10 Actors You Forgot Were on the Show

2024 now marks 15 years since the Glee pilot first aired. While not every aspect of the series aged very well, one thing that always elevated Glee‘s popularity was the raw talent showcased in the series. From Rent‘s Idina Menzel to Hamilton‘s Jonathan Groff, the musical TV show constantly surprised viewers through its elite casting choices, often bringing the best voices and actors in the industry to the center of its storylines.



With all that star power, it was easy for fans to forget some of the show’s most notable celebrity appearances, especially those that were a lot briefer than the others. Whether it was Lindsay Lohan’s judging gig or Carlisle Cullen (Peter Facinelli) directing Rachel, Glee was full of actor cameos that many Gleeks tend to forget about.


Britney Spears Inspired the Glee Club

Season, Episode

Episode Title

Character Played

Season 2, Episode 2

“Britney/Brittany”

Herself

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As a dedicated musical series, Glee often chose famous musicians to cover in an episode, from Lady Gaga to Madonna. But not all singers they paid tribute to made it into their episodes, which is why Britney Spears’ cameos throughout “Britney/Brittany” are all the more precious.

The episode itself serves as a homage to Spears and her great influence on the music industry. Having Spears herself come into the Glee club’s hallucinated music videos and even share words with her namesake, Brittany S. Pierce, proved to be the perfect move. The episode’s plot (or lack thereof) was criticized upon release, but Spears’ surprise appearances and stardom helped redeem it. Britney Spears’ popularity made her cameo more iconic than most others, but those who didn’t watch the single episode would miss her completely.

Finneas O’Connell Was a Glee Kid

Season

Episodes

Character Played

6

9, 10, 11, 13

Alistair

Before rising to stardom for his musical talent and sibling tie to Billie Eilish, Finneas O’Connell played Alistair in the sixth season of Glee. O’Connell’s character didn’t have many profound lines or song moments, but he shared an important LGBTQ+ storyline with another New Directions member, Spencer.

O’Connell’s Alistair was a part of the next generation of Glee kids, spearheaded by Rachel and Kurt. This made his character significant, especially as Alistair’s group was the last batch of New Directions members before Glee finally ended. However, Alistair’s quiet nature and unproblematic storylines pushed O’Connell’s character into the background. Despite starring in a few episodes, Finneas O’Connell’s Glee appearances are too subdued to be recalled easily by casual fans.

Neil Patrick Harris Almost Cut the Glee Club

Season, Episode

Episode Title

Character Played

Season 1, Episode 19

“Dream On”

Bryan Ryan

Powerhouse performer Neil Patrick Harris served as one of Glee’s earliest celebrity appearances. In Season 1, Harris plays Bryan Ryan, a former Glee club member and Will’s old school rival.

Harris’ role proves to be central to the episode. Not only does his rude awakening prompt the New Directions to dive into their own dreams and fears, but he also almost changes the course of the Glee club. Harris plays the scorned singer with flair, delivering a larger-than-life musical performance that makes viewers wonder how Will got the role instead of Bryan. Harris’ sheer stardom and important plotline make the actor’s appearance in Glee better remembered than most, but his one-episode character still makes it easy to forget.

Ricky Martin Taught the Glee Club More Than Spanish

Season, Episode

Episode Title

Character Played

Season 3, Episode 12

“The Spanish Teacher”

David Martinez

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Music sensation Ricky Martin took the Glee club by storm in “The Spanish Teacher,” where he played David Martinez. After Will decides to try for tenure, he asks for the help of his own Spanish teacher, David, to work toward it.

Martin brings his trademark moves and entertainment factor to the episode, showing off his singing and dancing talents. He also plays the role of a Spanish teacher with ease, effectively showing Will Schuester’s problematic pursuit of the position, as well as his stereotypical views about Latin culture. But the episode’s more enticing subplots hinder Martin’s impact. His presence throughout the entire episode and important role make Ricky Martin’s celebrity appearance more memorable than others, but it’s still easy to forget in Glee‘s vast sea of guest features.

Patti LuPone Met Her Glee Fan

Season, Episode

Episode Title

Character Played

Season 2, Episode 22

“New York”

Herself

Broadway legend and acclaimed actress Patti LuPone had a brief cameo as herself on Glee. While Finn and Rachel are out having dinner at a famous restaurant, Rachel sees Patti and decides to speak to her.

The moment is a monumental one, as LuPone is often cited as being Kurt’s idol — a large reason why Rachel has to go speak to her. Rachel herself is also a fan, and Patti advises her to never give up on her dreams, something she really needed to hear in that episode. The star’s cameo also highlights the fact that this is where Rachel needed to be, in the city with her dreams and idols, an important realization that foreshadows Rachel’s future. While Patti LuPone’s cameo is thus significant, the all-too-brief Glee appearance is one less remembered by viewers.

