The hit musical Fox series Glee had a rocky 6 years. At its height, it was a beloved high school dramedy featuring new covers of iconic songs. It was fresh and, to many, it was inspiring, with its inclusion of different kinds of people being a breath of fresh air in a world where entertainment media is dominated by straight white males.
At Glee's lowest points, however, the series was boring and cliché. Many people would get irritated by their musical numbers, claiming that they "ruined" already perfect songs. At other times, some people thought that the diverse inclusion in Glee would go too far, forcing in more gay characters in a grab for attention rather than for actual narrative purposes.
Throughout Glee's rocky run, a plethora of characters were brought in and out of the series. This variety of characters is understandable, as it was an ensemble TV show about a high school, which realistically brings people in and out every year.
While a number of these new characters were delightful additions to an already diverse cast, there were also a number of character additions that didn't add much to the show, and ultimately hurt the series. While some of these characters should have been left with one episode appearances, there were other characters that ideally should not have been part of Glee at all.
Though these characters additions may not have been the only problem that fans had with Glee during the show's lowest point, they certainly did not help the matter.
With this in mind, here are the 10 New Character Additions That Hurt Glee (And 10 That Saved It).
20 Hurt: Lauren Zizes
The second season of Glee tried to mix things up by adding a few new characters to the New Directions. Unfortunately, not all of these characters were as well-rounded as the others. Lauren Zizes was unfortunately one of these characters that did not receive as much depth as the others. Lauren was the first overweight character added to the diverse cast (or at least the first character whose overweight-ness seemingly defined her), adding a bit of inclusion to a demographic that is rarely seen in media.
Unfortunately, unlike other diverse characters like Kurt or Artie, Lauren Zizes received very little development, with her character frankly only being written as someone who is "overweight" and "goth."
This character certainly had a lot of potential with the show, but instead quickly became a background character that only really interacted with Puck, who only liked her for her physical appearance.
19 Saved: Blaine Anderson
Kurt's character arc in the first season was certainly interesting and inspiring, showing him as seemingly the only gay person in town. The second season seriously mixed things up for his character, however, and put him face to face with a number of other people just like him, showing him that he was not alone. Blaine Anderson was one of these people brought into Kurt's life, and overall, Blaine seriously helped the series.
At first, he helped Glee by being the newest addition to Kurt's side of the story, but by season three, Blaine soon became the star of the show. The writers of Glee quickly realized how talented actor Darren Criss was, and gave him a lot more focus. Blaine soon joined the New Directions and became one of the driving forces of the series, being almost as popular as Rachel Berry herself.
18 Hurt: Jake Puckerman
The beginning of season four added a variety of new characters to Glee, filling the gaps left open when over half of the New Directions graduated. One of these new characters was Jake Puckerman, the secret younger brother of Noah Puckerman, who at first was a welcome addition, but soon hurt the series. When Jake first showed up, he was a unique character. Throughout the fourth season, Jake had a tug-of-war battle inside of him between doing the right thing and the wrong thing, taking a good portion of the spotlight as the season went on.
Unfortunately, his character became an absolute waste by season five, when the writers decided to take him down the road of being a "bad boy." While this created new conflict, it ultimately ruined his character. While Jake's character arc may have started out as interesting, the decisions made for him as time went on proved his entire arc to be an absolute waste of time.
17 Saved: Sebastian Smythe
By the time Glee reached its third season, many fans were subconsciously longing for a new antagonist besides Sue Sylvester. While Sue was certainly a great villain, she had been in that position for two years, and a new antagonist needed to be brought into the picture, at least for a short amount of time.
Sebastian Smythe, the new leader of the Warblers following Blaine's departure from their school, ended up being the perfect antagonistic addition to season three.
The fantastic performance given by Grant Gustin made Sebastian into a rather formidable foe, serving both as a threat to the New Directions and to Kurt and Blaine's relationship. Sebastian wasn't just great because he was a villain, however. As time went on, Sebastian eventually redeemed himself, having a well written arc by the end of his run in season three that turned him into a respectable character.
16 Hurt: Becky Jackson
The first episode featuring Becky Jackson was perhaps one of the best written episodes in the entire series. It opens revealing that Sue has taken Becky under her wing, with the New Directions worried that Sue is just getting close to Becky in an attempt to embarrass her. By the end of the episode, it is revealed that Sue actually had a sister with Down's Syndrome and that she did care about Becky.
Unfortunately, as Becky continued to appear throughout the series, her character became more and more flat. While her interactions with Sue would occasionally be heartwarming, her interactions with the rest of the cast felt off and didn't add at all to the series. When she wasn't in Sue's office, Becky was written as "mean" and was at times even patronized by other characters in the show, ultimately undoing all of the progress that the show had previously made.
15 Saved: Brody Weston
Season four of Glee took Rachel and Kurt into the heart of New York City, where they both faced new conflicts and obstacles in order to succeed. One of the most well done conflicts for Rachel in this season was her relationship with Brody Weston. While most people didn't really "ship" Brody and Rachel, this was actually a good thing. Since season one, no one really doubted that Rachel and Finn were supposed to be together.
