As with the majority of characters in Riverdale, Betty’s background history is not ever very fully fleshed out. She has two siblings, who are rarely seen and of whom she is the youngest and two loving parents. She maintains a peaceful life in Riverdale.
Her life since being a young girl has had two primary constants, Veronica Lodge as a best friend, and Archie Andrews as her main crush. The two relationships often do not go hand in hand. For instance, Archie gave Betty her first kiss when she was six and then gave her a flower which she kept (as opposed to Betty's mother, who had her first kiss when she was seven and got the measles from it.) As an indication of the problems of explaining Betty's origin, there are in fact many other stories explaining or describing Betty's first kiss.
Betty was created by Bob Montana, as a love interest for Archie Andrews and first appeared in Pep Comics #22 in 1941. Despite making her first appearance before Veronica she is generally subjugated to his backup romantic interest.
Betty Cooper did not start out as the wholesome, down-to-Earth girl-next-door character for whom she is most well known today. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, Betty followed more the archetype of the scheming “wacky blonde” made popular in screwball comedies by Jean Arthur and Judy Holliday and the comediennes they inspired.
Back then, Betty acted as the primary female antagonist in the series, depicted as a character even more boy-crazy than Archie was girl-crazy and willing to do whatever is necessary to ensure that she snagged a very reluctant Archie as her boyfriend. She was also more manipulative and sharp-tongued than Veronica and often exploited the naivete that Veronica had at the time. For example, in one tale, she intentionally feigned amnesia and pretended to believe she thought she was Veronica just to gain access to Archie and to the Lodge life of privilege, shamelessly playing off Veronica's sympathies.
Towards the end of the 1950s, after giving up on Archie, she set her sights on manipulating a genuinely distraught Jughead into becoming her boyfriend and nearly succeeded. That role was later taken up by Trula Twyst, with some of those storylines revised to have Truly Twyst replace Betty in them.
All this changed around the time that the Archies began appearing in evangelical comic books: because she was the girl next door, Betty was written as an angelic role model for readers, whereas Veronica was written as a classic bad example for readers specifically because she was rich.
In the forty plus years since then, Betty Cooper has settled instead into the wholesome hyper-competent character for whom she is now known, and her days as a "scheming wacky blonde" appear only in reprints of the older stories.
As the Archie characters’ stories are told in a comedy/romance serial format there is often not much discernible character development among the characters from story to story. However, over her many years in publication, Betty has come to personify certain traits more consistently. Her high school life is primarily defined by two relationships – her romantic interest in Archie Andrews and her friendship with Veronica Lodge (whom she regards as a best friend.) Although at times portrayed as a “frenemy” of Veronica, this is really not the case as she is a loyal friend, with the sole exception that Archie can come between them and cause jealousy. Unlike Veronica, Betty is the more down-to-earth “girl next door” character who has to work hard for all the achievements in her life, whereas Veronica had been born into a relative position of privilege. In the same spirit of this she is often shown as lacking in money which often affects her date plans with Archie.
Her friendship with Veronica has many different aspects to it; for example she keeps one diary which Veronica knows about and reads and another which only Betty knows about. Although Veronica can seem at times to be heartless and inconsiderate, she is also a devoted friend to Betty much of the time. One time she took Betty to the Serengeti because she was afraid of being bored otherwise; another time, when she realized that Betty could afford only a dull school wardrobe, she gave an entire day's worth of shopping to Betty while pretending her only reason was that the articles of clothing would not fit in her closets (Betty, tears in her eyes, immediately saw through Veronica's charade).
Betty is considered the most affable character among their circle of friends and manages to be on friendly terms even with those who are often confrontational, such as Reggie Mantle.
In recent years, the creative minds behind the Archie franchise has decided to add a new wrinkle to the traditional three-way-love-triangle by adding in a new object of affection for Archie in the form of Cheryl Blossom (whom Archie seems to favour). Archie has also been featured in some other high profile relationships, such as when he and Valerie Brown were supposed to get married. It is also worth mentioning that neither Betty nor Veronica is completely lovestruck with Archie, and they will occasionally date other boys their age.
Betty's depiction changes somewhat on the needs of the story as she is shown as both the academically oriented student and the fun living teenager. Thus for instance in the span of the same month in different titles she might be shown as a reporter for the school newspaper interviewing a member of the cheerleading squad (suggesting she is not a member) and then in the same month being shown at cheerleading practice.
