It’s pretty amazing that when Amy Sherman-Palladino pitched Gilmore Girls to the WB, she had little more than a sentence to sum it up. After her previous pitches had failed to elicit much reaction from the execs in the room, she threw out one final last ditch attempt: “a show about a mother and daughter, but they're more like best friends.” That is the basic premise of the series, but Gilmore Girls is so much more.
The show expertly captured complex family dynamics, with not only heart, but humor as well. Anchored by the relationships between the incredible women at its core, Gilmore Girls featured brilliant dialogue, bursting with ubiquitous pop culture references, and delivered at a breakneck pace by a fantastic cast of actors.Viewers were introduced to a flawed family that they couldn’t help but want to be a part of and a town that was as delightful as it was eccentric.
The series ran from 2000-2007, although most fans would rather forget about its final season, which was made without Sherman-Palladino. The Gilmore Girls creator did have the opportunity to revisit her magnum opus with the Netflix revival that aired in 2016, A Year in the Life. Not everyone was satisfied with this new chapter, but most would still gladly return to Stars Hollow if given another opportunity. Gilmore Girls was incredibly character-driven and you’d be hard pressed to find viewers who didn’t love all of the show’s major players. However, not every addition made later in the series was quite so well received.
Here are 10 New Character Additions That Hurt Gilmore Girls (And 10 That Saved It).
20 Saved: Doyle McMaster
As soul-crushing as it was that he and Paris couldn’t make it in the long run, Doyle McMaster was a fine addition to the series. Before his romance with Paris, he had already been established as his own character. By the time they got together, it made perfect sense and most fans were completely on-board with this relationship. Paris is undeniably awesome, but her intensity didn’t always make her easy to be around. Doyle was easygoing and understanding enough to just love her for who she was.
Danny Strong and Liza Weil definitely had chemistry, whether they were engaged in a heated make-out session or an equally heated argument. The bond between Paris and Doyle was evident throughout their ups and downs - of which there were many. He was her true love.
19 Hurt: Sherry Tinsdale
This is nothing against Mädchen Amick, because she’s awesome, but Sherry Tinsdale wasn’t a particularly interesting character. She was kind of just there to keep Lorelai and Christopher apart. Although many fans are loathe to admit it, there was a time when Lorelai and Rory’s dad reuniting made perfect sense. There was an undeniable connection between them and he was honestly the only one of her love interests who could truly keep up with her wit. Sadly, by the time the writers got them together, it was just one of many poor decisions in season 7.
Sherry never managed to endear herself to fans - although she wasn’t really supposed to. Whether she was inviting friends to her C-section or abandoning her child, there wasn’t much reason to keep her around.
18 Saved: Jess Mariano
Sure, you may find some Dean loyalists out there or maybe even the occasional Logan fan, for most Gilmore Girls viewers there is only one of Rory’s exes that she has a future with: Jess Mariano. This was partially due to how well written the character was, but most of the credit obviously goes to Milo Ventimiglia. From the moment Luke’s bad boy nephew showed up in town, fans were just as enamored by him as Rory was - though she tried her best to deny it.
Although Jess started out as not such a great guy, he evolved quite a bit over the course of the series. Aside from the obvious chemistry between Alexis Bledel and Ventimiglia, there was the simple fact that Jess understood Rory in a way that her other boyfriends did not. He also accepted her just as she was.
17 Hurt: Jason Stiles
Lorelai hasn’t always had great luck with her love interests. There was a point when she and Christopher would’ve made perfect sense as a couple - although by the time the writers finally went there, that ship had long since sailed. Max was alright and Alex was fine, but most fans were already too wrapped up in the idea of Luke and Lorelai to fully invest in either. Jason Stiles, however, had no real redeeming qualities.
Chris Eigman had zero chemistry with Lauren Graham and the entire plot revolving around his business with her father was as bland as the romance between Lorelai and “Digger." By the time their relationship imploded, viewers were so excited to see Luke finally realize his feelings for Lorelai that no one gave poor Jason a second thought.
16 Saved: Dave Rygalski
When Dave Rygalski showed up, Lane was in desperate need of a new love interest. As is his way, Adam Brody made the character instantly lovable. He and Keiko Agena worked really well together and it was easy to see why Lane would fall for Dave. Not only was he incredibly charming, but he also loved music just as much as she did. Dave was also willing to make an effort to win over Mrs. Kim, who was incredibly intimidating.
Had Brody not left the series to star in The O.C., it’s likely that their relationship would’ve continued. Instead, he was written out of Gilmore Girls in a rather disappointing way. Although his exit was less than stellar, Dave was still a great addition to the cast and some fans still feel that Lane should’ve wound up with him.
15 Hurt: Jimmy Mariano
Jess may have been an excellent addition to Gilmore Girls, but his dad? Not so much. The introduction of Jimmy Mariano was part of an ill-fated spinoff attempt. The show would’ve been called Windward Circle and the season 3 episode, “Here Comes the Son”, was meant to be a backdoor pilot. Although it was initially picked up for six episodes, the WB never saw the project through.
