|“||We decided to revive the Serpents, under my leadership. I was crowned the Serpent Queen.||”|
The Southside Serpents (often referred to as just Serpents) are a gang of dangerous criminals who predominantly reside on the south side of Riverdale, hence the name. They were initially led by FP Jones before he retired and was replaced by Jughead, who would then become Serpent King and appoint Betty Serpent Queen. The serpents typically hang out at a local bar called the Whyte Wyrm.
Notably, the Serpents are not solely based in Riverdale and are comprised of several sets, spreading country-wide, such as the Centerville Serpents and the Toledo Serpents, led by Gladys Jones. According to Jughead, they can also be found north of the Canada–United States border.
In order for one to become a Southside Serpent, they must undergo an initiation ceremony. As tradition goes, there are four stages; First, every new member must take care of the Serpent's dog, Hot Dog otherwise known as "The Beast." Secondly, they must memorize and recite the serpent laws in the order provided; these are rules the Southside Serpents live by. Thirdly, they must retrieve a knife from the Serpent's rattlesnake cage. Finally, the last stage, known as "the gauntlet," involves a physical demonstration of loyalty and strength, specifically being jumped into the gang by its members, which essentially requires the initiate to endure multiple punches to all areas of the body only to rise and stand firm. Completing the final task, the initiate is congratulated by shaking the other members hands, a sign of "good sportsmanship," and granted the Serpent Jacket. This last stage demonstrates a sign of respect within the Serpents, as they must be willing to die for one another. Female Serpents have an alternative initiation ceremony. Byrdie claimed that if women wanted to join the "club," they'd have to do the "Serpent dance," an outdated, sexist Serpent tradition that Toni attempted to have outlawed, though misogyny prevailed.
In "Chapter Thirty-Five: Brave New World", FP retires from being the Serpents' leader, stepping down from the throne and presenting Jughead as the new Serpent king, with Betty ruling at his side. As his first act as king, Jughead granted Cheryl membership into the Serpents, gifting her with a custom red Serpent jacket. However, Cheryl and Toni would both later be banished from the Serpents after defying Jughead's rules.
After graduation, the Serpents seemed to dissolve when Jughead left for the University of Iowa, though Sweet Pea stayed behind to maintain what remained. And when Toni returned from Highsmith, the two of them revived the Serpents, under Toni’s leadership, who was crowned the Serpent Queen. The Serpents would then pull their money together to purchase La Bonne Nuit from Hiram Lodge to convert it into the Whyte Wyrm. Through one of her connections, the Serpents have also organized a lucrative trucking business, which is their main source of income. Since then, Toni has appointed Fangs as Serpent King and has decided to use the Serpents to help rebuild the community.
The Serpents date back as far as the 1940s, during the founding of Riverdale. The snake and the laws were all based on Uktena tradition. The Uktena is a horned serpent and/or a water serpent. Before there was a Riverdale, all the land belonged to the Uktena. Unfortunately, they were slaughtered, according to Thomas Topaz, one of the founding members of the Southside Serpents. When his grandfather was a baby, there was a raid led by Riverdale's very own General Pickens. The battle lasted all of 12 minutes, but the slaughter was total and savage. General Pickens, whose statue stood proudly in Pickens Park, was responsible for the massacre of men, women, and children. When Thomas' grandfather died, Thomas and the remaining Uktena formed the Serpents as a way to keep the family together.
At one point, prior to Jason's murder, FP became their leader after he was forced to resign from Andrews Construction. This is because he had become too much of a liability to the company due to his criminal activities.
After Polly Cooper became pregnant, Jason Blossom went to the Serpents, he needed money for him and Polly to run away together. The Serpents used him to run drugs which FP later clarified to be marijuana as a clean-cut kid like him would never be suspected. However, the last batch of drugs they had given him was never delivered, and they figured he had just run off with them until his corpse washed up at Sweetwater River.
FP almost got framed for the murder of Jason due to the cops finding a gun in his trailer. It was later revealed that Cliff was the one who shot and killed his own son in cold blood and FP having to take the fall to protect his son Jughead.
The Laws of the Serpents
|Editor's Note: The events that transpired in Silent Night, Deadly Night, where Sweet Pea states that the first law is "No Serpent stands alone", directly contradicts what was stated by Jughead in When a Stranger Calls; "A Serpent never shows cowardice." In addition to this, Penny stated that "Serpent law says you can't hurt one of your own." Whether this is the unknown 3rd law or a variation in phrasing of the 5th law remains unclear. In The Blackboard Jungle Jughead recites "A Serpent never sheds it's skin" to which FP confirms is one of the Serpent Laws, however it is unclear if it's the unknown 3rd law or a variation of one of the others.|
1. A Serpent never shows cowardice. / No Serpent stands alone.
2. If a Serpent is killed or imprisoned, their family will be taken care of.
4. No Serpent is left for dead.
5. A Serpent never betrays his own.
6. In unity, there is strength.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
- In the Archie Comics, the Southside Serpents were a rival gang of Little Archie and his friends.
- Affiliates to the Southside Serpents bear the symbol of the gang tattooed on their body, usually the arm.
- The writers have discussed the possibility of Jughead "handing over the Serpents to Toni" in Season 4.
- The Southside Serpents are at the center of a tie-in comic.
- The executives were initially against the notion of introducing a gang into the series, until Skeet Ulrich was cast as Serpent King.
- Cohen, Julia (writer) & Katzenberg, David (director) (March 30, 2017). "Chapter Eight: The Outsiders". Riverdale. Season 1. Episode 8. The CW.
- Serpent Leader Confirmation - Nora Dominick @ NYCC (@noradominick) - Twitter
- Riverdale boss reveals most-debated stories and the ones he's proudest of as series hits 100 episodes - EW