Characters of Glee

Characters of Glee


Glee is a musical comedy-drama television series that airs on Fox in the United States. It focuses on the high school glee club New Directions competing on the show choir competition circuit, while its members deal with relationships, sexuality and social issues. The initial main cast encompassed club director and Spanish teacher Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison), cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch), guidance counselor Emma Pillsbury (Jayma Mays), Will's wife Terri (Jessalyn Gilsig), and eight club members played by Dianna Agron, Chris Colfer, Kevin McHale, Lea Michele, Cory Monteith, Amber Riley, Mark Salling and Jenna Ushkowitz. For the second season, formerly recurring cast members Mike O'Malley, Heather Morris and Naya Rivera were promoted to the main cast. In the third season the main cast remained at fifteen, with Harry Shum Jr. and Darren Criss promoted to it, while Gilsig and O'Malley no longer received star billing.

The series has many supporting characters, including faculty members, students and relatives of the glee club members. Broadway stars including Idina Menzel, John Lloyd Young, Jonathan Groff, and Kristin Chenoweth have been featured in guest roles. A number of the principal actors were cast directly from Broadway, while those without theatrical backgrounds were required to demonstrate singing and dancing as well as acting ability.


Glee cast members: (clockwise from back left) Mark Salling, Kevin McHale, Lea Michele, Dianna Agron, Amber Riley, Jenna Ushkowitz, Chris Colfer and Cory Monteith

In casting Glee, series creator Ryan Murphy sought out actors who could identify with the rush of starring in theatrical roles. Instead of using traditional network casting calls, Murphy spent three months on Broadway, where he found Matthew Morrison (Will Schuester), who had previously starred on stage in Hairspray and The Light in the Piazza, Lea Michele (Rachel Berry), who starred in Spring Awakening, and Jenna Ushkowitz (Tina Cohen-Chang), from the Broadway revival of The King and I. The role of Rachel was written specifically for Michele.[1]

Chris Colfer (Kurt Hummel) had originally auditioned to play Artie Abrams. Although Colfer had no previous professional experience, Murphy was so impressed by Colfer's performance that the role of Kurt Hummel, named after the character Kurt from The Sound of Music, was created for him.[2]

Auditioning actors with no theatrical experience were required to demonstrate their ability to sing and dance. Jayma Mays (Emma Pillsbury) auditioned with the song "Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me" from The Rocky Horror Show, while Cory Monteith (Finn Hudson) initially submitted a tape of himself acting only, and was requested to submit a second, musical tape, in which he sang "a cheesy, '80s music-video-style version" of REO Speedwagon's "Can't Fight This Feeling".[2] Cory Monteith has deemed his casting "spot on" as his lack of formal training is reflected in the abilities of his character, Finn Hudson.[3]

Kevin McHale (Artie Abrams) came from a boy-band background, having previously been part of the group Not Like Them. He auditioned with the song "Let It Be" and tested alongside Colfer and Ushkowitz.[1] McHale explained that the diversity of the cast's backgrounds reflects the range of different musical styles within the show itself: "It's a mix of everything: classic rock, current stuff, R&B. Even the musical theater stuff is switched up. You won't always recognize it."[2] Jane Lynch was originally intended to have a recurring role in the show, but became a series regular when a Damon Wayans pilot she was working on for ABC fell through.[4]

Main characters

Artie Abrams

Artie Abrams (Kevin McHale) is a guitarist and paraplegic manual wheelchair user. McHale describes Artie as a "nerd" who loves the glee club wholeheartedly and uses it as a form of escapism.[5] Artie uses a wheelchair due to a spinal cord injury he received in a car crash at the age of eight.[6] During the first season, he begins to accept his disability and the fact he will never achieve his dream of becoming a dancer.[7] He has a relationship with fellow New Directions member Tina Cohen-Chang, who breaks up with him at the beginning of the second season.[8] Artie then loses his virginity to cheerleader Brittany Pierce,[9] and with encouragement from his former bully, Puck, they begin dating.[10]

McHale joined Glee from a dance background, and found it challenging to adapt to using a wheelchair,[5] but was able to utilize his dancing ability in the episode "Dream On", in which Artie dances in a shopping mall during a fantasy flash mob sequence.[11] The episode "Wheels", which places focus on Artie and his disability, drew criticism from a committee of performers with disabilities, who felt that casting an able-bodied actor to play a disabled student was inappropriate. Glee's executive producer Brad Falchuk responded that while he understood the concern and frustration of disability advocates, McHale had the singing and acting ability, talent and charisma required for the role.[12]

Blaine Anderson

Blaine Anderson (Darren Criss) is a gay student at Dalton Academy and a member of the Warblers, a season two Sectionals and Regionals rival of New Directions.[13] While Blaine was initially a recurring character, Criss was promoted to the main cast for the third season. The character is a love interest for Kurt, though in the episode "Blame It on the Alcohol", he and Rachel have a brief fling, resulting in Blaine reasserting his identity as gay. Murphy stated, "Darren has a major, major arc... He sort of becomes Kurt's mentor and then maybe love—he had to leave his own school because of bullying and goes to an all-boys academy and finds acceptance because that school has a no-bullying, zero-tolerance policy."[14] Blaine is a huge role model for Kurt, who develops a crush on him. During "Original Song", Blaine realizes he reciprocates Kurt's feeling, and they kiss. After Kurt transfers back to McKinley, they attend Kurt's junior prom as a couple. At the beginning of season three, Blaine decides to transfer to McKinley to be with Kurt, and joins New Directions.

Rachel Berry

Rachel Berry (Lea Michele) is a "strong, driven" member of the glee club, who is misunderstood by her peers.[15] Michele took the role in Glee because of Rachel's characterization, explaining: "Not only is she a singer, but she has so much heart—I think it's what we need on TV."[3] Michele described the first thirteen episodes of the series as: "Rachel's journey of finding herself within the glee club",[15] explaining that: "She's learning how to be a team player and work within this group."[15]

Rachel has an on-off relationship with Finn throughout the series. She briefly goes out with his best friend Puck,[16] and later dates Jesse St. James (Jonathan Groff), the lead singer of rival glee club Vocal Adrenaline, who ultimately betrays her in favor of his club.[17] Rachel discovers that Vocal Adrenaline coach Shelby Corcoran (Idina Menzel) is her birth mother—Rachel has two gay dads—but the two fail to forge a relationship.[18] At the end of season one, Finn professes his love for her.[19] They date over the summer and for several episodes in season two, but break up when Rachel makes out with Puck in revenge for Finn having lied about losing his virginity to Santana in season one. At the end of season two, they begin a renewed relationship after Nationals in New York, though Rachel warns Finn she'll be returning to New York for good after she graduates.[20] In the third season, Rachel is cast as Maria in the school's production of West Side Story, she runs for senior class president, and she and Finn have sex for the first time.

Mike Chang

Mike Chang (Harry Shum, Jr.) is a football player and dancer who joins New Directions in the episode "Preggers."[21] Shum stated that Mike is shy,[22] and that he joins the glee club despite it being "social suicide" as "he has finally found a place where he can express himself and feel accepted."[23] Initially a supporting character with no storylines of his own, Mike was slowly developed by the series writers.[24] In the final episode of season one, Mike says that before New Directions, "I was afraid to dance outside my room."[19] In season two he begins dating Tina, and gives his first lead musical performance duetting with her on "Sing!" from A Chorus Line,[25] and is selected to perform a dance routine with Brittany for Sectionals in "Special Education." He performs the show's first solo dance routine in "A Night of Neglect". Mike states that he is a senior in the season three premiere, "The Purple Piano Project", and Shum as Mike was promoted to the main cast for the show's third season.

Tina Cohen-Chang

Tina Cohen-Chang (Jenna Ushkowitz) auditions for the glee club with the song "I Kissed a Girl" by Katy Perry.[26] She typically dresses in school-girl like clothing, like the Japanese Gothic Lolita fashion. She goes on a date with Artie, and confesses to him that she has been faking a speech impediment since the sixth grade, explaining that she wanted to drive people away, but now that she's a part of the glee club, she no longer wants that. Their relationship continues through the end of that first year. Tina and Mike Chang are counselors at Asian Camp over the summer, and they fall for each other; Tina formally breaks off with Artie at the beginning of the second season, and she and Mike are still in love at the when the school year ends, the only relationship in the glee club to survive the entire school year, and the longest unbroken relationship between the members since the club was formed. It is revealed that she had sex with Mike over the summer, losing her virginity.

