Tragic Details About The Gilmore Girls Cast

The following article includes references to eating disorders and addiction.

"Gilmore Girls" ran from 2000 to 2007 on The WB, and later on The CW. It's hard to believe that the hit comedy-drama originally premiered over two decades ago, as the show's popularity has increased exponentially in recent years thanks to Netflix and the four-part reunion series, "Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life." "It's fun because different groups of people are finding it," star Lauren Graham said of the original series on "Jimmy Kimmel Live." Now, "Gilmore Girls" has become the ultimate comfort show for fans new and old to (re)watch during fall and winter — there's a reason Richard Gilmore (Edward Herrmann) saying "I am an autumn" has become a viral TikTok sound bite after all!

The show launched the careers of many of its stars, including the titular Gilmore girls, Lorelai (Graham) and Rory (Alexis Bledel), who've both gone on to enjoy successful TV careers. Melissa McCarthy, who played Lorelai's best friend Sookie, went on to become a major movie star, as did their nutty neighbor Kirk (Sean Gunn) who joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe after "Gilmore Girls." But gaining such success and notoriety hasn't shielded the expansive cast and crew from tragedies in their lives. The Stars Hollow locals have had to deal with everything from serious accidents and workplace drama to sad and unexpected deaths. Here are all the tragic details you need to know about the cast of "Gilmore Girls."

Edward Herrmann's death was a devastating shock

Edward Herrmann's character Richard Gilmore had a strong presence throughout the entirety of "Gilmore Girls." Though often hardline with his daughter Lorelai, he doted on his granddaughter Rory, and the pair quickly established a close bond. That bond was felt between the cast members off-screen, too, according to the show's creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, who collectively referred to Herrmann as the cast's dad while speaking to People.

It then came as a huge shock when Herrmann died in December 2014, at the age of 71 as a result of brain cancer. Sherman-Palladino revealed that he kept the illness to himself and not many of the cast members knew he'd been sick. Shortly after his death, the cast and crew began gearing up for "A Year In the Life," though the actor's absence was felt by all. To celebrate Herrmann in a manner befitting "Gilmore Girls," Sherman-Palladino created a running joke with a portrait of Richard that was comically large.

Nevertheless, the loss was present for his scene partner, Kelly Bishop, who played his wife, Emily Gilmore. "I was lonely without him, I must say," Bishop admitted to Radio Times. "It was being in the house or being in the dining room without him. It was so sad because I know he would have loved doing this and there was just sort of an empty feel ... I'm sorry he couldn't be with us," she added.

Lauren Graham struggled with disordered eating

One of the running jokes in "Gilmore Girls" is Lorelai and Rory's eating habits. Lorelai and Rory's love of food (and coffee) is a big part of their personality, and the show regularly makes jokes about them surviving on take-out and junk food while still staying thin.

In real life, Lauren Graham has had a much more complicated relationship with food, and she definitely didn't feel like she could eat whatever she wanted whenever she wanted. "I've pretty much always been on a diet since I was born," she said during a 2011 interview with (via CNN), where she was also asked about her weight loss methods and she promoted a soup diet and juice cleanse. The TV star admitted that she has struggled with societal expectations around women's weight all her life and that it led to disordered eating habits.

In her second memoir "Have I Told You This Already?" Graham revealed that for her, being thin didn't equate to being healthy. "The me that looked my 'best' was a me that smoked, was underfed, ran high with anxiety, didn't get enough sleep, and still never felt good enough," she wrote.

If you need help with an eating disorder, or know someone who does, help is available. Visit the National Eating Disorders Association website or contact NEDA's Live Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. You can also receive 24/7 Crisis Support via text (send NEDA to 741-741).

The set on one of Melissa McCarthy's acting jobs was so toxic it made her physically ill

Melissa McCarthy enjoyed a meteoric rise to fame as a result of playing chef Sookie St. James on "Gilmore Girls." She's gone on to become a household name thanks to her impressive movie career that includes starring in comedies like "Bridesmaids," "Identity Thief," "Spy, "Life of the Party," and "Ghostbusters." All that success started with "Gilmore Girls," which was her first steady acting gig. After working on the show for seven years, she grew close with a lot of the cast and crew, especially her on-screen bestie Lauren Graham.

However, McCarthy hasn't always had such pleasant experiences on set. "I did work for someone once who ran such a volatile, hostile set that it made me physically ill," the "Superintelligence" star revealed to The Guardian. "My eyes were swelling up, I was absorbing all of this nuttiness. There were people weeping, visibly so upset by this one person. And I think that's why the manipulation worked, because to get to me, this person would fire people I loved, which kept me quiet. It was very effective," McCarthy recalled.

