Why Did the CW Cancel Riverdale? 5 Reasons People Love (or Hate) the Show
In the Battle Royale of low-budget teen dramas, the Archieverse falls dead. Here’s five moments that could have gotten the show canceled, but didn’t.
There used to be three certainties in this life: death, taxes, and that the CW would give its shows infinite renewals. But in a surprise upset, this year the CW pulled the plug on several of its shows, including a lot of reboots and spinoffs. First Batwoman got the ax, then Legends of Tomorrow (RIP), then Naomi, Legacies, 4400, Roswell, In the Dark, Charmed, and Dynasty.
Then the fateful news finally dropped: in 2023, the network will air season seven of Riverdale, and then—it’ll all be over. The show will finally end.
Why did this happen? Some of the canceled shows, like Riverdale, still have a season left to wrap up, but many already finished their seasons on cliffhangers under the assumption that the CW would renew them ad infinitum. Legends of Tomorrow in particular had just introduced Donald Faison as Booster Gold, but now we’ll never get to see his story play out. So why did this happen?
Why did so many CW shows get canceled?
There are a lot of possible reasons for the cancellations: for one, the lease for some CW filming studios recently expired, and it seems the network wasn’t interested in committing to another several-year contract.1 In addition, CBS and Warner Bros. (the latter having just merged with Discovery) are looking to sell the CW after reports that the network has never actually turned a profit on its own.2
The CW’s un-profit-ability was never a problem before because the network had a distribution deal with Netflix: the streaming giant would get the on-demand rights to all of its shows and the CW would make a pretty penny. That’s the reason Riverdale is marketed as a Netflix Original outside of the US. However, that deal ended in 2019 as the CW wanted to save its content for its own streaming services, HBO Max and Paramount+, which are now Netflix’s direct competitors.3
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How did Riverdale survive this long?
With all of this corporate reshuffling, it was in the network’s best interests to cancel any shows tied up in the Netflix deal. But somehow, Riverdale got lucky and was granted an extra season to wrap up that many other shows didn’t get. Why does Riverdale get special treatment?
“Listen up fives, a ten is speaking.”
Riverdale’s writing is infamous for its hammy, meme-able style. To put it simply, it’s weird. It’s a weirdo. It doesn’t fit in, and it doesn’t want to fit in. But somehow the highs and lows of high school football were never enough to get this show canceled, and the “cringier” the dialogue grew, the more press it got.
What genre is this show again?
Even in its early seasons, Riverdale’s plot has never really been a normal one. Every character feels like they’re on a different show. Take this plotline from seasons three and four, where local organ-harvesting cult leader Edgar Evernever builds a rocket and dons a star-spangled jumpsuit. At the time, it felt like maybe the show had jumped the shark—or rocket?—but somehow, Riverdale had more mummified mothman bodies to give.
Cheryl Blossom, Queen of the Bees
Instead of going quietly into that good night, the Archieverse took a sharp turn into the weird, and after seasons of floating babies and Gargoyle Kings, finally started introducing actual magic-filled, occult storylines. But it never would have happened without Cheryl’s first forays into witchcraft—or stage magic, or advanced apiculture techniques? It’s actually not really clear what was going on with this whole subplot.
Dr. Jughead and the Multiverse of Madness (now in theaters)
In a move that confused even devout viewers, the sixth season of Riverdale opened with a literal bang. A well-hidden bomb under Betty and Archie’s bed propelled the story into a parallel universe, Rivervale, where Reggie sells his soul to the actual devil and it turns out that Cheryl Never Existed, Actually. The whole five-episode event concludes with Jughead going to heaven, learning about Archie Comics, meeting his multiversal doppelganger, and sacrificing himself to become a “living battery” with the powers of a god.
This whole confusing special might have actually made the previous five seasons of ill-placed Doritos product placements worth it.
The weirdest Krypto the Superdog reboot we didn’t know we needed
There’s one reason we really think Riverdale lived to stream another day, and his name is B-I-N-G-O. Following the events of Rivervale, Archie, Betty, and Jughead wake up with superpowers and decide that great power comes with great responsibility, using their new abilities to confront a mind-controlling, inexplicably British supervillain.
But they’re not the only heroes in Riverdale: Archie’s dog Bingo (named after his friend who died in “The War,” don’t ask) gains a Wolverine-y healing factor and saves Archie from a trash-themed serial killer. But it seems that even Bingo’s invulnerability could only revive Riverdale so much.
1. Brian Cronin, CBR.com, “The Real Reason for Batwoman and Legends of Tomorrow’s Cancellation Is Not What You’d Expect,” May 2022. Accessed May 18, 2022.
2. Lesley Goldberg, Alex Weprin, The Hollywood Reporter, “ViacomCBS and WarnerMedia Exploring Sale of The CW,” January 2022. Accessed May 18, 2022.
3. Lesley Goldberg, The Hollywood Reporter, “Mad About The CW Cancellations? Blame Streaming, But Also Its Unusual Corporate Structure,” May 2022. Accessed May 18, 2022.