Quinn Fabray

Quinn Fabray, real name Lucy Quinn Fabray (Dianna Agron) is introduced as Finn's girlfriend, head of the cheerleading squad and president of the celibacy club.[26] She is described by Agron as Rachel's enemy, and "terrible, the meanest girl."[27] Quinn joins the glee club because Finn is a member, and because cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester wants her to bring the club down from the inside.[28] She oscillates between desiring acceptance, which she finds in New Directions, and desiring popularity, which she finds on the Cheerios. She reveals to Finn that she is pregnant and tells him that the baby is his, although the real father is Finn's best friend Puck. Eventually the deception is revealed, and Quinn decides to give the baby away. In the season finale, Quinn gives birth to her daughter, whom Puck names Beth. The baby is adopted by Vocal Adrenaline coach Shelby Corcoran (Idina Menzel), Rachel’s birth mother.[19]

At the beginning of the second season, Quinn rejoins the Cheerios and again becomes the captain, regaining her popularity, though later in the season she quits to remain faithful to New Directions. She begins a relationship with Sam Evans (Chord Overstreet) in "Duets" but is later unfaithful to him, rekindling her romance with Finn. In the episode "Comeback", Sam makes a last-ditch attempt to win her back, but ends the relationship after finding out from Santana that Quinn cheated on him with Finn. Quinn and Finn get back together, though eventually Finn realizes his true feelings for Rachel, and breaks up with Quinn.

During the summer between seasons two and three, Quinn undergoes a transformation: she dyes her hair, gets a tattoo and a nose ring, and takes to smoking behind the bleachers with her new clique the Skanks. However, in "I Am Unicorn", when Shelby Corcoran joins the McKinley High faculty and talks to Quinn about being involved in Beth's life, Quinn pretends to clean up her act and returns to New Directions, but she intends not to merely be in Beth's life, but to get full custody of her daughter. She also tries to get the government to think that Shelby is an unfit mother by placing knifes and hot sauce near Beth.

Finn Hudson

Finn Hudson (Cory Monteith) is star quarterback of the school's football team who risks alienation by his friends to join the glee club. He is dating cheerleader Quinn, but is conflicted by his growing feelings for Rachel.[28] Quinn later tells Finn she is pregnant and he is the father. Finn intends to support her, unaware the father is actually his best friend Puck.[21] He has a premature ejaculation problem, which causes him to believe he is the father of Quinn's baby despite the fact that they have never had sex.[21] When he discovers the truth, he breaks up with Quinn and turns to pursuing Rachel. In the season one finale, he professes his love for her before New Directions performs at Regionals, and the second season finds Finn and Rachel a couple. A flurry of infidelities forces the two apart, though Finn succeeds in winning Rachel back in the season two finale, though Rachel warns him that upon graduation she will be leaving Ohio for good.

Burt Hummel

Burt Hummel (Mike O'Malley) is Kurt's father (and Finn's stepfather after his marriage to Carole Hudson) to whom Kurt comes out in the episode "Preggers".[29] Both James Poniewozik for Time and Tim Stack for Entertainment Weekly praised O'Malley's performance in the storyline, with Poniewozik additionally commenting: "the fact that Dad [...] ends up not being the boor we think he's going to be is one of the first signs that Glee is growing up as a series, that having established a world of primary-color stereotypes, it's now willing to subvert those expectations."[29][30] Initially a recurring cast member, O'Malley was promoted to a series regular from season two.[31]

During the first season, Kurt acts as a matchmaker for Burt and Carole Hudson (Romy Rosemont), Finn's widowed mother. He feels left out when Burt and Finn bond, but Burt reassures him that he will always come first. Burt and Carole briefly live together, until he throws Finn out for using a homophobic slur against Kurt. In season two, Burt has a heart attack but recovers. He and Carole marry, using their vows to express pride in their sons. In the third season, Burt wages a write-in campaign for congress against leading candidate Sue Sylvester.

Kurt Hummel

Kurt Hummel (Chris Colfer) is a singer who is bullied by the football team. He has a high vocal range, and is identified by Fox as a soprano singer.[32] His voice could actually be described as a countertenor. Colfer originally auditioned for the role of Artie, however Murphy was so impressed by his performance that the role of Kurt was created for him, replacing a character named Rajish who was initially intended to be a member of the glee club.[1] The character's name is derived from The Sound of Music's Kurt von Trapp, whom Colfer once played in a production of the musical, and the German Hummel figurines due to his complexion.[33] Colfer describes Kurt as "a tough guy in designer clothes", explaining that he "puts on a very confident, 'I'm better than you' persona, but underneath it all he's the same anxious and scared teen everyone is/was at some point."[34] Over the course of the first season, Kurt comes out as gay and develops a crush on Finn. He also joins the football team as a kicker, with Finn's help, and the cheerleading squad as a singer, though he ultimately quits both. In the episode "Wheels", he competes with Rachel to perform "Defying Gravity" from Wicked. Murphy selected the song after Colfer relayed a story from his own high school days, whereby his drama teacher refused to let him sing it because of his gender.[1]

After Dave Karofsky bullies him into a depression, Kurt becomes close friends with an openly gay student at Dalton Academy, named Blaine Anderson. He then transfers to Dalton Academy and joins their show choir named the Warblers. He soon develops romantic feelings for Blaine, with Blaine eventually realizing he returns these feelings. The two begin a relationship. Kurt eventually returns to McKinley.

Mercedes Jones

Mercedes Jones (Amber Riley) is a "diva-in-training who refuses to sing back-up," with a "flair for fashion".[35] Early in season one, Mercedes develops a crush on Kurt, unaware that he is gay. She is hurt when he rejects her, but supportive when he confides his sexuality. After this, the two become especially close friends.[36] Dismayed at never receiving solo songs, Mercedes and Kurt join the cheerleading squad, the Cheerios, as vocalists.[37] She briefly dates Puck, but ultimately breaks up with him and quits the Cheerios, afraid of turning into someone she does not want to be. She becomes friends with Quinn when the pregnant ex-cheerleader gives her advice during her stint on the Cheerios, and when Quinn is unhappy having to stay at Puck's house, invites Quinn to move in with her family.[17] When Quinn gives birth, she asks that Mercedes be present for the delivery of her child. In season two, she writes and performs an amazing, original song entitled "Hell to the No." After the prom, which she attends in a group with Rachel and Sam and Jesse, Mercedes and Sam begin dating in secret, but he moves away during the summer, and Mercedes has a new boyfriend by the beginning of the third season. In the third episode, Mercedes quits the glee club and joins the new, rival McKinley show choir, the Troubletones, run by Shelby Corcoran, later recruiting Santana and Brittany to join here there.

Santana Lopez

Santana Lopez (Naya Rivera) is a cheerleader who joins the glee club in the episode "Showmance". Initially a spy for cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester, she comes to enjoy her club participation.[38] Her romantic relationships with fellow members Puck and Sam are followed by the realization that she is in love with her best friend Brittany. Afraid of coming out as a lesbian, Santana uses football jock Dave Karofsky—who is also closeted—as a beard to bolster her heterosexual façade and to boost her chances of becoming prom queen, though she fails at the latter.

Having originated as a minor antagonist, Santana's role became more prominent in the second half of the first season,[39] and she became a main character in season two.[40] Rivera characterizes Santana as "a bit of a bad girl", prone to sarcastic remarks.[41] Though she stated in May 2009 that Santana "loves boys",[42] she later deemed Brittany her character's soul mate.[43] In March 2011, Falchuk confirmed, "Santana is a lesbian. She might not be ready to come out yet, but she is."[44]

During the season three premiere, Santana is named co-captain of the Cheerios; both she and the other co-captain, Becky Jackson, are dismayed at having to share the post. As a show of loyalty to Sue, she participates in setting one of the glee club's pianos on fire and is dismissed from New Directions by Mr. Schuester. She returns briefly to the club, and then abandons it for the new, rival McKinley show choir, the Troubletones, run by Shelby Corcoran.