Eventually, the toxic behavior on set became too much to bear, and it prompted her to speak up. "Then one day, I was like, 'It stops today!' I just kept saying to them, 'it stops, it stops.' And I know now I'll never keep quiet again," she determined.

Lauren Graham lost her mom to cancer

Lauren Graham — who was a close friend of the late Matthew Perry — suffered another tragic loss while filming "Gilmore Girls." Her mom, Donna Grant, died from cancer in 2005 at age 61. The actor had an unconventional relationship with her mom during the early years of her life. When she was three weeks old, Lauren's mom, Donna, and her dad, Lawrence Graham, relocated the family to Tokyo, where they lived until she was five. It was then that her parents divorced, and Lauren moved back to the U.S. with her dad. Meanwhile, Donna headed across the pond to London to pursue a music career, before eventually settling down to work in fashion.

The actor and her mother were estranged for several years until Lawrence took Lauren to visit her mom in London when she was 11. The "Gilmore Girls" star told Ladies' Home Journal that she struggled when her mom left but moved through it with the support of her dad, and she eventually went on to develop a good relationship with her mom. She continued to visit her in London, experiencing her mom's bohemian lifestyle, which influenced Graham later in life. But sadly, their time together was cut short. After Donna's death, the actor told More, "I have a lot of sadness about her passing." The "Parenthood" alum added that she felt regret and compassion for her mom that she didn't achieve the professional success she hoped for in her life.

Brian Tarantina died of a drug overdose

Brian Tarantina played Stars Hollow local Bootsy in both "Gilmore Girls" and the revival series. He was most often seen feuding with Luke, manning his newsstand, or speaking out on town issues. Tarantina appeared in a total of seven episodes, but his portrayal of the character was enough to impress showrunner Amy Sherman-Palladino, as she cast him in a much bigger role in her next hit series, "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel." 

Tarantina played Jackie, the MC at the Gaslight, the club where Midge (Rachel Brosnahan) gets her start as a comic, though he sadly died while they were filming the series' fourth season. The New York Medical Examiner confirmed he died of "acute intoxication by the combined effects of fentanyl, heroin, diazepam and cocaine" in November 2019 at the age of 60, per CNN. The series paid tribute to Tarantina by giving his character an off-screen death and a very moving funeral scene, complete with a passionate eulogy from Suzie (Alex Borstein), who dedicated her future career success to him.

Tarantina's other TV credits included a reunion with "Gilmore Girls" alum Milo Ventimiglia on "Heroes," as well as guest appearances in "The Good Wife," "Elementary," and "Blue Bloods." He also appeared in a few movies, including "BlacKkKlansman" and "Knight and Day."

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Jared Padalecki was in a serious car accident

Jared Padalecki's "Gilmore Girls" character Dean Forester was Rory's first boyfriend, and likely a lot of viewers' teenage crushes. He was a big part of the show until he left Stars Hollow suddenly in Season 5. The real reason for Dean's abrupt departure was Padalecki's thriving career. He booked the role of Sam Winchester on the hit series "Supernatural" and never looked back — until the 2016 "Gilmore" revival, which was exactly what he needed to finish off Dean's story, Padalecki admitted at a fan convention (via ET).

After 15 years of "Supernatural," Padalecki swiftly moved on to another impressive TV series, playing the titular character in the crime drama "Walker." However, tragedy struck while he was filming the show in Austin, Texas, in April 2022. The TV star was involved in a serious car accident. Padalecki's friend and former "Supernatural" co-star Jensen Ackles broke the news at a fan convention in New Jersey, explaining that Padalecki was "lucky to be alive" following the accident (via CNN). Fox News later confirmed that the actor had been in the passenger seat while his cousin Jeremy Padalecki was behind the wheel.

A few days later, Padalecki tweeted a update in response to his fans' vocal support. He wrote: "I'm definitely on the mend and hoping to return to filming later this week. I'm so lucky to have had the best care and be surrounded by people who love me. So grateful for everyone."

Fran passed away in real life

Linda Porter might be best known for her role as Myrtle in "Superstore," but "Gilmore Girls" fans will always remember her as Fran. The bakery owner played a small but integral part in the series, as she also owned the derelict Dragonfly Inn, which Lorelai and Sookie hoped to buy. However, Fran's deepest desire was to own the property until the day she died and declared she wouldn't be selling.

