The Riverdale gang tipped their hat to the late Luke Perryduring an emotional Comic-Con panel on Sunday afternoon in Hall H.
Creator and showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa opened the hour-long discussion by honoring Perry with a touching video tribute featuring Perry's most memorable moments as Archie's dad, Fred Andrews.
"We suffered a huge, huge, huge loss and it's something we're going to be feeling for as long as we're lucky enough to keep making the show. I remember when Luke auditioned, he came up to me and said, 'I loved this script and when I read the character Fred, I liked him because he is just like me. I have a son and he is just like Archie,'" Aguirre-Sacasa said. "Luke and Fred have many, many similarities."
"I think [we'll see] a lot of it through Archie’s storyline," he said. "I think that’s a part of his story line in season four -- honoring his father’s legacy and I think there’ll be bits and pieces throughout the whole season where we can dip in and out of that."
For more on how Riverdale will honor Perry's legacy, ET spoke with Aguirre-Sacasa about how the late actor's absence will reverberate throughout the series and why the season four premiere -- a tribute to Perry featuring an appearance by Shannen Doherty -- is a "tear-jerker."
ET: Fans watched a Luke Perry montage during Sunday's Comic-Con panel. Why was it important for you to show this really personal piece of footage with the Comic-Con fans?
Robert Aguirre-Sacasa: I think with a show like Riverdale, part of it is that fans really feel like they're friends with these characters and fans feel like they're family with these characters. And one thing we hadn't done at the end of season three was kind of provide a catharsis. We did this tribute video for the wrap party to play so we could all remember it and it's something that we all wanted to share with the fans because everywhere Luke went, Luke had fans and we thought it would be a nice way to honor him today.
Can you talk about the season four premiere? The first episode is really going to be a tribute to Luke. What do you want the fans to know about that episode?
It's almost going to be a stand-alone episode. It's going to reveal the fate of Fred Andrews and it's set on July 4th. It's a really emotional episode; it's a tear-jerker. We had the table read for it about [two weeks] ago and i'm not going to lie, we were all crying. But we think it, again, honors the memory of Luke [and] It honors the memory of Fred. They were both such amazing human beings that we wanted to really ,really craft an emotional and deep tribute to him, which is what I hope this episode is.
When you were approaching the season four premiere in the writers' room what was your goal as a group? How did you did you want to be able to show Fred's legacy?
That's a really good question and you know we talked about it for a while. I think that's exactly the key of what you just said is we didn't want to just see whatever happened to Fred. We wanted to see how Fred had affected the characters in our town and had affected the very town itself and how he was sort of this force of goodness. So we wanted to sort of see the effect of what the events of the episode would have on our characters and on the town and I think point a way toward healing in light of that.
Since the beginning of the show, Archie has always been seen as this really positive character but we've seen this positivity waver as the show has continued on. With the upcoming death of his father, how is this going to affect Archie in season four?
We've definitely had Archie on a kind of hero's journey with the different phases -- he's been dark and he's been boxing and he's been doing these things. We really want to use what happened to Luke and what happened to Fred as a catalyst for Archie towards goodness and positivity. Now that doesn't mean he's still not going to get into trouble and he's still not going to make mistakes -- he is. But we wanted to tell a more aspirational trajectory with Archie this year.
Will Molly Ringwald be reprising her role as Mary Andrews this year?
Yes, she will. You know when Luke passed, Molly was already scheduled to appear in an episode and she was in Vancouver not long after it happened and we talked briefly at the offices and she said, "I'd love to help out and be around next season," and I said, "We'd love the same, Molly" So yeah, we'll be seeing a lot more of Molly which is good news for everyone.
Season four of Riverdale premieres Wednesday, Oct. 9 at 8 p.m. EST/PST on The CW.