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Riverdale season 5 release date, cast, plot and when it arrives on Netflix

Looking ahead to the future of the wild Archie Comics-inspired series.

Riverdale
Published: Wednesday, 11th August 2021 at 4:08 pm

After a disrupted start to season five, Riverdale is finally returning this week for a rare summer premiere – but there'll be no fun in the sun for Archie, Betty, Jughead and co.

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A recently released full-length Riverdale season five trailer has teased several exciting and explosive events, including Betty wielding a chainsaw and a slow-mo punch from Archie.

However, perhaps the most noticeable takeaway from the trailer was that Jughead was alive and well after going missing in the mid-season finale – and while he wasn't abducted by aliens as some fan theories suggested, he still faced some tough times according to showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa.

"I think we can say that this is pretty much rock bottom for him,” Aguirre-Sacasa told TV Line. “It’s Jughead as much of a lost soul as we’ve ever seen.”

He added: “We’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of Jughead’s trauma. There are a lot more darker things coming.”

It seems we won't be exploring Jughead's trauma in the premiere however, as he is noticeably absent from the episode's dark and moody preview images, which likely see Archie and the gang planning to catch the escaped convicts from Hiram's prison break.

However, a more cheery storyline looks to be Toni (Vanessa Morgan) having her baby – a plot point written into the script to account for Vanessa Morgan's real-life pregnancy.

Aguirre-Sacasa has promised that we will "see a big resolution to the Toni pregnancy plot", which likely means a reveal of the baby's father – but also sees Toni back in action full-time when Morgan returns in episode 15.

He added: “We get Toni back in all her glory. She’s a mother, she’s leading the Serpents, she’s fighting for the town with Archie.”

Barchie fans can also get their hopes up, as Aguirre-Sacasa also added that Betty and Archie's romance may not yet be over after all, saying: "Betty and Archie's story isn't over yet, and their relationship does deepen, especially as we enter the last stretch of episodes."

Along with the images and trailer, the CW have also released a suitably dramatic poster for the upcoming episodes – with Pop's Diner centre stage:

Riverdale season 5 poster

Riverdale season 5 poster

We also got an exciting synopsis, teasing that as well as Archie's criminal catching, we will see Tabitha and Betty team up as they realise Jughead is missing, while Cheryl's "shady radar" will be going off once again when mother Penelope re-enters her life with ambiguous intentions.

The upcoming slate of episodes finished filming in May, with the cast and crew celebrating the occasion by posting photos on social media – including Cole Sprouse, despite fears he had left the show following the mid-season cliffhanger.

Here's everything you need to know about Riverdale season five.

*Warning: spoilers ahead for Riverdale season four*

What time is Riverdale season 5 released on Netflix?

Riverdale season five will return on Wednesday 11th August on US network The CW, with the new episodes available from 8am on Thursday 12th August 2021 on Netflix in the UK.

Season five initially premiered in January 2020 with the much-anticipated time jump, but has since gone on a mid-season hiatus.

Showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa confirmed the start of season five part one on Twitter, sharing a photo that revealed the date along with the caption, "Back to the Future....buckle up gang!"

The CW had confirmed a fifth season of the outlandish show, which is based on Archie Comics, was in the pipeline back last year, with the intention originally for it to air in October 2020 before the pandemic got in the way of that.

Pre-production began in August 2020, before creator and Aguirre-Sacasa confirmed in September that shooting was beginning on the new season, posting an Instagram photo of himself and Riverdale cast members.

On 14th September he posted another image, this time of the "first scene... of season five" – featuring KJ Apa in character as series protagonist Archie, apparently standing in a steam room.

It looks like Riverdale isn't going anywhere either, as The CW president Mark Pedowitz named it as one of three shows that define the network's current new direction.

Speaking at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour, he said: "We transitioned from a female-skewing network in 2010, '11 and '12 to more male-focused with Supernatural, and now we've shifted back a bit with Riverdale, All American and In the Dark to something different."

Riverdale season 5 release schedule

Since it airs on The CW in the US, the full season of Riverdale is not released all at once on Netflix UK, with episodes arriving weekly instead.

Expect new episodes at 8am on Thursdays starting from 12th August 2021.

We also have the first five episode titles – namely 'Strange Bedfellows', 'Citizen Lodge', 'Reservoir Dogs', 'The Night Gallery' and 'Return of the Pussycats'.

Is Riverdale finished?

No, and far from it – as well as being in the middle of its ongoing fifth season, the show has already been confirmed for a sixth run, so there's still plenty more to come.

