Archie Comics have been an integral part of popular culture since they were first introduced to audiences in the late 1930s. The series boasts one of history’s most recognizable love triangles between all American boy Archie Andrews and his two female friends, girl next door Elizabeth “Betty” Cooper and mischievous rich girl Veronica Lodge. A fourth character rounds out this iconic group of high school friends: Forsythe Pendleton “Jughead” Jones, the quirky outsider with a bottomless pit for a stomach.
In the CW series Riverdale, a live action adaptation with an edgier, Twin Peaks–ier vibe than the Archie Comics of old, Jughead Jones, portrayed here by onetime Disney child star Cole Sprouse, is more of a film-loving hipster and social commentator than the class clown and semiprofessional eater viewers know from various issues. Riverdale’s Jughead begins the series writing a novel detailing the aftermath of Jason Blossom’s sudden and tragic death, offering witty commentary along the way to engage viewers with the murder mystery. As Jughead operates as Riverdale’s potentially unreliable narrator, he invites the members of the audience to learn the sordid secrets of the far from safe little haven.
But the character has his fair share of secrets that Riverdale has yet to explore, and these 15 Things You Never Knew About Jughead are just some of the many interesting facts from his storied comic history.
15. He’s asexual
When issue #4 of the newest Jughead comic was released in February 2016, the internet was immediately ablaze with think pieces, differing opinions, and steadily growing controversy. While Jughead had been seen with many love interests over the course of his lengthy comic canon history, in Jughead #4, it was confirmed that the latest version of Jughead Jones identifies as asexual. The series’ writer, Chip Zdarsky, recognizes the difference in his presentation of Jughead, acknowledging that “There have been iterations of Jughead over the decades where he HAS been interested in girls, so there’s room to play around if someone was inclined. For me though, I like an asexual Jughead.”
This statement of Jughead’s sexual identity has become a topic of considerable conversation with the introduction of Jughead as a sexually interested character in Riverdale. Cole Sprouse has expressed his interest in ultimately portraying Jughead as an asexual character within the series’ narrative, but also admits that he is fond of Jughead’s current relationship with Betty. Of course, there is nothing about Jughead being with Betty that definitively prevents him from identifying as asexual. It’s only a matter of time that we’ll see if the series follows through with more recent character developments.
14. He wrote a best-selling cook book
It’s hardly a secret that Jughead’s favorite thing to do is eat. He is frequently portrayed as a competitive eater, and there is rarely an issue in which he isn’t eating — and far too much food at that. What may be a secret, however, is that his culinary palate was once translated into the most unexpected and uncharacteristic of forms. In the story “The Writer,” found in the 1976 issue #256 of Jughead, the lovable slacker displays a change of heart and surprising skill when he “attempts to become a genre fiction writer.”
After consulting with Miss Grundy about how he can improve his writing skills, Jughead is instructed to write about the things he’s familiar with. Naturally, Jughead comes to the conclusion that there’s nothing he knows better than food. Therefore, he sets out to write The Great Forsythe P. Jones Cook Book, which, according to one panel, has become the “Best Seller of the Year.” Jughead is far from an expert in many things, but his insatiable hunger has apparently made him a reliable source of culinary knowledge.
13. His trademark hat has a hidden meaning
Jughead without his hat is like jelly without peanut butter, or salt without pepper: it’s just wrong. Riverdale even produced a now infamous scene addressing the intense connection between Jughead and his hat. The iconic crown-style hat has provided audiences with a familiar shorthand symbol for his character ever since his introduction. However, what is frequently ignored in versions of the character’s story is the loaded history behind the hat itself. Known as a whoopee cap, this unique hat is made by cutting up a felt fedora; button and patches are frequently attached, as can be seen in Jughead’s comic and live action counterparts.
This do it yourself style piece has a particularly weighty social commentary embedded within it. Fedoras have long been a symbol of white collar life and the upper class. By transforming the hat into something more accessible and casual, blue collar characters are staking a claim for their own form of representation. Other characters in popular culture who have worn this type of hat include mechanic Goober Pyle from The Andy Griffith Show and Mayberry RFD.
