Welcome back to the Town With Pep! The Black Hood and the Gargoyle King may be gone, but the town of Riverdale will be far from quiet when season four kicks off. It’s senior year, which means Archie, Veronica, Betty, and Jughead will go through many of the normal trials and tribulations of a final year of high school, but as this is Riverdale, there will be yet another mystery to solve—and this time it involves Jughead directly. Here’s everything we know about season four, including where the couples stand, the Luke Perry tribute, the first few episodes and the bizarre new mysteries unfolding.
When does Riverdale come back?
The fourth season of the mysterious drama returns to The CW on Wednesday, Oct. 9, at 8 p.m. ET. The first episode, “A Farewell to Fred Andrews,” will be a tribute to the late Perry, with the true season four storylines beginning to unfold in episode two.
Who is in the Riverdale cast for the fourth season?
The core four consists of Archie Andrews (KJ Apa), Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes), Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart) and Jughead Jones (Cole Sprouse), who will once again be the focus of the show. Don’t fret though, because Choni still reigns—that’s BFFs and couple Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch) and Toni Topaz (Vanessa Morgan). As for their Riverdale High pals, Kevin Keller (Casey Cott) and Reggie Mantle (Charles Melton) are back as the gang heads into their senior year.
The majority of the Riverdale parents will be back, including Veronica’s father, Hiram Lodge (Mark Consuelos); Veronica’s mother, Hermione Lodge (Marisol Nichols); Betty’s mom, Alice Cooper (Mädchen Amick, who also directs an episode this season); and Jughead’s dad, FP Jones (Skeet Ulrich). Molly Ringwald plays Archie’s mother, Mary Andrews, and her character’s role was stepped up in season three after Perry’s passing, though the actor’s death wasn’t previously mentioned on the show. While she was a guest throughout the previous seasons, Ringwald will be a more familiar face during season four. We will also be seeing cult leader Edgar Evernever (Chad Michael Murray) once again as The Farm storyline wraps up.
What happened to Luke Perry on Riverdale?
Perry, who played Archie Andrews’ father, Fred Andrews, died of a stroke in March at the age of 52. Riverdale was still filming season three at the time of his death. His final scene on the show came in April, when Fred shared a deep conversation with his son about Randy Ronson, who was K.O.’d by Archie during a boxing match one episode prior.
The late actor was not written out of the show at the end of season three. Instead, his character, Fred, was said to be out of town, which is why we saw more of Archie’s mother, Mary. Riverdale’s season four premiere will be the show’s tribute to him. “His legacy is gonna live on in the lives around him, that he worked with, you know?” Apa shared with Entertainment Tonight shortly after Perry’s death.
As for why they waited until season four to deal with Perry’s death, executive producer/showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa told TVLine that they “very quickly made the decision that we weren’t going to address it” in order to avoid rushing it.
“We didn’t want to sandwich it in between all the other plotlines,” he told the outlet. He added that putting a brief acknowledgment at the end of the season “felt a little cheap,” so they instead held it so they could “think about it over the hiatus and reflect on it.” The showrunner said that was “absolutely the right decision” in order to share the right story, but he admitted that the whole cast and crew knew that shooting the tribute “was going to be hard, and it was.”
What will happen in Riverdale season four? Is there a trailer?
According to Aguirre-Sacasa, season four’s mystery will be a “slow burn” that resembles season one’s pacing, and the core four’s relationships will be the focus.
“I guess the one thing that could break up the foursome, well, besides death, is something romantic happening. They’re great friends. They’ve been through stuff no other friends have been through,” he told told Us Weekly during San Diego Comic-Con. “It may not seem like it, but I genuinely love these characters and I love this quartet. I want them to be OK. It feels like I put them through the ringer, and I do, but there’s a part of me that always thinks that they’ll survive, they’ll be OK, they’ll win.” There will also be a lot more of the four at school, harking back to the original Archie series. That means Archie playing football, Veronica cheerleading and Betty at the newspaper.
But that doesn’t mean things will be normal in Riverdale all of a sudden. At the end of the season three finale, when the group is cheersing with their milkshakes at Pop’s Chocolate Shoppe, we saw a flash-forward to a forest scene during spring break. Veronica, Archie and Betty are standing around a campfire, and Jughead is nowhere to be seen. They are covered in blood, and Archie is holding on tightly to Jughead’s hat. Betty says they will have to burn all of their clothes, never speak of this again or tell their parents, and then go their separate ways. When the season four trailer finally dropped last month, we saw the entire town searching for a missing Jughead, and the new episodes will feature plenty of flash-forwards and flashbacks to that fateful bonfire scene.
“Season 4 is definitely senior year, high school focused, more about the relationships and those dynamics and obviously the mystery of what we saw at the end of season 3,” Mendes told Entertainment Weekly. “We’re going to be coming back to that, having little flashes throughout to gather more information. Each flashback will tell us a little more.”
