For several years, a little TV show called Sabrina the Teenage Witch was watched in living rooms all over the world. Despite a cheesy premise, the show did extraordinarily well. It first aired in 1996 and continued until 2003. Fans had a great time following teenage witch, Sabrina Spellman, her quirky aunts, and talking cat through one adventure after another. While many fans can break down the plot points of their favorite episodes and quote large chunks of dialogue, there are a few things even the most die-hard fan may not know. An example of this is what happened to the spinoff show that was supposed to feature the acting abilities of Melissa Joan Hart‘s little sister.
Caroline Rhea originally had her eye on a different role
It’s impossible to imagine what Sabrina the Teenage Witch would have been like had Caroline Rhea not been a member of the cast. She played one of Sabrina’s aunts, Hilda. She brought energy and humor to the show that never failed to make viewers feel better. While Rhea loved the show as soon as she finished reading the first script that made its way into her hands, Rhea originally had her eye on a different role. In 2018, Rhea posted an Instagram confession that revealed that she was originally attracted to the role of Zelda Spellman, who was played by Beth Broderick.
‘Sabrina the Teenage Witch’ fans owe a lot to Melissa Joan Hart’s mom
While most fans know that Sabrina the Teenage Witch was originally a comic book series, few people are aware that it was Melissa Joan Hart’s mom who was responsible for helping the character make the leap from the printed page to network television. Sabrina the Teenage Witch started as part of the Archie Comic franchise.
Fans of the comic books were surprised by how closely the show mirrors the actual comic book characters. Hart’s mom was a fan of the comic and felt that it would make an outstanding Hollywood production. The original plan was to use the comic as the basis for a Showtime movie. When that failed to happen, Paula Hart explored the possibility of a television series. “My mom doesn’t get nearly enough credit for her job as the woman spearheading the show,” Melissa explained in an interview with Marie Claire.
“She is the one who was handed the Archie comic book on a playground at my sister’s school in Manhattan and sold it to Viacom as a Showtime movie. She always knew it would make an incredible series but no one would listen until she cut together a trailer from the movie and pitched it to all four major networks at the time.” Right from the start, Paula Hart knew that her daughter, Melissa, was perfect for Sabrina, which meant the young actor didn’t have to worry about auditioning.
Melissa Joan wasn’t the only Hart to appear on ‘Sabrina the Teenage Witch’
One of the favorite guest characters, Sabrina’s saucy young cousin, Amanda, had strong ties to the show. She was played by Melissa’s younger sister, Emily. The character was so popular that an attempt was made to create a spinoff show that would have focused exclusively on Amanda. The plan had been to follow Amanda’s antics as she attended a boarding school that focused on witchcraft.
According to BuzzFeed, the Sabrina episode, Witchright Hall, was created to serve as a sort of pilot episode. While fans loved the young Amanda, the network executives had reservations. As a result, the spinoff show was never developed.