From left: Lea Michele, Cory Monteith and Chris Colfer
07/25/2011 at 11:00 AM EDT
Despite recent reports
that Lea Michele
, Cory Monteith
and Chris Colfer were leaving Glee
after the upcoming season, executive producer Brad Falchuk promised fans of Fox's musical sitcom that they haven't seen the last of Rachel, Finn and Kurt.
"It was never our plan or our intention to let them go," Falchuck said Sunday during a panel discussion at Comic-Con International in San Diego, reports Entertainment Weekly
. "They are not done with the show after this season."
The news comes less than two weeks after show co-creator Ryan Murphy said Michele, Monteith and Colfer wouldn't return for the fourth season after they graduate at the end of the fall season. "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," Murphy previously explained.
Murphy's remarks were met by reactions from the stars themselves. Michele reassured Gleeks
, "It's all part of the plan," while Colfer revealed that he heard about the casting news via Twitter
But Falchuk said they're graduating from William McKinley High School – not from the show. "If you have Lea Michele under contract, you don't say, 'We're gonna let you go,' " he said.
Still set to leave Glee
Club: Chord Overstreet, who was offered a deal to return for 10 episodes with the possibility of a series regular upgrade, Falchuk said. Overstreet turned down the offer to pursue other opportunities.