Hold on to your berets, Gleeks, this one is going to blow. Your. Minds. Power-mad series dictator Ryan Murphy has just informed The Hollywood Reporter that the show’s arguably three biggest stars—Lea Michele, Chris Colfer, and Cory Monteith—will leave the series at the end of the upcoming third season. (Are you okay? Do you need water, some air, a paper bag to breathe into?) And here’s the clincher: Monteith is finding this out the same way you are.

“[They] are not going to be back at all for Season 4,” Murphy said. “You can keep them on the show for six years and people will criticize you for not being realistic, or you can be really true to life and say that when they started the show they were very clearly sophomores and they should graduate at the end of their senior year.”

Michele and Colfer were consulted on this decision, Murphy said, and agreed it “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.”

The plan is to graduate not just the aforementioned trio, but other cast members as well—and their identities will be made known during the Sept. 20 premiere. (So don’t be surprised if Dianna Agron, Kevin McHale, and other familiar faces are on their way out, too.) But, yeah, poor Corey. He wasn’t given early notice of the news, but Murphy said he shouldn’t be surprised: “He knows he was a sophomore when the show started.”

But what about the folks at Fox? Don’t they get a say in the matter? It’s their series and they’re footing the bill, after all. Well, this arrangement offers an attractive way for the network to keep costs down: by cycling in a steady supply of new faces, turning them into stars, and then sending them on their way without having to deal with any pricey contract re-negotiations. Murphy hasn’t led Fox astray yet, so why shouldn’t it follow his lead? The only losers in this scenario are the fans and actors themselves.

What’s your reaction to the news? Are you glad the show’s trying to be realistic by graduating Rachel, Finn, and Kurt, or has it already strayed too far from reality for their departures to matter? Which other cast members do you think will be leaving with them?

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