But the show's executive producer, Ryan Murphy, is setting the record straight: No one was fired, and no one is leaving – only that was not the original plan.
Murphy says Lea Michele, Cory Monteith and Chris Colfer, – who Murphy initially said were slated to graduate and end their run on the Fox series after the upcoming season – were actually in talks to star in a spin-off series, which has since been put on the backburner.
"I think that some of those actor's representatives spun [news of their departures] in a certain way, to be quite honest," Murphy tells Deadline. "We weren't allowed to talk about a spin-off. It was too premature."
Although Murphy is no longer currently pursuing the spin-off idea, he says that last March he had discussed the new TV venture with Michele, Monteith and Colfer.
"To pick up and read the actors saying, 'We found out we were fired from Twitter' – all of us, the studio, the network, were like, 'Okay, that isn't exactly cool,' " Murphy says, apparently in response to Colfer's comments earlier this month about the casting news. "So then what happened is that we decided, 'Okay, let's not do it.' "
Murphy says that by April or May there is a plan to revisit the idea for the spin-off, which would focus on the Gleeks' post-graduation move to New York City. But for now, he says, he's focusing on their lives in Lima, Ohio.
"Let's just concentrate on making season 3 the best that we can do," he says. "They're graduating. What we wanted it to get people away from this idea that the actors were fired, which is ludicrous."