Many faces have passed through the halls of William McKinley High School.
On Glee‘s series finale Friday, an impressive number of the show’s alums – not to mention some of its more memorable fashion fads and cultural touchstones – appeared in Lima for one last song and dance.
Here are a few of the highlights from the welcome returns, quirky character traits and celebrity cameos from Glee‘s two-hour finale.
Everyone in the "I Lived" number
Mike Chang (Harry Shum Jr.)! Sugar Motta (Vanessa Lengies)! All those Glee Project kids! The series-closing musical number had nearly everybody – old, new and in between. It also featured the only finale appearance of wives Brittany (Heather Morris) and Santana (Naya Rivera). A shame they didn’t have more to do (most likely Lord Tubbington is to blame), but we’ll take whatever Brittana we can get.
"A Young, Nubile Will Schuester"
We got several glimpses of a very handsome, high school-age Will Schuester (played as an adult by Matthew Morrison). Before he rapped, the young Mr. Schue tore up McKinley’s auditorium with energetic performances of The Trammps’ “Disco Inferno.” Is it possible we kind of want a Will Schuester spin-off?
Before he was a suicidal closeted jock, before he was briefly Blaine’s (Darren Criss) fallback boyfriend, Karofsky (Max Adler) was a lunkhead jock who tormented Kurt (Chris Colfer). Adler made bookend appearances early in the first episode and then in the final group performance, underscoring the journey the show and all its characters have taken these past five years.
Kurt’s Bias-Cut Turtleneck Swoncho
That would be a sweater and a poncho. Among Kurt’s truly questionable fashion decisions, the oatmeal-colored hybrid garment might be the most outstanding – that’s both a compliment and an insult.
Though she was a regular cast member for only two seasons, Jessalyn Gilsig made an art of Terry’s awfulness. She featured heavily in the first hour of the finale, a flashback episode called “2009,” and we probably could have used less of her – which means Gilsig did her job.
Rachel’s Bushy Eyebrows
Rachel Berry (Lea Michele) wasn’t always a Broadway baby. When the series began, she was just a homely girl with a huge voice – and pretty sizable eyebrows. The show’s makeup artists really played up Rachel’s brows in “2009,” which was at turns hilarious and totally characteristic of the driven yet oblivious Rachel of season 1.
New Normal shout-out! Though he’s now starring on Girls, Rannells showed up for his former boss Ryan Murphy, playing himself and presenting a Tony Award to Rachel for starring in Jane Austen Sings. (Honorable mention to Rachel’s competitors: Maggie Smith in Miss Jean Brodie’s Second Prime, Willow Smith in Cabaret and Anne Hathaway in her one-woman show Anne!)
We always had a soft spot for Mike Chang’s dancing partner Matt Rutherford (Talton). Anyone else?
How long has it been since the red beverages appeared on the show? Too long.
The year was 2009. Twitter was barely out of the nest. Rachel Berry was obsessed with Myspace as a means of shameless musical self-promotion. Of course she was.
One callback that was much less lighthearted than others, it had been an open question how the writers would honor Cory Monteith‘s work on the show. By seamlessly including archival footage from the New Directions’ first performance of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” they chose a route that was both narratively and emotionally satisfying. (Monteith was also featured in a goofy photo Kurt kept in a locker of all his glee club memorabilia – a detail that felt like a subtle tribute to the actor himself, not just his character.)