The CW is not hanging about either – Riverdale returns from its mid-season break in August, with season six also confirmed to start airing on 16th November 2021 in the US.

Riverdale season 5 trailer

A trailer for the second half of season five was released in July 2021 and certainly teases some darker episodes, as Betty prepares to fight – and quite possibly kill – Polly's killer...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JIwqfS4cl4U

An earlier teaser promised lots of action, with guns, hammers and even cars seemingly used as weapons:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fp-QDBCJSFc

The first half got a full length trailer in December 2020, teasing a whole load of drama to come – from masked sadists masquerading as Archie and his friends, to Veronica sobbing over what looks like a potential romance between Betty and Archie.

And while announcing that production was back underway on Twitter, showrunner Aguiree-Sacasa also shared a teaser poster which shows a mystery woman running away from a truck, seemingly terrified, at Riverdale's city limits.

Who's in the cast of Riverdale season 5?

Riverdale Ep.302b -- T13.2020252 -- Photo Credit: Dean Buscher / © 2018 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

KJ Apa, Camilla Mendes, Cole Sprouse, Lili Reinhart, Casey Cott and Madelaine Petsch all return in main roles for the new series.

One cast member who hasn't returned is Jughead's dad, FP Jones (Skeet Ulrich).

As he revealed to TV Line, Ulrich decided to "move on to explore other creative opportunities", bagging a role in the upcoming Tom Hanks film Bios.

During a recent Instagram Live, Ulrich revealed he had quit the show because he "got bored creatively".

"How's that? That's the most honest answer," he added.

His co-star Marisol Nichols, who played Hermione Lodge, is also confirmed not to be returning as a series regular.

Back in February, Riverdale creator and showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa said in a statement: “Part of life in Riverdale — and part of growing up — is saying goodbye to people.

“I’m grateful to Skeet and Marisol for their incredible work on the show these last four years, and we all wish them well on their future endeavors. FP and Hermione will never be far from our hearts. And, of course, they’re always welcome back in Riverdale.”(sic)

On the other hand, Mädchen Amick will be returning and shared a snap from a Zoom table read for season five, expressing how excited she was to be back.

Meanwhile, Aguirre-Sacasa announced back in September that Drew Ray Tanner (Fangs Fogarty) would be joining season five as a series regular, with the showrunner announcing that he'll be living with "on-again, off-again boyfriend Kevin Keller [Casey Cott] and Serpent Queen Toni Topaz [Vanessa Morgan]", before adding that we'll be seeing more of Tanner's singing.

And a new cast member for the series is Broadchurch star Chris Mason, who will play Chad Gekko, Veronica’s controlling and jealous husband who works on Wall Street, in a recurring role.

Is Cole Sprouse leaving Riverdale?

After previously starring in Friends and The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Cole Sprouse was one of the more famous faces amongst the cast of Riverdale.

Fans were understandably concerned therefore when Sprouse was absent from a photo Riverdale creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa posted on Instagram to commemorate a wrap on shooting season five – especially when his character Jughead seemingly disappears in the mid-season finale...

https://www.instagram.com/p/CPm_Qf1jYLT/?utm_source=ig_embed

However, there have been no official reports that Cole Sprouse is leaving the show, and the trailer for the second half of season five showed Jughead alive and well, if in a rather dark place mentally.

It's possible that Sprouse simply finished filming earlier than his castmates, or that he was busy shooting another project – the Jughead actor is set to star in sci-fi rom-com Moonshot as well as family comedy Undercover with Zachary Levi.

So Riverdale fans can rest easy – the wonderfully named fan-favourite character and show's narrator is not going anywhere just yet.

Riverdale season 5 spoilers

We've already seen the first part of season five, which saw a romance between Archie and Betty, Jughead's disappearance and Hiram landing in jail – however, that's all about to change with the second half of the series.

According to the synopsis for Chapter 87: Strange Bedfellows, the episode will see Hiram (Mark Consuelos) break out of jail, while Archie (KJ Apa) rounds up the remaining convicts.

"Tabitha (Erinn Westbrook) reaches out for Betty’s (Lili Reinhart) help when she realizes Jughead (Cole Sprouse) is missing. When Penelope (guest star Nathalie Boltt) re-enters the fold, Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) becomes suspicious of her true intentions. Camila Mendes, Madchen Amick, Casey Cott, Charles Melton and Drew Ray Tanner also star. Tessa Blake directed the episode written by Aaron Allen," the description reads.

