Polly/Jason, Polly/Cheryl and Betty/Cheryl were all quite well-liked in the fandom. Then came the reveal that the Blossoms and the Coopers are related, making Polly, Betty, Cheryl and Jason cousins. Cue most of the shippers promptly saying, "...Never mind." Those that remain do so mainly on the grounds that being third or fourth cousins isn't that close, but for most, it's close enough. Alternatively, people who still ship any of them flat out pretend that they arent related at all.
Both Cheryl/Nick and Veronica/Nick were well on their way to becoming popular ships, before Nick had even appeared on the show. That is, until he sexually assaulted both girls in the same episode.
Cheryl and Josie had a following, but 2.07 (Cheryl gaslights Josie and frames Chuck to keep her all to herself) makes that a little awkward.
In early Season 1, Betty/Veronica was a fairly popular ship, to the point where many fans took their Les Yay as canon. Numerous events throughout Season 2 that put them on opposite sides to one-another have basically killed the ship, as well as started a feud between Betty fans and Veronica fans. It doesn't help that many former Betty/Veronica fans are disaffected LGBT people who thought they were going to get representation and now feel that they were queerbaited.
Archie/Cheryl was popular and even semi-canon for a time, but is virtually obsolete now that Cheryl has come out as a lesbian.
How much of Cheryl's grieving for Jason is genuine, and how much of it is her just milking it for attention... or so she won't look suspicious to the police? For that matter, is the Incest Subtext just that, or was there really something going on? This just continues into the subsequent episodes, with her at one point admitting to the sheriff she's guilty in front of everyone then privately clarifying she meant she was guilty of lying about what happened, not of killing him, following her simultaneously singing and dancing at a pep rally then breaking down when reminded of him. It's clarified at least that until his body was found, she was under the belief he was alive and Faking the Dead so she was faking it at first, but once his body is found and she finds out he did, in fact, die, then she starts to break down.
In an episode specific example, in the antepenultimate episode of Season One, Polly and Cheryl discover that Cheryl's parents have been hiding Jason's ring- which he had had on before running away- and Polly tries to take the ring in order to bring it to the police, only for Cheryl to snatch it away and ominously declare that if Polly thinks that the fact that she's carrying Jason's babies will keep Polly safe, she is in for "a rude awakening." Now, is Cheryl threatening Polly that Cheryl herself will hurt her, or is Cheryl warning Polly of what Cheryl's parents might do to Polly and trying to keep Polly from putting herself (and the babies) in harms way by incurring their wrath?
A lot of fans interpret Archie's rejection of romance with either Betty or Veronica in this series as being a result of him still dealing with PTSD and guilt from Grundy's grooming and sexual abuse of him, rather than his comic book counterpart's infamous indecisiveness.
Many fans believe that Miss Grundy was lying about her past as a victim of domestic abuse, given her frequent manipulation of Archie, as well as a scene showing her checking out another group of teenage boys. Though her supposed past would explain her reserved and quiet nature, being an ephebophile equally explains why she'd have a fake identity.
While Betty having mental issues becomes more apparent with each episode, exactly what diagnosis is questioned among fans. Many agree on some form of anxiety, but her 'Polly episode' in "Body Double" makes some wonder if she has a personality disorder. Note that mentions of Polly seem to bother her in more ways than one—when talking to Trevor, who mentions Polly out of concern, the music slows down as Betty's smile slides off. Alice gives Betty Adderall pills, but some fans question if it's to actually help, or if Alice is just giving them to Betty as another way of pretending she's perfect.
Both in-universe and out: What kind of person was Jason? What kind of relationship did he have with Polly? The first few episodes have Betty's mother accusing him of hurting Polly and 'leading to her downfall', while Cheryl proclaims that he was one of the nicest people she knew. Come episode 'Body Double' and the reveal that he wrote Polly's name down in the football teams playbook, Cheryl suffers a Broken Pedestal moment. But later episodes reveal that despite their somewhat rocky relationship, Jason was planning on running away to marry Polly after he had gotten her pregnant, with the real reason Polly being sent away by her parents was to keep it all a secret out of shame.
Jughead's conflict in the second half of Season 1 is that he and Betty are too different to be compatible. However after his birthday episode - when he learns about her 'Dark Betty' stunt on Chuck - they have less friction over the matter. Given his "I'm weird" speech, was he actually attracted to the idea that Betty had a weird side too?
Fred changing his mind about running for mayor: was it his idea, or was it his ex-wife's idea as a way to get Archie out from under the Lodges' thumb?
After it's revealed that Penelope is vehemently homophobic and lashed out at Cheryl after finding her in the same bed as the girl- Heather- she had reciprocal romantic feelings for some of her behavior towards Veronica and Cheryl in season one's "Heart of Darkness" is called into question. Was some of her anger and hostility coming from Penelope suspecting that Cheryl had feelings for Veronica? And for an Alternative Character Interpretation for Cheryl, was Penelope right?
Many fans interpret Penelope as a closeted bisexual given her inexplicable extreme homophobia, the ridiculous amount of Foe Yay between her and Alice, and subtle possible hints in the parent flashback episode. Penelopes actress Nathalie Boltt has supported this theory.
Does the relationship between Cheryl and Betty really depict a bully and her victim, respectively, slowly becoming friends after discovering that theyre cousins, as the show presents? Or, as a good portion of fans believe, is it an example of All Take and No Give, with Cheryl doing the giving, oddly enough? Its worth noting that to most fans, Cheryls worst offenses of bullying Betty calling her Season Two Betty Draper before the series, and calling her a cow in the second episode are far outweighed by both the things Betty has done to her, and by all of the things Cheryls has done for Betty. A particular sour point is that Betty was not at all involved in rescuing Cheryl from the conversion therapy at The Sisters of Quiet Mercy instead later repeatedly using this information to blackmail The Sisters while Cheryls immediate reaction to learning Betty is there (in the next season) is to insist on rescuing her. In general, Cheryl shows a great deal more care and concern for Betty, Cheryls snark aside, than she gets in return.
Anvilicious: "Body Double" carries an anti-slut shaming message and goes at it with all the subtlety of throwing a cinder block at someone's head.
In "The Wrestler", it's revealed that the Serpents are not just a random biker gang, but some bizarre attempt to revive a slaughtered Native American tribe. Oh, and Toni is their one actual descendant, despite being played by a Tanzanian/Scottish actress. Gets worse when you consider that they could have at least used Moose for the storyline, seeing as he is actually played by a Metis actor.
Clifford suddenly having an identical twin brother, Claudius. It's clear none of the writers are actually from a small town. That kind of secret, everyone would know, especially since all of the parents went to school together is canon. He said that at 14, Clifford drove him out of Riverdale so they'd be spared the Blossom curse where one twin always dies. So Hermione, Alice, Fred, and countless other people from that time period never thought to ask, "Where's your brother?" Not even the police? Everyone just forgot he had a twin? Was there never an investigation? Did Nana Rose never speak about her other son who went missing?
On the subject of 'the writers don't know about small towns' the whole "your great-grandfather and our great-grandfather were brothers" plot doesn't make sense either. It would be in records that they were related and other people's families would remember and know that. That kind of thing wouldn't just disappear. Also, just changing your name wouldn't help in a small town environment, everyone still knows your face. Basically, the majority of Riverdale and possibly surrounding towns would know the Blossoms and the Coopers are part of the same family.
Both the first and second season's murder mystery arcs manage to be this, while also being a case of Captain Obvious Reveal, somehow. Despite the fact that Clifford Blossom being Jason's killer was one of the most likely options and generally seen as a 'safe' choice, their reason for doing so, because Jason was aware of his drug smuggling business comes completely out of left-field, as before this there wasn't any hint of the Blossoms being involved in drug-smuggling. The second season, despite Hal Cooper being a popular guess for the Black Hood, in fact, his body-type alone largely gave it away as only a handful of characters had the same build, but his motivation is completely out of the blue; the show never indicated he had any strict-conservative leanings like the Black Hood did especially as he was pretty pro-abortion, given his twice attempts to pressure both Alice and Polly into having one, and his Freudian Excuse, which we only learn after he's revealed as the Black Hood. Given that the point of both was they were murder mysteries, this information would have been ideally revealed before-hand, but instead it just comes off as a last minute realisation they needed a motivation. What makes it especially gregarious is that much of the mystery of The Black Hood is focused on his green eyes, with Archie having numerous flashbacks to them- Hals eyes are very obviously blue.
