Even if you've never read the comics, you're probably familiar with the Archie characters.
What you might not know is that in 2015, they all got a serious makeover.
Archie first appeared in 1941 as "America's typical teenager", a clumsy guy who loves playing guitar and will go to any lengths to impress the opposite sex (and somehow manages to do it, despite dicking Betty and Veronica around a lot). Riverdale Archie is more angsty than klutzy, but he still loves the guitar and girls – although so far the focus is less on the iconic love triangle and more on his affair with his teacher. Also he spends a lot more time shirtless (not that I'm complaining).
Like her comic counterpart, Riverdale's Betty is the quintessential girl next door – smart, kind, charitable, and crushing hard on her best friend Archie. In the show, she's into cheerleading rather than sports, and she also has a very dysfunctional family and a troubled side that will no doubt come out more as the season progresses.
Veronica Lodge has long been the rich, spoiled new girl who often toys with Archie's affections and undermines her best friend Betty Cooper (although their friendship always endures). Riverdale seems to have consciously shifted to a more consistently kind Veronica, with the character herself making reference to how different she is to the "old" Veronica. They've also added in money, marriage, and legal troubles for the Lodge family, because everyone gets more drama on the CW.
Jughead Jones is one of the Riverdale characters who is most different to his comic book version. He's still an outsider, but whereas in the comics he gives zero fucks and is pretty damn lazy, on the show he is much more of a tortured teen, proactively trying to solve the murder mystery and write a noir novel. While Archie and Jughead are pretty solid in the comics, they have a weird rift going on in the show. Plus, the always-hungry Jughead is sadly yet to consume a single hamburger on screen, and there's no indication so far that the show will stay true to his long-standing hatred of relationships (which was confirmed as asexuality in 2016). At least he still has that crown beanie.
Reggie has always been a bit of a jerk, loving nothing more than wreaking havoc with his schemes and practical jokes. He's Archie's arch-rival in most things, especially when it comes to dating Veronica (and occasionally Betty). We haven't seen too much of Reggie on Riverdale yet, but so far he's sticking to the douchey jock archetype.
Like the original comic character, Riverdale Cheryl is rich, vain, manipulative, and frankly, a bitch. But she's already developing some layers in the aftermath of the murder of her brother Jason, which will no doubt deepen further as the plot unravels over the season.
Kevin made headlines when he was introduced in the comics in 2010 and became the first openly gay character in the Archie universe. He was the new kid in town, having spent his childhood moving around because his father was in the military. In the show Kevin is the only openly gay character so far, but he seems to have grown up in Riverdale and is Betty's best friend. His dad is the sheriff on the show.
Josie and the Pussycats (a.k.a. Melody and Valerie)
Josie and the Pussycats haven't received a ton of development on Riverdale so far – especially Melody and Valerie, who have barely had any lines – but their status as the best teen band in town remains the same. Josie herself seems to have a bit more attitude than her friendly comic counterpart, but from what we've seen she still has a loyal and good heart. And while the band may have ditched the catsuits, the iconic ears are thankfully here to stay.
Moose is a big, dumb jock in both the comics and the show, but there's one significant difference: Whereas in the books he's devoted to his girlfriend Midge, to the point of possessive obsession, Riverdale has made him secretly interested in Kevin, and Midge is nowhere to be seen (although Kevin did mention her in passing once).
Um, yeah. There's just a BIT of difference between comics Grundy and show Grundy. Just a bit. Like, in the comics she's a strict and prudish old teacher, and in the show she's younger, hotter, and having sex with Archie. Then there's the fact that actually, she's not really Miss Grundy at all. Gotta love a stolen identity plot.
Ethel is a boy-crazy teen who is particularly obsessed with Jughead in the comics. She hasn't gotten much screentime on the show, but she's so far shown zero interest in Jughead, instead getting involved in a girl-powered revenge plot against the fuckboys of Riverdale. Here's hoping we see more of her.