There are many mysteries abounding The CW's freshman drama Riverdale, chief among them why every man, woman and child in town is so dang thirsty for Archie Andrews (KJ Apa). But after that, the biggest puzzle on the show involves Archie's fellow ginger, Jason Blossom (Trevor Stines) — specifically, who kidnapped and then murdered him the summer before the series premiere.
Since Riverdale is a classic noir, seven episodes in, we've already been gifted some juicy red herrings — sorry, make that "suspects." But while the show wants us to point fingers at obvious choices like gang member Forsythe "FP" Jones II (Skeet Ulrich), shady dad Hal Cooper (Lochlyn Munro), and even poor, sweet broody teen snowflake Jughead (Cole Sprouse), Riverdale's dedicated fandom has other, definitely even better ideas on whodunnit.
Here are some of our favorites — from the totally plausible to the totally insane:
1. Betty Cooper's alter ego killed Jason
One popular fan theory is that Betty (Lili Reinhart) calling Chuck (Jordan Calloway) "Jason" while referring to herself as her sister Polly (Tiera Skovbye) in the third episode wasn't a fluke — Betty was having a psychotic break. The original fan theory was that Polly never existed at all, and instead was some sort of Betty alternate personality, but this has already been disproven by Polly's appearance on the show.
However, we have seen Betty totally lose herself to her own anger in the past, so it's not hard to imagine Betty going full-on "Polly" on Jason once she learned of her sister's fate.
Also, many have pointed out that the "writing camp" Betty attended over the summer sounds like too convenient an alibi (Toni Morrison was there?), and that she could have been housed in a group home like Polly's by her overbearing parents instead.
This isn't our favorite theory since we love Reinhart's take on Betty, and it certainly doesn't explain the drugs in Jason's car, or why he was tortured for an entire week. But having one of Riverdale's four leads (and one of the comics' most iconic characters) be its Season 1 killer would be an extremely bold choice for the show — one that, if pulled off well, could generate even more buzz for Season 2.
Now this is a good one.
Sure, Hiram Lodge is locked away in prison, but we've already seen that he's more than capable of pulling the strings behind bars. Reddit user McSlever posits that Hiram had FP and the Southside Serpents murder Jason from the slammer, hurting his financial rival Cliff Blossom (Barclay Hope) and setting up a Scooby Doo-esque cheapened real estate opportunity — in this case, the drive-in — in Riverdale due to murder panic in one fell swoop.
It's a good theory, and one that we could totally see paying off in the long-run as Riverdale's top families continue to go to war.
3. Clifford Blossom killed Jason because Jason found out he was Archie's biological father
Though Molly Ringwald is already signed on to play Archie's mom Mary, it's not implausible that Arch got some of those redhead genes from Cliff Blossom. Jason's dear old dad has been noticeably cold and distant following his son's death, and some feel that this could be an indicator of his own involvement in the murder. Perhaps Jason found out about his father's darkest secret, and attempted to blackmail him to procure money for Polly and the baby? Perhaps Cliff had FP and the Serpents kidnap his own son to scare him straight, and something went wrong along the way?
Stranger things have happened, and Riverdale is putting so much effort into reminding us that Archie and Jason looked alike — heck, even Cheryl got them confused at the pep rally — that we'd be surprised if they weren't related.
4. Fred Andrews killed Jason for reasons TBD
We already think that Luke Perry signed on to do a Harry Hamlin in a Veronica Mars-esque one-season stint as Riverdale's Big Bad. Yes, his motive for killing Jason has not yet been revealed, but he does owe FP a major favor — the same FP who currently has Jason's letterman jacket — and he doesn't yet have an alibi for July 4.
We saw that Fred was willing to cook the books and bend the truth for Jughead, so why not lie, cheat, and steal to cover his own butt, too?
5. Someone killed Jason by accident; Archie was the intended victim
Again, Archie and Jason's uncanny resemblance has been pointed out multiple times this season. And while it definitely seems like Jason was a shadier dude than Archie (you know, given the drugs in his car and the hookup book and the crazy-creepy parents), Reddit user BeauHawkins thinks that either Archie's dad's business, his mysterious mother or his relationship with Miss Grundy (Sarah Habel) made him privy to some information that someone else wanted.
So this someone kidnapped "Archie" and tortured him for a week to get this information, then shot him and unceremoniously dumped his body once they found out they captured the wrong redhead at Sweetwater River. Yikes.
6. Kevin Keller killed Jason because he was in love with him
We get why this theory is gaining steam. It's entirely plausible that Jason bullied Kevin (Casey Cott) for being gay, or that Kevin and Jason were in love but Jason ended it, or some sort of combination of the two. Also, he did recommend The Talented Mr. Ripley for movie night, he discovered Jason's body, and he might have easy access to firearms thanks to his father's job.
But we think Riverdale is smart enough not to make its sole LGBTQ lead a cold-blooded killer and hope this one doesn't end up being true.
7. Jason killed himself after being tied up for a week by a sex-crazed Miss Grundy
We all know that the so-called Miss Grundy has a thing for redhead teen boys, and that she tutored Jason one-on-one, just like Archie. One fan theory claims that Grundy kidnapped and tied up Jason as a kinky sex thing, and when she left "to go get groceries or supplies or something like that" he shot himself out of despair.
This sounds way too dark for Riverdale — and why would Jason shoot himself when he could turn the gun on Miss Grundy and escape? — but we love it because it's 50 shades of bonkers.
8. It doesn't matter who killed Jason, because Jason is the the first zombie in the upcoming zombie apocalypse, and that clearly takes priority
Many fans have pointed out that, in the 2013 Afterlife with Archie comic series, Riverdale found itself in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. It all began when Sabrina the Teenage Witch reanimated Jughead's pup Hot Dog, who later bit Jughead himself and spread the disease to humans.
Apa reportedly told fans at last summer's San Diego Comic-Con that Sabrina would appear in the final episode of Season 1 (not played by Melissa Joan Hart, sadly). But Reddit user DeCurt1998 swears the show doesn't even need her (or Hot Dog) to make the whole zombie thing work. Their theory posits that Jason is Patient Zero, and that he and Cheryl knew he was infected with something when they rowed him to the Greendale side of Sweetwater river — Sabrina's home, which is well known in the comics as the more supernaturally inclined town in the Archie-verse.
This doesn't explain who actually shot Jason, but it does explain why Cheryl had that terrifying zombie-Jason dream, and why Dilton Doiley (Major Curda) told his scouts "if we don't protect ourselves, no one will" when he was caught teaching them how to shoot guns.
It isn't the most likely theory — and it would certainly give the show's network buddy iZombie some stiff competition — but it's just bananas enough to make sense for Riverdale, and also a total blast to think about. Because Veronica (Camila Mendes) would totally be the Daryl Dixon, right?
Riverdale airs Thursdays at 9/8c on The CW.
(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS, one of the parent companies of The CW.)