Brody Weston quickly became the best barrier between Rachel and Finn since Jesse St. James in season one. Even though it was clear that Brody was bad for Rachel, she stayed with him anyways, and even a good portion of Glee fans found themselves giving up on "Finnchel" during Brody's run in the show. Though many viewers hated Brody and what he turned Rachel into, he still brought with him a fantastic arc. Brody Weston truly did bring a lot to the table.
14 Hurt: Spencer Porter
The final season of Glee arguably redeemed the previous two disappointing seasons, adding a variety of new characters to the ensemble and bringing the series full circle. While a majority of these new characters brought something new to the table, the character Spencer Porter was ultimately a disappointment. Spencer was both a "jock" and gay, which was a type of character that the show hadn't really focused on much.
While Spencer certainly had the potential to add something new to the show, he wasn't written well.
The writers couldn't seem to find out how to balance the two sides of his character. To add to the matter, actor Marshall Williams didn't have the best singing voice. However, this may not have been his fault, as it seemed as though the showrunners and writers kept giving him songs that were noticeably out of his vocal range.
13 Saved: Coach Beiste
Following the departure of Coach Tanaka after season one, Coach Shannon Beiste was added to the series. The inclusion of Beiste ended up becoming one of the most eye-opening aspects of the series, from season two all the way until season six. When Beiste first appeared, her interactions with other characters ended up starting a huge thematic element about bullying. The members of the New Directions found themselves making fun of Beiste for how she looked, despite all being misfits themselves.
By the final season of the show, Beiste's character had received quite a bit more development and was now seeking to receive a gender change. The way the writers handled this arc was actually fantastic and eye opening. From beginning to end, Coach Beiste was one of the best character additions that Glee ever received.
12 Hurt: Sam Evans
Though he was a fun character who stuck around from season two until season six, Sam Evans was ultimately a failed character for Glee. When he first appeared, he was treated like a newer Finn, but as time passed, his character development ended up becoming bland and repetitive.
Rather than being an active character with strong motivations, Sam soon only became a love interest for nearly every female character throughout the show's main cast. As time passed, the writers must have realized how bland and unmotivated they had made Sam. However, instead of fixing the issue and adding more depth to him, they instead did what they did with Brittany and wrote him as an incompetent, which somehow served as an explanation for every unnatural decision made by his character throughout the series.
11 Saved: Kitty Wilde
One character addition in season four that paid off long term was Kitty Wilde. Kitty was added as the new Quinn, being the mean Cheerio who ends up joining the New Directions and showing her lighter side, and ultimately surpassed Quinn as a character. Kitty's first few episodes showed her as a rather bland character, being just another mean cheerleader.
However, as time passed, Kitty revealed herself to be a kind-hearted spirit who actually consoled a number of her colleagues.
By season six, Kitty became the student leader of the New Directions, serving as a fearless leader who welcomed the diverse new members in a natural and inspiring way. If the writers had handled Quinn the way they handled Kitty, perhaps Quinn would have had a larger effect on the series beyond season one.
10 Hurt: Sugar Motta
Season three of Glee added Sugar Motta to the cast, who, after being rejected from the New Directions for having a truly horrible singing voice, started her own Glee club at the school, funded by her rich father. She brought a welcome conflict to the beginning of the season. Unfortunately, the issue with Sugar became prevalent as her time in the show went on. After her Troubletones disbanded, she was inexplicably welcomed into the New Directions.
The series never really addressed why they would let Sugar join the group, despite her voice and bad attitude seriously dragging the team down. Things got worse around the second half of season three and the duration of season four. In fact, Sugar was noticeably absent for the majority of season four, up until the team went to a competition, at which point Will dramatically announced the return of Sugar.
9 Saved: Elliot Gilbert
In season five, Kurt started a cover band, which opened the doors for a new characters to enter the picture: Elliot Gilbert, also known as Starchild, played by American Idol runner up Adam Lambert. Arguably, the best part about Elliot's inclusion in season five was his impressive voice. Elliot's debut song in the show was a cover of Lady Gaga's "Marry the Night", which he absolutely rocked, immediately exciting fans of the show.
As Elliot continued to appear, fans became more and more enthused by his character as well, making Starchild a welcome addition to Rachel and Kurt's friend group. Unfortunately, Elliot only appeared for five episodes in season five, and disappointingly did not return in season six.
8 Hurt: Holly Holliday
The second season of Glee introduced Holly Holliday, played by Gwyneth Paltrow. While it was fantastic to see Paltrow joining the cast of Glee, her character really wasn't the most welcome addition.
Holly started in the show as a substitute teacher, covering for Will in his brief absence from the school.
However, when Will returned, he and Holly actually started to become romantically interested in each other. While this was certainly an interesting arc to see, it was the opposite of what fans wanted. The entirety of season one featured both Will and Emma being with the wrong people, leaving season two as the season where they were both more open to dating. This made the inclusion of Holly feel off-putting. Will and Emma were clearly destined to end up together, so no one supported Will and Holly, or even believed there was a possibility of them ending up together, making Holly's entire arc feel pointless and boring.
