In the wake of Cory Monteith's untimely death on Saturday, July 13, "Glee" fans and the TV industry are left wondering: Where does "Glee" go from here?
Since the Fox musical dramedy's debut, Monteith played Finn Hudson, quarterback-turned-glee-club-leader. Many considered his character the show's backbone, its heart and soul. Finn was tied to Rachel Berry (played by Monteith's real-life girlfriend Lea Michele) from the show's start and the couple, dubbed Finchel by "Glee" fans, has been a central part of the show.
It's too soon to tell how "Glee" producers will handle Monteith's passing. The show was scheduled to begin production on Season 5 in late July, but TheWrap reports producers and Fox executives are weighing their options how to handle the death. Could "Glee" push its Season 5 premiere from September 19? It's a possibility.
"We are deeply saddened by this tragic news. Cory was an exceptional talent and an even more exceptional person. He was a true joy to work with and we will all miss him tremendously. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones," "Glee" executive producers, 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Broadcasting Company said in a statement.
The character of Finn was last seen on "Glee," studying to become a teacher, in April. Though Season 4 of "Glee" ended in May, Monteith was absent from the last few episodes because he entered rehab.
"Glee," which is no stranger to covering touchy subject matter head on, will likely tackle the actor's death and not just have him disappear off screen.
"With this being so sudden and unexpected, there have been zero thoughts or discussions on the direction of the show. And there will not be any thoughts on how to react to this till some of the grieving process subsides," a source close to production told Hollywood Life. "But it’s easy to say there will be a tribute episode, and the season will be dedicated in his honor. Cory will have a never-ending connection to the legacy of the show; it will be handled delicately and with the utmost respect. The whole situation is just completely awful, and those [issues] will be addressed … but its safe to say, in the current state people are in over his death, that it will take some time."
"Glee" wouldn't be the first to incorporate a lead actor's death. Recently, "Dallas" killed off Larry Hagman's character J.R. Ewing when Hagman passed away. The character's death was used to propel the show forward.
"The Young And the Restless" handled Jeanne Cooper's death in May 2013 by having a special, featuring her co-stars discussing the late actress. The fate of her character, Katherine Chancellor, has not been handled yet.
John Ritter was starring on ABC's "8 Simple Rules" when he passed away suddenly and he'd shot three episodes of the comedy's second season before his death. The sitcom took a hiatus and then filmed a goodbye episode, which featured his TV family, including Katey Sagal, dealing with the character's death. "8 Simple Rules" was canceled after its third season.
Stay tuned for more details on how "Glee" will move forward.