There's a reason Riverdale isn't called Everybody Loves Archie. Based on the popular Archie Comics, there are an uncanny number of people that are fond of the redheaded high schooler, but no student as busy (or as popular) as Archie Andrews can be completely without flaws.
Archie is shady when it’s not 100% clear he did anything wrong. Take how things are left between him and Jughead at the start of the season. The show never goes too deep into the particulars of what severed their friendship. As early as the past summer, it sounds like they could’ve been thick as thieves, but Archie backed out of a camping trip they were planning, started ignoring Jughead, and that’s all we know. There’s a definite sense the fault for their separation falls on Archie, but when you’re trying to juggle football with music, along with construction work on the weekends, it must be tough to keep friendships a priority.
Riverdale’s residents can be blindingly loving of Archie (no matter what he does wrong), but at a certain point, you have to wonder if he’s really just a bad egg. And thus, the need for this list become apparent. Archie has done some callous things over the course of season one, and it's time he was held accountable.
-- SPOILERS ahead --
15 Pop's Diner
It’s natural to want to protect your dad when he’s about to be confronted by a masked, armed robber, but Fred Andrews knew what he was doing when he shook his head for Archie not to move. The robber doesn’t know Archie’s there (he was in the bathroom when he showed up), and rather than try to use this to their advantage, Archie does what he does best: not listen to his father.
There’s no definitive way to say whether or not Fred would have been okay if Archie hadn’t moved, but at the first sign of trouble, Archie runs into the crosshairs, and the spooked gun wielder pulls the trigger. Pop’s Diner becomes the shop where Archie’s pop could die, and it’s the cliffhanger that needs answering most when season two hits the small screen.
14 Laughing at Betty
After discovering who killed Jason Blossom in episode twelve, it’s time for Riverdale’s residents to look to their usual family dramas. Betty’s family would have their drama swept under the rug, of course. Seeing their old dynamics creeping back into place, Betty wants to make it stop, but she doesn’t know how. As she describes it to Archie, “It’s exactly the way things were before, pretending to be normal and perfect, when really we’re like, like a Greek suburban tragedy.”
Archie snickers at the simile, but Betty is being open with her fears, and he insults those concerns by not taking them seriously. He may be unaware that she closes her fists so tight that they leave nail marks in her palms, but if this is what's it's like to have a best friend since childhood, there’s a lot to be desired here.
13 Indecision making, Part 1 of a million
In his lifelong refusal to make any choice that requires he give up something else in return, Archie is the product of high school guidance counselors who push the well-rounded student as the most college desirable.
There’s having multiple interests, and then there’s participating in everything as your way of coming to a decision. It’s the decision not to make a decision, but Archie knows what he’s passionate about – music. High school’s a time to pursue dreams, to see if they have legs. Archie is doing himself a disservice by not giving music his full attention. Football (which he always says in the same breath as scholarships) or the family business is a smart back-up plan, but he’s got back-ups for his back-ups. How he keeps up with homework and has a social life with his schedule, is essentially TV magic.
12 "I'm not really in the headspace for a dance"
It was a line that could’ve easily earned him a slap in the face by Betty or Veronica. Betty musters up the courage to ask Archie to the dance (if slightly amending the request to include Veronica as a third wheel) and gets rejected with an excuse only Archie could think acceptable: “Not... in the headspace for a dance.” What a load of pretentious nonsense. First of all, the wording is atrocious. No down to earth human being with pressing problems talks like that.
Archie is stressed. His sophomore year is kicking off to an incredibly crappy start, but Betty doesn’t know where her sister is and Veronica’s dad is in jail. They’re asking him to spend one night cruising a dance floor with them and it’s too much for his head to take, or consider? Not buying it.
11 Accepting bribes
The phrase ‘maple syrup tapping ceremony’ feels silly rolling off the tongue, but we don’t think the Blossoms joke about their lucrative family business. Cheryl invites Archie to come because of the kindness he’s shown her since her brother’s death. He also bears more than a passing resemblance to Jason, so already, there’s something not on the level about the request.
