When Did Richard Gilmore Die? In The 'Gilmore Girls' Revival, It's Been A Long Winter Without Him
There have been whispers and mentions of some sort of Gilmore Girls revival for many years since the show’s series finale — the rumors were mostly of a movie to tie up all of the stories, so Netflix’s four-part revival, Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life, is a real treat. We get six more hours with the Gilmore ladies and the rest of their crazy Stars Hollow fam. It’s not all fun and games, though — Richard Gilmore, the much-loved Gilmore patriarch, has passed away, and Emily, Rory, and Lorelai are feeling the weight of his absence, but it may seem slightly unclear as to when Richard Gilmore passed away in the Gilmore Girls timeline .
Richard had had a few bouts of heart issues during the original Gilmore Girls series. There was a touch of angina in Season 1, and then an actual heart attack in Season 7 — one that Rory actually witnesses, as Richard is teaching one of Rory's classes at Yale. On Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life, Richard ultimately succumbed to another, much larger heart attack (Edward Herrmann, who played Richard, died of brain cancer in 2014). In the first episode, “Winter,” Rory, Emily, and Lorelai are mourning Richard’s death, and Lorelai explains to Rory why Emily is still so angry with Lorelai over what Lorelai did at her father’s funeral.
The funeral, by the way, took place about four months prior, so that means that Richard died in the very late summer or early fall of the previous year — it’s cold and snowy for most of “Winter,” so Richard Gilmore probably died in the last quarter of the year before. His heart attack took everyone by surprise, so much so that Lorelai couldn’t think of a single great story to tell about her father at his funeral. Emily and all of Richard’s good friends were going around in a circle, sharing their best Richard Gilmore anecdotes, and all Lorelai could talk about was the time that Richard and she were playing hide-and-seek and he accidentally left her in a steamer trunk, among other embarrassing tales.
Lorelai totally panicked, and I totally don’t get it — why, like Emily and Rory said to her later, couldn’t Lorelai have just said something about Richard liking to read? Or he was a great dad and one time we went to the zoo? Or whatever? Lorelai could have just made something up on the spot if she didn’t have a nice story to tell about her recently departed father. One thing I noticed about Lorelai in my older age is how markedly selfish she is — sometimes in life, it doesn't have to be about winning an argument or making a point. Sometimes, you just have to keep the peace.
The good thing that came out of Richard’s death is that Emily and Lorelai are forced to come to terms with their issues with each other. Emily boondoggles Lorelai into going to therapy with her, and even though they don’t seem to make much progress, just recognizing that there is a problem is a great first step. Emily and Lorelai have always been like cats and dogs, but if they can mark and then fix their problems with each other, Richard’s sudden death would have a bit of a silver lining.
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