Riverdale finally answered all of the biggest questions from the past season in its Season 3 finale on Wednesday night, but surprisingly, the most shocking moment of the episode was not the Gargoyle King reveal. Spoiler alert: This post contains spoilers from the Riverdale Season 3 finale, "Survive the Night." The real gasp-worthy twist came at the very end of the episode, when the series unexpectedly flashed forward to spring break of senior year and teased Jughead's impending death. Of course, fans already have Riverdale Season 4 theories about Jughead's fate, so let's dive into them.
The scene that has every Riverdale fan scratching their heads and theorizing up a storm after that Season 3 finale was the brief flash-forward to spring break of senior year, which teased the new central mystery for Season 4. In the scene, Archie, Betty, and Veronica are all standing around a fire in the woods in their underwear, covered in blood. Betty matter-of-factly instructs her two friends to burn their clothes and never speak of this ever again, and tells Archie to burn Jughead's bloody beanie as well. Something bad clearly went down, but what? Here are some of the most popular fan theories right now.
1. Jughead gets killed.
Clearly, this is what that the show wants us to think, and the scene does heavily suggest that Archie, Betty, and Jughead are mourning the death of their friend. Jughead is notably absent from the scene, and his beanie (which he never takes off) is bloodied and thrown into the fire. But while this seems like what the scene is hinting at, it is hard to imagine that Riverdale would kill off Jughead, who not only serves as a main character but also the narrator for the show.
2. Jughead will kill Charles Smith.
The other likely option is that Jughead will wind up killing someone and rely on his friends to help him cover up the murder. This theory would explain why Betty takes charge in the clothes-burning (she is the most devoted to protecting Jughead), and Jughead could be off burying the body while his accomplices take care of the details.
One of the most popular theories blowing up on Reddit is that the newly introduced Charles Smith may be the person that Jughead kills. We still don't know really anything about Charles, so he could turn out to be an antagonist just as easily as an ally, but we do know that he is most connected to Betty and Jughead as the half-brother of both of them. If things do go south with Charles, then it will likely be Betty and Jughead who lead the charge to take him down.
3. The Core Four will kill Hiram Lodge.
Another possible murder target for Archie, Betty, Veronica, and Jughead would be none other than the mafia boss who has been making their lives hell for the past two years. Although Hiram ended up in prison at the end of Season 3, the finale showed that he is still totally in control behind bars and has a plan to get revenge on his daughter. It feels likely that Hiram will get out of jail soon enough and start threatening the Core Four again. The group has come close to killing Hiram before, so maybe they will finally pull it off in Season 4 and then have to cover up the murder.
4. They are performing some sort of spell.
OK, I will admit that this theory is by far the least likely, but the blood, the nakedness, the dark woods, the fire, the burning of clothes... it all feels a lot more like Riverdale's spinoff show Chilling Adventures of Sabrina rather than Riverdale itself. Fans have been clamoring for a proper crossover between the shows, and maybe Season 4 will deliver that by having Archie, Betty, and Veronica use Jughead's beanie as the catalyst for some sort of magical ritual that Sabrina taught to them. It sounds wild, but hey — something like that happened in the comics, so who knows!?
We won't know for sure what is going on in that flash-forward scene until Riverdale Season 4 premieres. The new season is expected to begin airing this October.