Glee: What Happened To The Cast?

This article includes mentions of addiction, substance misuse, and suicide.

Calling all Gleeks! Everyone's favorite fictional show choir may have gone the way of the dodo (at least on screens) in 2015, but its members have done anything but fade from the spotlight. From making dancing on Broadway, to releasing music of their own, and just about everything in between, many of the original "Glee" cast members have stayed busy and booked.

Their continued success as individuals hasn't come without tragedy, as three of the main cast members have passed away. These losses have made a huge impact on their co-stars. Much like the New Directions on screen, the "Glee" cast has generally remained very close off-screen, with the exception of a few well-documented diva moments.

The OG New Directions spread the doctrine of "Don't Stop Believin'" from 2009 to 2015. But with the show's streaming resurgence on Netflix, TikTok, and Disney+, it has opened the eyes of a new generation to all things good and gross from the show choir veterans. But what are the William McKinley High School grads up to now?

Matthew Morrison brought it back to Broadway

Broadway veteran Matthew Morrison portrayed the teacher sponsor of the New Directions show choir, Will Schuester, throughout all six seasons of "Glee." "I have very fond memories of the show, I like looking back on [it]," Morrison told People. He added, "Having people come up to me all the time and saying how much it affected their lives, so many real-life moments that had tangible effects on people's lives — for me that was the biggest reward from the show."

After the show wrapped in 2015, Morrison returned to Broadway to lead the cast of "Finding Neverland" as "Peter Pan" author J.M. Barrie. The musical was based on Alan Knee's play "The Man Who Was Peter Pan" and subsequent film version "Finding Neverland." Morrison earned a nomination for outstanding leading actor in a musical at the 2015 Drama Desk Awards. After he exited the show in early 2016, Morrison made his rounds in television with guest roles on "The Good Wife" and "Grey's Anatomy."

2022 was a big year for Morrison in a number of ways. He married Renee Puente, his longtime girlfriend and mother of their son, in Hawaii that summer. He was hired as a judge on the revival of "So You Think You Can Dance" alongside JoJo Siwa and the late Stephen "tWitch" Boss. But three months later, he was fired from the show for not abiding by "competition production protocols," he shared in a statement to People. The dismissal involved Morrison communicating with a dancer, and a source alleged to the outlet, "...he reached out to her through flirty direct messages on social media." Morrison later addressed his side of the story on Instagram.

Jane Lynch made the leap to game show host

Jane Lynch joined "Glee" after almost two decades of showbiz experience as the ruthless but sometimes soft-hearted Coach Sue Sylvester. The role and its now-legendary bevy of zingers won her an Emmy for outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series in 2010. "I love when I got to tear offices apart," she told Entertainment Weekly of her role. "I got to do this whole kind of Wagnerian destruction of the gym, of the boys' locker room. I was just throwing stuff. That was my favorite thing."

After the series ended in 2015, Lynch stayed close to the small screen with a number of recurring and guest roles, including an acclaimed stint on "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel." She also provided voice work for a number of animated projects including "Wreck-It Wralph" and "American Dad." She had already turned her attention to hosting shows including "Hollywood Game Night" and a reboot of "The Weakest Link." In 2022, she returned to Broadway in the revival of "Funny Girl" as Mrs. Brice alongside Beanie Feldstein. Lynch departed the Broadway company in August 2022, just weeks before her former "Glee" co-star Lea Michele took over the title role after a dramatic re-casting saga.

In her personal life, Lynch has had some highs and lows since the end of "Glee." After she and ex-wife Lara Embry split up in 2013, Lynch later remarried, this time to partner Jennifer Cheyne. "Jennifer and I have been together forever and we were shopping for insurance for her and I said, 'Let's just get married.' So that's how romantic it went," Lynch revealed to Today.

Lea Michele fulfilled a Glee prophecy

Lea Michele spent the first few years post-"Glee" on the small screen and in the recording studio. She starred in another Ryan Murphy-produced show, "Scream Queens," was in the ABC sitcom "The Mayor," and released a handful of studio albums. She married husband Zandy Reich in 2019 and gave birth to son Ever in 2020. Many have said that Lea Michele and her character on "Glee," the intensely focused (and often off-putting) starlet Rachel Berry, are more alike than not. There was more fuel added to that fire added when Michele fulfilled a so-called "Glee" prophecy by joining the 2022 revival of "Funny Girl" on Broadway.

