1990-1994), but she was later dropped from the series because of backstage issues and her negative image as a "bad girl".
 She starred in television films in the early and mid-1990s, and played Rene Mosier in the romantic comedy
Mallrats (1995) in an attempt to rebuild her career.
Doherty enjoyed a resurgence in popularity after being cast by producer
Aaron Spelling to play
Prue Halliwell on the supernatural drama
Charmed (1998–2001). The series was their second collaboration following Beverly Hills, 90210.
 The character was praised by critics and fans, earning a spot as one of the best witches in television history according to a
 and Doherty took an active role in the show's production, directing three of its episodes. Following disagreements with Spelling and co-star
Alyssa Milano, Doherty left the series in its third season.
 Doherty starred in a string of television films, and reunited with Spelling taking a recurring role on the prime-time soap opera
North Shore (2004–2005). The following year, she was cast as Denise Johnson in the unaired pilot of the sitcom
 but was dropped from the show by producer
United Paramount Network (UPN).
 She reprised her role as Brenda Walsh in the reboot of
90210 (2008–2009), appearing as a special guest star in eight episodes in its first season.
While acting in scripted material, Doherty also participated in five reality television shows, none of which had much success, except
Shannen Says (2012), in which she received positive reviews.
 In 2010, Doherty competed in the
tenth season of
Dancing with the Stars to honor her father who had a stroke in December 2009.
 Later that year, she also voiced the identical twins Mari and Kari on the animated web series Mari-Kari, and starred in the independent satirical thriller
Burning Palms after a nine-year absence from film. In 2012 and 2014, she directed two music videos for the band
Radical Something. In 2016, she starred alongside
Danny Glover, and
Michael Madsen in the sports drama film Back in the Day.