Witches are something that appear to be a constant throughout pop culture. There has always been some sort of take on the spooky female archetype, whether it’s more comedic in nature like Bewitched, or skewing towards the lore-based terror of something like The Witch.
During the ‘90s, the only witch that reigned supreme was the spunky Sabrina Spellman from Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Melissa Joan Hart’s take on the supernatural teen became a hit with audiences and has spawned a franchise that has extended into an animated series and beyond.
The larger beats of Sabrina the Teenage Witch and its dominant position in ABC’s TGIF line-up are common knowledge between fans. Everyone knows that the show’s about a reluctant teenage witch who is worried about fitting in, but when digging into the layers beneath it all, there are a number of surprising details that will stun even the most witch obsessed fans. There are some hidden goodies involving the off-hours of Sabrina that are so crazy that they’ll seem like some sort of voodoo must have been involved.
So summon those talking black cats and bust out the magic balls, because here are the 15 Behind-The-Scenes Sabrina The Teenage Witch Secrets You Had No Idea About.
15 There Was Bad Blood Between Melissa Joan Hart And Ashton Kutcher
Sabrina Spellman has had her fair share of antagonists, but someone who got on the wrong side of her real-life alter ego is none other than Ashton Kutcher. With Kutcher’s That ‘70s Show beginning in 1998 and Sabrina the Teenage Witch ending its run in 2003, there was definite overlap between these two programs. Of course, That ‘70s Show wasn’t dealing with anything supernatural, but the programs played to the same demographics and the stars of both shows were a part of the same scene.
There were many contentious romances and feuds between stars from the same era with resentment and rivalries often being common knowledge. Melissa Joan Hart’s contempt for Kutcher was so significant that she even kicked him out of several of her parties.
While many of Hart’s celebrity friends would appear in Sabrina in some capacity, needless to say, Kutcher was never asked to stop by for an episode. It’s a real shame, though, because Kelso trying to bag a witch and ending up as a wiccan sacrifice has all sorts of potential.
14 Sarah Michelle Gellar Was The First Choice For Sabrina
Here’s an interesting debate to stir up some controversy between devout fan bases: Who would be a better Sabrina-- Melissa Joan Hart or Sarah Michelle Gellar? While they’re at it, who would be the better Buffy? This might be some fun “What If?” casting to speculate on, but it’s an actual decision that was being mulled over back in the ‘90s.
Melissa Joan Hart might seem like a natural fit for Sabrina, but believe it or not, Sarah Michelle Gellar was actually the first choice for the role. The idea of Gellar as Sabrina is certainly a lot of fun, but it’s worth noting that the role she turned Sabrina down for was actually Buffy Summers-- so clearly she did all right in that department.
Curiously, when a feature film version of Sabrina was being developed in 2006, Gellar was once again recruited for the role, only to turn it down once more.
13 Melissa Joan Hart Took An Underage Britney Spears Out Drinking
Young fame and success can lead to a lot of crazy nights out. It’s no secret that Melissa Joan Hart and Britney Spears were friends during their teens and twenties. Not only does Hart star in the rom-com,Drive Me Crazy, which is named after a Britney Spears track, but the pop star even shows up in a Sabrina episode and features a new song in the process.
It’s sweet to see these two growing stars helping each other out in their respective projects, but there’s a lot more hot gossip than these two doing cameos for one another.
Melissa Explains It All discusses how, during the filming of Sabrina, Hart even helped an underage Britney Spears get into a nightclub for an evening of drinking. Sabrina Spellman might have been a glowing role model for her audience, but it seems like Melissa had other tricks to teach people.
12 Pat Robertson Attacked The Show For Pagan Values
It’s become increasingly difficult to create media in a world that’s become so PC and safe in a lot of ways. Everyone feels entitled to voicing their opinion, which isn’t wrong, but when wholesome texts like Harry Potter can be decreed as tools of the devil, things are certainly getting out of hand. If the exact same version of Sabrina the Teenage Witch were to air now, it’d be interesting to see how many parental watchdog groups would latch onto the show and attack it.
Fortunately, Sabrina the Teenage Witch didn’t face such an uphill battle in the ‘90s, but that doesn’t mean that it was completely devoid of attackers. The biggest denouncement that the show received was courtesy of fundamentalist, Pat Robertson, who criticized the show for the values it was pushing.
Robertson even went as far as saying in an Entertainment Weekly interview that Sabrina was “an example of insidious New Age thinking.” Audiences would continue to watch it, however.
11 Melissa Partied A Lot At The Playboy Mansion
Melissa Joan Hart hasn’t tried to hide the details of her partying phase through her earlier years. However, she’s said that the most unprofessional that she’s been in her entire career involves an incident at the infamous Playboy Mansion.