Going into the Season 3 winter finale, Betty has been thrown into a meeting with the Gargoyle King at Quiet Mercy, and the next day is completely brainwashed into another of his servants as attested by her own inner monologue. How does she escape in just one episode? By the show just straight-up pretending the previous episode's ending didn't happen, and she's still working against the King.
Quite possibly in anticipation of the extreme negative reaction from the fanbase the younger Ms. Grundy provoked, the writers revealing that she was an imposter of the original Ms. Grundy and having her leave town can be seen as a way of placating the fans who did not like her relationship with Archie.
With the announcement that the character of Reggie had been recast for Season 2, after scheduling conflicts with Ross Butler lowered his screen time in the first season, it gives hope that finally the core five members of the Archies can be reunited. As of Season 3, he has been upgraded to part of the regular cast.
After the criticism Chuck's character attracted in Season 1, Season 2 has him genuinely repentant of his actions and trying to become a better person, putting him more in line with his comic book counterpart.
In Season 3 Betty specifically goes after shutting down Quiet Mercy for good, after the previous season had the girls inexplicably okay with leaving it running after they rescued Cheryl.
After much criticism of the shows reluctance to put romantic moments between its two homosexual couples onscreen, including from Vanessa Morgan herself, Bizarrodale focuses very strongly on them.
Kevin. Some think he is one of the best, funniest parts of the show, while others miss his Only Sane Man status from the comics and feel like he has been reduced to a flat Gay Best Friend stereotype, as well as taking the fifth spot in the Archies, a position fans of the comics believe should belong to Reggie.
Hermione in Season Two. Some fans love her, seeing her as stepping out, changing from a generic good mother into a classic Evil Matriarch who has become a complex and interesting character. Other fans despise her for treating Veronica in a colder, domineering manner, and want Veronica to find a way to take her down. A third group preferred her softer and gentler characterisation in Season One, and miss her closer relationship with Veronica.
Betty in Season Two. Her fans love her development into a stronger, less timid person and feel she is on track to becoming the series hero. However, a number of questionable plot elements involving her have soured her reputation with some fans, to the point that even people who like her have reported these problems. These include hijacking other characters plotlines (e.g. Archies crusade to bring down the Black Hood suddenly switching to the Black Hood targeting Betty, forcing Archie into the supporting role) hogging the screen time, repeatedly escaping any direct consequences for her mistakes and more questionable actions (blackmailing Cheryl into perjuring herself is a particularly sour blow), and her habit of ignoring others advice and rushing into situations when shes convinced shes right. Some have even gone so far as accuse her of being a Creator's Pet.
Jughead has steadily become one. Some people can sympathize with his plights and the tragedies he's gone throughnote which include his mom and sister leaving, his father becoming a neglectful alcoholic criminal, losing the home he was squatting in and being a homeless teen, being ostracised in school for his Emo Teen attitude and his connections with the South Side Serpents, being kicked out of school and having his second school shut down, among many others and cheer on his social crusades, or at least find them endearing. Others however find him to be whiny, pretentious, and incredibly over-dramatic, as well as feel his 'crusades' take advantage of other people's suffering so he can feel importantnote such as turning the history of Uktena into his own personal vendetta, repeatedly roping the teen Serpents (and others, most of whom have things way worse than he does and/or have had far harder lives) into causes he insists are for their benefit even though they personally didn't care, and generally acting like an over-the-top Social Justice Warrior caricature that actively annoys the kind of people who agree with his views, especially as the show goes on. Things only became worse after he mutilated Penny Peabody and left her to die, with some arguing that he crossed a major line.
Polly - is she a psychopathic Manipulative Bitch, a helpless brainwashed victim, or severely mentally ill (as was hinted at in Season 1) to the point where she doesn't know what she's doing? As of 3x21, it seems pretty safe to say that she's not the second one.
As of season 4, Hiram. Either he's a Magnificent Bastard who gets more brilliant every time, or an uninteresting villain whose presence has worn out its welcome by this point and in whose favor more interesting characters, such as Gladys Jones, have been shortchanged.
Best Known for the Fanservice: Fans know the show as a clever and intricate twisting of the Archie Comics suburban Americana to the darker underbelly below the facade, akin to something reaching almost David Lynch levels of intrigue. To everyone else, it's the show with the buff Archie running around in his boxers, and Veronica and Betty making out. (Well, that or the increasingly ridiculous teen soap opera with comically over the top writing.)
Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: The zombie deer that briefly appears in "Tales from the Darkside". Seriously, what the fuck was that about?
The reveal that Jason's killer was Clifford Blossom - his dad. Some people think it's a reveal that makes sense and sets up more storylines for the future while answering good questions. Others think it was a 'safe' choice because it doesn't hurt a major comic character, seriously impact the 'core four', or because a lot of people figured it out beforehand and were hoping for a larger twist.
While the Betty/Jughead ship is pretty popular among casual fans, it's absolutely loathed by asexual and aromantic fans who held out hope that the show would follow the path of the 2015 reboot and make Jughead canonically ace, given the extreme lack of representation for them, and how Jughead was originally defined by his lack of interest in romance. It also didn't help that Cole Sprouse initially indicated he'd be fighting for ace Jughead, only for him to end up defending the show's take later on.
Cheryl being a lesbian. Some fans consider it to be an egregious example of biphobia and bisexual erasure considering that she had flirted with three different boys before her coming out plot. Other fans consider the complaints to be thinly veiled lesbophobia and who point out that many lesbians in Real Life have had actual relationships with men before realizing or accepting their sexualities, and argue that it isnt and cannot be an example of bi-erasure as Cheryl never identified or implied herself to be bisexual and the fact that Toni, Fangs, Peaches, and Moose (as well as most likely Veronica) are all bisexual. Those fans also contend that Cheryl flirted with and, in Archie and Mooses cases, kissed three boys not out of genuine attraction but in order to gain social power or to appease her homophobic parents and gain their approval or were otherwise cases of compulsory heterosexuality, and have believed so before Cheryl was made canonically LGBT. What makes this fandom discourse especially heated is the fact that Cheryls actress had stated in several interviews during Season Two that she considered Cheryl to be bisexual,note Though a writer for the show had answered that they hadnt decided on Cheryls sexuality yet when asked if Cheryl was bisexual or a lesbian at the time. only for her to reveal in a Q&A before Season Three that she and showrunner RAS have discussed Cheryls sexuality and have both decided that Cheryl is definitely a lesbian, which caused many bisexual fans (or fans who otherwise thought Cheryl was bisexual) to feel misled or betrayed.
Watching Alice Cooper—who is clearly emotionally abusive to Betty, obsessed with keeping her daughter under control, and is absolutely gleeful with a young boy's murder—get slapped by Jason's mother is worth watching more than once, despite how loathsome Penelope herself is.
Everything that happens to Nick. First we get Veronica, Josie, Valerie and Melody beating the absolute shit out of him after they save Cheryl from his attempted rape of her. Shortly after, he gets into a car accident that breaks both his legs, courtesy of Hiram Lodge. And then Archie shows up at Nick's boarding school and pummels him, breaking his nose.
In a weird way that's clearly unintentional, Chic utterly demolishing Betty's attempt at blackmailing him into a truce and giving her a hugeBreaking Speech, during which he turns her blackmailing threat against her and threatens to blackmail her with it instead. It's a little uncomfortable because Chic is a total creep who basically turned Betty and Alice into accessories for his murder and may-or-may-not even be her brother, but Betty had been so high-and-mighty beforehand and acting even more obnoxious than usual that the Hype Backlash surrounding her character just enjoyed seeing her be torn down a peg, with some jokingly giving him Draco in Leather Pants treatment for doing it.
