If you’re a 90s fan then I’m sure you’re familiar with Sabrina The Teenage Witch. The show came out 20 years ago and starred Melissa Joan Hart as Sabrina, quickly becoming one of the biggest TV series of the decade. The show was originally part of the T.G.I.F line-up on ABC but despite its popularity, it only had a four-year run on the network. After that, the show transferred to The WB network where it ran for three more years.
The show featured Sabrina, your average teenager who, on her 16th birthday, discovers she’s a witch with magical powers. After realizing she possessed those powers, Sabrina has a lot of trouble making her spells work correctly due to lack of practice. Luckily, she lives with her aunts Zelda and Hilda, and their talking cat Salem, and thanks to them, Sabrina learns how to properly use her magic powers and receives the moral advice necessary to properly live as a witch in the modern world.
Many comparisons have been made between Sabrina and the 1960s series Bewitched because of the similar premise and the goofy humor on both shows. The series also helped further increase Melissa Joan Hart’s popularity, who was already known for playing other iconic characters in the 90s like Clarissa, on Clarissa Explains It All. She was that girl you saw everywhere on TV and couldn’t get away from because your sister always wanted to watch her shows. I know Sabrina probably wouldn’t have the popularity now as it did back then, but personally, as a 90s kid, I have to admit that the show was pretty damn cool. Here are 15 things you probably didn’t know about the hit show:
15. The Show Was Based On A Comic Book Character
Our precious Sabrina was originally the star of her own comic book series created by George Gladir and Dan DeCarlo. It had the same premise as the TV series and featured most of its main characters. The comic was published as a part of Archie Comics magazine, and her first issue came out back in 1962!
The comic series has been around for a long time and is still available today. The last issues came out in 2009, and it has been published on and off for the past 50 years. In the comic book series, Sabrina faces the same struggles she did on the show, but her world, however, has been further developed and expanded. There was even a four-issue spin-off about Salem, recalling the cat’s early days as an overly ambitious young wizard and the events that led to his cat transformation.
In 2017, a show by the name of Riverdale was also created and featured a new version of the fictional city where most Archie Comics take place. The show is pretty likely to feature Sabrina at some point. Who knows, maybe she’ll become a recurring character? Do it, Riverdale!
14. The Unofficial Pilot Featured Ryan Reynolds
Before the show came out in 1996, a television film that served as an unofficial pilot for the series was released in April of that year. You may not have heard about the movie since it wasn’t very popular, but it aired on Showtime that year. The film changed many of the original names in the comic book series and it only featured two of the TV show’s actors: Melissa Joan Hart and Michelle Beaudoin.
The movie also altered a lot of things, including Sabrina’s surname from Spellman to Sawyer. The plot of the movie consisted of Sabrina being sent to live with her aunts and discovering she is a witch with magical powers. After starting school, Sabrina falls in love with Seth, played by then-unknown actor Ryan Reynolds. The movie was actually one of Reynolds’ first acting gigs. During filming, Reynolds was very interested in Melissa and they even had a one-time makeout session before the 90s actress shut the Deadpool actor down for being too young for her.
13. It Was The Highest Rated Show In Its Lineup
It’s no surprise that Sabrina The Teenage Witch was immensely popular. If you talk to your 90s friends, it’s certain that some of them will still recall the show as one of their favorites of all time, and I’m not just talking about girls. Guys were also tuning in every week to see Sabrina get into trouble with her aunts or watching her cast some goofy spell on her classmates. It was just a lot of fun.
The series was also the highest rated TV show in ABC’s T.G.I.F lineup. The abbreviation – that came from the popular phrase “Thank God It’s Friday”- referred to one of ABC’s primetime television blocks, which featured some of the most popular shows at the time. The T.G.I.F lineup was so important that it led to many cast members who worked on those shows to change the abbreviated phrase to “Thank Goodness It’s Funny.”
Believe it or not, Sabrina The Teenage Witch was the highest rated show on that spot and had an average of 12 million viewers who tuned in every week to watch the show during its four-year span on our screens. That’s even more than Game of Thrones’ weekly viewers!
12. Salem Wasn’t Really A Cat
Salem was probably one of your favorite characters on the Sabrina The Teenage Witch, but his backstory is not widely known among the viewers of the show. Salem Saberhagen is actually not a cat at all, which probably explains why he can talk and all that stuff. In reality, Salem was an ambitious wizard who tried to take over the world and was eventually caught and tried by the Witch’s Council. The Council transformed Salem into a cat for an indefinite period of time as punishment for his actions. He now lives with Zelda, Hilda, and Sabrina Spellman in Greendale, a nearby town of Riverdale.
