Comic-Con: Shannen Doherty will appear on ‘Riverdale’ tribute to the late Luke Perry

SAN DIEGO – CW’s “Riverdale” panel at San Diego Comic-Con was a tease for the upcoming fourth season but also a memorial for late star Luke Perry.

“We suffered a huge loss and it’s one we’ll be feeling for the entirety of the show,” said executive producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa.

Perry died at age 52 in March after suffering a massive stroke near the end of last season. Instead of “rushing an episode or story line,” Aguirre-Sacasa said, the Season 4 premiere (airing Oct. 9) will be a special standalone episode acting as a tribute to both Perry and his character, Fred Andrews.

"Riverdale" star Luke Perry died in March at the age of 52. (Photo: ART STREIBER/CW)

Perry had been trying to get his “Beverly Hills, 90210” co-star Shannen Doherty on “Riverdale,” and she will appear in “an emotional role” in the premiere, Aguirre-Sacasa said.

Doherty also shared the news on social media: “I am deeply honored to pay tribute to Luke on ‘Riverdale.’ The care in which this show takes in honoring his memory is beautiful. He is missed. Today. Tomorrow. Forever.”

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I am deeply honored to pay tribute to Luke on Riverdale. The care in which this show takes in honoring his memory is beautiful. He is missed. Today. Tomorrow. Forever.

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“Riverdale” actor Cole Sprouse, who plays Jughead Jones, said Doherty’s appearance is “cathartic. I think it put the cherry on top of that episode. It was beautiful and it was touching.”

Other cast members remembered Perry as well. “He was like a mentor,” said Lili Reinhart, who plays Betty Cooper on the show.

Madelaine Petsch, who plays Cheryl Blossom, recalled being paired with Perry for various events at her first Comic-Con. “He was somebody I called for literally everything. He was one of the most beautiful humans I’ve ever met.”

His best advice to her: ” ‘Just do whatever you want. Don’t take it too seriously.’ That was Luke in a nutshell.” 

Betty (Lili Reinhart, left)., Veronica (Camila Mendes) and Jughead (Cole Sprouse) are entering their senior year on "Riverdale." (Photo: DEAN BUSCHER/CW)

After the Gargoyle King, dangerous role-playing games, cults and an organ-harvesting conspiracy last season on the noir-ish teen drama, “Riverdale” will shift more to “the high school franchise” in upcoming episodes, Aguirre-Sacasa said. That means a senior prom, homecoming, college applications and lots of Riverdale Bulldogs football with Archie Andrews (KJ Apa) and Reggie Mantle (Charles Melton).

Not that this show’s getting normal anytime soon: Cheryl will continue to talk to the body of her dead brother (“Her mental state is at an all-time low,” Petsch teases), she and Veronica will team up for a maple syrup rum venture a la “Risky Business,” and in the fourth episode back, somebody’s going to die at Halloween.

Meanwhile, Jughead will be whisked away on a scholarship to Stonewall prep school, a “Gossip Girl”-esque “pretentious silver-spoon” kind of place, Sprouse said. “He’s going to be the new blood. He’s part of this little Dead Poets Society at this new school and he’s going to be out-pretentioused by all these tall, incredibly beautiful people.”

Archie Andrews (KJ Apa) will be dealing with the loss of his father this season on "Riverdale," as well as starting a band and playing football. (Photo: DIYAH PERA/CW)

Plus, there’s the very weird flash-forward at the end of Season 3, with Archie, Betty and Veronica (Camila Mendes) nearly naked in the forest staring at Jughead’s burning whoopee cap. The mysteries of that moment will be a major part of the first half of the new season, with the entire night unfolding during the midseason finale.

In addition, Archie will start his own band – called The Archies, of course – but also be dealing with the death of his father. Thankfully, Veronica knows how to be there as a girlfriend for him now “and it makes them stronger,” Mendes said.

Archie’s loss means Molly Ringwald will play a bigger role this season as Mary Andrews becomes “a full-time mom,” Aguirre Sacasa said, and the “Riverdale” cast also adds “Dawson’s Creek” alum Kerr Smith as Mr. Honey, Riverdale High’s new principal.

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