The duo put the project on the back burner and hoped to one day change Fran's mind, but before they could get the chance, Porter's character passed away. She was given a beautiful send-off, and once Lorelai and Sookie bought the inn from her estate, they raised a toast to celebrate her. In real life, Porter lived much longer than her character, but she sadly died from cancer in September 2019 at the age of 86.

After "Gilmore Girls," Porter had several memorable guest roles on popular shows like "How I Met Your Mother," "American Horror Story," "The Mindy Project," and "Bunheads." In 2015, she snagged a main role in the America Ferrera-led comedy "Superstore" and starred in the show for four seasons until her death. Danny Gura, who played Elias on the show, paid tribute to the veteran actor on X, formerly Twitter, after her death. He wrote: " R.I.P. Linda Porter, who was always smiling and always brightened up the Superstore set. This is a hard one. You will be missed."

Liz Torres struggled with her weight and health for years

Liz Torres played the outrageously funny Miss Patty on "Gilmore Girls." Having got her start in "this business we call show" performing on Broadway, Patty eventually settled down in Stars Hollow as the town's dance teacher. Interestingly, Torres entered the entertainment business in a similar fashion as her character, playing Morticia Addams in the 1973 musical "The Addams Family Fun House" before bringing her comedic talents to the screen. She also bagged roles in "The Wonder Years" and "Ally McBeal" and received an Emmy nomination for her role as Mahalia Sanchez in "The John Larroquette Show," before she moved to Stars Hollow.

In the years between "Gilmore Girls" and "A Year in the Life," Torres underwent a dramatic physical transformation, and she looked totally different when she returned to play the character. Miss Patty's weight is never really discussed in the series, but it's something Torres has been very candid about in interviews. In 1997 she told The Los Angeles Times that her weight has fluctuated her entire life. "I'm always striving to lose weight," she told the outlet. "Being heavy isn't good for you. How long can your heart take the strain? So, I never give up, but it's hard. Being on the television show helped a lot," Torres added. She also said that she was treated differently (read: worse) when she was heavier.

Scott Patterson felt totally 'uncomfortable' with one Gilmore Girls scene

Part of what made "Gilmore Girls" so successful was that it regularly subverted tropes and stereotypes. The leads were two smart, independent women, and they were surrounded by a town full of feminist characters. All-in-all, "Gilmore Girls" made some huge strides in TV pop culture, but unfortunately, it didn't get everything right.

Speaking on his "Gilmore Girls" rewatch podcast "I Am All In," Patterson discussed a scene from the Season 3 episode "Keg! Max!" that he was totally uncomfortable with. In the scene, his character Luke was assessing fire damage in the kitchen of the Independence Inn while Lorelai and Sookie stood behind him making jokes about his "great butt." Despite his pleas for them to stop, they continue.

Patterson felt understandably uncomfortable with the whole thing. "I realized it wasn't OK, and it didn't make me feel comfortable at all. It made me feel really embarrassed, actually. It is infuriating to be treated that way — it is infuriating — because you're being treated like an object," he said. This was worsened by the fact he had to endure multiple takes of the scene, and he was left embarrassed as he became the butt of all the jokes on set afterward. He added that even back then, that kind of objectification wasn't okay and he wished he'd spoken up, but he didn't as he feared it could have jeopardized his job on the show.

Chad Michael Murray almost died when he was a teenager

If you're a Chad Michael Murray fan, you'll probably recall that he played Tristan Dugray in the first two seasons of "Gilmore Girls." Tristan was Chilton's resident bad boy and a potential romantic interest for Rory — had he remained on the show, it's likely he would have played a much bigger role in her life. However, Murray decided to pursue other acting opportunities, playing Charlie in "Dawson's Creek" and then Lucas Scott in "One Tree Hill." Starring in these shows and appearing opposite Hilary Duff in "A Cinderella Story" quickly earned Murray his noughties teen heartthrob status.

However, this almost never happened, as Murray had a serious medical emergency when he was a teenager that left him fighting for his life. "My intestines twisted when I was 15 and they didn't know what was wrong," he revealed on SiriusXM's "The Jess Cagle Show." "When I started bleeding internally, my stomach didn't expand. So the doctors couldn't tell that I was bleeding. ... I almost died," he revealed.

Thankfully, the "Riverdale" star found comfort in movies and TV shows while he was recovering, motivating him to pursue an acting career. "The one thing that really saved me from that moment in life ... was television and film. I said, 'I want to do that, man. I want to give people something to smile about.' ... That's why I became an actor," Murray explained.

