TV mega-hit Glee defined a generation and broke records worldwide. The show ran for six successful seasons and accumulated a legacy that other shows can only dream of. Since the series concluded a little over a year ago, perhaps now is a good opportunity to revisit the show that helped change television forever, by looking at several of it’s cast members and checking out their success today.
The star of the show and arguably the one most responsible for the its success, Lea Michele played high school student turned Broadway baby Rachel Berry. Rachel was aware of her talent and never allowed anyone to stand in her way. She dreamed of being on Broadway and by the time she reached New York in Season Five, she'd made that dream a reality. By the end of the series, the glee club leader had become a Tony award winning actress. In reality, Michele has had similar success, jumping straight from Glee to Scream Queens (created by Glee trinity Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan) in another lead role. Scream Queens was received well and renewed for another season, with Michele confirming her return. Michele is also recording her second album (following on from the success of her debut album Louder back in 2013). Not bad for a woman who almost missed her Glee audition by getting into a car crash! With rumours flying that Glee creator Ryan Murphy has bought the Broadway rights to Funny Girl (Both Michele's and her Glee character's favourite musical), one can’t help but conclude that a return to Broadway might be in Michele’s future!
Virtually unknown before Glee, Colfer became a household name for his role as Kurt Hummel. Kurt’s flamboyant style and 'take no prisoners' attitude quickly made him a fan favourite character. Furthermore, the series tackled serious issues regarding Kurt – specifically his coming out to his father. Glee remains one of the earliest shows to tackle issues like this, dealing with them in a sensitive and appropriate fashion. Kurt became involved with rival glee club member Blaine and ultimately they became one of the most fan favourite and influential couples in television history. Winning a Golden Globe and being included in TIME’s most influential people list, Colfer was no stranger to success during the show's run and this hasn’t stopped since Glee ended. Colfer has written an incredibly successful novel franchise entitled The Land of Stories, which has earned him a spot on the New York Times Bestsellers list. Additionally, he is set to star in Noel and has also made appearances on Hot in Cleveland.
Although he auditioned for the role of Finn Hudson, Criss made his debut in Season Two, playing the role of rival glee club warbler Blaine Anderson. Anderson captured the heart of Kurt Hummel and they embarked on a game-changing relationship that is still popular today. Since Glee ended, Criss has had massive success on Broadway, completing a run as the title character in Hedwig and the Angry Inch. He has since guest starred on American Horror Story: Hotel. Criss is also a celebrated songwriter, having wrote two original songs that were performed in the final season of Glee – most notably “This Time” performed by Lea Michele’s Rachel as her final ever solo performance.
McHale starred as Artie Abrams and remained with the series until the very end. Artie had a rough journey on the series, falling for several different glee club ladies from Tina to Brittany to Sugar to Kitty before re-uniting with Tina in the final episode. McHale's smooth voice was used on some memorable covers of popular songs, most notably "Safety Dance". Since Glee's conclusion, McHale signed a deal with UK broadcaster E4 and has hosted several seasons of Virtually Famous. Virtually Famous is a panel show (a format that is extremely popular in the UK) and features guest panelists every week. McHale also starred in The Choir, alongside Kathy Bates and Dustin Hoffman.
Arguably the most successful of the cast, Gustin has enjoyed a vast amount of success since his appearance on Glee. He starred as conniving Warbler Sebastian Smythe for a mere seven episodes but made a memorable impression on fans of the show. Sebastian's storylines involved an attempt to woo Blaine, as well as resorting to some extreme tactics to ensure his glee club's victory. Gustin's voice was featured on several Glee tracks, most notably "Smooth Criminal". He recurred from Seasons Three through Five, before landing a guest role on The CW's Arrow, playing Barry Allen. This role led to Gustin landing his own spin-off and ultimately, he became The Flash. The Flash is enjoying its successful run currently in it's second season, holding the crowning achievement as The CW's most successful ever series.
Benoist has enjoyed similar success to Gustin after playing Marley Rose on Seasons Four and Five of Glee. Initially introduced as part of the new generation of kids, Marley recurred throughout Season Four. Often thought to be the glee club's new lead, she wrestled feelings for Ryder and Jake, similar to the Rachel/Finn/Quinn love triangle from previous seasons. As ratings continued to decline, Marley was eventually axed along with almost all of the new kids as the show attempted to re-invent itself and follow the graduates, per the fans request. Following Marley's departure, Benoist was cast as Supergirl in CBS' new TV series. The series opened to mega-successful ratings. Benoist has also become a household name thanks to Supergirl, which has just finished airing it's first season.
Harry Shum Jr.
Originally, Mike Chang didn't have very much to do in Glee. That was, however, until his dancing (and occasional singing) talents were discovered and Harry Shum Jr was promoted to a full time cast member. While remaining with the show intermittently in its later seasons, Shum starred in several films including Step Up 3D. Since 2016, Shum has been starring in Shadowhunters, Freeform's original series which has been extremely successful.
Riley starred as diva Mercedes Jones for the majority of Glee's run. Covering several popular songs, Riley was often applauded for her vocal range. After her character graduated in the third season Riley opted for a recurring status, competed on and won Dancing With The Stars, before returning to a regular status for the final season of Glee. Riley has also taken part in The Wiz Live!
Agron played Quinn Fabray continually for three seasons before departing to pursue a film career. She has starred in several movies including The Family, I Am Number Four, Zipper and Bare. Agron returned to Glee intermittently during the final three seasons and was present for the final episode. She has also starred in several music videos including The Killers' "Another Girl" and Sam Smith's "I'm Not The Only One".
Morrison played glee club teacher Will Schuester for the entire run of the series. Will's storylines often focused around the club or his on-off relationship with guidance counselor Emma Pillsbury. Since Glee wrapped, Morrison has enjoyed great success on Broadway in Finding Neverland, which opened in April 2015.
Sue Sylvester became Jane Lynch's most prolific role and won her an Emmy award. Already a celebrated actress before Glee, Lynch received a new scale of recognition with her role as the spiteful yet often caring cheerleader. Since Glee's conclusion Lynch starred in CBS' Angel From Hell and still hosts Hollywood Game Night for which has has also won two Emmy awards.
And thus the list comes to end. The levels of success achieved by the cast is immense considering Glee only finished last year. Remember back in the days when an actor would be remembered for one role? It looks like the cast of Glee has managed to avoid that stereotype. Despite being over, the impact that Glee made on both the television and music world is still remembered today. Shows such as Smash, Nashville and Empire wouldn't have been possible if Glee hadn't proven that musicals can work on TV. Also, we still think of the hit show when we hear "Don't Stop Believin", and even Supergirl's epic crossover with The Flash this year was a throwback moment for us Gleeks! As the cast continue to be successful in a post-Glee world, the show's unwavering memory remains strong. Who knows - maybe we'll get a reunion movie one day? You know what they say - Don't Stop Believing!