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Glee: Cory Monteith Tribute Episode Airs

Glee cast members have gathered together to pay tribute to their co-star Cory Monteith in a special send-off.

The third episode of the fifth series - The Quarterback - was dedicated to the 31-year-old actor, who was found dead in a Canadian hotel room in July of an accidental alcohol and drug overdose .

The McKinley High School family of past and present joined together to remember and celebrate the life of his character Finn Hudson.

After much deliberation about how Monteith's death would be handled, the show's producers decided that Finn would also die.

But in the emotional yet reflective episode which aired on Thursday night, the character's death was not dramatised, nor was his funeral seen.

Instead, the episode picked up several weeks after the tragedy, focusing on the impact on his friends.

Tears flowed and tempers flared in the episode, which was more a meditation on what death means to those left behind than on death itself.

The cause of Finn's death was not disclosed.

Coach-turned-principal Sue Sylvester, played by Jane Lynch, said the way to honour Finn was to take care of the people he loved by "not making a self-serving spectacle of our own sadness".

Other Glee characters grieved by remembering Finn and gathered in song to sing various covers, including Seasons Of Love from the Broadway musical Rent, James Taylor's Fire & Rain, The Pretenders' I'll Stand By You, The Band Perry's If I Die Young and Bruce Springsteen's No Surrender.

Rachel Berry, the character played by Monteith's off-screen girlfriend, Lea Michele, appeared later in the episode.

"I loved Finn," Rachel said, as she stood before the glee club crowd. Then she tearfully sang the episode's showstopper, Make You Feel My Love.

While the storyline did not touch on the issue of drug addiction, a brief public service announcement delivered by cast members over the closing credits reminded the audience how Monteith had battled substance abuse and lost his battle.

Glee, on Fox, is now taking a break of several weeks.