It’s no secret that Riverdale has deviated from the original Archie Comics. But, that doesn’t mean that The CW show can’t pay homage to the original comic book characters — and specifically, their costumes. If you’ve ever seen an episode of the teen mystery then you’ve likely seen Jughead Jones (played by Cole Sprouse) wear a shirt with an “S” emblem. Now, fans are finally asking: Why does Jughead wear an “S” shirt?
There’s no denying the show’s costume department plays up the personalities of the main characters through their wardrobes. Jughead’s loner persona is amped up with his beanie (which he never takes off) and his dreary-colored wardrobe, Betty’s girl-next-door archetype is made perfect with her blonde ponytail and sweaters, Veronica’s sophisticated-chic clothes are reminiscent of her city-girl past, and of course, Archie’s known for his shirtless scenes where his toned body is given the spotlight.
But, it turns out that Jughead’s “S” shirt is actually a throwback to his original Archie Comics character. In the comics, Cole’s character was always seen wearing a shirt with an “S” on it. It even became an inside joke among the characters about what it meant. In one story Betty says, “I finally figured out what the ‘S’ stands for… starving!” While characters have questioned that it might stand for “starving” or “sandwich,” the true origin has never been confirmed.
According to the widow of the Archie Comics creator, Bob Montana, the “S” has a sentimental meaning. “Jughead’s S refers to a place called Skunk Hill in Haverhill, which Bob turned into Squirrel Hill,” Peg Bertholet explained to Entertainment Weekly. Riverdale is based on this town and Bob’s elementary school near Haverhill called its athletic teams the Tigers. “So, Jughead’s S meant ‘Squirrel Hill Independent Tigers,’ and you couldn’t abbreviate it any other way.”
So, there you have it. It’s possible that Jughead’s “S” is a nostalgic creative choice that doesn’t really further the storyline. Riverdale is merely honoring a part of Jughead’s original character. As for Jughead, Cole will continue to bring to life TV’s favorite loner.
“I feel like the damaged character is handled in a really melodramatic way, and I like that Jughead still very much infuses the tragedy he experiences with comedy in a dark, cynical, sarcastic kind of way, which is really real. A lot of people who have traumatic experiences or go through the kind of drama that Jughead will… hide their emotions with a shell of humor,” he explained to Glamour. “He’s this kid who uses comedy as an attempt to mask his feelings; we still keep that very strong, and that’s great. I love that.”