Despite the drama surrounding Michele's takeover of the role from Beanie Feldstein, critics raved about her turn as the iconic Fanny Brice. It was all a bizarre parallel to a later-season storyline for Rachel Berry, who moved to New York and landed the role right after graduating high school. And in a full circle-come-eerie coincidence, both Michele and Berry have called the role a "dream come true."

That's not the only drama surrounding Michele. In 2021, actor Samantha Lee Ware began in a since-deleted tweet: "LMAO REMEMBER WHEN YOU MADE MY FIRST TELEVISON GIG A LIVING HELL?!?! CAUSE ILL NEVER FORGET" (via BuzzFeed), continuing with further allegations against Michele. Several other "Glee" co-stars shared their own allegations, enough to cause Michele to release a not-quite apology on Instagram

Dianna Agron spread her acting wings

Dianna Agron was head cheerleader-turned-teenage mother Quinn Fabray in all six seasons of "Glee." But before her time at McKinley High wrapped, Agron made her way to the silver screen alongside some Hollywood heavyweights.

Agron made a name for herself in a big way. She starred in "The Family" opposite Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer and counted heartthrob/former flame Alex Pettyfer as a co-star in "I Am Number Four." She also appeared in several music videos, including Sam Smith's "I'm Not The Only One" and The Killers' "Just Another Girl."

Splitting her time between the small and silver screens only propelled Agron further after "Glee" ended. She made the move to independent films with roles in "Shiva Baby" and "The Laureate," and tapped into the producing side with "ACIDMAN," which premiered at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival. In 2022, she premiered "Narcissa," the sci-fi podcast she stars in and executive produces. In terms of her love life, Agron was rumored to have dated several famous folks, like Sebastian Stan and Bradley Cooper, before marrying former Mumford and Sons musician Winston Marshall in 2016. However, the couple split up in 2020 after reportedly living apart for a year.

Chris Colfer wrote his way to the top

Chris Colfer made history as the openly gay, fashion-forward Kurt Hummel on "Glee," a role that earned him a Golden Globe for best supporting actor in 2011. Once Kurt got together with the dapper Blaine Anderson (played by Darren Criss), the so-called "Klaine" became one of the show's most beloved couples. 

Colfer is the author of "The Land of Stories," a six-title series of children's fantasy novels that made the New York Times Bestseller List. "I just [wrote] for my own mental health to just get the story out of my mind," Colfer shared on KTLA 5 Morning News. "I'm thrilled it found such a huge audience." Colfer has released other books apart from "Stories," including its prequel series "A Tale of Magic..." and the young adult novel "Stranger Than Fanfiction." But he didn't completely quit showbiz post-"Glee;" he has made guest appearances on "Hot in Cleveland," "Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie," and "RuPaul's Drag Race: All Stars."

"I've taken a few years off [from TV] to focus on writing because it's really taken on a life of its own and it's really been a dream come true, but I think I'll get back out there eventually," Colfer told USA Today in 2019. In terms of his personal life, Colfer celebrated 10 years with his partner Will Sherrod in 2023.

Darren Criss became a jack of all trades

Darren Criss played teenage dream and one half of fan-favorite couple, "Klaine," Blaine Anderson on "Glee." Though he didn't appear until Season 2, Blaine and Criss became beloved by all Gleeks, with Criss' career skyrocketing post-show.

Once filming wrapped on "Glee," Criss took to Broadway to star in "Hedwig and the Angry Inch." His acclaimed spin in sky-high heels wasn't his first time on the world's biggest stage. During "Glee," he'd made a brief appearance in the revival of "How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying." Broadway has been a major focus for Criss, who was in the 2022 revival of "American Buffalo" opposite Laurence Fishburne and Sam Rockwell. "Theatre is one of the only mediums that you can see, and go 'hopefully one day I can do that,'" Criss shared with Playbill. He meant that musical theatre allows different actors to shine in their interpretations of the same roles. He also co-founded the musical theatre festival "Elsie Fest," which boasted performances from Broadway superstars and even Criss himself.

Broadway hasn't been the only thing on Criss' mind. He won an Emmy award for outstanding lead actor in a limited series for "The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story," a project shepherded by "Glee" creator Ryan Murphy. He's also a Golden Globe winner. Criss has recorded and released a number of albums, including "A Very Darren Crissmas" in 2021. In 2019, the star married his longtime love Mia Swier. The couple welcomed their first child in 2022.