Sally Struthers was held up at gunpoint while doing charity work

A two-time Primetime Emmy Award winner, Sally Struthers has had an impressive career. She's not only toured the world performing in plays at musicals, but she's also starred in hit TV shows such as "All in the Family" and "American Dad!" Of course, "Gilmore Girls" fans know her best as Lorelai and Rory's lively neighbor Babette.

Alongside acting, Struthers has dedicated much of her professional life to charity work and was an ambassador for Save the Children for 35 years. However, she revealed on the "WTF with Marc Maron" podcast that her time with the charity was cut short after a terrifying trip to Uganda that she'd taken to meet a child that she'd been sponsoring. She explained that after having a lovely time with the child and filming a few commercials, she and her group were ambushed. "A roving band of guerrilla warfare guys came out of the bushes and asked [him] where he was from, and he named his village, which was far away, and they decided that we had kidnapped him, and they were going to shoot all of us."

Fortunately, the Catholic priest she was with negotiated on the group's behalf. Still, Struthers stepped back from her work with the charity after the frightening encounter. "I thought, 'What am I doing? I've got a child, a real-life child of my own, and I'm gonna make her an orphan. I can't do this anymore,'" she recalled.

Amy Sherman-Palladino was devastated after a contract dispute forced her to quit Gilmore Girls early

The production of "Gilmore Girls" had been going well for six seasons, but the show hit a roadblock when, ahead of Season 7, The WB merged with UPN and rebranded as The CW network. At the time, co-creators Amy Sherman-Palladino and her husband Dan-Palladino wrote and helmed the show, and were thinking about how it was going to end. They wanted to bring the series to a close with an eighth season and expand the writers' room to alleviate some of the pressure on them. Ultimately, it came down to the budget, and The CW couldn't offer them a contract for what they needed, forcing them to quit the series despite their original plan.

As a result, a new creative team was brought in, but it's widely acknowledged that Season 7 fell flat. The tone of the series changed and the ending wasn't the one the couple had envisioned, as they planned to conclude the series with Rory's pregnancy (which they later rectified at the end of the revival).

Sherman-Palladino said it was heartbreaking to say goodbye to the show and difficult to return for "A Year in the Life." "Any writer who was so emotionally connected to something and then pulled out of it is going to find it very hard to go back into that world," she told Vulture years later.

Personal tragedy shaped Matt Czuchry's career after Gilmore Girls

After Jared Padalecki's Dean and Milo Ventimiglia's Jess, Matt Czuchry's Logan Huntzberger became the resident heartthrob on "Gilmore Girls." Playing Rory's college boyfriend Logan is one of the few comedic roles in Czuchry's repertoire though, as he's better known for starring in dramas like "The Good Wife."

In 2018, Czuchry took on the lead role of Dr. Conrad Hawkins in the medical drama "The Resident." His interest in this series came directly from his own life experiences and loss. He told BUILD: "When this pilot came to me in 2017, a friend of mine, her mother passed away from a medical error. And I also had a friend in 2015 ... I was with them on their last day when they passed away. And so when I read this, not only were the characters compelling to me, the story was compelling to me, but also I had this personal connection in the healthcare system which I saw through this show."

Czuchry added that thinking about how many other people have experienced tragedies from medical errors made the series feel like he would be telling important stories through "The Resident." "It was something that spoke to me on a different level, a personal level," he added. The show attacks medical errors from all angles, as it kicks off with the reputed surgeon Dr. Randolph Bell (Bruce Greenwood) covering up a series of mistakes.

Were The Handmaid's Tale's dark storylines too much for Alexis Bledel?

Alexis Bledel enjoyed a busy career after "Gilmore Girls," starring in "Post Grad," "The Kate Logan Affair," "Jenny's Wedding," and "Us & Them." Although some of her movies were regarded as flops, Bledel has continued to shine on the small screen. In 2017, she took on the role of Emily Malek/Ofglen in "The Handmaid's Tale." The hit series, based on Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel of the same name, brought several accolades Bledel's way: She won a Primetime Emmy Award for outstanding guest actress in a drama series in 2017 and has since been nominated for three more Emmys.

However, in 2021, Bledel announced she "had to step away" from the show after four seasons (via Variety). Although she didn't confirm the reason for her exit, it's possible that the dark nature of the series became too much for Bledel. The "Gilmore Girls" star previously told The Daily Beast that she "felt sick to [her] stomach" while filming some of the show's upsetting scenes. "Thank goodness it's the reason to tell this story, to tell a cautionary tale. Otherwise, it would just be too upsetting, I think," she added. Bledel also told Deadline that she prefers to limit the amount of time she spends in character so the "darkness" doesn't creep in too much. But perhaps the gap between fiction and reality ultimately became too small for comfort.