12. He once traded his metabolism to a witch
Archie Comics has never strayed from introducing elements of the supernatural and magical into their stories. After all, Sabrina Spellman, also known as Sabrina the Teenage Witch, is perhaps one of the franchise’s most well known characters. Yet one of Jughead’s most shocking and surreal moments involves not Sabrina, but a truly vindictive, vain witch named Darlene. In the 2010 issue #200 of Archie’s Pal Jughead, Jughead finds himself presented with an offer he unfortunately cannot refuse. In exchange for so-called “Paradise on a Bun,” which consists of “Two large pizzas! Topped with an appetizer of mini-cheeseburgers, in their own amusement park,“ poor Jughead is forced to give up his metabolism.
Since he gives up his metabolism, Jughead rapidly gains weight and becomes incredibly obese. In order to return things back to normal, further rounds of bartering include Archie trading his pure heart for Jughead’s metabolism, Betty trading her compassion, and Veronica her status in order to retrieve Archie’s pure heart. Ultimately, Sabrina and Jughead team up to save the day, but Jughead is still left with quite a lot of weight he desperately needs to shred. There’s a moral in there somewhere about eating healthy foods and eating in moderation, but honestly, there’s no way Jughead learns anything from this episode.
11. He paints things that frequently come to life
In keeping with the recurring themes of Jughead’s surprising hidden talents and his many encounters with the supernatural and magical, the series of strips known as Jughead’s Dipsy Doodles give readers a closer look at Jughead as an artist. These strips, frequently in black and white or with a limited set of carefully chosen colors, quickly summarize Jughead’s attempts at producing great works of art. Yet, since he’s Jughead after all, something often goes wrong, or there is a totally unexpected outcome.
One strip details Jughead’s process of painting a waterfall along a tall canvas; however, in the strip’s final panel, the waterfall comes to life and floods Jughead out of his home. Another strip shows Jughead painting a still life of a bird in order to cheer himself up, and later, the portrait of the bird somehow serenades him with sweet music. Regardless of the outcome of each strip, it’s clear that this particular series is meant to showcase equal parts whimsy and mischief—everything that makes Jughead who he is.
10. His hat sometimes allows him to time travel
If there were an even more obvious example of Jughead’s mischief and whimsy, however, it would have to be the astoundingly odd Jughead’s Time Police. The 1990 series ran for six issues and consists of one primary plot point: somehow, a new version of Jughead’s hat allows him to time travel if he simply thinks hard enough. Frequently infused with Back to the Future vibes, this series finds Jughead joining a team of time traveling crime stoppers, only for him to wind up making a lot of trouble all on his own.
What might be the weirdest part of all of this is that, even as he travels into the future and even as he encounters duplicates of himself, the ultimate enemy he must defeat is Morgan Le Fay of Arthurian legend fame. The series was lost for a long time, save for eagle-eyed collectors who held onto it, but in 2015, all six issues were released in one digital collection. If you enjoy things that can get really weird, really fast, this is definitely something you should check out.
9. He once dove back into shark infested waters to avoid a girl
Long before Jughead identified as asexual, he unwantingly found himself the object of Ethel Muggs’s affections. Ethel, often referred to as “Big Ethel” in earlier comics due to her unconventional appearance, is often overbearing and overly sappy, as can be seen in her repeated attempts to lure Jughead in with food and her tendency to calling him “Juggiekins.” Much of their back and forth consists of Ethel shamelessly coming onto him and Jughead awkwardly deferring until he is able to get away.
In one particular strip, “Jughead in Shark Lark,” readers get perhaps the clearest portrayal of just how little interest Jughead has in her. As he had just learned the water he had been swimming in was shark-infested, Jughead quickly climbed back onto the dock. Yet as soon as he sees Ethel running toward him, he makes the impulse decision that he would prefer the shark’s company over Ethel’s. It’s a particularly brutal way to shoot someone down, yet still ridiculously hilarious due to its sheer implausibility. This is perhaps Jughead at his most melodramatic.
