Based on the classic Archie Comics, the CW’s Riverdale takes a darker, Twin Peaks-like twist on characters Archie Andrews, Veronica Lodge, Betty Cooper, and Jughead Jones. For one, this show has a whole lot of murder.
Trying to figure out who the unknown “Black Hood” murderer is has been an addicting draw for fans since the series first aired in 2016. And while the real lives of Riverdale's stars and the production of the show isn’t nearly as dramatic as the series, that doesn't make them any less fascinating. Just ahead of the series' return, we've gathered up some things you might not know about Riverdale.
Warning: Spoilers for all aired episodes ahead.
1. RIVERDALE WAS ORIGINALLY PITCHED AS A TIME-TRAVELING MOVIE.
Before Riverdale came to its current iteration, there were a few other out-there ideas for what it could be. One pitch from someone at Warner Bros. saw Archie as a time-traveler, in a movie where the redhead protagonist would be played by Louis CK. (Yep, this happened.)
"We spent about a month trying to figure out how to do a high-concept Archie movie and that’s kind of the exact opposite of what we wanted to do,” showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa explained during the CW’s 2017 Winter Television Critics Association panel. Eventually, they went against what was pitched and decided Riverdale would be a TV show … minus any time travel.
2. JUGHEAD ONLY HAS ONE BEANIE.
Jughead Jones’ beanie in Riverdale is extremely important to the character, similar to his iconic crown in the comics. Given this, it’s surprising to learn Cole Sprouse only has one beanie that he wears every single day during filming. Apart from the obvious fact that it probably smells, it’s a little peculiar to only have one copy of a staple piece of costume.
While appearing on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon, Sprouse allowed Fallon to try on the beanie, but warned him not to smell it. "Same one, still smells like Mane and Tail," Sprouse explained. "We did get another one at the end of last season, but it was stolen when I placed it on a lunch table in the scene where Cheryl slapped Jughead."
3. THE POP’S DINER SET LOOKS SO REAL, PEOPLE THOUGHT IT WAS.
Not only is Pop’s Diner the place to go for the characters on Riverdale, people in real life have actually been enamored by it and tried to eat there, as they thought the set was real. While doing a Reddit AMA, Sprouse revealed that because their onset location is near an “industrial thoroughfare,” it isn’t uncommon for “hungry 18-wheelers” to pull into the filming lot thinking they could get a quick bite to eat at Pop’s.
However, the Pop’s used in the Riverdale pilot actually is a real restaurant, called Rocko’s Diner in Mission, British Columbia.
4. KJ APA BROKE HIS HAND DURING THE SEASON ONE FINALE.
In the season one finale of Riverdale, Archie Andrews heroically saves Cheryl Blossom from drowning in a frozen lake, and in real life, KJ Apa might’ve gone a bit too far with the Method acting. In the scene, Archie smashes through thick ice with his bare hand, and although Apa wasn’t actually punching real ice, he did do some real damage.
"That was a gnarly day of shooting, I'll tell you that much," Apa told TV Line. "I wasn't really punching the ice, but I got a little bit too excited. I was punching a foam mat … [that was] sitting on the ice … It was cold, so I didn't really feel it. It wasn't until 20 minutes after that I realized I broke my hand. I didn't tell anyone."
5. COLE SPROUSE AND CAMILA MENDES WENT TO COLLEGE TOGETHER.
Though they weren’t as close in circles as Jughead and Veronica, Riverdale co-stars Cole Sprouse and Camila Mendes attended New York University together. Though Mendes told Office Magazine that the two were not friends while at school, she did say that the actor was a familiar face on campus.
"There was a time when we had class in the same building so I would always see him outside, Mendes shared, before calling Sprouse a “weirdo” then. They’ve clearly come a long way since their NYU days.
6. EVERY RIVERDALE EPISODE IS BASED ON A MOVIE.
While it might be obvious to some die-hard fans, many viewers may not realize the significance of every episode title of Riverdale. All the episodes are the names of, or a variation of the names of, old movies. And it’s not just for aesthetic purposes, as they literally tell fans what the episode will be about.
Aguirre-Sacasa explained to Teen Vogue how much the episode titles reveal: "We usually work on the episode, and then, as we're going to the end of the breaking of the story, we're like, 'What's the title of this episode?'" he shared. "And then we have a list of provocative titles. Often the stories guide us."
If you’re keen on spoilers, just check out the upcoming episode titles for Riverdale, and you’ll probably figure quite a few things out.
