Glee's Graduation Problem: How High School TV Shows Handle Growing Up

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What's a hit series to do when its stars finish senior year?

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Glee creator Ryan Murphy made a bold announcement two weeks ago about the future of the hit series. He declared it was time for the show's three biggest stars—Lea Michele (Rachel), Cory Monteith (Finn), and Chris Colfer (Kurt)—to begin rehearsing "The Graduation Song"—their characters would be graduating on the show at the end of the third season. Not only that, they should also start sending around copies of their headshots and resumes, because there characters wouldn't just be graduating, they'd be written off the show completely. "We didn't want to have a show where [the characters] were in high school for eight years," Murphy said.

But now, Brad Falchuk, who co-created Glee with Murphy, is backtracking, saying that yes, the trio's characters would be graduating, but that doesn't mean the actors would be leaving the show. "If you have Lea Michele under contract," he said at Comic Con this weekend. "You don't say, 'We're gonna let you go.'" So while Gleeks may be celebrating that their favorite stars will be sticking around the hit Fox show—is it really good news?

TV has a long history of shows about teenagers struggling with ways to keep the series running after their characters have grown up. How did those shows deal with "the graduation problem," and how did they fare after the characters threw their caps in the air? Here's a look:

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Kevin Fallon is a reporter for the Daily Beast. He's a former entertainment editor at TheWeek.com and former writer and producer for The Atlantic's entertainment channel.

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