Glee regulars Lea Michele, Cory Monteith and Chris Colfer will graduate and be replaced by new faces in the 4th season of Fox TV's musical comedy-drama.
"You can keep them on the show for six years and people will criticize you for not being realistic, 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," show co-creator Ryan Murphy confirmed to Hollywood Reporter, reiterating what he said earlier on the Ryan Seacrest radio show.
Murphy told Seacrest on June 20 that a large number of cast will be graduating in season 3 and moving on.
"We didn't want to have a show where they were in high school for eight years. We really wanted it to be true to that experience. We thought it would be really cool if we were true to the timeline," Murphy said on Ryan Seacrest's radio show on June 29. He revealed that the others leaving the show will be Amber Riley, Mark Salling and Dianna Agron.
The names of those graduating and those staying will be revealed on the September 20 season premiere.
Murphy says Chris and Lea were involved in the decision making and they fully support it.
"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."
Lea shared her thoughts with her Twitter fans:
"We always knew we'd graduate in real time. It's all part of the plan and it's all good! It's going to make Season 3 amazing!!!" Lea tweeted this evening.
Murphy says the new season will focus more on dreams of graduating artists' beyond high school and how they plan on realizing them.
Chris Colfer, 20, is already focusing on his film career. He wrote the script of his debut feature film, Struck by Lightning, which he will also be headlining.
"We had our first Struck By Lightning cast and crew party! Amazing team of people! Can't wait for the rest of the cast to be announced!" Colfer tweeted on July 10.