'Glee': Cory Monteith Returning for Season 4

Finn and Rachel

Finn (Cory Monteith) gives Rachel her holiday gift in the "Extraordinary Merry Christmas" episode, which was directed by the show's Matthew Morrison.

When Lea Michele returns to the mysterious fourth season of Glee after her character graduates, she won't be alone: her on-screen boyfriend, Cory Monteith, will be along for the ride as well.

"Yes, I'll be back," Monteith told The Hollywood Reporter on Sunday at Fox's Television Critics Association winter press tour party in Pasadena. "I'm very excited."

The news comes hours after Fox Entertainment president Kevin Reilly officially pulled the plug on a potential Glee spinoff that could have seen Michele's Rachel be joined by Monteith's Finn and Chris Colfer's Kurt head to New York. Instead, Reilly announced that Glee co-creator Ryan Murphy had come up with a conceit to have Season 3's graduating seniors return next season, noting that Michele would officially return.

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"Ryan has come up with a brilliant, ground-breaking idea for how to include us graduating high school seniors into next season and it's really exciting," Michele told THR. "We don't want to give away the new formula but I'm excited and Cory is so excited to be coming back next year. When we heard Ryan's plan, it really made us even more thrilled."

Reilly told reporters Sunday that he's "alluding to some version" of a show within a show that the spring batch of the episodes would set up the plan for next season, with Monteith noting that a lot of characters and their story lines will head in a "bit of a different direction" in the back half of the current third season.

"People are going to graduate and their story lines will carry on through graduation into Season 4, also keeping the William McKinley High School paradigm intact and building in elements of characters who have graduated," he said. "It's a very cool way they've figured out how to do that."

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Plans for the future of Glee became murky after co-creator Murphy told The Hollywood Reporter in July that the trio would not be returning for Season 4 with co-creator Brad Falchuk telling fans at Comic-Con days later that the trio "are not done with the show after this season."

Falchuk noted that a New York-set spinoff revolving around the trio as Colfer and Michele's characters moved toward their Broadway aspirations was among the ideas being explored at the time. “That was something we were planting as a possibility, but we didn’t get much further than that,” he said in July, noting that the seeds were planted during the Season 2 finale when the cast went to New York.

Colfer, meanwhile, told TheInsider.com on Sunday that he would be returning for Season 4: "Yes. I'm coming back. … Ryan's idea is kind of revolutionary. It's the best of both worlds. Everyone is going to like it."

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@thr.com; Twitter: @Snoodit