While The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina has enchanted fans so far, there is one magical thing that hasn’t happened (at least yet) on the Netflix series about a young witch who has to choose between the mortal realm and the darkness.
Anyone into the comics or the ‘90s sitcom Sabrina the Teenage Witch probably expected her black cat Salem to talk. While there is a disembodied voice letting Sabrina know it has answered her call for a familiar — right before Salem appears meowing — early on in Season 1, he isn’t actually seen saying anything.
"When we did the show, [he doesn't speak] partly to project the horror tone," Sabrina comic and Netflix series creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa recently told IndieWire in an interview. "That isn't to say that Salem won't talk in the future."
Salem Saberhagen was the infamously sassy feline of Sabrina the Teenage Witch who knew backtalk better than any human around (even the witches). Sass him and he’d sass you back ten times over. However, the atmosphere of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is anything but a sitcom living room, and dark baptisms are to be taken seriously. Salem as he was on the previous iteration of the show and even the comic would have seemed borderline clownish. The Beast and talking cat just wouldn’t have been able to share the same screen.
Salem wasn’t even supposed to talk in the comic, if you ask Aguirre-Sacasa. “It felt like if you have a talking cat, it would almost inherently be funny and be a comedy,” he explained. “As I was writing the comic book, I realized that when you read a comic book, you just read the words. You don’t necessarily see any characters’ lips move. ‘Oh, of course Salem should talk. It’s going to be like anyone else talking.’”
Kiernan Shipka, the darker version of Sabrina Spellman who found out she was allergic to cats on set, agrees that her familiar would have to speak in a way that fits in with the dark forces overshadowing Greendale. “It’s nothing like the ‘90s sassy, mean Salem at all,” she said. “That’s its own thing that we’re not going to try to compete with or be in the slightest, because you can’t live up to that in any way. This is more of a subtle sort of nod, I would say, to the old show.”
Whether Salem’s mouth will move or he will just communicate telepathically is another thing altogether. The idea of a human(ish) voice coming out of nowhere is somewhat spookier, but ultimately, it will be up to the show’s creators to cast the spell.