Jess follows his long-absent father to his home in Venice Beach. While there, he is introduced to Jimmy’s live-in girlfriend and her daughter. This is nothing against Rob Estes or the amazing Sherilyn Fenn - who would return in another thankless role as Anna Nardini - but since the spinoff never took shape, the episode just feels kind of pointless.
14 Saved: Zack Van Gerbig
There is really no reason why the romance between Zack and Lane should’ve worked out so well. For one thing, she and Dave were already on track to becoming one of the show’s best couples. After Adam Brody left for The O.C., it didn’t make much sense for Lane to move on to Zack. Somewhere along the way, though, theirs became one of the most compelling relationships of the series - excluding Lane’s awful season 7 storyline.
Todd Lowe brought so much charm to the role and his connection with Lane was completely different from the one that she shared with Dave. Their friendship and eventual courtship was absolutely adorable. It took some time and effort for Zack to get there, but in the end, Lane found her perfect rock and roll counterpart.
13 Hurt: Logan Huntzberger
Of Rory’s three main boyfriends, Logan Huntzberger is the most disliked. This isn’t Matt Czuchry’s fault. He is undeniably charismatic and even when Logan wasn’t exactly a standup guy, it was easy to see why Rory was still drawn to him. Many fans would argue that the character didn’t bring much to the series as a whole, but his true crimes really took place during A Year in the Life.
The relationship between them didn’t just prove that Logan was spoiled and insensitive, but also showcased a staggering lack of self-awareness on Rory’s part. We could potentially write off her first affair with a married man as a youthful indiscretion, a mistake that she had learned from. However, running around with Logan while he was engaged to someone else proved that she hadn’t grown much at all.
12 Saved: Gil and Brian
Brian debuted at the same time as Zack and continued to appear for the rest of the series. Gil showed up the next season, as Hep Alien needed a replacement for Dave. He too, would stick around until the end. Lane’s band was such an important part of her life and not just because it made up a large portion of her dating pool - which was admittedly quite small.
Brian and Gil were great friends to both Lane and Zack. They were more than just bandmates. Lane found a family with Hep Alien and although she and her mother eventually saw eye to eye, the group understood her on a completely different level. Thanks to great performances from both John Cabrera and Sebastian Bach, Brian and Gil became beloved characters.
11 Hurt: Nicole Leahy
Much like Lorelai’s sometimes lackluster love interests, viewers also struggled to get behind Luke’s prospects. Sure, Rachel was okay, but has there been a more underdeveloped character on Gilmore Girls than Nicole Leahy? Tricia O’Kelley really isn’t at fault here. The series has always excelled at character development, but no one really tried to make her anything other than two-dimensional. This relationship was distracting at best and boring at worst.
There isn’t much memorable info to pull from Nicole. She was a lawyer and she spontaneously married Luke on a cruise. She also eventually cheated on him, but if everyone’s being real, his heart wasn’t exactly in it. That’s okay, though, because the hearts of fans weren’t really in it either.
10 Saved: Sophie Bloom
Gilmore Girls has better taste in music than most shows, so it’s only fitting that the series would have amazing musical guest stars. Sonic Youth, Sparks, and Yo La Tengo have all appeared, not to mention the fact that the show had one of the most incredible TV soundtracks of all time. Gil was played by former Skid Row frontman Sebastian Bach, and Sophie Bloom was portrayed by the legendary Carole King.
Sophie owned the music store in town and was instrumental in helping Lane become the drummer that she was hoping to be. Aside plying Sophie, King made another vital contribution to the series as well. She wrote the theme song, “Where You Lead”. Although it first appeared on her 1971 album, Tapestry, she rerecorded it for the series with her daughter, Louise Goffin.
9 Hurt: Marty
Say what you want about the fact that Rory wasn’t the best friend to Marty (Wayne Wilcox), but consider what kind of a friend he actually was to Rory. Rory did cast him aside once she became interested in Logan, which wasn’t great. However, when it became apparent that she would never see him as anything more than a friend, Marty didn’t exactly handle it well. His reaction kind of calls their entire friendship into question.
Even if you feel for Marty, his season 7 storyline - like many awful choices that took place in Amy Sherman-Palladino’s absence - was just ridiculous. Lying to Lucy about his history with Rory and expecting her to help him deceive his girlfriend was inexcusable, even if Rory was uncomfortable enough to go along with it.
8 Saved: Lulu
Kirk Gleason may have often been on the periphery of Gilmore Girls, but he was no less integral to the town of Star Hollow. Not just anyone could’ve dated Kirk. The guy took the word quirky to a whole new level. Yes, he was lovable, lonely, and in desperate need of some companionship - besides cat Kirk and his mother - but Lulu Kuschner (Rini Bell) was obviously perfect for him. She complemented Kirk in every way.
While it is true that she wasn’t an especially well developed character, Lulu was still a great addition to Gilmore Girls, if for no other reason than how awesome it was to see Kirk in a happy relationship. There was no drama there; just two people who were obviously made for each other.