Hart explains that, during the filming of Sabrina, she was living in L.A. for the first time. This was also the first time she had her “own” money. This allowed her to do such things as buy her first house, but it also would lead to her indulging in the crazier side of L.A. too.
One particularly crazy night saw Melissa partying at the Playboy Mansion, dropping ecstasy, and making out with another woman during the limo ride home. Hart was partying so hard that she was still feeling the effects of the previous night at the Maxim photo shoot she was at the following morning. This is one situation where having magic powers might have helped out.
10 Melissa Joan Hart Had A Tough Time Filming
There are many stories out there that talk about the trials and tribulations that child stars can face. Some of them are able to still come out on top and see careers as adults, but many, unfortunately, get chewed up by the system and don’t have as happy of endings.
Melissa Joan Hart is a rare case-- she was the star of two successful television shows all before adulthood. Admittedly, the star talks about facing more problems as a child while she was on Clarissa Explains It All, but her time on Sabrina also saw its share of issues.
Melissa attempted to have some semblance of a normal life between television shows, but as Sabrina called her back to being in front of the camera, Melissa faced the same anxiety and dilemmas.
She found herself concerned about not having enough of a social life, feeling disconnected from school, and just generally not having the life of a “normal” person. Ironically, those are the kind of feelings that could be perfectly channeled into Sabrina’s experience of being an atypical outsider.
9 Nepotism The Teenage Witch?
Many people continue to associate Melissa Joan Hart with the witchy teenager, Sabrina Spellman. In fact, when early rumblings of a new CW adaptation of the character started to happen, fans were already getting vocal on Hart needing to appear in the show somewhere. Melissa Joan Hart has certainly proven herself as Sabrina at this point, but there are some rather witchy circumstances surrounding her acquiring the role in the first place.
Paula Hart, Melissa’s mother, was not only a producer on Sabrina the Teenage Witch, but also an instrumental figure in pushing for the comic to become a television show. Other actresses were put into consideration for Sabrina, but it seems highly curious that the one who would end up playing her would be this ultra Sabrina fan's daughter.
Paula’s Sabrina obsession runs so deep that, when she later became pregnant during the run of the show, she wanted to name her other daughter “Sabrina” until Melissa forced her to reconsider.
8 There’s A Failed Turkish Remake Of The Show
ABC might not have initially had confidence in a Sabrina television show (they were banking on Clueless), but in spite of their skepticism, the program would end up running for seven seasons and even span two networks. The Sabrina property has been around for decades thanks to Archie Comics, but it wasn’t until the American television adaptation took place that other countries would begin to take a stab at the title.
Sabrina the Teenage Witch’s charm would be so infectious that a Turkish remake of the show was attempted, entitled Acemi Cadi, which translates to “Novice Witch.” Accordingly, Acemi Cadi dips into Aysegul’s misadventures as a burgeoning witch, while also balancing school and romance.
Aunts Hilda and Zelda are now Melda and Selda, with the wisecracking Salem becoming Duman. Unfortunately, this Turkish attempt was cancelled after only one season and doesn’t recapture the magic of the original.
7 Beth Broderick Left The Show Because She Was Irritated With Zelda’s Stories
It’s always a bummer when shows run for so many years that storylines start to spin their wheels and characters go into frustrating phases of limbo. It’s hard to keep a show fresh when it’s done over 100 episodes. Some actors are able to bear down through such periods of stasis, but some will simply leave a show when they sense that things are beginning to stagnate.
Sabrina’s aunts, Hilda and Zelda, are fixtures of the Sabrina universe, but Zelda decided to exit the show at the end of the sixth season. Zelda’s actress, Beth Broderick, has been very open about how her decision to leave was over Zelda’s storylines going nowhere and her feeling like the character was no longer contributing to the series.
That can be a tough decision to make, but sometimes it’s better to leave early than let a character get run into the ground.
6 Sabrina’s Bratty Cousin Is Played By Melissa’s Sister
Sabrina the Teenage Witch saw a lot of changes over the course of its seven seasons, many of which would deal with the show’s supporting cast. One character that remained a constant through all seven years of the show is Amanda, the irritating witch cousin of Sabrina.
If there seems to be a certain resemblance between Sabrina and Amanda it’s because that the two are sisters in real life. So if that rivalry and seething rage between Sabrina and Amanda felt a bit too real, it’s probably got something to do with the fact that Melissa and Emily are actually family and sharing a spotlight.
