There's also the uneasy knowledge that when Lea Michele's character, Rachel, cries over boyfriend Finn, it mirrors the actress' grief over losing her off-screen romantic partner. She dedicated her recent Teen Choice Award to Monteith, accepting with tears and wearing a necklace that spelled out "Cory."
Any real loss is difficult to cope with in the framework of fiction. But the deaths of sitcom stars John Ritter of "8 Simple Rules for Dating my Teenage Daughter" in 2003 and that in 1985 of Nicholas Colasanto, the bartender nicknamed Coach in "Cheers," were illness-related and less fraught in their translation to on-air tributes.
Some observers have suggested that the "Glee" episode should treat Monteith with dignity but not ignore the scourge of addiction that cut short his life — especially on a series that's regularly delivered life lessons on big topics such as tolerance within its song-filled framework.
Last month's Emmy Awards remembered Monteith, with "Glee" star Jane Lynch calling his death a "tragic reminder of the rapacious, senseless destruction that is brought on by addiction."
"Glee" creator Ryan Murphy has not offered detailed plans for the episode, but has said that drugs will not be the cause of Finn's death.