Naya Rivera Glee Naya Rivera (right) will no longer be a series regular on "Glee" Season 6, but her character will be recurring this season. Photo: Fox

Naya Rivera will return to “Glee” for the show’s sixth and final season, but don’t expect Santana to be around all the time. Rivera will only be a recurring character this year instead of a series regular. Never fear, “Glee” fans, this is not the end of Santana. Plenty of fan favorites have had their contracts similarly reduced.

In Season 4, many cast members were reduced to recurring roles. Quinn was at Yale, Mike was in Chicago and Mercedes was in Los Angeles. Those characters racked up the frequent flyer miles with constant visits home.

Audiences haven’t seen Quinn and Puck since the 100th episode. Both had been in and out of the series since their characters graduated. Quinn visited Ohio on holidays and occasionally took the train from Yale to Manhattan. Puck tried to make it in Los Angeles before heading home to Ohio. It wasn’t until Finn’s death that Puck decided to join the Navy. In the 100th episode, Quinn and Puck reunited, and the writers pretty much gave them a happy ending.

Mercedes also disappeared for a while in Season 4, allowing actress Amber Riley the opportunity to win “Dancing With The Stars.” Mercedes tried to make it in Los Angeles as a singer, but she refused to change herself for her label. After spending some time helping the glee club out, Mercedes went to New York to record an album. Since the show has moved its focus to New York, Mercedes has been back for good.

Tina's role was reduced when the show moved to New York. Her character went to Brown, so Rhode Island isn’t too far from Brooklyn. She still pops in for big events like Rachel’s opening night.

Mike still flies in from Chicago when someone needs a dance number choreographed, but the New York focus hasn’t provided many opportunities for him to show up.

Brittany’s storyline has been similarly sparse. She was written out before graduation in Season 4, when actress Heather Morris could no longer hide her baby bump. She returned last spring, but her character still doesn’t have a clear storyline. Brittany dropped out of MIT and into New York to visit Santana at the end of last season, but no one knows if she plans to stay.

Even Mr. Schuester and Coach Sylvester had their roles reduced when the show moved to New York; they only made an appearance on the show for Rachel’s opening night.

Of course, this is only taking into account the characters who actually had explanations for where they went. Plenty of characters just disappear from "Glee." Where is Sugar Motta, the rich girl who couldn't sing? How about that Teen Jesus kid with the dreadlocks? What happened to Matt Rutherford, the football player who never talked but joined glee club in Season 1? All disappeared without explanation, sometimes even in the middle of the school year.

Ultimately, using Santana sparingly might be good for “Glee.” The show sometimes carries more characters than it can focus on. With the season likely to be shortened, it makes sense to focus the storyline on just a few central characters.  

“Glee” will return to Fox in 2015.

Will you stick with “Glee” without Santana? Share your thoughts in the comments.