Brittany S. Pierce

Brittany S. Pierce (Heather Morris) is a cheerleader who joins the glee club with Quinn and Santana in the episode "Showmance".[28] Prior to appearing in Glee, Morris was a back-up dancer for Beyoncé Knowles. She was originally hired as a choreographer to teach cast members Colfer and Ushkowitz the "Single Ladies" dance. A week later, she was cast as Brittany.[45] Morris had a recurring role throughout the first season, and was promoted to a series regular for season two.[46] Many of Brittany's lines are unscripted, and are instead devised by Murphy during filming, or improvised by Morris. Morris portrays Brittany as being "literally insane". She is used by the series' writers to say things no other character would, to the point that Morris considers some of her lines nonsensical.[47] Brittany's character traits include finding recipes confusing, cheating off intellectually disabled classmates and not knowing her right hand from her left.[48] She makes her singing debut in the season two episode "Britney/Brittany", performing three songs—"I'm a Slave 4 U", "Me Against the Music" and "Toxic"—all by Britney Spears.[49] Brittany has a physical relationship with Santana, in which Santana gives Brittany a hickey in the season 2 episode "Duets"; in that episode Brittany also has a brief romance with Artie that leads to a more serious relationship later in the season.[9] She quits the cheerleading squad in "The Sue Sylvester Shuffle". In the episode "New York", Brittany tells Santana that she loves her far more than she's ever loved anyone else. Jarrett Wieselman of the New York Post compared Morris as Brittany to Lynch as Sue, deeming her "one of the funniest second bananas on TV."[48]

Emma Pillsbury

Emma Pillsbury (Jayma Mays) is the school's guidance counselor who has OCD, with obsessions and compulsions primarily focused on contamination and cleanliness. She has romantic feelings for Will.[50] Mays has deemed Emma an "amazing" character to play, explaining: "I don't find that female characters are always written with a lot of depth, but she's so well defined on the page. Sure, she's terrified of germs and in love with a married man, so seeing her as the voice of reason for the kids is amazing."[3] Glee's costume designer Lou Eyrich selects "quirky" outfits for Emma, to reflect her "sunny disposition".[51] In an attempt to get over Will, Emma begins dating football coach Ken Tanaka,[28] becoming engaged to him in the episode "Vitamin D".[52] However, when Will is unable to attend a competition with the glee club, Emma volunteers to take them in his place, postponing her own wedding by several hours. Acknowledging her continuing feelings for Will, Ken breaks up with her on their wedding day. Emma submits her resignation as guidance counselor, but as she is leaving the school, Will finds her and stops her with a kiss.[38] She reveals to Will that she is a virgin,[53] but does not go through with her plan to lose her virginity to him.[37] At the end of the first season, she tells Will she has started dating a dentist named Carl Howell, and in the second season her relationship with Carl (John Stamos) blossoms to the point that they get married in Las Vegas in the episode "Special Education". It is subsequently revealed in the episode "Sexy" that her marriage with Carl is facing difficulties and has not been consummated. She admits that she still has feelings for Will, and she and Carl separate; he later requests an annulment of their marriage. She begins to get treatment for her OCD in "Born This Way".

Noah Puckerman

Noah "Puck" Puckerman (Mark Salling) is Finn's best friend and football teammate, who initially disapproves of Finn joining the glee club. Puck joins Will's all-male a cappella group, the Acafellas, hoping to impress the mothers at the school's PTA meeting, as he prefers older women.[36] He later discovers that he is the father of Quinn's baby. She rejects him when he offers to support her and the baby, calling him a "Lima loser." Later in the same episode, Puck joins the glee club.[21] He briefly dates Rachel and Mercedes,[16][54] but ruins his chances with Quinn by sexting Santana in her presence.[55] Regardless, Puck attends the birth of his daughter, who he names Beth, and tells Quinn that he loves her.[38] In season two, Puck is sent to juvenile detention for stealing an ATM. The producers engineered his absence from the series to allow a romance to develop between Quinn and new student Sam Evans.[56] Following his return, Puck helps Artie hook up with Brittany, recruits Lauren Zizes for glee club, and falls in love with her, but is dumped by her at the beginning of season three.

Terri Schuester

Terri Schuester (Jessalyn Gilsig) was Will's wife of 5 years, but they were together 15 years total. Terri briefly believes herself to be pregnant, and pushes Will to take a better paying job as an accountant.[26] She discovers she has actually experienced a hysterical pregnancy, but hides this from Will, afraid he will leave her.[28] After confiding her deception in her sister Kendra, Terri approaches pregnant cheerleader Quinn Fabray, with an interest in her baby.[21] She briefly becomes the school nurse, but is asked to step down after giving the glee club pseudoephedrine tablets.[52] In the episode "Mattress," Will uncovers Terri's ruse when he discovers her pregnancy pad in a drawer.[57] Terri begins attending therapy, but Will tells her he no longer loves her and leaves her as he falls in love with guidance counselor Emma Pillsbury.[38] Their divorce is finalized late in the first season. Terri manages to seduce a sick and lonely Will in the second-season episode "The Substitute", but is re-buffed by her ex-husband as he expresses his need to move on. Near the end of the second season, Terri is recruited by Sue Sylvester to join Sue's League of Doom to destroy the New Directions glee club directed by Will,[58] but Terri undoes the damage and tells Will that she's been promoted to manager at work, and is being transferred to a new store in Miami.[59] It is unknown whether she will return in season three.

Gilsig has deemed Terri "a woman of conviction", willing to do "whatever it takes" to keep Will from leaving her.[3] She explained that Will and Terri's communication is weak and that Terri is "missing a lot of the skills for the marriage,"[60] commenting that Terri feels threatened by Will's commitment to the glee club, worried that it will pull him away from her.[61] Gilsig characterized Terri as emotionally still being in high school,[62] and as of December 2009 did not know how long her character would feature in the series, as she was initially only created as an obstacle to come between Emma and Will.[63]

Will Schuester

Jane Lynch and Matthew Morrison play rival club directors Sue Sylvester and Will Schuester.

William "Will" Schuester (Matthew Morrison) is McKinley High's Spanish teacher who becomes director of the glee club, hoping to restore it to its former glory.[64] Morrison has assessed that the crux of Glee is "about [Will's] passion for music and influencing his kids".[65] Will is married to his high school sweetheart Terri. Believing her to be pregnant, unaware that she is actually experiencing a hysterical pregnancy, he considers leaving the teaching field to become an accountant.[26] He ultimately decides against it, though briefly works after hours at the school as a janitor to earn extra money.[28] His dedication to the glee club wavers when his choreography skills are called into question, but after starting a well-received all-male a cappella group, the Acafellas, he recommits to the club.[36] After discovering Terri faked her pregnancy,[57] Will ends his marriage and shares a kiss with Emma.[38] He also kisses Vocal Adrenaline coach Shelby Corcoran, Rachel Berry's mother (Idina Menzel).[53] In season 2, with Emma having married Carl Howell, he starts a relationship with Holly Holliday (Gwyneth Paltrow) in the episode "Sexy". Eventually, Holly gets a job in Cleveland, leaving Will free to pursue Emma after Emma's marriage ends in an annulment. April Rhodes returns and asks for Will's help with her new Broadway project: a one-woman show entitled Crossrhodes, but he ultimately decides that his kids in New Directions are more important than his dreams of Broadway.

