What Went Wrong with Rory Gilmore?
#19 TRENDING IN Opinion 🔥

What Went Wrong with Rory Gilmore?


April 10, 2023

Even though my introduction to Gilmore Girls began a little over a year ago, I was hooked on the persona of Rory Gilmore almost instantaneously.

Rory was portrayed as the perfect good girl, but not in a way that made her seem pretentious or unbearable(although these traits do flourish in her in the latter seasons), but in a way that had us rooting for her.

We all wanted Rory to get into Harvard, we all wanted to see her succeed simply because we knew she could, and that was what was shown to us. So, when an entire audience saw their beloved good girl relentlessly destroy her character arc in the worst ways possible and not learn from her mistakes, it was quite a devastating blow, leaving many asking the question “What went wrong?”

Rory was given everything easily:

This may be a not-so-popular opinion, but I always found it extremely weird that Rory managed to get into the Big 3 Ivy League (Harvard, Yale, Princeton) without any impactful extracurriculars. In the initial seasons of the show, we only see Rory as academically inclined, but nothing else.

Her position as vice president, being a book lover, and one summer spent volunteering were the only extracurriculars she had exposed herself to. Paris, on the other hand, spent day and night working tirelessly only to be rejected from her dream university.

Although Rory is presented as hardworking-and she is-it simply does not make it enough to get into the best Ivy leagues, let alone the top 3. I think the showrunners wrote this purposely to show how easy it was for Rory to get the things she wanted.

Even in the case of Yale, Richad’s interview set up with the dean was also a major contributing factor to her admission. This also extends to her Chilton and Yale tuition, both of which she is not shown to struggle with.

This trait of her getting everything she wants without struggle or effort ultimately ends up being one of the primal reasons for Rory turning out to be the way she is, but more on that later.

Speaking of Dean…

Rory’s relationships:

While I respected Rory for her academic pursuits, the way she handled all her relationships showed that she made crass and harmful mistakes in all of them-mistakes that she refused to learn from because she was portrayed as someone who wasn't in the wrong.

While I do think that Dean was to be blamed equally for the cheating incident, it's Rory who does not learn from her mistake, even after the show shows a 2-minute saga of her realising what she's done.

But before that, instead of accepting that she had chosen Jess over Dean (after cheating on Dean and repeatedly ignoring him, mind you), she decides to ice out her mother on one of the few times that Lorelai parents Rory well.

The pattern of cheating is also continued with her and Logan, in which she kisses Jess at his publication event( though Logan is not informed of this), and even in the revival, where she's more loyal to the trait of cheating than her current partners.

Her relationships also extend to her treatment of Lane, who she only goes to when she needs help, and her grandparents, who she turns against after they go to [censored] and back to get her a job and offer her a comfortable lifestyle after she drops out of Yale.

I think her downfall also revolves majorly around her influence at Yale, such as Logan, Colin and Firth, as being around them makes her more carefree about academics, thus indulging in behaviour that's normal for them.

Being around them also automatically makes her prone towards the lifestyle Loreali tries her best to keep Rory away from, where she is dependent on materialistic things supplied by her grandparents.

Rory’s coddling:

While I admit that Richard and Emily were not the best parents to Loreali, they did want the best for Rory and thus coddled her to every extent possible in hopes that they didn't lose their granddaughter like they lost their daughter.

But this turns out to backfire for all 3 of them as they give into Rory’s instance to drop out of Yale, blindsiding Loreali as they want Rory to be dependent on them.

What results in turn is 5 months of Rory ignoring her privilege and spending all her summer with Logan, not once feeling remorse or guilt for her decision.

This coddling also extends(even by Loreali to some extent) on the night of Rory’s arrest, where absolutely no one points out how ridiculously immature it is to steal a boat because of genuine constructive criticism.

This was one detail I truly hated about this show, as there were no repercussions or remorse on Rory’s part for what she did. She is astounded by the fact that he gets 300 hours of community service, even though the old Rory would completely agree that this punishment was what she deserved.


