Riverdale bid goodbye to Luke Perry and his character, Fred Andrews, in an emotional premiere for the CW show's fourth season that aired Wednesday. "For a show with evil board games and cults, [the tribute is] surprisingly tasteful and solemn," the New York Post reports, noting Fred dies a hero. He'd stopped (spoiler alert) to help a driver in need—fittingly played by Perry's close friend and 90210 costar Shannen Doherty—then pushed her out of the way before being struck by a car in a hit-and-run accident, per CNN. Showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa explains to Us Weekly that Perry had long discussed having Doherty on the show, but "the timing never worked out or the part was never quite right." Here, her character leads a prayer for Fred.
The actor's family was also involved in the episode, contributing photos of Perry that are featured along with footage of him from previous episodes. "We involved them as much as we could," Aguirre-Sacasa says. Skeet Ulrich, who plays the town sheriff, describes "one of the hardest experiences I'd had on film," per the Post. It was "literally almost impossible to utter lines." Molly Ringwald, who plays Fred's ex-wife, adds, "I pretty much cried from beginning to end. It was like saying goodbye to him and dealing with the sadness of that." The episode titled "In Memoriam" closes with a single line: "In loving memory of Luke Perry." (The actor was laid to rest in a mushroom suit.)