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The Ending Of Riverdale Season 7 Explained

For seven seasons, "Riverdale" spoiled fans with high-octane stories about serial killers, evil sorcerers, gangsters, vigilantes, gargoyle kings, biker gangs, time travel, multiverses, witchcraft, cults, underground tickle fetish movements, apocalyptic comets, and the highs and lows of high school football. As such, some viewers probably entered the Season 7 finale — the series' last-ever episode — expecting more crazy things to happen on "Riverdale," only to be met with a somber, bittersweet, lowkey swansong instead.

"Riverdale" Season 7's final episode, "Goodbye, Riverdale," sees Jughead (Cole Sprouse) take an 86-year-old Betty (Lili Reinhart) back in time to revisit the last day of senior year and hang out with her friends one last time. This is a wild concept in and of itself, but it's still a subdued storyline by "Riverdale" standards. We also learn that Betty, Veronica (Camila Mendes), Archie (KJ Apa), and Jughead spent their final year of high school in a polyamorous quad relationship — a revelation that seemingly came out of nowhere, but actually makes sense when you think about it.

After years of dragging these characters through the wringer and pitting them against some ghastly horrors, the finale gave everyone a well-deserved happy ending. However, it also addressed some of life's more hard-hitting subjects, such as death, loss, and yearning for the past.

What happens at the end of Riverdale Season 7

"Riverdale" Season 7's finale is all about saying goodbye to characters that fans have grown to love. As previously mentioned, the episode is anchored around Betty and Jughead, which is rather fitting as their relationship was often the glue that held the show together. Through them, we also learn what happens to the main characters following the events of "Riverdale," including how each of them dies. The good news, though, is that most of them live until they're old and grey.

The episode ends with Betty's elderly self passing away while out for a drive with her grandchildren. Afterward, teenage Betty exits a vehicle in the afterlife and strolls into an otherworldly version of Pop's Chock'lit Shoppe to find all of her old high school friends waiting for her. Jughead reveals that Betty's eternity will allow her and the rest of the gang to be juniors forever, enjoying the simple pleasures of their youth.

Earlier in the episode, Betty tells Jughead that she wishes everyone could have stayed in Riverdale forever — young, beautiful, full of hope, and bursting with love for each other. So, in a way, she finally gets her wish. 

The Riverdale finale gives the gang a meaningful send-off

The "Riverdale" finale reveals that the main characters go on to live meaningful and happy lives outside of the Town with Pep after they graduate. Archie moves out west and becomes a successful construction worker and amateur beat poet. Jughead starts his own satirical magazine that outlives him. Betty ventures to New York City and becomes a feminist icon. Veronica takes over Hollywood and produces classic films. Elsewhere, Toni (Vanessa Morgan) and Cheryl (Madelaine Petch) live happily ever after as lovers, successful artists, and influential activists.

Granted, it's a mushy conclusion befitting of a fairytale, but it's well deserved. After all, every season of "Riverdale" explores the theme of people being stuck in the same place due to factors beyond their control. The characters felt obligated to save the town from the darkness that consumed it. However, Season 7 sees our young heroes return to the 1950s and reshape the future by acting as the change they want to see. This allows them to outgrow Riverdale, knowing that their virtuous acts in the fight against prejudice and other forms of wickedness will stop the town from turning into a crime-ravaged cesspool down the line.

There's a scene in the episode where Toni recites Langston Hughes' poem "Dreams," which encourages people to act kind in the present to ensure a better quality of life for humanity in the years that follow. This is the core theme of the "Riverdale" finale, and it's refreshingly optimistic for a series that's synonymous with gruesome storylines.

Is Jughead the Angel of Death in the Riverdale finale?

Let's address the elephant in the room: Why was Jughead able to visit elderly Betty and take her back in time to relive her high school days? One possible theory is that he's Death himself, which makes a lot of sense considering that he guides Betty into the afterlife and grants her the youthful, carefree eternity she craves.

Dying is a terrifying reality for everyone, so Death appearing as one of Betty's oldest and dearest friends is the perfect way to ease her into accepting her fate. Furthermore, it explains why Jughead is an all-knowing narrator throughout the show's seven seasons. 

Of course, this reality-hopping version of Jughead isn't the guy who exists in the same timeline as Betty, Archie, Veronica, and the gang. This iteration of everyone's favorite sleuth is a cosmic entity that can travel through different plains of existence, similar to Riverdale's guardian angel, Tabitha (Erinn Westbrook).

What's the future of Riverdale?

"Riverdale" Season 8 isn't happening, and the finale has seemingly dashed all hopes of it ever coming to fruition. The cast and crew have all been open about their desire to move on to other projects, and The CW has no interest in renewing the hit drama. They could give us the "Rivervale" TV series that everyone wants to see, but that's a pipe dream.

Of course, we currently live in the golden age of revivals and reboots, so who knows what will happen down the line? That said, the conclusion of "Riverdale" is pretty definitive, even for a show that's brought characters back from the dead and illogically jumped the shark more often than not.

As of this writing, fans don't have any Archieverse spin-offs to look forward to either. The CW canceled the "Jake Chang" project earlier this year, which would have revolved around a teenage detective in the Chinatown area of San Francisco and brought more Asian-American representation to mainstream pop culture. The end of "Riverdale" marks an emotional farewell to the Archieverse on the screen for the foreseeable future, but at least there's still an entire world of comics out there to captivate fans' imaginations.

What have Riverdale's creators said about the ending?

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly ahead of the Season 7 finale, executive producer Sarah Schechter discussed the legacy of "Riverdale," which only added to the sense of finality. The executive producer revealed that she's proud of what the cast and crew accomplished throughout the years, especially in the current era of network television. That said, she didn't tease the possibility of another season, revival, reboot, or spin-off shows.

"I think it fits in with other iconic coming-of-age shows. It's something we can be proud of and that will continue to be discovered. So many of my friends' kids are watching Gilmore Girls and just love being able to go into that world and spend time with all those characters. And I think that'll be part of the legacy of Riverdale as well. Also, it's a legacy of network television, of making that many episodes, of having the chance to tell that many stories for that many characters."

Fortunately, "Riverdale" is one of those shows that benefits from multiple rewatches, so long-term fans and newcomers will undoubtedly revisit it for years to come. All seven seasons have so much going on that it's difficult to process all of the crazy storylines in one sitting. Still, television just won't be the same without new episodes of "Riverdale." For better or worse, the show always found new ways to surprise viewers, and no one can fault its imagination.