James Hibberd
October 24, 2011 AT 02:32 PM EDT

Yes, he’s back: Chord Overstreet has inked a deal with Fox to return to Glee.

The actor has signed up for a multi-episode/recurring arc on the show, and is back on the air sooner than you might think. Sam Evans is set to reunite with the glee club in December. The move might help boost the show’s ratings — Glee has seen its numbers slip since returning this fall.

Sam’s departure was explained in the season 3 premiere by his father getting a job in another town. But as Tim Stack pointed out last week, the big question is what this will mean for Amber Riley’s Mercedes, who began dating Sam in the season 2 finale but now has a new boyfriend. Here’s some pre-packaged quotes:

“We love Chord and have always said that we wanted him back,” said co-creator Ryan Murphy. “So here’s an early Christmas present for all the Gleeks — Sam is coming back to McKinley, and just in time for sectionals!”

“I had the best time on Glee and couldn’t be more excited to be returning,” Overstreet said.

Read more:

Chord Overstreet in negotiations to return to ‘Glee’

Note to ‘Glee’: A few ways to make Sam interesting again

Chord Overstreet not returning to ‘Glee’ as series regular

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