Rivervale Explained (Is It An Alternate Universe?)

Riverdale season 6 takes viewers to the town of Rivervale, and Rivervale explained a lot of the strange events happening in Riverdale. Rivervale was the core setting of the five-episode event launching the Sabrina crossover and Riverdale‘s penultimate season. In Riverdale season 6, episode 1, “Welcome to Rivervale,” Jughead serves as the host for a Twilight Zone-like storytelling format, introducing the world to the new setting. While Riverdale had its fair share of odd events, Rivervale takes the unusual elements up a few notches. Not only does Riverdale quickly jump into animal sacrifices, curses, and pregnancies, the series also kills Archie in the season 6 premiere episode.


Rivervale isn’t a dream, and it remains the setting for the first five episodes of Riverdale season 6. The town is nearly identical to Riverdale, except for the fact that the supernatural seems to run rampant. Rivervale contains everything from character doppelgängers to ritualized sacrifices and its location starts out steeped in mystery. Riverdale showrunners crafted a backstory for Rivervale going back hundreds of years, and since there are basically two sets of the same characters, the Rivervale storyline can get pretty confusing. In season 6, Riverdale explained some of its strange goings-on, and it was Jughead who fully unearthed the mystery of Rivervale.

Rivervale Is An Alternate Dimension

Cheryl holding Archie's heart in Riverdale season 6

Rivervale explained many of the strange events in season 6, as it was discovered that the town is technically a parallel alternate dimension, also known as an alternate pocket universe. Though the shadow town’s inhabitants are the same as Riverdale, everyone’s behavior is exaggerated to a degree. Jughead, for example, often served as Riverdale‘s narrator, but in season 6, the character is the host aware of the mystery that breaks the fourth wall. Archie and Betty are basically blown into this alternate universe after the bomb goes off. However, much of Rivervale explained Percival Pickens’ backstory and how he was a settler in the 1500s.

Each Rivervale episode ends with a major character death, and then said character wakes up in the Riverdale universe, suggesting it’s all a dream. However, Rivervale is very real, and this is proven when Jughead starts to see cracks in the universe. He sees characters in their season 1 digs and those who were previously murdered are suddenly alive. This leads Jughead to the comics and his friend Dilton, and both explain that Rivervale was created with the bomb and both universes are unstable as long as they both exist. A doppelgänger Jughead shows up and offers to sacrifice himself to keep writing Rivervale stories to keep the universe going.

Rivervale Wasn’t A Dream (And Showrunner Robert Aguiree-Sacas Teased It Was Real Early On)

Riverdale season 6 Rivervale Archie Cheryl Betty

In an interview (via TVLine), Aguirre-Sacasa confirmed that Rivervale explained its existence in Riverdale season 6 and lives within the show’s canon. Though he wouldn’t confirm alternate dimensions or dreams at the time, he stated, “things that happen in Rivervale would continue or echo or speak to the events of Riverdale.” Aguirre-Sacasa also mentioned the term “in continuity,” suggesting whatever occurs in Rivervale will affect Riverdale and presumably the main timeline following the five-episode event. That means Archie’s death will remain in the storyline in some fashion. That said, Aguirre-Sacasa had a few tricks up his sleeves for the rest of the Rivervale story.

One of the most anticipated elements of the Rivervale story and Riverdale season 6 was the arrival of Sabrina Spellman. The character from Chilling Adventures of Sabrina made her CW series debut for a crossover event despite dying in her own show. Her presence and the confirmation of witchcraft in Riverdale certainly open the door for mysterious parallel dimensions like Rivervale. Magic and spells could’ve been a fitting explanation for the Rivervale setting switch, but ultimately the Sabrina crossover served to embellish Cheryl Blossom’s story. Riverdale cleared up some of the mysteries that Rivervale explained, but there’s still enough intrigue there to keep the narrative going if it were needed.

The 1950s Riverdale In Season 7 Wasn’t Rivervale

Betty and Archie sharing a milkshake on Riverdale

Since Rivervale explained that it’s technically a parallel universe, many thought that Riverdale‘s final season taking viewers to the 1950s meant that something similar was going on to season 6. However, this isn’t the case. Riverdale season 7 makes the confusing move of starting in 1955, mirroring the pilot episode by seeing Veronica return to town. It seems as though the character’s memories have been wiped clean, and they’re much closer to their comic book counterparts than ever before. Viewers really are seeing the Riverdale cast back in the 1950s after Percival Pickens was able to break free from the Rivervale universe in season 6.

He tried to aim Bailey’s Comet at Riverdale, but was seemingly stopped by Cheryl after Veronica imbued her with everyone else’s superpower. Jughead goes looking for answers as to why they’re now in 1955, and when all hope seems lost, Tabitha tells him the truth. Tabitha claims that despite Cheryl’s efforts, Bailey’s Comet did collide with Riverdale and Tabitha used her remaining powers to send the group back in time to hopefully create a better Riverdale than before. Even more complicated than the Rivervale issue, this means there are now a number of timelines knotted up that Tabitha will have to explore and unwind to bring a satisfying conclusion to Riverdale.

Leave a Comment