Riverdale, the CW's breakout teen drama of 2016 reimagines the beloved Archie Comics world as a dark eerie universe where around every corner is a new mystery. But while the events of the series may be a puzzle, a lot of what goes on behind the scenes is not. With fans following every move the cast makes on social media, we're constantly clued in to the goings on of our favorite gang of teenagers. Still, we've discovered a few things you may not have known. Heads up—there are spoilers ahead. You've been warned.
Famous for his flaming red locks, KJ Apa apparently has a brutal time getting the shocking color. To achieve and maintain the color during filming, Apa has to go to the hair salon bi-weekly for touch-ups on the shade, even to his eyebrows. He told Vulture, "It was really painful the first and the second time I got it done because they do my eyebrows as well. They ended up bleaching my eyebrows, and I had two holes—they burnt into my skin." Yiiiiikes.
In the show's first season, fans learned Cheryl Blossom could always be found by the water. However, Petsch's scary past involving boats made for an uncomfortable and anxiety-inducing filming experience. Petsch told Glamour, "Yeah, 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."
She'd been under the impression she'd have a stunt double in her opening scene where Cheryl is on a boat, but that turned out not be the case. Petsch had a panic attack before filming began, but "once we started shooting, I was fine."
In his Reddit AMA, Cole Sprouse revealed that even the costumes on Riverdale have hidden meanings. Basically, in the early-20th century, factory workers who wanted to keep the brims of their hats (typically fedoras) out of their eyes flipped them inside-out and trimmed the brim off. Never to be wasteful, these workers typically passed the hats onto their children, and those children wore the modified hats with pride. "The cap will always stand for a kind of nonconformist, working class symbol," Sprouse added in his AMA. Kinda like Jughead, right?
Even the parents of Riverdale were teen stars! Molly Ringwald, star of the 80s John Hughes movies such as The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles, plays Archie's mom, and Luke Perry of Beverly Hills, 90210 fame is Archie's dad. Jughead’s dad is played by, from Scream and The Craft, so being spooky is kind of his thing.
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is both the showrunner for Riverdale and also works as the Chief Creative Officer for Archie Comics. The Riverdale universe is allegedly jumping from the screen back to the page, with—rumor has it—Jughead himself, Cole Sprouse, in talks to pen a few issues of the comic book.
In the original stages, showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa imagined Riverdale as a movie, and pitched the film to studios. Producers didn't bite on the concept as a film, but they loved the characrers enough for Aguirre-Sacasa to take Riverdale the television route. Maybe Josie and the Pussycats are better suited for the big screen?
Makeup has a multitude of uses–to emphasize one's beauty and hide flaws. And sometimes it can be used to help the audience get a gauge on a character's personality. Veronica's darker brown and purple lip colors reflect her darker nature, while Betty sports a dainty and feminine pink lip color...unless it's Dark Betty, who loves a blood red lipstick. In a video behind the scenes for CoverGirl, Madelaine Petsch explains the thinking behind Cheryl Blossom's signature red lip: "Red is the color of sass and fire, so when I put red lipstick on as Cheryl, it's instantly done. It's gotta be the lips."
Sure, the one used in Riverdale is a replica—a replica so realistic a group of truck drivers once pulled into it looking for some food—but the look and feel of Pop’s Chock’Lit Shoppe is inspired by Rocko's Diner, an eatery in Mission, British Columbia. You'll also recognize it from Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief.
Originally asked to audition for the leading role of Archie, Cole Sprouse had his employability in mind when he asked to read for the role of Jughead. After discovering that Jughead is the series' narrator, Sprouse realized that there's no way the narrator could be killed off, and that was why he hoped to play Jughead in the end. He had also just binge-watched The Twilght Zone, hence Jughead's Rod Serling-esque narration.
Cole Sprouse confirmed that Riverdale doesn't exist in any specifically defined time period in his Reddit AMA after fans expressed confusion by the old cars and 1950s styling alongside modern technology. "Riverdale has no formal or announced time period as of now," Sprouse . "And with the amount of money we dedicate to atmospheric fog, the setting is supposed to feel dream-like."
