"Riverdale" fans are no strangers to farfetched storylines that can boggle the mind. From a masked serial killer to fighting the Gargoyle King, to a parallel universe and sudden superpowers, it's hard to avoid calling The CW series a "hot mess."
While that messiness kept many fans hooked for seven seasons, the series finale on Wednesday proved it wasn't impossible to one-up itself.
The teen drama's final episode, "Goodbye, Riverdale," saw the timeline jump ahead 67 years, with Betty (Lili Reinhart) — now aged 86 — learning of Jughead's death in an obituary, making her the last-surviving member of their Riverdale High crew.
Upon learning of the news, the episode focuses on Betty's desire to return to her hometown and relive her last day of high school, helping viewers learn what happened to Archie (KJ Apa) and the rest of the gang.
But what many fans weren't expecting is that Archie, Betty, Veronica (Camila Mendes) and Jughead (Cole Sprouse) were in a quad relationship for the past year.
"It started innocently enough with the four of us going on double dates — me and Archie, Jughead and Veronica. And then it kind of naturally evolved from there," Betty tells Reggie Mantle in the episode. "Some nights, Archie would sneak into my bedroom and Veronica would go home with Jughead. Other nights, Archie would spend the night at the Pembrooke, and I'd go over to Jughead's. And sometimes, more often than you'd imagine, I would find my way to Veronica's."
It's an end game that has shocked many people online, with some embracing the show's traditional absurdness and others cheering over the series coming to an end.
a quad relationship while in the 1950s Riverdale has out riverdaled itself https://t.co/aSV85mO9rw
— Andrea (@_andrea305) August 24, 2023
We gonna act like them being a quad isn’t genius and it solves basically all the problems in the Archie comics or 🧍🏾♂️
I don’t know, the Riverdale writers seem to have more fun than anyone else https://t.co/otwkgc9o2a
— Talker (@ifetalksback) August 24, 2023
Riverdale ending the series with everyone in a quad relationship instead of just giving us Bughead and Varchie….. they betrayed me until the bitter end
— abs 🌷 (@AbbyHope_238) August 24, 2023
— yusi✨ (@speliviaz) August 24, 2023
But what exactly is a quad relationship, and what does a connection between four people — like Archie, Betty, Veronica and Jughead — even look like? Read on to learn more.
What is a quad relationship?
A quad is a relationship that includes four people, typically two couples who meet and decide to enter said partnership.
While Betty confirmed in "Riverdale" that she had relations with Archie, Jughead and Veronica, it was never confirmed whether Archie and Jughead had any sexual contact between themselves. While a producer on the show told Variety that would've been "too hot for TV," it doesn't mean the foursome's relationship isn't a quad.
"Due to the nature of how a quad is formed, each member does not necessarily have romantic or sexual involvement with every other member," according to Seeking. "Quads often form when two polyamorous couples take an interest in one another."
What is polyamory?
Polyamory is when a person has one or more romantic partners at the same time, with the consent of everyone involved. Including quads, there are a range of polyamorous relationships, such as vees, where one person dates two others but those people don't date, and triads, where three people are all dating each other.
Alysia Rodgers, who runs the Polyfamory Instagram account, told Today that her and her husband didn't even know what polyamory was until they started falling in love with their best friends, Sean and Taya Hartless. After spending countless two-hour drives to see them at their home in Oregon, the quad moved into a new house together to start their relationship.
What are the rules within a polyamorous relationship?
Within polyamorous relationships, there are still various rules and structures similar to other partnerships, including consent for ethical non-monogamy. For instance, all polycules — the term that describes a connected network of people and their relationship to others within that partnership — are either open or closed to new members.
A closed polyamorous relationship typically sees that none of the partners are dating outside of their polycule, nor are they accepting new members. On the other hand, an open polyamorous relationship usually allows partners to date outside of their polycule, and the polycule as a whole might be open to adding new members.
On top of that, there are oftentimes hierarchies within polyamorous relationships — but not always. A hierarchical polycule, there is usually a primary relationship within the partnership, and then a secondary or tertiary relationship. However, non-hierarchical polycules typically see all partners on the same level.
How does polyamory differ from polygamy?
For some people, hearing the term "polyamory" might make them confused with "polygamy," but there are distinct differences between the two.
Polygamy is what's seen in the reality television series, "Sister Wives." It's a practice — usually for religious reasons — where someone has more than one spouse, typically a wife. It's also illegal in both Canada and the United States.
How does a quad differ from swinging?
While some might think people in quad relationships are swingers, it's actually not that. Sometimes, a quad might form when one couple begins swinging, which describes when a couple has consensual sex with another couple, or one female or man.
But quads take that step further. In these relationships, aspects of love are usually included whereas swingers typically go their separate ways after sex. Quads form when two couples make the decision to no longer be entirely separate partnerships. There may still be a hierarchy, but to some degree, each person in the polycule is committed to each other.
How popular are polyamorous relationships?
Statistics Canada does not collect data on people in polyamorous relationships. However, the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association (CPAA) estimated in 2018 that there were 1,100 polygamous families in the country.
In June 2016, the CPAA and the Canadian Research Institute for Law and Family began a survey to get a sense of polyamory, which received responses from just under 550 people.
In that survey, 68 per cent of respondents said they were currently in a polyamorous relationship. Slightly over half of those respondents noted that their relationship included three adults, and more than 61 per cent of relationships included at least one married couple.
A study published by Frontiers in Psychology in 2021 indicates that one in nine Americans have been in a polyamorous relationship, while one in six would like to try one.