Lea Michele, the 24-year-old actress best known for playing 'Rachel Berry' on Fox's Glee, will not return to the show next year. Michele is one of three series regulars whose characters will "graduate" at the end of the current third season, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Series co-creator Ryan Murphy revealed Lea, Cory Monteith and Chris Colfer will all leave the show despite being among the most bankable stars, saying, he said, "You can keep them on the show for six years and people will criticize you for not being realistic, or you can be really true to life and say when they started the show they were very clearly sophomores and they should graduate at the end of their senior year". Murphy also hinted "more characters are leaving than are staying" and recent speculation has suggested fan favourite Chord Overstreet may also exit the series. Reacting to the news on her Twitter page, Michele remained upbeat, saying, "We always knew we'd graduate in real time. It's all part of the plan and it's all good! It's going to make Season 3 amazing!!!" She later added, "To Gleeks everywhere, you're in my heart now and forever. Love u all!!! This is just the beginning!!"
It is not clear whether Lea Michele will move into other television projects or return to the stage, where she has previously appeared in Broadway productions of 'Les Miserables' and 'Ragtime'. Also a noted singer, she performed 'America the Beautiful' in front of 80,000 fans at the Super Bowl XLV.