Riverdale has been taking primetime by storm. Who would have guessed that a Twin Peaks-esque rendition of what was largely a children’s comic would adapt so well to being spun into a dramatic murder mystery? Even though the show has been updated to fit well with modern times, (much like the comic universe, which underwent a modernizing reboot a few short years ago) the show’s creators still included a slew of references to the old comics, dating back to the '40s.
This list features a number of easter eggs that are on screen enough that they might be noticed by those familiar with Archie -- however, some of them only appeared for fleeting moments, or are such deep cuts that we really had to dig through some old Archie lore to confirm whether or not certain tidbits in Riverdale actually did reference things in the publisher’s past. Even though Riverdale departs from the Archie canon a great deal, it’s refreshing to see just how much thought and research went into crafting even the most minute details in the show’s dialogue and set design. Even you diehard Archie fans might have missed a few on this one. See if you were able to pick out all 15 entries on this list!
15 ARCHIE IS A DC FANBOY
While the majority of this list references comics, it’s mostly Archie Comics. This entry gives viewers a window into what comics Archie actually reads. Not only is he a big enough fan to have comics lying around his room, he has poster-sized prints of some of the covers hanging on his wall and ceiling. Archie’s got a bunch of DC comics lying around his room, from a handful of different eras.
Not only is Archie a fan of classic DC, he is also a total Rebirth fanboy. Stills from certain episodes of Riverdale and photos of the set reveal that Archie’s got Batman #5, Action Comics #962, Superman #5, and Nightwing #2. He must really be a big fan of Tom King’s Batman run (but then again, who isn’t?) because he’s got #5 as a poster too!
14 THE RED CIRCLE
The name of the pseudo-militia that Archie established in retaliation to the Black Hood’s murders in the most recent season of Riverdale is actually a nod to Archie Comics’ old superhero imprint, Red Circle. While the imprint was most active during the '70s and '80s, the characters published within it were incorporated into DC Comics twice, first in the '90s imprint Impact Comics, and then in the Red Circle line from 2007-2011.
This didn’t pan out too well. In 2015, Archie Comics reclaimed the imprint under the name “Dark Circle”. We’re set to see a relaunch of one of the imprint’s main titles, The Mighty Crusaders this December. We’ve already seen copies of the superhero comics in Archie’s room, so maybe there’s more to come from the characters.
13 PUREHEART THE POWERFUL
While waiting in the hospital waiting room to see if Archie’s dad would make it out alive in season two’s premiere, Archie brings up the concept of superheroes, which isn’t abnormal considering his affinity for DC Comics in the show. When he does this, Jughead gives him the name ‘Pureheart the Powerful’, which seemed like a strange thing to come up with off the top of his head. But then again, Jughead’s a weirdo.
Pureheart the Powerful is actually a reference to a few issues of some of the Archie comics, where Archie and all of his friends have their own superhero identities. The secret identity of the titular hapless red head? Pureheart the Powerful. This is a great deal more accurate in the comics, whereas in Riverdale, Archie’s kind of a jerk, to be honest.
In the last episode of season one, Jughead’s dad is locked up in jail for his involvement in the death of Jason Blossom. At a quick glance, it looks like he’s bored, just leafing through a magazine. If you were to pause, you’d notice that it is, in fact, a comic book. Not just any comic book, it’s a copy of Chilling Adventures in Sorcery, As Told By Sabrina #1.
This is just one of many of the instances in which the Riverdale production team have teased the inclusion of the teenaged witch in the hit CW series. Sabrina’s had her fair share of spin-off series from the mainstream Archie universe spanning multiple mediums. Not only did she have her own successful television show, but numerous comic book spin-offs, as well as an animated series.
11 SEASON ONE'S FINAL SHOT
At the end of the first season of Riverdale, the final shot of Fred Andrews lying in Pop Tate’s in a pool of his own blood after being shot by the Black Hood was taken directly from an Archie comic. In issue #36 of the series Life with Archie, Archie Andrews himself was shot in Pop’s Chock’lit Shop! Unlike his father, however, Archie didn’t make it out alive.
Archie ended up taking a bullet for Kevin Keller, who was a recently elected senator. Sadly, the titular character died in Jughead’s arms. The composition of the final scene in season one was eerily similar to the final page in issue 36, so much so that it almost looks like it was taken shot for shot (no pun intended).
10 TOWN WITH PEP!
Most towns have a big sign on the way into town that lets you know exactly where you are. Riverdale is no different. Their town sign reads ‘Welcome to Riverdale: The Town With PEP!’. Pep is a word that you don’t hear too much these days. In fact, it was probably used with a great deal more frequency when Archie had his heyday during the '40s and '50s.
Back then, when Archie Comics hadn’t even been renamed to Archie Comics -- it known as MLJ Magazines. PEP Comics was one of the publisher’s most successful series, an anthology series that ran for 56 issues. It’s so significant because this is the series in which Archie, Jughead, and Betty made their debuts, in issue #22. Because of that, it’s one of the most expensive comic books that was ever printed!
9 JUGHEAD'S MOTORCYCLE HELMET
Though Jughead does sport a beanie that homages the character’s iconic crown, that is not the only place the headwear of the goofball turned brooding bad boy makes an appearance. If you look at the front of Jughead’s motorcycle helmet, you can see a messy crown scratched into the paint, with what we can only assume is a knife. Additionally, in the first episode of season two, Jughead signs Archie’s cast with a drawing of a crown.
The showrunners of Riverdale really went out of their way to continually homage the source material that their show draws from. We wonder how many more crowns can creep into Jughead’s wardrobe before the end of the season. Maybe a crown patch on the Southside Serpents jacket our loveable weirdo has been rocking lately?