7. SHOWRUNNERS WANTED SPROUSE TO PLAY ARCHIE.
Unlike most of the Riverdale stars, when Sprouse was initially approached about a role in the series, he wasn't interested. "At first ... I was immediately turned off," he told WWD. "But in more recent years, Archie comics have tried to stray away from the 'golly, shucks Arch, let’s go to the sock hop' thing."
When he agreed to audition, Sprouse was first asked to read for the role of Archie. However, the actor fell in love with Jughead and almost immediately knew he wanted that part. “He’s very much an outsider," Sprouse told WWD. "He has a pretty unique perspective because he’s seeing the town and the friendship and the friendships that are forming from a more objective point of view."
8. MADELAINE PETSCH’S FEAR OF WATER MADE FILMING DIFFICULT.
In season one of Riverdale, Cheryl Blossom has many scenes by a large body of water. While viewers probably didn’t think twice about it, the actress behind the redheaded River Vixen had a seriously tough time shooting the parts.
"I'm afraid of open bodies of water. I was in a glass-bottomed boat that broke a long time ago, so I've always been kind of freaked out," Madelaine Petsch told Glamour. The actress originally thought she could have a stunt double for her opening boat scene, and had a panic attack prior to having to do it herself. However, she confirmed that the fear was only temporary. "Once we started shooting, I was fine," Petsch said.
9. COLE SPROUSE FOUGHT FOR JUGHEAD TO BE ASEXUAL.
Fans of the Archie Comics might find it weird that in Riverdale, Jughead has a love interest. Fans of just the show, and not the comics, probably have no idea why that would be strange. In the more recent comic book versions, Jughead is actually asexual, something that was revealed once Riverdale had already started production. "The day I was cast was actually the same day he was announced as canonically asexual," Sprouse told Glamour. "It wasn't in the Digest—it was in [Chip] Zdarsky's universe, so it was in one of the newer comics that was written."
“I think, in this show, he’s not a romantic and not asexual,” Sprouse continued. “I argued in the beginning, creatively, that he should be both, but in this show, he’s kind of a tortured youth that ends up finding a comfort and a resonance with another person who’s going through a lot of trauma.”
Though Jughead has been in an on-again, off-again relationship with Betty, Sprouse is still open to the representation of asexuality. “If it ends up finding a place in Riverdale and in future seasons, then hopefully we'll do it with tact and in a way that respects what it is and how it resonates,” Sprouse said.
10. VANESSA MORGAN GOT DEATH THREATS WHEN SHE JOINED THE SHOW.
Before Jughead and Toni Topaz kissed or began their mini-fling, viewers were already enraged about the possibility of the character breaking up Jughead and Betty (a.k.a. Bughead). In the end, Vanessa Morgan—the actress who plays Toni—was put on the receiving end of much of this fan anger.
Morgan revealed to Glamour that fans were sending her some pretty awful messages upon her introduction. "She's a Southside Serpent, a gang member, and Jughead's first friend," Morgan teased at the time. "So I might stir up the pot a bit with the Bughead relationship. There might be a little love triangle."
"I’ve already had some death threats," Morgan added. "But the thing is, it's half death threats because they don't want that [actually] happening, and there's half that's just all love.” Luckily, the actress didn’t take the fandom to heart.
11. SPROUSE IS IN TALKS TO WRITE RIVERDALE COMIC SPIN-OFFS.
Not only is Sprouse a fan of Riverdale and the Archie Comics the show is based on, but he actually wants to try writing comics based on the world, and seemingly will do so sometime in the future.
When asked if he’s ever reached out to the comic book writers about collaborating, Sprouse told Vulture: “Not so much with the comics creators. Now there’s a Riverdale universe that’s gonna take off in print form now, too. Roberto [Aguirre-Sacasa] has talked to me about writing a couple of those, which would be awesome. I’d love to try my hand at that.”
12. 13 REASONS WHY STAR KATHERINE LANGFORD AUDITIONED FOR BETTY COOPER.
The leading lady in another favorite teen series had her shot at playing Betty Cooper, according to Camila Mendes. While speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Mendes revealed she auditioned with Katherine Langford, before Langford was cast in Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why. “I remember we went out and we got falafel with a guy who was auditioning for Archie,” Mendes said of the day.
The role of Betty eventually went to Lili Reinhart, which clearly worked out for the best. Although Langford is done with the Netflix series, she gained major attention from her role as Hannah Baker, and Reinhart fits the Riverdale role perfectly.