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Fans were stunned and saddened in early March when Riverdale star Luke Perry died at age 52 after suffering a massive stroke. Perry was an important part of the series, playing Fred Andrews, father and guiding hand to Archie, so many figured that an episode dedicated to sending the character off would be coming at some point before the end of Season 3. While an in memoriam title card did air at the end of Riverdale's March 6 episode shortly after his death, his character won't get an official send off until the Season 4 premiere, and now we know why.
Obviously, the cast and crew of Riverdale were equally shocked by Luke Perry's sudden death, and, according to executive producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, the last the they wanted when working on the rest of Season 3 was to put something together that wouldn't do the actor and the character he played justice. Here's what Aguirre-Sacasa said:
When Luke passed, we very quickly made the decision that we weren’t going to address it [at the end of Season 3.] We didn’t want to rush it. We didn’t want to sandwich it in between all the other plotlines. [T]hat felt a little cheap. So we thought, ‘Let’s just hold it, so we can think about it over the hiatus and reflect on it.'
While it was likely a surprise for many of Luke Perry's fans that his death wasn't dealt with on Riverdale in a more direct way by the end of the season, what Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa told TVLine about their decision to wait makes a lot of sense. Not only did they want to take time to think about the right way to pay tribute to Perry and what he meant to the show, but they also didn't want to have to squeeze such a delicate dedication in among all of the other stories that were going on.
Riverdale is not the kind of show that meanders around with a couple of storylines going at once. The teen-filled neo-noir is packed with treacherous plots, serial killers, backstabbing and questionable motives, actions and people. If they had fit in a true memorial to Luke Perry (and Fred), it probably wouldn't have felt right to them, their audience or his fans. So, it's really best that Aguirre-Sacasa and his team took their hiatus to figure out a way to do it properly.
The Season 4 premiere will tackle both Luke Perry's untimely death and let people know what's happened to Fred since we saw him give Archie one last pep talk in Season 3. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa also noted that the episode will take inspiration from a Friday Night Lights episode titled "The Son," which will allow them "to just tell a very grounded, truthful story." If you haven't been treated to that particular episode of television from 2009, you can read a description of it and tell that Riverdale's Season 4 premiere will be a difficult one.
Riverdale's Season 4 premiere (which will feature Luke Perry's Beverly Hills, 90210 co-star Shannen Doherty) airs on The CW, Wednesday October 9 at 8 p.m. EST. For more on what you can watch on TV in the coming weeks, check out our 2019 fall premiere guide.