Amber Riley continues to bring the house down

As the powerhouse diva Mercedes Jones, Amber Riley spent six years slaying the game with her incredible vocals. But after "Glee" ended, Riley showcased even more of her talents in a number of new forums. Riley starred as Effie White in the 2016 West End premiere of "Dreamgirls," which earned her an Olivier award (the U.K. equivalent of a Tony) for best actress in a musical. She continued to make stage and screen appearances of the musical variety, including stints in live broadcasts of "The Wiz" and "The Little Mermaid."

But it's more than musicals that Riley succeeds in. After taking home the coveted Mirrorball trophy as "Dancing with the Stars" champion in 2013, Riley also won "The Masked Singer" in 2022. With these two wins, Riley became the first dual winner of both programs. "This has been such an amazing experience just to be able to come out here and be completely covered and let my talent speak for itself," Riley shared in her winning reveal speech on "The Masked Singer."

The multi-talented artist has also released her own music under the stage name RILEY. She presented her self-titled debut in 2020 without a label. She was also a member of the stage-based supergroup Leading Ladies, which featured actor-singers Beverley Knight and Cassidy Janson. They released their debut album "Songs from the Stage" in 2017.

Kevin McHale keeps it real

Kevin McHale played Artie Abrams and sang with a voice of gold on "Glee." Artie's lower body is paralyzed because of a car accident from when he was a child, so the character uses a wheelchair. McHale, who does not use a wheelchair in real life, has shared his reservations about portraying the character in a potential reboot. "I don't know if Artie could be in it," he told Insider. "Knowing what we know now, I don't think I should be playing a character that's in a wheelchair. So, if they let me grow out of my beard and play a different character, I'll do it." 

In 2014, McHale and co-star Amber Riley (who played Mercedes Jones) launched a podcast called "McRiley," which continued as "Glee" came to an end in 2015. He and co-star/best friend Jenna Ushkowitz (who played Tina Cohen-Chang) dedicated part of their "Showmance" podcast in 2019 to recapping "Glee" episodes. The show featured guest appearances from fellow co-stars and behind-the-scenes staffers; the pair got through the second season's "Rocky Horror Glee Show" episode before taking an indefinite hiatus in August 2020 following the death of their co-star and friend Naya Rivera (who played Santana Lopez). McHale and Ushkowitz reunited in 2022 with the new podcast "And That's What You REALLY Missed," a revamped version of the "Showmance" series.

Off the mic, McHale has made guest appearances in a handful of shows in the U.S. and the U.K., including "RuPaul's Secret Celebrity Drag Race." He and his partner, actor-musician Austin P. McKenzie, have been together since 2016.

Jenna Ushkowitz made her way back to Broadway

Jenna Ushkowitz starred as OG New Directions member Tina Cohen-Chang on all six seasons of "Glee." After the show's curtain call and almost a decade after her last on-stage appearance, Ushkowitz made her way back to Broadway as Dawn in the musical "Waitress." She also joined the behind-the-scenes production team for a revival of "Once On This Island," which featured her "Glee" co-star Alex Newell. "Island" and its producing team earned the best revival of a musical Tony award in 2018, and Ushkowitz earned another Tony in 2020 for producing "The Inheritance."

Ushkowitz hasn't stopped performing, either. She was in the 2017 film "Hello Again," which was based on the Off-Broadway musical of the same name, and has appeared in a few other films since "Glee." The star, who married David Stanley in 2021, also became a mom in 2022 but keeps her family life pretty private.

She opened up to People about launching a new podcast with Kevin McHale in 2022, after they were approached by iHeartRadio. "I feel like the stars aligned in a way, and we were like, 'We're going to do it right this time.' We're really, really excited about this one," said Ushkowitz. In Naya Rivera's memory, the hosts held a holiday-themed fundraiser for Alexandria House, a transitional education and living center for homeless individuals. 

Harry Shum Jr. lit up the silver screen

The smooth moves of Mike Chang were the stuff of legend at William McKinley High, and it was Harry Shum Jr. who brought them to life. Shum went from being an ensemble dancer on Season 1 to a featured player beginning in Season 2, and appeared in all six seasons of the show. Once "Glee" ended, Shum continued to shine on screen and beyond. 

In 2015, he was cast as Magnus Bane in "Shadowhunters," the television adaptation of the "Mortal Instruments" novel series. He had a stint as Dr. Benson "Blue" Kwan in the long-running "Grey's Anatomy," which he joined in 2022. "I think that the biggest thing that I've learned is this chosen family element," Shum said of the seasoned show in an interview with The Wrap. "Sometimes we see each other more than we see our families. And I think in this particular show, why it has gone on for so long, is because this place is like a sanctuary."