8 BLACK HOOD
The current season of Riverdale has the whole town living in fear of a Zodiac Killer-esque villain named the Black Hood, who wears a, you guessed it, black hood. Originally, he appeared as a vigilante in MLJ Comics’ Top-Notch Comics #9 way back in 1940. The character had several iterations, as well as a couple of his own self-titled series. The Black Hood has appeared under several imprints from Archie Comics, as well as under DC’s Archie-Hero populated Impact Comics in the '90s.
Most recently, the Black Hood has appeared in the hero imprint Dark Circle Comics from Archie Comics. Now that The Mighty Crusaders are being revived by Archie Comics, it’s quite possible that we’ll see more of the Black Hood in the future. He won’t be a serial killer though, that’s for sure.
After Ms. Grundy and Archie’s relationship is found out by Alice Cooper, the "music teacher" leaves Riverdale and sets up a whole new life once again. This time, as a music teacher in the nearby town of Greendale. While this name might not seem significant, it hints at the possible inclusion of Sabrina the Teenage Witch in future seasons of Riverdale. Why? Greendale is the young witch’s hometown!
Given the occasional crossovers between Sabrina and the Riverdale main cast’s portions of the Archie universe that happen in the comics, (she was featured in a recent “Jughead” arc) it wouldn’t be too far fetched to see her pop up in the hit CW show. Although, her inclusion WOULD complicate things if her character was able to use magic.
6 MLJ COMICS
Ever notice the comic book shop in Riverdale, MLJ Comics? This is a direct nod to the origins of the publisher of all of the Archie titles! Before Archie Comics was called Archie Comics, it was called MLJ Magazines. MLJ Magazines was founded in 1939 by Maurice Coyne, Louis Silberkleit, and John L. Goldwater. They arrived at the name MLJ Magazines by lumping together their first initials.
MLJ Magazines enjoyed some success during the Golden Age of Comics with characters like Archie, Commando, and The Shield. The Shield was decked out in an American flag, and carried a big shield with him as a weapon. He would’ve been labeled a rip-off of Captain America if he hadn’t debuted a full year earlier than the iconic character.
5 LITTLE ARCHIE
Remember way back in season one when Betty referred to Archie as, “Little Archie”? Well guess what, that was not just a throwaway pet name. In fact, it was a reference to a long running Archie Comics title, Little Archie. The series pretty much just followed Archie and the Riverdale crew as small children. Little Archie was actually one of the publisher’s longest running titles.
In fact, Little Archie spanned three whole decades, running from 1953 to 1983 with a print run of 180 issues. It’s nice to see the writers of Riverdale throwing in all these nods, no matter how little they, to the series that contextualized the longevity of Archie Comics and its properties. It is definitely nice to be able to go through and pick them all apart.
4 DR. MASTERS
In the first episode of the second season of Riverdale, Archie’s dad, Fred Andrews is still being treated for the gunshot wound he suffered in Pop’s at the end of the show’s first season. The person who is administering his treatment might fly under the radar to anyone who is not a diehard fan of Archie Comics -- Dr. Masters.
It is always fun to delve into the background of these seemingly throwaway characters to see where they originate in the Archie universe. While Dr. Master’s role on Riverdale was quite important, though it warranted very few appearances, Dr. Masters actually had his own self-titled comic in the '60s. Though “The Adventures of Young Doctor Masters” was fairly short lived, the character still secured a spot on Riverdale.
3 JUGHEAD'S "S"
If you aren’t super familiar with Archie Comics, certain things in Riverdale might seem innocuous, rather than direct nods to the publisher’s books. Jughead was seen in the '50s flashback scene wearing a sweater with a great big ‘S’ on it, which was the character’s iconic garb in the original Archie books. However, given the dark, modern vibe of Riverdale, this was not going to fly.
Jughead is essentially the narrator of Riverdale, and as a brooding young weirdo, he brings his laptop pretty much everywhere. Jughead’s signature crown hat became an edgy beanie. What better way to for the showrunners to incorporate the ‘S’ into Jughead’s new edgy, brooding, writer persona than as a laptop sticker? It’s smack dab in the center of pretty much any Jughead-centeric shot at Pop’s so viewers get reminded of the character’s roots.
In the Archie universe, Veronica Lodge and her family are a great deal more wealthy than they are in Riverdale. They hadn’t lost any of their assets to criminal scandal like in the television show, meaning that instead of living in an upscale apartment building, they had their own mansion, complete with personal staff. Perhaps the most iconic member of this staff is Smithers, the Lodge’s butler.
Unfortunately for them, they don’t have the funds for a private butler, but luckily for Smithers, the writers of Riverdale found a way to work him into the show. Now, instead of being a butler, Smithers is the doorman for The Pembrooke, the building where the Lodges live. So yeah, he’s still pretty much just bringing Veronica packages.
1 JINGLE JANGLE
Jingle Jangle has taken the town of Riverdale by storm, especially in the second season. The hit new street drug is referenced multiple times in every episode, and has proven to be especially prevalent and problematic in Southside High, which also served as one of the fabled ‘Candyman’s’ hubs of operation.
Before Jingle Jangle was the most fashionable drug on the streets of Riverdale, nefariously packaged in pixie sticks, (a marketing tactic to get the impressionable high schoolers hooked, no doubt) it made another appearance in the Archie universe. Not in the comics, though. The last time Jingle Jangle came up in Archie’s world, it was a song 1969 by the band, The Archies. One of their other hit singles (that hit #1 on the real-world Billboard 100)? ‘Sugar, Sugar’.
Which of these easter eggs did you miss? Let us know in the comments!