'Glee' Stars Lea Michele, Cory Monteith and Chris Colfer: What's Next?

Lea Michele, Cory Monteith and Chris Colfer won't return for season four.

ByABC News
July 14, 2011, 10:37 AM

July 14, 2011 — -- For "Glee," it's out with the old, in with ... who?

Series co-creator Ryan Murphy revealed to the Hollywood Reporter Wednesday that three of the show's biggest stars -- Lea Michele, Cory Monteith and Chris Colfer -- will be among the characters who graduate at the end of fall's upcoming third season.

"You can keep them on the show for six years and people will criticize you for not being realistic," Murphy said, "or you can be really true to life and say when they started the show they were very clearly sophomores and they should graduate at the end of their senior year."

Murphy said cast members were involved in discussions about the future of their characters, but admitted that he did not talk with Monteith before making his decision.

"We made that decision and I involved Chris and Lea and they thought that was a good idea," he said. "They both trust the writing and trust me and felt that it would be great to have an open and closed experience for them to go out while they were on top."

Michele affirmed that with a tweet Wednesday night.

"We always knew we'd graduate in real time," she wrote. "It's all part of the plan and it's all good! It's going to make Season 3 amazing!"

Michele, Monteith and Colfer might not be the only Gleeks going. Murphy said the full roster of who's graduating and who's staying will be revealed in the Sept. 20 season premiere.

What's Next for 'Glee' Stars?

The gang of three shot to fame after "Glee's" 2009 premiere. Michele scored Emmy and Golden Globe nominations in 2010; Colfer won a Golden Globe this year, was nominated for an Emmy last year, and clinched a best supporting actor Emmy nomination this morning. ("Glee" also got a nod for best comedy series; it won last year.)

While getting offed from "Glee" will deprive Michele, Monteith and Colfer of regularly scheduled face-time with their fans, it also frees them up to pursue bigger projects.

Michele, 24, will appear in her first major movie, "New Year's Eve," starting Dec. 9. She joins an A-list cast that includes Ashton Kutcher, Robert De Niro, Hilary Swank, Sarah Jessica Parker and Halle Berry.

Monteith, 29, stars in the movie "Monte Carlo," in theaters now. He'll be on the big screen again in January with comedy "Sisters & Brothers."

Colfer, 21, is branching out beyond acting. He wrote and stars alongside Alison Janney in the indie comedy "Struck by Lightning," in theaters next year. He's also got a deal to pen two fantasy/adventure books aimed at young readers; the first is due out next summer.

The trio will also unite on the big screen with their "Glee" family when "Glee: The 3D Concert Movie" opens in theaters Aug. 12.