For six seasons, Glee thrived on endless twists and turns in its narrative. Sometimes, it left us with plot holes so big that we can drive a metaphorical truck through them. Other times, it made a story so compelling that we couldn’t bear to look away. Equal parts train wreck and compassionate coming of age tale, Glee told stories that had people feeling something. Whether that feeling was outrage or joy, varied from story to story and fan to fan.
A plot twist is an unexpected turn of events that happens in all TV shows. Maybe it leads to a cliffhanger, or maybe it’s just a fascinating little cap on an episode. Still, without any twists, storytelling would just be a bit boring, to say the least. In a serialized kind of storytelling like television often is, this is just part of the DNA.
Needless to say, over the course of six seasons, plenty of fans felt those emotional highs and lows. Usually when Glee dropped one of those plot twists, it would send fans onto Twitter or Tumblr to generally yell at each other over it. Given how Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Ian Brennan loved these twists, it’s not surprised that this happened pretty often over the years. There have been lot of twists in Glee. Let’s go back and take a look at them: the good and the bad. No matter what, they definitely made things interesting.
Here are 13 Plot Twists That Hurt Glee (13 That Saved It).
26 HURT: Sam’s Homelessness
Glee always did try to tackle the harder facts of life. One early on plot twist that hurt the show more than it helped was Sam Evans (Chord Overstreet) and his family’s homelessness. Rachel (Lea Michele) convinced Finn (Cory Monteith) that he was being cheated on by Quinn (Dianna Agron) again.
It turned out that Sam’s family were living in a motel after his parents were laid off and he needed help from Quinn.
Now it’s not a bad plot, but it did come out of nowhere and was resolved off-screen to explain Sam’s absence early in season three. Then nothing ever came of it again.
25 SAVED: Jesse and Rachel Get Back Together
Following the untimely and tragic passing of Cory Monteith, Glee found itself without the happy ending that Ryan Murphy envisioned for the show. In the end, Rachel would find her own happiness with Jesse St. James (Jonathan Groff). It definitely made sense for the pair. They both had experienced the harshness of life and having to rebuild your dreams time and again.
By that point, they were both older and wiser, maybe even a little sadder. They still found their own happiness together. It definitely was a good message about moving on after losing “your person."
24 HURT: Quinn’s Car Wreck
“On My Way” remains one of the more emotional whiplash-inducing episodes for Glee. In the episode, there is a competition, the near-wedding between Rachel and Finn, Dave Karofsky’s almost passing, and Quinn’s car crash to cap it off.
While it was surprising to leave fans uncertain of Quinn’s fate, it didn’t really lead anywhere.
Quinn was a in wheelchair for a couple episodes. By Nationals, however, she danced across the stage with everyone else who could dance. What could have been a storyline focused on her nearly losing her life and recovering was just was kind of abandoned. It cheapened such a big moment.
23 SAVED: Quinn’s Pregnancy
One of the best plot twists in season one of Glee was Quinn’s pregnancy. With that plot, the show pretty much showed that it could elevate its characters past their high school stereotypes. Quinn’s pregnancy definitely remains one of the better storylines from season one-- even if they forgot about baby Beth after she was born. It gave Agron a gamut of emotions to play as well.
The twist also put some more immediate pressure on Quinn plus Puck (Mark Salling) and Finn, allowing for a complex dynamic to develop. It may not have always landed well, but it was always interesting to watch.
22 HURT: Santana Lopez As Rizzo In Grease
Glee didn’t really know what to do when its core characters started to graduate. Even though they should have been having their own lives elsewhere, the graduates did appear with a decent consistency and little explanation.
One thing that definitely boggled the mind is when Unique (Alex Newell) had to step down from playing Rizzo in Grease.
Rather than have a student in actual high school play the role, like the oft-ignored Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz), they brought in high school graduate Santana (Naya Rivera) to play the part.
21 SAVED: Mercedes and Sam Dating
Surprises were all around in the back-half of the second season. One of the more delightful surprises, however, was that Mercedes Jones (Amber Riley) was dating Sam. It definitely worked as one of those twists that came out of left field. The couple was very sweet together.
Sam and Mercedes respected and loved each other. Even when they were broken up, they still remained friends, which shows a level of maturity not found in most Glee relationships. It was an out-of-left-field twist, but a sweet one.
20 HURT: Emma’s Wedding Runner
Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison) and Emma Pillsbury (Jayma Mays) were forever embroiled in a “will they, won’t they” relationship. At some point, this dynamic even started to get tiring for the most attentive fans. When it looked like that Will and Emma were finally going to tie the knot in “I Do”, Emma ran away.
Fans everywhere released screams of frustration that they were really going to drag this out more.
Eventually, the pair did get married in the season four finale. This wedding twist, however, just added needless drama.