Betty is the victim of another unintentional one the following season, as the girls' total apathy toward the other people suffering at Quiet Mercy, and being perfectly fine letting the place stay open once they're no longer personally affected by it despite having hard evidence that could shut it down, comes back to bite her when she's thrown into the place herself and within one episode goes through brutality that leaves her a shell of herself. Many fans admitted to quite enjoying the Laser-Guided Karma.
The entirety of The Locked Room has Jughead and Betty taking the elitist Smug Snake Stonewall Preppers down several pegs as they lay out the entire murder plot and just how far it reaches. In the end, DuPont takes the cowards way out and kills himself, proving a pathetic plagiarist to the end by simply copying how Chipping did it, FP beats Brett to a bloody pulp with brass knuckles until hes a quivering wreck begging to confess, and Betty privately reveals to Donna that she figured out the true motive behind the whole conspiracy, which is sympathetic enough that shes willing to let Donna go, but without any of the profits that it was all for.
A number of people ship Veronica with FP Jones, despite the two never really even conversing. Not thatthat stopsanyone. Granted, there are fans that crack ship them because Camila Mendes has openly admitted to having a crush on Skeet Ulrich.
Both Betty/Toni and Betty/Sweet Pea also grew popular. Betty initially got off on the wrong foot with Toni and has never had any significant interaction with Sweet Pea.
Some fans ship Cheryl and Chic, as well as Hiram and Archie.
Creator's Pet: Betty Cooper has quickly fallen into this role, gaining more and more prominence within the show, to the point that she's practically become the main character (despite Archie being the protagonist), getting away with more and more heinous actions which are condoned within the narrative, constantly fawned over by other characters and never shown to be in the wrong.
Many plots involve Jughead printing news at "The Blue and Gold". Solving crimes, exposing corruption, denouncing injustices, you name it. Problem is, that's a school newspaper, not a real newspaper. Nobody reads or cares about them, unless they revealed the Watergate Scandal... and perhaps not even then.
The Black Hood calls Betty from an unknown number... and when he does so, he hear the ringtone "Lollipop". It's exclusive of him, calls from anyone else do not have that ringtone. Cell phones do not work that way: the ringtone must be specifically set up by the owner of the phone.
As noted in Ass Pull above, it's evident that none of the writers are actually from a small town. To wit:
Riverdale is, as remarked by Jughead in the intro narration throughout season 1, a small town, but the amount of major crimes is absurdly high for a small population. A murder like that of Jason Blossom is still bound to happen, but everything else? We have a murder, a serial killer, a big criminal gang (and then several gangs), a mafioso taking over the town, a sinister cult, illegal drug trade networks, children burning down their homes, etc.
Also in small towns, everyone knows everyone, and anything that happens to someone is bound to be known by everyone (more sooner than later). How could the Blossom and Cooper families keep their big secret under wraps? At one point it was public knowledge. It's unlikely that people would "forget" after a time, as the Blossoms and Coopers were still around everyday (with the Blossom as Riverdale's premier family, no less). For a similar reason, the twin brother of Clifford Blossom shouldn't have been such a surprise for Cheryl: even if the Blossoms refused to talk about him, the fate of such a man would likely be the source of much gossip and speculation in the town.
Betty is often shipped with Peter Parker of Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Many crossover shipping videos and fanfictions exist of various Riverdale characters with characters from 13 Reasons Why, perhaps due to the Friendly Fandoms and the fact that Ross Butler used to play Reggie. The most popular ships seem to be Betty Cooper/Justin Foley and Veronica Lodge/Hannah Baker.
Season 2 has Archie and Veronica unhesitatingly doing a ton of underhanded stuff out of blind loyalty to Hiram and Hermione, while somehow no one else can come up with a single effective strategy against them. Between that, we also have Jughead becoming a willing gang member to the point of cutting up a sociopathic woman. While the show was a dark Archie adaptation from the get-go, some felt that the second season pushed it a little too far.
Viewers familiar with the original sources may also be alienated by the way once likable characters like Miss Grundy and Midge Klump are reduced to cannon fodder, or how Betty's dad is rewritten as a serial killer.
Designated Hero: Many fans have felt this way about Betty, given that no matter how much of a Jerkass she is being, the writers find a way to make it someone else's fault or portray her as being in the right. This is especially the case when she threatens to drown Chuck in the hot tub, and blackmails Cheryl into lying on the stand to protect FP despite his role in Jason's murder. This was finally subverted in "A Night to Remember" when she openly insulted Veronica during a rehearsal without provocation, and Archie called her out on her actions.
Designated Villain: Mr. Honey is a bona fide example. All he does is act particularly strict and forbid a considerably sexualized play from being performed, and this is enough for him to be viewed as a homophobe and a Jerkass both In-Universe and by fans. Possibly subverted when his secretary names all the accomplishments and improvements at the high school that happened because of him, implying that the show was intentionally trying to portray the heroes as the flawed ones.
Toni gets this from Bughead shippers. Even before her character was ever introduced her actress was getting death threats simply because Word of God teased that she would stir some trouble for the ship. It also dips into Ron the Death Eater territory at times.
Downplayed with Jerk with a Heart of Gold FP Jones; he's far from the worst parent on the show and genuinely loves his son, but he's still an alcoholic, aggressive criminal running a dangerous biker gang, but many are willing to look past this for a character played by Skeet Ulrich. Becomes an in-universe case in early season two, with Betty and Jughead entirely convinced that he doesn't deserve any jail time for kidnapping a teenager, covering up his murder, hiding his body, and tempering with evidence because of the fact that he was threatened into falsely confessing that he killed Jason himself- which happened after he already committed the other illegal and unethical actions.
Much of the fandom gives Cheryl the leather pants treatment. They defend her viciously to the point of calling people names and sending them hate if they point out the many cruel, manipulative and otherwise morally questionable things Cheryl has done, such as bullying Betty. Cheryl's difficult family life and obvious mental health issues is what typically gets used to justify her behaviour, ignoring the fact that many other characters also have difficult family lives and/or mental health issues but don't take it out on people who have done nothing wrong.
Alice Cooper is a weird twisting of this trope. She initially started out as one of the biggest Scrappies on the show for her emotional abuse of her daughters, and openly celebrating the death of a child because he was a Blossom. Then come season 2, and the reveal that she didn't abort her son and had a pseudo affair with FP Jones, and some people almost immediately began singing her praises, even though she remains a constant Alpha Bitch, even in her more pleasant moments, the continued vilifying of Jughead, due to being the son of a Serpent and dating Betty, and Archie, due to blatant and unjustified hatred, as well as the continued abuse towards Betty, no matter how subtle.
Before it was canon, FP and Alice were commonly thought to have romantic history. This was true even when there was no Ship Tease about it, so much that FP/Alice could have been seen as a Crack Pairing.
The vast majority of the fandom agrees that FP and Penny have history thanks to the obvious Foe Yay between the two, her ominous comments about him breaking a promise to her in the past, and his tell-tale line to Jughead: "you don't want to be in bed with a snake charmer."
For the Ho Yay side, a lot of fans also think FP and Fred had some sort of romantic or sexual history.
After Ms. Grundy was Put on a Bus with little about her story getting a proper resolution, some fans suspected she'd be revealed as Sabrina the Teenage Witch in a magical disguise. This was jossed by her murder in Season 2.
Sabrina the Teenage Witch is this in general, with many theories about when she'll be introduced, who would play her, and how she would be portrayed as either good or evil. Impressive, given that the closest thing one has to suggest her appearing at all is the creators floating out the possibility of supernatural elements for Halloween specials.
Evil Is Sexy: This show has a very attractive cast, but a lot of the most alluring characters are also the most morally ambiguous.
Hermione is involved in increasingly shady dealings... and she's also a gorgeous, classy, elegant woman, whom Veronica clearly takes after.
