5 best seasons of Riverdale to watch (and 2 you should skip)

Riverdale -- “Chapter One Hundred Thirty-Seven: Goodbye, Riverdale” -- Image Number: RVD720c_0380r -- Pictured (L - R): KJ Apa as Archie Andrews and Camila Mendes as Veronica Lodge -- Photo: Justine Yeung/The CW -- © 2023 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Riverdale -- “Chapter One Hundred Thirty-Seven: Goodbye, Riverdale” -- Image Number: RVD720c_0380r -- Pictured (L - R): KJ Apa as Archie Andrews and Camila Mendes as Veronica Lodge -- Photo: Justine Yeung/The CW -- © 2023 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved. /

From its much-discussed debut on The CW to the “Netflix bump” going into the second season, Riverdale has become an undeniable pop culture phenomenon. Its lasting legacy will be the episodes upon episodes of unexpected, genre-bending plot twists no one ever saw coming.

The series brought back the Archie Comics characters we know and love with a dark spin from some of the comics’ stories, all part of the ambitious vision of creator Archie’s chief creative officer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. On top of its innovation, Riverdale made instant stars out of newcomers KJ Apa, Lili Reinhart, Camila Mendes, Madelaine Petsch, Charles Melton, and more.

Over the course of its seven-season run, Riverdale maintained its popularity, with fans constantly debating the show’s various ships and dissecting the craziest storylines. But other viewers jumped ship when they believed the show jumped the shark. Little did they know, it’s all part of the campy plan, though some of the seasons are admittedly more satisfying watches than others.

What are the best seasons of Riverdale?

Curious to know which seasons of Riverdale are worth revisiting over the others? We’re sharing the five seasons of the show that will always be must-watches and lamenting the two that might drag a bit more during a rewatch. Let’s get things started with the debut season!

Riverdale — “Chapter Thirteen: The Sweet Hereafter” — Image Number: RVD113a_0172.jpg — Pictured (L-R): KJ Apa as Archie Andrews, Camila Mendes as Veronica Lodge, Cole Sprouse as Jughead Jones, and Lili Reinhart as Betty Cooper — Photo: Katie Yu/The CW — © 2017 The CW Network. All Rights Reserved /

Riverdale season 1

Watch! Once the 22-episode second season started airing, some viewers believed the 13-episode debut season should have been the only season. Well, that’s up for debate, but what isn’t up for debate is the thrilling ride of season 1. As we get to know Archie and the gang’s dynamics, a murder mystery welcomes us into the town with pep. No one could have seen the shocking layers of the conclusion coming or the cliffhanger ending that introduces season 2’s villain. Obviously, you can never go wrong with a rewatch of the first season. It’s an excellent start to the series.

Riverdale — “Chapter Thirty-Four: Judgment Night” — Image Number: RVD221b_0067.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Casey Cott as Kevin, KJ Apa as Archie and Cody Kearsley as Moose — Photo: Katie Yu/The CW — © 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved. /

Riverdale season 2

Watch! As mentioned above, the quicker pacing of the shorter first season left many fans feeling like season 2 took too much time to resolve its new mystery. Once the Black Hood started wreaking havoc in town, it was a winding road for our de facto teen detectives to unmask him. Your mileage may vary with the season’s pacing, but the explorations of horror and other genres while expanding the scope of the show with additional characters were early indicators that this wasn’t a show that was afraid to push boundaries and try anything.

Riverdale — “Chapter Fifty-Three: Jawbreaker” — Image Number: RVD318b_0011.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Camila Mendes as Veronica, Martin Cummins as Tom Keller, KJ Apa as Archie and Drew Ray Tanner as Fangs Fogarty — Photo: Katie Yu/The CW — © 2019 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved. /

Riverdale season 3

Watch! The third season might have been the most polarizing season of Riverdale, but we’ll never count it out. Arguably at the height of its popularity, the series went weird with storylines about an organ harvesting cult, a dangerous role-playing game seemingly brought to life in the Gargoyle King, and Archie going to jail. The season had everything camp, but it became a little much for some viewers and they stopped watching. However, it’s a fun and wildly out-there season that continued to prove one thing: There’s no other show on television quite like Riverdale.

Netflix crime shows Netflix shows - Riverdale season 4 - Riverdale season 5
Riverdale season 4 episode 18 “Chapter Seventy-Five: Lynchian” — Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW /

Riverdale season 4

Watch! Compared to the previous two seasons, the fourth season was rather tame. In season 4, mysterious videotapes keep showing up on the doorsteps of the town’s residents. Elsewhere, Jughead attends the private school Stonewall Prep that’s somehow filled with even more secrets than Riverdale High. Although the storylines were relatively less compelling, and senior year wasn’t able to finish until season 5 due to the pandemic, it’s still a solid season. The series stayed weird but slowed down, which season 3 dissenters should enjoy.

Riverdale season 5
Riverdale — “Chapter Ninety-Four: Next to Normal” — Image Number: RVD518fg_0019r — Pictured (L-R): Erinn Westbrook as Tabitha Tate and Cole Sprouse as Jughead Jones — Photo: The CW — © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved. /

Riverdale season 5

Skip! After finishing the season 4 storyline with prom and graduation in the first few episodes of the season 5, a seven-year time jump took the gang well into the future. Having gone their separate ways, they come back together in their dilapidated small town, which has continued to be taken over and destroyed by Hiram. Archie, Betty, Veronica, and the whole crew return to their high school as teachers, but that’s nothing compared to the “aliens,” trucker mystery-noir, Trash Bag Killer, and the season-ending bomb. Season 5 was kind of all over the place.

Riverdale season 6 - Netflix shows - Never Have I Ever
Riverdale — ÒChapter One Hundred and Eight: Ex-LibrisÓ — Image Number: RVD613b_0207r — Pictured (L – R): Lili Reinhart as Betty Cooper, KJ Apa as Archie Andrews, Madelaine Petsch as Cheryl Blossom, Camila Mendes as Veronica Lodge and Cole Sprouse as Jughead Jones — Photo: Kailey Schwerman/The CW — © 2022 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved. /

Riverdale season 6

Skip! Even though it seemingly flirted with the supernatural, Riverdale had never gone that route… until season 6. The season opens with the five-episode special event “Rivervale,” an alternate universe that played a large part in the season moving forward. After the event, the gang receives superpowers from the bomb’s explosion, but they’re faced with a new enemy in Percival Pickens. Along with a mildly political (and meandering) side story about saving the town, the sixth season took huge swings that ultimately don’t off in rewarding way. It’s fun sometimes, but also skippable.

Riverdale — “Chapter One Hundred Thirty-Seven: Goodbye, Riverdale” — Image Number: RVD720d_0190r — Pictured (L – R): Camila Mendes as Veronica Lodge and Lili Reinhart as Betty Cooper — Photo: Justine Yeung/The CW — © 2023 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved. /

Riverdale season 7

Watch! Depending on who you’re asking, the 1950s-set seventh and final season is a big skip. But you’re asking someone who didn’t mind leaving the old timeline behind. Seeing Aguirre-Sacasa’s fully formed 1950s vision finally come to life was a breath of fresh air, a reset the series desperately need for its emotional series finale to land. To the very end, Riverdale stayed true to itself and its commitment to reinvent itself and tell unexpected stories. Well, season 7 was its most unexpected collection of storytelling, but against all odds, it worked. Oh, did it ever.

All seven seasons of Riverdale are now available to stream on Netflix.

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