Sue Sylvester

Susan "Sue" Sylvester (Jane Lynch) is the coach of the cheerleading squad called the Cheerios, and the glee club's "arch-nemesis."[4] Lynch states that Sue is "pure evil and doesn't hide it,"[3] having been created as a product of Murphy, Brennan and Falchuk's "inner mean girl."[4] With regards to her motivation, Lynch explained: "Sue will do whatever it takes to win. If that means she has to prostitute herself or take advantage of a 16-year-old boy, she'll do it. It's all about power and winning. That's her entire world view."[66] Sue enlists cheerleaders Quinn, Brittany and Santana to help her bring the glee club down from the inside.[28] She has her own spot on the local news, which she uses to editorialize on issues such as support for caning and littering.[21] At the end of the episode "Vitamin D", Sue is made co-director of the glee club,[52] but soon scales back her involvement to an advisory role.[67] In the episode "Wheels", Sue allows Becky Jackson, a girl with Down Syndrome to join the Cheerios as a replacement for Quinn. It is later revealed that Sue has an older sister, Jean, who herself has Down Syndrome, showing a softer side to her normally abrasive character.[6] Hoping to sabotage the glee club's chances of winning at sectionals, Sue gives the club's set list to rival glee club directors Grace Hitchens (Eve) and Dalton Rumba (Michael Hitchcock).[55] When her actions are discovered by Principal Figgins (Iqbal Theba), Sue is suspended from the school.[38] She is later reinstated after blackmailing Figgins, and wins her sixth consecutive national cheerleading title. In the season one finale, Sue judges in favor of New Directions at regionals, though they come third to rival clubs Vocal Adrenaline and Aural Intensity, and are disbanded for failing to place. Sue then blackmails Principal Figgins to reinstate the club, giving them another year to prove their worth to the school.

In the second season, Sue is appointed acting principal after having Figgins infected with the flu but she later stands down. Sue arranges to have the cheerleading regionals competition moved to conflict with the football championship, and she forces Quinn, Brittany and Santana to quit glee club, which has to perform the halftime show since the Cheerios will be absent; the three of them ultimately perform with the glee club, resigning from the Cheerios. Missing three of its best cheerleaders, the Cheerios lose regionals after six straight nationals wins. Faking a depression after the loss, Sue joins the glee club for a week; when she can't destroy it from within, she decides to coach one of their rivals, Aural Intensity, to a regionals victory over New Directions, but New Directions emerges victorious. Sue's sister, Jean, dies later in the season, and Sue is devastated and unable to cope; when New Directions helps with funeral arrangements and performs at Jean's funeral, Sue says she's giving up her frequent attempts to destroy the glee club,[59] but she's back to her old ways when school starts in the fall. She also begins a run for a vacant Congressional seat.[68]

Supporting characters

McKinley High students


Azimio (James Earl, initially credited as "James Earl, III") is a McKinley High football player who was first introduced in the episode "Mash-Up," giving Finn Hudson grief over being in the glee club. Azimio is one of the school's bullies, and friends with teammate and fellow bully Dave Karofsky. Although he is usually seen harassing members of the glee club, Azimio was the first of the football players in "The Sue Sylvester Shuffle" to agree to perform in the halftime show the night of the championship game in order to be allowed to play in the second half, saying he wanted to win the game because it would mean so much to his father. Although he has typically been seen in tandem with Karofsky, he has recently been featured on his own, first as part of a "heckling club" organized by Sue to disrupt the glee club's benefit concert in "A Night of Neglect", during which it is revealed he writes devastating anonymous commentary in NCIS and CSI: Miami chat rooms, and then as one of Sue's staffers for the school newspaper when she revives The Muckraker in "Rumours" to spread damaging rumors about New Directions members. Karofsky, having given up bullying, confronts Azimio in "Born This Way" about his own bullying; it's not known whether they are still friends.

Jacob Ben Israel

Josh Sussman portrays Jacob Ben Israel.

Jacob Ben Israel (Josh Sussman) is the editor of the school newspaper. He has been compared in the media to Perez Hilton and Gossip Girl.[69][70] Jacob has a crush on Rachel, who feels uneasy around him but relies on him for positive reviews.[71] Although he attends Celibacy Club meetings, Jacob behaves in a sexually forward manner toward Rachel, threatening to sabotage her musical career unless she shows him her bra, blackmailing her for a pair of her panties in the episode "Throwdown" and masturbating over video footage of her in "Britney/Brittany." He briefly joins New Directions in order to fill the membership quota for sectionals, as a temporary replacement for Finn. Although he does not sing in the competition, he remains with the club throughout the remainder of the episode, helping them to listen in on the judges.[38] The season two premiere episode "Audition" opens with a documentary on New Directions, created by Jacob, which was used by the Glee producers to directly address media criticism of the first season.[72][73]

Sam Evans

Sam Evans (Chord Overstreet) is a transfer student who joins the football team in season two, though he only appears for that one season.[74] Encouraged by Finn to audition for New Directions, he joins the males of the group in a performance of "Billionaire", the same song with which Overstreet studio tested for Glee.[75] Despite some trepidation about the effect it may have on his social status, Sam eventually joins the glee club. With the connivance of Finn and Rachel, he and Quinn are partnered for, and win, a duet competition within the group, after which their victory dinner turns into a first date; the victory later nets them a lead performance at sectionals During the date, Sam admits to Quinn that he used lemon juice to bleach his hair, after Kurt suspecting he dyed his hair blond. Quinn accepts Sam's promise ring after he jumps in to defend Mike and Artie when they are attacked by Karofsky for telling him to stop harassing Kurt. But later in the season Quinn kisses Finn, and lies to Sam about it; Santana tells Sam, and by the end of "Comeback", Sam breaks up with Quinn and starts dating Santana, though she soon drops him to fake a relationship with Karofsky. Sam's parents lose their jobs, their house is foreclosed, and the family now lives in a motel room. At some point after going to junior prom together, Sam and Mercedes start to secretly date.

Following Overstreet's casting, media speculation suggested Sam might have been created as a boyfriend for Kurt.[75][76] Overstreet later confirmed this, but stated that his storyline had been adjusted to pair Sam with Quinn, as a result of the chemistry the producers detected between himself and Agron.[77] Overstreet left the show when his option for being a series regular in season three was not picked up; according to Brad Falchuk, he was instead offered a ten-episode contract.[74] However, Overstreet will return as Sam in a multi-episode arc in season three, beginning with the eighth episode.[78]

Rory Flanagan

Rory Flanagan (Damian McGinty) is a foreign exchange student from Northern Ireland who is living with Brittany's family. Rory first appeared in the episode of the third season in "Pot O' Gold". Brittany was convinced that Rory was a magical leprechaun who is there to grant her three wishes. Additionally, Rory is a fan of Finn Hudson, and with his guidance, persuaded him to join New Directions as a new member.

This character was created for McGinty after he won a recurring role for seven episdes on Glee as a contestant of The Glee Project. Rory sung two songs in the episode Pot O' Gold: Bein' Green, originally sung for the children's show Sesame Street by Jim Henson (as Kermit the Frog) in 1970, and Take Care of Yourself, recently released previously by Teddy Thompson, on his album, Bella. In the same season's episode five, The First Time, he sang a verse in the song America in McKinley High's performance of the Broadway hit West Side Story. In the season's sixth episode he had a solo in the mash-up of I Can't Go For That and You Make My Dreams, both previously sung by Hall and Oates.

Becky Jackson

Becky Jackson (Lauren Potter) is a member of the Cheerios with Down Syndrome, who becomes a sidekick to Sue.[79] Potter is a member of the Down's Syndrome Association of Los Angeles, and was contacted about auditioning through the association's in-house talent agency, Hearts and Hands. Fourteen actresses auditioned for the role, which Potter deemed "a great experience" to perform.[80] Becky appears in three episodes of the first season, "Wheels", "The Power of Madonna" and "Home"[81] and returns in the second season[82] as cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester's "secretary"; she does everything Sue tells her to do, including heckling the glee club in "A Night of Neglect", though her honest reactions to events have an effect on Sue. Becky is briefly kicked off the cheerleading squad by Sue in "Funeral" after Sue's sister, who also has Down Syndrome, dies; Becky asks to join the glee club, but she is told that it's too late in the show choir season, though she is offered a spot next year. Sue then apologies to Becky, reinstates her, and tells Becky she'll be captain of the Cheerios in the fall, however, she is made co-captain with Santana Lopez, to her ire.

