Some of the characters on Glee went through six seasons of compelling ups and downs. Rachel, Kurt, and Blaine had the most screen time, and as such, they had the most well-written characters overall, even if some choices were wildly out of character like Rachel choosing to leave Broadway for That’s So Rachel and NYADA rejecting Kurt initially.
For other characters, those story arcs seemed to either mean nothing or not ever come to fruition, even if the characters were around for the show’s entire run. When side characters like Dave Karofsky and Burt Hummel receive full, emotional arcs, it is easy to see that some characters were let down by the writers.
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Updated on June 20, 2022 by Amanda Bruce: As Glee moves on to the Disney+ streaming platforms, long-time fans can relive their favorite storylines as often as they want. Those storylines, however, might not include all of the characters they wish they did. After all, Glee’s cast became massive over the course of six seasons, resulting in some characters not getting their due, no matter how much fans wished they would.
In Glee season 1, the club was populated by only Rachel, Mercedes, Kurt, Tina, and Artie before Mr. Schue blackmailed Finn into joining. This prompts a few Cheerios (Quinn, Santana, and Brittany) to join, as well as a pair of football players (Mike and Matt). While most of those new additions are in the show for the long haul, Matt Rutherford was not.
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It’s clear that the Cheerios and football players were initially paired up for the sake of convenience. As Brittany, Santana, and Mike gained storylines, however, Matt disappeared from the series completely. The audience never got to know him at all.
When McKinley High graduates Rachel, Kurt, and Santana made the move to New York, Rachel and Santana worked in a musical diner with another waitress named Dani, played by the talented Demi Lovato. Dani only appeared in a handful of episodes, and never even got a last name.
The chemistry between Dani and Santana was great, and the musical numbers Dani participated in knocked it out of the park. It’s a shame the writers didn’t give her much of a storyline outside of being Santana’s love interest and a member of Kurt’s band.
It’s no secret that Warbler Blaine Anderson became such a fan favorite that he had more character development than some of the original main characters of the show. Despite the Warblers appearing frequently following Blaine’s introduction, and some of them even being antagonists for the Glee club, only a few of them even got names.
Given how often the audience saw the Warblers in competitions during Kurt’s time performing with them and during after-school confrontations, it would have been great for some of them to have character development.
Some may have chosen the drummer or the bassist from the band that always seemed present in the Glee club classroom as characters in need of a storyline. Since they were around at the start of the series, the guitarist always seemed like he was going to turn into a character. None of the Glee band members even received names, except for piano man Brad.
Played by Derik Nelson, the guitarist routinely accompanied the Glee kids from the season 3 premiere to the graduation episode of season 5, and Rachel’s chaotic performance of “Love Fool.” If any Glee band kid should have gotten a shot — and more than one line — it should’ve been him. He and Brad both deserved storylines of their own.
Brody is a complex character that ended up getting written off in favor of Finn. Played by Dean Geyer, Brody had an amazing voice and a solid relationship with Rachel that was thrown away in favor of the writers making a dig on sex workers.
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Another issue is that Brody is one of Rachel’s best relationships in the series, yet he never got a second chance, unlike Finn, Puck, and Jessie who all got multiple shots after being toxic. Brody continued to encourage her, and never undermined her. He simply waited too long to discuss his employment with her.
From their first appearance on the show, Sunshine is excessively victimized by Rachel, who kicked off their first interaction with a lot of casual racism followed by an aggressive sing-off of Lady Gaga and Beyonce’s “Telephone” in the girl’s bathroom. Rachel then sends Sunshine to a “crack house,” but tries to justify her actions as being all for the love of the Glee club.
Then Sunshine is treated as a guest character, making two more appearances in Glee storylines that didn’t make sense. Sunshine would have been a great main character in season 2, but their raw vocal power was apparently too much for the show.
Season 6 New Directions
While many fans don’t believe that season 6 isn’t the highest-rated Glee season, it did introduce some compelling characters in Rodrick, Jane, Mason, Madison, and Spencer. None of them were carbon copies of the original New Directions like most of the season 4 newbies, yet their time was taken over by the Rachel, Kurt, and Blaine story.
These kids didn’t get much in development beyond hints at storylines, like the relationship between Jane and Mason. This team of singers all had powerful voices that didn’t get enough air time.
Like most of the top participants of The Glee Project, save for a short few, Damian McGinty didn’t get a grand role in the series. Appearing only in season 3 as Rory Flanagan before the full new crop of New Directions members, the Irish exchange student drifted in and out of plot lines, including being a leprechaun for Brittany, and sharing Christmas with Sam.
Rory could have come back in seasons 4 and 5, but instead, he just disappears without notice. This was strange because he was a clear fan favorite and talented singer. However, he does technically appear in season 4 as an angel in Artie’s dream about the club.
One of Glee’s least likable characters, Quinn Fabray had perhaps the most storied history in Glee. She had a baby, became paralyzed, was cured of her paralysis a few months later, dated Puck, Finn, and Sam multiple times, and had her past as “Lucy Caboosey” come out.
All of that (and more) happened before she graduated and none of the lessons stuck to the character because she was never allowed to actually grow. The writers often went out of their way to make Quinn’s life hellish, yet refused to allow it to mean anything in the end. Each lesson learned gave way to a change for the character without really delving into why she made the choices she did.
Though Marley was intended to be the new Rachel, her character was written to suffer at the hands of practically everyone else. She is the daughter of a poor cafeteria worker at the school, which becomes a plot point several times throughout season 4. She also develops an eating disorder thanks to Kitty.
Additionally, though she gets along with Finn, who is coaching the team for most of season 4, Marley is often treated poorly by Mr. Schue, which makes no sense. At one point, he even suspends her for a week for not wearing a Lady Gaga-inspired bikini outfit on stage when she prefers to be comfortable. She deserved better treatment overall, and like all the season 4 newbies, a proper ending for her character.
Kitty receives a lot of hate from Glee fans, and while it isn’t completely unwarranted, it should be noted that she did have somewhat of an arc from season 4 to season 6. She started out as a copy of the Unholy Trinity merged into one, but mostly grew past that persona.
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One of the biggest complaints about the character is that she never faced any repercussions for what she did to Marley. This could (and should) have been explored, but it was forgotten. At least her emotional moments, especially in season 6, made her a compelling and lovable character when she got them.
There could be a wide line graph of how often Sam’s personality changes, which is not a good thing for a main character. One of the best Glee characters introduced after season 1, Sam was originally a love interest of Quinn, then Mercedes, then Brittany, then Mercedes again for a while, and lastly Rachel in season 6. He was also homeless and living with the Hummels, but it is never addressed after zeason 3.
The biggest issue with Sam was that the writers didn’t know where to put him. His time in New York was just part of Mercedes’ story. When he returned to McKinley to, somehow, coach football, he was a Finn fill-in without his own path.
When it comes to characters on Glee that received the worst treatment by the writers, Tina is leagues ahead of the rest. It is so prominent that the show itself jokes about her character.
From disturbing choices like the vapor rub scene to her constant “hag” status and personality changes, she was underdeveloped and, more often, ignored outright. Tina was an original member of the New Directions and the most disregarded by the script. Jenna Ushkowitz played the character perfectly, but fans wish she had better writing to work with. In short, she deserved better.
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About The Author
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Nicholas is a freelance journalist who spends his time reading comics, playing video games and watching television, then writing about them in the hopes that he can work in those industries later in life. When he is not working with start-ups or performing improv around the country, he hosts the How Will I Die Podcast, which explores the multiverse of himself through many deaths and goofs.
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