19 surprising things you probably didn't know about 'Glee'

Naya Rivera lea michele Glee
"Glee" was filled with musical performances, jokes, and drama.Fox
  • "Glee" aired on Fox for six seasons from 2009 to 2015.

  • Chris Colfer's character, Kurt, was written especially for him.

  • The original ending was based on Rachel and Finn but Cory Monteith died before the series wrapped.

Throughout the show's run, the cast performed over 700 songs.

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The "Glee" cast has performed many covers and some original songs.FOX

Throughout the six-season run, the "Glee" cast performed over 700 songs, which consisted mostly of covers or mash-ups, with a few originals mixed in.

Many of these songs were later compiled onto soundtrack albums — some of which quickly rose on the Billboard music charts.

Chris Colfer's character, Kurt, was written especially for him.

glee kurt
Chris Colfer ended up being one of the leads on the show.Fox

According to a 2012 article from Digital Spy, Colfer told the Associated Press that he'd initially auditioned for the role of Artie, which eventually went to Kevin McHale.

The showrunners were so impressed with Colfer that they wrote him a role anyway.

Kevin McHale was in a boy band before he landed a role on "Glee."

kevin mcchale NLT (Not Like Them)
All that group singing came in handy for his "Glee" role as Artie.YouTube/NLTVEVO

McHale was part of the musical group NLT (Not Like Them) from 2006 to 2009, the year he landed a lead part "Glee."

During its run, the band released a number of songs including "Karma" and "That Girl."

Heather Morris was once a backup dancer for Beyoncé.

heather morris dancing for beyonce
Heather Morris during a Beyoncé performance on the "Today" show.NBC

Morris played Brittany on the show, a role she landed after impressing the creators with her dance moves.

According to Esquire, she'd originally just been brought in to help the cast learn the "Single Ladies" moves, since Morris had been one of Beyoncé's backup dancers.

After her choreography lessons, showrunners brought her on full-time as a regular character.

Colfer wrote an episode of the show.

chris colfer 2018
Chris Colfer has also written a few books.Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

In addition to being an actor, Colfer is a writer.

He penned the book-turned-movie "Struck by Lightning" in 2012 and he also wrote an episode of "Glee" in 2014.

Called "Old Dog, New Tricks," the season-five episode followed Santana and Rachel working on Rachel's public image, Sam adopting a dog, and Colfer's character Kurt helping retired Broadway stars put on a showing of "Peter Pan."

Fellow "Glee" star Harry Shum Jr. once taught Morris in a dance class.

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Harry Shum Jr. was teaching hip-hop.Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

In 2011, Morris told Backstage that, long before starring on "Glee," she took a hip-hop class that was taught by Shum Jr., who would later play Mike Chang on the show.


The role of Mr. Schuester was originally written for Justin Timberlake.

justin timberlake
Maybe Justin Timberlake could've been on "Glee."Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

"Glee" creator Ryan Murphy has said that Mr. Schue was written for Justin Timberlake.

"When we were writing the pilot, I've never really talked about this, that pilot was written for Justin Timberlake. Mr. Schue was written for Justin," Murphy said in 2022 on the "And That's What You REALLY Missed" podcast.

Instead, the role went to Matthew Morrison.

In real life, Morrison, who played Mr. Schue, isn't much older than the actors who played his students.

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Matthew Morrison as Will Schuester on "Glee."Fox

Morrison was only a few years older than some of the actors who played his students.

Most of the teens on the show were actually played by actors in their mid-to-late 20s and early 30s.

For example, Shum Jr., who played Mike Chang, is only four years younger than Morrison in real life.


Two "Glee" stars were once rejected from the singing-competition series "American Idol."

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Fortunately, we got to hear them both sing often on "Glee."Jeff Spicer/Getty Images

After failing to make it onto "American Idol" at age 17, Amber Riley went on to land the role of Mercedes on "Glee."

In addition, Naya Rivera, who played Santana on "Glee," also once auditioned for "American Idol" but told "The Talk"  in 2013 that she was cut during the first round.

The "Glee" cast once performed at the White House.

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The "Glee" cast performing at the White House in 2010.AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

Under Barack Obama's presidency, the "Glee" cast performed at the White House Easter Egg Roll in 2010.


There was a short-lived reality show that searched for new people to appear on "Glee."

the glee project
The series aired for just two seasons.Oxygen

"The Glee Project" aired for two seasons on Oxygen from 2011 to 2012 and it featured contestants vying for a role on "Glee."