Dave Karofsky

Dave Karofsky (Max Adler) is introduced as a bully and McKinley High athlete in the episode "Mash-Up". He is a member of the hockey team who slushies Finn,[16] but by "Theatricality" he's on the football team with his friend and fellow bully Azimio (James Earl);[18] they regularly target members of New Directions. In the episode "Never Been Kissed", written to tackle the issue of LGBT youth bullying, Karofsky kisses Kurt during an argument.[83][84][85] He later warns Kurt not to tell anyone about it, threatening to kill him if he does. He is expelled for his death threat, but allowed to return by the school board as no physical violence was witnessed—and Kurt had not revealed the kiss. He is briefly kicked off the football team with the other non-glee club members in "The Sue Sylvester Shuffle", but they return to perform the championship game's half-time show mashup of "Thriller/Heads Will Roll" with the club, and ultimately win the game. In the episode "Born This Way", after being blackmailed by Santana, he issues an apology to Kurt at a group meeting involving their fathers, Principal Figgins and Will. In "Prom Queen", when Karofsky wins prom king and Kurt, shockingly, wins prom queen, the two walk onto the floor for the traditional king and queen dance, but Karofsky is unable to come out as Kurt suggests, and leaves. He next appears in the third season episode "The First Time". He has transferred to another high school from McKinley for his senior year; he sees Kurt in a gay bar, and tells Kurt he has become a regular there and feels accepted.

Adler had previously questioned his character's motivations, but was surprised by the scene in which Karofsky kisses Kurt.[85][86] He commented that he was "glad to represent such a large group of people," expanding: "I've gotten so many messages from people all around the world these last couple of days thanking me because either they are Karofsky, they were Karofsky or they know a Karofsky."[85] Show co-creator Ryan Murphy noted that "Glee is by nature optimistic and I think a character like Karofsky could turn to booze or pills or alcohol and kill themselves or do something dark. But I also love Max and I love that character and I sorta want that character to have a happy ending."[87]

Sugar Motta

Sugar Motta (Vanessa Lengies) is a student at McKinley. Her father is the wealthy owner of a piano business who donates three repossessed pianos to the glee club in "The Purple Piano Project", the episode in which she first appears. Sugar has self-diagnosed Asperger syndrome, which she uses to explain why she can say whatever she wants. After the glee club performs in the school cafeteria in the hopes of recruiting new students, Sugar shows up to audition, telling the club that they're terrible but she's awesome and will be their new star. Her audition is a stunningly horrendous rendition of "Big Spender", and she becomes the first person who fails to get into New Directions after auditioning.[88] In "I Am Unicorn", her father makes a huge donation to the school to set up a second glee club that will feature Sugar as the star, and recruits Shelby Corcoran to direct it.[89]

According to Lengies, Sugar's self-diagnosed Aspergers is part of her character. She also says that Sugar will be back to enact a form of revenge on the glee club, and revealed that it was difficult to sing poorly on purpose, especially with piano accompaniment.[90] Sugar's debut was praised by Salon's Matt Zoller Seitz, who said of the new addition to McKinley, "She's awful. She's also an entitled little snot... She's a great character, and I hope we haven't seen the last of her."[91] Entertainment Weekly's Abby West praised Sugar, and with Sue otherwise occupied hoped to see more of Sugar as "a thorn in the Glee club's side."[92] On the other hand, TV Guide "jeered" Sugar, calling her "an off-key addition to the cast".[93] The A.V. Club's Todd VanDerWerff concurred, and said of "I Am Unicorn", "Sugar continues to be one of my least favorite new characters in ages".[94] Additionally, named Sugar the eighth worst new TV character of the 2011 season.[95]

Matt Rutherford

Matt Rutherford (Dijon Talton) is a football player who joins New Directions in the episode "Preggers,"[21] and appears in the first season of Glee, departing prior to the second season due to transferring schools.[96][97] Talton has called Matt a typical football player with a talent for singing and dancing, who always wanted to perform but felt forced to choose between performing and being "cool." Talton explained that Finn joining the glee club made it more acceptable for Matt to be honest with himself about what he wanted to do, and that he is becoming more comfortable being in the glee club, "what it stands for, how it makes him feel."[98] Of his characterization, he revealed:

I wanted Matt to be fun and just enjoy the moment [...] I think nowadays too many kids are concerned with people's opinions and judgments, and how that's going to affect them. At the end of the day the only thing that matters is if you're happy and if your own judgment for yourself is a good one. If you can look in the mirror and say, "I'm Matt Rutherford, or I'm Dijon Talton, and I'm happy with it," that's all that's important. That's what I wanted to bring to Matt.

—Dijon Talton, Starry Constellation Magazine[98]

Lauren Zizes

Lauren Zizes (Ashley Fink) is the McKinley High AV club president and a state champion in Greco-Roman wrestling. During the first season, Kurt tells his father that Lauren's parents had to sue the school district to get Lauren a spot on the wrestling team. Lauren has an acerbic personality and is admired by Puck for being "a bigger bad-ass" than he is. She is overweight and has a love of candy, specifically Cadbury Creme Eggs. Lauren has occasionally been seen dressing in the Goth style and is a fan of the Twilight book series. She joins New Directions in the episode "Special Education", enabling the club to meet the member quota for sectionals.[99][100] Early in her tenure, she claims that show choir is stupid, but on several subsequent occasions she is seen enjoying singing and performing in the background. She performs "I Know What Boys Like", her first solo, in "Comeback". She campaigns with Puck for prom king and queen, though they both lose, and the two are still a couple at the end of the second season. However, after the glee club finishes twelfth at Nationals, Lauren concludes that being in New Directions is hurting her credibility, so she quits the group and breaks up with Puck at the start of the new school year.

Other McKinley High students

In the season one episode "Ballad", Sarah Drew makes a guest appearance as Suzy Pepper,[101] a senior with "an insane, absurd, psychotic crush on Mr. Schuester." Drew described Suzy as "kind of stalkerish and creepy", but ultimately redeemable.[102] James Poniewozik of Time commented positively on Suzy's characterization, observing that while she appeared to be a "throwaway dorky-girl stereotype", she was "fleshed-out as a person", a feat he doubted the series would have been capable of earlier in the season.[103] In season three, LaMarcus Tinker portrays Shane, a new love interest for Mercedes and a "massive linebacker for the McKinley Titans".[104][105]

The William McKinley Jazz Ensemble frequently accompanies New Directions in their on-screen musical numbers. The student ensemble was introduced in the pilot episode, with Artie Abrams a member of that group as well as the glee club. Regular members of the group include a drummer played by John Lock[106][107] and a bassist played by Scott Henson,[108] both introduced in the pilot; a guitarist played by Spencer Conley,[109] first seen in "Throwdown"; and a keyboardist played by Mark Nilan Jr.,[110] who first appears in "The Power of Madonna". Other student instrumentalists accompanying New Directions include string and horn players, additional guitarists, keyboard players, and percussionists, and a harpist. The only instrumentalist to receive a co-starring credit is bassist Scott Henson (as "Scott T. Henson, guitarist") for having a line of dialogue in "A Very Glee Christmas". John Lock is frequently shown waiting for Finn Hudson to relinquish the drums to him, and Spencer Conley was featured in amongst the glee club girls in their performance of the "Start Me Up / Livin' on a Prayer" mash-up in "Never Been Kissed". None of these instrumentalists have been given character names, and Conley and Nilan have not appeared in any third season episodes.

McKinley High faculty

Shannon Beiste

Dot-Marie Jones (pictured) plays football coach Shannon Beiste.

Shannon Beiste (Dot-Marie Jones) is the new football coach in season two, replacing Ken Tanaka. She comes to William McKinley High with an enviable record of coaching successful football teams, and Principal Figgins boosts the football program budget for her by reducing the cheerleading and glee club budgets, which dismays Sue and Will, and drives them into a temporary alliance against her. Beiste is dismayed by their rudeness, but forgives Will when he apologizes and goes on to develop a friendship with him. She contemplates resigning upon learning that several students have been fantasizing about her in order to curb their arousal while making out. Will has the students apologize and earn her forgiveness. He also learns that Beiste has never been kissed, which leads to him giving her a first kiss. Beiste later helps the glee club members preserve Brittany's continued belief in Santa Claus: disguised as Santa, she explains to Brittany why her wish that Artie be made to walk cannot be granted; later, she anonymously obtains a ReWalk to allow Artie to walk for short periods of time. When antagonism flares between the football team's glee and non-glee factions, Beiste forces the football team and glee club to work together for one week; despite encountering resistance and set-backs, the plan is ultimately successful and the team wins the championship game. During the episode "Blame It on the Alcohol", Beiste takes Will out for a fun time at a rodeo bar where she sings her first solo: "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer".

