The biggest Glee news coming out of Comic-Con: Despite Ryan Murphy saying that Rachel, Kurt, and Finn will graduate at end of this coming third season, stars Lea Michele, Chris Colfer, and Cory Monteith will return for season 4.

At today’s panel in San Diego, Glee co-creator and exec producer Brad Falchuk told the audience that even though the three were set to finish high school, “because they’re graduating doesn’t mean they’re leaving the show. If you have Lea Michele under contract, you don’t say, ‘We’re gonna let you go.’”

“It was never our plan or our intention to let them go,” Fulchuk added. “They are not done with the show after this season.”

That’s a big about-face from what Murphy told The Hollywood Reporter: “You can keep them on the show for six years and people will criticize you for not being realistic, or you can be really true to life and say when they started the show they were very clearly sophomores and they should graduate at the end of their senior year.”

Murphy also said he made the decision in concert with Michele and Colfer. “I involved Chris and Lea and they thought that was a good idea,” he told THR. “They both trust the writing and trust me and felt that it would be great to have an open and closed experience for them to go out while they were on top.”

EW confirmed that all of the actors have signed traditional seven-year contracts so it’s not like their deals were going to expire after next season, though the studio retains the right to drop them year after year.

Chord Overstreet’s exit, however, is still a go, Falchuk said. In fact, he won’t return this fall for any episodes. Falchuk said Overstreet was offered a deal to return for 10 episodes with the possibility of becoming a series regular, but Overstreet declined in favor of other opportunities.

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