Shum has also made the leap onto the silver screen, appearing in major motion pictures including "Crazy Rich Asians," "All My Life," "Love Hard," and "Everything Everywhere All At Once." In his personal life, he married his longtime love Shelby Rabara in 2013. The couple has a daughter, who was born in 2019.

Heather Morris is one dancin' mama

Heather Morris played the ditzy Brittany S. Pierce on "Glee" and is well-known for her killer dance moves in iconic numbers like "Valerie" and "I'm A Slave 4 U." Originally hired to teach the cast the "Single Ladies" dance (she was one of Beyonce's backup dancers), Morris impressed everyone with her expertise and became one of the most beloved characters on the show.

As the curtains were closing on "Glee," Morris focused on family. She gave birth to her first son in 2013 and married her longtime sweetheart Taylor Hubbell in 2015. In 2016, the couple welcomed their second son. "Working moms are the best kind," she shared with E! News. "... When they get home, they still make time and do wonderful activities with their kids."

Morris has remained close to her on-screen family, too. After the death of her television wife and real-life close friend Naya Rivera, Morris and several other "Glee" cast members joined forces for charity events. "I'm doing something everyday to honor your strength and it helps me to feel close to you. I love you Nay," Morris shared on Instagram. All the while, Morris has simultaneously kept up with the Hollywood scene, making appearances in a series of shorts and independent films. She channeled her dancing roots as a performer on an episode of "Raven's Home," on "GLOW," and in the music video for "How Will I Know," a Whitney Houston and Clean Bandit remix.

Chord Overstreet is multitalented

Chord Overstreet played the affable quarterback-turned-model Sam Evans on "Glee" from Season 2 until the series finale. Since leaving the halls of McKinley High behind, Overstreet has made music his way and appeared in a number of shows and television movies.

Coming from a musical family in the Nashville, Tennessee area, Overstreet was a natural in creating his own mark. In 2015, he was the first artist signed to Safehouse Records, a joint venture Island Records venture that was founded by Nick Jonas, Demi Lovato, and manager Phil McIntyre. His first single, "Homeland," hit radio in August 2016. He released a series of EPs afterward, which included the single "Hold On" that may be best remembered from "The Vampire Diaries'" Season 8 finale during (spoiler alert) Stefan's funeral. The star told Forbes, "After I finished 'Glee,' I was a little bit burnt out because it was such an intense schedule. So, I took some time to focus solely on music and dive back into that fully. But after a few years, I was missing acting, so ... I picked it back up again. It's two completely different things, but I've always loved them both."

On-screen, Overstreet has appeared in "The Bold Type" and recurred on Apple TV's "Acapulco." In 2022, he starred opposite Lindsay Lohan in the Netflix Christmas comedy "Falling for Christmas." "I responded to the script because it reminded me in a great way of 'Overboard' — I'm a huge rom-com fan," Overstreet gushed to The Hollywood Reporter. "I was like, 'Oh, I would kill to do something like this.'"

The Glee cast members who passed away

In July 2013, Cory Monteith (who played quarterback Finn Hudson) reportedly died of "mixed drug toxicity, involving intravenous heroin use combined with the ingestion of alcohol," per CNN. Monteith, who had attended rehab courses earlier that year, was 31 at the time. "I had no idea that he had a drug problem. I was naive. I didn't know," "Glee" creator Ryan Murphy shared on "And That's What You REALLY Missed" with Kevin McHale and Jenna Ushkowitz. "...I was just desperate for him to live."

Mark Salling, who played Finn's best friend Noah "Puck" Puckerman, committed suicide in February 2018. Salling had been charged with possession of child sexual abuse material and would have been sentenced the next month, per USA Today. In July 2020, Naya Rivera, who played sassy Santana Lopez, was pronounced dead after accidentally drowning, per Deadline. Rivera's passing was announced on the seventh anniversary of Monteith's death. "My Naya, my Snixx, my Bee. I can not imagine this world without you," McHale tweeted.

All three deaths were discussed in the controversial 2023 series "The Price of Glee," which focused on the "Glee curse" that has been said to plague the cast and creatives. While many of the cast members condemned the docuseries, the program received a significant amount of buzz online prior to its premiere.

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