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/ Source: TODAY
By Ree Hines

When "Riverdale" returns for its fourth season, it will do so without one of the stars who's been there since the very beginning — and the teen drama will honor that star by featuring another talent who's never been on the show before.

Shannen Doherty is set to appear on The CW series for a special season-premiere tribute to her longtime friend, Luke Perry, who died in March at the age of 52.

"I am deeply honored to pay tribute to Luke on Riverdale," she wrote in a post to Instagram Sunday. "The care in which this show takes in honoring his memory is beautiful. He is missed. Today. Tomorrow. Forever."

That message appeared alongside a '90s-era throwback pic of Doherty and Perry as on-again, off-again loves Brenda Walsh and Dylan McKay on "Beverly Hills, 90210."

The casting news was first revealed earlier in the day at San Diego Comic-Con, when "Riverdale" showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa spoke about the special "standalone episode," titled "In Memoriam."

"It's set on July 4th, in Riverdale, and obviously it's a tribute to Luke; it's a tribute to the character (he played)," he explained.

Perry portrayed Fred Andrews, the father of the character at the center of the show, Archie.

"We had a table read about two weeks ago, and I've been working in television for 12 or 13 years, and I'd never experienced a table read like that," Aguirre-Sacasa said of the emotional and tear-filled event.

"I hope that it will be a real tribute and honor to Luke," he added. "That's the goal."

The inclusion of Doherty goes a long way toward that goal, especially given the fact that Perry himself had hoped his friend would appear on the series since the first season.

"They were such good friends, and when we were putting together this tribute episode, we wanted to make it as special as possible, and so we asked Shannen to do a pivotal, super-emotional role," Aguirre-Sacasa also said, according to The Hollywood Reporter. "She read the script and immediately said yes. It’s very impactful."

And it won't be the only small-screen nod to the late actor.

Doherty and the other core members of the "Beverly Hills, 90210" cast will return to prime time in August for a reboot (with a twist) called "BH90210," and Perry will be honored on that series, too.

Jason Priestley, who played Doherty's brother, Brandon Walsh, on the original series, recently told Entertainment Tonight that Perry was "a big part of our family" and that "his absence is definitely palpable," and they don't ignore that absence in the script.

"I think we had to talk about the fact that he wasn’t there," Priestley said. "And I think we’ve done it in a tasteful way that’s not exploitative. You know it’s a difficult line to walk. It’s not like you really know how to do it because it’s not something you do every day."

"Riverdale" returns to The CW for season four on Oct. 9, and "BH90210" debuts on Fox Aug. 7.

CORRECTION (July 22, 2019, 11:00 a.m.): An earlier version of this article misstated the name of the actor who played Shannen Doherty's brother on "90210." He is Jason Priestley, not Justin Priestley.