- Riverdale -What If 'Riverdale' Is Just In Jughead's Head?
You know how some things just live in your mind rent free? For me, it's the ending of St. Elsewhere, a medical drama that aired on NBC from 1982 to 1988. Despite all 137 episodes of the series being about the lives of the medical workers at the titular hospital, the final episode pulls the rug out from under its audience by doing something profoundly insane. In its last moments, the show reveals that the entire series only existed in the mind of a boy named Tommy Westphall, who has been staring at a snowglobe of St. Elsewhere and imagining the drama that took place there.
If St. Elsewhere can do it, well, then any show can do it — and there's something particularly fun about imagining whether certain shows are actually just figments of a certain character's imagination. (Yes, technically, all shows are made up, because all shows are written by writers and not happening in real life, but... you get it.)
That's why I'm convinced that Riverdale is actually just taking place in the imagination of Jughead Jones.
Whether or not Riverdale has a St. Elsewhere-adjacent ending, there's a surprising amount of evidence to support this theory. Here are just a few reasons why we should take this interpretation of The CW seriously.
Jughead Is A Writer
Jughead is barely in the first episode of Riverdale — instead, he's narrating the action while moodily typing away at Pop's Diner.
Jughead starts writing a book after the death of Jason Blossom, which, as he puts it, is perhaps the most exciting, if tragic, thing to happen to the town of Riverdale in years. It's only after Jason's death that the town reveals its seedy underbelly, and Jughead becomes the person who can untangle the town's many mysteries.
Except, what if Jughead isn't writing about what happened in the real town of Riverdale, but an alternate version of his boring town?
We know that Jughead has a wild imagination — he's a writer — and that, up until Jason's death, life was quiet, boring, and free of serial killers and murderous boardgames. Perhaps Jughead decided that his novel shouldn't be about what happened to him in Riverdale, but what could, if life wasn't so rosy all the time. Instead of merely living a blah existence, Jughead imagined what it would be like to be the hero of an exciting story, full of danger and suspense, romance and heroism.
That leads us to the fact that...
Riverdale Is Totally Different From The Town In The Comics
Riverdale was created as a gritty spin on the classic comics. However, it makes a lot of sense that someone living in the often saccharine world of Archie Comics would want to imagine how things could be if life was a little darker. Maybe Jughead wanted to safely explore what it would be like if he lived in a world filled with gangs, murderers, and the occasional cult. Considering that Jughead always ends up victorious over the worse things Riverdale throws at him, it's possible!
Jughead And Betty Are In Love
Jughead and Betty are strictly friends in the comics, while Archie is constantly trying to decide whether he wants to date her or Veronica. If Jughead is writing Riverdale into existence, maybe he wanted to make things a little easier for his BFF and put him with Betty so that Archie and Veronica could ride off into the sunset.
Jughead Is The Hero Of The Story
Sorry, Archie, but everyone knows that Riverdale is Jughead's show. Not only is he the narrator, but he's also the one who is actively handling things while Archie is off boxing a bear. (OK, not exactly how it went down, but you get it.)
Jughead was at the forefront of solving Jason's murder. He put together the Gryphons and Gargoyles mystery, and figured out what the hell was happening with the weird literary murder cult at Stonewall Prep. If I had to place money on it, I bet it's Jughead who figures out who the Voyeur is, too.
If you were writing a story about your town, wouldn't you make yourself the main character?
The Stonewall Prep Storyline Could Be A Clue
Speaking of the whole Stonewall Prep thing... let's dive a little deeper, shall we?
In Season 4, Jughead heads to a boarding school where he's thrown into a classroom with a bunch of wannabe authors. Their names are all plays on real writers, such as Bret Weston Wallace, a twist on American Psycho writer Bret Easton Ellis. Jughead is not named after a writer — but what if that's because, in the real world, Jughead Jones is actually a twist on whatever the "real" Jughead's name is? Maybe Jughead is a character created by an established author named Jarhead Smith.
Jughead Already Wrote A Story That Played Out Just Like Riverdale
In the Season 4 finale "Killing Mr. Honey," Jughead writes a story about how he and his friends accidentally killed their annoying principal Mr. Honey. The murder didn't play out in real life, but in the episode, the fictionalized scenes played out just like a normal episode of Riverdale would — if you didn't know that it was all inside Jughead's mind, well, you'd just assume this was your regularly scheduled programming. Could this be a clue that the entire show is actually inside Jughead's head? After all... how could we tell if it was?
Jughead Has Survived A Lot Of Near Death Experiences
Okay, so technically, this isn't a huge piece of evidence, as lots of people narrowly escape death on Riverdale. (And by lots of people I mean, most of the time, it's Archie. He did box that bear.) However, it's worth noting that Jughead didn't die even when the Stonewall Prep kids planned his perfect murder. He also survived an attack from the Ghoulies (this show and its gangs!!!) and Penny Peabody.
You know who can't die midway through a story? The author.
We Won't Know Until The Final Episode, So Really, It Can Happen!
Think of it like the Schrödinger's cat of TV theories. We won't know for sure if this is canon until the finale episode, when all could potentially be revealed. Until the very last episode airs, every possible ending, including that Riverdale is just a novel written by Jughead and not actually an account of his insane life, is valid.
And if Riverdale does end with Jughead gazing into a snow globe, well, you heard it here first.