Shelby Corcoran

Shelby Corcoran (Idina Menzel) is the coach of rival glee club Vocal Adrenaline during season one, described by Murphy as "a sort of Faye Dunaway of Network".[73] She makes out with Will shortly after meeting him, but she resists sleeping with him when he says his divorce is not yet final and that he has just broken up with his new girlfriend, Emma. Fans had lobbied for Menzel to be cast as Rachel's biological mother, due to the strong resemblance between Menzel and Michele.[111] In the episode "Dream On", it is revealed that Shelby is, in fact, Rachel's biological mother. She had signed a contract that stated that she could not seek out her daughter until she was eighteen. In the season one finale, "Journey to Regionals", Shelby adopts Quinn Fabray and Noah Puckerman's newborn daughter, Beth. She leaves Vocal Adrenaline before the beginning of the next school year.[19]

Shelby returns in the second episode of season three, "I Am Unicorn", having been recruited to lead a second glee club at McKinley High by Sugar Motta's father when Sugar is refused entry into New Directions. Shelby offers to include both Quinn and Puck in Beth's life.[112] in the episode 'Pot o Gold' Shelby tells Puck that she is struggling with Beth and Puck kisses Shelby in which she returns the kiss.

Principal Figgins

Principal Figgins (Iqbal Theba) is William McKinley High School's "stern but fair" principal.[113] Figgins allows Will to take over the school glee club; however, he insists that the students must place at Regionals in order for the club to continue.[26] He is regularly blackmailed by Sue, first when she uncovers internet footage of him appearing in a support stocking commercial for Mumbai Air,[21] and later when she drugs his drink and takes a compromising photograph of them in bed together.[53] Sue serves as Figgins' replacement when he catches the flu, and succeeds in having him fired. She resigns in the following episode, and he is reinstated.

Although Figgins was initially conceived as White, Pakistani American actor Theba was cast in the role. He finds Figgins a challenging character to play, as it entails finding "the right mix of someone who is an authority figure but who is also very insecure about his own strengths as a person."[114] He has stated that Figgins may perform a musical number on the show in the future.[113]

Holly Holliday

The role of Holly Holliday was created specifically for Paltrow (pictured).

Holly Holliday (Gwyneth Paltrow) is a substitute teacher at McKinley High. Her first appearance was in the second season episode "The Substitute", when she temporarily takes over as the director of the glee club while Will Schuester is out sick. Paltrow's Glee appearance marked her first ever scripted-series guest performance.[115] The role of Holly was created for her by series creator Ryan Murphy, a personal friend who suggested that she showcase her vocal and dancing talent ahead of the December 2010 release of the film Country Strong, in which Paltrow plays a country singer.[116][117] Holly makes a return appearance in the episode "Sexy", this time subbing for McKinley's sex education teacher, in which it is revealed that she attended an all-women's college. In that same episode she also begins a romantic relationship with Will. Holly's third and final appearance that season is in the episode "A Night of Neglect", where she sings "Turning Tables" by Adele in a benefit concert and breaks off her relationship with Will because she knows he is in love with Emma. On March 17, 2011, it was confirmed that Paltrow as Holly would be returning for a series of guest appearances in the show's third season.[118] In the first season, Finn mentions Gwyneth Paltrow having named her child Apple during a discussion with Quinn on suitable baby names.

Sandy Ryerson

Sandy Ryerson (Stephen Tobolowsky) is the former director of the McKinley High glee club. Although he claims to have a girlfriend, Rachel refers to him as a "closet case," and he is fired for his inappropriate sexual behavior towards a male student. Following his firing, he becomes a drug dealer, reselling medical marijuana.[26] When he wants to join Will's band, the Acafellas, they initially reject him for being too "creepy," but change their minds when he tells them that Josh Groban is a friend of his and will attend their next performance if Sandy is in it. While Groban does attend, he does so only to serve Sandy with a restraining order for constantly sending him inappropriate photos and messages over the internet.[36] Colluding with Sue Sylvester to bring down New Directions, Sandy is appointed the school Arts director.[21] Sandy appears in Rachel's music video for "Run Joey Run," playing her father,[119] and gives Will advice about beating rival glee club Vocal Adrenaline.[17] His behavior is often eccentric, including doll collecting, writing fan fiction about Desperate Housewives, and attempting to create a role for himself as Cleopatra in the school production of Cabaret. The casting notice for the role of Sandy read, in part, "He's gay, but covers it ... most of the time. With a pastel sweater thrown over his shoulders, Sandy is the former Glee Club teacher, who is given the axe after an episode of inappropriate touching."[120] Stephen Tobolowsky, who plays Sandy, describes him as a humorous character who "just cannot connect with the normal world" and exists on the "outer boundary of reality."[121] Tim Stack for Entertainment Weekly has praised Sandy as "one of the most reliable characters for great lines and laughs."[122] In the first few episodes, it was implied heavily that Sandy was gay. Season two episode "A Night of Neglect" confirmed this, with Sandy characterizing himself as a "predatory gay". He joins Sue Sylvester’s "League of Doom" (codename "The Pink Dagger") in that episode,[123] but ends up donating money to support the school's academic decathlon team, spoiling Sue's plans.

Ken Tanaka

Patrick Gallagher played football coach Ken Tanaka.

Ken Tanaka (Patrick Gallagher) was the head coach of the football team and was previously engaged to Emma. Gallagher has stated: "I think you understand where Ken comes from as they go on. You understand where the bitterness comes from, and people may start to like him a little. Ken will keep going [after Emma]. Ken will go after what he wants. The one thing Ken won't do is give up."[124] Though Gallagher is Chinese-Irish, Ken is Japanese.[125] Comparing himself to his character, Gallagher detailed: "I'm more like him than I care to admit. I realized I was going for what I like to think as an older version of me from years ago. I think Ken is not happy with where he is in life. I think he's still got a good heart, but there's this insecurity and bitterness piled on top of it. I think love is in Ken's head, and love for me is kind of an idealistic concept. But one thing I really respect about him is that he goes after something: He just doggedly pursues Emma. I wish I was more like that. In some ways, he's a little bit braver than I am. I mean — look at what he wears. That takes guts."[125] Gallagher finds the character interesting, as to play the role he has to face his own "insecurities" and "bitterness".[126] Gallagher feels that he draws much of Ken's characterization from himself, while also "channeling" his high school gym teachers.[126] He commented: "the real challenge is to find the balance between not trying to be too funny, not trying to make it funny, just letting it be funny, and just delivering the line and letting the writing do the work for you."[126]

He did not return for the second season; the new football coach, Shannon Beiste, is played by Dot-Marie Jones.[127] Principal Figgins explains that Ken had a nervous breakdown.[8]

Other McKinley High faculty

John Lloyd Young guest stars in the episode "Acafellas" as Henri St. Pierre, "a retired wood shop teacher with an excellent singing voice".[128] Molly Shannon appears as Brenda Castle, an alcoholic astronomy teacher and badminton coach who clashes with Sue.[129] Brad Ellis plays Brad, the pianist who accompanies New Directions.[130] Barbara Tarbuck appears in the third season as Nancy Bletheim, a geometry teacher who's been at McKinley High for 42 years, who supports Sue's congressional run. Mary Gillis plays Mrs. Hagberg, who appears in "Prom Queen" teaching home economics, and in "I Am Unicorn" teaching geography.

Rival choir personnel

Sunshine Corazon

Charice portrays Sunshine Corazon.

