Shannen Doherty Is Joining 'Riverdale' Season 4 For Luke Perry's Special Tribute Episode

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Among the many exciting announcements that came out of San Diego's 2019 Comic-Con, a somber Riverdale reveal has surfaced. Executive producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa announced that Shannen Doherty will join Riverdale's tribute to Luke Perry, the portrayer of Archie Andrews' (KJ Apa) father, who passed away suddenly in March after experiencing a major stroke. Doherty is a long-time friend of Perry's and also starred alongside him in hit '90s show Beverly Hills 90210. According to Variety, she will appear in the Season 4 premiere episode of The CW series.

Details on who Doherty's character will be and why she'll visit the town of Riverdale haven't been revealed just yet, but Aguirre-Sacasa did tell Variety it would be "very emotional" and will "reflect Perry's enduring legacy and the indelible imprint his character" Fred Andrews. Due to the unexpected nature of Perry's passing, this type of lead into Season 4 obviously wasn't part of the original plan, but the showrunner shared with the publication that Perry always wanted Doherty to guest star on the show. So now, it's finally happening.

"They were such good friends, and when we were putting together this tribute episode, we wanted to make it as special as possible," Aguirre-Sacasa said at Comic-Con. "And so we asked Shannen to do a pivotal, super-emotional role. She read the script and immediately said ‘Yes.’ It’s very impactful." The loss of Perry was difficult to process and to handle for many of the Riverdale cast members, which is one of the reasons this tribute episode is airing roughly six months later on October 9. Aguirre-Sacasa reportedly explained to the crowd at Comic-Con that they wanted to take their time producing a tribute that was well thought out, heart-felt, and special.

"When Luke passed it was toward [sic] the end of season 3 and we thought rather than rush an episode in we would take our time," he said, via Variety. "We really wanted to honor Luke, to honor Fred and we wanted it to be a stand-alone, really emotional, really focused on what this character meant to this group of people."

It's safe to say that the episode hasn't been easy for any of the cast members to film, but in a way, it does offer closure so that they can move forward as friends and as cast mates of Perry's. "It was cathartic for all of us, it put the cherry on top of that episode and made a nice tribute," Cole Sprouse, who plays Jughead Jones, said at Comic-Con. "She was overjoyed to have the ability to share some of the burden of Luke’s passing that she had gone through in a cathartic setting with the rest of us."

Doherty wrote on Instagram that she's honored to join the cast during this difficult time for all of them. "I am deeply honored to pay tribute to Luke on Riverdale," she wrote under a throwback image of her and Perry. "The care in which this show takes in honoring his memory is beautiful. He is missed. Today. Tomorrow. Forever."

Doherty is also a part of an upcoming BH90210 reboot alongside other former co-stars Jason Priestley, Jennie Garth, Ian Ziering, Gabrielle Carteris, Brian Austin Green, and Tori Spelling. Ziering recently told Entertainment Tonight that the reboot would also honor Perry in some way. "We all were very close to him. Luke was a best friend to me, not just when we were on 90210 but even before that," he said. "So it continues to be challenging and it's always very difficult, but we will find a way to do it right."

It sounds like Riverdale and BH90210 are doing just that.