Salem is one of the funniest characters in the series. He’s filled with one-liners and often describes his previous dreams to take over the world, as well as his ambitions to become famous, make a lot of money, and get back his wicked magical abilities.
11. Salem’s Voice Actor Was Also A Writer For The Show
Since Salem was a wizard with delusions of grandeur, it was only appropriate that the right voice actor should play his part. The job eventually landed on Nick Bakay, who was just starting out in the voice acting field and served as a writer for the show. You may have seen Nick around because he also appeared on the TV show ‘Til Death.
After Sabrina The Teenage Witch, Nick voiced Salem in the show’s animated series that aired in the early 2000s, serving as a writer for that show as well. Apart from voicing the notorious black cat, he is widely recognized as the voice of Norbert Beaver on The Angry Beavers. Nick has also worked as a producer for the movie Paul Blart: Mall Cop and its sequel Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2. Apart from his jobs in entertainment, Nick is a huge sports fan and works on a weekly column for NFL.com.
10. Melissa Joan Heart Wasn’t The Only Actress Considered For The Role
It’s hard to imagine a world where Melissa Joan Hart didn’t play Sabrina. Her iconic style and humor that made her so popular in the 90s worked perfectly for her role as the 16-year-old witch who was just learning to use her magical powers. Nevertheless, she wasn’t the only actress considered for the role. One of the other actresses up for Sabrina was Sarah Michelle Gellar. The producers even offered the role to Gellar first, but she turned it down since she chose to play Buffy in the TV series Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
Luckily for us, everything turned out the way it should. MJH was cast as Sabrina in the ABC sitcom and Gellar got to play another pretty famous character as Buffy. It would have been funny if the roles were reversed and we lived in a place where Melissa was Buffy the Vampire Slayer, while Gellar was our beloved teenage witch.
9. Bryan Cranston Made An Appearance In Season One
That’s right, Sabrina The Teenage Witch was so cool even Walter White had to stop by. In season 1, Bryan Cranston appeared on the show as a witch lawyer who helps Sabrina get out of a marriage contract with a troll. As we already know, Bryan has many comedic abilities, and his appearance on the series was hilarious!
Sabrina The Teenage Witch wasn’t the only show Cranston guest-starred on back in the day. The actor has been around for a while. He started getting acting jobs for commercials in the 80s, and the 90s are filled with guest appearances by the actor on sitcoms and other films. Between 1994 and 1997, he even had a recurring role on Seinfeld playing Dr. Tim Whatley, a dentist who converts to Judaism just so he can make Jewish jokes without the risk of being labeled offensive. He also had a small role in the 1996 movie That Thing You Do, starring Tom Hanks.
8. Hilda’s Name Changed Throughout The Series
It’s not unusual for a TV series to change minor details, but changing a major character’s middle name is kind of weird. Well, that’s exactly what happened to the character Hilda, played by Caroline Rhea. For five seasons, Aunt Hilda’s name remained untouched, but in season six her name mysteriously changed from being Hilda Antoinette Spellman to Hilda Sucker Spellman.
Hilda is one of Sabrina’s aunts and sister to Zelda. Out of the two witches that offer council to Sabrina, she is the most impulsive and spontaneous one. She would often buy needless things and fail to make whatever point it is she wanted to prove in the first place. As the least pragmatic of the sisters, she is also pretty funny, and Caroline Rhea’s portrayal makes Hilda a very lovable character. On the show, she is depicted as hundreds of years old and it was later estimated she had an approximate age of 600 years.
7. The Postcode From Sabrina’s House Had A Hidden Meaning
Aunt Hilda’s name isn’t the only mystery this show holds. The postcode for Sabrina’s house on the show also had a secret meaning that wasn’t uncovered until later on in the series. The postcode for the house was 01970. That’s right, it shares the same code as the town of Salem, which is famous for their popular witch-hunts back in the late 1600s and the subsequent trials that took place there. The trials ended with the hanging of 20 people for practicing witchcraft, most of them women. Salem is also the name for the show’s talking cat, who we now know was actually a wizard that tried to take over the world.
It’s common knowledge that the city of Salem is a big part of witch culture, so it’s no surprise that the show would want to make a subtle nod at one of the towns that originally sparked everyone’s interest in witches.