The dramatic first season finale results in Archie injuring his hand trying to crack open a sheet of ice and save Cheryl Blossom from drowning. Real life, was brutal, too: KJ Apa wound up being so immersed in the scene he actually broke his hand—and showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa predicted the entire event. Talking to Comicbook.com, Aguirre-Sacasa shares the saga: "In a weird way, and I told this to KJ, the second we knew that Archie was going to be punching through ice, I literally said, 'Now guys, KJ is such a committed actor, he's so method, he's so in this character and passionate, you have to make sure he doesn't hurt this hand.' So when at the end of that day I got a phone call that KJ had maybe broken his hand, I was like 'Yup.'"
It's clear from first look that Riverdale is a teen dramedy surrounded by deep cultural references that inform the show's universe. Every episode is titled after a film, show, or a novel that inspired the series, and they make heavily pointed references to those inspirations in the show itself. The entirety of the film noir genre is a main inspiration, but also David Lynch's Twin Peaks and Blue Velvet, and teen dramas Stand By Me and Brick.
In the later Archie Comics, Jughead came out as asexual, and Cole Sprouse had hoped that storyline would be extended to the Riverdale universe. No such luck, unfortunately. Sprouse told Glamour, "I think, in this show, he's not a romantic and not asexual. 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. They end up forming this kind of beautiful, honest union, and I think that, to me, is a narrative that works with this universe of Jughead. But I think that kind of asexual and aromantic representation is really important."
Sprouse doesn't mind the questions, though. In his Reddit AMA he said he even welcomes them: "I continue to hope this question is asked, over and over, it will only increase visibility," Sprouse said. "Yes, I'm still a big proponent of this representation, and it needs to be done correctly."
Apa thinks Archie and Betty are endgame simply because they're the most famous couple, even though both characters are involved in other romances. He told Vulture, "I think it's so iconic and everyone kind of wants that. If there was any relationship that I would ship for, it would be Archie and Betty, which is kind of a classic, iconic relationship." However, Camila Mendes thinks Veronica is better for Archie.
We all know and love Cheryl Blossom, an actual queen–but Madelaine Petsch almost missed out on the role. She was originally called in to audition for Betty, but upon arrival, found out she was being asked to read for a secret role, who eventually turned out to be Cheryl. We're all thankful for that.
Despite appearing in almost every single episode of the first season and being the catalyst for the series itself, Jason Blossom (Trevor Stines) does not speak. Whatsoever. Not even in flashbacks. It's very eerie.
Fans have a theory the show is going to start featuring zombies. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, who is the showrunner of Riverdale, Chief Creative Officer of Archie Comics, and creator of zombie-themed comic series Afterlife With Archie, has yet to rule out the entire notion. He even originally pitching the series as a more supernatural show before deciding the teen murder-mystery genre was a better fit. Considering Aguirre-Sacasa also created the new show The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, which takes place in Greendale (on the other side of the Sweetwater River from Riverdale, according to Aguirre-Sacasa), we may see this fan theory become more of a reality than expected. Don't you just love being right?
The number 75 shows up over and over again on Riverdale. On a show about a mystery, everything is a clue—why wouldn't the number 75 be? The town is constantly in celebration of its 75th anniversary, but that number wasn't pulled out of a hat. The first season's production also fell in the same year that Archie Comics was commemorating the 75th anniversary of Archibald “Archie” Andrews' first appearance in the 22nd issue of Pep comics in 1941. Riverdale being known as the town of Pep make a lot more sense now, right?
Several different endings to the penultimate episode of the first season were filmed, so there are multiple murderers of Jason Blossom in the archive somewhere. Why? Because the production staff was fearful of the story getting out.
According to Buzzfeed, the opening shots of the town of Riverdale in the show's opening credits are also the opening shots of Pretty Little Liars' Rosewood, Gilmore Girls' Stars Hollow, and Hart of Dixie's Bluebell. The photo used is a stock photo shot and has been used since the 1980s.