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The Rumored Off-Screen Drama That Changed Santana From Glee Forever

"Glee" was a pop culture phenomenon during its six-season run. It was a hit series that showcased hip covers of popular songs, with live concert tours featuring the cast, as well as the major theatrical release "Glee: The 3D Concert Movie." Centered on the members of a high school glee club overseen by director Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison), the show held onto a tone of optimism and escape from harsh reality through theater and song.

However, the Fox musical dramedy was also plagued by turmoil and tragedy, both during production and after the series ended in 2015. This included the untimely death of cast member Cory Monteith in 2013, Naya Rivera's passing in 2020, and Mark Salling's 2015 arrest and death three years later (via Entertainment Tonight).

One prominent behind-the-scenes rumor was that Lea Michele, who played Rachel Berry on the series, could be extremely difficult to work with. In 2020, cast member Samantha Ware accused Michele on social media of making the "Glee" experience "a living hell" as other series co-stars corroborated her story. And in 2016, Rivera opened up about her own feud with Michele, and how their issues apparently led to major script changes for Rivera's character, Santana Lopez.

Lea Michele and Naya Rivera's feud got Santana written off an episode

As the fearless cheerleader Santana, whose abrasive personality relaxes as she discovers she's gay, Naya Rivera had become a core part of the "Glee" ensemble from the pilot onward. However, just like their characters, Rivera and Lea Michele found it hard to get along on set. In 2016, Rivera told Entertainment Tonight that "Santana and Rachel hated each other, but they also had this love-hate sort of relationship, and I feel like Lea and I had that while we were on the show."

This escalated during production of Season 5, when, following a major altercation she had with Michele, Rivera was written out of the season finale (via Daily Mail). Reportedly, Santana was traveling with Brittany Pierce (Heather Morris), but the character was otherwise missing from the episode.

Afterward, Rivera requested that her character have less screen time in Season 6, which the producers obliged (via Bustle). Santana would come back for multiple episodes, including the series finale, but it seems like Rivera's feud with Michele convinced the actress it was time for a change.