19 SAVED: Kurt’s Coming Out
Everyone’s favorite TV Dad during the course of Glee’s run was, hands down, Burt Hummel (Mike O’Malley). Full of endless compassion and practical wisdom, Burt just tried to support Kurt (Chris Colfer) in all his hopes and dreams. The real turning point was when Kurt came out to Burt in “Preggers” and Burt just accepted him.
No drama. No anger. Burt accepted Kurt with the most unconditional sort of love in his own way. It was a twist that we needed to see on television.
18 HURT: Terri Schuester Fakes Her Pregnancy
While Quinn’s pregnancy was definitely a plot twist that helped the show, Terri Schuester (Jessalyn Gilsig) faking her pregnancy hurt it. There’s only so much pregnancy-faking that one can do before it gets ridiculous. Or, in some cases, to attempting to buy and/or steal a baby. It just also made Will look really stupid in the long run, which probably didn’t help his character moving forward.
Outside of that powerful moment in “Sectionals” when Will uncovered Terri’s lies, the storyline didn’t do anything too interesting.
It remained largely forgotten, even by Sue (Jane Lynch)-- which should say something.
17 SAVED: Kurt Hummel – Prom Queen
Kurt Hummel went through a lot of bull over two seasons of Glee. The capper on things was when the entire school wrote him in as prom queen. While it was a mean prank, Kurt rose from the ashes like the incredible person he was and owned it. Honestly, it became a reminder that no matter how hard life pushes Kurt down that he will always rise up.
Standing on that stage and shutting down all his bullies was one of the best moments of character growth in the series.
16 HURT: Finn and Rachel’s Teen Wedding
There’s nothing wrong with getting married young. We’re not here to judge people on that. It’s still baffling when it happens for almost no real discernible reason in a television show. Finn and Rachel both were feeling adrift when Finn dropped the marriage proposal. That, in and of itself, was totally fine, but why get married during the school year?
It seemed like they took the wrong messge from Karofsky's tragic actions.
You can live every day like it's your last without getting married in high school.
15 SAVED: Dave Karofsky’s True Orientation
Another genuinely surprising moment came out of season two’s “Never Been Kissed”, Kurt confronts his tormentor Dave Karofsky (Max Adler). Karofsky then kisses Kurt, surprising both him and the audience. This twist kicked off the heartbreaking storyline of Karofsky struggling to accept himself in a world that won’t accept him. It almost ended in the worst kind of tragedy.
Later seasons did show that he was happier and more settled with himself. Even though his adolescence was rough, he earned his happiness. We got all of that from one shocker of a kiss.
14 HURT: Brody's secret job
Brody (Dean Geyer) functioned mainly as Rachel’s rebound from Finn after their own break-up. They both had their own ambitions as performers. While Rachel’s dads paid a lot of her bills in season four, Brody had to turn to other means to support himself.
He became a male companion for older women.
While it did lead to an amazing sequence when Glee covered “How to be a Heartbreaker”, it also felt forced. It ended up being more of an excuse to give Brody and Rachel relationship trouble than a legitimate twist.
13 SAVED: Kurt And Blaine’s First Break-Up
In order to figure out if you really want to be with someone, then you need some time apart. If that person cheated on you, then you really need to figure it out. At the time, Kurt and Blaine (Darren Criss) were dealing with long-distance and Blaine cheated. It’s something that makes sense for the pair of them to deal with.
With time and distance, Kurt and Blaine both had the chance to explore who they were outside of each other. When they did get back together, they made a conscious decision to do so and work together to make a better relationship. That’s adulthood.
12 HURT: Kurt and Blaine’s Second Break-Up
While that first break-up did a lot of good and made narrative sense for the couple, the second break-up just felt bizarre. During the period between the end of season five and the start of season six, Blaine and Kurt broke up, off-screen. After all that work that the couple went through during season four and five to have a stable relationship, it just felt like a slap in the face to all their progress.
This twist made Kurt seem needy as he tried to win Blaine back.
It all ended with them getting married, which was what they were going to do if they stayed together. It was superfluous and just mean to the fans.
11 SAVED: Jesse St. James’ Season 1 Betrayal
Jesse St. James seemed too perfect when he appeared in Rachel Berry’s life. He loved to sing, was a similarly talented performer, and genuinely enjoyed being around Rachel. While we knew pretty early that Jesse St. James was the inside man for Vocal Adrenaline, he took it to another level.
There’s getting inside someone’s head, and then there’s dating them before surrounding them in the parking lot, pelting them with eggs, and laughing at them. That’s the betrayal that hurts all the more, even if Jesse did make it up later. It was an still effective means to get New Directions pumped for Regionals.
10 HURT: Rachel Gets Into NYADA
In order to get her second chance at NYADA, Rachel doubled down on trying to get Carmen Tibideuax (Whoopi Goldberg) to give her a second chance. Tibideaux did, of course.
The reveal that Rachel was accepted just seemed to cheapen all she went through to get there.
