The graduation episode of Riverdale took an emotional turn when Luke Perry‘s character, Fred Andrews, made a surprise cameo on Feb. 3. Luke passed away in 2019, and so did his character on the show shortly afterwards; so, The CW show paid special tribute by using old footage of Luke in a dream sequence scene at the beginning of the episode.
In the scene, Fred’s son Archie (played by KJ APA) dreamt that his late father and mother Mary (played by Molly Ringwald) were taking pictures on graduation day. As Fred held his cell phone to snap a photo of Archie and his friends Veronica (played by Camila Mendes), Jughead (played by Cole Sprouse) and Betty (played by Lili Reinhart), Fred said these haunting words: “I can’t believe we’re here. Archie, you’re graduating. I didn’t think I’d live to see this day.”
This dream scene was actually borrowed from the Season 2 premiere episode “A Kiss Before Dying,” which aired in 2017. The dream played out after Fred was shot by Black Hood; although Archie’s dad lived through that ordeal, the writers of Riverdale were sadly forced to make Fred die in a hit-and-run accident in the Season 4 premiere, which aired seven months after Luke’s death. The Riverdale characters even held an emotional funeral for Fred in the special tribute episode.
The dream scene wasn’t the only reference to Fred in the graduation episode that aired on Wednesday night; Archie and Mary mourned the fact that Fred was missing his son’s actual graduation day. Fans weren’t prepared for Fred’s comeback on the show, though, and took to Twitter to share their bittersweet reactions.
— FaliceBarchie 🌙 (@anchors_ahoy) February 4, 2021
“I didn’t think I’d be emotional about a freaking graduation episode but then Luke Perry showed up on my screen and now I’m crying,” one fan tweeted, while another wrote, “#Riverdale gutted me. I’ll never be over losing Luke Perry. Seeing Fred’s face onscreen as Arch missed & remembered his Dad? Hits much harder now in ways I was ill-prepared for. I bawled for 10 min. It was ugly.”
OMG WHY DID THEY HAVE TO SHOW LUKE PERRY..IM BALLING. #Riverdale
— Whitney Ard (@WLW916) February 4, 2021
In real life, Fred’s actor Luke passed away after suffering a stroke at 52 years old in March of 2019. His death rocked Hollywood, especially since Luke played heartthrob Dylan McKay on the original Beverly Hills, 90210 series between 1990-2000. To this day, it’s even “hard” for Jennie Garth and Tori Spelling to rewatch their old episodes of Beverly Hills, 90210 with Luke, which Luke’s former co-stars revealed in an EXCLUSIVE interview with HollywoodLife in Dec. 2020.