During its six-season run, Glee was considered one of the most uplifting shows on television. However, away from the camera, its cast has faced a number of tragedies through the years.
After the musical dramedy premiered on Fox in May 2009, viewers instantly fell in love with Cory Monteith, a then-little-known actor from Canada who starred as William McKinley High School quarterback and glee club newcomer Finn Hudson. Monteith once described his character as a “stereotypical dumb jock,” but over time, fans began to see a softer side of him.
As the seasons went on, Monteith became a massive star, winning a SAG Award and a Teen Choice Award, but he battled personal demons along the way. He entered a rehab facility in March 2013 for substance abuse, something he had battled since the age of 13. As a result, Finn was written out of the final episodes of season 4 as he completed treatment. That July, Monteith was found dead at the age of 31 from an accidental overdose in his hotel room in Vancouver, Canada.
Tragedy struck again in December 2015 when Mark Salling, who played Finn’s teammate Noah “Puck” Puckerman, was arrested for possession of child pornography. He was charged the following May and pleaded guilty in September 2017. Salling was set to be sentenced in March 2018 and agreed to serve four to seven years in jail in addition to registering as a sex offender. However, he was reported missing in January 2018 and found dead at age 35 six hours later in a suicide by hanging.
Glee fans’ hearts shattered once more in July 2020 after news broke that Naya Rivera, who starred as Santana Lopez, went missing during a boat ride with her son, Josey. Her rented vessel was found adrift at Lake Piru in Ventura County, California, with the 4-year-old asleep on it and alone. Less than one week after her disappearance, authorities recovered her body in the lake and she was declared dead.
Scroll down for more details on Glee’s headline-making tragedies.