General fandom sentiment towards Hiram seems to be, "He's an awful person, but he sure is nice to look at." Again, it's obvious where Veronica got her beauty from.
Cheryl is a Manipulative Bitch, but she dresses in very fanservicey outfits and seems to be half-flirting with nearly everyone at almost all times.
Betty's "Dark Betty" persona is this for some fans.
"Evil" might be overstating things, given that the Serpents are generally meant to be sympathetic, but Alice embracing her Serpent past generally involves her wardrobe getting tighter and more revealing. The dress she wears to the gala in 2x05 is particularly notable for the reaction it draws in-universe, and the fact that it's her response to being outed as a former Serpent.
Chic may be creepy and gives morethan his fair share of incesty vibes, but many fans point out that he's just so pretty.
For a minor villain, Penny is quite stunning.
Penelope Blossom is one of the most hated villains on the show, and deservedly so, but also very elegant and alluring.
Fandom Rivalry: With... Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog? A lot of this has to do with the fact that the show was getting a major push around the time the comic had went into a second hiatus, especially with the Free Comic Book Day book for Archie being swapped from Sonic to Riverdale. The fact that rumors seem to suggest that Archie would like to focus more on something like this instead of one of their best-selling titles and that nothing had been said of the title's mysterious hiatus during the time the show had been running has infuriated fans. With the title officially cancelled, it remains to be seen if the fans will still hold the show or if they'll hold Archie as a whole accountable.
Fanfic Fuel: In Season Two, Cheryl reveals that in Junior High, she and her best friend Heather had been in love and that her- Cheryls- mother tore it apart due to her homophobia after catching them sleeping in the same bed. This opens to the door to many questions not yet answered in the show. Is Heather is still in Riverdale and if not, where and why and when did she go? If she stayed in Riverdale, how does she feel about Cheryl openly dating Toni now? What kind of relationship does or did or will she have with the other characters in the show? Does she still have feelings for Cheryl? All of which (and more) that fans have delved into in various fanfictions, fan videos, and theories. Especially popular theories are that she was taken to the Sisters of Quiet Mercy for conversion therapy, and that she will return in Season Three as a member of the cult Alice and Polly have joined.
FP had a relationship with Alice and was the father of the baby she gave up for adoption as a teenager. Season Two reveals that this is Canon.
Betty and Veronica are bisexual and into each other, and their relationship will happen at some point or even be endgame; though it has been all but confirmed that this will definitely never be canon. Was popular fanon in the comics as well.
While the theory that Betty and Veronica will get or end up together (and to a lesser extent the idea that Betty is anything other than heterosexual) has lost most of its believers after three seasons, one would be hard pressed to find someone in the fandom who doesnt think that Veronica is bisexual, regardless of ships.
A solid majority of the fandom believed that Cheryl Blossom is a lesbian or bisexual, and that her "unexpected love interest" will be female. It helps that Cheryl is a very flirty and sexual person (like her comics counterpart) who seems to have chemistry or subtext with virtually everyone she interacts with, arguably more so with the girls. Cheryl has now been confirmed to be a lesbian.
Jason Blossom is seen many times in flashbacks, but he has never actually spoken. In an allude to this, it is very common to find fanfic that describes him as taciturn.
It's never been officially confirmed that Cheryl had a crush on Veronica in Season 1, but many people treat it as canon and most agree that it is at least possible.
Cheryl already has quite a bit of this with both Veronica and Betty. In Chapter 2, she even straddles Betty's lap and gives her a makeover. Her interactions with Veronica are even more Les Yay considering that Cheryl views Veronica as her Only Friend and Veronica has become a Living Emotional Crutch for Cheryl.
Some fans see this between Reggie and Jughead, especially with the former's penchant for giving the latter specially tailored insulting nicknames.
Jughead and Veronica have shades of this with their constant bickering and snarky comments at one another. It's downplayed however, because the two aren't really enemies but more like Vitriolic Best Buds. The snarky interactions that Jughead and Veronica share is sometimes interpreted by some fans as Belligerent Sexual Tension between the two.
Similar to Archie and Sweet Pea above, some interpret the cattiness between Betty and Toni as this. It helps that Toni took quite a look at Betty the first time they met, and has stated that she is "more into girls." It intensifies in 2.08 and is practically canon now, case in point the way Toni looks at Betty during the infamous pole dancing scene.
Betty and Black Hood. Good God, Betty and Black Hood. At this point he's pretty much a full-blown Yandere for the poor girl. Doesn't help when he's revealed to be her own father.
Penny Peabody and FP Jones, to the point where most fans agree that they have history.
Penny's obsession with Jughead also comes off this way, and the witty insults they exchange come off as flirtatious at times. Doubles as No Yay considering the age difference between the two characters and the fact that it's implied Penny has history with Jughead's father, though it's less creepy when you consider that Cole Sprouse is 26 and Brit Morgan is only 31, and the weird vibe could be an unintended result of onscreen chemistry.
Archie and Hiram, to the point where some fans even prefer them over Varchie. Doubles as No Yay as well. In particular, there were some weird undertones throughout the wrestling scene in "The Wrestler" and all their interactions in "The Hills Have Eyes." Hiram's obsession with Archie also mirrors the Foe Yay between Jughead and Penny.
Alice and Penelope cannot seem to be in the same room for ten seconds without getting into each other's faces and exchanging insults- they get so heated you'd almost think they were going to kiss. It's even lampshaded in the season one bloopers, with the actresses stepping up to each other and starting to insult each other (as written in the script) before instead giving each other kisses on the cheek.
Reggie and Sweet Pea, particularly in 2.20. Reggie seems to single out Sweet Pea, going out of his way to insult him and get in his personal space, often accompanied with some rather intense eye contact.
Chic and Betty have hints of Foe Yay, especially once it's revealed that they aren't actually related. Mostly (if not entirely) on his side.
Betty and Donna, People will say were in love, indeed.
"Funny Aneurysm" Moment: Throughout Seasons One and Two, Nana Rose is openly hostile and snappy towards Penelope, even repeatedly and very coldly turning down the latters attempts at mutual comfort. Penelopes generalbehavior made all of this seem like comedic Laser-Guided Karma, but after The Reveal in Season Three that Nana Rose and her husband adopted Penelope out of The Sisters of Quiet Mercy as a child with the express purpose of grooming Penelope to become Cliffords sister and later wife, it just comes off as horrifically callous.
Season 2 begins with a blood-soaked Archie driving recklessly as Jughead says it's a miracle he didn't crash. KJ Apa was injured in a car accident while driving home from filming that season, causing some controversy over how hard the young actors were being worked.
Season 2 also begins with Fred fighting for his life and a fantasy sequence where Archie tells him he died before Archie's graduation. Fred pulls through, but his actor Luke Perry passed away the next year, before the characters graduate.
Midway through Season 2, the crew made a big deal about doing an episode about the school putting on a production of the musical adaptation of Carrie. By the time the episode actually came around, America was in the middle of a heated debate about gun control due to the Parkland School Massacre, making it incredibly awkward to see a whole episode devoted to a show about a bunch of high schoolers being killed, and whose opening song has them all saying "Shoot me please."
In the pilot, Cheryl rolls her eyes at Veronica's attempt to get on the team by making out with Betty, saying "faux-lesbian kissing hasn't been taboo since 1994." Come Season 2, and we see how totally wrong Cheryl was about it "no longer being taboo" when we learn that her mother verbally abused Cheryl upon finding her in bed with another girl, causing her to internalize that homophobia and become ashamed of her own sexuality.
In Season 1, Betty's suspicion that her father might have killed Jason is laughed off by Alice who claims that Hal is incapable of killing anyone. Come Season 2, Hal is revealed to be the serial killer known as the Black Hood.
The whole of "Killing Mr. Honey", where the gang fights with their principal in order to have their prom. This episode was filmed prior to the shutdown due to the COVID-19 crisis. Not only was the final episode of the season, but it was done prior to many students in real life learning that they won't be having actual proms.
