Perry plays Fred Andrews on The CW drama, father of Archie (KJ Apa). He is, perhaps, the only remaining decent parent on the series — that's something that Perry told The Hollywood Reporter he admired about his character.
"I like playing the dad because I like being a dad, and I think it's a great character in the milieu of this show that I'm the grounded one, and I'm the guy who really cares about [KJ's character Archie], who cares about doing a good job and being a good construction worker," Perry explained to the outlet. "I love that."
Though Riverdale is a teen drama (not unlike Beverly Hills, 90210, the series that shot Perry to massive fame), the parents get plenty of screentime. As Archie's father, Fred has played a pivotal role in the series. The catalyst for the drama of season 2 involved Perry's character getting shot by a serial killer and Archie seeking vengeance. After saving Archie from the mob, Perry's character ran for mayor.
In season 3, Fred fought to pull Archie back from the brink following Archie's wrongful imprisonment for murder. He formed a squad of dads to fight for justice (and he really should have been elected mayor).
Fred routinely offered warmth and sage wisdom. He would do anything for his son Archie — including punching Hiram Lodge (Mark Consuelos) square in the face.
Season 3 of Riverdale has not yet wrapped, but already it's hard to imagine where Riverdale will go without Perry as the moral center of the series. Given how beloved a cast member Perry was, it's unlikely that anyone else could step into his role, now that he is gone. Should Riverdale follow the precedent set by several TV shows before it, it's quite likely that Fred will die as well.
Television has dealt with similar tragic circumstances previously. In 2003, John Ritter died suddenly at age 54 while filming his sitcom 8 Simple Rules For Dating My Teenage Daughter. The series addressed the actor's passing by having his character — the father of the household — also die unexpectedly. The family's grief was thoughtfully tackled in subsequent episodes.
In 2013, the character played by Lee Thompson Young, who died while in production on Rizzoli & Isles, was given a funeral during the show's fifth season.
How is still unclear, but it seems likely that Riverdale will say goodbye to Fred Andrews.
In a statement to Refinery29, the Riverdale executive producers, Warner Bros. Television, and The CW said:
"We are deeply saddened to learn today about the passing of Luke Perry. A beloved member of the Riverdale, Warner Bros. and CW family, Luke was everything you would hope he would be: an incredibly caring, consummate professional with a giant heart, and a true friend to all. A father figure and mentor to the show’s young cast, Luke was incredibly generous, and he infused the set with love and kindness. Our thoughts are with Luke’s family during this most difficult time."