‘Sabrina the Teenage Witch’ Beat Out ‘Clueless’ As the ABC Fan-Favorite Early On

Some TV shows make their debut and do not make the impression with fans the network would’ve hoped, while others are an almost instant hit. One show ABC picked up to fill an empty slot on their TGIF lineup without much faith in its success turned out to be a fan favorite and staple for the network. Sabrina the Teenage Witch followed ABC’s hopeful big hit, Clueless in the mid-1990s.

However, Sabrina the Teenage Witch ended up becoming the must-watch show of the time instead. 

Recap on ‘Sabrina the Teenage Witch’

Sabrina, the Teenage Witch was a popular show airing on ABC, and later The WB, in the mid-1990s and early 2000s. The show followed the misadventures of the young teen, a famous talking black cat, and her two aunts. The family lived in a fiction Boston suburb, and fans were hooked with the magical twist the show added to the typical teenage drama. 

Melissa Joan Hart played the show’s main character, Sabrina Spellman, whose aunts were played by Caroline Rhea and Beth Broderick. When Sabrina was 16, she discovered that she had magical powers, making it even harder for her to fit in at her high school.

Fans watched her travel between witchy realms by transporting from her closet while navigating the typical high school friendships and boyfriends. She uncovered her family’s magical past and learned about using her special powers with guidance from her aunts. Her pet black cat named Salem was a witch turned into a cat as a punishment and was always her trusty sidekick during all of her adventures, and fans loved his snarky comments. 

With the show’s inspiration coming from Archie’s comics, it’s not surprising that a cartoon version aired after the live-action show’s success. The animated Sabrina series was short-lived with 65 episodes but continued with a sequel series in 2004. Reruns of the animated show continue to be streamed by old and new fans of the well-loved teenage witch. 

An early career break for Melissa Joan Hart

Melissa Joan Hart (Sabrina)
Melissa Joan Hart (Sabrina) | Randy Holmes/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

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As an almost instant fan-favorite TV show, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch was a lighthearted sitcom that put Melissa Joan Hart on the map. With Hart’s mom being a producer and talent manager, it was only a matter of time before she got her big break.

The show, produced by Paula Hart, followed Melissa Joan Hart’s lead role on the Nickelodeon series Clarissa Explains It All. While often recognized by her award-winning role as Sabrina, Hart has appeared in numerous other TV series and films throughout her career. 

‘Sabrina, the Teenage Witch’ quickly beat out ‘Clueless’

ABC created their Friday TGIF lineup for families to make spending time gathered around the TV each Friday night a tradition. Clueless and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch were two shows regularly on the network’s weekly watch list.

The two shows had similar storylines, but the magical element added more interest to Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. Clueless was also a teen comedy that followed the adventures of California teen, Cher Horowitz, and her high school friends as they navigate the struggles of being a teenager.

With the Spellman household and Sabrina’s teenage drama following what was thought to be the top show of the lineup, it was a surprise that ABC canceled Clueless first.

According to Hart during an interview with Marie Claire, “They were counting on Clueless the show to be the big hit; we were just the little show that would follow that. But we ended up being the fan favorite and held our spot on that network (even forcing Everybody Loves Raymond to move to a different night of the week) for four years until we moved to WB for the final three seasons.”