Amanda became such a popular character on the show that a spin-off series starring her was even considered, with an episode of Sabrina doubling as a backdoor pilot for the new show. The spin-off ultimately didn’t move forward, which is news that might have ignited the pettier side of these two sisters.
5 Melissa Joan Hart Was Regularly Experimenting With Drugs Throughout Filming
For all of the Melissa Joan Hart and behind-the-scenes drama fans out there, Melissa's informative book, Melissa Explains It All: Tales from My Abnormally Normal Life, should be mandatory reading.
The book gives a very enlightening, honest look at Melissa’s time on both Clarissa and Sabrina. The book is full of lots of inspiring highlights from the productions, but also contains surprising glimpses into Melissa’s time off camera.
For instance, Melissa speaks quite candidly about experimenting with heavy drugs throughout the filming of Sabrina. Melissa talks about some of the more usual vices like marijuana and psychedelic mushrooms, but also gets into heavier fare like ecstasy and mescaline.
In the book, Melissa talks about one of her more embarrassing experiences from this time in her life, which involved getting caught by airport security with a bevvy of sex toys. Clearly all of these things can be written off as “magical aids” and research for the show.
4 Many Cats Played Salem— In Fact, They Overran The Set
Learning the nitty gritty things about television and film often means that the illusion of moviemaking gets shattered in the process. So, for everyone out there who was under the deluded impression that Salem Saberhagen was actually a talking cat… you might want to sit down for this. In reality, as many as seven cats were used to portray the role of Sabrina’s cat, Salem. (Take that, Moose the dog from Frasier.)
The way that Sabrina would operate is that basically a different cat was used for any of Salem’s different “skills.” There’s a cat they’d use for when he had to jump, a cat that was used for facial close-ups, and another cat that was good at following and chasing.
Three real cats were in play, but on top of that there were also two animatronic ones as well as two realistic looking stuffed cats. Melissa Joan Hart wasn’t the craziest about cats to begin with, but after the experience of these felines being everywhere on set, she’s definitely become a dog person.
3 Elvira Accused Sabrina Of Ripping Her Off
Most youth are probably more familiar with the character of Sabrina Spellman than they are Elvira, but interestingly Elvira thinks the teenage witch owes a lot of her fame to her. The year before Sabrina the Teenage Witch came out, CBS made a go at an Elvira sitcom that had an extremely similar set-up to Sabrina. When Elvria’s show came and went. Then, the following year Sabrina was seen as a hit, the actress became vocal in how much ABC’s program had ripped her off.
Elvira said that everything about Sabrina— the teenage witch, the two aunts, the talking black cat— was taken directly from her show. The only difference was that, in her program, she was one of the aunts, while Sabrina placed the focus on the reluctant teenager.
Nothing came of Elvira’s accusations, but with Sabrina being a long-running Archie staple, if nothing else she likely alerted people to how she had ripped off Sabrina.
2 Jenny’s Disappearance Between Seasons One And Two
Sabrina has seen a lot of friends and confidantes throughout the seven seasons of the show. However, a favorite of many audience members is the stalwart Jenny, who was Sabrina’s bestie during the show’s first season.
Sabrina and Jenny did a lot of bonding together as outsiders, and the character even appeared in the Sabrina TV movie that pre-dates the series. In spite of all of this, Jenny simply disappears when season two of the show begins. This left many people wondering what happened to her.
Melissa Joan Hart has come out to help explain that the way the show worked is that many writers championed specific characters on the show. As a result, when these writers left the series, their characters would often leave too.
New staff would want to create their own supporting cast and didn’t want to play with someone else’s creation. A lot of the time casting shuffles would be due to the actors, so some sort of goodbye would still be possible-- but not in Jenny's case.
1 Martin Mull Was Only On The Show to Gain Points With His Daughter
Martin Mull has an eclectic career that has spanned both television and film, but weirdly enough, the actor claims that one of the roles that continues to bring him the most attention is his tenure as Sabrina’s principal, Willard Kraft.
Mull makes a strong impression on Sabrina the Teenage Witch for the few seasons that he’s on the show. He’s a supporting character that becomes so infectious that soon he was getting his own storylines and was pushed into major plot points.
Mull certainly doesn’t regret the years that he spent on Sabrina, but he has spoken openly about how his desire to be apart of the show in the first place was a little less than honorable. Mull admits that his daughter was a huge fan of Sabrina at the time and was at the age where young daughters typically hate their fathers.
Mull knew that being on his daughter’s favorite show would score him some serious points with her, the fact that he could end up playing such a memorable character is just a bonus.
Has your crystal ball told you even more Sabrina The Teenage Witch tidbits that simply can’t be ignored? Cast your magic and sound off in the comment section!