The trailer has already teased new plot points such as Cheryl starting a ministry and Betty preparing for some violent revenge on Polly's killer, while images from the premiere episode have teased Archie's plan to track down the missing criminals and a team-up between Veronica and Reggie.

The new series jumped several years into the future, with the cast playing adult versions of their characters.

Showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa told Entertainment Tonight earlier this year: "On a practical level we really wanted to — I call them still the kids [Laughs] — but for the kids to be playing characters closer to their age.

"And I think one of the hallmarks of Riverdale has been that it isn't a procedural. Every episode is its own genre and it's constantly reinventing itself and it felt like if we had stayed in high school, we might run the risk of playing the same beats and the same stories over and over again.

"So I think the idea was that it would sort of be a creative boost for the writers, a creative boost for the actors, and after four years of very gonzo, intricate, incestuous plotting, it was like, 'Oh!' Well, we can just drop everyone into new storylines that feel organic to the characters, but allow us to feel like we can move a little more nimbly. Without the burden of, you know, Bughead dating or the burden of Archie still wrestling with the immediate death of his father. It felt like a way to freshen everything up and I feel like that was the big goal."

It also looks like Toni will be having her baby in the second-half of season five – a storyline introduced to accommodate for Vanessa Morgan's real-life pregnancy.

Toni won't be out of the picture for long though, with Aguirre-Sacasa telling TVLine: "Toni is back in plenty of time for our annual musical episode. In fact, she's back in time for our 'Pussycat' episode. And she's performing a musical number with Tabitha Tate and special visitor Alexandra Cabot, which is heavenly."

That's right – season five will see two musical episodes, as the Pussycats will get their own music-focused episode as well as the usual high school musical special. It is yet to be revealed which show the Riverdale High alumni will be performing this time, but it will be a big episode for Lili Reinhart’s Betty and Madchen Amick’s Alice.

“It’s very different from the other ones we’ve done… it’s very emotional," Aguirre-Sacasa told TVLine. "It’s a tour de force, especially for Lili and Madchen.”

And before you ask, yes, Jughead actor Cole Sprouse will be singing in the musical extravaganza.

However the return of Josie and the Pussycats will also be part of another "full-fledged musical episode" to mark their first reappearance since season 2.

“This is very much a triumphant return for the girls,” Aguirre-Sacasa said. “The episode is all about them, and they are spectacular in it.”

As for Betty and Archie's romance, which appeared to end during the mid-season finale, Aguirre-Sacasa added: "Betty and Archie's story isn't over yet, and their relationship does deepen, especially as we enter the last stretch of episodes."

Why was Riverdale season 4 cut short?

Riverdale season four ended on 19 episodes – instead of the expected 22 – because the coronavirus halted production on the show, cutting the season short.

This meant that a key prom episode, originally due to air as episode 20 in season four, kicked things off for season five, as the high schoolers donned their glad-rags and buckled up for some serious drama.

"When it became clear that we weren't gonna be able to finish the season, the first thing I kind of did was look at episode 20 to see if we could cobble together an episode from that," showrunner Robert Aguirre-Sacasa told Entertainment Weekly.

"Though we actually shot the prom, where a lot of dramatic stuff happened, there were so many emotional scenes with Archie and Veronica and Jughead and Betty that it felt like we just couldn't quite do it."

Aguirre-Sacasa's comments hint at a possible reckoning for the 'love square' between the central four characters, Betty, Veronica, Archie and Jughead, after Archie and Betty shared a kiss – cheating on their respective partners – during season four, episode 17.

"We haven't heard or seen the last of the song that Archie wrote for Betty [during season four, episode 18], and right at this moment where they should be celebrating everything, a lot happens," Aguirre-Sacasa said. "It's pretty dramatic what happens at prom with Varchie."

Could this be the end of Archie and Veronica as a couple? Will Jughead also break things off with longtime girlfriend, Betty – or will Archie's song reignite her old feelings for him, making her the one to betray Jughead?

And what will this all mean long-term for the Riverdale teen residents as they graduate high school and head off to college?

Riverdale writer Ted Sullivan also revealed in a tweet that season four was due to include a "heavy" episode focussing on Toni (Vanessa Morgan), which some fans are guessing will focus on her past sexual assault.

This episode will now also be postponed to form part of season five.

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Riverdale is streaming now on Netflix. Looking for something else to watch? Check out our guide to the best series on Netflix and best movies on Netflix, or visit our TV Guide.

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