"Glee" will undergo some major casting changes at the end of next season.
Series creator Ryan Murphy confirmed to Ryan Seacrest on Monday that the current crop of actors, who portray juniors at the fictional McKinley High School, will depart the series when their characters graduate at the end of Season 3.
"The thing that I wanted to do and the cast wanted to do, we didn't want to have a show where they were in high school for 8 years. We really wanted it to be true to that experience. We thought it would be really cool if we were true to the timeline," Murphy explained.
This likely means next season will be the last for stars Lea Michele, Corey Monteith, Golden Globe winner Chris Colfer and many other fan favorites.
Two mainstays of the cast will continue past next season, Murphy revealed. "We've got Matt Morrison [Will Schuester] and Jane Lynch [Sue Sylvester] who will stay and be the male and female lynchpins of the series, but I think the fun thing about the show is it's a celebration of youth and talent and I think that just like with the original cast, I think finding those young unknown people and giving them an opportunity to break into the business and become stars is a really fun and exciting thing and is the spirit of the series."
Murphy said several new characters will be introduced this fall, ones he hope will carry the series once the original cast leaves. They'll also be joined by the winner of "The Glee Project" -- a companion reality competition series currently airing on Oxygen -- for a seven-episode arc. Murphy hopes Gleeks will embrace the new characters, much as they have Chord Overstreet (Sam) and Darren Criss (Blaine) this season.
Season 2 ended with the New Directions finishing a disappointing 12th at Nationals. Will they claim the title in Season 3? Season 3 begins shooting in mid-August and returns mid-September on FOX.
Will you watch "Glee" after the main cast departs? Sound off in the comments below!