8. He owns a diner in an alternate universe
As weird as the six issues of the Jughead’s Time Police series are, there is yet another short-lived experimental 1990s series that takes Jughead to another alternate universe, in which he is tasked with a far greater destiny. Jughead’s Diner blends a dizzying amount of genres: the 1950s style diner familiar to readers via Pop Tate’s Chock’lit Shoppe; musical drama and anachronistic rap battles; a threatening business plot with a rival who wants to take over Jughead’s Diner; and out of this world science fiction fantasy involving Jughead being humanity’s savior.
If readers thought that Jughead’s Time Police tried to fit too much into too few issues, it’s clear that the same problem befell Jughead’s Diner, and perhaps even more strongly. It’s hard to even recap and explain what these issues are about without veering into unintelligible territory. As much fun as it would be to see the bizarre hijinks that Jughead could get up to in Dinersville over a longer period of time, it’s perhaps for the best that this series was cut short to only seven issues. One can only imagine how much harder it would be to explain if there were more.
7. He used to be a self-proclaimed giant “woman hater”
Although Archie Comics has tried to give Jughead love interests over the years, no female characters have seemed to pair with him just right. Through the combination of his childish nature, his pig-like eating habits, and his blunt demeanor, Jughead doesn’t exactly come across as the easiest person to have a relationship with. Lucky for the girls of Riverdale, Jughead was once an out and proud, self-proclaimed “woman hater.”
Unfortunately, this term has proved controversial depending on who is writing the specific issue it is used in. Most often, the term is meant to denote the fact that Jughead has no interest in dating—and therefore, he hates women, because they offer him nothing. However, in certain strips, “woman hater” gets twisted into something far uglier and misogynistic, such as when he consoles a distraught Betty by telling her “Don’t cry, Betty! All women are failures! Otherwise they’d be men!” This toxic message is antithetical to the wit and humor that makes Jughead who he is. With his recently confirmed status as asexual, it’s now perhaps time to leave this particular characteristic in the past where it belongs.
6. He once dated Sabrina Spellman and found a rival instead
Six issues after the 2016 run of Jughead confirmed that its main character was, in fact, asexual, Jughead goes on a real date with the most unlikely of companions: Sabrina Spellman, Greendale’s resident teenage witch. Of course, given what we already know about Jughead when it comes to his dating skills, no one should be surprised that the date is a total mess. Jughead spends much of it texting Archie in a panic for advice, Archie shows up in a terrible disguise, Sabrina sees through everything, tensions rise, magic is used, and somehow along the way, a prank war ensues.
Even if Sabrina and Jughead make an absolutely incompatible couple, the hi-jinks that come about as a result of their attempt at being one make all the familiar first date awkwardness worth sitting through. The combination of Jughead’s mischievous, madcap spirit and Sabrina’s supernatural skills makes for one of the most refreshing and engaging dynamics Archie Comics have explored in a very long time. Here’s to hoping Riverdale comes through.
5. The meaning of the “S” on his signature shirt is constantly changing
Jughead’s S shirt, while not as iconic as the crown cap, has become a signature mark of his character. But the meaning behind the S is one of Archie Comics’ most stubbornly unsolved mysteries. In issue #249 of Jughead, released in 1976, Jughead claims that he chose S because “It’s a warm, friendly letter! We suit each other! We’re like, y’know, compatible! ‘S’ stands for Sandwich, Steak, Shrimp… all kinds of goodies!” It certainly makes sense for Jughead to explain that his style is inspired by some of his favorite foods, but matters are made more complex by more recent comics. The 2006 cover of Archie’s Pal Jughead #177 has Veronica quipping “I finally know what the S stands for…starving!” Likewise, the 2010 cover of Archie & Friends #140 depicts similar S-labeled shirts in show of spirit for Silby High School.
4. He has a superhero identity, Captain Hero
We’ve clearly seen so far that Jughead is no stranger to alternate universes and identities. Yet perhaps his most conventionally comic-based one comes in the form of 1966’s superhero alter ego Captain Hero. The clearly creatively named superhero stars in the Jughead as Captain Hero series. Readers are given no introduction as to the reason for his crimefighting crusade, but in the first issue, he is fighting to save his best pal Archie from turning into a no good street ruffian. Because that happened all the time in the ’60s, apparently.
