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After the first episode aired in 2009, Glee rose to meteoric fame and has since become a fixture in pop culture history. Whether you're a Gleek or just someone who enjoys some of the show's covers, there's a lot of that went on behind the scenes that fans would be surprised to learn. Lucky for you, we have the tea while you binge-watch the show on Netflix for the third time. Ahead, the Glee trivia you didn't know you needed.
The show's creator has an impressive resume.
Ryan Murphy created Nip/Tuck before Glee, and has since gone on to create Pose, Scream Queens, American Horror Story, and more.
At one point, the show was the most watched series in the U.S.
In the show's second season, Glee had a dedicated fanbase and it showed in its ratings—it was the most watched U.S. TV series (opens in new tab) in 2011.
Lea Michele has a Broadway show to thank for her casting.
The singer/actress got her start as a child star on Broadway. Her role in Spring Awakening caught Hollywood's attention, and the role of Rachel Berry was written for her (opens in new tab) by Ryan Murphy.
The role of Kurt Hummel was added for Chris Colfer.
After auditioning for the role of Artie, Chris Colfer wooed Glee's producers and the role of Kurt was born. According to Colfer, in his first contract, his character is listed as Artie 2 (opens in new tab) because Kurt had yet to be created.
Dianna Agron was the last to be cast.
The actress ,who portrayed cheerleader Quinn Fabray, was the last main cast member (opens in new tab) to be chosen. Agron learned that she landed the role only two days before the pilot was shot.
The cast had to participate in 'Glee' summer tours.
They were contractually obligated to join the tours (opens in new tab) because it was one of the ways the network capitalized on its hardcore fanbase.
The tour sold out in almost every city.
The cast's touring proved successful, as they sold out in almost every major city, grossed more than $40 million (opens in new tab), and released Glee: The 3D Concert Movie as a result.
Jennifer Lopez was supposed to be a guest star.
The icon was approached to appear on the show and even met with producers (opens in new tab), but the concept stalled and never happened. We can't help but wonder what could have been.
Jane Lynch had a say in Sue's tracksuits.
While playing Glee's villain, Sue Sylvester, Jane Lynch found herself in a different tracksuit every episode. "I have about 20 now and they are always making more. The wardrobe stylist would come up to me and ask 'What about this color tracksuit with this piping?' And I say either yes or no," Lynch told Metro (opens in new tab) in 2010. "We have two styles, the one with the high neck and then the crew neck with the zips and they make them fit to me."
Lea Michele has several tattoos in honor of 'Glee.'
She has 16 in total and three are Glee-related (opens in new tab). The first, a tribute to her late boyfriend and costar, Cory Monteith, is the number "5," which was Finn's football number. She also has a small gold star on her wrist, inspired by her character Rachel Berry. The third is "Imagine" written on her foot after her and costar Jenna Ushkowitz decided on matching ones during a night out.
Heather Morris is a huge Britney Spears fan.
Yep, just like her character. One of the show's most memorable tributes was to the pop icon in "Britney/Brittany." "I just sat there and stared at her," Morris told TV Guide (opens in new tab) after filming the episode. "Like, 'Wow, I'm just hanging out with Britney Spears as Brittany the character. We're doing a scene. I'm singing her songs. It was weird."
Darren Criss was initially rejected from the show.
After auditioning for the role of Finn, producers decided to go with Corey Monteith over Darren Criss. But they kept him in mind (opens in new tab) and brought him back in the show's second season to play Blaine.
Chris Colfer was the youngest cast member.
Colfer was only 19 years old when the show reached meteoric fame. He was almost ten years younger (opens in new tab) than some of his costars.
Gwyneth Paltrow met her husband on the show.
The actress guest starred on the show for several episodes in season two after her divorce from Chris Martin. On set, she met future husband and Glee producer, Brad Falchuk. The two got married in 2018 (opens in new tab).
Hundreds of songs were released during the show's run.
Throughout the show's six seasons, the cast of Glee belted out over 700 songs (opens in new tab).
Over 200 songs topped the charts.
The cast of Glee saw 207 of their songs top the chart on Billboard's Hot 100 (opens in new tab). The most popular covers were "Don't Stop Believin,'" "Forget You," and "Teenage Dream."
The show broke a record previously held by Elvis Presley.
The cast passed the King of Rock and Roll's record of the most appearances on Billboard's Hot 100 on February 26, 2011 (opens in new tab). Presley held onto the record for decades, peaking at 108 songs. Since the show's 2015 finale, Drake has stolen the record (opens in new tab), with 208 songs earning a spot on the Hot 100.
The show partnered with Columbia-Epic Records.
After being turned down by several record labels, Ryan Murphy came to an agreement with Columbia-Epic Records that resulted in 9 million album sales in 15 months. "It's a very healthy addition to our bottom line. I don't know any artist that can do 9 million albums in 15 months. That's basically Lady Gaga territory," Columbia-Epic Records Label Group chairman Rob Stringer told The Hollywood Reporter (opens in new tab).
Many episodes cost millions to produce.
With the show's success came more money from the network. In season two, the episodes cost anywhere from $3.2 million to $3.8 million to produce, according to The Hollywood Reporter (opens in new tab).
There was a lot of behind-the-scenes drama.
When showrunner Ryan Murphy described his time working on Glee to Entertainment Weekly (opens in new tab), he addressed the rumors of on-set drama: "It was the best time in my life and the worst time in my life. There was a lot of fighting. There was a lot of people sleeping together and breaking up. It was good training for being a parent, I'll tell you that much."