Not that we couldn’t have NYADA in the start of season four, but after Kurt’s own audition and his own struggles, it would have been a better capper to his story at WMHS. Of course, Rachel's time at NYADA turned into the Rachel Berry Show. Even when she ran into hardship, it wasn’t that hard. Overall, a place that should have led to growth and challenge for Rachel led to nothing.
9 SAVED: Rachel Chokes Her NYADA Audition
Rachel is frustrating character in many ways. There’s a fine line between ambition and reenacting Single White Female but with music. Rachel mostly toed that line and never learned any lessons to get her away from it. In the end, she just gets whatever she wants because of it.
When she chokes her NYADA audition on “Don’t Rain On My Parade”, it was a shocker because Rachel Berry never, ever chokes. Suddenly, her post-high school dreams are in doub,t along with the future that she imagined for herself. Now we’re on her side.
8 HURT: The Truth About Finn’s Dad
After declaring his intentions to join the Army in season three, Finn learned the truth about his war hero dad. According to Carole (Romy Rosemont), his dad was soldier. Following his discharge, however, he would struggle with drugs and then pass from an overdose when Finn was a toddler.
It did not have an impact on Finn’s decision to join the Army, and this twist just seems cruel in hindsight.
Given the circumstances surrounding Monteith’s own passing, the in-show circumstances of Finn’s father hit a little too close to home.
7 SAVED: New Directions Loses Sectionals (Season 4)
This definitely surprised fans at the time, which generally means that the twist was solid. Since the show’s start in season one, New Direction always won Sectionals. Going into the season four Sectionals episodes, fans thought more of the same was coming.
It was not to be. With the announcement that New Directions lost and their competition season was over, the rest of the season seemed full of possibility. Sure, the decision was pretty much immediately reversed, but the twist did land strongly.
6 HURT: Rachel Stars As Funny Girl
Any Glee fan could tell you that Rachel Berry would eventually fight and claw her way to the Great White Way. Most of us, however, just hoped that she would have paid her dues first. Every once in a while, an unknown will have a major breakthrough in an open audition. Most would, at least, have something more under than belts then two high school musicals and a Winter Showcase performance.
Rachel gets a starring role in a huge Broadway revival with just a couple roles on her resume.
It’s one of the most unrealistic plot twists Glee has ever delivered. That is definitely saying something.
5 SAVED: William McKinley High School Becomes An Arts School
This was one of the last big twists that Glee dropped on us. In the final episode, we learned that William McKinley High School would be remade into a public performing arts school. This change comes from a special government initiative that came out of nowhere. Will Schuester was made into the new principal of the revamped WMHS.
We don’t know what happened after, though it does appear that WMHS did become a happier place for students. This twist makes almost every knock against the glee club hilarious in hindsight.
4 HURT: Dalton Burned Down
Season six of Glee remains a bit of a strange beast. The send-off to the old guard was well deserved, but there were some interesting bits about the new characters as well. However, they definitely were not hitting twelve members. Instead of just having random of back-up dancers, they had the Warblers join New Directions by burning down Dalton Academy.
The fire was way too convenient.
It just seemed to be more of rushed excuse than anything else. For fans of the Warblers, it was disappointing to seem them simply folded into New Directions rather than remaining their own separate entity.
3 SAVED: New Directions’ Didn’t Win Season 1 Regionals
Glee showcases the highs and lows of life. Admittedly, those highs and lows got a little more intense and fantastical as the series went on. During season one, however, things were definitely a bit more realistic. One of the sadder twists of the first season finale was that New Directions didn’t win Regionals, or even place second.
It was a good thing for the club. While they wanted that win, we knew next year they were going to work harder. We also knew what they went through this year to get where they are. It was more a win in spirit than anything else.
2 HURT: Rachel Gets Her Own TV Show
Rachel gets into her dream school, stars in her dream role on Broadway, and pretty becomes the new toast of the Great White Way overnight. What does Rachel do with it all? She gives it all up, after getting bored by it in about a month, to star in her own TV pilot. Seriously.
If there was anything that went against everything the audience knew about a character, it was this decision.
How could Rachel, who only ever wanted Broadway, get bored with it? It is just such a selfish, bratty decision that spat in the face of everything Rachel did leading up to that point in time.
1 SAVED: Rachel’s Catastrophic Failure
Since a good part of the list has plot twists concerning Rachel in the latter seasons, it’s not surprising that we would end up with a good one. Season six begins with the biggest twist of all, Rachel failed big in Hollywood. She can’t go back to New York. Honestly? It’s exactly what the character needed. In order for her successes to feel earned, she needs to pay her dues. She needs to rely on more than just her voice.
With failure, the only way she has to go is up. It’s what Glee needed to get back to basics for its final season, which reminded us why we loved the show in the first place.
What's your favorite plot twist in Glee? Let us know in the comments!