Although “Glee” seniors Kurt, Rachel and Flynn are graduating at the end of this season, it was recently announced that the three characters would be returning anyway for Season 4. The age of the characters will prevent them from attending school or participating in glee club, but co-creator Brad Falchuk hinted that the characters will still have a reason to stick around.
Either this means we’ll watch the glee club seniors branch out into the real world, while still coming back to McKinley High to visit now and then—or they’ll shoehorn the characters back into the school as teacher’s assistants or volunteers. There’s nothing sadder than a recent high school graduate who can’t let go of high school, and unless the writers have something spectacular up their sleeves, it’s likely that we’ll spend the next season wishing these characters would grow up already.
Sadly, popular television characters often overstay their welcome when audiences continue to stay invested in them even when they no longer matter to the plot. Shows set in a school tend to fall prey to this practice more than others because high school only lasts for four years—even though the show may be on for longer than that.
So we end up watching a bunch of character who love their high school so much, they’ve decided to stay there forever. These teens should see a doctor because they have a bad case of separation anxiety. Remember when Screech came back to Bayside High in “Saved by the Bell: The New Class” to be Mr. Belding’s new assistant? Even “Degrassi: The Next Generation” features grown-up versions of the original cast from the 80s.
Students aren’t the only characters who stick around for longer than necessary. Mr. Feeny from “Boy Meets World” is a prime example. When the show began he was Cory’s junior high teacher, but then he became the principal of Cory’s high school. Mr. Feeny went on to become a college professor when Cory moved on to college. As much as we love Mr. Feeny, you have really feel sorry for a guy who makes major career decisions to stalk his former student.
Sometimes TV characters can overstay their welcome when a main character leaves the show. When Eric Formen left for Africa on “That 70’s Show,” his friends continued to hang out at his house with his parents Kitty and Red without him. On “Scrubs,” the absence of J.D. caused Turk and Dr. Cox to become med school professors so that the show could continue on without him.
The phenomenon is likely to continue as long as ratings continue to be the biggest factor driving the television industry. Network executives would rather milk a character completely dry than let him have him quietly move on after his moment in the spotlight is over.