Two cast members tied the knot after the show ended.
Melissa Benoist (Marley Rose) and Blake Jenner (Ryder Lynn) met on the set of Glee in 2012. The couple got married in 2015 after the show's season six finale, but they filed for divorce (opens in new tab) the following year.
The show drew from the cast's experiences.
Chris Colfer told PR.com (opens in new tab) that stories about his life would wind up in his scripts. "I don't think any of us directly try to give input on the character or on the storyline, but they definitely steal things from us. I remember I was talking to Ryan about when I was in high school and I really wanted to sing 'Defying Gravity.' The other students in my drama class and the teachers, when we were putting on this talent show, they wouldn't let me sing it because I was a boy and it was a girl's song. And then that was made [into] an episode," he said.
Some of the show's song requests were denied.
You would think artists would be flattered to have their songs covered on Glee, but...not always. The show's creator got into a Twitter feud with Kings of Leon (opens in new tab), claiming they "missed the big picture" when they rejected the show's request to use their song.
Guns N' Roses passed too.
Guns N' Roses's guitarist, Slash, disapproved of their song being used saying, "Glee is worse than Grease, and Grease is bad enough." Murphy responded to his comment telling The Hollywood Reporter (opens in new tab), "Usually I find people who make those comments, their careers are over; they're uneducated and stupid."
The show started its own charity.
Glee Gives Back provides scholarships and promotes arts education in schools. "It's very important to me and to Fox that we establish scholarships in schools," Murphy told The Hollywood Reporter (opens in new tab) in 2011.
There were accusations of "unsafe working conditions" on set.
In the late Naya Rivera's memoir, Sorry Not Sorry (opens in new tab), the Glee star recounts a time when Lea Michele threatened to call (opens in new tab) the Screen Actors Union to report unsafe working conditions when they were forced to dance with a broken air conditioner.
Naya Rivera and Mark Salling dated in real life.
One of the many, many on-set romances involved Naya Rivera and Mark Salling.The costars began dating in 2007 and were together until August 2010 (opens in new tab). Rumors swirled on set after Rivera threw dog food, eggs, and birdseed at Salling's car after reportedly catching him with other women, which she discussed in her memoir, Sorry Not Sorry (opens in new tab).
Chris Colfer wrote one of the final episodes.
At the end of season five, Glee star Chris Colfer took a stab at a behind-the-scenes role, writing the episode (opens in new tab) "New Dog, Old Tricks." It was the actor's first writing credit.
Heather Morris wasn't part of the original cast.
Morris was brought in to teach the cast the dance to "Single Ladies" and the producers kept her on as a background character (opens in new tab). Morris' role as Brittany soon became a fan favorite and her storylines became bigger as the show went on. Morris became a series regular in season two.
Brittany was inspired by a 'Mean Girls' character.
"I thought it would be funny to play her like Karen," Morris told TV Guide (opens in new tab). "If you watch a sitcom and see a dumb girl, the actress is usually overplaying her dumbness. With Karen, she legitimately doesn't understand. She's like a little kid who says, 'I don't get it.' It's funnier to me to play Brittany as not super stupid, but really innocent."
The show was shot in Los Angeles.
We're sorry to tell you this, but William McKinley High School isn't real. The series was shot on a lot at Paramount Studios (opens in new tab).
An extra once ruined an episode.
One of the extras leaked spoilers (opens in new tab) from the highly-anticipated prom episode. Producer Brad Falchuk shared a statement on Twitter (opens in new tab) saying, "Who are you to spoil something talented people have spent months to create?" He later added (opens in new tab), "Hope you're qualified to do something besides work in entertainment." The actress later told E! News (opens in new tab) that she understands how wrong she was after receiving backlash from not only fans, but also Fox.
Dianna Agron left the show because she was unhappy.
Glee's resident cheerio, Quinn Fabray, was written out of the script in the show's fourth season. Agron was reportedly unhappy (opens in new tab) and was allowed a graceful exit. The show denied that this was the case, but rumors persisted after Agron was left out of the show's tribute episode (opens in new tab) for Cory Monteith.
The show stuck to a real high school timeline.
Fans weren't thrilled at the possibility of Lea Michele, Cory Monteith, and Chris Colfer graduating at the end of season three. "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 when they started the show they were very clearly sophomores and they should graduate at the end of their senior year," showrunner Ryan Murphy told The Hollywood Reporter (opens in new tab).
The characters evolved with the actors.
In an interview with Rolling Stone (opens in new tab), Ryan Murphy said Dianna Agron changed the mean girl role of Quinn Fabray from how it was initially written. "She was supposed to be the Cybill Shepherd, Last Picture Show c***, so to speak, but she humanized it. She can cry at the drop of a hat. So now her character has a conscience, a soul and great vulnerability," Murphy said.
The show resulted in a spinoff.
The Glee Project was a reality competition that gave aspiring actors and singers the chance to win a guest role on Glee.
'The Glee Project' was inspired by one of the cast member's auditions.
Ryan Murphy said Chris Colfer's audition made him want to create The Glee Project. "It's such a huge honor and I mean that's really special because I feel like if I inspired something that is giving kids a platform that is incredible,” Colfer told E! News (opens in new tab).
The cast loves an informal reunion.
There have been many times when the McKinley High alumni have gotten together and, of course, posted about it on Instagram (opens in new tab). Sadly, the last time the cast came together was under tragic circumstances to honor their late costar (opens in new tab), Naya Rivera, who passed away in July 2020.