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Why Matthew Morrison Tried To Leave Glee Before Cory Monteith's Death

"Glee" star Matthew Morrison has revealed that he turned in his resignation from the hit high school musical series in 2013, but the tragic loss of fellow cast member Corey Monteith resulted in him staying on the show instead. The actor starred on Fox Television's "Glee" as beloved teacher Will Schuester, whose life — along with the lives of several students — transforms when he takes over the Glee club at Ohio's William McKinley High School. Among the actors who starred as the students in the series were Monteith, Lea Michele, Chris Colfer, Kevin McHale, and Jenna Ushkowitz.

Morrison revealed on McHale and Ushkowitz's "And That's What You REALLY Missed" podcast that plans were in motion to leave the series after Season 4 because he felt his talents were no longer being utilized the way he wanted them to be. At the time, Morrison said, he wanted to explore some new avenues in showbiz: "No disrespect to the show. We were at a high, I was like, 'Maybe if I get off the show, I could go do something else, go do a movie,' and they agreed to let me off the show," the actor explained (via Deadline).

However, after Monteith died of an accidental drug overdose on July 13, 2013, at age 31, the series — which was created by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Ian Brennan in 2009 — couldn't afford to let Morrison go. "Cory passed, and then they said they couldn't do it," Morrison told his fellow co-stars. "Because you can't have the two main guys on the show [leave]. So yeah, it was an interesting time."

Morrison didn't resist Glee's need for him to stay

Following Cory Monteith's passing, Matthew Morrison said it would have been inappropriate to leave "Glee" behind, and he returned for Season 5 in 2014. "Obviously I understood, I was like 'Yeah, I get it.' You know, trying to reconcile my own wants and selfish needs with the grief of losing an amazing friend, you know, there's a lot of just mixed emotions," Morrison told Kevin McHale and Jenna Ushkowitz on their podcast. "But I'm a professional, I showed up, I did my job. And there was a good pay increase so that worked, too."

Morrison remained on "Glee" through the series' sixth and final season in 2015. Reconciling his feelings about wanting to leave the series in 2013, the actor explained that he came to realize Will Schuester's function on the series after taking the deemphasis of his character so personally. "I [looked] at the demographic of what the show ended up being, you know, it's like, 'They don't wanna see Mr. Schuester, they wanna see all the kids,' So that made sense to me."

After "Glee," Morrison guest-starred on such series as CBS' "The Good Wife" and ABC's "Grey's Anatomy." In 2019, Morrison reunited with Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk for Season 9 of their hit anthology series "American Horror Story." Sporting short brown hair and a bushy mustache, Morrison is unrecognizable as Trevor Kirchner, the director of activities at Camp Redwood in "American Horror Story: 1984" — a story inspired by slasher horror movies from the '80s.