Created by Archie Comics writer George Gladir and Archie Comics artist Dan DeCarlo in 1962 and still popular more than half a century later, Sabrina is an average teenaged girl in the Archie Comics universe who happens to be a full-blooded witch with nearly unlimited power; in the urban fantasy portion of the Archies Comics universe in which Sabrina lives, the term "witch" refers to her species, not to her religion. She is highly intelligent, high-spirited, creative, and earns good grades in school without ever having to resort to magic.
In the comic books, she has a fondness for harmless pranks but hates to see anyone else truly unhappy and often tries to help out any unhappy person she comes across. Sabrina lives with her aunts, Hilda and Zelda, both of whom prefer to ignore the mortal world and would prefer the mortal world to ignore them in return. The family is often visited by Sabrina's cousin Ambrose, a lazy jetsetter male witch (sometimes called a "warlock" in the series) who often tries unsuccessfully to appear trendy and stylish but whose protective love and respect for his younger cousin (sometimes called his niece) Sabrina have no limits. No explanation is given for why Sabrina lives with her aunts instead of her parents.
In the later live-action TV series, she is half-human and half-witch, and her parents are specifically forbidden from seeing her.
Though not the first character of her type, Sabrina is one of the oldest on-going urban fantasy characters in English-language fiction, created two years before the television series Bewitched appeared on the air and decades before the first appearance of Harry Potter or Mildred Hubble or the Halliwell Sisters.
Influences on the Character
Sabrina's first appearances seem to be more than a little inspired by the seductive Kim Novak witch in the romantic comedy Bell, Book, and Candle; for example, in Sabrina's earliest appearances, she stated she would lose her magical powers if she ever fell in love, just as Kim Novak's character states in the film Bell, Book, and Candle. This aspect of the character changed fairly quickly, and she soon fell in love with Harvey, a clueless teenaged boy with an endless appetite and a sturdy personality that ignores the strange events going on around him.
In the 1960s animated series, in imitation of Samantha's nose twitch in the Bewitched TV series, Sabrina began to tug her ear to cast minor spells, but both the live-action TV series and modern comic book stories tend to forget the ear-tug. Following the "nosy neighbor" trend of Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, and My Favorite Martian, Sabrina in the animated series often worried about other people finding out that she was a witch, something which had never concerned her in the original comic book series.
In the 1990s live-action TV series, the series took on more of the flavor of such series as The Worst Witch and later Charmed but most of all the flavor of the teen comedies of the time, installing in Sabrina a never-before-seen lack of experience with magic and focusing far more on moral epiphanies and "lessons learned" and sometimes unusually dark humor, including comedic deaths of minor characters.
Comics vs Television
In the original comic books, Sabrina was the most worldly wise of the teenagers in Archie's world, even more continental than Veronica Lodge, and that aspect of the character has remained fairly steady. She has often helped the Archie gang more through use of her unusually mature understanding than through use of her magical powers. In contrast, in the live-action TV series and those comic books inspired by it, Sabrina's common sense is usually clouded because of her magic powers.
In the comic books, Sabrina has seldom had to worry about her use of magic, for the other people in Riverdale almost always refuse to believe their own eyes when they witness some of her magic actions, such as the time she brought the characters on a TV horror movie to life in front of all her friends and they all simply assumed they'd let their imaginations run away with them. Her aunts Zelda and Hilda made no effort to dress as anything other than witches. One of the ongoing comedic themes for the first few decades of her comic book run was the obliviousness of everyone around them.
In the comic books, Sabrina's use of magic has been depicted as a joyful activity with a sense of wonder, not unlike singing or painting or storywriting, and as a venue for colorful adventures outside the more realistic default of the Archie Comics universe. In the comic books, Sabrina uses her magic to travel to other dimensions, visit other planets, travel through time, ride a unicorn, visit one of Santa's elves, and basically to go wherever her imagination takes her and embrace whatever imagination inspires her. The focus of her tales has usually been free-spirited fantasy for her half-century of comic book appearances.
