Orginal Cast of 'Glee' to "Graduate" From Show in 2012

After their senior year, the first class of New Directions will leave the show and make way for new cast members

Well, it's official. High school lasts only four years, and Glee creator Ryan Murphy wants his characters to stay true to that timeline. "We didn't want to have a show where they were in high school for eight years," he said, calling in to Ryan Seacrest's radio show on Friday. So come September, when original stars Rachel (Lea Michele), Finn (Cory Monteith), Quinn (Dianna Agron) and Puck (Mark Salling) will start their final year of high school, it will be their last year on the show as well. 

New actors will join the cast throughout the season, so there will be plenty of familiar faces when the show picks up again the following September. And, of course, educators like Mr. Schuester (Matthew Morrison) and Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) will continue to be mainstays. Still, it's a risky move, jettisoning so many beloved characters all at once. But Murphy says that finding fresh talent is what the show is about.

"I don't think of it in terms of eliminating or replacing," he said. "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."

And because the high school experience is so universal -- and yet so different for everyone -- Murphy has lots more stories he could tell. Think of all the different types of kids, with so many different issues, that he hasn't even touched on yet. He could introduce a foreign exchange student, or an aspiring spelling-bee champion, or a son of a much-loathed teacher at the school or a set of albino twins! The possibilities are endless.

The winner of Oxygen's The Glee Project, of course, will be a new character next year (at least for seven episodes). And let's be honest, if fans are really missing some old characters, Murphy can always find ways to bring them back now and then. Who wouldn't want to visit the wonderful Mr. Schuester?

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