Glee Shocker: Lea Michele, Cory Monteith and Chris Colfer Not Returning For Season 4

Brace yourselves, Gleeks.

Glee exec producer Ryan Murphy just told The Hollywood Reporter that not only will Rachel, Finn and Kurt graduate from McKinley High at the end of the upcoming third season, but all three of their portrayers — Lea Michele, Cory Monteith and Chris Colfer — are “not going to be back at all for Season 4.”

That’s right, kids. He said At. All.

“You can keep them on the show for six years and people will criticize you for not being realistic,” he added, “or you can be really true to life and say when they started the show they were very clearly sophomores and they should graduate at the end of their senior year.

“We’ve never done anything by the book,” Murphy continued. “We made that decision and I involved Chris and Lea and they thought that was a good idea. They both trust the writing and trust me and felt that it would be great to have an open and closed experience for them to go out while they were on top.”

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Murphy goes on to acknowledge that unlike Colfer and Michele, he has yet to discuss any of this with Monteith. But it shouldn’t come as much of a shock since the actor knew Finn “was a sophomore when the show started.”

The Glee boss first floated the graduation plot in an interview last month with Ryan Seacrest, although he stopped short of saying any of the actors would be written off the show permanently. Murphy later told TVLine that he would be open to the idea of possibly spinning some of the characters off into their own show — perhaps an hour-long series about a group of young artists (namely Rachel and Kurt) who head to New York City to pursue their musical theater dreams.

“It’s an interesting idea,” he said at the time. “The questions are ‘How would we do it? And when would we do it?’ It would have to be something I would talk about to [Fox bigwigs] Peter Rice and Kevin Reilly and [20th Century Fox brass] Dana Walden and Gary Newman. What we’re trying to do now — maybe those discussions will happen around December — we’re just now trying to do the first 10 episodes.”

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261 Comments
  1. Cory says:

    What about Dianna and Mark? Their characters were both supposedly 16 last season when Quinn got pregnant. Is this just a preliminary list? Will there be more confirmed to be leaving later?

  2. Franko says:

    I’m only sad because Lea is leaving. She has the best voice on Glee, without a doubt. As for Chris and especially Cory, “na na na na, na na na na, hey, hey, hey, goooooooooodbye”.

  3. Cindy says:

    If there is a spin off series, it better also include Quinn, Puck, Artie, Tina, Mercedes…well, you get the picture.

  4. Jared says:

    As much as I respect their decision to “be realistic” this is seriously just the worst news ever!

  5. Stacey says:

    Say good-bye to Glee than. I am very unlikely to continue to watch Glee without Lea. She is the best voice. None of the others compare.

    I think FOX will do a spinoff. Which is why Ryan is being so definitive about them not coming back at all! They know Lea and Chris are the ones who have given Glee the acclaim.

    If not, FOX and Glee is over!

  6. vee says:

    give me the spin-off, but don’t attach blaine to it. just want rachel and kurt making their way.

    • Beth says:

      Totally.

    • katie says:

      I agree, no Blaine or Finn. There’s no need to saddle them with the same guy forever, let them grow and have adult relationships.

    • Marcus says:

      Amen to this. Rachel and Kurt can both do better than Finn and Blaine, and they’re both too fabulous to be tied down to guys from high school anyway.

    • whatever says:

      *shrugs* Kurt without Blaine wouldn’t hold my interest. The only reason I stuck with season 2 was because of those two.

    • Li says:

      Agreed. The two of them as friends in NY just trying to make their way? That would be interesting. Blaine is not good for Kurt, and Finn is not good for Rachel. Blaine condescends whenever he talks to Kurt, and Finn just has this attitude where he THINKS he is the good guy, but he’s a complete ass. I mean he can’t just be happy with who he’s dating – he seems to only be happy when he is going after some other girl. Everything is always about him.

    • Darcy says:

      No way. I definitely want Blaine to be a part of a spin-off with Kurt and Rachel. Finn can come if they need someone to move something heavy.

