Lisa Respers France
Editor’s note: The following story contains spoilers for Thursday night’s episode of “Glee.” Stop reading now if you do not want to know what happens.
(CNN) — On Thursday night, “Glee” bid farewell to a beloved actor and character.
The series ran its tribute episode titled “The Quarterback” in honor of actor Cory Monteith, who played Finn Hudson on the hit Fox show. Monteith was found dead in his Vancouver hotel room in July. His death was ruled accidental due to “mixed drug toxicity, involving intravenous heroin use combined with the ingestion of alcohol” according to the British Columbia Coroners Service.
The memorial episode had been eagerly awaited by fans desiring to see how the storyline would be crafted to deal with the loss of one of the show’s central characters. Thursday night’s show picked up three weeks after the funeral of Finn with no information as to how the character died.
Viewers watched as the entire McKinley High School grappled with his loss — including the character of Finn’s love, Rachel Berry, played by Monteith’s real-life girlfriend, Lea Michele. “He was my person,” Michele’s character, Rachel, cried during the show.
“I feel like, for me personally, I’ve lost two people: Cory and Finn,” Michele recently told TV Week Australia. “Everyone is asking, ‘Is it hard to do this? Is it hard to be back at work?’ But the truth is, it’s no harder at work than it is in life — so we might as well all be together as a family supporting each other to get through this together.”
The musical show built around a high school glee club included songs like The Pretenders’ “I’ll Stand by You,” “Seasons of Love” from “Rent” and “If I Die Young” by The Band Perry. But a pivotal moment came when Michele’s character sang Adele’s “Make You Feel My Love” with tears streaming down her face.
There were plenty of tears from most of the characters as Finn’s football jacket appeared to become a symbol for Monteith’s presence on the show. Worn by Finn’s stepbrother Kurt Hummel (played by Chris Colfer), the posession of it is argued for by Noah Puckerman (played by Mark Salling) and draped over the shoulders of Santana Lopez (played by Naya Rivera) before contributing to one of the most emotional moments of the show.
The sadness of the characters and cast extended to the fans. Fox set up a memorial page, #RememberingCory, to curate tweets, vines and Instagrams for viewers to share memories and their feelings watching the very emotional episode.
“I have so many emotions inside of me right now,” wrote Twitter user Keeli Faith.
“Lea singing Make You Feel My Love makes me have too much emotion #RememberingCory,” tweeted fan Emily Fitzpatrick.
There were also some lighthearted moments, of course, given that the show is a comedy. At one point the character of Tina Chang (played by Jenna Ushkowitz) consults guidance counselor Emma (played by Jayma Mays) about the constant state of mourning.
“This look is so Tina two years ago,” Tina says. “I spent so much time transitioning away from Goth, and look at me. It’s like I’m back in that look.”
Emma comforts her with a hug and pamphlets titled “It’s Not All About You,” “When to Stop Talking,” and “Wait, Am I Callous?”
Monteith was not only a favorite with fans, but also with his cast mates. At the Emmys in September, actress Jane Lynch, who plays Coach Sue Sylvester on the show, paid tribute to Monteith during a special segment on the awards show.
“Cory was a beautiful soul,” Lynch said. “He was not perfect, which many of us here tonight can relate to. His death is a tragic reminder of the rapacious, senseless destruction that’s brought on by addiction.”