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Why was ‘Riverdale’ cancelled?

The backstory of the quirky murder-mystery ‘Archie’ spinoff, as it comes to a close.

The CW’s Riverdale will be coming to an end after season 7 and there’s a lot more to the story than meets the eye. The network has just cancelled many of its shows, including Dynasty, Charmed, Naomi, In the Dark, Batwoman, 4400, Legends of Tomorrow, and Roswell, New Mexico, but Riverdale‘s cancellation might be the biggest surprise of them all.

Riverdale, created by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, first premiered on the CW in 2017 and it took the world by storm. The characters Archie (KJ Apa), Betty (Lili Reinhart), Veronica (Camilla Mendes), and Jughead (Cole Sprouse) were thrust back into the pop culture zeitgeist, and whether you watched the show or not, you knew of its existence. The story, a juicy murder mystery set in a small town, drew people in with its pep and its many interesting characters, but like all things, much has changed over the years.

The story has ventured further and further away from its more humble roots and into supernatural territory. There’s always been a sense of campiness in the series, but it’s definitely leaned more into musicals, horror elements, superpowers, alternate timelines, and metaphysical plotlines with mixed results. Some have felt that the series has strayed too far and no longer possesses that same magic that once had the world in its clutches.

From TVs Series Finale, the ratings for the series have reflected the drop in interest. Riverdale season 5 managed to average a Nielsen rating of 0.11 in the 18-49 demo, and apart from the season 6 premiere episode, the series hasn’t reached that number again.

Currently, the CW is going through a transitionary stage, with Warner Bros. and Viacom in the process of selling the network to the affiliate group Nexstar. It’s likely restructuring its shows and refining what the new version is going to look like, similar to the newly-merged Warner Bros. Discovery adjusting what projects the company will create moving forward.

TV Line reported that CW CEO and chairman Mark Pedowitz made the announcement during an executive call and spoke on behalf of Aguirre-Sacasa and the cast, saying, “We want to make sure it goes out the right way. I think they, too, felt that seven years is the right amount. As a fan myself, I do want to do what is right for the show.”

It’s very likely that the actors have played a big part in the final decision. Back in 2020, KJ Apa revealed to the Los Angeles Times that he and his castmates signed a three-year contract, which would mean that 2023 was always the potential end of the series. The timing of so much upheaval could be chalked up to coincidence, or another reason to pull the plug on one of the CW’s biggest successes.

About the author

Ethan Alexander