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The ‘Riverdale’ series finale is here, and you’ll never guess how it ends

"Riverdale is going to go down as being one of the most legendary teen dramas of all time."

This post contains spoilers for the finale of "Riverdale."

"Riverdale," when it came out on The CW in 2017, was framed as a re-imagining of the saccharine Archie comics that began publishing in the 1940s.

Seven seasons and 137 episodes later, the series finale aired on Wednesday, Aug. 23, leaving fans a blend of heartbroken and satisfied.

The episode celebrated what makes the Archie Comics characters so great, which is that they are perennially teenagers.”

Louie Pearlman

For Louie Pearlman, co-host of the "Riverdale" podcast "XOXO Riverdale," this is the end of a long-running creative endeavor. Pearlman called his co-host, comedian Kate Vatter, to tell her he was "grinning ear to ear" while saying goodbye to the high schoolers.

"The episode celebrated what makes the Archie Comics characters so great, which is that they are perennially teenagers. When we read and watch 'Riverdale,' at its best, I think we're taken back to a time in our lives that's actually very fleeting. The episode captured that so well," the Brooklyn-based comedian and writer says.

The ‘Riverdale’ finale sees all the characters through to the end

Long story short, everyone got an ending — a terminal one. The episode follows what happens to each character, from main to minor, in the period that spans their high school graduation to their death — a la the "Six Feet Under" finish.

While in past seasons, the characters had already graduated, supernatural forces sent the characters back in time to high school in the 1950s for Season Seven. The show's final few episodes follows the group as they remember their memories from the 2023 timeline but stay in the past.

Chapter One Hundred Thirty-Seven: Goodbye, Riverdale
KJ Apa and Cole Sprouse star as Archie and Jughead.Justine Yeung / The CW

The finale follows Betty (Lili Reinhart) in the present, at the age of 86, serving as a narrator, walking viewers through each characters' fates and how their time in the '50s impacted the future.

"For the most part it felt respectful of the amount that these fans love the characters. But wouldn’t be ‘Riverdale’ without a few goofy curveballs," Pearlman explains.

Almost of the characters end up leaving the town of Riverdale, with Reggie (Charles Melton) playing for the Lakers, Kevin (Casey Cott) starting a theater company in New York and Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) and Toni (Vanessa Morgan) moving out West and raising a son together, fittingly named Dale.

Now as for the show's four primary characters, Betty, Archie (KJ Apa), Jughead (Cole Sprouse) and Veronica (Camila Mendes) ...

Who does Archie end up with? The ‘Core 4’s’ fate, revealed

Betty or Veronica? More like, neither.

Archie — like most of the characters — ends up leaving Riverdale and moves to California to help build the highways. He settles down with a woman he meets there and continues to write and work in construction.

"They did a really good job of not forcing Archie to choose between Betty and Veronica in the end. That was so smart and a statement on the character. We're seeing Archie at a very specific time in his life. He's still figuring out who he is. That golden age of being a 17-year-old. Ultimately he found a more fulfilling life beyond the confines of Riverdale and beyond that dichotomy," he says.

The rest of the Core Four go their separate ways. Jughead and Betty both have literary pursuits, moving to New York to start magazines. Neither marries, but Betty adopts a daughter.

Veronica becomes a renowned movie producer.

Betty is the last to die. They all reunite in the Sweet Hereafter, a dimension of the afterlife —Archie, Betty, Veronica and Jughead, forever at Pop's.

About that polyamorous relationship...

One moment from the finale is drawing attention. Betty reveals that through the course of her senior year, she was dating Archie, Jughead and Veronica.

"They're in this polyamorous quadruple," Pearlman says, adding that "we see them in every single permutation possible" except for Archie and Jughead.

Pearlman says this development fits with the season's theme.

"This season has done an interesting job queering most of the characters and making it very clear that the take on the show is that everybody has feelings that might be beyond the norm of heteronormativity," he says. "There are scenes where every character is questioning their sexuality."

Chapter One Hundred Thirty-Seven: Goodbye, Riverdale
Friends, or more? Pictured: Camila Mendes, Lili Reinhart, Cole Spouse and KJ Apa.Justine Yeung / The CW

Most shocking was that two minor characters, Kevin’s dad Tom Keller and Archie’s uncle Frank Andrews, get together in the second-to-last episode.

“Their end was that they pick up a hustler Chic (Betty’s long lost brother) who killed them. Unfortunately, that’s the way a lot of gay guys in the ‘50s and ‘60s did meet their ends, very sadly — and also, it was a surprising, wild end,” he says.

The legacy of 'Riverdale'

"Riverdale's" appeal, when it came out on The CW in 2017, was one of subversion.

“It was a murder mystery set in the worlds of Archie Comics and Riverdale, which are known to be so clean cut. It was also a sexualized version of the characters, which I think was really exciting for a lot of people. It contextualized what was always under the surface of those comics, if you were reading between the lines," Pearlman says.

It evolved into an almost unrecognizable genre-bending romp, compared to its initial "Twin Peaks" vibe, introducing supernatural elements, musical episodes, cult sacrifices and time travel.

Chapter One Hundred Thirty-One: Archie the Musical
The musical episode of "Riverdale."Justine Yeung / The CW

Amid a changing streaming landscape, "Riverdale" may also prove to be one of the last shows of its kind — spanning seasons, some stronger than others.

"I think 'Riverdale' is going to go down as being one of the most legendary teen dramas of all time," Pearlman says.

The show's version of the Archie comic characters may one day supersede the "clean cut, '50s image" that springs to mind from the comics.

Instead, Pearlman argues, "we're going to be thinking of their dark alter egos from 'Riverdale.'"