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The CW just canceled one of its most popular shows after seven seasons — here’s why

The CW network logo on TV
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

All good things must come to an end, and for fans of Riverdale, that mantra is ringing very true right now. The CW has just confirmed (via Deadline (opens in new tab)) that the teen drama series will wrap up after its seventh season. 

Riverdale was a big hit for the youth-focused network, and its absence will be sorely felt by the show's legion of passionate fans. While Riverdale did endure various internet memes at its own expense, not to mention criticism surrounding its handling of minority characters, it actually received strong reviews from critics. And most importantly, strong ratings in The CW’s key demographic. 

Based on The Archie Comics series, Riverdale was originally conceived as a feature film before being molded into a TV show. It follows a group of teenagers trying to solve the murder of a fellow classmate while also unraveling the dark secrets of their supposedly innocent town. Or at least, that was the premise of the show’s first season. 

Over the years Riverdale has got increasingly more ridiculous with wilder and wilder plot points being added to the mix. These have ranged from a crossover with The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, to the main cast gaining superpowers. The currently airing sixth season involves parallel universes and the Holy Grail. Riverdale definitely jumped the shark a while ago, so its wrap-up is perhaps overdue. 

Riverdale stars KJ Apa as Archie Andrews, Lili Reinhart as Betty Cooper, Camila Mendes as Veronica Lodge and Cole Sprouse as Jughead Jones. As noted, the show is currently airing its sixth season, which is due to conclude on May 29. Its seventh, and now final, season is expected to debut later this year, with its current episode count unknown. 

Why did The CW cancel Riverdale?  

The cast of Riverdale

(Image credit: The CW)

In the wake of Riverdale’s imminent end being set in stone, the CEO of The CW, Mark Pedowitz, said: “seven years is the right amount.”

“I am a big believer of giving series that have had a long run an appropriate send-off. We had a long conversation with [executive producer] Roberto [Aguirre-Sacasa] yesterday and he is thrilled with the decision,” said Pedowitz. “We are going to treat the show in the manner it deserves. It’s been an iconic pop culture star and we want to make sure that it goes out the right way.”

It would appear the show’s creative team and The CW were all in agreement that after seven years it was time to call time on the series. Another potential reason for the show’s cancelation could be contractual. 

In 2020, KJ Apa told the Los Angeles Times (opens in new tab) that the main cast had contracts that ran until 2023. Rather than look to sort new contracts in order to continue the show beyond next year, it would appear The CW has instead decided to bring Riverdale to a close. 

We can only speculate as to the reason for this decision but perhaps the core actors didn’t want to sign fresh terms, or The CW may have felt that negotiating new contracts would have been too expensive. 

Regardless of whether the decision to end the popular show was creatively motivated or was due to financial reasons, Riverdale is definitely coming to an end with its next season. 

This is just the latest disappointing news in what has been a bruising month for loyal viewers of The CW. Earlier this month the network canceled seven shows at once including multiple reboots and comic book series. But at least The Flash has been renewed for season nine, which is good news... I guess. 

In other streaming news, we've got our eyes on the one Apple TV Plus show you should binge-watch — as its second season is about to start.

Rory Mellon

Rory is a Deals Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on deals, gaming and streaming. When he’s not scouring retailers for PS5 restock or writing hot takes on the latest gaming hardware and streaming shows, he can be found attending music festivals and being thoroughly disappointed by his terrible football team.