Rachel Berry (Lea Michelle) is one of the main stars on the award-winning show "Glee." She is a talented young woman who has dreams of stardom on Broadway. She is also the daughter of a same-sex couple and with her slightly conceited attitude and ambition, she quickly becomes the target of bullying by the members of the football team as well as some of the "Cheerios", the school's cheerleading team. Rachel decides to join the glee club to gain approval from the other kids as well as find a boyfriend. She quickly develops a crush on Finn Hudson (Cory Monteith), football quarterback and new member of the club. They kiss in the episode, "Showmance" but Finn has a change of heart and goes back to his girlfriend, cheerleader Quinn Fabray (Dianna Agron).
Rachel really irritates Quinn when she attends a meeting of the celibacy club, which is actually led by Quinn. Rachel states at the meeting that girls want to have sex just as much as boys. Later on in the same episode, she shows her need for attention and control by getting the glee club to change the song Mr. Schuester (Matthew Morrison) had planned. They end up performing an inappropriate version of "Push It" at a pep rally to an awestruck audience. Later on, Mr. Schuester gives a solo to Tina Cohen-Chang (Jenna Ushkowitz). Rachel wanted that solo for herself and is so upset, she quits the glee club. Still ambitious, she joins the drama club and wins the lead role in Cabaret, the school musical. She rejoins the glee club after she realizes that having friends is sometimes more important than being the star.
Eventually the group qualifies for sectionals, their first major competition. Rachel sees this as her big opportunity to make a name for herself. Another member of the club, Mercedes Jones (Amber Riley), tries out for one of the solos. This naturally brings out jealousy feelings in Rachel but she shows her growth and maturity by congratulating Mercedes on getting the solo at the end of the song. When the club gets to sectionals they find out that the rival team has copied all their songs. The group has to come up with something else on the spot and Rachel gets chosen by the club to sing "Don't Rain on My Parade". With her talented voice, of course the judges declare them the winners. After sectionals, Rachel and Finn date very briefly. The relationship doesn't last for long and he decides he needs some alone time. Finn quickly realizes he was wrong and tries to get Rachel back, but he is too late. Rachel meets Jesse St. James (Jonathan Groff), who is the star singer of Vocal Adrenaline, the rival glee club. This forbidden affair between Jesse and Rachel soon calms down when he transfers to her school and joins the glee club. Rachel, still looking for popularity, decides to make a music video where Jesse, Finn, and Puck (Mark Salling) all play the same role; her boyfriend. Each boy has no idea they have shared the same role. They are all hurt by this, although Jesse feels the most betrayed and he and Rachel end their relationship.
Rachel has always been proud of her two fathers, bragging about how they have spoiled her for her entire life. In spite of that, she has always dreamt of finding her birth mother. Eventually she uncovers the truth; that Vocal Adrenaline's coach, Shelby Corcoran (Idina Menzel) is her mother. Shelby has known Rachel is her daughter all this time and has used Jesse get close to Rachel hoping they could eventually reunite. Once Rachel figures out that Shelby is her mother, they both realize they are only related by blood, that there is no real mother-daughter bond. They sing once together before peacefully going their separate ways. Jesse goes back to his original school and rejoins Vocal Adrenaline.
Rachel is still hurting from her breakup with Jesse, when Finn confesses his feelings for her while at regionals. They start dating and have a very sweet relationship for a while but their romance isn't meant to last. In the episode "Special Education," Rachel learns that Finn lost his virginity when he slept with Santana Lopez (Naya Rivera). This of course happened before he and Rachel were dating but his lie about something so important really hurt her deeply. She feels betrayed, so in a fit of revenge she makes out with Puck. Rachel feels guilty and quickly confesses to Finn but it is too much for him to handle and he ends it. Rachel is once again heartbroken and tries to earn Finn's forgiveness but he remains unmoved by her apologies.
"Fellow glee clubbers, it would be an honor to show you how a real storm out is done. I encourage you to follow my lead."
"Aside from nudity and the exploitation of animals, I'll pretty much do anything to break into the business."
"I'm only really generous if there's something in it for me."
"I realized being a star didn't make me as special as being your friend."
"You're amazing, Mercedes, and you deserve it. I'm gonna hug you now."