31 ‘Glee’ Guest Stars You Forgot About

This list has everyone from Lando Calrissian to Carrie Bradshaw.
(Left to right) Tyra Banks, Lindsay Lohan, Jeff Goldblum.
(Left to right) Tyra Banks, Lindsay Lohan, Jeff Goldblum. / (Banks) Steve Granitz/WireImage; (Lohan) Lionel Hahn/Getty Images; (Goldblum) Phillip Faraone/Getty Images

For anyone who watched Glee during its six-season run from 2009 to 2015, much of the anticipation came from wondering which pop songs the cast would tackle each week. But it was also fun to wonder which guest stars might turn up to sing them.

There were memorable recurring characters played by the likes of Jonathan Groff, Idina Menzel, and John Stamos; and others that made a splash inside a single episode. Neil Patrick Harris’s “Dream On” duet with Matthew Morrison’s Will Schuester was a surprise highlight of season 1, for example, and nobody who’s seen the season 2 Britney Spears tribute episode could easily forget that Spears herself was in it.

Some guest stars saw their work have an impact outside the show—take Gwyneth Paltrow, whose “Forget You” cover of CeeLo Green’s “Fuck You” peaked at 11th on the Billboard Hot 100. The two even performed it together at the 2011 Grammys.

But with six years’ worth of guests and a good 15 years since Glee’s premiere, you’d be forgiven for not remembering every short-lived appearance (especially if you never actually got around to watching the later seasons). So here are 30 of Glee’s iconic guests, spanning true cameos to multi-episode roles.

1. and 2. Barry Bostwick and Meat Loaf

“The Rocky Horror Glee Show” (season 2, episode 5) features cameos from not one but two cast members from the original Rocky Horror Picture Show: Barry Bostwick (who played Brad) and Meat Loaf (who played Eddie) as devious local news station managers who conspire with Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) on an exposé of the glee club’s production of the show.

3., 4., and 5. Billy Dee Williams, June Squibb, and Tim Conway

Billy Dee Williams—Star Wars’ Lando Calrissian—appears alongside Nebraska’s June Squibb and The Carol Burnett Show’s Tim Conway in “Old Dog, New Tricks” (season 5, episode 19), wherein Kurt Hummel (Chris Colfer) plays the title character in a retirement home’s production of Peter Pan. (Colfer also wrote the episode.)

6. and 7. Brian Stokes Mitchell and Jeff Goldblum

Glee never wasted a chance for fun surprises when casting main characters’ family members. Case in point: Rachel Berry’s (Lea Michele) two dads are played by Jeff Goldblum and Broadway heavyweight Brian Stokes Mitchell. They have a habit of turning dinner into dinner theater, naturally.

8., 9., and 10. Carnie Wilson, Geraldo Rivera and Michael Bolton

In “The Rise and Fall of Sue Sylvester” (season 6, episode 10), Sue loses her job and books an interview with Geraldo Rivera himself as a form of damage control. It doesn’t work out well for her: Rivera calls her out on lie after lie, one of which involves the identity of her baby’s father. Sue says it’s Michael Bolton; Michael Bolton says it’s not. Wilson Phillips co-founder Carnie Wilson also cameos to debunk Sue’s claim that she played tambourine for the band.

11. Carol Burnett

Tim Conway isn’t the only star of The Carol Burnett Show to pop up on Glee. So does Burnett herself, portraying Sue Sylvester’s Nazi-hunting absentee mother, Doris, and treating musical theater lovers to covers of Wonderful Town’s “Ohio” and Meet Me in St. Louis’s “The Trolley Song.”

12. Chace Crawford

Gossip Girl’s Chace Crawford shows up in Glee’s 100th episode as Quinn Fabray’s (Dianna Agron) new boyfriend, a prep-school jerk named Biff McIntosh. It doesn’t work out.

13. Charles Melton

Charles Melton in a black suit smizing at the camera on the red carpet
Melton at the 2024 Vanity Fair Oscars After-Party. / Phillip Faraone/VF24/GettyImages

Riverdale’s Charles Melton spends less than 30 seconds onscreen as Gavin, a model and one of Sam Evans’s (Chord Overstreet) new roommates in “New New York” (season 5, episode 14).

14. Demi Lovato

Viewers who didn’t make it to season 5 missed out on a slew of famous faces, among them Demi Lovato. Her character Dani appears in a handful of episodes as Santana Lopez’s (Naya Rivera) romantic interest and a new friend of the New York–based glee club graduates.

15. Finneas O’Connell

Most people know Finneas O’Connell as Billie Eilish’s brother and collaborator. But Gleeks first met him as Alistair, the long-haired, scarf-wearing, ukulele-playing romantic interest of Spencer Porter (Marshall Williams) in four episodes of season 6.

