The cast of 'Glee' has been haunted by tragedy, misfortune and real-life drama

·7-min read

Glee’s final episode aired back in March 2015, two years after star Cory Monteith died of a drug overdose. But Monteith’s death wasn’t the only tragedy Glee would face. The cast of the show has been plagued by scandal, drama and misfortune ever since.

The latest includes Naya Rivera, who played spunky cheerleader Santana Lopez on the show. Rivera is missing after renting a boat on California’s Lake Piru. Her 4-year-old son Josey was found alone, sleeping on the boat.

“This is considered to be a horrible accident,” Ventura County Sheriff's Department officials told NBC Los Angeles.

Read more: Footage shows final movements of Naya Rivera

Now, Twitter is being flooded with comments about a so-called “Glee curse,” tying Rivera’s disappearance to other serious situations and tragedies that fellow cast members have faced. Here are some of the most notable — and public — ones.

FILE - In this Monday April 12, 2010 file photo, Cory Monteith, a cast member in the television series "Glee," arrives at the "Glee" Spring Premiere Soiree in Los Angeles, Glee" executive producer Ryan Murphy says he is planning a tribute episode for the series’ deceased star, Cory Monteith, Saturday, July 20, 2013  (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)
In this Monday April 12, 2010 file photo, Cory Monteith, a cast member in the television series "Glee," arrives at the "Glee" Spring Premiere Soiree. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)

July 2013: Monteith, the 31-year-old who played star quarterback Finn Hudson on Glee, was found dead in his room at Vancouver’s Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel. “We are so saddened to confirm that the reports on the death of Cory Monteith are accurate,” his rep said in a statement to People at the time. “We are in shock and mourning this tragic loss.”

Monteith checked himself into a rehab facility for substance abuse and was released just months before his death, People says. Police said he was out with friends just before he died. “There were others with Mr. Monteith in his room earlier [Friday] night, but video and fob key entries show him returning to his room by himself in the early morning hours and we believe he was alone when he died,” acting chief Doug LePard Vancouver Police Department said in a statement.

Monteith’s cause of death was later blamed on a mix of heroin and alcohol, per ABC News.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 11:  General view of the exterior of Hotel Monaco where 'Glee' star Becca Tobin's boyfriend Matt Bendik was found dead July 11, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Bendik was found dead by a maid Thursday afternoon, July 10.  (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images)
General view of the exterior of Hotel Monaco where 'Glee' star Becca Tobin's boyfriend Matt Bendik was found dead July 11, 2014. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images)

July 2014: Matt Bendik, the boyfriend of Glee star Becca Tobin, was found dead in a Philadelphia hotel room. An autopsy “did not immediately establish a clear cause of death,” the Philadelphia medical examiner told People.

Tobin, who played cheerleader Kitty Wilde on the show, thanked fans on Instagram for their support afterward. "Thank you all for the love and support. Matt was the most extraordinary man I knew and he will live in my heart forever,” she wrote alongside a photo of herself and Bendik.

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December 2015: Mark Salling, who played Noah “Puck” Puckerman on the show was arrested on charges of child porn possession. Law enforcement officials told TMZ that they seized more than a thousand images of “child sexual exploitation” on Salling's computer. Officials told TMZ that the images they took were of children who were “significantly younger” than 15- and 16-year-olds.

December 2017: Salling pleaded guilty to a federal offense of possessing child pornography. He faced a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison but was expected to serve four to seven years as part of a plea deal, followed by 20 years of supervised release and registry as a sex offender, according to Deadline.

Mark Salling, a cast member of the popular television show "Glee",  performs during a concert to kickoff a national "Glee" tour at the Dodge Theatre Saturday, May 15, 2010, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Mark Salling, a cast member of the popular television show "Glee", performs during a concert to kickoff a national "Glee" tour at the Dodge Theatre Saturday, May 15, 2010, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

January 2018: Salling was found dead of an apparent suicide weeks before he was scheduled to be sentenced. "Mark was a gentle and loving person, a person of great creativity, who was doing his best to atone for some serious mistakes and errors of judgment,” Salling's lawyer, Michael Proctor, told USA Today in a statement at the time.

January 2020: Dot-Marie Jones, who played Coach Beiste on Glee, shared on Instagram that she suffered a widow-maker heart attack after being misdiagnosed twice.

GLEE: Dot-Marie Jones as Coach Beiste in the "Jagged Little Tapestry" episode of GLEE airing Friday, Jan. 16, 2015 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX Image Collection via Getty Images)
GLEE: Dot-Marie Jones as Coach Beiste in the "Jagged Little Tapestry" episode of GLEE airing Friday, Jan. 16, 2015 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX Image Collection via Getty Images)

“I had been having a burning sensation across my chest while walking and when I would stop walking it went away! When I went to the internist I was told it was bronchio spasms, that they would go away! A week later it was getting worse I went back then told it was asthma! And given an inhaler which did nothing!” she wrote. Jones’ wife eventually made her an appointment with another doctor, who found a 99 percent blockage in her left anterior descending artery.

Jones had surgery to clear the blockage and urged fans to advocate for their health. “Keep asking questions and anything around the heart area or anything you’re not sure of!!” she said. “Women have different symptoms [than] men and not all the same! I am beyond lucky and truly blessed to be here!! Thank you everyone for the love!! I love y’all!!”

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June 2020: Lea Michele, who played peppy singer Rachel Berry on the show, was accused of racism and on-set abuse by multiple former cast members. It started after Michele posted a tribute to George Floyd on Twitter, writing that the 46-year-old "did not deserve” to be killed by police in Minnesota. Former co-star Samantha Marie Ware responded on Twitter:

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Soon after, several Glee cast members came forward to share their own stories of how difficult it was to work with Michele. Actress Jeanté Godlock said on Twitter that Michele used to refer to background actors on Glee as "cockroaches." Fellow Glee star Heather Morris also tweeted about Michele’s actions. “Was she unpleasant to work with? Very much so; for Lea to treat others with the disrespect that she did for as long as she did, I believe she SHOULD be called out,” she wrote.

GLEE: Lea Michele as Rachel on GLEE, the new one-hour comedy musical series premieres Wednesday, Sept. 9 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX Image Collection via Getty Images)
GLEE: Lea Michele as Rachel on GLEE, the new one-hour comedy musical series premieres Wednesday, Sept. 9 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX Image Collection via Getty Images)

Michele later spoke out about the allegations on Instagram, writing, “I apologise for my behavior and for any pain which I have caused… .One of the most important lessons of the last few weeks is that we need to take the time to listen and learn about other people’s perspectives and any role we have played or anything we can do to help address the injustices that they face.” She also vowed to “reflect on my shortcomings.”

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July 2020: Rivera is presumed dead and authorities have shifted the focus of their search from a rescue mission to a recovery mission.

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