Sunshine Corazon (Charice) is a foreign exchange student from the Philippines. Rachel invites her to glee club after seeing Sunshine sing along to New Directions' version of "Empire State of Mind", mistakenly thinking that Sunshine idolized her. After the two competitively sing "Telephone", however, Rachel is threatened by Sunshine's singing prowess and tricks her into going to a crack house instead of the auditions. Rachel is found out, and Sunshine eventually does audition, amazing the club with "Listen". Though she is immediately accepted into the club, Sue Sylvester contacts Dustin Goolsby, the new director of rival glee club Vocal Adrenaline, who secures permanent U.S. residency and a condominium unit for Sunshine and her mother on the provision that she join his club. Sunshine confesses that she would have loved to stay, but she felt that Rachel would have made her stay a "living hell". In "A Night of Neglect", Sunshine appears as a member of Carmel High's academic decathlon team though they lose to the McKinley High team. Sunshine hears of New Direction's fundraising benefit and volunteers as a singer and promises to get her six hundred Twitter followers to attend. Though Rachel is suspicious that she might be a spy, they accept her offer after she sings "All By Myself". However, Dustin Goolsby pulls her out of the fundraiser and her followers do not attend. Sunshine reappears in the season two finale "New York". Rachel apologizes to Sunshine and convinces her not to quit Vocal Adrenaline, despite her being their biggest threat. Sunshine subsequently performs the original song "As Long As You're There" with Vocal Adrenaline who place in the top ten.

International pop singer Charice was signed to join the recurring cast,[131] and returned in "A Night of Neglect" to help with the glee club's fundraiser for the academic decathlon team, though Vocal Adrenaline director Dustin Goolsby prevented her from performing. She appears with Vocal Adrenaline at the Nationals competition in the season two finale, "New York". Co-creator and executive producer Brad Falchuk has not ruled out Sunshine returning to New Directions in season three.[132]

Dustin Goolsby

Cheyenne Jackson portrays Dustin Goolsby.

Dustin Goolsby (Cheyenne Jackson) is the director of rival glee club Vocal Adrenaline who replaces Shelby Corcoran (Idina Menzel) when she leaves the post after leading the team to four national championships in a row. Murphy described Dustin as "a complete villain", stating that he will "become very intertwined in Will's life".[133] He is first introduced in the episode "Audition", escorting his new recruit Sunshine Corazon out of William McKinley High School and taking her away from its glee club, having been tipped off about her by Sue Sylvester, and employed the underhanded tactics of offering to sponsor Sunshine's visa and arranging an apartment for her and her family as payment for her joining Vocal Adrenaline despite her being enrolled at McKinley High. He returns in "A Night of Neglect", joining Sue's "League of Doom" to help her sabotage the McKinley glee club, and returns again at the National show choir competition in the season two finale, "New York", where Vocal Adrenaline comes in second—as is subsequently revealed in the third-season episode "I Am Unicorn"—and Goolsby is fired as director for failing to win a fifth national crown.[112]

Jackson was originally considered for the role of Will,[134] and in 2009 was initially cast in the Glee episode "Acafellas" as Vocal Adrenaline choreographer Dakota Stanley, but he was unable to perform due to illness.[135]

Grace Hitchens

Eve played rival glee club director Grace Hitchens.

Grace Hitchens (Eve) is the show choir director of the Jane Addams Academy for troubled female youth.[136] She is persuaded by Sue to use songs from New Directions' set list at Sectionals to give her group an edge in the competition.[55] Though she feels guilty after the fact and attempts to inform the judges of her cheating, they have already unanimously chosen New Directions as the winning club. She and rival glee club director Dalton Rumba give Principal Figgins proof that Sue helped them cheat, leading to Sue's suspension.[38] When comparing her character to McKinley High glee club director, Will Schuester, Eve explained: "I come from a harder place. I'm the teacher of a reform school. I'm used to being very strict."[60] Whitney Houston had been contacted to appear, but declined, so Eve took her place.[137] Discussing her casting, Eve stated: "I got asked and I'd heard the buzz about the show. When the first pilot episode came out, I figured it was something different and something we haven't seen on TV before. I didn't want to turn it down!"[138] Gerrick D. Kennedy for the Los Angeles Times was impressed by Eve's acting and "on-screen charm", and felt that she worked nicely in the "Hairography" episode.[139] In contrast, Bobby Hankinson for the Houston Chronicle was disappointed Houston had not taken the role, and criticized Eve for her lack of personality.[140]

Jesse St. James

Jesse St. James (Jonathan Groff) is the male lead of Vocal Adrenaline and one of the main antagonists of the first season.[141] He is directed to befriend Rachel by Vocal Adrenaline coach Shelby Corcoran, who is secretly her biological mother. Jesse and Rachel begin dating, and he briefly transfers to McKinley High, joining New Directions. Once the truth about Shelby is revealed, however, Jesse transfers back. He ends his relationship with Rachel by egging her in the McKinley High parking lot along with his fellow members of Vocal Adrenaline, humiliating her. In the episode "Prom Queen", he returns, after having flunked out of college, in an attempt to befriend Rachel again, claiming that his biggest regret was choosing Vocal Adrenaline over love. He joins Rachel, Sam and Mercedes, who have teamed up to go do "prom on a budget", at the McKinley junior prom. He sets up a consulting business to help show choirs with their performances; his first client is New Directions. His attempts to resume a relationship with Rachel ultimately fail; she and Finn get back together. But will return in season 3 according to a tweet made by Lea Michele

In a controversial essay for Newsweek, critic Ramin Setoodeh wrote that Groff, who is openly gay, was unconvincing as the straight Jesse ("he seems more like your average theater queen, a better romantic match for Kurt than Rachel").[142] Groff's performance was defended by Murphy and guest star Kristin Chenoweth, both of whom described Setoodeh's essay as homophobic; it was also condemned by GLAAD president Jarrett Barrios.[143][144][145]

Other rival choir personnel

Whit Hertford appears as Dakota Stanley, a glee club choreographer who worked for Vocal Adrenaline early in season one, and was briefly hired by New Directions.[36] Michael Hitchcock appears as Dalton Rumba, the coach of the Haverbrook Deaf Choir.[146] Senior Dalton Academy Warblers from the second season include Wes (Telly Leung), David (Titus Makin, Jr.), and Thad (Eddy Martin), who run the group's meetings. Another Warbler is Nick (Curt Mega), who sings lead for the Warblers in the third season. A new Warbler, Sebastian Smythe,[147] played by Grant Gustin, was introduced in the third season's fifth episode. Sebastian sets his sights on Blaine, and has been likened to Santana in terms of morals and promiscuity.[148]

Acquaintances of New Directions

Kendra Giardi

Kendra Giardi (Jennifer Aspen) is Terri Schuester's sister. She and her husband Phil (Michael Loeffelholz) have triplet sons (played by Ethan, Aidan, and Ben Freedman). She influences many of Terri's decisions during her hysterical-turned-fake pregnancy by assisting Terri in her schemes, and predicting disaster whenever Terri contemplates confessing the truth to Will. In the episode "Throwdown", Kendra and Terri bully their obstetrician, Dr. Wu (Kenneth Choi), into faking an ultrasound to convince Will the baby is real. Entertainment Weekly's Wendy Mitchell deemed Kendra "hilarious" and wished to see more of her,[149] while her colleague at the magazine, Ken Tucker, described Kendra as "a garish cartoon who exists only to further the pregnancy plotting".[150]


Harmony (Lindsay Pearce) is introduced in "The Purple Piano Project" at an Ohio mixer for future applicants to the New York Academy of Dramatic Arts (NYADA), and is one of a group of aspiring students to have been attending monthly since they were freshmen. She has been working in show business since before birth—an ultrasound of her was featured in an episode of Murder, She Wrote. When Rachel and Kurt come to their first NYADA mixer, Harmony sings lead on an extensively choreographed mashup of "Anything Goes" and "Anything You Can Do" from the musicals Anything Goes and Annie Get Your Gun, which intimidates the two new arrivals.[151] Harmony is portrayed by The Glee Project runner-up Pearce,[152] and her debut was met with critical acclaim. Todd VanDerWerff of The A.V. Club wrote that hers might be "the best new character ever",[153] and TVLine's Michael Slezak felt that Harmony was "brilliantly bought to life" by Pearce.[154] Kevin Fallon of The Atlantic said that her introduction bodes well for future Glee Project contestants and that "she brought, which the best new characters do, fresh and exciting aspects in the show's established leads".[155] However,'s Christie Keith was more critical of her appearance, and wrote, "Since Lindsay is one of the main reasons I couldn't stand to watch The Glee Project, and no, she can't sing remotely as well as Lea Michele, and none of the boys there was close to being as darling as Kurt, I was forced to suspend disbelief when the whole experience devastated Kurt and Rachel."[156]

Carl Howell

John Stamos portrays Carl Howell.

