The Best Riverdale Episodes (So Far), Ranked

Veronica and Archie in Riverdale.
(Image credit: The CW)

The CW has been producing hit shows for some time. Some of their biggest have been the fantasy series, The Vampire Diaries, or perhaps the dystopian TV show, The 100. But, another that made quite the splash when it debuted was Riverdale, a story about a supposedly quiet little town in upstate New York that’s filled with secrets. 

As someone who has watched the show from the very beginning, I feel qualified to talk about which of these episodes are the best, because of the twists and turns, the romances, and everything else. Luckily for you, we’re not going to go through the whole series, but just talk about the top 10. Here are Riverdale’s best episodes so far. 

Veronica in Riverdale.

(Image credit: The CW)

10. “Chapter Seventy-Nine: Graduation,” Season 5, Episode 3

Ah, one of the first episodes of Season 5, “Graduation” is exactly what you would expect it to be - the group’s graduation from Riverdale High after their several years of crime-solving together, and looking at what was going to happen in their future. 

I’ll be honest - Season 5 of Riverdale is not that great. I said nearly a year ago that I was having problems with the show, and how it was starting to go in a different direction that I wasn’t a huge fan of. And that’s exactly where Season 5 went. 

However, I can appreciate this episode for the fact that it’s finally over. This same group of kids have been on Riverdale for so long, going through so much horrible stuff, and now, they’re finally free to go and live the rest of their lives. 

Do they come back to their town not that long after? Yeah, and it kind of ruins the emotional aspect of this episode. I still enjoy it wholeheartedly for the memories it created for fans of the show, and capping off the kids' time at Riverdale High. 

The Vixens in Riverdale.

(Image credit: The CW)

9. “Chapter Thirty-Two: Prisoners,” Season 2, Episode 19

“Prisoners,” is one of the last episodes of Season 2 of Riverdale, primarily following Betty and her tango with the Black Hood, leading to an all out brawl between the people she cares for the most, and the ones she hates. 

The Black Hood storyline for Season 2 of Riverdale is good. Not as great as the first season, but I genuinely enjoy the murder mystery and the fear this villain would bring to each of the characters, as they tried to figure out what to do. But, the reason why this episode makes the list is because of Betty. 

Lili Reinhart is fantastic and acts her ass off in this episode, giving amazing character development to Betty, showing that she’s far darker than we ever thought she was, and is willing to work with the enemy to protect the people she cares about. 

Jughead and a cop in Riverdale.

(Image credit: The CW)

8. “Chapter Twenty: Tales from the Darkside,” Season 2, Episode 7

In Season 2, Episode 7 of Riverdale (titled “Tales from the Darkside”), the residents are put to the test after chilling letters are delivered to all of them, challenging them all to try and remain sinless for 48 hours or the Black Hood will kill again. 

While most of this episode feels like buildup to the very end, it was a worthy way to go about it, and feels wonderfully done. That moment where the Black Hood calls Pop’s and says that they still failed, and that they better get ready - that is the best way to build anticipation for this villain. 

We had seen what the Black Hood was capable of before this, but there’s just something about this moment that sends chills all up and down the spine. Brilliantly done, and I wish there had been more buildup like this in later seasons. 

Jughead and Betty in Riverdale.

(Image credit: The CW)

7. “Chapter Seventy-Three: The Locked Room,” Season 4, Episode 16

Next up, we have “The Locked Room,” Season 4, Episode 16 of Riverdale. In this episode, Betty and Jughead take it upon themselves to explain everything that has happened to them, and how they were able to pull off their biggest stunt yet. 

All of Season 4 almost feels like a blur with how happened. So many times, it felt like someone was going to die, but then Riverdale took a 180 and made sure that these people would live another day. I have to admit, I am impressed by how they managed to answer all of the questions I had in this one episode. 

Seriously, from the confusion surrounding Jughead’s “death,” to the careful planning of everything, it was intriguing to see it all broken down, all because of a locked room. I’d definitely watch the episode again. 

Jughead and FP in Riverdale.

(Image credit: The CW)

6. “Chapter Thirty-Three: Shadow of a Doubt,” Season 2, Episode 20

Next is “Shadow of a Doubt,” in Season 2 of Riverdale. Here, Betty starts to turn to Cheryl for help when she has a suspicion about who the Black Hood might be, while strange letters begin to pop up everywhere, leaving the town on high alert (as if it weren't already).

Mainly, I love this episode for the fact that we really get to see Betty and Cheryl work as a team. While we knew they were family at this point, we never really saw them get along super well, and it’s a plot point and relationship I really wanted to see explored more in later seasons.  

The effort and work they both put into trying to figure out who the Black Hood is still amazes me to this day. 

The Midnight Club in Riverdale.

(Image credit: The CW)

5. “Chapter Thirty-Nine: The Midnight Club,” Season 3, Episode 4

In this throwback episode of Riverdale - starring the same actors playing their characters' parents - we get to see the past of Riverdale High, showing how the iconic characters and their parents connect to everything else that is currently happening in town. 

