Riverdale celebrated the life of late actor Luke Perry through the unexpected death of his character Fred Andrews, and fans were overwhelmed with emotion throughout the experience. Creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa previously called the episode a catharsis for cast and crew to grieve through the actor's sudden passing in March.
Perry passed away in March after suffering a massive stroke at the age of 52. The show had not addressed Perry's exit at the end of Season 3, with Aguirre-Sacasa saying he didn't want the tribute to feel rushed.
Dedicating the Season 4 premiere to the late actor and the Andrews' patriarch's legacy proved to be the best way for fans to mourn the great loss.
Take a look at how fans reacted to the emotional Season 4 premiere of Riverdale. Spoilers Ahead!
The episode began with the usual Riverdale tone, with Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) bonding with her brother's dissected corpse before she is enraged at the news the town will be reinstating its annual 4th of July Parade, which had been canceled after her brother's death three years before.
After giving a threat that she would sabotage the festivities to Archie (KJ Apa) and his friends, they gather in the diner to talk about their plans for the rest of the summer when Archie gets a call from his dad. Viewers don't hear what they say on the call, but Archie collapses, finding out the news of his father's death.
OMG HERE IT IS GUYS NO THIS ISNT HAPPENING😭😭😭😭😭😭 #Riverdale— 🎃👻 𝕤𝕡𝕠𝕠𝕜𝕪 𝕞𝕒’𝕒𝕞 👻🎃 (@maddenshawes) October 10, 2019
I’m not emotionally ready for this season premiere of #Riverdale 😭— Nicole Marie 🌻🧡 (@nicoleeabella) October 10, 2019
At his home, Mary (Molly Ringwald) and Archie sit as F.P. Jones (Skeet Ulrich) reveals Fred (Perry) was stuck by a car in a hit and run after he pulled over to help a person whose car had stalled in a neighboring town. They get a call from the funeral home announcing his body won't be delivered until after the holiday.
Dang RIP Luke Perry. Thought they were just going to write him off the show moving somewhere. #riverdale— Tyrah Walker (@tyrahwalksmedia) October 10, 2019
#Riverdale I knew Fred’s character was going to pass away but I’m so emotional— 𝓣𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪 𝓜𝓲𝓬𝓱𝓮𝓵𝓵𝓮 (@_demitia) October 10, 2019
This is hitting home like hard.. he’s gone in real life and on the show now. #Riverdale— Dedra McBride (@PieFaceSmiLe) October 10, 2019
Archie and his friends gather in his backyard to share stories about how Fred influenced their lives. Archie comes close to breaking down but walks away, telling them he needs a break.
That night, Archie has a somber dream about the whole town gathered to mourn Fred, but Archie's father is missing. He wakes in a panic and tells Veronica (Camila Mendes) they have to drive to the town where Fred's body is and bring it back home now.
this episode already making me sad it’s crazy cause the dad has beat death so many times in the series an to see the character go out like this off screen at that is so heartbreaking I know all them had to be devastated by this #Riverdale— ⚜D™🤴🏿 (@HisNameIsD) October 10, 2019
I’m so glad the season opener is pretty much a wake for Luke! Back when I was young and Beverly Hills 90210 was the teen drama he was my first tv crush! He will be missed #RIPLukePerry #RIPFredAndrews #Riverdale— RENA CARNEY (@zebrakitty80) October 10, 2019
With Reggie's (Charles Melton) old car, Archie, Veronica, Betty (Lili Reinhart) and Jughead (Cole Sprouse) travel to the neighboring town. The funeral home has some reservations about releasing the body to the teenagers, but Mary gives them a stern talking to over the phone that makes things happen. The mortician says he will need a couple of hours to get the body ready for transport, so the kids venture to find Fred's car.
When they find Fred's car on the side of a road, Archie is surprised when a car parks behind him and a woman comes out with flowers. The woman, played by Perry's former Beverly Hills, 90210 co-star Shannen Doherty, reveals herself as the woman Fred helped when her tire blew and she was stranded on the road.
She says that many cars passed by but Fred was the only one who helped her. She breaks down when she says Fred pushed out of the way of the car that hit him and saved her life. The group then comes together to say a prayer.
i can’t think of a better way for them to have honored fred and luke than with this storyline #riverdale— aly (@boldlyreinhart) October 10, 2019
Determined to avenge his father's death after finding out the person responsible got out on bail, Archie visits the man's home and intimidates him into giving him answers about what happened.
The conversation is interrupted when his young teenage son comes in the room and admits his father took the fall for his mistake. The kid says he took the car home without permission and his father is protecting him from facing the legal consequences of his actions.
IT WAS THE KID OHMENDJCJD #Riverdale— emma ⟡ (@colesreinheart) October 10, 2019
Damn a teenager boy killed Archie's dad damnnn 😭😭💔 OMG#Riverdale— Angel💖♊ (@AngelRenne13) October 10, 2019
After Archie's friends find him, he admits the accident would have happened to him, and Fred would have also taken the fall for him to protect him.
Upon their return to Riverdale, F.P. stops them at the border and offers to give them a police escort back to their house. The road takes him to the center of town, where everyone is waiting to surprise Archie with the Fourth of July parade having been changed into a memorial event for Fred.
my heart goes out to the family and friends of luke perry tonight. this episode is emotional and heart breaking. we love you luke. #Riverdale— 🎃 jack-o-lantern julia 🎃 (@serpentseavey) October 10, 2019
YES 😭 WE LOVE YOU FRED ANDREWS. WE LOVE YOU LUKE PERRY.October 10, 2019
Everyone in town attended and held sweet signs for the late patriarch, leaving Archie and the crew touched by the gesture, which was planned by Cheryl
Later, friends and family gathered for Fred's funeral with Josie (Ashleigh Murray) returning to sing a heartbreaking rendition of "Amazing Grace." Archie also delivers a touching speech to celebrate his father's influence on Riverdale.
I know this hurts the cast more as it hurts everyone 😢 bye Fred Andrews Rest In Peace Luke Perry #Riverdale I know your proud of this episode💕— Nikki (@Ladyhughes01_) October 10, 2019
Veronica gets a surprise when the memorial is over, when she finds out her father Hiram (Mark Consuelos) paid for all funeral arrangements from prison.
Jughead writes a beautiful obituary that causes everyone who reads it to break down, as the friends gather to celebrate the Fourth of July with a special honor to Fred in Archie's backyard.
Recalling a holiday when rain had canceled the town's big fireworks display, the group brought fireworks to the yard and set them off together to enjoy the display.
The episode ends with a quiet moment as Archie retires to the garage, and remembers his father silently.
That was so beautifully done 😭 I cried the whole time #Riverdale— Jenna Constance (@jlc0403) October 10, 2019
THIS OBITUARY IS INCREDIBLE AND SO HONORING OKAY WOW #Riverdale— Sarah Carnes (@sarahnicole_116) October 10, 2019
What did you think about the big Luke Perry tribute episode? Riverdale airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.