In the 1960s animated TV series, the depiction of her magic use shifted instead to problem-solving as Sabrina coped with irascible elders who often placed hexes on her friends and with magical illnesses that afflicted her. For the live-action series, her magic existed more as a vehicle for moral lessons, with far less emphasis on free-spirited fantasy and wonder.
In the original comic books and the 1960s animated series, no explanation is given for the absence of Sabrina's parents, nor does the surname Spellman appear anywhere. In the live-action TV series. Sabrina gains the surname Spellman, becomes half-witch half-mortal, and is told she cannot see her mother face-to-face because if she does, her mother will turn into a ball of wax. Similarly, in the original comic books, Sabrina's cat Salem is a magical pet, an otherwise-ordinary cat that happens to have magical powers on a par with Sabrina. In contrast, in the live-action TV series and those comic books inspired by it, Salem gains a voice and is revealed to be in actuality a very powerful warlock who has been sentenced to 100 years as a cat because of his plans to take over the world.
Like a normal teenage girl Sabrina has gone through plenty of love interests, but one person that seems to stay in her heart throughout every continuity and medium is Harvey Kinkle.
Sabrina's Supporting Cast over the years
For the first thirty years of comic book appearances and the 1960s animated TV series, Zelda and Hilda both dressed in stereotypical witch's garb and made no effort to appear to be ordinary people; Hilda even had naturally green hair. Zelda was unusually tall and skinny, sometimes depicted with a wart on her nose, while Hilda was unusually short and fat and preferred to ride a vacuum cleaner instead of a broom. Both of them often made revealing mistakes because they had an imperfect grasp of ordinary human society and had little interest in learning more about it. Part of the underlying humor of the original comic book series was that no one in the Archie Universe ever noticed the obvious about them.
In the live-action TV series, Zelda and Hilda became fashionable and upscale. This has since carried over to the comic books.
For the first thirty years of comic book appearances and the 1960s animated series, Harvey was a stereotypical teenaged boy (as one would be imagined in the 1960s and 1970s), cheerfully naive, with a tremendous appetite, a goofball sense of humor, and a remarkably stable personality that took the supernatural dealings around him in stride yet remained cluelessly unaware of what was actually going on. He always treated Sabrina with respect and unconditional trust, unlike the boyfriends and husbands of most popular culture witches.
In the live-action TV series, Harvey was re-envisioned as a stereotypical jock, not too bright but with a loving, compassionate side to him. Comic book stories today tend to alternate between this image and the more traditional image of the character.
For the first thirty years of comic book appearances, outside Aunt Zelda and Aunt Hilda, Sabrina's primary magical relative was her Cousin Ambrose. The character was often used to spoof conformity to affluent trends of the time. In the 1960s animated series, he was given a smugly effete voice in imitation of the comic personna of such satirists of the time as Alan Seuss and Pat Paulsen in their parodies of 1960s self-satisfied trendsters. Despite all this, Cousin Ambrose was always depicted as one of Sabrina's most steadfast supernatural supporters, always ready to help her on a moment's notice.
In the live-action TV series, Sabrina's had to deal with her cousin Esmeralda, or Amanda in the television series,a bratty little girl who originally did not like Sabrina but grew to love and cherish her older cousin. Sabrina has encountered many witches throughout her life, some good, some bad.
Powers and Abilities
In the original comic books, Sabrina has had her magical powers since birth and has grown up quite comfortable with them. Little Sabrina often appears in the Little Archie stories as an elementary school aged witch who has her full array of magical powers, such as bringing images on a television screen to life, and already has powerful friends from the magical side of her life, including elves and a dragon.
In the live-action TV series, Sabrina was 16 when she gained her natural ability for magic, and was generally skeptical about her new abilities. She was new to magic, and a little irresponsible. She learned how to control her powers in a generally short amount of time, and has since then learned to control her powers with great skill.
