×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Small details you missed in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina strikes the perfect balance between dark drama and coming-of-age story. It's about young witch Sabrina Spellman (Kiernan Shipka) and the adventures she embarks on with her friends, family, and foes on Earth and in Hell.

Although witches have a bad reputation, Sabrina is easy to root for because she doesn't lack an ounce of empathy — and Shipka's performance is as convincing as it is powerful, furthering her evolution playing Don Draper's daughter on Mad Men to being the star of her own TV show.

Throughout Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, there are countless details that are easy for even diehard fans to miss. Some are hiding in plain sight, with some easier to spot than others — especially since Netflix drops entire seasons at once. It's hard to catch every little detail when it's so easy to binge-watch eight magical episodes on demand. With all that in mind, here's a look back at some of the small details you might have missed in the first three seasons of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

The Riverdale connection

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is oozing with references to Riverdale. That's in large part due to both shows being based on Archie Comics products, and the publisher's chief creative officer, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, has his hands all over both shows.

In season 1, episode 2, the Weird Sisters are asked if they go to Riverdale by a jock when they're on their way to the mines for a "prank." In season 1, episode 10, Harvey Kinkle (Ross Lynch) and his dad call a funeral home in Riverdale (not Sabrina's family's funeral home — shade much?). In season 1, episode 7, pizza delivery boy Ben Button delivers a pie to Madam Satan (Michelle Gomez) — and as viewers of both shows will be aware, Ben Button is also a character in Riverdale. Bringing the worlds together even more, during a set visit, House Beautiful discovered that Jughead left his mark on Baxter High (Sabrina's human school) by etching his crown and the words "was here" into a bookshelf.

In season 3, Sabrina and Ambrose (Chance Perdomo) drive to Riverdale to retrieve King Herod's crown in an effort to defend her title as Queen of Hell against the Prince of Hell, Caliban (Sam Corlett). The crown was hidden in a tree (and is covered by maple syrup) by Benjamin Blossom...

More references to Archie Comics and Riverdale

Blossom is Cheryl's last name on Riverdale. On the back of the Riverdale welcome sign, there's graffiti with the initials "JJ" and writing "JJ WUZ HERE," artwork likely belonging to Jughead Jones. "SSS" on the back of the sign likely stands for Southside Serpents, a gang in Riverdale.

In season 3, episode 6, Hilda Spellman (Lucy Davis) tells Dr. Cee (Alessandro Juliani) she's craving a diner in Riverdale that sells hamburgers and milkshakes, likely referencing Pop's Chock'lit Shoppe. Also in season 3, a member of Riverdale's Southside Serpents wanders into Dr. Cee's. Keeping the Riverdale connections coming, some actors appear in both shows, such as Jonathan Whitesell as Robin Goodfellow in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and Kurtz in Riverdale. Nathalie Boltt also appears in season 3 as Miss Dubois (Prudence's disguise, who's played by Tati Gabrielle), That's significant since Boltt plays Penelope Blossom on Riverdale.

There are also many Archie Comics references throughout the first three seasons, from the comics flooding the shelves at Cerberus Books to Sabrina having an Archie Comics mug. In the opening credits of the show, images are directly lifted from the horror-themed comic books the show is based on, which includes the true face of Madam Satan and images of Sabrina.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina doesn't want the audience to know what year it is

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina never states the year or exact time period of the show. While the characters wear clothes from what appears to be the '60s and the setting matches up with that time period, there are subtle occurrences that call those assumptions into question.

In season 1, episode 3, The Bluest Eye is banned at Greendale. The book was published in 1970. Principal George Hawthorne (Bronson Pinchot) also mentions A Clockwork Orange, a novel released in the '60s and a movie released in the '70s. In season 1, episode 4, Roz Walker (Jaz Sinclair) and Theo (played by Lachlan Watson) are watching Carnival of Souls (made in 1962) and mention they love watching old movies. Even the newspapers Zelda Spellman (Miranda Otto) reads don't have dates on them.

Similar to Riverdale, the creators want to keep the time period of the show relatively vague, which helps to embrace modern social issues (and the art of being woke) while giving the show a retro vibe.

Modern technology in a retro world

For the most part, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina does a good job of sticking to technologies of the '50s and '60s, from phones and fridges to cars and other household appliances. However, in season 1, episode 1, Ambrose has a laptop. Laptops, of course, weren't yet invented in the '60s. Perhaps this was a mistake by the creators, but, then again, Harvey is clearly technologically savvy and ahead of his time

In season 1, episodes 4 and 8, he's seen with a cellphone — and not just any cellphone, but an iPhone. Why Harvey gets a smartphone and no one else does is a mystery. Maybe it's because Harvey is the most human and doesn't appear to have epic supernatural powers. Either way, Harvey is clearly a Renaissance man when it comes to phones.

While the creators don't want viewers to know the exact year, despite the fact that the show looks frozen in the '60s, the first iPhone was released in 2007.

It's hardly ever sunny in Greendale

While the sun does peek out from the clouds every now and then, for the most part, it's always cloudy and eerie in Greendale. That's likely due to the nature and setting of the show — eerie and witchy.

When scenes take place in the forest by Sabrina's house, or at Sabrina's house, it's as if a fog/blurry current takes over, likely signifying that these are places of witches, similar to the skies of Breaking Bad having a yellow tint when the setting is Mexico. The foggy/blurry setting, in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina's case, signifies something witchy is happening, giving it a stylistic feel.

