Sabrina The Teenage Witch Was Almost A 'Riverdale' Baddie And Both Shows Would Have Looked SO Different
With Sabrina Spellman around, things would have been even darker for Archie and the gang.
The Riverdale Season 3 premiere and the series premiere of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina are both just around the corner, but if fans are hoping for a crossover between the two, they shouldn't hold their breath. It's true Sabrina the Teenage Witch was almost on Riverdale, though, and believe it or not, the show would have been even darker with her on it. In fact, for a minute there, it looked as if The CW would pick up a Sabrina series to run as a companion to Riverdale. The working plan was to introduce the character on Riverdale and eventually give her a spinoff of her own. The shows would have been a two-hour block of the Archie Comics universe every week on The CW. That's obviously not how things worked out, and I'm glad. Keeping Riverdale its own thing and letting The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina flourish on Netflix feels like the right move. If you aren't convinced, maybe the guy behind it all can change your mind. Showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is head of Riverdale and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and he created several of Archie Comics' horror series. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, he spilled everything about the planned crossover. Even if you had your heart set on a Sabrina arc on Riverdale, you'll definitely see it his way after you hear his reasoning. Trust us on this — we so wanted the same thing.
First, here's what you need to know: The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is based on a comic series of the same name. It is not the Sabrina '90s kids know: It's dark, it's horrific, and there's sex, sacrifice, and devil worship in it. It overlaps with a series called Afterlife With Archie, and they were both created by (who else?) Aguirre-Sacasa. Shoehorning all of this into Riverdale without an established undead plot line would have been a challenge. “During Season 1 of Riverdale — before Riverdale exploded and found its footing as sort of a noir, crime, pulp show — we had said, ‘Maybe season 2 will be like [the comic] Afterlife With Archie," he explained to EW. At the time, they considered doing "a big genre switch" that turned Riverdale into a horror show, which is where Afterlife would come in. Aguirre-Sacasa also revealed “there was even a time when we talked about the Season 1 cliffhanger [of Riverdale] being the arrival of Sabrina." The cliffhanger would have set her up to be the series' antagonist. Gasp!
Of course, that's not what happened. As the showrunner described it, "Riverdale found its footing as more [of a] crime show that felt less and less like [Sabrina was] the right fit," he said. "It felt like if Riverdale is crime and pulp and all that stuff, then Sabrina could be horror. It felt like there was a separation between Greendale and Riverdale [in the show] — magic should exist in Greendale, but not in Riverdale. That was the thought." Still, they didn't let go of that idea. “For a long time I was trying to get Sabrina done as a low-budget horror movie for Jason Blum [of Blumhouse Productions], and even wrote a screenplay with a friend that strangely, though it’s very different from the show, it did center on her 16th birthday,” Aguirre-Sacasa admitted. “Ultimately, Jason didn’t want to pursue that, and thank goodness because we’re getting to do this as a TV show, which feels right.”
So The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina might not be a "companion show" to Riverdale, but it's better that way. It allows Riverdale to go full bonkers as a crime show, and lets CAOS lean into horror like it was meant to. Maybe one day they'll cross over, but for now they're each their own thing, and they'll both be with us soon. So, so soon.