Carl Howell (John Stamos) is a dentist, introduced in "Britney/Brittany" as Emma's boyfriend. As a fan of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Carl volunteers to play Eddie in McKinley High's school production of the musical. He dislikes Emma and Will spending time alone together, aware that Will has feelings for her. In the episode "Special Education", Carl and Emma marry in Las Vegas. However, after Emma naively advocates abstinence to the glee club with a performance of "Afternoon Delight", a song actually about the joys of sex, Carl requests a private couples counseling session with Holly Holliday, the acting sexual education teacher, as his and Emma's marriage hadn't been consummated after four months. Holly forces Emma to admit she is still attracted to Will, leading to Carl walking out and filing for annulment.

Carole Hudson

Carole Hudson (Romy Rosemont) is Finn's widowed mother and Kurt's stepmother, and wife to Kurt's dad Burt. When Finn was young, she had a relationship with a lawn-care worker who left her for a younger woman.[26] Upon discovering that Quinn is pregnant, she allows her to move in with them when Quinn's parents kick her out.[157] Kurt sets Carole up with his father Burt in an attempt to get closer to Finn.[158] They decide to move in together, until Finn uses a homophobic slur against Kurt and Burt refuses to allow him to stay in his home.[18] Their relationship continues, however, and Carole visits his bedside when Burt suffers a heart attack.[159] James Poniewozik of Time felt that Carole's reaction to the news of Quinn's pregnancy demonstrated how far Glee had evolved from the "broadly caricatured show" it was in its early episodes. He commented that in the pilot episode, Carole was "just the slightly pathetic figure we saw pining after the lawn-care guy", however her reaction to Quinn's pregnancy was "a brilliant bit of characterization through small moments", an example of how "Glee is becoming very good at showing how life happens in small exchanges in people's laundry rooms and finished basements."[103]

Rod Remington

Rod Remington (Bill A. Jones) is a television news anchor on the newscast where Sue Sylvester has an opinion segment ("Sue's Corner"). Rod and Sue had a brief relationship shortly after his divorce that began and ended in the episode "Mash-up"; she caught him making out with his co-anchor, Andrea Carmichael (Earlene Davis). Rod and Andrea later marry and announce it during a newscast in the episode "Furt", humiliating Sue. As a local celebrity, Rod has been tapped to judge show choir competitions—he has appeared as a judge for three of those that New Directions has competed in: the first season's Sectionals competition, and the Regionals competitions for both seasons.

April Rhodes

Kristin Chenoweth appeared as former glee club star April Rhodes.

April Rhodes (Kristin Chenoweth) is a former member of the glee club who never finished high school and ended up hitting rock bottom,[160] as well as Will's high school crush, who never acknowledged his existence. She briefly rejoins the glee club as an adult, during a period of time in which Rachel had left the club and it was in need of a female lead. During her revisit to the school, she gives muscle magazines and alcohol to Kurt, she teaches Mercedes and Tina how to shoplift, and has a brief romance with Puck. April appears once again, at which point she has become the mistress to an elderly tycoon and is the owner/operator of a "cabaret roller rink". Suddenly her boyfriend dies and she is paid $2 million in hush money by the widow not to go to the newspapers. April then decides to buy the glee club their auditorium back, now called The April Rhodes Civic Pavilion, and return to Broadway to back an all-white version of The Wiz. The show flops, and she returns in the season 2 episode "Rumours" to get Will's help with her new one-woman show, CrossRhodes.[87] Robert Bianco for USA Today wrote of Chenoweth's guest appearance in "The Rhodes Not Taken": "Her presence may not make much sense, but that's probably all right. If it means hearing Chenoweth sing, we can put up with any explanation the show cares to offer."[161] Raymund Flandez for The Wall Street Journal was equally positive regarding Chenoweth's role, praising her "powerful voice", "kittenish mien" and "commanding presence".[162] Eric Goldman for IGN stated that Chenoweth was "terrific" as April, and that the character was a "hysterical creation".[163] The Los Angeles Times Denise Martin praised Chenoweth's versatility as April, opining that her performance was worthy of a second Emmy win.[164]

Bryan Ryan

Bryan Ryan (Neil Patrick Harris) is Will's high school nemesis. Bryan appears in "Dream On" as a school board member, out to cut district arts programs and the McKinley High glee club in particular as revenge for the latter giving him false hope back when he was its lead singer.[165] Harris won the 2010 Primetime Emmy Award for "Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series" for his appearance.[166]

Jean Sylvester

Jean Sylvester (Robin Trocki) is Sue Sylvester's older sister. Jean, who has Down syndrome, lives in an assisted living facility, and is the only character Sue consistently treats with care and compassion. She is a factor in Sue's decision to admit Becky Jackson—who also has Down syndrome—to the Cheerios. Jean dies near the end of the second season, in the episode "Funeral".[59]

Other acquaintances of New Directions

Guest stars have included Victor Garber and Debra Monk as Will's parents.[167] Josh Groban and Olivia Newton-John have appeared as themselves, both separately and acting as judges at the first-season show choir regionals competition.[50][168] The second season's regionals judges are played by Kathy Griffin and Loretta Devine as Tammy Jean Albertson and Sister Mary Constance, respectively. Kent Avenido appears in both seasons as Howard Bamboo, Terri's dyslexic coworker who joins the Acafellas and later Sue's "League of Doom", and Kenneth Choi plays Dr. Wu, Terri's obstetrician. Earlene Davis plays Andrea Carmichael, Rod Remington's TV news co-anchor who later marries him. Daniel Roebuck has appeared twice as Paul Karofsky, father of McKinley High student Dave Karofsky. Carol Burnett appears as Sue's "famous Nazi hunter" mother in season two.[169] Kathleen Quinlan appears as Dr. Shane, a psychiatrist treating Emma Pillsbury.[170] Kari Coleman appears as Donna Jackson, Becky Jackson's mother. In the third season, Mike Chang's parents Julia Chang Tamlyn Tomita and Mike Chang, Sr. (Keong Sim) appear in the season's third episode, and they may be recurring characters.[171] Emma's parents—Rusty and Rose Pillsbury—are also seen in that episode, and are played by Don Most and Valerie Mahaffey respectively.[172] Cooter Menkins,[173] a football recruiter played by Eric Bruskotter, came to McKinley in "The First Time" to scout football players for Ohio State, and is attracted to Coach Beiste.[174]

Future characters

The winners of The Glee Project—Damian McGinty, Samuel Larsen, Lindsay Pearce and Alex Newell—are each being cast in a recurring role during the third season.[175] Pearce appeared in the first episode, and McGinty appeared starting in the fourth episode as Rory Flanagan, an Irish exchange student, who is living with Brittany's family. As a consequence of this, they are also casting Brittany's mother, though she has not yet appeared.[176] Larsen will make his debut in early 2012 in episode ten or eleven, with Newell appearing later in the season as a member of rival glee club Vocal Adrenaline.[177] Storylines will "include several characters’ parents as the college talk heats up";[178] Mike Chang's parents have already appeared, and the mother and father of returning club member Sam Evans will be appearing: his father will be played by John Schneider,[179] and his mother by Tanya Clarke, in what may be a recurring role.[180] Santana's grandmother will also be appearing.[181]

Javier Bardem and Anne Hathaway were previously confirmed to guest star in the future, Hathaway as Kurt's lesbian aunt.[182][183] However, Hathaway had still not heard from Ryan Murphy as of August 2011, seven months after he initially announced her forthcoming appearance.[184]


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