TV News

UPDATED: Cory Monteith, Who Played Finn Hudson on Glee, is Dead: R.I.P. 1982-2013

UPDATE 7/16: The autopsy has revealed that Monteith died from a “mixed drug toxicity that involved heroin, primarily, and also alcohol.”

What?  This can’t be true – Cory Monteith can’t really be dead, right?  Surely, this is a sick, mean joke.

Unfortunately, it is real and confirmed – Glee star Gory Monteith, best known for his role as Finn Hudson, has died at the age of 31.  According to the Vancouver Police Department, Monteith had checked into the Fairmount Pacific Rim Hotel in Vancouver on July 6th.  When he missed his July 13th check-out time hotel staff went to his room only to discover that he had died, with the eventual on-scene paramedics confirming that Monteith had been dead for several hours.  There is no known cause of death at this point, but foul play is not suspected.  You can read more about it here, although there really isn’t much more that is known about it at this point.

Monteith was a native of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and from 2004 to 2009 he worked as a guest star on TV shows, primarily in those shows which filmed in Canada (e.g., Supernatural, Stargate: SG1).   His first notable role came when he appeared in 7 episodes of Kyle XY.

Monteith in “Kyle Got Game,” a first season episode of Kyle XY.

A year later in 2007 he was in the regular cast of the MTV show Kaya.  He starred in all 10 episodes of the show’s first and only season.

Monteith Kaya
Monteith in a publicity photo with his castmates from Kaya.

However, his first big break came in 2009 when he was cast as Finn Hudson on Fox’s Fame-meets-High School Musical show Glee.  Those who own the first season of the show on DVD (or simply peruse YouTube) will have seen Monteith’s adorable Glee audition tape, in which he attempted to splice his natural skills as a drummer with a welcome dose of quirkiness by using glasses and assorted household items as his drums.  So, if fans of Glee ever wondered why Monteith’s character would so often randomly be drumming in the band during Glee musical numbers it is directly attributable to that audition tape in which Monteith announced to the show’s casting director that he could play the drums.

He once re-created his charming Glee audition during an appearance on Ellen.
He once re-created his charming Glee audition during an appearance on Ellen.

Although Glee eventually evolved into more of an ensemble show, when it premiered in 2009 the leading characters were rather clearly Matthew Morrison’s glee show choir director William Schuester, Lea Michele’s unpopular but unquestionably talented Streisand-in-waiting Rachel Berry, and Monteith’s dim-witted but sweet-hearted football jock Finn Hudson.  It was a role which would sometimes make Hudson the butt of the joke, such as the recurring gag about his lack of dancing skills, and also call for some truly out-of-nowhere character turns (a Glee specialty).  However, Monteith was unfailingly charming, and certainly capable of carrying a tune.

The original 6 members of the show choir on Glee – Artie, Tina, Finn, Rachel, Kurt,  and Mercedes (left to right). These are the 6 oddballs America fell in love with in 2009.

Monteith also served as one-half of the show’s central romantic couple, that of Finn Hudson and Rachel Berry.  In that sense, life imitated art as Monteith eventually began dating his co-star Lea Michele, and the two remained a couple up until his premature death.

glee-nyc rachel & finn lima library
Rachel and Finn, otherwise known as Finchel to a certain portion of the fanbase.

At one point recently, Fox was considering creating a spin-off of Glee centered around Rachel, Kurt (Chris Colfer), and Finn living together in New York City after graduating high school.  However, the show’s steadily declining ratings urged caution.  So, in the most recent season they simply moved the characters of Rachel and Kurt to New York, and switched back and forth between the NY storylines and those set back in the Ohio town in which the rest of the characters reside.  This resulted in a break-up between Rachel and Finn in the season’s 4th episode (“The Break Up”), an episode so good it brought back many fans who had given up on the show and even ended up in several TV critics’ Top 10 lists at the end of 2012 (this site didn’t exist at that point, but if I had done such a list “The Break Up” would have been in mine as well).  The episode arguably contained some of Monteith’s finest work as an actor on the show to that point.

The break up:

Sadly, after having experienced the early cultural phenomenon that was Glee’s first two seasons (maybe even just first season and a half) and weathered the ensuing drop-off in popularity while selling millions of digital singles and show soundtracks Monteith’s time in the role of Finn Hudson is over.  More tragic is all of the future roles which awaited him we’ll never see now, but more importantly his various family members and friends won’t get to see him anymore.

The only public warning sign that something like this could happen came last March, at which point Monteith voluntarily checked into a treatment facility for substance abuse.  The show’s producers and stars, including girlfriend Michele, were publicly supportive of Monteith, with the studio and producers arguing that although this meant Finn would have to be written out of the episodes yet-to-film at that point the more important thing was for Monteith to get better.  According to The Hollywood Reporter, Monteith had also been in rehab when he was 19.  However, a cause of death will not be determined until the coroner examines his body Monday.  As such, any substance abuse-related conclusions would be premature at this point [7/16 UPDATE: The initial autopsy report reveals Monteith died from a “mixed drug toxicity that involved heroin, primarily, and also alcohol”].

The stars have taken to Twitter to express their surprise/condolences, with Glee co-star Mark Sallings simple but entirely accurate tweet of “no” having been quickly re-tweeted 12,000 times.  Both those who worked with Monteith (Dot Marie-Jones, Kristen Chenowith, Glee music supervisor Alex Anders, Glee director Adam Shankman) and those who knew him and/or were simply fans of Glee like the rest of us  (Zooey Deschanel, Chloe Grace Moretz, Nina Dobrev, Kat Dennings, etc.) have weighed in.  You can check The Hollywood Reporter‘s page where they will be updating each new tweet from a notable celebrity.  However, the gist of what everyone is saying is this that, basically, this news just sucks.

As the AV Club argued in their Monteith obituary, years from now the lesser seasons of Glee will be forgotten and the show will be looked back upon with great fondness.  At that point, Monteith will be front and center in many of the scenes remembered with great warmth, such as the performance of “Don’t Stop Believing” from the pilot episode.  Here it is:

Glee was renewed this past season for two more seasons, the show’s fifth and sixth over all.  The fifth season is scheduled to premiere September 19.  There is a now very grim pall which will likely overtake the production of the season’s early episodes.  Monteith’s IMDB page lists two films he starred in (All the Wrong Reasons, McCanick) as being in post-production at the moment, meaning there should be at least two posthumously released films containing heretofore unseen work from the actor.


  1. It’s still so shocking to me too. Although I’m not a diehard Glee fan, I know the show will never be the same without him. I got the same pit-in-my-stomach feeling when I heard about the death of Heath Ledger. RIP Cory.

  2. I completely agree. Although at one point I would have gladly defended Glee, I would now sooner mock it than praise it as it simply isn’t what it once was. However, I’m still kind of invested in the original characters, particularly Kurt, Rachel, and Finn. Monteith was always just so, for lack of better description, charming.

    It still doesn’t feel completely real to me, him being dead. I knew about him checking into rehab in March, but I honestly didn’t pay much attention to it. Even then, it’s pretty shocking news that he’s dead now.

    When I heard the news about Heath Ledger, I had the luxury of first hearing about it from a friend who had heard a rumor and asked me to look online to check for her. So, I at least had a brief grace period of being positive the rumor wasn’t true. With Monteith, I woke up in the middle of a storm and sleepily checked my email to see a big headline from The Hollywood Reporter about Monteith being dead. It may have been 3:30 AM at the time, but that sure as hell woke me up for good.

    Like I said in the article, this news just plain sucks.

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