Riverdale has had some truly crazy episodes over the years, but the series finale will go down as one of the show’s best. The finale episode begins 67 years later with an elderly Betty, who is now 86. She’s resting at her granddaughter’s house and reminiscing after reading Jughead’s obituary.
She tells her granddaughter, Alice, that she had such “marvelous adventures” with her friends. Now she’s the last one left alive. She wants to go back to Riverdale one last time before she dies.
In the night, Jughead’s ghost appears. He’s arrived to make her wish come true. He can take her back to when they were truly living. Betty wants to go back to a day she missed, the day everyone got their yearbooks. She had the mumps and missed school that day.
Betty Returns To The Past
In the past, Archie (KJ Apa) finally talks to his mom (Molly Ringwald) about leaving town to go and build highways. He says it’s only for 3 months, but his mom knows that won’t be the case. She gives her blessing for him to go off and discover the world and himself. After Archie leaves, Mrs. Andrews buys her dress shop and lives happily ever after with a woman named Brooke.
Betty (Lili Reinhart) immediately gets emotional seeing her mother and sister again. Jughead (Cole Sprouse) explains that Alice (Mädchen Amick) became a hero as a stewardess when she took control of a plane and safely landed it. One of the passengers takes her to dinner after her heroic actions, and they later marry. Polly (Tiera Skovbye) gives birth to her twins, Juniper and Dagwood.
Betty arrives at Riverdale High for the last day of high school. She crosses paths with Fangs (Drew Ray Tanner), who is excited about going on tour. Jughead reveals to Betty that Fangs dies 4 weeks later in a bus crash. He is the first member of the Riverdale crew to pass away. Thankfully, Midge (Emilija Baranac) and their daughter are taken care of for the rest of their lives because of his hit single.
As for Kevin (Casey Cott) and Clay (Karl Walcott), they became roommates in Harlem. Clay attends Columbia, while Kevin goes to NYU. Clay becomes a tenured professor at Columbia, while Kevin starts an Off-Broadway theater company. Kevin dies in his sleep at 82, and Clay passes away just weeks later.
Betty meets with Reggie (Charles Melton) in the gym and confesses all about her secret quad with Archie, Veronica (Camila Mendes), and Jughead. Reggie is so mad he wasn’t invited to be a part of this romance square. When it comes to Reggie’s future, he ends up getting drafted by the Lakers and later becomes a coach at Riverdale High.
What Happens To Veronica & Archie?
At The Babylonium, Veronica reveals to Betty that she’s going back to Los Angeles. She wants to produce movies and run a studio someday. While she’ll miss Veronica, Betty feels that this move is the “most right” for Veronica. Veronica tells Betty, “Doesn’t matter how far away we are, we will always be in each other’s lives. I promise.”
Veronica starts out as an assistant at Silver Shield Studios. Within a few years, she’s running the place. Over the course of her career, she won 2 Oscars and produced some of the most iconic movies. After her death, Veronica is buried in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Betty cries as she recalls visiting Veronica’s grave. She wishes that she’d kept in better with Veronica and everyone else after high school.
Toni (Vanessa Morgan) and Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) get their happy ending. Cheryl has an incredible career as a painter. She moves out west with Toni. They wind up in Oakland Hills and became artists and activists. They have a son named Dale, named after Riverdale. Dale is played by Vanessa’s real-life son.
Julian (Nicholas Barasch) dies while serving in Vietnam. Frank Andrews (Ryan Robbins) and Tom Keller (Martin Cummins) are murdered by a hustler named… Chic!
Archie and Jughead don’t take Veronica’s Los Angeles news well. Betty wants them to look on the bright side. Tonight is about appreciating their experiences. “Meeting you was the best thing that could have possibly happened to me. Heartbreaks and all,” Betty says to the three of them.
Upon arriving at Thornhill, Betty doesn’t want to go inside. She knows this is the last time they’re all together. She thinks experiencing this moment will be too painful. She doesn’t want to say goodbye. Jughead explains to her that this is life. You say hello, walk alongside people, and you have to say goodbye eventually. “That’s the arc of a life,” he says.
Archie recites a poem he wrote in honor of his friends. The poem features all the throwbacks, including the “epic highs and lows of high school football” line. Archie’s words are meant to be a farewell for the cast as well. They’ve grown up together over the last 6 years.
Betty prepares to say goodbye to Archie. He doesn’t think this is goodbye. He thinks they could end up together for all they know. He’s always felt they were meant to be, the boy and the girl next door. However, Betty knows the future tells a different story.
Betty explains to Archie that he moves to California and meets a sweet girl. She says he’ll become a professional construction worker and amateur writer. Per his request, Archie is buried in Riverdale next to his father.
Betty & Jughead’s Fates Revealed
Jughead is waiting for Betty outside. There’s one last person she wants to visit before she leaves Riverdale. She leaves flowers at Pop Tate’s grave. She asks Jughead about what happens to people when they die. As she’s inched closer and closer to death, she’s been thinking about the afterlife.
She brings up reading his obituary in the paper. Jughead winds up founding Jughead’s Madhouse magazine, which becomes an institution. Jughead tells Betty that she’s leaving behind quite the legacy after self-publishing The Teenage Mystique and starting her Betty’s Diary advice column.
Betty remembers moving to New York and starting She Says magazine. The magazine became a “go-to source for feminist and progressive causes.” Jughead asks Betty if she has any regrets about not getting married. “None. But I’m so happy I adopted my daughter Carla,” she says. “That’s my true legacy. My family.”
Betty wishes she could stay in Riverdale forever. She knows that’s not possible. It’s time for her to go back to the real world. She’s ready to face whatever comes next.
Riverdale’s Ending Explained
When she returns to the real world, Alice is taking her back to Riverdale. She says goodbye to everything she loves. “Goodbye, Riverdale. It was wonderful getting to grow up here,” the elderly Betty says.
When they arrive at Pop Tate’s, Betty has died. When the car door opens, she’s young again. She goes inside Pop Tate’s, and everyone is there. They’ve all been waiting for her. She sees all her friends again, so young and beautiful. She sits down in her booth next to Veronica. Archie has a strawberry shake waiting for her.
Jughead’s narration comes to a close. This is where we leave Betty, Archie, Veronica, Jughead, and the rest. This is where they’re meant to be for the rest of time. “So if you happen to see that neon sign some lonely night at the end of that long journey, the journey that every one of us is on, pull over,” Jughead says. “Come on in. Take a seat. And know that you’ll always be among friends and that Riverdale will always be your home. Until then, have a good night.” And with that, Riverdale’s story is complete. The final chapter has come to a close.