At the start of the series and throughout most of the first season, KJ Apa was generally regarded as the weakest actor in the cast. Come "A Kiss Before Dying", his performance as Archie trying to deal with his father being shot and him nearly dying was universally agreed by critics and fans to be one of the shows most impressive yet.
Another big moment for him was "The Midnight Club," where he actually seems to transform into a young Luke Perry before your eyes. Cole Sprouse's impression of a young Skeet Ulrich is also quite impressive.
Andre the Black Nerd noted in his review of the sixth episode, "Faster, Pussycats, Kill Kill" that the show, based on what he called the "whitest of all comics", one-upped La La Land by having the man obsessed with saving jazz actually be Black. He viewed it as a Moment of Awesome and said, "Change is coming to Riverdale!"
With Harry Potter having become so popular since the original comics, it's now quite funny to see a romance between characters named Fred and Hermione, plus the latter's daughter sometimes being called Ronnie. Some people who weren't familiar with the comics even assumed those couldn't be their original names.
A certain meme "KILL MS. GRUNDY" considering that is exactly what happens in the season two premiere.
All of the theories and jokes about Cheryl and Jason being in a Twincest relationship are even funnier now after the reveal that Jason's relationship with his actual love interest, Polly- which many fans grossed out by incest cited as a much better alternative ship- is actually incestuous, given that they're cousins.
In episode two of season two, Josie and the Pussycats (minus Valerie, plus Cheryl) sing a cover of "Milkshake" by Kelis. South Park ended up having Kyle, Butters, Cartman, and Kenny singing the same song (even in a similar, slowed down and a capella style). These two episodes aired on the same night!
When it was leaked that Archie and Betty were going to kiss in the mid-season finale, a portion of the fanbase (particularly Bughead shippers) took to calling him out before the episode aired, accusing him of betraying his best friend, seducing poor Betty and disregarding Veronicas feelings (even though she left him at the end of the previous episode). In the actual episode Betty proceeded to kiss him, after he reassured her in a stressful moment, leaving him more stunned than anything else and the episode ended with him getting back together with Ronnie.
The third episode shows Ross Butler being among the jocks who humiliate the girls with the ridiculous points game. In 13 Reasons Why (which he left Riverdale to star in), he's one of the lone jocks to have a Heel Realization.
Before it was revealed in Season 1 that Jason and Polly were third cousins, everyone watching the show had pretty much figured out that they must have been related somehow and that was why their parents (particularly Polly's) were so against them being together and why Hal wanted Polly to have an abortion. The most popular theory was that Hal had had an affair with Penelope, resulting in Jason and Cheryl, making Polly and Jason half-siblings. Though the half-sibling theory ended up being false, Hal and Penelope do eventually get together in Season 2.
Cole Sprouse states that the reason he didn't sing in the musical episode, was he felt it was OOC for Jughead to be singing while everything else was going on. Even saying in an interview "I survived a Disney career without singing"...and yet...
And then he sang in the second musical episode.
Years prior to joining the cast of Riverdale, Vanessa Morgan starred in My Babysitter's a Vampire, which had an episode where the two main characters Benny and Ethan disguise themselves in drag as cheerleaders. Their given fake names? Betty (Ben in a blonde wig) and Veronica (Ethan in a brunette wig).
Fans who ship Jason and Cheryl sometimes refer to them as "Blossoms in the Attic," as a reference to Flowers in the Attic.
Cheryl/Betty/Veronica fans tend to call it "The Love Triangle We Deserve," as a nod to both this triangle being more representation of LGBT women as well as Cheryl being more interesting than Archie for a lot of fans.
Melody/Josie/Valerie (sometimes including Veronica as well) has the ship name of "Poly Pussycats," as a nod to the polyamorous nature of such a ship as well as the name of the band.
Cheryl seems like a stereotypical and unsympathetic Alpha Bitch in the first episode, but her grief over Jason's death as well as her mother's incredibly harsh treatment of her that almost makes Alice Cooper seem like a loving parent, makes it hard not to feel sorry for her. Her moments of genuine empathy as the show progresses makes her increasingly sympathetic with each appearance, especially once it becomes clear that she suffers from some extreme mental issues that are largely being untreated and ignored by everyone around her.
Penelope herself, to a lesser extent. Shes a god awful human being and a worse mother, but it slowly becomes apparent that shes faced a lot of hardship in her life. Losing her clear favorite child at the hands of her own husband, being burned to the point of needing a full body cast for weeks, and its revealed in Season Three that she was an orphan who grew up at the Sisters Of Quiet Mercy- which a horrified Sierra notes has violated just about every humanitarian code- until she was adopted by the Blossoms at age nine, afterwhich she was groomed to become Cliffords eventual wife.
Chuck. He's a misogynistic jerk and bully but he didn't really deserve the torture Veronica and especially Betty (who he did nothing wrong to) put him through (said torture was him being drugged without his consent and waterboarded with maple syrup while being boiled alive in a hot tub). He then got punched out by Jughead when he revealed it to everyone and when he returns to school from his suspension he genuinely wanted to redeem himself and make amends to everyone he hurt (he even apologized to Ethel in person) only for that to be ruined by Cheryl.
A lot of nostalgic Suite Life fans have said they're going to check out the show purely to see Cole Sprouse on the screen again.
After a release of a pic of Betty/Veronica kissing, people said they would watch for actual Betty/Veronica UST, instead of the supposed tension in the comics.
Launcher of a Thousand Ships: While Shipping was inevitable, given this is a CW show based off of the Betty and Veronica trope namer, Archie and especially Veronica stand out as the designated shipping bicycles of the fandom, being paired off with everyone they've interacted with- and even characters they haven't! This can be contributed to their actor's easy and arguably flirtatious chemistry with every other cast member, and Veronica and Archie's tendency to show kindness and empathy towards other characters.
To a lesser extent, Betty as well. She's naturally shipped with Archie, Veronica, Jughead, Cheryl, Kevin, Alice...but with FP and Reggie too (the former is her boyfriend's father and don't really interact much with the latter). And two of the most popular Crack Pairing of the show are her shipped with Sweat Pea and Toni respectively. Somehow she's also been shipped with MCU's Peter Parker.
Like You Would Really Do It: One of the main storylines in season four has been Jughead apparently dying. Nobody bought it for a second, and sure enough, he turned out just fine.
LGBT Fanbase: The show is unique in that it has both a massive following of LGBT men and women- thanks to the bisexual characters of Toni, Fangs, and Moose (and some would argue Veronica), lesbian character Cheryl and gay character Kevin- and a massive amount of criticism from the LGBT community thanks to A) this adaptation making Jughead, who is an aromantic asexual in one of the more recent comics, into a straight character in a relationship with Betty, B) the Betty/Veronica kiss in the pilot, which many lesbian and bisexual women feel was both Queerbaiting and a gross display of using female homosexuality as a sexy thing straight girls do to be exciting, and C) for the same-sex couples receiving much less screentime than the heterosexual couples do, especially with the majority of the scenes between Cheryl and Toni being deleted, to the point where many fans werent even sure if they were a couple.
Miss Grundy seems to have become the fandom's punching bag, relating to the fact that she's The Scrappy. If there's an opportunity to mock her, the fandom will jump on it.
To a lesser extent, Archie. His "football vs. music" dilemma pales in comparison to the murder mystery plotline. Most of the fandom seems to like him just fine, though, even if they do make fun of him.
The Black Hood, due to his embarrassingly terrible success record at his killings, leading people to joke how he's the most incompetent serial killer ever. It's even more humiliating because the vast majority of his targets are unarmed teenagers with no fighting skills.
Hal might as well be the fandom's No Respect Guy due to coming off as hapless and spineless but still being incredibly unlikeable. No wonder so many fans suspected him of being the Black Hood.
Moe: Betty is downright adorable. It isn't long before Ethel reaches this status too.
Mind Game Ship: In Season 4, Jughead and Betty are shipped with Stonewall Prep students Brett and Donna repectively being all involved in a Battle of Wits. The fact there is Foe Yay in each pairings (Jughead/Brett and Betty/Donna) helped.
