“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."
Graduation certainly won't be the end for the actors. Chris Colfer has his movie "Struck by Lightning" - which he wrote and is starring in - underway, as well as a two-book deal with Little, Brown books.
Cory Monteith, currently playing in theaters in "Monte Carlo," has another film project coming out in January, "Sisters and Brothers," and Michele's plate is also stocked with projects. The 24-year-old landed a role in this year's "New Year's Eve," and will also voice Dorothy in the animated "Dorothy of Oz."
Michele tried to encourage "Glee" fans who may be heartbroken by the news, tweeting, "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 added, " To Gleeks everywhere, you're in my heart now and forever. Love u all!!! This is just the beginning!!"
Murphy told THR that Michele and Colfer were included in conversations about their characters graduating, adding that while Monteith hadn't been told of the plans yet, the news shouldn't come as a surprise.
“We’ve never done anything by the book,” Murphy said. “We made that decision and I involved Chris and Lea and they thought that was a good idea. 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.”
To know more about who's staying and who's going, you'll have to wait until the season premiere on September 20.