Riverdale Pays Tribute to Luke Perry in First Episode Following His Sudden Death

Riverdale is mourning the loss of Luke Perry.

Two days after Perry died from a “massive stroke” at age 52, Riverdale aired its latest episode — the first since suddenly losing the actor who played Archie’s (KJ Apa) dad Fred Andrews on the hit CW series.

The end of Wednesday’s program saw a touching tribute dedicated to Perry, where the black screen read, “In Memoriam Luke Perry 1966-2019.”

The episode also featured appearances from Perry, including a scene where Fred heroically came to his son’s rescue after Archie was attacked in their home.

On Monday, production on Riverdale was halted in the wake of Perry’s sudden death. Production remained suspended Tuesday, according to Entertainment Weekly.

In a statement to PEOPLE, series executive producers Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Jon Goldwater said the cast and crew were “deeply saddened” by the loss of Perry.

“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.”

Perry joined the show during the first season and has appeared in almost every episode. Riverdale is currently in its third season.

Following his death, Perry’s Riverdale costars, including Lili Reinhart and Casey Cott, also paid tribute to their castmate and friend.

Reinhart channeled her grief into poetry and shared a moving message to her Instagram story.

“When someone you love, gets taken from you. And the small circumferences surrounding you is stuck. Frozen in a moment. Of loss. And shock. Yet the people passing you are moving at full speed,” she wrote. “Did they not feel the earth shake? Or slow? Can they hear the thoughts screaming in my head? His name. His face. Memories. Flashes. Of a friend. A lost friend.”

She continued, “We always expect the earth to stand still. For the universe to grieve the loved ones we have lost, along with us. But it keeps moving. Maybe as a sign that we should too. The movement of strangers, like a wave taking us with them.”

Reinhart, 22, concluded her emotional note by admitting that in grieving, it’s “too hard to give anything.”

“So we ebb and flow with the passage of others, coasting off their energy and conserving our own. Because it’s too hard to give anything right now. To anyone. Except for him,” she wrote. “The one we’ve lost. And I pray that he’s silently moving in tandem with us. Guiding us through the waves even when we can’t swim.”

Reinhart also shared her grief on Twitter, writing, “I’m finding it hard to grasp that he will no longer be around to give long hugs and share his wisdom and kindness with all of us … I just can’t believe it.”

Cott, 26, paid tribute to Perry with a touching message on Twitter.

“I’m totally heartbroken. Luke took me under his wing the day I was cast and made me feel like I belonged. He was the most generous, wise soul with unmatched kindness,” he wrote.

“He treated everyone with love and joy. We had so much fun. Praying for his family.”

Perry was hospitalized on Feb. 27 after suffering a massive stroke at his home in Sherman Oaks, California. A source tells PEOPLE he never regained consciousness. The actor remained “under observation” for five days but died on Monday, March 4.

“Actor Luke Perry, 52, passed away today after suffering a massive stroke,” read a statement from Perry’s rep. “He was surrounded by his children Jack and Sophie, fiancé Wendy Madison Bauer, ex-wife Minnie Sharp, mother Ann Bennett, step-father Steve Bennett, brother Tom Perry, sister Amy Coder, and other close family and friends.”

“The family appreciates the outpouring of support and prayers that have been extended to Luke from around the world, and respectfully request privacy in this time of great mourning. No further details will be released at this time.”

In lieu of flowers, the Perry family ask that donations be made to Fight Colorectal Cancer and St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.

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