Penelope is prettyloathsome from the get-go, but she officially crosses this when she sends Cheryl to the Sisters of Quiet Mercy to be put through conversion therpy torture. Not to mention possibly poisoning and attempting to murder Nana Rose earlier in the same episode.
Clifford crossed this when he murdered his own son, just to keep his drug business a secret.
First, his "October Surprise" that he planned to use, revealing the affair between Hermione and her rival, Fred Andrews. Hermione agreed to it because it was believed by both that she would weather the scandal, but Fred, who was campaigning on family values, would be destroyed. Veronica rightfully calls not just Hiram, but also Hermione, because in addition to the damage to his life Fred would suffer, Hermione has been letting herself take the fall for too many of her husband's schemes. Having just been subject to an invasion from the son of Poppa Poutine looking for revenge in Hiram's absence, Veronica puts her foot down and tells him to clean his own mess.
Second, the Ghoulies come to force the Serpents out of Riverdale. Guess who's responsible? Yep, all part of his plan to run them out. Also incredibly boneheaded given the chaos the town has already descended into with the fallout over the Black Hood, and that they're planning on destroying it.
Third, he appoints a clearly vengeful and mentally-unstable Reggie as the leader of the Dark Circle. He then plays on Reggie's distress to manipulate him into trying to kill Fangs, despite Fangs being completely innocent. Later, when Reggie is out on the streets scared and alone and he calls Hiram for help, Hiram bluntly tells Reggie he can't help him and hangs up, and even smirks about it.
As if all that wasn't enough, in "Brave New World", Archie confronts Hiram on all the awful things he's done. Rather than owning up to it or showing any remorse, Hiram responds by taking one of his own crimes (involving murder, no less) and framing Archie for it, ultimately getting him arrested.
Narm Charm: Considering Narm is so prevalent in the show that it got its own examples page, it's inevitable that some fans would find it a key part of the show's appeal.
"The Red Daliah" is especially notable as an incredibly on-the-nose pastiche of film noir cliches and even overt references. But the entire thing is played so dead straight with no attempt to hide what it's doing that it's clear the silliness is part of the point.
The overall reaction to Archie and Miss Grundy having a history (explained more in Squick). This reaction only got worse after it became clear that Miss Grundy is forcing Archie to stay quiet over something involving Jason's death.
Betty's stalker who claims to be the Black Hood. He refers to her as "beautiful," threatens her into dumping her boyfriend and friends because they "don't deserve" her, and is obsessed with convincing Betty that they're the same. It's even grosser if you're a believer in the theory that he's her long lost older brother. Or worse, the theory that he is her father.
The scene at the end of 2.10, which features Chic standing over a sleeping Betty (AKA his long-lost sister) and slowly getting closer while staring at her with a very odd look on his face...YIKES! Complete with the narrative about Betty unknowingly letting "another monster" into her and her family's lives. Only worsened in subsequent episodes, though they also imply a No Yay Oedipal Complex from Chic to Alice.
The juvenile prison warden in season three has a disturbing fascination with watching muscular teenage boys fight one another while only wearing shorts.
Offending the Creator's Own: Many fans (and even some of the cast members, like Vanessa Morgan) have accused the producers of "queerbaiting" for downplaying or diminishing the homosexual romances in favor of the straight ones. Both the executive producers/showrunners, Greg Berlanti and Roberto Aguira-Sacasa, are openly gay men.
After watching the first episode and learning that Mr. Andrews and Mrs. Lodge's names were Fred and Hermione, people assumed those names were taken from Harry Potter. The Archie Comics had Fred Andrews and Hermione Lodge long before J.K. Rowling wrote the first book. Mrs. Lodge has been around since 1942, but wasn't named Hermione till the late 1980s or early 1990s (still several years before Harry Potter debuted). Fred Andrews appeared in the first Archie story in 1941, name intact.
Many people assume that Jughead was always asexual. While the original comics did have him as a "woman hater", he has had love interests including a time traveling descendant of his best friend, and his sexuality has only been confirmed in his reboot solo series.
People were shipping Betty/Archie/Veronica from the promotional material alone. The pilot solidified the shipping, with the three attending the dance together. Admittedly this has always been a popular ship in the Archie comics, and one of the most famous, if not the most famous Love Triangle in American culture.
Jughead: (narrating) To someone on the outside peering in... It would've looked like there were four people in that booth. But I was there. And I can tell you, really, there were only three: A blonde girl... a raven-haired girl... and the luckiest redheaded boy in the universe.
There's also a sizeable fandom for Cheryl/Veronica/Betty and Cheryl/Archie/Veronica.Especially the former being an example of Blonde, Brunette, Redhead and the three female main characters, people often called them "The Powerpuff Girls".
Josie/Veronica/Cheryl is becoming more and more popular.
Cheryl/Betty/Jughead haves a lot of fans as well.
Jughead/Betty/Sweet Pea is surprisingly popular, even though Betty has never really interacted with Sweet Pea. Many fans would rather see this as the show's love triangle than the traditional Archie/Betty/Veronica or the predictable Toni/Jughead/Betty.
Many, many fans support Archie/Betty/Veronica/Jughead as a one true foursome, pointing out the chemistry between each pairing and that it would resolve a lot of drama.
Toni/Cheryl/Veronica gets a lot of fans support, thanks to Toni and Veronica arguably being the two people Cheryl has opened up to the most and the great chemistry between all three of them. Veronica calling Choni her favorite power couple only fueled the fire.
Over the years Betty/Veronica/Cheryl/Toni became a popularity-growing all female foursome.
Portmanteau Couple Name: The Archie fanbase doesn't traditionally use ship names of any sort, but the Riverdale side of the fandom does. Where to start...
Betty/Archie: Barchie, Archetty, Betchie
Archie/Veronica: Varchie or Archieronnie
Cheryl/Toni: Cheroni or Choni or Blopaz
Veronica/Josie: Verosie or Josonica
Veronica/Toni: Tononica, Toronica, Veroni
Betty/Toni: Tonetty, Bettoni, Coopaz
Veronica/Reggie: Veggie, Reggonica
Reggie/Josie: Joseggie, Reggosie, McMantle, Rosie
Jughead/Veronica: Juronica, Jugonica, Jeronica, Vughead, Ronhead, or Ronniehead
Jughead/Toni: Tughead or Jopaz
Jughead/Ethel: Jethel, Ethelhead note This last name is actually used in episode 3.7
Gladys Jones was pretty thoroughly hated because of her abandonment of Jughead in Season 1, but quickly became relatively popular thanks to Gina Gershon's charming performance. It helps that she got revenge on Penny for cutting up Jughead, and may or may not have killed her.
Toni was quite unpopular at first, largely thanks to the Die for Our Ship from Bughead fans. However, she pretty much became an instant fan favourite once she got with Cheryl and thus was no longer perceived as a threat to the Fan-Preferred Couple.
Chuck Clayton in Season 2.
Romantic Plot Tumor: Fans have been complaining that they find the romantic relationships of Bughead and Varchie taking up too much screen time and they would like for the show to focus more on the plot and other characters such as Josie, Cheryl, Kevin and Reggie. Other fans even suggest that the romance is taking up too much screen time that they would prefer if the Core Four (Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead) were all single instead so that they would interact with other characters.
Ron the Death Eater: Downplayed. Whilst Archie is mostly well liked, some fans portray him as selfish and simply toying with numerous girls emotions purely for his own benefit. The reports that he and Betty were going to kiss led to numerous posts exemplifying this. In canon, hes constantly portrayed as a decent, caring and kind-hearted young man who at worst simply has trouble deciding what he wants. Overall, his actual relationships with women amount to one case where he was clearly being groomed, briefly dating Valerie, and then Veronica. However, some make it sound like he cant even walk past a woman without seducing then leaving her.
As noted above, Toni Topaz got this really badly before she even showed up, because of her close dynamic with Jughead. It dies down however when she came out as a woman-preferring bisexual who instead romances Cheryl.
