From Tragedy to Continued Success, the Cast of 'Glee' Then & Now

It's been a tough road for some of the series' former stars, while others have gone on to great success

01 of 14

Naya Rivera

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After hitting it big as tough but loyal cheerleader Santana Lopez on the hit Fox series, Rivera continued on with roles on Devious Maids and Step Up: High Water.

But her personal life is what kept her in the news, first with a whirlwind romance, engagement and breakup with Big Sean, followed by a surprise wedding to Ryan Dorsey. The two welcomed a son, Josey, in 2015, and announced plans to divorce not long after — only to reconcile several months after that. On Thanksgiving weekend 2017, however, Rivera was arrested in West Virginia, charged with misdemeanor domestic battery after she allegedly hit Dorsey while on a walk with their son.

On July 8, 2020, Rivera went missing in California's Lake Piru; rescue workers began searching for her after the pontoon boat she rented was found near the shore and her son Josey, 4, was alone and asleep on the vessel. On July 13, authorities confirmed they found her body floating in the water and called the incident a "tragic drowning accident" with no signs of suicide or foul play.

02 of 14

Lea Michele

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She led the talented Glee pack as diva Rachel Berry, which led her straight to a role on creator Ryan Murphy's follow-up project, Scream Queens. Though the show only lasted two seasons, she picked back up in the TV world in 2017 with the ABC series, The Mayor.

Off-screen, Michele famously dated Glee costar Cory Monteith, who tragically passed away in 2013. She moved on with actor Matthew Paetz for two years before dating Dimension 404 costar Robert Buckley. Recently, she struck up a relationship with clothing company president Zandy Reich; the two announced their engagement in April of 2018 and wed in March 2019. They're expecting their first child together later this year.

In 2020, Michele's former Glee costar Samantha Ware accused the actress of making her life a "living hell" on set, and said she threatened to have creator Ryan Murphy fire her from the series. Michele later apologized for her behavior.

03 of 14

Cory Monteith

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The Canadian-born actor seemingly had lots ahead of him, after appearing on Kaya and Kyle XY before his big break as Finn Hudson on Glee. Though he was happily dating costar Lea Michele off-screen, he was plagued by a long history of substance abuse issues, and in July 2013, at age 31, was found dead in a Vancouver hotel room of an accidental overdose.

04 of 14

Amber Riley

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Riley twirled right from her role as Mercedes Jones on Glee into the Dancing with the Stars ballroom, winning the coveted Mirrorball trophy in season 17. She appeared on the NBC TV musical The Wiz in 2015 and also made her own theatrical mark in the London production of Dreamgirls in 2016.

05 of 14

Heather Morris

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The former pro dancer — she toured with Beyoncé in 2007 — also found herself in the DWTS running after completing her run as Brittany S. Pierce on Glee. Though her stint wasn't as long as Riley's (and came with controversy, too), it didn't matter too much to the star, who has a happy home life with husband Taylor Hubbell and their two young sons, Elijah and Owen.

06 of 14

Chris Colfer

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His gig as Kurt Hummel on Glee is still the standout on Colfer's acting résumé, which, after the series ended, also included a spot on Hot in Cleveland. But he found his post-TV passion in books, writing five volumes in his Land of Stories series for children.

07 of 14

Mark Salling

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The musician made a name for himself as bad boy Noah "Puck" Puckerman on Glee, and even dated costar Naya Rivera for several years during the series' run. But his life took a turn in 2015, when he was arrested and later charged with receiving and possessing child pornography. He pled guilty to the charges in October 2017, and faced four to seven years in prison. In January 2018, Salling was found dead of apparent suicide, weeks before he was scheduled for sentencing.

08 of 14

Kevin McHale

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Before Glee, McHale was a member of boy band NLT, which helped shape his musical chops for his role as Artie Abrams. He went on to host the TV series Virtually Famous and land a handful of other gigs, though he's stayed mainly out of the spotlight since the series ended. In 2018, he came out publicly.

09 of 14

Dianna Agron

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After appearing in Heroes, Agron earned the role of queen bee cheerleader Quinn Fabray on Glee. She tried her hand at directing and some indie roles following the series, though made the biggest headlines in 2016, when she quietly married Mumford & Sons musician Winston Marshall.

10 of 14

Jenna Ushkowitz

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Ushkowitz landed her first Broadway role in the 1996 revival of The King and I, going on to understudy in Spring Awakening beginning in 2006. Her stint as Tina Cohen-Chang on Glee is still among her bigger gets, though she returned to the stage following the series in Hair, The Wedding Singer and Waitress.

11 of 14

Darren Criss

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Another who got his start on the stage, Criss joined Glee (and became a fan favorite as Blaine Anderson) after a few smaller theater and television roles. After making it big on the series, he starred in Broadway's How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and set out on a solo tour in support of his album Human.

In 2018 he re-teamed with Glee creator Ryan Murphy for The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story; his work as Andrew Cunanan won him the Golden Globe, Emmy and SAG Award. His latest gig has him working with Murphy again, on the Netflix drama Hollywood. In February 2019, he married his longtime love, Mia Swier.

12 of 14

Jonathan Groff

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Lea Michele's off-screen BFF was only a guest-star on the show, though made such an impression as Jesse St. James that he landed the series Looking while still on Glee. Before that, though, he'd had Broadway success in Spring Awakening and Hair, and went on to score a role in Hamilton, too.

13 of 14

Matthew Morrison

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After starring as beloved glee club leader Will Schuester, Morrison moved on to roles on The Good Wife and most recently, Grey's Anatomy. Another Broadway vet, he returned to the stage post-Glee in the musical version of Finding Neverland. He married longtime love Renee Puente in 2014; they welcomed son Revel in October 2017.

14 of 14

Jane Lynch

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Lynch found Hollywood success long before Glee, though the show upped her star power and led her to her own series, Angel from Hell, plus stints on Criminal Minds and The Stinky and Dirty Show. Most recently, she's kept her name in the news with her hosting gig on Hollywood Game Night, for which she won two Emmy Awards, and with her guest role on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Off-screen, she married Dr. Lara Embry in 2010, though the two split in 2013.

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