Listen, That ‘Riverdale’ Zombie Apocalypse Theory Isn’t As Crazy As You Think

Keely Flaherty
TV The CW
TV The CW Riverdale Netflix

SPOILER ALERT: Warning, this article contains major spoilers for the Season 3 premiere of Riverdale. Proceed at your own peril.

We adore Riverdale. It’s a bright pop of Gen Z color in a bleak world full of milkshakes, pearls, and delicious family drama — and the Season 3 premiere, “Labor Day,” packed a whole series of on-brand punches. But it also introduced us to some possible supernatural elements that might mean the peppy town of Riverdale is headed for, well, a zombie apocalypse. It’s a theory that’s been floating around for a while, and based on “Labor Day,” it’s actually looking preeetty likely.

Betty Cooper Riverdale Season 3 premiere Episode 1

The premiere revealed a lot: Betty’s been secretly battling an Adderall addiction, Archie took a plea bargain for a murder he didn’t commit and is headed to juvenile detention for two years, Veronica declared all-out war on her father, Moose and Kevin made a pact to bone by Halloween, Sweet Pea and Josie hooked up all summer (?!?!), Cheryl shot Malachai with an arrow while wearing a bikini top and Serpent jacket, Hot Dog escaped the evil grips of Penny and the Ghoulies, Jughead discovered this season’s mysterious new villain known only as the Gargoyle King, and Polly’s babies floated over a fire like two fleshy hot air balloons.

Based on the last few minutes of the Season 3 premiere alone, it looks like the supernatural has officially arrived in Riverdale. Here’s exactly what that might mean for the rest of this season.

The Gargoyle King Looks Super Supernatural

Gargoyle King Riverdale Fox Forest Season 3 premiere

So far, we only know a few things about the Gargoyle King: He’s somehow a part of Ben and Dilton’s role-playing game, he hangs out in Fox Forest, he’s terrifying, and he’s serving some serious demonic vibes. Last season’s villain, the Black Hood, was a flesh and blood dude (or dudes, still not totally clear on how many Black Hoods there actually are). But the Gargoyle King might be something else — and based on that creepy final scene, it’s entirely possible he’s not even human. That could open up a whole slew of supernatural possibilities for Riverdale.

A Dangerous and Possibly Magical Cult Has Arrived

Riverdale the Farm Juniper Dagwood Cooper Season 3 Premiere

The premiere made a point of mentioning Edgar Evernever, the leader of Polly’s beloved Farm, and he seems like all kinds of bad news. Polly keeps blathering on and on about how Edgar healed her — and now she’s even recruited her own mother to the Farm’s ranks — but no one’s buying that this is some sort of simple yoga-driven nature retreat.

Polly and Alice dropped Juniper and Dagwood over a fire and, they frickin’ floated. Yes, Betty had a seizure right after that happened and chances are Alice and Polly will try to convince her she imagined the whole thing — but she didn’t. Those babies flew, and that is some dark magic, end-of-days nonsense. There have also been rumors that Edgar and his daughter Evelyn will become the Coopers’ neighbors this season, and that she and Betty will form a friendship. Run away, Betty, run far away.

The Zombie Apocalypse Might Be Coming

Riverdale Greendale Afterlife with Archie zombie apocalypse Season 3 premiere

Look, it could legitimately happen. Riverdale showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s popular Archie comic series, Afterlife With Archie, is all about the Riverdale gang surviving (and sometimes not surviving) the zombie apocalypse. He’s been dropping some serious hints that fans might want to pay attention to that source material — for example, the Season 3 mid-series finale is called “Outbreak.”

Last season Riverdale started to set us up for a transition into the gruesome supernatural Episode 7, “Tales from the Darkside.” Remember that zombie-looking deer on the road to Greendale? Don’t forget Farmer McGinty‘s ominous words: “You never know on the road to Greendale.”

Hot Dog Could Be Patient Zero

Riverdale Hot Dog Jughead Afterlife with Archie Season 3 premiere

In Afterlife With Archie, Hot Dog is the first being to become infected with the zombie virus before it spreads to Jughead, who in turn becomes Jugdead, King of the Zombies (seriously, read this comic series). It’s a heartbreaking theory, but making Hot Dog a key player in the first episode of Season 3 — and emphasizing how much Jughead loves him — might be setting the pup up to play a crucial (and tragic) role this season.

Enter Sabrina Spellman

Riverdale Sabrina Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Afterlife with Archie

As we all know, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina — Aguirre-Sacasa’s magical new Riverdale companion show premiering on Netflix October 26 — is all about Greendale’s favorite teenage witch. The show will inevitably offer the opportunity for the crossover of our dreams. Sabrina’s already a major player in Afterlife, where she technically started the zombie apocalypse by resurrecting Hot Dog.

After using the dreaded Necronomicon to bring her friend Jughead’s dog back from the dead, Sabrina’s aunts banish Sabrina to witch limbo as punishment. Later, she’s transported to a horrifying H.P. Lovecraft-inspired nether realm and becomes the bride of Cthulhu. It’s a lot, and that probably won’t all happen on Riverdale or Chilling Adventures, but it would be pretty badass to see Sabrina swoop in to lend her neighbors across Sweetwater River a magical hand in the event of a zombie apocalypse.

Betty Might Die

Betty Cooper Jughead Jones Riverdale Season 3 premiere

It’s extremely unlikely, and no one could emotionally deal with the permanent loss of Bughead, but Aguirre-Sacasa did tease a major death in “Outbreak” — and the most recent issue of Afterlife with Archie is titled “Betty: R.I.P.,” so it’s not impossible. She technically isn’t dead in the comics (yet), but no one’s safe in a zombie apocalypse. Not even the core four.

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