Miss Grundy, due to many in the fandom finding her relationship with Archie to be seriously gross, and the fact that she kept Archie from giving police information about Jason's murder just so their secret relationship wouldn't come out. Given Jughead's disgust in how she treated Archie, as well as the hints that she might have been involved in Jason's death and isn't the real Miss Grundy, this might have been an Intended Audience Reaction.
Chuck Clayton is also well-hated, despite only appearing a few times, due to taking a fairly nice and sweet character, as well as Archie Comics' first black male character, and turning him into a Slut-Shaming jackass. He got better in Season 2
The second season has been less well-received than the first due to the vastly increased amount of Narm, an unnecessary darker tone/character twists, and a lack of cohesion among the main characters.
The third season is hated even more than the second due to amplifying the above issues in addition to having nonsensical plots that don't mix together and make hardly any progress over long periods of time, and the characters arguably getting even more derailed. The only thing that has even been remotely improved has been the characters' sympathetic qualities.
Beronica and Jarchie are very common to see together.
Bughead and Barchie shippers also tend to be fine with the Cheronica shippers.
Cherosie is often seen along with Beronica. The latter with Choni as well.
Barchie and Jeronica shippers get along nicely.
Bizarrely, most people who are fans of Bughead (Betty/Jughead) also tend to be fans of (or at least very friendly to fans of) Falice (FP/Alice).
Both Cherosie and Choni shippers get along with (and might also be) shippers of.... well, any and all ship combination of the Core Four. But particularly so with Bughead fans shipping or at least supporting Choni.
Archie/Jughead, Reggie/Archie, and Jughead/Reggie all seem to get along swell, with a lot of overlapping shippers (that is to say, fans who ship Jarchie might also ship Reghead and so on). Though surprisingly, there isn't much fan support for Jughead/Archie/Reggie as an OT3.
While everyone else found the Hal/Penelope relationship pretty cringey and forced, it was overwhelmingly supported by Falice fans for obvious reasons.
Putting aside the Love Triangle that was maybe the most-known feature of the original comics, there are now the ships of Betty/Veronica, Jughead/Archie, Betty/Jughead, and Veronica/Jughead. Each ship has its moments in the series proper, thus making the wars all the more fiery. Not at all helping is the LGBT aspects of some ships, which can start much fiercer issues.
As of Chapter 22 onwards, there is a serious clash between Archie/Betty shippers and Archie/Veronica shippers. This is to be expected since the love triangle between Archie, Betty, and Veronica is the most iconic, infamous love triangle in modern literature. The ship war about whether Archie should be with Betty or Veronica has been going on for nearly 100 years. According to Word of God, the love triangle between Archie, Betty and Veronica is revived and will become more aggressive in the second half of Season 2.
So Bad, It's Good: Some people joke that this is the only kind of following this show still has. After Season 1 had an interesting murder mystery, the show was hit hard with Seasonal Rot, the plot started derailing itself completely, the Narm factor was turned Up to Eleven, every characterization suffered in some way or another... the show became a total mess in many viewer's eyes, and some are only still here because they can't help but laugh.
Spoiled by the Format: What could have been a highly suspenseful cliffhanger of Cheryl being committed to an insane asylum is ruined because it was already announced months earlier that she'll be starring in the high school's production of Carrie just two episodes later, meaning she'll inevitably get out in just the next episode. That is until one sees Cheryl's new pigtails and realizes that this might be a homage to Sucker Punch.
Despite the fact that Miss Grundy is considerably aged down, a lot of fans have had this reaction to learning that she and Archie have had a sexual relationship. She may only be around thirty, but she's still an adult while Archie is a teen and she's his teacher. Robot Chickenpractically made fun of this with a sketch involving an "unaired pilot" where Miss Grundy wasn'taged down.
Cheryl's vaguely Twincestuous comments about Jason qualify. He was your soulmate, huh?
Gets overtly lampshaded by Veronica in episode 10, who calls Cheryl out on it during her and Chuck's public shaming session. Suspiciously, Cheryl doesn't say anything to deny it, and in fact sheds a tear.
All of this is debunked by Madelaine Petsch's commentary on the subject. The cast played along as a joke, willingly throwing Veronica's twincest joke in, and didn't expect the fans to take it seriously. They all acknowledge that their relationship is a lot... closer than that of most siblings/twins, but Petsch explains it's because Jason was the first and only person who ever genuinely cared about Cheryl. He was a mother, a father, a brother, and a best friend. "He was her person."
The Incest Subtext that comes forward when Penelope mentions how much Archie reminds her of Jason, while caressing his face in an intimate manner!
Cheryl going to the Andrews household and telling Fred Andrews that he was looking "DILF-y" especially in light of how she would try to get romantic with Archie later on.
Near the end of Season 1 it's revealed that the Cooper family is actually a branch of the Blossoms that cut off all connection and changed their name after a Cain and Abel situation. This means Jason and Polly's baby is the product of incest, and in case that's not enough, the Blossom parents are perfectly fine with this due to a Targaryen-esque desire to keep their bloodline pure. This of course also brings up the question of whether there's any more of this in the family's history.
Added by the fact that Cliff, and to an extent Penelope, pushes Archie to date Cheryl after it's been implied by more than one Blossom how much Archie looks like Jason.
To be fair, the line "nothing could be purer Blossom" implies that third cousins is about as far as even Penelope and Clifford would go re: incest. As Cliff himself points out, it's also a Values Dissonance thing in that there are plenty of people in the world who wouldn't see such a tenuous relation as anything big, especially since neither Jason nor Polly knew about it or had reason to suspect. Of course, a family history of incest would help explain how their red hair (a recessive gene) can be such a consistent family trait.
Cheryl giving away a raw pig heart to express her love for her crush Josie in Season 2.
Strangled by the Red String: A solid portion of the audience think that the current canon romantic relationships on the show, which are Jughead/Betty (Bughead) and Archie/Veronica (Varchie), happened too fast and without any proper build up to their relationships. There's been complaints in the fandom about Bughead's relationship in particular and how they don't buy their love for each other because there wasn't enough build up to their relationship. They argue that their relationship happened out of nowhere, especially after Betty spent so many years pining after Archie since childhood and finally confessing how she felt about him in Chapter 1. A few episodes after Betty tells Archie she loves him and he rejects her, Betty is already moving on and is kissing Jughead in Chapter 6. Fans wish that Bughead's relationship would have taken the entirety of Season 1 to develop a proper relationship or feelings for each other, instead of five or six episodes in Season 1 where they were already kissing. Because Bughead happened so fast, fans complain that their relationship doesn't feel "organic" and instead, feels forced and contrived. There are similar complaints about Archie/Veronica's relationship being rushed and forced as well. However, at least in their case, Archie and Veronica were shown to be mutually attracted to each other and had a romantic interest in each other from the start, whereas Jughead/Betty didn't show any hints of romantic attraction until Chapter 5 or 6. Therefore, it made it easier for some of the fans to buy into Archie/Veronica's relationship much better than the former, which is Bughead. There are plenty of complaints about Archie/Veronica not having any chemistry however, but that's another reason why Archie and Veronica's relationship gets criticism.
The shockingly violent and utterly gratuitous murder of Ms. Grundy at the end of the Season 2 premiere. The scene also takes the time to confirm she's a serial sexual predator who never cared about Archie.
One of the primary reasons the Ms. Grundy character in this show pisses people off — besides theobvious — is because she's nothing like her counterpart in the comics. Many fans who read the comics have expressed that they would've preferred to see the elderly, sarcastic, hotheaded Ms. Grundy to the one we got. A few episodes in, she's revealed to be an imposter... but the problem persists as the real Grundy is long dead.
Dilton Doily was changed from an adorkable man of science to a crazy survivalist.
Chuck Clayton went from a fan-favourite due to being the first male African-American character in Archie comics, as well as a Nice Guy and aspiring comic book artist, to a womanizing and Slut-Shaming jerk, and a lot of his fans are not happy about this. On the upside, when he reappears in 2x07 he is shown to be trying to redeem himself and seems very genuine about it.
