Sabrina The Teenage Witch Star Melissa Joan Hart Reveals Why She Was Almost Fired From The Hit TV Show

Melissa Joan Hart on Sabrina the Teenage Witch
(Image credit: Paramount Domestic Television)

While fans were reintroduced to Sabrina Spellman in the occasionally festive Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, many who were TV fans in the '90s associate Melissa Joan Hart with the teenage witch. Hart was America’s sweetheart for seven seasons as viewers watched her character grow up from a naïve high schooler to a working woman. However, at one point, the former teen star almost got booted from the show. Years after the TGIF sitcom ended, the Sabrina the Teenage Witch star revealed why she was nearly fired from the hit show.

Hart opened up about why the classic series almost came to a premature end while chatting on the Hey, Dude… The 90s Called podcast. In gearing up for the release of the teen classic Drive Me Crazy, MJH had been booked to do the men’s magazine Maxim. Following an exciting night at the Playboy Mansion, Hart admitted to being heavily intoxicated during the shoot. Her rough night resulted in an exhausted Hart enduring a 10-hour photoshoot while wearing revealing clothing. 

A few months later, things came to a head at the Drive Me Crazy New York red carpet premiere. By this time, Hart was dealing with various issues – she was fresh off a breakup with her longtime boyfriend and upset over not seeing family in her big moment. She recalled being whisked away from the premiere to film a role in Scary Movie. She said:

I get in the car crying because I have to leave my family in New York, and I get a phone call on one of those carphones, saying ‘Don’t go to the airport. You’ve been fired from Scary Movie.’ I’m like ‘Yes, I’m going to stay in New York.’… I go from being emotional and leaving to going straight to the afterparty at Planet Hollywood. So, when the premiere ends and the party begins, I’m like ‘Hey, everyone, I’m here. I can party tonight.’ My lawyer comes up to me and says ‘Don’t talk to anyone. You’re being fired from your show because you did Maxim magazine.’ So, my mom calls me, ‘What did you? We’re being sued, and you’re being fired.’

The Clarissa Explains It All star revealed she “hadn’t seen the cover” yet when everything hit the fan. She recalled being news fodder for a week as morning show hosts debated whether she was “allowed to be sexy or not on the cover of a magazine.” After all the uproar, Hart spilled the editorial decision that got her in trouble with Archie Comics and ABC.

The thing is I’ve never seen this done before or after, but Maxim wrote Sabrina on the cover, not my name Melissa. They didn’t put my name. They put Sabrina. So, that Archie comic we got for one dollar, there was a very big contract drawn up [about] what I was and wasn’t allowed to do as the character. Being seen in my underwear wasn’t something I was supposed to do as the character… If you look at the cover, it says ‘Sabrina, your favorite witch without a stitch.’

The TV icon mentioned her publicist scored the photoshoot as a way to promote the movie. Thankfully, Hart didn’t get fired after her lawyer put out an apology letter for her. However, the backlash went beyond the press as her father and brother were teased and taunted over her sexy cover. All the trouble led to her never doing a similar cover again as she felt uncomfortable with the photos similar to the ladies of One Tree Hill

Luckily, Melissa Joan Hart appears every season of Sabrina the Teenage Witch currently available through a Paramount+ subscription. Maybe the cast will finally watch an episode of the classic teen sitcom. In the meantime, check out our 2023 TV schedule to see what new and returning shows are premiering. 

Adreon Patterson
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A boy from Greenwood, South Carolina. CinemaBlend Contributor. An animation enthusiast (anime, US and international films, television). Freelance writer, designer and artist. Lover of music (US and international).