As Netflix's Chilling Adventures of Sabrina was originally intended to be a Riverdale spinoff, fans of the CW teen drama were eager for any sneaky mentions of Sabrina's neighboring town in the new Netflix series. Fueling hopes of an eventual crossover, Sabrina's contemporaries made enough references to the town of Riverdale that there's no pretending these shows don't exist in the same universe. While Jughead and Archie didn't pop by, another familiar Riverdale face did. Why was Ben Button in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina? The executive producer of both shows has explained the surprise crossover.
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, the showrunner of both Riverdale and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, spoke to Entertainment Tonight about Moses Thiessen's Riverdale character Ben Button delivering a pizza to Baxter High teacher Ms. Wardwell on the night of Thanksgiving. Ben has appeared sporadically throughout Riverdale's run, but he became a major talking point this season when he drank cyanide alongside Dilton Doiley while playing the Griffons and Gargoyles board game. After waking up from a coma the cyanide intake caused, Ben threw himself out of a window and seemingly met his death below. So how exactly did he show up on Chilling Adventures of Sabrina a week after that Riverdale episode aired?
Aguirre-Sacasa told ET:
[The cameo] suggests a very deep, deep mythology where time and space bends... [Ben's death] seemed like it was pretty final, but yet there he is in [Chilling Adventures of Sabrina town] Greendale. But in Greendale, everyone pops up — the dead don’t stay dead long in Greendale.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina definitely made the Spellmans' ease in causing resurrections clear. The graveyard outside their home has soil from the garden of biblical figure Cain that is soaked with the blood of his brother Abel, and Zelda (Miranda Otto) frequently killed and buried Hilda (Lucy Davis) whenever she was getting on her nerves. Hilda would come back to life in a matter of hours, and Sabrina buried Weird Sister Agatha there in order to resurrect Harvey's brother Tommy, but her attempts hit some complications. As the season finale hinted, Greendale's supernatural presence likely extends beyond Ms. Wardwell and the Spellmans, but how would that affect Ben?
Coincidentally, the character's name is reminiscent of a literary and cinematic character who ages in reverse. While a twisted internal chronology might not be the explanation behind Ben's appearance, appearing on Chilling Adventures of Sabrina after dying on Riverdale suggests that while the two shows share a world, their timing isn't the same at the moment. Speaking to Cosmopolitan, Thiessen said about the cameo:
When I went in, I asked [about the timing] and just got back that they’re leaving it up in the air. At this point, if there are two different universes, like some other shows on The CW, then maybe they are happening at the same time but just different places. But it also could be that Sabrina happened before.
Thiessen also carried out his Sabrina moment to hint that Ms. Wardwell ended up destroying Ben, telling the magazine:
Knowing Ben, he’s attracted to older women, [like] Ms. Grundy. He’s easily seduced. The way the door closes [on Sabrina], it does leave it up in the air. At the same time, the way I played it, I thought it was implying that I was getting eaten.
The specifics are foggy, but it looks like Ben's fleeting cameo is foreshadowing what's to come on Season 2 of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. We knew death wasn't always final in Greendale, but perhaps that rule has even more complexities than we thought.
Season 1 of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is currently streaming on Netflix. Season 3 of Riverdale airs on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on the CW.