Earlier today Gleeks ’round the world white knuckled their Broadway playbills when it was announced that at the end of the coming season, Lea Michele, Chris Colfer, and Cory Monteith will be graduating from McKinley High School and leaving the show. On one hand, it will be sad to see three of the series’ most iconic characters depart — and at the same time, to boot. On the other, we agree with Glee creator Ryan Murphy, who recently said that he didn’t want the show to be populated with characters that “were in high school for eight years.” High school dramas have always had their fair share of actors in their 20s — and many of them were already at that age when they first landed their gigs. After the jump, we’ll look at some of television’s oldest high school students. Be sure to add anyone who we’ve missed in the comments.
James Van Der Beek as Dawson Leery on Dawson’s Creek
When this series about a group of high schoolers in the fictional small town of Capeside, Massachusetts, first launched back in 1998, its titular star was a 21-year-old actor playing a 15-year-old film geek. This might not have seemed so egregious if not for his insane facial hair. As the Beek told People that year, “For Dawson’s Creek, I have to shave a lot. I shave twice every day.” Even the show’s creator, Kevin Williamson, had to admit that there was a slight disconnect: “James is very much Dawson a couple of years down the line.”