‘Riverdale’ Star Cole Sprouse Talks ‘Borderline Traumatic Experiences’ of On-Screen Love Triangles, Intense Fandoms

Are you Team Barchie, Bughead, or Varchie? That question might not mean anything to some people, but to many Riverdale viewers, it’s a deal-breaker. Like many teen dramas, Riverdale houses love triangles with very passionate fandoms for each couple. And sometimes, the passion even gets a little out of hand. Riverdale star Cole Sprouse recently opened up about what it’s really like to be involved in these triangles, revealing that it’s led to some “borderline traumatic” experiences.

Riverdale star Cole Sprouse at the premiere of A24's Uncut Gems
‘Riverdale’ star Cole Sprouse | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Many ‘Riverdale’ fans have chosen sides in the Barchie/Bughead/Varchie love triangles

Since Riverdale Season 1, the teen drama has toyed around with romances between the “Core Four” — Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart), Jughead Jones (Sprouse), Archie Andrews (KJ Apa), and Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes). Betty had a childhood crush on Archie, but she spends many seasons dating Jughead. Meanwhile, Archie finds love with Betty’s best friend, Veronica. Of course, the chemistry between Betty and Archie never fades, bringing them together a few times, as well.

Riverdale has become notorious for teasing all sides of these love triangles. When Betty and Jughead are together, the writers sprinkle in moments between Betty and Archie. The same goes for when Betty and Archie are in a relationship or Archie and Veronica.

Whenever a “ship” gets a moment on screen, the fandoms go wild. Many Barchie/Bughead/Varchie stans are very set in their ways and hate to see any other characters interfere.

In some cases, some Riverdale fans have taken their love too far. As Teen Vogue reported in 2017, Reinhart responded to death threats allegedly sent to actor Vanessa Morgan when fans thought her character, Toni Topaz, would interfere with Bughead.

Cole Sprouse says playing one-third of a love triangle comes with some ‘borderline traumatic’ challenges

The extreme cases with threats make up only a small percentage of the Riverdale fandoms. However, Sprouse admitted that he’s seen pretty brutal criticisms of cast members and their characters. Speaking to Entertainment Tonight, the former Disney actor said it’s a “consequence” of portraying love triangles.

“I’m a little bit conflicted about it because as a natural consequence of the characters we played on the show, a lot of the actors get scrutinized and really put down upon by the opposite sides of this ship debate in real life,” he explained. “I’ve seen a lot of my friends, especially on the show, go through really conflicting, borderline traumatic, experiences. From people criticizing every little facet of them, and myself included.”

Sprouse attributed the phenomenon to the “suspension of disbelief” that makes viewers unable to separate actors from characters they’ve played for so many years.

“It’s been really interesting stepping into this part of my career and seeing that from a romantic perspective. And watching how people build certain narratives about you as a real human being outside of the show in consequence to what happens on the show,” he added.

Cole Sprouse sees ‘Riverdale’ fans’ passion as a ‘badge of honor’

It’s not always enjoyable to be the subject of such intense fandoms. However, at the same time, Sprouse said he feels honored.

“I think it’s a badge of honor that the relationships we portrayed on the show compelled people to such passion,” he told ET. “I think it’s beautiful, and that’s kind of the currency of the job, is going, ‘Wow. They really, really love this in a very real sense. They identify with this in a very, very real sense,’ and that’s the power of it.”

Riverdale returns to The CW on March 6 at 8 p.m.

RELATED: ‘Riverdale’: Episode 100 Ending, Explained — Plus What Comes Next, According to Cole Sprouse