7 Saved: Unique Adams
In season three, Unique Adams appeared for two episodes, portrayed by Alex Newell after he was a runner up on The Glee Project. Newell returned as Unique in both season four and season five, becoming one of the starring members of the show.
Unique became the first prominent transgender character in Glee, which was a topic that the show had not really covered prior. The inclusion of Unique changed a lot of the series, showing how each different character interacted with their new transgender colleague, with many members slowly learning to accept her, even though she was different. Outside of being transgender, Unique proved herself to be a fantastic character on the show. Her lack of self confidence made her an entertainingly emotional character, particularly with her secret crush on Ryder.
6 Hurt: Dani
In season five, Dani, portrayed by Demi Lovato, became a member of Kurt's cover band, and soon became a romantic interest of Santana. While she was a great vocal addition, Dani didn't really help the show. Throughout Dani's stay in the show, her relationship with Santana felt rather forced and unnatural. The show was clearly on a track to put Santana and Brittany back together, and unlike Rachel's relationship with Brody the season before, Dani didn't add much conflict to the mix.
As for her work with the band, most of the spotlight was already put on Elliot, leaving little room for Dani. Additionally, Dani's character was already written similarly to Elliot, making the moments where she did get the spotlight feel repetitive and redundant.
5 Saved: Roz Washington
By the time Glee reached its third season, some audience members were starting to get tired of Sue Sylvester's antics. Over time, Sue started to feel repetitive and predictable, making it clear that there was something that needed to be done to mix things up for her character. Glee's showrunners had a brilliant solution: Roz Washington.
Roz was brought in as a new coach and faculty member at McKinley, who was noticeably superior to Sue in nearly every way, even having some Olympic medals under her belt.
Throughout seasons three, four, five and six, Roz continuously returned to the show just to serve as an obstacle to Sue, creating conflict for the character who is typically known for bringing conflict to the rest of the cast.
4 Hurt: Hunter Clarington
The Warblers posed a formidable threat in season three, with Sebastian Smythe being a brilliant antagonist for the New Directions. Unfortunately, Sebastian wasn't necessarily a long term threat for the New Directions, as he developed into a reasonable character by the end of his season three arc. In order to keep the Warblers as an imposing threat in season four, the character Hunter Clarington was brought on as yet another transfer student who took over the Warblers.
Rather than feeling like a realistic threat, though, Hunter just felt like an exaggerated take on Sebastian, as he was ruthless and mean beyond reason. Though Hunter made several appearances in season four, he had practically no character arc, feeling like a bland, one dimensional villain that no one could really follow. Compared to the previous antagonists like Sue, Jesse and Sebastian, Hunter Clarington ultimately fell flat.
3 Saved: Roderick Meeks
Roderick Meeks was one of the new members of the New Directions in the show's sixth season, and ultimately became one of the highlights of the show's final year. His stunning singing voice and the progression of his character stole the spotlight, making him arguably the most beloved new member of the Glee club.
One of the best parts about Roderick's arc on the show was that he was the first noticeably overweight character that the show handled perfectly. Previous attempts at handling people being overweight fell flat as they failed to develop their characters anywhere beyond being "fat." Roderick, on the other hand, felt like a real character with depth and motivation. Roderick joined the Glee club because he was sick of being bullied and needed a place to belong. The show handled his character beautifully, and the final season would have been much worse without him.
2 Hurt: Joe Hart
After Samuel Larson co-won the first season of The Glee Project, he was added to the already full cast of season three as yet another new member of the Glee club, Joe Hart. While Samuel Larson was a truly talented addition to the show, his character was a major disappointment. Joe Hart had one defining feature, outside of his dreadlocks: he was a Christian.
Throughout his appearances, the writers barely evolved his character beyond his Christianity, making Joe a one dimensional character.
It's not too surprising that Joe didn't receive much attention, as he showed up at a point in the series where there was already a whole lot going on (most of the characters were focusing on graduating, and the number of New Directions members was higher than it ever had been). Because of this, Joe never received the amount of focus that he deserved, making his appearances feel bland and pointless.
1 Saved: Marley Rose
The fourth season of Glee certainly had the potential to fail, as a number of the main characters were leaving the New Directions. In order to fill this gap, a number of new characters were added to the ensemble cast, and arguably the best addition was Marley Rose. Marley joined the club as "the new Rachel.". However, the best part of Marley wasn't how similar she was to Rachel, but how different she was.
As the fourth and fifth season of the show progressed, Glee fans loved learning more about Marley, who arguably made the parts of Glee focusing on the New Directions better than the parts that focused on the graduates in New York. If it wasn't for Marley, the fourth and fifth seasons of the show likely would have felt bland and pointless. Marley brought a lot of heart to the show, which was a breath of fresh air as the series went through its inevitable changes.
Can you think of any other new characters that hurt or saved Glee? Let us know in the comments!