Gilmore Girls, which featured a young mother-daughter pair who lived in a small New England town where everyone seemed to talk a mile a minute, began airing on the WB in 2000. Seven years of pop culture references and family drama later, it finished its run on the CW on May 15, 2007 (though it would return nearly a decade later via Netflix). Here are 22 things you might not know about the original series.
1. The show was inspired by a trip that creator Amy Sherman-Palladino was on.
The trip took her through the small town of Washington, Connecticut, where she stayed at an inn. “We’re driving by, and people are slowing down saying, ‘Excuse me, where is the pumpkin patch?’” she recalled. “And everything is green and people are out, and they’re talking. And we went to a diner and everyone knew each other and someone got up and they walked behind the [counter] and they got their own coffee because the waitress was busy.” Within 24 hours, she had worked out the show and written some of the pilot’s dialogue.
2. Alex Borstein was originally cast as Sookie.
She had to turn down the role due to her work on MadTV. She ended up making a few appearances as the harpist Drella and the stylist Miss Celine. Borstein is also married to Jackson Douglas, who ended up playing the Jackson that dated Sookie on the show.
3. Liza Weil, who played Paris, originally auditioned for the part of Rory.
She was told that if the show got picked up, Amy Sherman-Palladino had an idea for a part that she wanted to write specifically for Weil. She struggled with the part at first, saying it, “was scary to be a judgmental, mean girl.”
4. Alexis Bledel had never acted professionally before she was cast.
Before she played Rory, Bledel’s only professional role was as an uncredited extra in Wes Anderson’s Rushmore (she did, however, act in community theater productions as a kid). She was a student at NYU who was modeling part-time when she decided to try her luck and audition for the show. Other jobs she was applying for at the time: waitress and census-taker.
5. Keiko Agena, who played Lane, was 27 when the show premiered.
That makes her a mere six years younger than Lauren Graham (Lorelai), though their characters had a 16-year age difference.
6. The score was composed by famous songwriter Sam Phillips.
It was Sherman-Palladino’s husband and co-producer, Daniel Palladino, who thought to approach Phillips. The Palladinos had used some of her songs as placeholders in the pilot before it went to air. So they decided to contact Phillips, who accepted.
7. One of the show’s hallmarks was fast-talking.
The production had to completely adjust to accommodate this style of dialogue. Normally, one page of a screenplay accounts for one minute of screen time. But for Gilmore Girls scripts, a page was about 20 to 25 seconds. There were also fewer close ups than on shows with regular pacing, and they often re-shot scenes to lose a mere few seconds of time.
8. The cast didn’t always understand the pop culture references, but they went with it.
Bledel told Entertainment Weekly that “We’d have to look them up on our own, typically. There were no explanations written in the script.” Graham recalled Bledel asking her who the Waltons were and thinking, “I’m so old.”
9. In the first season finale, Lorelai received 1000 yellow daisies as part of a marriage proposal.
But the shot required many more flowers than that. “A thousand yellow daisies actually sounds like a lot,” Sherman-Palladino told EW, “but when you put a thousand yellow daisies in a big room, like our set, it’s kind of like a table arrangement. Three or four times we had to send people back to get yellow daisies. I think we wiped out yellow daisies on the West Coast.”
10. Chilton student Brad Langford disappeared toward the end of season two and was absent through much of season three.
His character explained his absence by saying that he had been starring in Into the Woods on Broadway. It turns out that wasn’t much of a stretch—Adam Wylie, who played Brad, actually had been starring in that show during that time.
11. Sherman-Palladino wrote Jess onto the show so that Lorelai and Luke had yet another reason to not date yet.
“We’re dealing with two people who, if they just opened their eyes and stared across the table at each other, would go, ‘Oh sh--, it’s you,’” she said. “So when you’re playing that game, you have to find obstacles that are real to put in their way.”
12. One season after Jess first appeared on the show, there was talk of a spinoff for his character.
The third-season episode “Here Comes the Son” was a kind of pilot for the show, which would have been called Windward Circle. But the WB found that it was too expensive to shoot in Venice Beach, where the show would have taken place.
13. Graham’s favorite scenes to shoot were the Friday Night Dinners.
Especially when they involved Kelly Bishop, who played Emily, arguing with her. But the shoots were long, involving multiple camera angles, and, she said, “The food was always terrible.”
14. In season five, Norman Mailer made a cameo for the episode “Norman Mailer, I’m Pregnant!”
Originally, the script just called for a well-known author. They asked Mailer, who said no until the show asked his son to take a part as well. According to Mailer, “I told them I couldn’t memorize any lines; it had to be improvisation. The hard part was having to repeat things over and over.”
15. Another unexpected star on Gilmore Girls: Sebastian Bach of Skid Row.
He played Lane’s bandmate, Gil. How’d he get the gig? He said, “When I got the call, I was like, ‘Do you guys have the right phone number?’ They wanted a ‘rock star’ to [play] the guitar player [in Lane's band] and [the casting director saw me on] VH1’s I Love the ’70s.”
16. In 2006, Sherman-Palladino and Palladino announced that they would not return to the show for season seven.
They released a statement that said, “Despite our best efforts to return and ensure the future of Gilmore Girls for years to come, we were unable to reach an agreement with the studio and are therefore leaving when our contracts expire at the end of this season.” Later, Sherman-Palladino would explain that she was particularly frustrated by the CW network not allowing the pair to hire more writers.
17. David Rosenthal took over as executive producer in the final season.
Of the new gig, he said, “I spent a terrific year last year working with Amy and Dan, and she was incredibly supportive, and she told me from the beginning that this was a distinct possibility that she would be moving on and I would be running the show. When she brought me in at the beginning of last year, that’s one of the things she told me. She brought me in as an executive producer for that reason.”
18. Things behind the scenes were a bit different for the original show’s final season.
According to Scott Patterson, who played Luke, there was a very different vibe on set after Sherman-Palladino left. He said, “There was a little more leeway in how things were shaped. The actors had more input than in the previous six years.”
19. Lauren Graham requested that changes be made to the series finale script.
Graham—who was a producer for the final season—thought the episode was “too light.” Rosenthal listened to her and found a way to give more characters a moment to shine.
20. After it was clear that the show wasn’t going to continue beyond season seven, a spinoff with Rory was considered.
Graham had officially told the producers that she would not be returning, but discussed the possibility of producing a show about Rory. Eventually, they deemed the whole thing too complicated.
21. Sherman-Palladino has her own ideas for how the Gilmore story was supposed to end.
In 2009, she told Entertainment Weekly, “I wanted different things for Rory. I wanted her to follow a different sort of path … [go] off on her own adventure, which I guess she sort of did. I haven’t [actually] seen the last season, but I heard about it from other people.”
22. Sherman-Palladino had four words planned for the final words of the show.
After the initial Gilmore Girls run ended, Sherman-Palladino kept those four final words a secret. “I feel like now I’ll let people down because it’s been so built up. ‘Really? That’s what we waited all these 12 years for? Well, thanks so much,’” she said in 2012. But thanks to 2016’s Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, we now know what they are.
A version of this story originally ran in 2017; it has been updated for 2023.