If people haven’t guessed already Riverdale is a little bit different from the Archie comic books. However, something everyone can agree on is that both the comics and show accurately depict the epic highs and lows of high school football. It goes without saying that there will be some changes anytime a comic book is adapted for television. What’s great about adaptations is that those changes can often lead to improvements from its original source material. Shows can oppositely make changes that unfortunately end up missing the point about what had made the material great in the first place. There’s no question that Riverdale is one of television’s most entertaining shows, but it has made both strong and less than strong changes from the Archie comics. Full spoilers ahead. Check out the list to see which Riverdale characters have improved and not improved from the Archie comics!
10 Worse: Archie
One wonders how Archie is getting by in life without extensive therapy. The kid already experienced murder, cults, and prison by the time he was sixteen years old. It’s not that audiences don’t love all the outlandish drama Archie goes through. Heck, it’s not like viewers don’t love K.J. Apa’s performance as Archie. The point is that it can feel like the folks making the show sometimes lose sight of what makes Archie a timeless character.
Here’s an example: Remember the heartbreaking scene where Archie breaks up with Veronica over the phone? Archie tries to kiss some random farm girl only moments later! It’s understandable that Riverdale needs to give Archie some flaws for drama’s sake. However, the show has established its own version of Archie as a guy who, when push comes to shove, will do right by his friends and family. People love watching Archie get into bare knuckle prison fights. But, it’s safe to say audiences also want it to make sense as to why Archie gets into these predicaments in the first place.
9 Worse: Jellybean
With a name like Jellybean one would think Jughead’s little sister is a sweet five year old girl. Think again. Jellybean is a motorcycle riding thirteen year old with a foul mouth that would make any sailor blush. She also really likes coffee. The thing about Jellybean is that there isn’t a whole lot motivating the character.
Jellybean is spunky and clever, but what else does the audience know about the character? There’s nothing wrong with Jellybean rattling off a bunch of tough-girl one liners, but audiences want to know more about what she’s internalizing. It’s the question that’s sweeping the nation - Who is Jellybean Jones?
8 Worse: Jason
People should give credit where credit is due. The actor who plays Jason Blossom, Trevor Stines, gives the best performance as a dead body in the history of dead body performances. Jason’s death in season one is the event that sends the plot of the entire show into motion.
But, that’s just it. Jason isn’t much of a character beyond being a dead guy. There are dozens of comic books depicting Jason as a pretty compelling character. Look no further than the recent horror comic book Blossoms 666 to see that Jason and Cheryl’s relationship goes beyond it’s perceived too close for comfort creepiness. Jason isn’t just a snobby rich kid. Rather, Jason actually has a conscience and questions his own family’s morality. Maybe season four will give us more flashbacks with Jason.
7 Worse: Black Hood
How strange would it be if Riverdale’s interpretation of the Black Hood was actually comic book accurate? Imagine being alive during the fifties, reading a wholesome Archie comic and then bam! We find out that Betty’s father is actually a cold blooded murderer. People need to understand a little bit of Black Hood’s comic book history. The character is part of Archie’s mature comic book imprint, Dark Circle Comics. This version of the character is a drug addicted ex-cop that goes around at night killing bad guys.
Doesn’t quite sound like Riverdale’s interpretation of the character, right? The quality of a television adaptation doesn’t necessarily succeed by whether or not it’s replicating the source material verbatim. However, if one decides to adapt a comic book then it should at the very least have some semblance of the material it’s based off. The mystery of the Black Hood created a compelling narrative spine for Riverdale’s second season, but it would’ve also been nice to see some other plot elements pulled from the original comic book.
6 Worse: Reggie
Did anyone notice that Reggie’s face changed during seasons one and two? It’s almost as if he's played by two different actors. Let’s be honest, the people in charge of the show have criminally underutilized the character. Reggie is one of the founding members of Archie’s gang and is the ultimate frenemy. Some of the best character moments in Archie comic book history comes directly from Reggie.