  7. Ruby says:

    This entire show is Lea for me, (because the writing sucks) so when she goes, I’ll go. I’d follow HER to a new show, but if they just get rid of my three favorite characters and that’s it, I won’t be following RYAN MURPHY to anything new, that’s for sure.

    • sm says:

      YES!!!!! Say it again. The acting on some of the cast’s part especially Cory(FINN) was great considering the poor writing this past season. Even the critics called some of it pretty messy.

  8. Jenilee says:

    Lol at him discussing it with Lea and Chris and not Cory. Way to be an ass! Discuss it with all or none.

  9. MonkeyRat says:

    As long as the “unholy trinity” stick around, I’ll watch it. “Asian fusion” and Sam would be a bonus. But if I don’t have the cheerios, there’s no point for me. I’m sad to see Rachel leaving though, I really like her. But I couldn’t care less about Kurt and Finn, as well as Artie, Mercedes and Puck.

    • Li says:

      Agreed. Unholy Trinity must stay. Asian Fusion (with an actual storyline would be nice), and Sam are good. I’ll miss Lea and Chris, because they were fun, but if getting rid of them also means not having to deal with Finn anymore, I can live with that. Puck, I wouldn’t mind keeping around – he entertains me. Artie, I can live with if they give him a storyling that doesn’t make him come off as such a creep, because Kevin’s voice is amazing.

  10. English says:

    No happy about this but sometimes “we can’t always get what we want”. I know its cheezy but still….

  11. Pepper says:

    I thought (hoped) the show was gonna be like Heroes. I mean, geographically. Ensemble cast, different storylines. One minute, we’re in Texas, next in Japan and after that, India.

    They should do that. One scene, Mr Schuester with new “losers”, next scene, Rachel and Kurt trying to make it in NY, next scene, Quinn crying over how beautiful she is.

  12. Alyssa says:

    Couldn’t they combine the shows; keep the same high school glee club going but show Finn/Rachel/Kurt elsewhere whether that be in New York or a college on the side??

  13. Lisa Bee says:

    Three years is definitely enough for the characters. I mean they have gone through pretty much every relationship combination imaginable, and after a while they will just get tiring.

    The show Skins changes cast every two years, and while I think they should maybe go one more with each new cast, the changeover is always refreshing and can bring new issues and dynamic into it. This is a good idea.

    • mars says:

      I watch a lot of british shows and many popular series changes main cast (or main actor) reguarly, despite some backlash from the public. I think the audience feeling over there is “well, these actors have to move on to their next project and stretch their wings as performers.” Whereas we here in the US get the same characters on tv for sometimes 10+ years and the actors (sometimes) stagnant in their roles without fresh materials. It’s quite interesting. I wanna see where Ryan Murphy takes this.

  14. MB says:

    I think it would be a much better idea to simply start fresh after season 3. Murphy derailed his own characters so much that they can’t be salvaged anyway. They should switch the settings to another school with an entirely different cast. Keep either Schue or Sue and start a new story that is consistent and written within well defined boundaries. Season 2 went entirely out of control with the bullying plot and the writers weren’t able to handle it properly. It didn’t help that the remaining episodes where either fillers or “Special” episodes (Tributes, Valentine’s day, Christmas and so on). Start fresh and keep the number of characters to a minimum but develop them well.

    • Li says:

      Ewwwww PLEASE get rid of Schue. He’s a HORRIBLE teacher. And I mean, yes Sue isn’t much better, but at least the show doesn’t keep trying to shove down our throats that she is a hero. Schue and Finn would both be much less hateable if the show didn’t keep trying to paint them as the heros.

  15. Jade says:

    Aww! So sad that they’re leaving. I absolutely love glee. Although they’re leaving, I know Cory, Chris, and Lea will go far in the showbiz!