6. Sabrina’s Cousin Is Actually Melissa’s Sister
It’s safe to say that the Sabrina The Teenage Witch family is a tight-knit group. Melissa and her on-screen aunts grew to be very close, and when Melissa was asked in an interview about which one of her aunts was her favorite, she quickly replied “I can’t decide. That would be awful. Both the ladies would attack me if I picked one or the other.” Pretty smooth Melissa, that way you won’t be turned into something creepy by either one of them!
It’s clear that the actresses hold a dear spot in each other’s hearts, but there was another family member that also made an appearance on the show. Melissa’s younger sister Emily Hart had a small role on the show, playing Sabrina’s cousin Amanda. Emily’s part in the Teenage Witch universe didn’t stop there, though, she even landed the role of Sabrina in the animated series! There were even talks of a spin-off from the original show starring Emily playing her role as Amanda.
5. A Remake Was Made In Turkey
You can tell a show has made it big time when they air a remake of it in some other country halfway around the world. In Sabrina’s case, that country is Turkey. After Sabrina The Teenage Witch ended, the show kept making an international impact and a remake was created in Turkey under the name Acemi Cadi. The premise of the show is practically the same, although the names have been changed. It follows Ayşegül, a teenage girl who lives with her aunts Melda and Selda, along with her cat Duman. On her birthday, she finds out that she’s actually a witch, and that her cat can actually talk to humans. It ran from 2005 to 2007.
4. Britney Popped Up On The Show
In case you forgot, Britney Spears was the biggest star in the world in the late 1990s. She was coming out with hit after hit at the time and her dance moves were being mimicked by girls everywhere. It was also a time when Melissa Joan Hart was at the top of her game and coming out with a lot of movies. One of those films was Drive Me Crazy in 1999, co-starring Adrian Grenier. Britney was asked to make a song for the movie so she came out with the single “(You Drive Me) Crazy,” which became an instant hit. The music video featured Melissa, who became close friends with the singer during production. The friendship eventually led to the pop star’s appearance on one of the episodes of the show once it returned for its fourth season. She appeared in the first episode of the season, entitled “No Place Like Home.”
3. Every Member Of The Family Had A Twin
In the Sabrina universe, every witch has a twin, and just as you might think, one is always good while the other one is undoubtedly evil. A witch’s twin is born exactly at the same time as the other but unlike mortal twins, they do not share the same parents. Sabrina actually gets to meet her evil twin Katrina in one of the episodes of the series.
In season five, episode four, Sabrina takes a trip to an amusement park so she can get some space from her roommates for a while. During the trip, she runs into her evil twin Katrina for the second time in her life. At first, you might think “oh another Sabrina, she might be fun!” but don’t let her fool you, she’s pretty evil. Katrina is actually there doing community service in order to reduce her jail time before she switches Sabrina’s passport with her own and takes her place in the mortal realm. Sabrina, on the other hand, rots in jail and gets to meet Zelda’s evil twin Jezebelda.
2. Even Gunther Was On The Show At One Point
OK, this one is actually pretty weird. How is it that the notorious Gunther from Friends made an appearance on the show? Well, Michael James Tyler – famous for playing Gunther on the long-running sitcom, landed the role of Ethan and appeared in one episode of Sabrina The Teenage Witch’s fifth season. The actor, however, is mostly known for his role as Gunther, the quirky coffee shop worker down at Central Perk, where the Friends’ characters usually hang out and discuss some really profound topics. Apart from his iconic role, he hasn’t appeared in many other shows, though. He has had minor roles in movies like 50/50, but the funny actor has not been in the spotlight much.
Most recently, he appeared as himself in Matt LeBlanc’s famous show Episodes, as Matt tried to reunite the main cast of Friends to make a promotional video for his new television series.
1. There Have Been Talks Of A Reboot
Ever since the show ended in 2003, people have wanted to know if the cast will eventually reunite for a reboot of the show. It’s not a bad idea, and it would be fun to know what Sabrina has been up to for the past 13 years. There have also been talks about a remake or a reboot for a long time. Others have been quick to shut down those rumors, though, including Sabrina herself, by saying – “There’s no reboot, just so you know – that’s all rumors. There’s nothing going on. I do think there will be a lot of people interested in doing it should something come about.” Melissa also explained that nobody has taken the approach to make the reboot, but this could all change very soon.
In 2017, there have been talks of a possible reboot of Sabrina with a much darker feel but starring the same beloved actress. With the success of the show Riverdale, even more rumors about the reboot have been sparked. It’d be awesome if somebody made it happen, we’ll just have to keep our hopes up.