16. Gloria Estefan

Gloria Estefan—a real-life former glee club member and Glee fan—first appears as Santana’s mother, Maribel Lopez, in season 3 and returns in season 6 for Santana and Brittany S. Pierce’s (Heather Morris) wedding.

17. Helen Mirren

Ohio teenagers’ inner monologues don’t typically sound like Dame Helen Mirren. But Glee’s Becky Jackson’s (Lauren Potter) does, because Mirren voiced hers on the show. “I think a lot of my lovely gigs like that come from people thinking, ‘Who’s the most absurd person we could think of to do this?’” Mirren told Entertainment Weekly of the gig in 2022.

18. and 19. Jackée Harry and Marlee Matlin

Jackée Harry in a leather jacket and cream sweater; Marlee Matlin in a sparkly purple dress doing ASL for 'I love you'
Harry (left) in 2023 and Matlin in 2024. / (Harry) Unique Nicole/WireImage; (Matlin) Phillip Faraone/VF24/Getty Images for Vanity Fair

Another great source of Glee guest stars is the judging panel at glee club competitions. For season 5’s nationals, the judges were Sister, Sister’s Jackée Harry, CODA’s Marlee Matlin, and Prancercise creator Joanna Rohrback.

20. and 21. Jennifer Coolidge and Ken Jeong

We finally get to meet Brittany’s parents—portrayed by Jennifer Coolidge and Ken Jeong—during Glee’s last season, when she finds out that Ken Jeong’s character isn’t her biological father. (Who is? Stephen Hawking.)

22. and 23. Josh Groban and Olivia Newton-John

Josh Groban and Olivia Newton-John, both playing warped versions of themselves, judge regionals in Glee’s season 1 finale. They each appear in an earlier episode that season, too—Groban in “Acafellas” (episode 3), and Newton-John in “Bad Reputation” (episode 17), where she performs her own song “Physical” with Sue.

24. Kate Hudson

Season 4 introduced a new dance teacher for Rachel: Kate Hudson’s Cassandra July, who gave Gleeks spirited renditions of Lady Gaga’s “Americano” (remixed with Jennifer Lopez’s “Dance Again”) and Chicago’s “All That Jazz,” among other numbers.

25. and 26. Lindsay Lohan and Perez Hilton

Another couple of celebrities judging a competition as themselves are Lindsay Lohan and Perez Hilton in “Nationals,” the penultimate episode of season 3. (Lohan, who says she’s in “full image rebranding mode,” isn’t happy to find out that the event isn’t televised.)

27. Matt Bomer

The big brother of “Big Brother” (season 3, episode 15) is Blaine Anderson’s (Darren Criss). His name is Cooper Anderson, he’s locally famous for having starred in a commercial, and he’s played by Matt Bomer. The brothers sing their feelings via Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” and also try to out-do each other during a Duran Duran mash-up of “Hungry Like the Wolf” and “Rio.” There is synchronized choreography.

28. Patti LuPone

In 2020, Patti LuPone told The New Yorker that Glee creator Ryan Murphy had wanted a whole episode centered on “Patti LuPone on a plane.” The Tony winner turned it down, worried that she’d get pigeonholed into only playing herself in TV roles. She did, however, agree to a cameo: During the season 2 finale, Rachel and Finn Hudson (Cory Monteith) run into her at Sardi’s in New York City. (LuPone improvised telling Rachel that Finn was “cute.”)

29. Ricky Martin

“The Spanish Teacher” (season 3, episode 12) is an entertaining reminder that Will Schuester’s primary role at McKinley High is supposedly teaching Spanish. He meets fellow Spanish teacher David Martinez (Ricky Martin) while brushing up on his Spanish at night school; singing ensues. Martin’s numbers include LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know It” and a duet of Madonna’s “La Isla Bonita” with Santana.

30. Sarah Jessica Parker

In season 4, Kurt nabs a job working for Isabelle Wright, a Vogue editor played by Sarah Jessica Parker. Not only is she at the heart of one of Glee’s more outrageous mash-ups—Scissor Sisters’ “Let’s Have a Kiki” and “Turkey Lurkey Time” from Promises, Promises—but she also gets to sing “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile,” a nice nod to Parker’s own history as Broadway’s Annie.

31. Tyra Banks

Tyra Banks also pays tribute to herself on Glee: In “Movin’ Out” (season 5, episode 6), she plays Bichette, the owner of a modeling agency. “Your Midwestern eyes have the vacant stare of a cow’s,” she tells Sam. (It’s a compliment.)

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