'Glee' ousting three major cast members in season 4: Why this could work... and why it might not


Image Credit: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

I came to peace with the fact that Glee cast members Chris Colfer and Lea Michele wouldn’t be returning in season 4 after the season 2 finale, when Rachel mentioned to Kurt that she’d always wanted to move to New York City. (If that wasn’t an intentional seed for a spin-off, someone on the Glee creative team has a lot good ideas stored in their brains, probably on the same shelf where they’ve been keeping all of Tina’s plotlines.) While Ryan Murphy has made no spin-off announcement, this anticipation of what seems inevitable helped soften the blow when it was made official yesterday that the duo and Cory Monteith’s Finn Hudson would not be returning after next season. (But, to be fair, we were also officially warned about this.)

What has surprised me has been the reaction from fans, who seem split on the issue. In one corner, you have the devotees who, burnt by the often lackluster second season, laud the turn-over, saying it could be a new beginning for the show. EW commenter Swarles Barkley (that’s a pretty amazing name) said, “This would actually cause me to come back to this show. I stopped watching about a quarter of the way through the second season. There was no real direction and the main characters became so annoying.”

Indeed, a rolling cast list has done some shows good in the past. I’ll admit that it took me some time to warm up to the “new kids” on Friday Night Lights, which ends its run tomorrow on NBC, but it was a well-done transition. What I loved most was that the new blood didn’t try to be the new versions of the old characters. They were new characters with completely different outlooks and goals. Glee could learn a lot from what Friday Night Lights accomplished: a seamless, realistic transition. The problem? “Seamless” and “realistic” have never been Glee‘s strong points, which is not to say they couldn’t be. But the question is: Is Glee looking to be the less-attractive comedy cousin of Friday Night Lights… or Saved By the Bell: The New Class?

Also, what about Rachel, Kurt, and Finn? I certainly can’t speak for all fans of the show, but I largely enjoyed them as characters. (Let’s, for a moment, put aside any disservice done to their arcs.) Kurt is vulnerable but strong, Finn is an adorable airhead, and Rachel is someone who tries so hard, I want her to get what she’s looking for. Maybe this will change by the end of the season (and it very well could), but I’m not quite ready to let them go. For that reason, I’d certainly give a spin-off a chance — if only to see if these characters get the stories I’d always hoped they’d get.

Vote in our polls below and justify your vote in comments!

Follow me on Twitter: @EWSandraG

Read more:
Emmys: Chris Colfer on his nod and leaving ‘Glee’
Lea Michele, Chris Colfer, and Cory Monteith to depart ‘Glee’ after season 3
Ryan Murphy reveals season 3 secrets, talks ‘The Glee Project’ winner

Comments (82 total) Add your comment
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  • Shamus N.

    If the batch on The Glee Project is any indication of the future, they should just end the show when the original cast graduates.

    • Swarles Barkley

      Not to be a jerk and comment on this just because it’s at the top BUT! Can I just say how freakin STOKED I am that I was quoted in this article!!!! Sandra, I’m honored, that you thought my comment worthy of re-posting! Ok, moment over! I have been catching up with the Glee Project watching clips on Hulu and I’mnot encouraged either. The problem was never with the cast but with the writing of their characters. They were less moody teenagers and more split personalities week to week. I’ll give it the old college try next season and the season after that but they’ve got to earn my viewership, especially because there is so much other great TV out there lately.

      • Amy

        Exactly. Most of the actors, at least from what I could tell, have loads of potential, but the writing is so terrible that not even the best actors can overcome it.

  • KLH

    I thought Lea nad Chris would still be on but in NY. If they are gone, so am I. This season was weak for me anyway.

    • Gigi

      Cory needs to be in the spin-off. Finn is my favorite and I won’t watch it if Cory is not on board.

  • ann

    I just want Shue gone…hes beyond annoying and creepy at this point

    • Disappointed Glee

      Yup, Will Schuester has become one creepy character. His story,as farfetched as it got, was part of the charm of Glee in Season 1. In Season 2, the least we got to see him was a real respite!

  • wino

    this season has been weak and im not sure if replacing the characters will help the writing. im just afraid Ryan Murphy and the show itself has become stale. how many more seasons can “regionals” or “nationals” continue as an exciting plot point??