Peter Facinelli Directs a Former Glee Club Member

Season

Episodes

Character Played

5

1, 2, 5, & 9

Rupert Campion

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Rachel’s entire Glee journey seemed to be leading her to star in Funny Girl, a dream that finally starts happening by Season 5. The Broadway show’s director, Rupert Campion, turns out to be played by none other than The Twilight Saga‘s versatile Peter Facinelli.

Facinelli has a more recurring role than many other celebrity cameos, starring in four episodes throughout the season. However, his screen time is often limited and shared with others, leaving a lesser impact. Facinelli plays the wise and level-headed director perfectly, but his character is never given enough spotlight to develop a personality — a stark contrast to the actor’s iconic Carlisle Cullen role. Ultimately, even with more frequent appearances on Glee, Peter Facinelli’s dull character makes his celebrity appearance not very note-worthy for fans.

Lindsay Lohan Helped the Glee Club Win Nationals

Season, Episode

Episode Title

Character Played

Season 3, Episode 21

“Nationals”

Herself

The iconic Lindsay Lohan made an appearance on Glee, having been invited as herself to be a judge for Nationals in Season 3. While the talented actress didn’t show off her own vocal skills, Lohan still played a pivotal role in Glee‘s best season.

In typical Glee fashion, the judging process is a gong show full of drama and suspense. Luckily, Lohan sides with the New Directions. She makes it clear that she doesn’t think they’re the most talented but finds them charming and loves an underdog comeback story. Her vote helps the New Directions win Nationals, a monumental moment for the Glee club. Her cameo is also full of self-aware jokes and classic Lohan charm, but sadly, the brief screen time makes it easy for fans to forget Lindsay Lohan ever starred in Glee.

Josh Groban Has Two Glee Cameos

Season

Episodes

Character Played

1

3, 22

Himself

Josh Groban appeared in Glee‘s first season as himself, not once but twice. His first cameo in “Acafellas” was a point of hilarity; after Sandy boasts about befriending Groban online, the star comes to the Acafellas’ performance, not to cheer Sandy on but to give him a restraining letter.

Groban’s second appearance in “Journey” is a bit longer, with him being a guest celebrity judge for Regionals. His role is again a comedic one, with his quips at Sue and lack of conviction in voting for the New Directions amusing viewers. However, both features are easy to miss as they don’t leave a huge impact on audiences, especially with Groban’s second appearance being overshadowed by a pregnant Quinn giving birth during Vocal Adrenaline’s Bohemian Rhapsody performance. Josh Groban’s cameos on Glee were mildly entertaining but didn’t carry enough star power or uniqueness, making it very easy for fans to forget he ever starred in the series.

Tyra Banks Almost Hires a Glee Kid To Model for Her

Season, Episode

Episode Title

Character Played

Season 5, Episode 6

“Movin’ Out”

Bichette

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After Sam Evans realizes his chosen future isn’t college but modeling, he gets scouted by an agent named Bichette, played by the legendary Tyra Banks. Banks’ character is ruthless and tells Sam to first lose 10 pounds, which he ultimately refuses.

Banks’ portrayal of the renowned modeling agent is brilliant, as she brings the perfect level of professionalism and flair expected. Banks’ own modeling history makes her a perfect candidate for the role, and her own star power is felt even through Bichette’s short screen time. The biggest downfall to Banks’ cameo is that it comes in an episode full of overstuffed plots, from Blaine and Sam heading to New York to the Jake-Marley-Ryder drama. Tyra Banks’ Glee appearance feels like a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment, making it easy for fans to forget she ever starred in the show.

Anna Camp Votes for the Glee Kids

Season, Episode

Episode Title

Character Played

Season 1, Episode 13

“Sectionals”

Candace Dystra

Pitch Perfect star Anna Camp made a brief cameo in Glee as Candace Dystra, a judge for sectionals. Camp’s character is far from her ambitious and uptight Aubrey, with Candace being an overly stereotypical pageant girl.

Candace plays a hand in helping the New Directions win sectionals as she votes in their favor. But this doesn’t make her character any more memorable, as all the judges vote for the New Directions. Camp’s cameo is also dampened by the chaos of the sectionals episode, with the New Directions scrambling to put a set together. As such, Anna Camp’s Glee appearance is a hidden gem that’s easily overlooked.

Glee poster

Glee

A group of ambitious misfits try to escape the harsh realities of high school by joining a glee club headed by a passionate Spanish teacher.

Release Date
May 19, 2009

Creator
Ryan Murphy, Ian Brennan, Brad Falchuk

Cast
Matthew Morrison , Jane Lynch , Lea Michele , Dianna Agron , Chris Colfer , Cory Monteith , Naya Rivera

Main Genre
Comedy

Seasons
6 Seasons

Production Company
Brad Falchuk Teley-Vision, Ryan Murphy Productions, 20th Century Fox Television

Number of Episodes
121 Episodes

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