  16. Becca says:

    Bad bad idea…I get that he’s trying to keep it real, but really? I don’t think anybody is watching Glee for how realistic it is. True, the writing for season 1 was excellent, especially for the first half, but season 2’s writing was really inconsistent. It had some great moments, but also some pretty terrible ones. At this point, pretty much anyone I know who watches, including me, is watching for the great actors and characters, not the writing. Seems like a mistake to get rid of 3 people who are arguably the most popular of the show.

  17. Paige says:

    It’s going to be incredibly hard for me when Chris leaves. He adds something to Glee that NO ONE ELSE can. On one of his interviews he told the fans not to worry when he was asked about some of the cast graduating. Right then I thought that I would still be seeing him on the show. Did he lie? I sure hope not. I just don’t understand…WHY HIM? Chris (21) is the youngest in the main cast. Why send him off when everyone else is older than him? He can still pass for 19 even when he’s 22 or 23. At least he’s doing well for being so young. With Glee, writing and starring in Struck By Lightning, and book deals…he’s done so much. I’ll truly miss him and I hope I see lots more of him in the future.

  18. Donna says:

    When Ryan Murphy started this graduation spiel he mentioned that he always meant to have the show be a launching pad with Jane Lynch and Matthew Morrison as the anchors. That’s the reason I won’t be watching if Cory, Chris and Lea leave. Sue and Shue are the most annoying characters on the show. I’m always glad when the show veers away from them to focus on the kids.

  19. J says:

    anyone else wondering if Cory was the blind item Aus hinted at recently again, about the possible pink-slipped person?
    Pepper, I like the idea of people graduating and moving on but staying on the show a la Heroes. that would be nice.

  20. JDHetherington says:

    Ok. Ryan Murphy, you can graduate Rachel, Finn and Kurt. NOBODY ELSE THOUGH. You can’t get rid of more than a quater of the cast in 1 season transition. Though I’m happy if Kurt leaves (because that means Ryan Murphy won’t be able to justify Blaine’s continued existence as a regular in the series.) :)

  21. gleeeeek says:

    Not that surprised. But is anyone doubting whether Lea and Chris will have as much or any success post-Glee? Can’t see a spin-off at all, the show made them what they are today and I don’t know if they can get Emmy noms on another show, sorry :(

    • Anna says:

      Lea’s a Broadway star and Chris is already working on three or so major non-Glee projects – books, TV shows, movies. They’ll all be successful. They all have talent.

  22. Irishgirl says:

    How nice of Ryan Murphy to allow Cory Monteith to find out this information with everybody in the freaking world.

  23. Natalie says:

    Lea will definitely have success. She’s a widely known broadway actress. She’s bound to get work somewhere.
    Chris, I’m not sure. I can only imagine him on glee. I mean, I guess I could imagine him on stage, but due to lack of experience, I’m not sure
    Cory, I can imagine him being on a tv sitcom. I think he can get work after glee
    Dianna, with her charm and beauty, will definitely get work. She’s already been in a movie.
    Amber, she can probably get some sort of record deal or something.
    Jenna, again, she’s a musical theatre girl (though little people know it). I can see her getting work
    Kevin, I’m not all that sure about. I can only picture him in a wheelchair
    Mark, I think he can do something. Not all that sure what, though
    So yeah. The only people I am completely sure will get work post glee are Lea and dianna. I have the most confidence in them.

    • Anna says:

      Oh, Chris will be kept busy. He has two books, at least one movie, and a pilot he sold to Disney.
      Naya is coming out with an album, and she said she’d like to have some of her fellow Gleeks do a little something on it.
      Kevin was in some punky band before Glee, I think he might do something.
      And I thought Mark already had a debut on iTunes, doesn’t he?
      But all of the actors are extremely talented and (for the most part) very kind, so they’ll all go far. And hopefully Glee will have been a stepping stone for stars like Jenna, who I did not know was a musical theatre girl, and has a gorgeous voice. I know I’m going to be following all of the actors. =D

  24. Anna says:

    So how is this a shocker? Were we expecting they’d stay on the show for ten years, and RIB would just make up some random “they all failed” excuse? That works for Brittz, but… no.

