The series introduced audiences to as about as many future stars as it did quirky characters: The Handmaid Tale's Alexis Bledel, Supernatural's Jared Padalecki, This Is Us' Milo Ventimiglia, The Resident's Matt Czuchry, and two-time Oscar nominee Melissa McCarthy are among those who got their big breaks on the coffee-fueled, mother-daughter-focused comedy-drama created by Amy Sherman-Palladino.
Alexis Bledel was an undergrad at New York University when she won the role of Rory Gilmore, the younger but more mature half of Gilmore Girls' main mother-daughter duo. Bledel, a former model, played the Chilton-and-Yale-educated aspiring journalist, and remained with the show for all seven seasons -- even if the writers did have Rory steal a yacht that one time. Bledel reprised the role in the Netflix miniseries Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.
Outside of Gilmore Girls, Alexis Bledel has starred in the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants movies, and had a recurring role on Mad Men. As of 2020, she stars as Emily on Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale (pictured); she won a Primetime Emmy for her work on the dystopian drama.
Lauren Graham starred in a series of short-lived sitcoms (Townies, Conrad Bloom, M.Y.O.B.) before she found the job that stuck: playing Gilmore Girls' Lorelai Gilmore, Stars Hollow's fast-talking, coffee-swigging, pop-culture-referencing innkeeper and devoted single mom. Like Bledel and much of the cast, Graham returned to the franchise for Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.
After Gilmore Girls, Lauren Graham played another single mom, Sarah Braverman, for six uber-dramatic seasons on Parenthood. As of 2020, she was rocking out on NBC's musical dramedy Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist (pictured).
Keiko Agena played Rory Gilmore's BFF, Lane Kim, who had her own band, not to mention her own mother issues. She returned to the Stars Hollow universe for Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.
On the Fox crime drama Prodigal Son, Keiko Agena rocks gloves, not a drum set, as medical examiner Dr. Edrisa Tanaka.
Melissa McCarthy had appeared in an episode of her cousin Jenny McCarthy's 1997-1998 sitcom Jenny, and had a handful of other screen credits when she was cast as Lorelai Gilmore's indispensable Independence Inn coworker -- and BFF -- Sookie St. James. She reprised the always-cooking role in Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.
Melissa McCarthy has basically been everywhere since Gilmore Girls. She co-starred in the 2007-2009 TV comedy Samantha Who?, enjoyed Primetime Emmy-winning sitcom success in 2010-2016's Mike & Molly, and became a box office force via the 2011 blockbuster Bridesmaids, for which she earned her first career Oscar nomination. In 2020, she hosted Season 4 of Little Big Shots (pictured), the NBC variety series she also helps executive produce.
Post-Gilmore Girls, Scott Patterson starred in the short-lived NBC sci-fi show The Event. He re-donned Luke's baseball cap and flannel shirt for Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life (pictured).
Liza Weil played Rory Gilmore's Chilton rival turned Bangles buddy and Yale classmate Paris Geller. Weil was among the GG stars who returned for the Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.
From 2014-2020, Liza Weil played attorney Bonnie Winterbottom on the ABC crime-drama How to Get Away with Murder.
Jared Padelecki began his Gilmore Girls journey in the pilot, when he was introduced as the Rosemary's Baby-aware Chicago transplant Dean Forester. Over the years, his character became Rory Gilmore's first kiss, first boyfriend, and first, well, you know.
Jared Padalecki left Gilmore Girls after Season 5 (and after Dean was shown to be not-so dreamy). He promptly began a 15-season run on the CW's Supernatural (pictured). Despite his demon-hunting duties for that show, Padadelecki reprised his Gilmore Girls role for the "Fall" episode of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.
Kelly Bishop was a Tony Award-winning legend (A Chorus Line) best known as the mother of Jennifer Grey's Baby in Dirty Dancing when she was cast as another on-screen mom: Emily Gilmore, the Lorelai-vexing maternal unit who agrees to pay for Rory's Chilton tuition in exchange for more opportunities to vex Lorelai.
Kelly Bishop, who had a role on Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino's Bunheads, returned to the world of Stars Hollow for Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life (pictured).
Viewers are introduced to Yanic Truesdale in the Gilmore Girls pilot; the French Canadian actor plays Michel Gerard, originally the Independence Inn's front-desk clerk -- the exacting front-desk clerk.
Yanic Truesdale returned to play the ever-dapper Michel Gerard in Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life (pictured). In 2020, Truesdale was seen in the French-language Canadian drama, Les Mecs (translation: The Guys).
Veteran actress Liz Torres, a two-time Primetime Emmy nominee for the 1990s sitcom The John Larroquette Show, played Stars Hollow's chain-smoking dance instructor, Miss Patty, for the duration of the show. She reprised the role for Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.
Liz Torres is seen at an event in Los Angeles in 2019. Her recent credits include guest appearances on One Day at a Time and Devious Maids.
A baby-faced Milo Ventimiglia joined the Gilmore Girls cast in Season 2. He played Jess Mariano, the New York-born nephew of Luke, and the Stars Hollow bad boy who actually ended up being a pretty good match for Rory.
Since 2016, Milo Ventimiglia, who appeared in four Gilmore Girls seasons, and who reprised Jess for Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, has starred as solid-citizen, non-bad-boy Jack Pearson on NBC's This Is Us.
Matt Czuchry joined the Gilmore Girls cast in Season 5 as preppy publishing scion and Yale student Logan Huntzberger, the supposedly charming cad whom Rory jumps off a scaffolding with, and ultimately rejects a proposal from. (Logan is also involved with the yacht-stealing scandal.) Czuchry returned to the role for Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, presumably so that Logan could again help Rory show off her unflattering side: In the miniseries, it's revealed Rory and the engaged-to-another Logan are having an affair.
