Those stars -- Michele, Colfer and Monteith -- are "not going to be back at all for Season 4," he 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."
Those comments closely matched what he told Seacrest, when he said, "The thing that I wanted to do and the cast wanted to do, we didn't want to have a show where they were in high school for 8 years. We really wanted it to be true to that experience. We thought it would be really cool if we were true to the timeline."
Murphy has aimed to add new stars to the show each year, with the second season bringing aboard breakout stars Darren Criss and Chord Overstreet, among others. Fans erupted in anger when they found out that, while Criss was made a series regular for the third season, Overstreet would apparently not be included in the show very much going forward. Soon after, a seeming reversal of the decision was announced, with Overstreet publicly extended the opportunity to continue on as a guest, with a series regular position possibly being attained as early as midseason.