  25. Kevin says:

    To be bluntly honest, Finn is my least favorite character on the show other than Puck and Lauren.. so i’m all for them leaving but it’ll be sad to see Rachel and Kurt leave, those are the main two people and are the best ones apart from Santana, Brittany, and Sam..

    when the show started, i think it was implied they were all sophomores but i guess i was wrong if some aren’t graduating

  26. Paul says:

    He said they were very obviously sophomores when the series started. Actually, they were very obviously in their mid-20’s when the series started.

  27. Bow says:

    Oh no! Kurt,Rachel and Finn are so important; and they sing so well!!!!

  28. Samantha says:

    Will not watch with out them. This suxs!!!!

  29. Vetle says:

    Not sad to see Cory Monteith go. I find his voice annoying, and his acting to be either embarrasing or fake.

  30. Butters says:

    I’m most likely in the minority here, but I think this is a good thing. There is only so much the writing staff can do with these characters, how many more times can someone watch a couple break up and getting back together again and repeat the cycle. How many times does someone need to watch an I can sing better than you story line too. For these three characters they have taken them as far as they can go. It makes sense. Where the show is weak is they should have focused on one of the students each episode like they did on Lost.

  31. Lori says:

    Doesn’t anyone remember that all of the Glee club went to the Junior Prom? So, I think all of them should be graduating at the end of this season. I wish none of them were leaving but in all honesty, how do you explain any of them staying another year? Maybe Puck or Brittany for flunking out but that’s about it. I kinda like the idea of season 3 being the first half of Senior year, then at least everyone can stay for another season!

    • Pepper says:

      “how do you explain any of them staying another year?”

      How do you explain bursting into song in the hallway? It’s a TV show. You don’t have to explain anything.
      Lost, anyone?

  32. Justin says:

    Does anyone else feel really bad for people who love TV but don’t watch Glee. Imagine coming to this site everyday and literally 3 of the 4 main things are Glee-related. It’s getting ridiculous. I watch the show but come on.

  33. Sivat says:

    I’m more upset that Jessalyn Gislig isn’t returning for season three. :(

  34. dan says:

    I won’t be sad to see any of those three go, it’s the best thing they can do to keep the show fresh. I am hoping Brittney stays on for six years, though. That would be great.

  35. Logan says:

    Please NO for a Kurt/Rachel spin-off. Got sick of Ryan Murphy’s Mary-Sueing with St. Kurt this year, even though Colfer is talented, it seemed like all of the Kurt worship happened at the expense of other characters. Yawn.

    If I want to see a show about adults singing in New York, I’ll watch Smash.

  36. delan says:

    The show actually centers around mr schuster that is who connectes all the chacters and almost all of the guest stars not these three even though they are some of the more popular chacter. But alas its a high school based show so who d u think last the longest and b intgreal in the storylines

  37. Glee All says:

    Muito Bom, Glee e a melhor serie de todos os tempos, vou comprar todas as temporadas que sairem em dvd, espero que tenha mais de 10 temporadas.

    Very Good, Glee and the best series of all time, I’ll buy all the seasons out on DVD, I hope you have more than 10 seasons.

  38. Lindsey says:

    Makes sense. The three of them would be FANTASTIC in a spin off. I like the idea Ryan Murphy is floating around. Chris Colfer is incredible. It would be amazing to see him in a show with them trying to make it in musical theatre. I could see it being seriously comedic while having some interesting drama.

  39. Simon Cowell (The Truth Man) says:

    This is a SHOCKER because I have a hard time believing anything RM says. Half the things he had ‘planned’ for season two never came through. Graduation shall go like this:

    Kurt
    Rachel
    Finn
    Quinn (she’s older than Rachel, btw)
    Santana (she’s older than Finn, btw)
    Puck
    Lauren (maybe, she was able to run for Prom Queen, something only offered to juniors and seniors)

    I wonder why Ryan Murphy feels he has to stay realistic to a real highschool time line (Degrassi kids stayed in highschool for about five/six years and were followed into college, One Tree Hill did a semester timeline, Gossip Girl was followed after highschool).

