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SYFY WIRE Riverdale

Riverdale Season 4 will deal directly with Luke Perry's death

By Christian Long & Matthew Jackson
Luke Perry Getty Images | Leon Bennett

The next season of Riverdale will address the death of Luke Perry. The actor died unexpectedly of a stroke this past March at the age of 52, which left fans wondering what that meant for his character, Fred Andrews. While his final episode was an emotional one, his character didn't exactly get a big, heartfelt sendoff.

**Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers for Season 3 of Riverdale below.**

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly about the Season 3 finale, showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa discussed where Riverdale will be headed for its fourth season. He also confirmed that it will open with a more appropriate sendoff to the late actor.  

"When Luke passed, we’d already more or less outlined the last two or three episodes, and we didn’t want to rush that or get it wrong," Aguirre-Sacasa told EW. "So we are 100 percent going to deal with it narratively at the beginning of Season 4, and we want that episode to really honor the character of Fred and honestly, to honor the actor Luke and our friend Luke."

After Perry's death, Riverdale briefly shut down production out of respect for the actor while the show's cast and fans shared some of their favorite memories. However, what ended up being Perry's last scene on Riverdale was a brief, but tender conversation with his on-screen son, Archie (K.J. Apa).

According to Aguirre-Sacasa, Fred's absence will not only be addressed, it's "going to be a big part of Archie’s journey next season, honestly."

Speaking with The Wrap about the Season 3 finale, Aguirre-Sacasa also broke down how Season 3's ending was meant as a culmination of everything that's happened on Riverdale so far, which was why revealing Penelope Blossom as the Gargoyle King felt so symbolic. With that in mind, apart from wrapping up Alice Cooper's journey with The Farm, which he promised would be addressed in Season 4, Aguirre-Sacasa and company have other plans in store for the show's primary characters. Those plans were teased in a surprise flash-forward in the season finale, which saw Archie, Betty, and Veronica burning a pile of bloody clothes as they swore never to speak of whatever had just happened again. They also, ominously, burned Jughead's iconic beanie. 

So, what can we expect to learn about this time jump next season? Just get ready for a hell of a senior year at Riverdale High.

"Every year we try a different crime genre or a new trope of pulp or noir and we wanted to do something that focused on all of the kids for Season 4, because sometimes Betty is with the Gargoyle King and Archie is with Hiram and Jughead is doing something with the Serpents, and we wanted them to all to be included in this main story," Aguirre-Sacasa said. "And we wanted to do something that was sort of a little bit more like an homage to the ’80s and ’90s teen thrillers, like Killing Mr. Griffin or I Know What You Did Last Summer or the novels like The Secret History by Donna Tartt, that were more focused on the role of students and the school. We wanted to focus it on that."

The Riverdale universe will also be expanding soon, as The CW has announced a pickup of Katy Keene, a spinoff series co-starring the character of Josie McCoy (Ashleigh Murray), who first popped up on Riverdale. When asked about crossovers, Aguirre-Sacasa was quick to remind everyone that Katy Keene is technically set in the future of the Riverdale timeline since it follows an adult Josie, so it might be easier to wait and let the Riverdale gang come to her.

"I think it’s more likely that we will see Riverdale characters pop up in New York five years later. We think that that might be a little more fun, and less confusing, than Josie going back in time to visit Riverdale."

Riverdale was renewed for a fourth season in January, though The CW hasn't announced an official premiere date.