It would have been virtually impossible to predict the legacy that a series like Gilmore Girls would go on to have. When the series first aired from 2000 to 2007 across both The WB and The CW, it was a critically beloved cult hit that generated very little in terms of audience numbers or awards enthusiasm. The feel good series followed the lives of three generations of the central Gilmore family, as they navigated life and love and work and school and all things in between.
Thanks to the advent of streaming platforms, Gilmore Girls would go on to have a far greater impact on the popular culture landscape than it did during its original years of airing. That's how, after all, Netflix produced a revival miniseries Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, which was released in 2016. Gilmore Girls boasts some of the smartest, wittiest, and warmest writing in all of television history - but not all finales were given the same level of artistry. We rank all eight season finales below.
Given the fact that this was the last episode of the series that Amy Sherman Palladino and Daniel Palladino worked on, it's easy to see how things could go off the rails so quickly. But it's downright painful to get through the sixth season finale, "Partings," as there's pretty much not a single enjoyable aspect present within it.
Rory and Logan spend the episode alternately drunkenly partying or crying as he prepares to head off to work in London. A plethora of obnoxious troubadour wannabes invade Stars Hollow. Emily and Richard once again try to intervene in Christopher's love life, humiliating Lorelai in the process. And, of course, Lorelai and Luke have a terrible, entirely out of character screaming argument, leading to an ultimatum regarding their engagement, an unclear breakup, and Lorelai winding up in Christopher's bed.
Honestly, there's not much good to find in the fifth season finale, "A House Is Not A Home," either - but there are a few brief glimmers of enjoyable moments sprinkled throughout. The episode really introduced the total ruin of Rory's character, as she becomes almost wholly intolerable from this point onward. After getting arrested for stealing a yacht with her rich Yale friends, Rory decides to drop out of Yale.
Richard and Emily go along with her plan, sabotaging Lorelai's attempts at convincing Rory to return to college in the fall. The ensuing conflict leads to a long lasting rift between Lorelai and Rory, as well as Lorelai and her parents, that continues for much of the subsequent season. But at least Luke steps up to the plate, showing himself to be total husband and dad material, which leads to Lorelai's impulsive decision to ask him to marry her.
The series' seventh season is one that is hotly debated by fans of all walks of life. Some fans refuse to even watch the season, since it was left in the hands of writers other than the Palladinos. Other fans proudly protect it. And some fans just pick and choose what they like from it and ignore the rest. But you can't really deny that the seventh season finale - once the original series finale - is a profoundly satisfying, albeit saccharine conclusion.
Rory is heading off to work on the Barack Obama campaign trail, and the episode follows Rory's and Lorelai's attempts to prepare for her inevitable departure. Stars Hollow comes out to wish Rory a Bon Voyage in the form of a big celebration, featuring heartfelt speeches and emotional moments among all of the series' key relationships. And, of course, it all ends with Luke and Lorelai finally making amends, before one last stop for coffee at Luke's Diner, just as it should.
The world of Gilmore Girls was a much simpler place in its sweet and quirky first season. Its first season finale reflects that completely, as almost the entirety of the episode is spent on the girls' romantic relationships and significant milestones within both of them. Rory reunites with Dean, after their uncomfortable and embarrassing breakup a few episodes prior.
Luke and his girlfriend, Rachel, split up after Rachel becomes convinced that she could never compare to Lorelai, thus setting up the ongoing arc of Luke's secret love of Lorelai. And in Lorelai's romantic life, her boyfriend, Rory's teacher Max Medina, surprises her with a grand romantic gesture in the form of a thousand yellow daisies and a proposal.
Just as the seventh season of Gilmore Girls remains a hot topic for debate among fans of the series, so, too, does the previously mentioned limited series Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. Whether you agreed with the characters' development or not, the final installment in the miniseries, "Fall," is a compelling hour and a half of television - at least, if you ignore the self-indulgent Life and Death Brigade monkey mask montage. We still don't know what to make of that.
Rory finally puts an end to her toxic back and forth with Logan, resolving instead to work on the story of her life in the form of the novel that she and Jess had discussed previously. Lorelai and Emily repair their long fraught relationship, in a gorgeous scene that Lauren Graham absolutely acts the hell out of. Luke and Lorelai make amends after struggling to connect, and impulsively decide to get married the night before their actual big town wedding. And, as the series draws to a close, Rory makes her game changing reveal: she's pregnant.
The third season of Gilmore Girls brought an end to one of the series' central plots: Rory's time at Chilton, the esteemed private school she worked her butt off to get into, and would ultimately become valedictorian of her graduating class in. The finale episode, "Those Are Strings, Pinocchio," focuses on that special graduation day, and allows the series to mine richly emotional material regarding the gratitude Rory feels for everything her mother has done to help her get this far.
The episode also allows Rory to make a clean break from an absent Jess; complicates yet another one of Luke's romantic relationships, due to his subconscious feelings for Lorelai; and introduces a new financial element to the Gilmore family's relationship, as Rory requests her grandparents help so that her mother won't have to worry about paying for the Yale tuition she clearly cannot afford.
It's hard to rank an episode of Gilmore Girls that so prominently focuses on the unhealthy relationship between Lorelai and Christopher among one of the series' best, but in truth, the second season finale "I Can't Get Started" just might be one of the strongest episodes of the entire series. Revolving around the wedding of Sookie and Jackson, the episode allows for people to be left in close proximity and for long simmering conflicts and tensions to boil over.
Lorelai and Christopher seem as though they may actually be rekindling a relationship for the first real time since they were teenagers, but just as things seem to be going their way, Christopher learns that his previous girlfriend, Sherry, is pregnant. Jess returns from his time in New York City and moves back in with Luke, showing up unexpectedly at Sookie's wedding afterward, and forcing Rory to confront her growing feelings for him. And confront them she does, in the form of one of the series' best kisses.
Just as "I Can't Get Started" puts characters in close quarters and lets the sparks fly, the fourth season finale, "Rain Coats and Recipes," does exactly the same thing with even more dramatic results. The opening weekend of the Dragonfly Inn is finally here, and the inn is booked to capacity with guests and tension alike.
Rory spends the night with a married Dean, helping him cheat on his wife and losing her virginity in the process. A crazed Jason tries to win Lorelai over again, but it's clear that things will never work out for them, after his betrayal of her father. Richard and Emily are forced to reveal the fractured nature of their relationship once and for all, much to Lorelai and Rory's shock. And finally, after four long seasons of waiting, Luke and Lorelai share their first kiss and make their relationship official.