There will, however, be quite a few steamy scenes. Every couple—Bughead, Choni, Varchie, the Lodges and FP and Alice—had a makeout session in the new trailer dropped at NYC Comic-Con.
Season 4, Episode 1
The season four premiere will be a tribute to Perry. In “Chapter Fifty-Eight: In Memoriam,” Archie will receive a phone call that changes his life forever while the town of Riverdale is preparing for its upcoming Independence Day parade.
Perry’s Beverly Hills, 90210 castmate and longtime friend, Shannen Doherty, will appear in the episode. During San Diego Com-Con, Aguirre-Sacasa told fans gathered that Doherty appearing on the series was “something that Luke wanted to happen since season one.” “They were such good friends, and when we were putting together this tribute episode, we wanted to make it as special as possible, and so we asked Shannen to do a pivotal, super-emotional role,” he explained. “She read the script and immediately said ‘yes.’ It’s very impactful.”
The premiere is a standalone episode, separate from the season’s main mysteries. “Shannen plays the person who tells us what happened to Fred,” Aguirre-Sacasa further explained to Entertainment Weekly. “She was there and she’s an unexpected source of comfort to Archie. A big piece of what happened to Fred comes to Archie through Shannen’s character. The scene is so heartbreaking because you really feel Shannen’s love for Luke.”
While speaking with MTV News during Comic-Con, Reinhart described filming the episode as “a beautiful experience” and “therapeutic in a way to do that together and be with each other.” Mendes added, “The episode itself is very, very well-written, too, and honors the character very well. I feel like it might be our best episode ever. Everyone was really connected and I’m happy we did it.”
Season 4, Episode 2
Airing Oct. 16, the second episode of the season is where the stories really kick off. It’s a big one for our beloved Riverdale High students too—it’s the first day of their senior year! In “Chapter Fifty-Nine: Fast Times at Riverdale High,” Archie encourages Mad Dog (Eli Goree) to attend Riverdale and join the football team, but the buff redhead is still dealing with the aftermath of his father’s death. After meeting Mr. Chipping (Sam Witwer), Jughead is offered a spot at the elite Stonewall Prep. Veronica is conflicted when information about her involvement with her father, Hiram’s, arrest is leaked to the press, and Kevin applies for a spot on the school newspaper, the Blue & Gold, to make amends with Betty. Meanwhile, Cheryl unsurprisingly goes head to head with the new school principal, Mr. Honey (Kerr Smith).
Season 4, Episode 3
“Chapter Sixty: Dog Day Afternoon,” airing Oct. 23, welcomes back (or, an unwelcome return, depending on your perspective) guest star Murray. Betty and Charles (Wyatt Nash) track down Edgar and his cult members, wrapping up The Farm storyline. During New York Comic-Con, Amick noted that the episode will be “a great redemption for Alice,” according to Decider.
On a less sinister note, Archie and Veronica hold a car wash fundraiser at Pop’s to raise money for the community center, while Jughead’s first day at Stonewall Prep doesn’t go as he planned (are you surprised?). Then there’s Cheryl, who learns a dark family secret from Nana Rose. How it can be darker than the fact that she’s keeping her twin brother’s corpse in the basement, we don’t know!
Archie and Veronica
In the bonus season four trailer that dropped during NYCC, we see Archie in tights and a mask as a vigilante, but he also begins to turn his boxing gym into a rec center to help give the kids of Riverdale a safe space to hang out, which he’s doing in honor of his late father. Yes, that means we’re getting even more shirtless Archie. Veronica has to deal with all that comes with being a Lodge, including learning more about her father’s dealings and every vicious roadblock he’s set her up for—plus paparazzi cameras. Later this season, a musical episode will grace us with an Archie/Veronica duet. Plus, now that Archie’s mother is back living in Riverdale, we’ll learn more about what her life was like in Chicago.
Even though Archie and Veronica are back together—or “Varchie is going strong,” as Mendes put it to MTV News—and Bughead is still intact, Aguirre-Sacasa told Us Weekly that Archie and Betty’s relationship will be explored more. “I think that that’s one of the dynamics we haven’t played is the idea that Archie and Betty together romantically,” he said. “I think in a teen show that if we somehow went seven years in that and never saw that, I think it would be a failure. So ‘maybe’ is what I’ll say.”
Also during the NYCC panel, Aguirre-Sacasa confirmed that private investigator Hermosa is Veronica’s older sister and is “just as scheming” as her dad, according to TV Guide.
Betty and Jughead
Always the good journalist, Betty will continue to investigate both The Farm and her brother, Charles, all while trying to figure out what happened to her mother. Jughead won’t be at Riverdale High but at a prestigious prep school, which is both the basis for the season’s mystery and the flash-forward we saw in the season three finale, as Sprouse confirmed to Us Weekly.
