As we say goodbye, it’s worth remembering that “Glee,” for all its nonsensical plots and inconsistent character choices and questionable forays into political territory, was once good. It was even excellent at times. There’s no question it launched the musical dramas genre on network TV (you’re welcome, “Nashville” and “Empire”) and covered some pretty groundbreaking topics, particularly in the LGBT story lines. Did you know that Kurt and Blaine got married this season, as did Brittany and Santana?
So let’s end on a happy note and recall nine times the show was great — and one time it was amazing.
1) The Britney Spears episode (Season 2, Episode 2)
“Glee” racked up the guest stars (Gwyneth Paltrow, John Stamos, Patti Lupone, Neil Patrick Harris, Gloria Estefan, Kate Hudson, Lindsay Lohan, Sarah Jessica Parker, etc.) but there was something delightful about the moment when Brit showed up. Yeah, she starred in about 30 seconds of the actual episode and had to dress up in a cheerleader costume, but viewers still got some covers of “…Baby One More Time,” “I’m a Slave 4 U,” “Toxic” and “Stronger”:
2) Blaine’s introduction with “Teenage Dream” (Season 2, Episode 6)
The show really kicked its casting up a notch with Broadway star Darren Criss playing Kurt’s love interest Blaine, particularly with this excellent performance of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream”:
3) Mercedes and “I Will Always Love You” (Season 3, Episode 13)
By pure coincidence, the episode where Mercedes (Amber Riley) slays a version of “I Will Always Love You” was scheduled to air three days after Whitney Houston’s death in 2012. It added an extra layers of chills to the song:
4) Kurt comes out to his dad (Season 1, Episode 4)
In 2009, it still seemed like a big deal to have an openly gay teenager on a primetime network show. If you want to know why Chris Colfer and Mike O’Malley got Emmy nominations, watch this scene:
5) “Make You Feel My Love” during the Cory Monteith tribute episode (Season 5, Episode 3)
Just try not to cry when you watch Lea Michele shed real tears while singing Adele’s version of “Make You Feel My Love” during the episode honoring Cory Monteith (quarterback Finn Hudson) who died at age 31. If you don’t lose it at the beginning, you will when others in the cast break down.
6) “Gold Digger” (Season 1, Episode 2)
We were so young and innocent when it seemed like Will Schuester rapping was a one-time deal. Good for you, Matthew Morrison, for not holding back.
7) That “Born to Run” Emmy Awards opener (2010)
While not actually on the show, there was that time Lea Michele, Cory Monteith, Amber Riley and Chris Colfer opened the Emmy Awards with Jimmy Fallon and Tina Fey:
8) Kurt and Rachel and “Defying Gravity” (Season 1, Episode 9)
A fitting song considering the original singers Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel were “Glee” guest stars, but it was also pretty emotional: Kurt and Rachel have a “diva off” for the solo because Kurt protests it shouldn’t automatically goes to a woman. But he botches the final big note.
9) That time the show discovered mash-ups (Season 1, Episode 6)
Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life”/Usher’s “Confessions Pt. II” for the guys. Beyoncé’s “Halo”/Katrina and the Waves’ “Walking on Sunshine” for the girls:
And now, for the best ever “Glee” moment:
10) “Don’t Stop Believin'” (Season 1, Episode 1)
Even though we’ve given “Glee” a lot of flack, there’s really nothing like watching one of the final scenes of the pilot where they belt out “Don’t Stop Believin,'” trying to convince Mr. Schue the glee club really can succeed. Everyone looks so young and excited and earnest, dressed in those silly red shirts, and Lea Michele and Cory Monteith sound great together.
The pilot aired in May to get attention before its official September premiere, so everyone heard the song and cheesy trailer all summer. (“Being a part of something special…makes you special!”) It was before any ratings issues or on-set drama or tragedies. This song just makes us really, really happy: