The conflict between ships has been a long-standing debate on CW’s Riverdale. The show was a gritty take on Archie Comics that depicted the constant misunderstandings with Archie balancing two women: Betty and Veronica. Both women were different as night and day, and Archie could never decide between the two of them.
Riverdale has a different take on the relationship. While Archie does vacillate between the two, other relationships are more prominent at times. Popular relationships like Betty and Jughead and Cheryl and Toni are at the heart of the show. And while fans will always argue who is endgame for Archie, some couples are more important season to season.
Season 1: Betty And Jughead
When Riverdale was first adapted from the Archie Comics, there were several classic dynamics the show was expected to deliver on. The Archie-Betty-Veronica love triangle was a mainstay in the comics and for a few episodes, it seemed as though it may go in that direction. But it turned out that Riverdale was different from the Archie comics. The chemistry between Betty and Jughead soon became undeniable, and they kissed in episode 6 of the first season.
Bonded through their intellect and desire to solve mysteries, Betty and Jughead just made sense. Betty and Jughead both had dark aspects of their characters explored in the season. Jughead always felt like an outsider because of his deadbeat father, FP Jones. Betty struggled with unnamable darkness that made her act in outrageous ways. This relationship largely diverted from the comics, but it is the focal point of season 1. Without the union between these two characters, the teens would not have solved Jason Blossom’s murder. And it created the foundation of a relationship that remained strong for a long time.
Season 2: Cheryl And Toni
Often framed as the HBIC and antagonist of the core four, it never seemed as though Cheryl would find happiness. Constantly bombarded with insults from her mother, Cheryl felt isolated and never thought she would be with someone. Enter Toni Topaz. The member of a biker gang, Toni seemed the direct opposite of Cheryl. She was from the wrong side of the tracks and didn’t care what anyone thought.
But after Cheryl has a particularly traumatic fight with her mother, Toni goes to see a movie with her. After seeing Cheryl cry at Love, Simon, Toni realizes that Cheryl has been hiding a secret that has made her feel closed off. Cheryl was called an abomination by her mother after finding out Cheryl liked her best friend Heather. Toni comforts Cheryl and this starts a beautiful relationship. The scene was a highly progressive point for Cheryl. It turned her from a two-dimensional villain to a layered character with a full inner life. Though there are many definitive relationships of the season, Cheryl and Toni demonstrate the power of understanding and self-discovery. They have the most moving and emotional relationship of the season.
Season 3: Veronica And Archie
Veronica and Archie are always a staple of Riverdale. They started by sharing a kiss in a coat closet. Even though they tried to hide their feelings, they couldn’t help but find their way back. The couple is on more than off, but season 3 is where they had their most dramatic storyline.
After a break-in at Veronica’s cabin in season 2, Archie gets into an altercation with the intruders. He leaves them alive, though later he finds that they have been killed. At the beginning of season 3, Hiram has framed Archie for the murder. Veronica faces off with Hiram, knowing that he was the culprit. Archie does something terrible to Veronica after leaving juvenile detention, and he leaves her to clear his name. Even so, the season is still full of yearning for the young lovers. Veronica has dalliances with Reggie but her heart always belongs to Archie. The angst-filled season culminates when Veronica is poisoned by Penelope Blossom. Archie is there for her emotionally in a way that he hadn’t been all season. It is one of the few times Archie shows he can love as strongly as he is loved.
Season 4: Alice And FP
Alice and FP’s torrid love affair was given a backstory in season 3’s episode, “The Midnight Club.” The episode was set up in the style of The Breakfast Club and the audience got to see how Alice and FP first got together in high school. This was just the beginning. It gave foundation to the couple, but they truly came into their own in season 4.
Both Alice and FP had to make major changes to be together. Reeling from her husband being unmasked as the Black Hood, Alice was susceptible to a cult. While this turns out to be one of the best mysteries on Riverdale, Alice abandoned Betty when she made the decision to join. Only in season 4 does Alice learn from her mistakes and finally comes back to herself. Meanwhile, FP finally has a full-time job as Sheriff and can be a good role model for his son. Although it took a long time, it is heartening to see these two flawed people finally find happiness in the 4th season and become better people.
Season 5: Fangs And Toni
Season 5 broke away from the typical formula. After the teens graduated college, Riverdale instated a seven-year time jump. All the couples that fans grew to love were separated. Most of the core four hadn’t seen each other within that time frame. The romance was not prevalent in the season, as most of the characters were dealing with their respective trauma. But there was one shining light in the darkness.
Although the father of Toni’s baby is kept a relative secret for many episodes, the audience finally sees that Toni has made a family with Fangs. Both are members of the Southside Serpents and have similar upbringings. They share values and respect the idea of co-parenting. Toni and Fangs may not have been the fan-favorite couple for most of the show – or at all until season 5 – but their relationship is healthy and they genuinely care about each other. This is starkly different to Betty, Veronica, Jughead, and Archie, who struggle with their new identities.
Season 6: Betty And Archie
For fans who have been waiting for Betty and Archie to get together since season 1, they finally have absolution. Though in Riverdale fashion, not in the way anyone expected. Betty and Archie got together at the end of season 5, though their relationship was not focused on whatsoever. They are far more prevalent in season 6. Billed as an alternate reality, the first five episodes of season 6 are called Rivervale. They focus on supernatural elements of the show. As there have only been five episodes and Archie was sacrificed in the first one, there is not a lot of romance to be had.
However, Betty and Archie are a hallmark of the comics. The history that has developed between them is integral to the show. These characters were each other’s best friends for most of their lives, having grown up next door to each other. Archie takes Betty back to simpler times and Betty challenges Archie. There is no telling how this relationship will resolve itself once the original Riverdale returns. But there is no question that this couple is iconic.