Glee is one of those shows that almost immediately inspired a large and incredibly devoted fanbase – affectionately known as Gleeks. At the height of the series' popularity, many millions were tuning in to keep up with the musical highs and lows of the teenage outcasts of the McKinley High glee club. We stuck with favorites like Rachel, Finn, Kurt, Santana and Schuester through loss, love, plenty of growth, and near infinite numbers of slushies to the face. Quite unique from anything that came before it, Glee managed to balance light humor, high school angst, and great tunes over its impressive six-season run. The show thrived on the loyalty of its core base, especially in later years, leading to many passionate fans analyzing and discussing every aspect of the show, from relationships to plot twists.
For a show that cared for and interacted so often with its fans, there are a lot of hidden Easter eggs, jokes, and random little details dropped throughout for any eagle-eyed viewers to pick out. Every episode has some kind of in-joke or pop-culture reference, if you know the right places to look. Do you consider yourself the ultimate, die-hard Gleek? Put your knowledge of the show to the test as we take a look at some of these hidden little details; whether they were intentionally planted by the showrunners, or whether they just popped up organically, it's all fair game. Here are 20 Hidden Details In Glee Only Super Fans Noticed:
20 Principal Figgins' email
Principal Figgins was one of the many forces in McKinley High who seemed to be actively routing against the success of the glee club. When he wasn't directly interfering, he was making things worse by deciding not to act when Sue Sylvester was trying to bring the New Directions down herself. He made for a divisive, yet entertaining figure in the lives of our characters.
In fact, there used to be a way to actually “contact” the principal if you wanted to give him a piece of your mind. In the episode “Funeral,” we find out that his email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. If you tried to send an email to that address back in the day, you would get this reply. Since then, it has been taken down.
19 Trouty mouth
A later addition to the glee club, the blond jock named Sam Evans joins the show in season two and is immediately liked by most of the club for his kind-hearted and laid-back demeanor.
However, Sam is also the brunt of a few jokes; Santana, for one, refers to Sam as “trouty mouth” in reference to his large lips. Thankfully, Sam seems to embrace the title in the episode “Born This Way.” At least one last reference to this recurring joke about his lips can be seen when we peek inside Sam's locker in a deleted scene from “Heart,” which is filled with lip balm tubes. At least his “trouty mouth” won't be chapped any time soon!
18 Terri's job
Most fans can agree that Will Schuester's first wife, Terri Del Monico, was an all around bad person. She is already quite abrasive when we first meet her, but then she goes on to fake a pregnancy, stringing along the beloved glee club coach just to keep their crumbling relationship together. Yuck!
During the Pilot episode, we see Terri working for a home supply store called Sheets-N-Things. This is a parody of the real-life Linens N' Things, a once popular chain of similar stores across America. Unfortunately, by the time the first episode of Glee eventually aired, Linens N' Things had closed all its retail stores. Any fans who were paying attention to the name of Terri's store may have noticed this ironic turn of events.
17 Mash-ups, mash-ups everywhere
Glee was a show that prided itself in frequently breaking the mold and trying new things. That being said, it had plenty of its own traditions and call-backs. For example, there were frequently whole episodes that paid tribute to specific musicals, movies, or even particular artists such as Britney Spears and Lady Gaga.
One touchstone that Glee often liked to return to was mash-up battles, where two or more songs would be meshed into one for a new take on them both. What only the most observant of fans may have noticed is that, until season four, every sixth episode of each season had at least one mash-up battle. Afterwards, it was less consistent, but at least (for most of the show's run) we could be guaranteed to get a mash-up whenever an “episode six” rolled around.
16 Emma's name
Emma Pillsbury is one of the more iconic faces from the series, without even being a part of the club. The school guidance counselor with more than a few issues of her own, this lovable redhead starts the series adorably pining for Will and putting up with smack from the gym teacher, Sue Sylvester.
Most fans know that Sue makes it her mission to call Emma by anything other than her actual name during every interaction they have through the show's first two seasons. She's been called Elmo, Little Miss Golden Marmoset, and many nicknames more, but never just Emma – except once. In the Pilot, Sue simply refers to Emma by her first name, no snide remark, which would not be repeated until season three, making it a rare moment for repeat viewers to pick out.
15 Reactions to the glee club
The whole concept of the series is that the glee club – and by association, its colorful collection of members – is a group for the misfits, the outcasts, and everyone in-between. Characters are frequently singled-out for their association with the club.
