Riverdale began with a simple question: what if the CW made a teen-drama-comedy-horror that was part Gossip Girl, part Twin Peaks, but all characters from Archie Comics, and now Archie is super-jacked? The answer was a critical and audience sensation that has now lasted six seasons (and has already been renewed for a seventh season. And while Riverdale has had no shortage of fan-favorite moments and characters (many of them instantly becoming memes), a particular beloved character has recently been announced to return: Sabrina Spellman, also known as Sabrina the Teenage Witch. And since Riverdale is not quite at the Multiverse stage of development yet (give it a year), that means Kiernan Shipka is returning to help the Archie gang with any and all of their dark sorcery needs.
You wouldn’t think there would be a lot of call for that, but Riverdale is a show where Betty (Lili Reinhart) has a serial killer brother, Veronica (Camila Mendes) is sometimes a ruthless crime boss, and Archie (KJ Apa) once formed a masked vigilante group that bordered on some fascist rhetoric. A storyline in a recent season of Riverdale crossed over with Netflix’s The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, as Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch) needed Sabrina’s assistance in casting a spell that had to due with a splinter universe called “Rivervale” so, it’s kind of complicated. While it is currently known exactly why Kiernan Shipka’s version of Sabrina will be returning to Riverdale, it probably will involve some dark magic and possibly resurrecting some people from beyond the grave. Really, it’s an interesting show.
Both Riverdale and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina were initially being developed by the CW back in 2017, but only the former remained on the network. Netflix took over the Sabrina property, eventually having two full seasons of 36 episodes. Both shows have consistently referenced each other (despite being on different platforms) and eventually began to crossover characters. Archie Comics Chief Creative Officer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa was behind the development of both properties and intended them to have full crossovers; now that The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina has wrapped up on Netflix, maybe he will get to make that happen. But as with all cool things these days, there are probably some property rights to work out.
Archie Comics is a long-running part of American pop culture. The very first issue was released in 1942 (with Archie Andrews himself having been introduced the year earlier in Pep Comics), and ran unbroken until a reboot in 2015. While the idea of “Archie and the Gang” driving to a malt shop in a 1940s style jalopy is doubtlessly cemented in the popular imagination, the characters and settings have gone through countless changes over the decades. There was a groovy, hippie period of Archie, there have been many sad adult versions of Archie, and there was even the famed crossover event Archie Meets The Punisher. Considering there is an entire run of Archie in which zombies infect citizens of Riverdale and everything goes grimly Walking Dead, just having a teenage witch back on Riverdale sounds pretty wholesome.