    I think a spinoff with Kurt and Rachel could work, it could show them trying to follow their dreams in New York and realizing that there are hundreds of talented people in the world, and theyre more of a small fish in a big pond. More of a reality check, that its NOT OHIO, and in New York everyone wants that dream as bad as them. Blaine should NOT come, they should show Rachel and Kurt dealing with adult relationships, it would be realistic to see Finn ever so often since he IS Kurts step-brother. If they decided to keep Finn/Rachel together it would be interesting to see how they deal with real world problems and the interest of other people in the world, people who better fit them and maybe they are not soul mates. Ahh, I’m rambling its just and idea, that will never come to ‘be’.

    Lastly, I know RM said that Blaine will be auditioning for Nad towarss the end of season 3 (maybe to now fill the void of the leads) I DO NOT WANT TO SEE AN HOUR OF BLAINE, I’m sick of Glee trying to make him a male Rachel, if he becomes a member, I’m OUT regardless of who is still there or not. And, that is the truth.

  40. Ariana says:

    Here’s how I see it: without Finn and Kurt, Glee is not a show I will be watching. I could care less about Rachel. Lea cool I guess. I have nothing against her. Cory and Chris are just some of my favorite people in the world. I hate Finnchel. I hate Klaine. Neither one of those is a popular opinion. If I said which pairing is my favorite, the whole Glee fandom would be like “What the…”

  41. jake says:

    has ryan murphy learned nothing from the OC — one major cast member was dropped in the 3rd season and ratings dropped over 50 percent. I’m sorry, but I find it very aggravating, they certainly can stretch out their stay in high school — 24 was just one day and that was 24 episodes. Can someone please knock some sense into ryan murphy????

  42. Rodney Felson says:

    Why would Ryan Murphy worry about being criticized for not being realistic? He already is! For casting a bunch of 24-27 year olds as his high school main characters. I’m not complaining, but seriously mr. Murphy grow a pair and don’t take away the essence of GLEE.

  43. Jay says:

    It’s a great deal for the actors, many a breakout star lamented being locked in to 6 year deals.
    These guys can go off and do new things whilst their stars are still rising.

  44. Christine says:

    Murphy is such a jerk for not telling Cory about all of this..

  45. Marc says:

    Better this than the joke of actors well past 30 playing high schoolers on Welcome Back Kotter and BH:90210.

  46. Juke Early says:

    Yeah because it was realistic with actors in their 20’s. Should we all kill ourselves in a mass sucide or space it out to help the news hacks on slow news days?

  47. B says:

    I like how he says that people will criticize him for not being realistic if the characters remain on the show for six years rather than three or four, when the rest of his show isn’t real at all… I understand why they wouldn’t come back in season four, but I hate that Ryan has to say that he is doing this because he wants the show to be “realistic.”

  48. Ted Costello says:

    I too am a gr8 fan of Glee . And yes Chris is a wonderful talent . Lea is possibly as good as a singer can be . But there are a lot of superb talents . Heres three . Charice Pempengco . Bianca Ryan . And Jack Vidgen . All around 15 and 16 years of age . Theres 3 more years . While Cory is a very good looking man , he is only an average singer . And there are so many other as yet unknown talents . Time passes . Lea will go on to become the superstar she was always going to be . Chris will never want for Jobs and Cory will no doubt be a popular actor for a few years . Opinions based on hate are not opinions . They are hate . I surmise Murphy will spend a lot of time melding some new talents into the group in season 3 . Until then no-one knows .

  49. Froome says:

    did anyone watch the 9th season of scrubs after Zach Braff left? It was terrible and the show fell through! This is just a repeat with lea and Chris going