This article is from the archive of our partner .

As Glee received 19 Emmy nominations this morning, creator Ryan Murphy had some bad news for Gleeks: Three of its most beloved members--Lea Michele (Rachel), Cory Monteith (Finn), and Chris Colfer (Kurt)--will graduate after next season. Murphy claims he's letting the characters grow up in real time. "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,” Murphy told The Hollywood Reporter.

Slews of shows have kept their characters kicking it as seniors in high school for far too many seasons (90210, Boy Meets World, Dawson's Creek), and they did just fine. And if we're going to keep things real, Michele (24) and Monteith (29) would be super-duper seniors if they were still in high school. So why is Glee's top talent really leaving? A couple ideas, based on what those involved have told the media:

  • To give other mega-talented underdogs a chance

As fans of The Glee Project know, other diva misfits would make great additions to Glee. Part of the show's appeal to fans and creators alike was the undiscovered star aspect of its characters, as Murphy explains to The Hollywood Reporter, "I think that just like with the original cast, I think finding those young unknown people and giving them an opportunity to break into the business and become stars is a really fun and exciting thing and is the spirit of the series."

  • Pushed out?

The news came as a surprise to Colfer. He didn't even know his character's grade when he signed up for the show, he tells Entertainment Weekly. “I always assumed that Kurt was very young in the original scripts. I knew he was 16, but I didn’t know what grade. Then when it was announced I was leaving, I was like, ‘I guess it’s our senior year next year!’” Colfer even admitted to The Sun that he didn't choose his fate, "It's definitely not my choice, but I absolutely respect it and understand why it has to happen."

  • New writers; new characters

The show brought on new writers for the next season. It's not unreasonable that they want to create a fresh cast. They also need story lines to work with. Murphy told The Hollywood Reporter that the decision was "well received by the show’s new writers, he said. The group recently returned to work and are writing story lines that include several characters’ parents as the college talk heats up."

  • No, but really: they're too old to play teenagers

Monteith is almost 30--way old to be in high school. He should probably move on before he starts balding, "there's nothing sadder than a high school student with a bald spot--it's true!" Colfer told The Sun, "This is what happens in real life. Kids grow up and they move on. It makes sense that that's what we would do."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.