The gang from Riverdale are transported to a magical kingdom of fairy tales after Archie unlocks a book that he finds in the forest. By being transported there, the entire gang switch places with fairy tale characters who are transferred to Earth - Archie becomes Jack from Jack and the Beanstalk, Jughead becomes Old King Cole, Dilton becomes William Tell, Reggie becomes the Big Bad Wolf, Betty becomes Red Riding Hood, Moose and Midge become the characters from the Prince and the Frog, Sabrina becomes the magic mirror and Veronica becomes Snow White. After the worlds are let back to normal, Archie must find the key to stop the flow of magical water from the mirror between the two which will revert things to normal. As he searches for the key, the other fairy tale characters return and fight for their roles back. Archie eventually finds the key but needs to be rescued by Tinker Bell. After he rescues her he switches things back but then finds that she is a new student at his school the following day.
In Other Media
The first animated appearance was in 1970. Voiced by Jane Webb.
In 1999 to 2000, there was Sabrina: The Animated Series. She was voiced by Emily Hart (Melissa Joan Hart's little sister.).
Before the animated series took place, Sabrina appeared in a TV-Movie called Sabrina: Friends Forever. She was voiced by Britt McKillip.
McKillip reprised her role for a continuation-spinoff after The Animated series called Sabrina's Secret Life in 2003 to 2004.
Sabrina The Teenage Witch TV Series
Sabrina Spellman is portrayed by Melissa Joan Hart in this television series which aired from 1996 to 2003. Sabrina Spellman was born to Edward Spellman and Diane (Becker) on September 27 1980. Her father is a witch, and her mother is a mortal which makes Sabrina half-mortal, half-witch. Sabrina is depicted as an average 5’2 female, with blue eyes. She has blonde hair for the majority of the series, while she does dye it red in the fifth season.
Sabrina Spellman is your average teenage girl, who has just moved into the victorian home of her aunts, Hilda and Zelda Spellman. Sabrina is now living with her aunts because her parents have recently divorced, her mother moving to Peru and her father is in the foreign service. On her 16 birthday she finds out that she has magical powers. These magical powers mean she cannot see her mother, or she will turn into a ball of wax. When Sabrina learns of her magic, she also finds out that her aunts’ cat, Salem can talk and is actually a 500-year old warlock, named Salem Saberhagen, who was sentenced to live as a cat for 100 years, as punishment for criminal acts in the Other Realm. Although Salem and Sabrina often argue, they develop a great friendship. Sabrina Spellman Attends Westbridge High, where she develops friendships with both Jenny Kelly and Harvey Kinkle. Sabrina faces the difficulties of being a normal teenager, including being constantly bullied by head cheerleader, Libby Chessler, mixed with the added troubles of being a new witch.
At the beginning of the second season, Sabrina turns 17. On her 17 birthday she finds out that she must receive her witches license. A Quizmaster is assigned to help Sabrina prepare for the magical exam. She fails her first test, and as punishment she must attend Witch Boot Camp. In the meantime, Sabrina and Harvey’s relationship has matured to that of a boyfriend/girlfriend status, and she soon meets, and befriends Valerie Birkhead, a new student at Westbridge High. Libby continues to hassle Sabrina, along with the new Vice-Principal, Willard Kraft. Their attempts at making high school miserable for Sabrina are often bettered by Sabrina’s magical wit. Sabrina has her magic stripped by the Witches Council in the Season finale, and is able to see her mother once again. The removal of her magic ends up beings a test, which enables th council to see that there are things more important to Sabrina than her magic. She receives her Witches “Learners Permit”, and will have to face yet another year of quizzes before she can obtain her full witches license.
