- Riverdale -Investigating The @Fish Instagram Tag On 'Riverdale' Creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa's Photos
Riverdale has done a lot of wild stuff in the past. From Archie's bear attack, to Betty's serial killer gene, to Veronica's insistence on calling her father "Daddy," the show has always been full of questionable plot points. But nothing — not the Gargoyle King or the Five Seasons — has stumped me more than the curious case of Riverdale creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa's @fish Instagram tags.
For years now, Aguirre-Sacasa has been tagging the mysterious and anonymous account @fish in various Riverdale posts, as well as the occasional Chilling Adventures of Sabrina tease. I'm putting CAOS tags aside for this story because I don't want to descend any further into madness, and also because, on a whole, the @fish tag is much more prevalent in Riverdale posts.
When contacted by The Dipp, Aguirre-Sacasa had no comment on the @fish tags, which means it's time to put my hair in a Betty Cooper ponytail and put my reporting cap on: we're going full investigation mode.
So, what is the @fish account? It's exactly what you'd expect: they post photos of fish at random, giving them funny little captions like this starfish from Aug. 27, 2020, captioned, "Is a starfish really a starfish? Or is it just a really talented fish?" The account doesn't appear to have any connection to Aguirre-Sacasa — it doesn't even follow him back. The Dipp reached out to the account via email and DM, but did not receive a response. So, the mystery stands: what's with the @fish tags?
When A Fish Is Just A Fish
The whole thing actually started two years ago, Macy Jones, who runs the popular Riverdale fandom account @nocontextrvd, tells me over DM. "The first time I remember him tagging the fish was [Season 2] Episode 19 when he posted a screencap of Alice and FP hugging at the trailer," she says when I ask for her thoughts on the @fish account. And she's right. In a post teasing the Season 2 episode "Chapter Thirty-Two: Prisoners" shared on April 24, 2018, Aguirre-Sacasa tagged @fish on a mounted fish on the wall.
Jones added, "It's become a running joke to tag fish." She might be right. It could just be an inside joke. Over a year later, in August of 2019, the official Twitter account for the Riverdale writer's room made a point to highlight that same mounted fish's appearance in the trailer for Season 3. As star Lili Reinhart confirmed in a response to the tweet, the mounted fish had moved from the trailer to the "ex-cooper/Jones house. Right above the phone on the wall."
Some of the other @fish tags are in line with this interpretation, mostly those where Aguirre-Sacasa tagged @fish in ways that correspond to what's actually in the photo. For example, in September of 2018, when he shared a photo from the Season 3 premiere shared in September of 2018, tagging @fish on a pool. And more recently, on Nov. 24, when he shared a Riverdale Season 5 poster, tagging @fish on what looks like Sweetwater River.
I can see how tagging @fish on various bodies of water in Riverdale is a joke, but what about those other, more mysterious tags, when @fish is simply floating in the middle of nowhere? What does it mean?
Aguirre-Scasa has been known to tag random things on his Instagram without rhyme or reason. Like in March of 2019, when he posted a photo of Jughead and Betty at a party with balloons in the background and tagged the balloons @PartyCity. Or this post of Jughead in bed, also shared in 2019, the showrunner tagged the sheets "Bed Bath and Beyond." (In that same post he also tagged the television @fish" which is only serving to confuse me even more.) These random tags, however, have mostly been one and done, never to be seen again. But the @fish tag is persistent, popping up frequently and randomly on Aguirre-Sacasa's page, and fans have taken note. Why has @fish outlasted any other random tags?
It's possible that, in addition to being an inside joke among the Riverdale crew, the @fish tag could be hinting at something. But what?
The Case Of The Riverdale Fish Emoji
Searching for any potential meaning of "fish" in Riverdale is difficult, but a Twitter search yielded one surprising clue. In May of 2018, Aguirre-Sacasa used the fish emoji to tease Season 3 of Riverdale. It took almost a whole year for fans to learn what the fish was connected to. In Season 3 episode 17, "Chapter Fifty-Two: The Raid" aired, Hermione found two dead fish in her Mayor's office — a classic mob threat. It was later revealed that Veronica had sent her mother the fish in a last-ditch attempt at keeping her parents together.
So, a fish has played an important role in the Riverdale plot. But that was two seasons ago, and the showrunner has continued to tag @fish over and over again throughout 2019 and 2020. Still, maybe the Season 3 fish is a clue as to how Aguirre-Sacasa's brain works re: the fish tag. The message in the episode is clearly that Hermione will be "sleeping with the fishes," so perhaps the fish tags have to do with other fish sayings or phrases that give clues about the plot.
A Red Herring
Assuming the @fish tag actually has a greater meaning, and it's not just tied to Season 3 of the show, it could be hinting at what's coming up or happening in the scene tagged. Looking at fish phrases and idioms, it's hard to tell what, exactly, the showrunner is telling us with these constant tags. Especially since, at any given moment in Riverdale, a character can be "drinking like a fish" while looking for "other fish in the sea" and stopping a mass murderer. Seriously, a lot of the fish sayings — "big fish in a small pond," "fish out of water," a "big fish" — are all things that could relate to pretty much every Riverdale episode.
But then there's "red herring." The phrase, which quite literally refers to a fish, is commonly used in stories to signify a misdirection. Like when Riverdale declared that Jughead Jones had died, or when Archie and Betty started dating in Season 4. Those were both red herrings. Perhaps the @fish tag is actually just a red herring, meant to send fans like me into a tailspin of conspiracy theories and analysis that will all in despair and confusion.
A CAOS Connection
The most tangible connection between anything named "fish" and Riverdale appears to be artist Veronica Fish. Fish and her husband Andy Fish draw Archie comics, specifically Sabrina The Teenage Witch. Could this be a very discreet shoutout? Seems unlikely, as they both have their own personal Instagram accounts the showrunner could link to, and neither of them appear to follow @fish.
So, where does that leave us? Well, the most likely scenario is obviously that @fish is a Riverdale serial killer, taunting fans through Aguirre-Sacasa's Insta. Or he's just fucking with us. Maybe this is one Riverdale mystery that just can't be solved.
Image: Katie Yu/The CW