That's what makes it so odd when New Directions performs for crowds at the school and gets the total opposite reaction. Their mash-up of “Heads Will Roll”/“Thriller” at the football game, for example, got them plenty of applause and even had the reluctant football players joining in. If you're paying attention, you may see this (likely intentional) inconsistency. Even when they bring down the house with a performance, the reputation of the club resets the next episode. After all, we wouldn't really have much of a story if everyone loved the glee club!
14 Artie is everywhere
Who doesn't love Artie Abrams? Another one of the original members of New Directions, Artie is a film-loving, blazer-wearing nerd and frequently has a dry comment about the events going on around him.
As iconic as he is, Artie doesn't always get the spotlight or the solos like Rachel does; that's why it may not be immediately noticeable just how frequently Artie appears in the show. Up until season four, Artie appears in every single episode without fail, and he is the only one to do so. If you're a fan of the wheelin', rapping Artie, you're sure to get your fix in the first four seasons.
13 Don't Stop Believin'
Over the course of Glee's six seasons, the members of New Directions sang many, many songs. There were a couple of originals in there, copious amounts of Broadway, plenty of pop, and a great selection of classics. Sometimes, they would return to a song that had been used before in order to drive a point or revisit a particular emotion, such as the two duet versions of “Defying Gravity” to show very different voices going against the powerhouse Rachel Berry.
One song that was revisited more than any other is “Don't Stop Believin” from Journey. This may not be much of a surprise, given the show's anthem, but not many realize just how often the song was covered. Over six seasons, the song was covered no less than six times, in the episodes “Pilot,” “Sectionals,” “Journey to Regionals,” “Sweet Dreams,” “New Directions,” and “2009.”
12 Recurring phrases
There were many repeated phrases and references throughout Glee. In fact, certain slogans and catch-phrases could be relied on to show up at least once a season, if not much more. However, certain lines were a little more difficult to detect.
In the episode “Showmance,” when talking with Will, Sue Sylvester tells him, “I'm not sure that anyone wants to swim over to your island of misfits.” Later on, in the Christmas episode “A Very Glee Christmas,” the glee club sings “The Most Wonderful Day of the Year,” which contains the line: “We're on the Island of Misfit Toys....” Coincidence? Potentially, but it's a great little call-back to this earlier line for anyone who was paying very close attention.
11 11. Calendar boys
A recurring theme in the series is that the glee club is sadly under-funded. It is not provided with the same amount of priority or attention as the sports teams or Cheerios, and so often has to fundraise, struggling to get themselves to Regionals or Nationals for a shot at finally grabbing that winning trophy.
Looking for ways to keep their beloved club up and running smoothly, Sam makes mention of putting together a “Men of McKinley” calendar in the episode “Rocky Horror Glee Club.” For those who caught this quick line, it was a great payoff when, in season four, Tina starts up this very same calendar (for real this time) to raise money for New Directions' latest trip to Regionals.
10 More and less
The members of New Direction were far from static. Of course, we had our core group, the ones who signed up way back in episode one, and even those who joined in later like the converted “mean girls” Quinn, Santana, and Brittany, but there were always fresh faces coming in and out, bringing new laughs, drama, and tangled relationships along with them.
With the constant revolving door of new characters, it can be hard to compare and contrast different versions of the glee club. However, for those who were watching from day one, you may have noticed that seasons two and three contained the most regular characters overall (at fifteen each), while the final season, due to many different contributing factors, had the least amount of regular characters left, with just nine leads at the end.
9 City pride
Nationals, the ultimate dream for both Will Schuester and the glee club, seemed like it would be just that, a dream, as the New Directions struggled at first to make it past Regionals. When they finally did, it was time to take that next step towards finally claiming their trophy as the best of the best.
It became more common for the club to qualify for Nationals as time went on, and it became a tradition that, whatever city they were competing in, a song about that city would be sung. However, the very first Nationals episode, titled “Nationals” (funnily enough), is the only one of these episodes that does not feature such a city-centered number.
8 Bad math
Will Schuester is an excellent teacher. He starts off the show as McKinley High's Spanish teacher, but his true passion and devotion is toward the glee club and its outcast members. He is very caring and puts others before himself, but yet, of course, he's still not perfect. Aside from sometimes hogging the song choices for the club, it's also a bit of a running joke that Will is not very good at math.
