How TV Shows Handled Stars’ Deaths: ‘Riverdale,’ ‘Glee’ and More

RiverdaleGlee and more TV shows were faced with the difficult task of writing out characters after their portrayers died off screen.

Luke Perry’s sudden and tragic death in March 2019 left the Riverdale writers room with the undertaking of giving Fred Andrews a proper sendoff while also honoring the late actor. The crew decided to hold off on addressing the character’s absence until season 4, dedicating the entire premiere in October 2019 to saying goodbye.

“It was really hard on everybody. We had gone through the hiatus and sort of, in a way, could dodge the feelings if we needed to, whatever the healing process became,” Skeet Ulrich told Us Weekly exclusively in October 2019. “We could lean on each other still through that break and then when we were tasked in retelling our own grief, in a way, it was quite a bonding experience. It’s a really tight-knit cast as it is, but that really put us to task.”

The Scream star detailed the process of filming the tribute episode. “There wasn’t a day where somebody wasn’t getting picked up off the floor from their emotions of it. It’s hard. It’s incredibly hard,” he recalled. “I mean, he should be here right now, doing this. He’s not gone. He’s as much a part of us now. I just miss his presence, and I think we felt that really deeply in the making of that episode, and it was quite a challenge.”

The cast of Glee felt similar sentiments after Cory Monteith died in July 2013. “Tonights Glee was made out of a lot of love & a lot of tears by our incredible crew, cast & creators for our friend Cory,” Kevin McHale tweeted when the memorial episode to Finn Hudson aired in October 2013. “We miss you Cory.”

Meanwhile, Naya Rivera admitted exclusively to Us in August 2013 that returning to the set after Monteith’s death was “terrible,” though filming the tribute helped her cope with her grief.

Scroll to see how TV shows, including 8 Simple RulesDallas and more, handled the deaths of actors during production.

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