From the moment it was announced this past Monday, the internet (and entire universe), has been mourning the loss of Luke Perry, who suffered a massive stroke before passing away at the age of 52.
Maybe he was the object of your affection as Dylan McKay, the casually cool bad boy with a heart of gold, or perhaps the morally centered father of your favorite new teen soap Riverdale.
Regardless of how you knew him, Luke Perry has meant a great deal to multiple generations.
Over the past few days, the internet has flooded with anecdotes, stories, and memories of the thoughtful and kind actor, who lived his life with zero egos and a clear purpose: to give back.
And although many of us -- family, friends, and fans -- are taking the time to mourn and grieve, there is one group of people who probably haven’t been given that comfort: the writers of his current hit TV show, Riverdale.
Perry wasn’t the star of the series, but he did play the father of Archie Andrews, the show's main character, and he was arguably the (only) decent and good-hearted parent on the show.
Depending on at what stage of production the writer's room finds itself, it’s safe to say they will have to scramble to change the future direction of the series.
The question becomes how do they move forward? It’s a hard one to ask considering the delicacy of the issue, but unfortunately for Riverdale’s writers, it’s a reality they’re currently facing. The show must go on eventually.
Will they recast the role? That’s certainly a viable option, considering the context of Fred Andrews as a character. What would the show be, without a well-intended adult to ground the series? And what will Archie do, without a parent under his roof?
By the time the loss of Perry is addressed on the show, we may be rolling into Riverdale Season 4. That’s three full seasons with Perry’s face as Fred.
To recast this late into the series would feel off-kilter at best, not to mention the air of indelicacy that would come with recasting. It feels more respectful to write the character off indefinitely, somehow.
If that’s the case, the question then becomes what the most respectful way to do that would be. Killing off a character whose actor has recently died is potentially tactless, and Fred himself has already been shot -- and survived -- two other shootings on the show.
What would be the incident that finally does him in, and who would have to do the deed? Would the writers really make a cast member responsible for Fred’s demise? Again, it seems insensitive. Then again, Fred passing away from health issues seems uncomfortably close to life imitating art.
There’s always the possibility of sending Fred somewhere off screen. He could move his construction company far away and try to succeed in a town much more prosperous (and safe) than Riverdale.
Writing off Fred this way would at least keep his character and memory intact. Archie could also use the excuse of wanting to graduate from Riverdale High to stick around, and it seems like the best way to go about things.
There is, however, the remaining issue of Archie. Sticking around Riverdale would be easy enough since the writers could use his desire to graduate with his friends as an excuse.
Except Riverdale Season 4 will probably have him entering his senior year, and that would make him a minor, and in need of a parent or guardian.
Who knows if Alice Cooper will be back from crazy town by the end of Riverdale Season 3, but living with The Coopers and Betty could be an option; he has been their close family friend and neighbor from birth.
Archie could also join the Serpents ( everyone else has) and live under their protection. It would keep in line with character dynamics for Fred to leave Archie under FP’s care. The two men do have a longstanding friendship and history.
Skeet Ulrich and Luke Perry were known to be close friends, so this would feel emotionally satisfying for viewers; a passing of the young teen idol torch, if you will.
The last possibility could involve Mary Andrews, Archie’s mother. Archie parents are divorced, so Archie’s sole custody was given to Fred (Perry’s character), while Mary has been living in Chicago, mostly off-screen.
She has, however, been a part of Riverdale for two seasons now, making appearances when it’s mattered most. It’s unknown what other projects Ringwald has at the moment or if she would be interested in becoming a series regular, but it certainly would make sense to the story to get her on board.
Even if Ringwald is unable to be bumped up to the main cast, it’s still possible the show could work around her appearances.
As the seasons have progressed, Fred’s presence was less imperative for storylines. The writers could potentially work around Mary only being a recurring role when she’s most needed (similar to Tom Keller or Sierra McCoy).
if you watch Riverdale online, you know Ringwald has proved to mesh well with the rest of the cast, and at the end of the day, Archie is the character who needs the stability of a parent figure most of all.
There is a myriad of ways to handle the loss of Perry, and it will be interesting -- and difficult -- to witness which road the writers will take. No one is envious of this monumental task, but it can be expected they will handle things with grace and respect.
Whatever storyline they choose to pursue, no one will ever supersede Luke Perry and his role as Fred Andrews. He was humble, sturdy, earnest, loyal, and loving. His relationship and the chemistry shared with Apa on screen will never be replaced or replicated.
Luke Perry will always be our Fred Andrews.
Our deepest condolences go out to the writers, cast, crew, and creators of Riverdale, as well as Perry’s family and friends during this inconceivably difficult time.
Series creator Roberto Aguirre Sacasa has indicated the rest of the series will be dedicated to Perry.
The author of this post will donate any proceeds to the American Stroke Association in the name of Luke Perry.
Kat Pettibone is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.