7 Hurt: Lucy
Lucy was a pointless addition to season 7. She was also a part of some of the show’s least engaging drama. Krysten Ritter is a great actress who honestly deserved better. Lucy’s friend Olivia was also completely unnecessary, but less damaging overall, because she wasn’t in a relationship with Marty.
Sure, it was cool of Lucy to reconcile with Rory after the latter participated in Marty’s ridiculous ruse - no one would've blamed her if she never forgave Rory. When Olivia and Lucy were introduced, it appeared that Rory had made a couple of potentially worthwhile friends. However, there was nothing terribly compelling about them. Lucy’s sole reason for existing seemed to be the Marty reveal, which wasn’t worth anyone’s time.
6 Saved: Liz and T.J.
The inclusion of Liz (Kathleen Wilhoite) and T.J. (Michael DeLuise) on this list is in no way ignoring the former’s obvious shortcomings as a parent, but the couple was a fun addition to the series. It was nice that the writers chose to give Luke more of a family and the dynamic between them gave a lot more insight into him as a character.
Some viewers dislike Liz based solely on her actions prior to ever appearing on the series. However, when she does show up, she really seems to be turning her life around and T.J. is somehow a stabilizing influence on her. Liz is aware of her past failures and she did attempt to make amends to her son. She was a flake, but if Luke and Jess could forgive her, surely the audience can too.
5 Hurt: Paul
One of the most damaging aspects of Paul’s introduction in A Year in the Life is the fact that he only further proves the point that Rory Gilmore has changed for the worse. Not only is romancing Logan while he’s engaged to someone else, but she’s also cheating on her own boyfriend. Jack Carpenter does a fine job portraying the character, but the running joke that he’s entirely forgettable neither makes up for nor excuses Rory’s behavior toward him.
Some fans were very hard on Rory in the revival. While she certainly got the worst major arc, she was also adrift, which is something that happens to many young adults. Her career failings and sense of entitlement can all be explained away, but her infidelity, not so much.
4 Saved: Tanna Schrick and Janet Billings
Part of the reason that the introduction of Rory’s new Yale pals, Lucy and Olivia, was so underwhelming is because her former roommates were so much better. Tanna Schrick (Olivia Hack) and Janet Billings (Kate Walder) roomed with Rory and Paris their freshman year. Tanna was a socially awkward, but brilliant student who began attending Yale at only fifteen years old. Janet’s main characteristic was her extreme athleticism, but she could also go toe-to-toe with Paris Gellar.
It is true that neither character was very well developed, but both had some great interactions with Rory and Paris. Not everyone gets to co-habit with other human beings that they can actually stand in college, but they got lucky with Tanna and Janet.
3 Hurt: Mitchum Huntzberger
This has nothing to do with Gregg Henry’s performance. He did an excellent job of making fans dislike the character-- so much so, in fact, that many looked past the fact that he was kind of right about Rory. Nothing makes this case so clearly as the revival. Much effort went into building Mitchum up as the villain of the piece, when in reality, the guy wasn’t wrong.
None of this is to say that it was a pleasure getting to know Logan’s blowhard of a dad. He crushed Rory’s spirit, not mention his son’s soul. Also, there is a different between bluntness and a complete lack of anything even remotely resembling tact. In the end, Mitchum was not one of the show’s best characters.
2 Saved: Violet and Carl
However, you felt about Stars Hollow: The Musical, it’s still the closest thing that fans are ever going to get crossover between Bunheads and Gilmore Girls. Created by Amy Sherman-Palladino, Bunheads aired a mere eighteen episodes beginning in 2012. For most viewers, that simply wasn’t enough. Considering it had the same charm and snappy dialogue as its predecessor, it’s strange that Bunheads wasn’t more successful.
It was delightful to see multiple cast members from the series appear in A Year in the Life, but the most exciting cameo came in the form of leading lady, Sutton Foster. Her real life ex-husband and fellow Broadway heavyweight, Christian Borle costarred with Foster in the now infamous play. The pair portrayed actors known as Violet and Carl, who starred in a musical that was jarring and absurd, but also undeniably Stars Hollow.
1 Hurt: April Nardini
No character on this list did more damage to the series than the introduction of Luke’s daughter. Not even the actress to portrayed her, Vanessa Morano, was a fan of April. She was kind of annoying and acted as a huge roadblock to Luke and Lorelai’s happiness. After years of build-up, viewers were furious at seeing the couple torn apart in such soap-operatic fashion.
Aside from the fact that April was unnecessary, her mother was actually worse. The fact that fans disliked April was mostly circumstantial, but Anna (Sherilyn Fenn) was just awful. The decisions she made for her daughter ranged from thoughtless to utterly senseless. April may have been little more than a plot device, but Anna was just a poorly written character. Both impacted the show in a negative way.
Which newer characters do you feel hurt Gilmore Girls? Let us know in the comments!