That giant wail of despair you heard this morning wasn't cause for alarm. It was just a nation of Gleeks in mourning.

Ryan Murphy, co-creator of 'Glee,' announced Wednesday night that series regulars Lea Michele (Rachel), Chris Colfer (Kurt), and Cory Monteith (Finn) will be among those who won't be returning for season four of the hit series.

Murphy has hinted all along that the show would progress in real time, meaning the characters who were high school sophomores during the first season would leave after three years. "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,” he said.

He added that the decision has been well-received by 'Glee's' new writers, who recently went back to work after a summer hiatus. The upcoming season's storylines will focus heavily on post-high school plans for the three popular characters, who won't be the only ones departing. “More characters are leaving than are staying,” Murphy has said.

[Hollywood Reporter]