My opinion on Loreali is a grey area, and I don't think it's prone to change anytime soon. As a person, I love her character, and her comedic timing is one of the best I've seen. But her character as a mother made me irritated in the prior seasons, as Loreali behaved more childishly than her 16-year-old daughter.

As the seasons progressed, she did shape up to be a better mother, who was firm with her kid when Rory desperately needed a reality check. This doesn't happen much and when it does, Rory resorts to not speaking to her mother as she refuses to take the blame for her actions (eg: Dean, Yale).

We also see Rory acting immaturely in these situations, as when she was a child she never had to be told how to behave properly, as she was the perfect girl.

I do think that Rory’s initial behaviour and attitude lead Lorelai to not have to discipline her daughter as much, which is probably why Rory reacts to her mother’s critique the way she does. I also think that while Lorelai is much more realistic and mature when it comes to her daughter's decisions, there is a certain level of coddling being done by her as well, as we see Lorelai blame Mitchum for what he said to Rory, even though what he was saying turned out to be true, as we see in the latter years.

Finally, while Lorelai may have been an amazing influence on Rory and many single mothers out there, I do believe that Loreali’s mannerisms during her relationships seriously reflect on Rory’s as well. Just as Lorelai runs back to Christopher the minute something damaging happens to her current relationship, we see Rory doing the same to Dean and Jess. Both women refuse to change or accept their mistakes, which come back to haunt Rory later on.

The expectations everyone had for Rory:

When you look at the big picture, all of these pre-discussed notions about Rory's behaviour and the reactions of other characters around her just go to show one thing-That Rory always had those high bar expectations imposed on her, and so when she failed, there was this notion that she would always bounce back.

Initially, this was shown to us, with Rory getting a D grade in her first week in Chilton, eventually working her way up to valedictorian. The same goes for Yale, where she feels burnt out by the amount of work her classes added to her schedule, but ultimately managed to succeed in many of them.

So, just like her family and friends, we as a fandom knew that any challenge Rory encountered, she would be able to persevere and thrive from it.

This conception thus leads to many of her peers and family ignoring Rory’s mistakes as they are blindsided by the image of what Rory could be, not what she is heading to become. Thus, we see her character depleted more and more because no one is willing to hold her responsible for her actions, as they have the belief that she will ultimately come out of the setback as a better person.

And I highly believe this to be true, as even as I sit here, writing an article listing down every single one of Rory’s flaws, I still love this character to death and will always have an impeding bias toward her, regardless of her actions.

I too hold out hope that Rory will become the person she's meant to be because her portrayal without any initial flaws, and a portrayal in which she has become a product of her flaws has failed to show the evolution of Rory from these said flaws.

This is what leads Rory to her eventual decision to quit Yale, as no one has been upfront with her about her abilities, as the expectation to succeed always surrounded her.

As I previously stated, I will always have a bias towards Rory, no matter how badly her decisions and drive deteriorate. I honestly believe that the showrunners wanted to depict Rory as someone who was able to produce flaws too, but simply having her realise she made a mistake rather than having her learn from them made her a worse character in the end.

Still, I hold out hope that the drive that ignited Rory towards journalism is still embedded in her. Otherwise, I will have to resort to S1-3 Rory, or in my opinion, the Rory that should have been.

Do you like Rory as a character? What could the showrunners have done better so she didn't end up like that? Let me know in the comments below!

Read more about Rory Gilmore on The Teen Magazine here: The Reason for the Downfall of Rory Gilmore.

Jiya Chhugera
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Jiya Chhugera is a 12th-grade IBDP student who is extremely passionate about advocating for women's Reproductive/menstrual rights, gender equality, and equal access to education globally. The Vice president of her school MUN as well as managing editor of her school magazine, the DP Herald, she enjoys creating literary works and articles talking about pop culture and socio-economic issues that prevail in our society to this day.