For fans, choosing a favorite Gilmore Girls episode is way too hard a task to contemplate. In my humble opinion, it is much easier to choose the best episode for each Gilmore Girls character. At least then, one can be objective and talk about the amazing performances and story arcs. Otherwise, if you try to ask me my favorite episode overall, I will start incoherently blubbering about how perfect Luke and Lorelai were, or the romance of breaking a high heel shoe, and no one needs to see that.
With the Gilmore Girls revival coming up on Netflix, you may be contemplating a rewatch of the series (and if you are, then by all means, go for it) — but if you can't commit to seven seasons, why not watch the one episode that best exemplifies what your favorite character is all about? Instead of facing down 100 plus episodes of TV, you are looking at a handful of episodes in which Lorelai, Rory, or one of the show's other fantastic leads shined the brightest.
These episodes will take you back to Stars Hollow and let you reexamine the finest moments of the Gilmores, their BFFs, and their beaus. Sure, taking the scenic route is always fun, but if you just want to hit the emotional highlights, this list has your back.
Lorelai — "The Road Trip To Harvard," Season 2
Picking the episode where Lorelai shines the most is next to impossible, because Lauren Graham brought new layers of awesome to her performance in every single episode of the show. I feel "Road Trip To Harvard" might be a controversial choice, but hear me out. After breaking off her wedding to Max, Rory and Lorelai hit the road — and no matter how much they talk about tunes and roadside attractions, the weight of Lorelai's decision is hanging between them.
Lorelai is at her most raw and most guarded in this one hour. You see her as the mom who wants everything to be OK for her kid, you see her as the woman who wants to want Max but can't, and you see her glimpse the future she didn't have when she visits Harvard and stares at the photo of the class valedictorian from the year she would have graduated. It is a subtle, beautiful examination of Lorelai, and while she had showier episodes, none revealed her depths quite as perfectly as this one.
Rory — "Those Are Strings, Pinocchio," Season 3
The Season 3 finale marked a major transition for Rory. Not only did she give an emotional graduation speech that paid tribute to her relationship with her mother, she also said goodbye to Jess, and forged a deal of her own with the grandparents. So much of who Rory was and who she was becoming is wrapped up in her final high school experience that no other episode could possibly compete with it.
Emily — "Emily In Wonderland," Season 1
If your heart doesn't shatter when Emily sees the "cottage" where Rory and Lorelai lived when they first moved to Stars Hollow, then you might be soulless. Everything you need to know about Emily and Lorelai's relationship and how much Emily is afraid history will repeat itself with Rory can be found in this early episode. It's a heartbreaking portrait of all the ways Emily and Lorelai don't understand each other, and how hard is for them to admit they have a lot in common.
Richard — "Ted Koppel's Big Night Out," Season 4
Richard is so often seen as a man who loves his job and as a paragon of strength for his family, but by placing him in the Yale setting, the show allowed viewers to see another, more open and unabashedly happy side of Richard. It's not just his love for his alma mater that shines through, but the realization that Richard has a life beyond work and his family. The revelation that he sees Pennilyn Lott once a year lets you in on the fact that Richard has a private life that no one, not even Emily knows about.
Luke — "Dead Uncles and Vegetables," Season 2
Luke is all about family, and in this episode he finds himself worried that he is not doing enough when his uncle dies. Seeing Luke feeling so much self doubt as he wonders if his father would be proud of him is a defining moment for the character. At his core, Luke would do anything for the people he loves, but he can't always see himself the way the town sees him.
Jess — "Last Week Fights, This Week Tights," Season 4
This is the episode where Jess decided to let go of his anger and become the man he was always meant to be. He shows up for his mom, he finally thanks Luke for everything he did for him, and he tells Rory how he feels about her. That last gesture comes too late, but it was the act of being honest with himself that put him on the right path for his future.
Paris — "The Big One," Season 3
Confident, cooly sarcastic Paris Geller has a breakdown on CSPAN. She is so incredibly raw, funny, and sad in the moment she completely melts down on TV that it is impossible for this episode not to define Paris' strength and her ambition. The fact that it reaffirms her friendship with Rory is an added bonus.
Sookie — "A-Tisket, A-Tasket," Season 2
Sookie and Jackson both experience a bit of relationship panic in this outing, and it brings out an intriguing side of Sookie's character. It was always rare to see her independent from Lorelai, but when she stepped into the spotlight, she always shined with her humor, insecurities, and loving nature.
Lane — "In the Clamor and the Clangor," Season 4
After years of pretending to be someone she wasn't to please her mother, Lane finally takes control of her life. It's messy and at times difficult to watch, but no matter how much it hurt her mother, Lane had to be true to herself and begin to pursue her own dreams.
Dean — "That Damn Donna Reed," Season 1
When Dean offers the Gilmore women an opinion on The Donna Reed Show that they don't agree with, it showcases the way he was brought up and all the ways he and Rory were different. It's a wonderful episode for Dean as he stands by his point of view despite pressure from Rory, and it is the most interesting examination of his ideals the show ever offered.
Logan — "You Jump, I Jump, Jack," Season 5
Logan's first major episode is also his best. This is the first time viewers got to see why this rich boy could be so intoxicating and good for Rory. He lived his life outside any sort of comfort zone and he pulled Rory along with him. This episode solidified Logan's future as one of Gilmore Girls major characters.
Order a pizza and stock up on candy, because you now have all the information you need to plan the perfect character-centric Gilmore Girls marathon.
Images: Warner Bros. Television; oywiththepoodlesalready/Tumblr (11)