    • znachki

      The writing has definitly been the weak point this season, (only 3 for what 22 eps? that’s insane) but they have hired a slew of new ones, so I am hoping that the characters can be rehabilitated.

    • kate middleton

      I’m totally with you wino. This season was beyond awful – the writers were super lazy, and it seemed like they thought they could put anything on and everyone would rave about it, like in Season 1. Not so – got old really fast.

      Kurt, Rachel and Finn are the worst characters at this point, for me (especially Rachel, Kurt was good but the same old storyline got old). There is no way in heck I’d ever watch a spin off with them. But, I will consider continue watching Glee with new characters, if it’s good this season.

  • Emily

    Here is my concern, Ryan Murphy has said that it will be these three in addition to others. I imagine that next year will also be the end for Quinn, Puck, Santana, and possibly Artie (hopefully they will keep Britney around, but will she be the same without Santana around). They have never established what grades these kids were in when the show started so its possible they were all sophomores. And then with the news that Chord wasn’t picked up as a regular, I’m left wondering who the heck is going to be left to lead the choir in Season 4. To put it in HR terms, there doesn’t really seem to be a clear succession plan.

  • CIP

    I stop watching at the beginning of Season 2. It brought back bad memories of another Murphy show, Nip/Tuck which I thought for the first two seasons, was the best show I’ve ever seen and then it turned into a parody of itself. Sorry but new characters or not, I will not watch Glee again.

  • Cheerio

    In an otherwise lackluster season, Lea and Chris made that NY episode so special, their characters should go off to NY and live their dreams. In real life – these two deserve major broadway/film roles.

  • Brian

    I am very interested in seeing what they would do with so many main characters leaving but it really will not feel like the same show without the main characters/stories…I am a big fan of Glee but not sure if I am going to stick around after Season 3

  • nykolus

    pretty optimistic banking on a season 4, no???

  • Brenna

    as long as finn and rachel are a couple come the season 3 finale ill be sorta alright with them leaving

    • tj

      I want Finn to have more storylines about HIS dreams for the future. Rachel is pretty certain to end up in New York. What about Finn? Will he make it there with Rachel???

      • Lily

        I think Finn will just get married with Quinn and takes over Burt’s business… Just as predicted by Quinn…

  • iyyak

    I will continue to watch the original show, but would follow Chris Colfer anywhere. And Darren Criss.

    • Lily

      I will only watch Darren Criss if his character become more than “just Kurt’s boyfriend”…

  • Flip

    They should keep Brittany and Puck around for the fourth season by having them held back a year (they aren’t very good at school).

    • Flip

      Also, isn’t Quinn supposed to be the same age as Rachel and Finn? Please write her out too!

      • J

        Quinn said she was 17 in Born this way. It was established that Rachel was 16 in Born this Way

    • icandoscience

      I don’t know about Puck… he’s already 28, he’ll be 29 soon, and if they keep him around any longer he’ll be 30. I don’t want to watch a 30 year old try to play 18/19.

      • Flip

        I don’t care about the age of the actor. The character is only 16-17.

      • Eric

        I care…some of them look like teachers, please!

      • Rachel

        Cory Monteith, Mark Salling, and Harry Shum Jr. are ALL turning 29 this year.

  • Kevin

    it’s a necessary evil, aren’t most of them going to be seniors? they all attended junior prom….

  • Liz

    After the 3rd season Glee’s viewership will decline drastically. Introducing new generations like the skins format to a show doesn’t tend to work in the US, because viewers become very attached to characters, not settings. It might have worked for FNL, but FNL had great writing and Kyle Chandler and Connie Briton to carry the show. It will definitely not work for Glee, as the writing has become horrible and having familiar characters is the only thing keeping me watching right now. Do a spin off with Rachel and Kurt and I’ll watch. You know what, let Lea and Chris go to broadway and that’ll make me even happier, seeing them perform in something that has real substance.

  • BK

    lmao @ “…probably on the same shelf where they’ve been keeping all of Tina’s plotlines”

    • Lily

      LOL ! And Mercedes’ plotlines… oh I think they are already in the dustbin. :-(

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