I’ll be honest - this is my biased favorite episode of Riverdale. There are clearly better written and produced episodes, as we’ll see later, but I’ll always have a special place in my heart for this one, for the fact that this group reminds me of a twisted version of The Breakfast Club characters. 

Each of the cast members play the young versions of their parents so perfectly, from Lili Reinhart’s portrayal of Betty’s badass mother, to Veronica’s style of Hermione Lodge - it’s such a fun episode, and I really wished we had gotten to see more like it down the line. 

Archie and his buddies in Riverdale.

(Image credit: The CW)

4. “Chapter Thirty-Four: Judgment Night,” Season 2, Episode 21

Season 2, Episode 21 of Riverdale is “Judgement Night,” telling the story of when a bad accident happens at the Sheriff's Station, and war is sparked between the Northside and Southside, leading to a fight for their lives, while everyone else is dealing with revelations and people looking for revenge. 

Excellent, excellent payoff. This is how a penultimate episode is done. I love this episode for the simplicity of it. This was before Riverdale started adding in weird magic and strange monsters and everything else; when it was just two factions of a town and a serial killer on the loose. 

And, somehow, someway, everything is solved. Well, not solved, but figured out, and now, it’s up to Betty, Archie, and everyone else to stay alive on the night their pasts begin to catch up to them. It’s suspenseful, thrilling, and everything you could want in an episode like this. 

Archie and his mother in Riverdale.

(Image credit: The CW)

3. “Chapter Fifty-Eight: In Memoriam,” Season 4, Episode 1

In this tribute episode of Riverdale, “In Memoriam,” the premiere episode of Season 4, we follow the loss of Archie’s father after he is killed in a car crash, and Archie's devastating crash with reality as he realizes his dad is gone. 

Rest in peace, Luke Perry. This episode is moving all around. While it’s not as action-packed and suspenseful as many of the other episodes of Riverdale, it was a necessary story, showcasing how impactful Perry’s character was to the show, and sending him off without leaving any questions. 

The Riverdale cast had fantastic performances, coupled with a genuine story of friendship in your lowest times, and showing that no matter what you’ve gone through, there will always be someone there to take care of you and keep you comforted in your darkest moments. As someone who was a big fan of Fred and everything he did, I cried a lot the first time this came out, and still find myself sniffling anytime I find myself binge-watching the show. Such a beautiful tribute. 

Betty, Jughead, Veronica and Archie in Riverdale.

(Image credit: The CW)

2. “Chapter Twelve: Anatomy of a Murder,” Season 1, Episode 12

The penultimate episode of Season 1 of Riverdale, “Anatomy of a Murder,” follows the gang as they go on a quest for the truth, hunting down the pieces to uncover this season’s biggest mystery, and shocked at the consequences of who killed Jason Bloom.

While I have a special place in my heart for the penultimate episode of Season 2, this one will always stand out creatively. It was like the perfect bow on the mystery that captured everyone’s attention, from the clues, to the reveal of who did it, to the very ending sequence. Everything was so delicately crafted that it felt like a true murder mystery, one that almost reminded me of Knives Out

But, what really makes this episode so great is the build-up it does for the next and last episode of Season 1. 

Betty, Jughead and Veronica in Riverdale.

(Image credit: The CW)

1. “Chapter Thirteen: The Sweet Hereafter,” Season 1, Episode 13

Lastly, we have “The Sweet Hereafter,” the season finale for Season 1 of Riverdale. It’s the aftermath of the group finding out the truth, and now, they must wrestle with the reality of what has happened, and what might occur next in their little, dangerous town. 

This is, hands down, the best episode of Riverdale, and I personally think it will forever remain that because of how well it was handled. From Cheryl’s dealings with grief, to her suicide attempt in the lake, to how the gang saved her and said they’d never let her drown, even after all the shit she has put them through - it’s all wonderfully done, ending the season in a way that makes Riverdale feel worthy of a second season. 

Even better? They properly set up for the next season with the ultimate cliffhanger, as one of the characters supposedly gets shot and it cuts suddenly to black. It’s masterful and the best way to get viewers to tune in again - which I did do the next season. Such a great episode, and one that isn’t talked about enough. 

If you’re looking to binge all of Riverdale so far, the first five seasons are available to stream on Netflix, while the rest are coming out on The CW now. Will any of Season 6 make it on this list? Or perhaps Season 7? I’m not sure. All I do know is that Riverdale will be a part of the 2022 TV schedule, and we’re going to be watching the ridiculousness all the same as we normally would. 

Alexandra Ramos
Content Producer

A self-proclaimed nerd and lover of Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire, Alexandra Ramos is a Content Producer at CinemaBlend. She first started off working in December 2020 as a Freelance Writer after graduating from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in Journalism and a minor in English. She primarily works in features for movies, TV, and sometimes video games. (Please don't debate her on The Last of Us 2, it was amazing!) She is also the main person who runs both our daily newsletter, The CinemaBlend Daily, and our ReelBlend newsletter.