Even though the two will be at different schools, Betty and Jughead are still very much a couple at the start of the season. “Bughead is going well, but there is a plotline for Jughead that may cause some distance between them,” Reinhart told MTV News, with Apa clarifying that the plotline she’s referencing is Jughead’s new school.
Cheryl and Toni
Choni didn’t have an easy go of it in the last season, and while they may be a beloved Riverdale couple, that doesn’t mean life will get simpler for them. “There may be some trouble in the waters,” Petsch told Cosmopolitan. “I mean, Cheryl’s keeping her brother’s dead body in her basement, which is, like, a fairly large secret. If and when Toni finds that out, it might cause some difficulty. It’s a very sensitive topic. Can you imagine being like, ‘Hey, you need to bury your brother, he probably smells and I have questions about how he hasn’t decomposed yet.’” Petsch also noted that Choni will be wearing a “super cute” Halloween couples costume, because above all things is being dressed fabulously for any holiday.
Alice and FP
The Jones and Cooper families are now living together, but FP will have an extra layer of family issues to deal with since his father, Forsythe Jones, came back to town in the season three finale. “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” Ulrich said during Comic-Con. There’s also the added element of now raising his daughter, Jellybean, alone (more on that below).
Hiram and Hermoine
They’re both in jail! As we saw at the end of season three, Hiram will be sending plenty of problems Veronica’s way and is also the reason is wife his behind bars. He’s a troublemaker, that one.
What happened in Riverdale season three?
We can all be honest here and admit that season three got very, very weird, even for Riverdale. There were a lot of strange episodes and some crazy plot turns, so let’s get right to what happened in the end so we know where we left off, because it was a lot.
Deep in the hands of Edgar’s Farm cult, Betty was on the verge of having her brain cut open when Cheryl’s mother, Penelope Blossom (Nathalie Boltt), buys her back from Edgar. Penelope is still hella evil though. After chasing a lead, Jughead discovers that Penelope is the mastermind behind Griffins and Gargoyles, meaning she rules the Gargoyle King. This is where that throwback G&G episode from earlier in the season comes in. In the finale, Penelope invited the original Midnight Club’s sons and daughters—Betty, Jughead, Veronica and Archie—as well as two more Featured Players, the Black Hood and the Gargoyle King, to dinner. We already know who the Black Hood is when we see him, though we never expected Betty to come face to face with her dad, Hal Cooper (Lochlyn Munro) again (we probably should have, though). The Gargoyle King ends up being Chic (Hart Denton), the unstable, loose cannon who had posed as Betty’s long-lost brother in season two but was, alas, not her brother. Crazy, but not a blood relative.
So where does the Black Hood come into this? Penelope knew that like her, Hal had hated Riverdale. In season two, she had an affair with him in order to, as she put it, cultivate his murderous impulses. She turned him into the Black Hood to help her get to her main goal: seek revenge on the town that let her become a child bride for the Blossoms.
Why bring the core four into this? Back in the day, Penelope had told all of their parents about her situation, but they did nothing but mock her, and when her son, Jason, was murdered years later in cold blood, none of them reached out. So 25 years after her first game, she re-introduced G&G to the high school via Chic, where it spread like a virus and slowly caused players to lose their minds or die. This last G&G gauntlet, the “final quest,” forces the group to survive a night in the woods. If they don’t, one of Penelope’s former schoolmates will suffer the same fate she did: The death of a child. They, of course, survive—there’s a season four, after all—but the Black Hood is dead, having been shot by his daughter before getting a final blow to the head by Penelope during Betty’s challenge. Chic ended up in jail, while Penelope disappeared into the night.
Veronica continued to be a boss lady, securing both her business—Pop’s (finally) and the speakeasy below it—and the boxing gym for Archie. The two also revealed their everlasting love for each other (sorry, Reggie!). Did you really think these two would stay apart? As for Cheryl, she helped her friends escape her mother’s insane game, and then went to visit her dead brother’s body in the basement. Wouldn’t you?
As for how their parents fared in season three, though Betty initially thought her mother was part of the cult, she was actually a double agent for the FBI, but she still disappeared in the finale when the cult “ascended.” Hiram has been sent to jail—and he just so happens to own said jail—as was Veronica’s mother, Hermione, after Hiram planted evidence that made it look like she tried to murder her husband. Archie’s mom, Mary, returned from Chicago (this was due to the real-life death of Perry, who played Archie’s father). FP somehow became the sheriff, but his wife, Gladys Jones (Gina Gershon), skipped town, leaving him with their daughter, Jellybean (Trinity Likins). And, by the way, that long lost brother of Betty’s ends up being Charles, FP and Alice’s secret son who happened to be the FBI Agent that Alice worked for to try to bring down the Farm. Got all that?
Where to watch and stream Riverdale on TV and online?
You can tune into Riverdale on The CW Oct. 9 at 8 pm ET. Or, get cozy in bed the following day and stream the show online on CWTV.com and The CW app. Previous seasons are also available on CWTV.com and Netflix.