In the episode “A Night of Neglect,” Will states that the club needs $5,000 to pay for the trip to Nationals, but the equation on the board is wrong. It says 5,000 x 0.25 = 20,000, when in reality, it would equal 1,250. According to Amber Riley's Twitter, this was actually not a gaffe, and was instead done on purpose as a sort of inside joke for the cast.
7 Rachel's disappearing act
While Glee was mostly an ensemble show, certain main characters made their way to the front and center, getting more focus in storylines, more songs, and generally more development and focus. Rachel Berry was one of those characters. By the end, she had become the de facto female lead of the show. If you were asked to think of one character from Glee, Rachel is likely still one of the firsts that come to mind.
And yet, many fans may not have noticed when she suddenly doesn't appear for the first time in the episode “The Role You Were Born to Play” – especially because this was after she had graduated from the school. With so many other lovable characters, Rachel's first absence from the show does not immediately jump out like one might expect, unless you watch it back and realize that she has briefly gone AWOL.
6 Carrie references
Stephen King's first published novel, Carrie, is a horror masterpiece and a pop-culture staple in both literature and film. Even if you haven't taken the time to read it or watch one of the film interpretations, you likely know the basic story – especially what happens during the infamous climax; the members of New Directions certainly do.
In the episode “Prom-asaurus,” Rachel becomes the prom queen and cynically comments, “Is someone gonna throw pig [gore] on me next like in Carrie?” Flash forward to the later episode “Tina in the Sky with Diamonds,” it's another prom, and Tina is crowned the queen. Unfortunately for her, she does get the Carrie treatment, but it's with red slushies instead. Still, it doesn't look like much fun!
5 The last recap
When new episodes of Glee came out, we would more often than not get a fast-paced, fun recap (read by Mr. Schue) of everything that had happened during the previous episode, and these little segments often took on a life of their own.
Of course, you were more unlikely to care about or even really notice these pieces if you were just tuning in casually, particularly because they didn't happen every episode. So, it may have been very easy to miss that, in the season six episode “We Built This Glee Club,” we get the very last “and that's what you missed on Glee” sting ever. For die-hard fans, it was just another reminder that this saga was truly coming to an end.
4 Funky puns
Way back in season one, we got the episode “Funk,” which perhaps unsurprisingly, has a big focus on funk music. Everyone takes their turn to sing a song that relates to the theme of the episode, whether they're a member of the New Directions glee club or their rivals, Vocal Adrenaline.
Proving that she's still got it (even though heavily pregnant), Quinn Fabray brings together a group of other teenage mothers to perform “It's a Man's Man's Man's World.” The name for her one-off backing ladies? “The Unwed Mothership Connection.” It's a sneeze-too-loud-and-you'll-miss-it reference, but for those who caught it, it's a funny little play on the Parliament album titled “Mothership Connection,” which contains the song “Give up the Funk,” which also appears in this episode.
3 Tina's name in the Pilot
For any Glee fan, looking back at the very first episode of the series almost feels like traveling to another planet; everyone was so young and so different. We immediately identified with this crazy band of misfits and their desire to find a place to belong in an unfeeling world.
One of the original members of the glee club, Tina Cohen-Chang, was introduced as a shy loner with a stutter, which she is actually faking in order to push people away. What many fans may not notice is that, in the scene where she signs up for the club, her name on the sign-up sheet is even spelled with multiple Ts, referencing the stutter.
2 The hippo brooch
The stylish, sassy New Directions member Kurt Hummel was well-known for his many fabulous fashion choices, to the point where he even had an interview for a job with the magazine Vogue while living in New York.
While most of his outfits had little more to say besides Kurt expressing himself, one of his recurring accessories had a little extra meaning behind it. His infamous brooch of a big hippo face appears across at least three episodes: “Dance with Somebody,” “Special Education,” and “Makeover.” What that trio of episodes has in common is that, in each one, we get significant developments in Kurt's relationship with Blaine. So, if you were paying close attention, the brooch's appearance usually meant big things.
1 History teacher
As mentioned earlier in this list, Will Schuester started off as McKinley High's Spanish teacher. However, after finally realizing that he wasn't entirely qualified for the position, he gave it up to David Martinez in the episode “The Spanish Teacher,” and took on the history teacher position instead.
While we don't immediately see Will actively teaching a history class, we do get our first hint that he has started the new position four episodes later. When he's talking to Finn about his future in “Saturday Night Glee-ver,” you can see that his classroom has changed up a bit; behind them, the Line of Succession is written on the whiteboard, and different history posters cover the walls.
Did you notice any other hidden details in Glee? Let us know in the comments below!