Interestingly, Archie seems to be portrayed as the damsel who needs saving in various issues, even though, at this same time, Archie had his own series as Pureheart the Powerful. There’s a lot to be read into Jughead thinking of Archie as his counterpart who needs saving, and we’re sure those who align themselves on the Jughead and Archie shipping side of things have a lot to say about it. But for the most part, it’s a fun flip on the usual convention of Archie as the lead and Jughead as the sidekick. That alone makes this ’60s camp fest worth the read.
3. Betty is the only girl he has continued romantic interest in
Even though Jughead was once a “woman hater,” and even though he is now canonically asexual, there is still one girl in particular for whom it seems he will always have a soft spot. Betty Cooper has frequently been paired with Jughead in both romantic and friendship situations in the comics. Riverdale has likewise picked up on this mutually supportive and soft spoken connection, developing the ship known as #Bughead in the process. Yet it’s not only The CW’s shipping tendencies that have made Betty and Jughead into this truly dynamic romantic duo.
In the 1979 comic Betty and Veronica #282, Jughead admits that “If the time should ever come that [he] would willingly kiss a girl…it’ll be [Betty].” They have been a couple more than once, including in different timelines and universes. He even proposes to her at fourteen. Admittedly, it’s because he loves her food, but this is Jughead we’re talking about, and that’s the highest compliment he can give. Even Michael Silberkleit, the cofounder of Archie Comics, once admitted that:
If I had to pick a mate for Jughead, though, I’d go with Betty. They get along real well, and have even had “just friends” dates. If Jughead could ever open his eyelids wide and long enough to actually NOTICE Betty, and if Betty could ever just give up the ghost where Archie’s concerned, perhaps they could be a great match indeed!
2. Riverdale’s Jughead is still an artist, but one of the written word instead
While Jughead in the comics tries his hand at paintings that turn larger than life, and even a best-selling turn as a cook book writer, Riverdale‘s Jughead Jones is much more suited to the genre of noir. As previously mentioned, he serves as the series’ narrator, keeping track of all evidence and suspects in the brutal murder of Jason Blossom. With his keen eye for detail and his frank way of speaking, Jughead sets the tone for the entire series through each of his voiceovers.
In some sense, Jughead isn’t only writing the book about the events that transpire within the series. One could argue that Jughead is the writer of Riverdale itself. As he relates everything back to the viewers, it’s tempting to ignore the possibility that we might be receiving facts through Jughead’s unreliable bias. And while this might not be the case, the fact that it’s a possibility at all speaks to just how talented an artist he really is. While Jughead in the comics brought painted works of art to life, Riverdale‘s Jughead brings an entire world to vivid life.
1. Jughead represents Cole Sprouse’s return to acting after a six year hiatus
In the 1990s and early 2000s, the twin brothers Cole and Dylan Sprouse were practically the hardest working kids in Hollywood. After spending five years on the sitcom Grace Under Fire, the twins moved on to star in the Adam Sandler flick Big Daddy. Following this, Cole recurred for two years on Friends as Ross Geller’s son, Ben. It was in 2005, however, that the twins’ careers really began to take off, when they became full-on Disney Channel stars. For the following six years, the duo starred in The Suite Life of Zack and Cody and its spinoff series The Suite Life on Deck. But at the height of their stardom, and at 19 years old, the twins decided to walk away from Hollywood and instead pursue their college educations.
Cole himself has stated that working for so long on the Disney franchise made him feel “like an automaton,” which led him to walk away from it all. Now, after being removed from it and having experienced the real world, he has returned to star as Riverdale‘s Jughead Jones. He has further emphasized the importance of the fact that he will “be [acting] on [his] own accord now.” In fact, Sprouse revealed in an interview that if he hadn’t won the role of Jughead, he would have been content to walk away from acting altogether. Thankfully, his audition won him the part, and Cole’s portrayal of Jughead is something we’ll definitely be tuning in to watch for the foreseeable future.
What are your favorite Jughead fun facts we didn’t address here? Let us know in the comments!
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