Archie says no (he has a girlfriend, it makes sense) but after Cheryl’s parents offer to get him in a music program, the change of heart after couldn’t be lousier. Cheryl doesn’t have friends (not real ones), and it’s because of people like Archie, who can be so easily bought. He could have been subtle about what changed his mind, but he talks to all his friends about it. Cheryl’s manipulative, but she grew up at Thornhill. The one bright spot is that she steals a moment to tell Archie she’s disappointed.
10 Breaking into FP's trailer
Believing FP responsible for Jason Blossom’s murder, Veronica and Archie team up with Alice Blossom (always the wisest of co-conspirators) to break into FP’s trailer to search for incriminating evidence. Using a dinner party between the Blossoms and the Coopers to keep tabs on FP while they meddle, Archie says he’s doing it for Jughead, to make sure that he’s safe. What he should’ve been doing is talking to Jug, not going behind his back.
Jughead was looking forward to the dinner, because he hoped their families could get along, but Alice didn’t set it up with that purpose in mind. Giving the place the once over allows Veronica and Archie to say with conviction that the gun was planted after they left, but the timing is honestly too optimal.
9 Never kept his music "lessons" strictly music
For somebody concerned about being taken seriously as a musician, Archie never dedicates himself to his craft, and that’s without bringing up the hole he’s dug made of extracurriculars and no free time.
The problem is how he runs his music lessons. First Miss Grundy, then Val. Every music teacher Archie asks for help ends up being his girlfriend. With Val, it could've been something real, but his bad time management skills makes a mess of their relationship. When they were supposed to be studying music, they fooled around. When they were supposed to be hanging out, Archie wasn’t around, and his distance is one reason Val breaks up with him. Music lessons aren’t for romantic trysts or making out, but Archie lets them devolve into that anyway.
8 Guilt tripping Val
Without fail, Val always supported Archie's budding music aspirations. Connecting him with a college professor who could advise him on his future, the professor advised him to quit, but that falls on Archie, not Val, and her opinion was that he should ignore the critics. That's what an awesome girlfriend does. What she doesn't do is bench her own dreams, right when they're hitting traction, to humor her selfish boyfriend for a high school talent show.
If he were a halfway decent boyfriend, he wouldn't ask, but in pushing Val to perform with him, instead of Josie and the Pussycats, Archie knowingly jeopardizes her position as a member of the band. Their policy is that no bandmates perform with any other group, and instead of working through his stage fright, Archie asks Val to join him, coming to his senses too close to curtain to carry much forgiveness.
7 Dumping Veronica as his talent show partner
To connect this to #8 and Val, Archie wasn't lost for a partner anyway. If Val decided to stay with the Pussycats, Veronica offered to take her place. She was more than game, and she assured Archie that he wouldn’t be performing alone, however the scenario played out. That this doesn’t give him pause about dropping Veronica from the act, once Val’s schedule clears, is a wonder. Selling his decision as a mercy drop, since she was being kind when she offered to help, karma takes some vengeance on his nerves when he does perform alone.
It’s a high school talent show. There’s no reason Archie couldn’t have stuck to the plan and sung with Veronica. Instead, he assumes she was looking for an excuse not to participate and conveniently picks the more proven voice to back his amateur crooning.
6 Withholding possible murder intel
It's often said that the first hours of a criminal investigation are the most crucial. While the police eventually learn that they were completely off base about Jason's time of death (he wasn't killed at Sweetwater River on July 4th after all), there's a chance they could have figured it out sooner -- had Archie come forward and steered them in the right direction.
Instead, he protects Ms. Grundy who, far from the innocent party in this murder, puts her flirt on to keep Archie quiet. Her claims that Archie could've been expelled if their affair came out are blatantly self-serving, but he takes her word for it, so who's to criticize? The actual shooter is unrelated, too, but as far as Archie knew, he was the killer. It was under that impression that he stayed silent.