Among some of the characters to come from the reality show were Samuel Larsen's religious student Joe Hart, Damian McGinty's Irish exchange student Rory Flanagan, and Alex Newell's transgender teen Unique.

Those slushy-throwing scenes were all too real and apparently difficult to shoot.

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Lea Michele said that the slushies would stain her body.Fox

Bullies in "Glee" would often throw slushies in the faces of the glee-club members, which was apparently just as awful for the actors as it was for their characters.

"It literally takes the air out [of you]. It's so cold I have to, like, recover for days," Lea Michele, who played Rachel, said on "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" in 2010, according to Digital Spy.

"It stains my body and it drips down and then I take off my clothes and my entire body is covered in blue. The only way to get it off is to cover yourself in Gillette shaving cream. It's like a whole disaster," she added.

Michele almost didn't make it to her "Glee" audition because of a major car accident.

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Lea Michele as Rachel Berry on "Glee."Fox

Per Us Weekly, in a special clip on the "Glee" season-one DVD, Michele said she totaled her car in the Fox Studios parking lot moments before her "Glee" audition.

"When I get into the room for my audition, I literally was still pulling pieces of glass out of my hair," Michele said.

But even that couldn't rattle her, and she went on to land the lead role.

Darren Criss wrote a song for the series finale.

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Darren Criss wrote "This Time" for Lea Michele.FOX

On the finale, Michele sang "This Time" — an emotional track that was actually written by Criss, who played Blaine on the show.

At PaleyFest 2015, a festival dedicated to TV, Criss spoke about how much the song meant to him.

"I basically wrote a love note to the entire ["Glee"] experience," Criss said. "Having Lea [Michele] sing it to me is one of the most special moments of my career."

Michele was just as thrilled with the experience.

At the same event, she said, "Darren gave me the greatest gift … It was such a favor because I got to say everything to everyone here and everyone watching what I wanted to say. But [I couldn't] think of the words and he wrote them."

Before he was cast as Blaine, Criss tried out for another role on the show.

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It's hard to picture Darren Criss playing anyone but Blaine.FOX

Per the Los Angeles Times, Criss revealed at PaleyFest in 2015 that he'd initially auditioned to play Finn, the role that eventually went to Cory Monteith.

Criss said that when he watched the show, he quickly understood why Monteith was the best choice for the part. Instead, Criss went on to play the lead Warbler, Blaine.

... and Blaine originally had a different name.

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Darren Criss starred as Blaine Anderson on "Glee."Fox and Mark Von Holden/Invision/AP

In a September 2020 tweet, Criss said he went into the casting office to audition for the role of "BLAIR" a decade ago.

"They changed the name," he wrote.

Morrison and Michele knew each other before they both scored roles on "Glee."

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Lea Michele said they briefly dated, too.Fox

Michele wrote in her 2014 book "Brunette Ambition" that she'd known Morrison prior to filming "Glee."

He "had been a friend of mine for years, and in fact we'd actually dated back in the day for a Broadway beat," she wrote.

On the show, her "Glee" character, Rachel, even briefly had a crush on Morrison's character, Mr. Schue.

Santana and Brittany's relationship almost never happened.

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Apparently, fans helped make their love story a major plot point.Fox

Rivera, who played Santana, told Vanity Fair in 2011 that the fans were instrumental in helping the writers see that the show needed more lesbian and bisexual inclusion.

"I think it was because the writers and Ryan [Murphy] were getting such a strong craving from the fans — from the Brittany and Santana fans — for them to be together," Rivera said. "We sort of took it lightly at first. But then we thought it was something people really wanted us to do, that it was something we should tackle."

The show once had a totally different ending.

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"Glee" ended with many characters living in New York City.Fox

Before Monteith's death in 2013, "Glee" creator Murphy planned to center the series' finale around Monteith's character, Finn, and Michele's character, Rachel.

"At the end of season six, Rachel was going to have become a big Broadway star, the role she was born to play. Finn was going to have become a teacher, settled down happily in Ohio, at peace with his choice and no longer feeling like a Lima loser," Murphy said in 2013 during a eulogy at Monteith's private memorial service, according to Entertainment Weekly.

"The very last line of dialogue was to be this: Rachel comes back to Ohio, fulfilled and yet not, and walks into Finn's glee club. 'What are you doing here?' he would ask. 'I'm home,' she would reply. Fade out. The end," he shared.

Instead, the "Glee" finale ended with many of the characters living in New York City — and the theater in the gang's high school was rededicated as "The Finn Hudson Auditorium" in Finn's memory.

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