Post-Gilmore Girls, Matt Czuchry scored a recurring role on Friday Night Lights, and then a starring role as Cary Agos on The Good Wife. Since 2018, he's played the title character, Dr. Conrad Hawkins, on Fox's The Resident (pictured).
Vanessa Marano was 13 when she made her Gilmore Girls debut as April Nardini, the daughter Luke never knew he had, in Season 6's "The Prodigal Daughter Returns."
Vanessa Marano moved on from Gilmore Girls to star in the ABC Family/Freeform series Switched at Birth. Since 2018, Marano has starred as Nancy Graves, one of the deceased characters in the Snap Original series, The Dead Girls Detective Agency (pictured).
Chad Michael Murray made his first prime-time impression with the Gilmore Girls as Tristan DuGray, Rory's bullying, "Mary"-taunting Chilton classmate whom Rory ends up kissing anyway because, well, she's a Gilmore, we guess. Murray appeared in Seasons 1 and 2 en route to a stint on Dawson's Creek and a starring role on One Tree Hill.
Chad Michael Murray is the rare Gilmore Girls alum who did not return for Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. (He said he "wasn't available at the time"; the role was instead played by Anton Narinskiy.) In 2019, Murray played Edgar Evernever on the CW's Riverdale (pictured).
For the duration of Gilmore Girls, and then again for Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, Emily Kuroda played Mrs. Kim, Lane's mother and minder who's so strict that her daughter originally hides her rock-'n'-roll ambitions from her. (Insert sad face.)
Emily Kuroda is seen as a patient in a 2018 episode of Fox's The Resident, starring fellow Gilmore Girls alum Matt Czuchry. In 2020, Kuroda reunited with her TV daughter, Keiko Agena, to host an UPtv GG Mother's Day marathon.
The Primetime Emmy-winning Edward Herrmann was best known for playing President Franklin D. Roosevelt, or maybe for his villainous turn in The Lost Boys, before he became the Gilmore Girls' outnumbered Gilmore male, Richard Gilmore.
Post-Gilmore Girls, Edward Herrmann remained a familiar prime-time figure. He had a recurring role as attorney Lionel Deerfield on The Good Wife; he is seen here in a 2013 episode that would prove to be his final appearance on the drama. Herrmann died Dec. 31, 2014. He was 71.
In Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, Hermann's Richard Gilmore is said to have suffered a fatal heart attack; the character's death is the jumping-off point for the Netflix miniseries.
Sally Struthers, a two-time Primetime Emmy-winner for the TV classic All in the Family, lent her comic talent to Gilmore Girls as the daffy, cat-loving Babette Dell.
In Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life (pictured), Sally Struthers reunited with her Gilmore Girls husband, Ted Rooney, who played the cool, piano-playing Morey Dell.
Danny Strong had credits in Saved by the Bell: The New Class and, most prominently, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, when he joined the Gilmore Girls cast in Season 4 as Doyle McMaster, Rory and Paris' editor at the Yale Daily News (who eventually becomes Paris' boyfriend and husband).
Danny Strong would've made Doyle McMaster proud by branching out into writing (and producing) after Gilmore Girls. He won two Primetime Emmys for his work on the HBO movie Game Change. He wrote the hit movie The Butler, and teamed with that film's director, Lee Daniels, to create the hit Fox drama Empire. All the while, Strong has continued to act, appearing in Empire, Showtime's Billions (pictured) -- and two episodes of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.
David Sutcliffe played Gilmore Girls' original bad boyfriend, Christopher Hayden, Lorelai's former high school flame, Rory's (mostly) absentee father, and Lorelai's eventual (short-lived) husband. Sutcliffe pops up for the first time in the Season 1 episode "That Damn Donna Reed"; he went on to appear in every season, save the fourth.
After Gilmore Girls, David Sutcliffe played the boyfriend of Addison Montgomery (Kate Walsh) on Private Practice. He returned to his Christopher Hayden roots for Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life (pictured).
On Gilmore Girls, Jackson Douglas played Jackson Belleville, the farmer who starts out selling vegetables to chef Sookie St. James, and ends up marrying the character in the Season 2 finale, "I Can't Get Started."
Jackson Douglas appears as Jackson in the "Spring" installment of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life (pictured).
Sean Gunn played a couple of different characters in two early Gilmore Girls episodes before debuting in "Cinnamon's Wake" as Kirk Gleason, one of Stars Hollow's quirky denizens -- the one with the night terrors, to be precise. Gunn reprised the role in Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.
Sean Gunn, the brother of Marvel Cinematic Universe director James Gunn, played Kraglin in his sibling's Guardians of the Galaxy and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (pictured), as well as in Avengers: Endgame. He's set to return to the MCU in the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
Todd Lowe joined the Gilmore Girls family in Season 3 as Lane's bandmate (and future husband) Zach Van Gerbig. Over the years, Lane's band also featured musicians played by Adam Brody and Skid Row rocker Sebastian Bach.
Todd Lowe stuck around as Zach, and reunited with Keiko Agena in Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. The TV couple welcomed twins in Gilmore Girls' Season 7, and were back living in Stars Hollow in Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.
On Gilmore Girls, Michael Winters played Stars Hollow's know-it-all town selectman, Taylor Doose.
Michael Winters reprised his role as Taylor, and resumed his bossy Stars Hollow ways, in Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life (pictured).