While Sabrina, her friends, and family have to endure many obstacles and this version of Sabrina is definitely dark, the show has many feel-good moments (such as Electric Light Orchestra's "Strange Magic" playing in season 1 when Sabrina and Harvey are falling in love). Nonetheless, it's hardly ever sunny in Greendale.

Real-world references

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina has many references to witches, dark magic, the Bible, and other real-world happenings.

For example, WICCA is a Pagan Witchcraft tradition and also the name of Theo, Roz, and Sabrina's club (Women's Intersectional Cultural and Creative Association). The Satanic Temple even sued the show over its use of the statue of Baphomet.

Theories state that families in the show are named after real people involved in the 17th century Massachusetts Salem witch trials. The Putnam family is named after the Puritan Putnams, who lived in Salem. Principal Hawthorne is named after John Hathorne (later changed to Hawthorne), who was the Chief Examiner during the trials.

Even the spells on the show are rooted in history. There are many other character references to real-life people, such as Brother Lovecraft being named after horror writer H.P. Lovecraft. That's what's great about this show — it takes real-life information and plugs it into a make-believe world, giving it an authentic feel, even though Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is a work of fiction.

Horror references

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina pays tribute to many horror classics throughout the series — so many that it's hard to keep track of everything.

The doctor Harvey mentions, Dr. Phibes, is a nod to comedy-horror film The Abominable Dr. Phibes. The Spellman parlor is a reference to supernatural-horror film Suspiria. In season 1, Harvey cosplays Johnny Depp's character in A Nightmare on Elm Street with the same shirt worn in Depp's death scene.

The opening scene of season 1 was filmed in front of the same Paramount Theatre that appeared in Stephen King's 1990 TV miniseries It. The Weird Sisters wear nearly identical clothes to Wednesday Addams from The Addams Family. One of Sabrina's red dresses is inspired by the dress Mia Farrow wears in Rosemary's Baby. The list goes on and on, rewarding horror fans throughout the series. There are also references to Carrie, Night of the Living Dead, and countless others.

For good measure, the first episode of season 3 pays tribute to The Wizard of Oz (and Dante's Inferno), only this version is twisted, takes place in Hell, and Sabrina has to follow a red brick road. A version of the Tin Man even makes an appearance.

Aunt Zelda's newspapers

Not only do they not show dates, but Aunt Zelda's newspapers are written in different languages. How she gets newspapers written in different languages delivered to the Spellman house is head-scratching, spellbinding, and, well, actually makes a lot of sense in a world of witches. When a person has been alive as long as Zelda has, said person has to find new ways to entertain herself. Zelda takes the knowledge route by apparently learning multiple languages. 

Another interesting Zelda fact is tied to a wall full of shoes in the Spellman house: According to production designer Lisa Soper, "Every time [Aunt] Zelda goes out and gets upset with somebody she casts a hex on them. And then she binds the shoe and comes back and puts it there — as long as it's there she keeps the spell on them."

Sabrina says how she's going to (possibly) take down the Dark Lord in season 1

In season 1, episode 4, foreshadowing is possibly dropped by Sabrina as she says, in reference to taking down Lucifer (a.k.a. Luke Cook, a.k.a. Sabrina's dad): "I'm going to learn how to conjure him, bind him, and banish him." Although Lucifer's soul was trapped in Nick Scratch's (Gavin Leatherwood) body and then Faustus Blackwood's (Richard Coyle), that wasn't the end of the Dark Lord.

It's important to note that in season 2, Lucifer says the Spear of Longinus is the only thing that can kill him. Of course, this is a possible long-play payoff and it remains to be seen how the show will end or even how many seasons there will be. Although Sabrina could be foreshadowing how she ends Lucifer, the writers of shows sometimes write themselves into situations that can't be avoided, no matter how inappropriate they might seem once the characters reach that destination.

After all, there were clues for Robin Scherbatsky and Ted Mosby ending up together in How I Met Your Mother, but it seems a tad weird since Ted's dear friend, Barney Stinson, was previously married to Robin. (So much for the Bro Code.)

Famous schools of magic apparently start at train tracks

Harry Potter's Hogwarts and Sabrina's Academy of Unseen Arts have a few things in common — and it goes beyond the obvious magic connection they share. In addition, both are found on the tracks. Hogwarts is reached by the Hogwarts Express at King's Cross Station, and the Academy of Unseen Arts is reached by walking on train tracks — or that's at least the path Sabrina takes, anyway. Hiding in plain sight, with a layer of magical elements, makes for one heck of a hiding spot.

On a side note, the name of the building of Sabrina's witch school is Gehenna Station, which is a reference to the supposedly cursed valley in Jerusalem that became associated with hell and purgatory. All stations, apparently, lead to witch schools.

Less screen time for Salem

Salem was a fan favorite in Sabrina the Teenage Witch, but there's a reason the famous cat isn't racking up screen time in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

According to Vulture, Shipka is allergic to cats — something she found out when she picked up one of the five that portray Salem and developed hives on set while filming.

Shipka also told IndieWire that the show didn't want to compete with the sassy Salem of the '90s and that Chilling Adventures of Sabrina's version is more of a nod to that character. In terms of her allergies, she went on to say, "It's difficult if you're operating off of antihistamines. Don't take a Benadryl. I did that once. Horrible experience. I was all sorts of drugged for the last six hours of set. I'm fine being in the same room as Salem as long as I'm not continuously petting and touching him. He's fine. He shows up, knows his lines, does his lines."