There’s been plenty of iterations of Reggie over the years, but Afterlife With Archie really gets into the heart of his character. Reggie is a hopeless romantic that tragically falls in love with girls that rarely ever love him back. The introduction of Reggie and Veronica’s fling in Riverdale’s third season scratches the surface of this defining character trait, but it rarely dives into what makes his unrequited love so compelling. Reggie is someone who wants to be kind, but he feels like the world is against him.
5 Better: Veronica
“They changed my character when they adapted me for the show. This is because of my dad, isn’t it? My father Hiram paid you to do that.” If the Riverdale writers hadn’t tweaked Veronica from her comic book counterpart then audiences would never have the indelible moments where she blames her dad for everything. Another great move from the writers is that they made Veronica an incredibly three-dimensional character. This isn’t to say that Veronica wasn’t already a great character in the Archie comic books.
However, what Riverdale does so well is that it makes Veronica’s signature cattiness her fatal flaw. Riverdale shows Veronica being a good person at heart, but her bad girl attitude takes over once she feels vulnerable. Veronica genuinely cares for other people and will go through great lengths to defend her friends. Also, this just needs to be said. No one ACTUALLY wants #Veggie. If there is any good in this world then that will stop. Like, now.
4 Better: Jughead
Jughead is everyone’s favorite journalist-gang member-burger loving weirdo. Even if no one has ever actually read an Archie comic they at least know Jughead’s iconography. Jughead’s “S” sweater and whoopee cap are some of the most well known pieces of clothing in comic book history. What also makes the character so endearing is that he’s the comedic relief that always has Archie’s back.
Although Riverdale dials back Jughead’s comedic edge, he’s nonetheless one of the show’s most compelling characters. Despite being the leader of a motorcycle gang (how amazing is it to read that statement out loud?), Jughead has a strong moral compass that continually drives him to do the right thing. Jughead’s morality always pushes him to be honest with his friends even when doing so might be uncomfortable. He’s an inspiration to us all. We salute you, Forsythe Jones.
3 Better: FP Jones
Is there any show aside from Riverdale that has an insanely hunky crew of dads? FP Jones is one of these dads and he’s such an intriguing character. Bluntly stated - comic book FP Jones is a guy with a thinly sketched backstory. Riverdale has undeniably created the definitive FP Jones. The character’s inclusion immediately opens up an entirely new part of Riverdale’s world. FP Jones’ introduction as the leader of the Southside Serpents let audiences know that there is a seedier side to Riverdale than initially meets the eye.
It also helps that FP is personally tied to so many of the other characters in the show. FP is a criminal but he genuinely loves his son, Jughead. In fact, FP will do whatever it takes - even going as far as to potentially kill someone - to make sure Jughead is safe. Audiences love a criminal with a heart of gold. People especially love them when they’re played by America’s sweetheart, Skeet Ulrich.
2 Better: Alice
A small town full of diners, murder, gangsters, and high schoolers. Are we describing Twin Peaks or Riverdale? It’s no secret that Twin Peaks is one of Riverdale’s major inspirations. So it goes without saying that one of the most genius moves the Riverdale team ever pulled off was casting Twin Peaks’ Madchen Amick to play Betty’s mom, Alice Cooper (no relation to the rock star).
It’s cool enough that Amick’s inclusion adds some meta commentary to the show, but the actual character she’s portraying is a lot of fun. What’s entertaining about watching Alice is that the audience always anticipates what wild thing she’ll say or do next. Although Alice’s actions can often be questionable, one can’t help but root for the woman. Alice’s endurance and hard headedness is admirable.
1 Better: Fred Andrews
Ah, Fred Andrews. What is there to say that already hasn’t been said about the character and Luke Perry’s performance? The comic book similarly portrays Fred as a great father, but Perry’s performance imbued the character with something timeless. There is an earnestness to the performance that makes Fred’s unconditional kindness such a breath a fresh air in Riverdale. Fred constantly sees the good in people while all of the other characters struggle to even see past themselves. Luke Perry may no longer be with us, but his immortal performance as Fred will endure forever.