Reggie. Originally a core character in the comics demoted to a recurring character who does very little in the show despite the fact that there are times where he could've been used no problem, such as episode 8 where Archie gathers a group to help Fred with his construction site, or as the Jerk Jock Chuck has been turned into. However, this is more due to Ross Butler having scheduling conflicts with 13 Reasons Why than an intentional decision by the writers, so there is the possibility of Reggie having more screentime in future seasons.
In the season two premiere, Cheryl takes complete control and power over her mother, calling her out on the abuse and warning her that things will be very different now. While Penelope spends an episode or two after that remaining silent while Cheryl does the talking, within a few episodes the same abusive dynamic has been established as if it had never been gone, and Cheryl is back under her mother's thumb.
Early in the season, Betty blackmails Cheryl into giving a false testimony at FP's hearing as part of the attempt to get him off. This issue has not been addressed since, and no one has been shown or mentioned to get any repercussions.
Many fans expressed (and still express) disappointment that season two largely drops the friendship that had been developing between Veronica and Cheryl in season one. While there are one or two episodes that delve into their relationship, the lack of interaction between them can be pretty jarring when one considers that season one ended with Veronica being the only person Cheryl said goodbye to before attempting suicide.
Black Girl Nerds praised aspects of the show but criticized it for not "embracing the social and political" and being "too ignorant to consider the implications behind the only black guy in Riverdale being predatory toward a bunch of white girls and a light-skinned Latina."
Monique Jones wrote a long article for Just Add Color taking the show to task for its handling of Chuck, wondering if no one in production questioned whether Betty binding and torturing a young black man and calling him "boy" was really a good idea.
Cheryl in "Nighthawks." Sure, she hasn't exactly been a nice character so far (and is clearly outright unhinged to some degree), but it's hard to not feel some degree of sympathy for her when Betty drags her into the scheme to get FP off. Especially when Betty blackmails her.
Chuck in season one. While he was definitely guilty of being a misogynistic bully, the show presenting him as being deserving of being drugged without his consent, boiled alive, and waterboarded with maple syrup by Betty (who he had never actually done anything to) as well as sucker-punched by Jughead for publicly revealing this, is more than a little hard to swallow.
Betty keeping a journal filled with the details about Archie's relationship with their music teacher, which would obviously been found by her overbearing mother at one point or another. This is intelligence 101, Betty, don't leave a paper trail, someone who had been so good with investigation up until that point was really stupid to let sensitive information so easily accessible by anyone who has access to her room. Let alone the fact she kept Gurdy's gun in her drawer, when she knows her mother is the one to put her clothes in said drawer and would find it sooner or later.
Archie going to a bar crawling with Southside Serpents and then accusing a random Serpent of beating up Moose wasn't exactly the smartest thing he's done in the show so far, especially since that Serpent came close to clobbering him after Archie pushed his luck too far.
Archie is drawn over by the Blossoms' offer of helping him get into music school, enough that he's willing to put his own relationship with Valerie in danger. She's okay with him visiting Cheryl once, but twice is going too far.
Betty is told by Jughead's best friend since childhood, Jughead's dad, and even Jughead himself that Jughead hates his birthday and hates parties, ipso facto: it's a bad idea to throw him a surprise birthday party. Betty keeps insisting on throwing one anyway, and is completely flabbergasted that Jughead isn't happy.
Jughead, having already been warned by his dad not to trust Penny Peabody, takes her at her word when she tells him that his dad has been attacked while in jail, to incentivize him to raise the money to pay for his legal fees and agree to help Penny transport drugs. Natch, she was lying and now has blackmail material on him after filming his involvement.
What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: The show has received some criticism because it's not kid-friendly like most other Archie Comics media. The first episode alone features Jason Blossom murdered and Archie having a sexual relationship with Ms. Grundy (who has been aged down significantly). The series is much Hotter and Sexier and Darker and Edgier than the normal Archie fare (unsurprising considering one of the writers is from the Zombie Apocalypse spinoff Afterlife with Archie). To be fair, the comics themselves have become more adult-oriented in recent years as well.
Win the Crowd: Before it officially aired, the series was under threat of being Overshadowed by Controversy. The trailers and promotional images led many to believe it would be a dark and gritty drama not unlike The Fosters or Degrassi. That, coupled with it being based on a family-friendly comic series that started in the 1940's, put many people off. However, come the first two episodes or so, the majority of viewers have admitted that it's not nearly as bad as they assumed it would be. It's a murder-mystery, yes, but it also has a cast of likable characters and uplifting moments to go with it.
Betty has low self-esteem and an emotionally abusive mother, her sister suffered a nervous breakdown and is currently in a group home, and she seems to be struggling with mental issues herself. Add in her angst over Archie not liking her the way she likes him and the bullying she gets from Cheryl, including the comments she keeps making about her sister Polly, Betty is far from okay.
Jughead, at the start of the show, has lost most of his friends after falling out with Archie (with it implied Archie said some pretty mean things to him), leaving him a lonely introvert bullied by Reggie. While things fortunately get better when he and Archie repair their relationship and he starts hanging out with Betty again, it's eventually revealed that he's been homeless for an indeterminate period of time and when the drive-in theater he was staying in closed he started living in a cupboard under the stairs at the high school. His father is an unemployed alcoholic and gang member who has been and in out of jail, and his mom and little sister left. Then, Sheriff Keller accuses him of being Jason's killer. And it gets worse after his father is arrested.
Polly Cooper, Betty's sister. She was forced by her parents to go to a youth home/convent because of what Alice and Hal insist was a severe mental breakdown, her parents keep her beloved sister away from her by saying Betty doesn't want to see her (and keeping Betty in the dark as to where Polly is), her boyfriend is dead - a fact her parents kept from her, and she's pregnant with Jason Blossom's child. Both Polly and Betty seem to be on the receiving ends of some major gaslighting. And to top it off, she has it abruptly sprung on her that she and Jason were actually blood relatives, to which she understandably looks like she's about to throw up while completely unnoticed by either family due to the massive argument they're having.
Kevin, as of Season 2, reveals that he's been emotionally lost ever since Joaquin left town and Moose is stringing him along, even going so far as to cruise random men while in the woods in a bid to find some kind of companionship. When Betty tries to ask him to quit it out of concern for his safety (both due to the dangers of anonymous sex and because of The Black Hood prowling around and murdering people in that area), he instead calls her out and reveals that, inwardly, he's a lonely gay teenager in a small town, and that she can't possibly relate to his problems due to her own sexuality. He also calls her out for always asking his advice regarding Archie, but never reciprocating the sentiment about his relationships. When Betty finally tells Sheriff Keller about what Kevin has been up to, he confronts Kevin, and the kid breaks down in his arms. Even further than that, Betty's well-meaning but misguided attempts to protect him have briefly ruined their friendship.
Archie as of the end of Season 1 and throughout Season 2. After seeing his father Fred being unexpectedly shot by the Black Hood, he began suffering from an obvious-but-untreated case of PTSD. As a result, he starts to emotionally spiral out of control and become a much angrier, aggressive and darker person, who no one save Veronica give any constructive support. After they take the Black Hood down, he's then roped into an apparent FBI sting that ends up being the Lodges' manipulative attempt to bring him into the fold to ensure their daughter's boyfriend can be trusted, which eventually results in damaging his relationships with everyone outside the Lodge family. And then he loses his father.
Nana Rose Blossom, who might be the only completely decent living member of the family left, is a very under-stated example. Because of her lack of lucidity, inability to walk, and half-blindness, she was unable to protect her grandchildren from the abuse they suffered from Clifford and Penelope, with her initial attempt to help Jason and Polly only resulting in getting Jason killed. In season 2, Penelope and 'Claudius' launch a plan to get her and Cheryl out of the way of their inheritance, meaning she's no longer safe in her own home or from her own son and daughter-in-law.