Major Story Arcs
As serialized stories, there is generally not very much continuity between stories in the Riverdale based adventures. There are exceptions to this, such as in Archie #600 where he admits he is going to propose to Veronica (though this is later revealed to but one of many possible future outcomes.) Another aspect of continuity is that the comics generally have evolved over their course to follow social norms.
Betty generally is never featured solely in her own series, but more often than not shares double billing with Veronica in Betty and Veronica Digest or Betty and Veronica Double Digest. These individual issues are usually given a theme appropriate to the season in which they are released, for instance issues released in winter will involve the character figure skating or engaging in snowball fights. At other times of the year the character might be seen going to the beach (for instance in summertime) or engaging in seasonally appropriate activities (such as partaking in Halloween festivities).
Another relatively common theme in recent years has been to include the character in a sequence of imaginary one-shots where the characters play the roles in popular stories and fairy tales. This has led the characters to be included in stories such as ones centered around the Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland and Sleeping Beauty. Often Betty takes the role of the stories heroine while Veronica is cast as the main villain, though true to the regular comic versions of the characters, the resolution in the end is usually a lot more amicable than that in the actual stories.
Despite her supposedly more frugal upbringing Betty nonetheless gets to have experiences that far exceed those of someone from her modest means. She has met professional athletes and musicians, traveled the world to some degree, and had many more adventures all seemingly before she is even a legal adult.
Another recent trend for Archie Comics is to have once a year a tie-in to the Riverdale comic convention usually around the same time as the San Diego Comic Convention. As can be expected about these stories they are usually light hearted as when Betty, Veronica and friends enter a contest for best superhero costume (where Betty is dressed as Zebra Girl).
Despite the apparent lack of continuity in the stories based in Riverdale, in recent years a new version of Archie comics has been introduced where the characters have aged and face adult like problems, only not in a comedic setting. As with everything else is Riverdale, the inclusion of these stories in the canonical core of the character is dubious, however they are written with a serious tone and with key aspects of the characters' backgrounds intact.
A relatively common feature in Betty and Veronica comics throughout the years has been that of reader submitted fashion for either of the two characters. This involves the common reader sending fashions for the character of their own design which are then published.
Powers and Abilities
Betty exists in a world without superheroics (the sole exception to this being the abilities of Sabrina the teenage witch) and thus she and everyone else in the world is a regular human being. Betty is known for her athleticism, having at times been portrayed as a player of various sports including baseball, softball, and basketball. She is generally regarded as a skilled gymnast and is also usually shown as a member of the cheerleading squads.
She has some music ability and plays the tambourine and sings in the Archies. Her greatest skill is perhaps her compassion as she feels for everyone around her and works hard for what she has. She often volunteers to improve the community and babysits. She is also one of the more intelligent members of the circle of friends, often obtaining scores of A or higher.
A recurring version of the character is the superpowered “SuperTeen.”
In January 2013, MAC cosmetics released a line of its products inspired by Betty and Veronica.
Betty has appeared alongside her friends from Riverdale every time that there has been an animated version of their comic book characters. In the 1960s a song featured in the series and performed by a band comprised of the comic book characters reached number 1 on the record charts in the real world. The song was titled "Sugar Sugar."
The fashion of the character has generally tried to remain current with what could be considered fashionable for the time, though perhaps not too extreme. Therefore it was common to see Betty (and Veronica) wearing tight sweaters in the 1960s, and in the 1990s and beyond it even became possible to see them in midriff revealing outfits. If there is one commonality though among the depiction of fashion in the series and for the character, it would be the same attempt to channel an older time frame, even while staying current.
In the same vein it is relatively uncommon to see Betty exposing any cleavage. Other aspects of her depiction are also not necessarily quite fashionable to the moment. One of these major aspects of fashion would be her lack of earrings, but this is due more to the general artistic style associated with the Archie characters.
Although it is relatively uncommon to see Betty in any cleavage revealing clothing (even ones which might be expected to be so like low-cut dresses) an exception to this is the common depiction of her and Veronica in bathing suits and quite often on the covers of their own series. This is one of the few time when the characters can be said to be adhering to the trends of mainstream comics.
Stating that "her girl-next-door image has often masked Betty's seductive side, but it's there," Betty Cooper was ranked 66th in Comics Buyer's Guide Presents: 100 Sexiest Women in Comics. She was the second-sexiest Archie Comics character to appear on the list, after Katy Keene. Betty placed 21 spots higher than her arch-rival Veronica Lodge.