Sabrina meets a half witch, named Dashiell, and thinks she may have feelings for him and is faced with choosing between the new Dashiell, and Harvey. Soon Sabrina receives her witches license, but it is magically locked and she must follow clues to discover her family secret in order to unlock it. During her quest for her family secret, she used a spell which reveals that she loves Harvey. Many magical family members visit Sabrina throughout the season, giving her clues to help her solve her family secret. The secret is revealed to be “Every member of the Spellman family is born with a twin”. After this secret is revealed Sabrina goes on trial against her twin, Katrina to prove she is the good twin, though she is originally thought to be the evil twin. As is the custom, the good twin throws the evil twin into volcano, ad when Katrina shows no hesitation in pushing Sabrina in, it becomes obvious that Sabrina is in fact the good twin. Sabrina is given her witches license.
Sabrina is now a senior at Westbridge High. Her nemesis, Libby has transferred to a private school, and when Sabrina learns the news she is extremely happy, until she finds out that Mr. Kraft is not the Principal of Westbridge High. Valerie, one of Sabrina’s best friends has moved to Alaska, and Harvey seems increasingly distant with the arrival of his friend Brad, from Texas. Sabrina is hired at a coffee shop, and feels an attraction to her boss, Josh Blackheart. Along with her job at the coffee shop called Bean There, Brewed That, Sabrina is ordered by the Witches Council to be a mentor for younger witches. She is assigned to a witch named Dreama, who is new to the moral realm, and they become friends. Sabrina shares a kiss with her boss, and Harvey breaks up with her, after catching them in the act. Eventually Sabrina and Harvey get back together, after mutually apologizing, but soon she casts a spell which forces Josh and Harvey to fight for her love. Even though the fight is to the death, both survive. Josh has his memory erased, but Harvey who has had many spells cast on him, reached his “spell quota” and as a result finds out Sabrina is a witch.
Sabrina and Harvey break up, during the summer and as a result Sabrina has been attending counselling in the other realm to help her get over the break-up. Sabrina is now in her first year of university, at Adam’s College (a fictional Boston institute), and is living off campus with 3 mortal roommates: Roxie, Miles and Morgan. Sabrina continues to work at Bean There, Brewed That, and although she still has feelings for Harvey, she develops feelings for Josh Blackheart, her co-worker, once again. Josh develops a relationship with Sabrina’s roommate, Morgan, and as a result Sabrina starts to date Kevin O’Connor, a young musician, and fellow student. By the end of the season her feelings for Josh become clear, and she and Josh share a kiss once again.
Sabrina is now in her second year of college, and is currently dating Josh Blackheart. She is also still working at Bean There, Brewed That with her Aunt Hilda. Josh has been in Europe, and when he returns, Sabrina learns that he has been offered a job in Prague, but takes another job home in Boston in order to stay with her. Sabrina is given an internship at the Boston Citizen where Josh works, and starts up a college talk show, with Roxie. Great-Aunt Irma, the matriarch of the Spellman family is introduced in this season, and she has a habit of messing the the affairs or those in her family. Sabrina’s love-life is put under the microscope, by her Great-Aunt, which complicates her relationship with Josh seeing as her Aunt does not approve of mortals, with the exception of Harvey. Sabrina is faced with the great loves, and when they desert her, she turns to stone and crumbles, as a witch does when they lose their soul mate.
Zelda sacrifices her adult form, in order for Sabrina to be returned to her human form at the beginning of the season. Sabrina, who is flesh and blood again, and a college graduate moves into the Victorian manor with Roxy and Morgan. Sabrina finds a job at Scorch Magazine, where she meets Aaron, a handsome mortal. Harvey, is now a constant in her adult life, and while she starts to date Aaron, Harvey confesses to Roxie and Morgan that he still loves Sabrina. Aaron introduces Sabrina to his parents and the two become engaged, though she has doubts in her heart. While at the alter, on her wedding day, Sabrina decides that she loves Aaron, but isn’t in love with him. She leaves the church, where Harvey is waiting for her, on his motorcycle. They ride off together, finding that they are meant to be.