5 Assuming the Pussycats should play his music
Archie wants to pursue music, maybe as much as the Pussycats, but he’s not willing to do the work that that entails. Why should he, when all he has to do is ingratiate himself enough that he can leech off of their fanbase? The Pussycats are an established, female, African American band. There attendance is anticipated at every Riverdale function and event. Josie’s mom being mayor helps with obtaining gigs, but their fans must be attributed to their talent.
So here comes this white guy, whose never written songs until this year, and he thinks they should be bowled over by his lyrics and ask him to join. That’s not how it works, and when he gets a chance to sing one of his originals with them at the Jubilee, it’s unfair he's not put on back-up vocals.
4 Getting loaded
Betty didn’t think Jughead’s party through when she cooked up the idea, but it’s Archie who guarantees it will be a disaster. He told her from the beginning that Jughead wouldn’t be keen on the surprise, but if it had stayed a six-person celebration, some part of the night could’ve been salvaged.
Instead, Cheryl shows up with her gang and the intention to cause chaos. Archie didn’t invite them, but there's a small window where they could’ve kicked them out the front door. Instead, Archie says, “Screw it.” Allowing them inside, bearing kegs of beer, Archie promises the night will never trace back to its guest of honor. When Jughead’s dad shows up later, too, Archie doesn’t consider how alcohol could be a trigger for him.
3 Confuses things with Betty right after announcing he's dating Veronica
After deciding to go public with their secret relationship, the person Archie and Veronica dread seeing most is Betty. They don’t know how she’ll take the news, and the ego on them has them thinking she’ll be crushed by the news. What doesn’t register is that Betty’s dating Jughead, and one of the (many) highlights of their relationship is that they never act like they wish they were with somebody else.
Tons of TV shows do it. Rory dates Jess on Gilmore Girls and starts comparing him to Dean. Alma makes googly eyes at Seth after marrying Ellsworth on Deadwood. There’s always a period where the star gets stuck on her ex, and the new boyfriend stews in second place.
Betty skips that step, Veronica bounces back after realizing Betty’s okay, but Archie? He starts saying crap about how he always thought Betty and him would end up together. As the person who took a relationship off the table in the pilot, Archie has no room to talk, and it's cruel to let Veronica pick up on his wistfulness.
2 Crashing Polly's baby shower
Angry with Jughead over finding out his dad's a member of the Southside Serpents, Archie picks the worst time and place to confront him about it. Polly’s been through hell. Sent to an institution by her parents. Told her baby daddy was murdered. Betty wants her sister’s shower to be an oasis from recent trials, but Archie storms in during the middle of it, while they’re busy opening presents. Because of course he does.
There’s no reason he couldn’t have shown patience, or asked Jughead to step outside, but Archie only thinks of himself. His whole theory, that the Serpents are responsible for targeting his dad’s construction site, is based on profiles and conjectures. Maybe if his mind hadn’t gone straight to the local gang they could’ve had a constructive conversation.
1 "I've never been good enough for you"
The results of this speech help the series a lot in the long run, as it holds off the Betty-Veronica love triangle that’s become notorious in the comics. What it doesn't do is change the fact that the way Archie turns Bettie down is weak. Instead of saying he doesn't have feelings for her, he packages it in the super lame "I'm not good enough for you" excuse. B
Betty can decide for herself whether Archie's good enough for her. He didn't want to date her. That's the reason, but he won’t admit it. It’s much too easy to let himself off the hook if he blames Betty’s standards as the reason they can’t be together. She’s long moved on (Archie who? Bughead forever) but looking back, his pussyfooting still causes ire.
Which of Archie's wishy washy moves gets you the most fired up? Sound off in the comments!
Riverdale returns October 11th for season 2.