Follow TV Tropes


Recap / Gilmore Girls S01E01 "Pilot"

Go To

Season 1, Episode 1

Pilot (Original air date: 10/5/00)

Introducing Lorelai and Rory Gilmore, a 32-year-old single mother and her 16-year-old daughter living in the small town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut. When Rory is accepted into Chilton, a prestigious prep school and a gateway to fulfilling her dream of attending Harvard, Lorelai is dismayed at the high tuition. She reluctantly asks her estranged parents, Emily and Richard, for financial help. Meanwhile, Rory's attention is captured by an attractive new boy at school, and she is suddenly unsure if Chilton is really what she wants.



  • Absurdly Youthful Mother: Justified, as Lorelai was a teen mom. Used hilariously in one of the first scenes of the episode, in which a 20-something tourist hits on both of them and is shocked to find out they're mother and daughter. He then mentions he's travelling with a friend...and then bolts out the door when Lorelai tells him Rory's 16.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Sookie offers Lorelai her car to sell to get money for Chilton, to which Lorelai replies that she cannot possibly accept… because no one wants Sookie's car.
  • Because I Said So: After Rory impulsively decides against going to Chilton due a fledgling crush on Dean, Lorelai forgoes her usual democratic-style parenting and pulls the "Mom Card."
  • Black Sheep: Lorelai is one in regards to her wealthy, privileged upbringing.
  • Brick Joke: The one about Lorelai offering to do the Chilton principal to get Rory in. She tells Sookie that as a joke when she reads her the acceptance letter. Then when Rory is informed that she is in, she gets worried that Lorelai did "..." with the principal.
  • Advertisement:
  • Compliment Backfire: Subverted. A guy says Lorelai does not look old enough to have a daughter, and Rory… does not look like a daughter. Whatever that means, Lorelai says it's potentially very sweet.
  • Control Freak: Lorelai's beef with her mother is that she is controlling.
  • Crossing the Burnt Bridge: Prior to the beginning of the series, Lorelai has done everything she could to keep her parents out of her and Rory's lives. Rory's admission to Chilton and the steep tuition fee force Lorelai to go to her parents for a loan, onto which Emily quickly attaches the conditions of weekly Friday night dinners and personal involvement in their lives.
  • Dark Humor: Rory is mad at Lorelai, who assures her that after Friday night dinner she can pull a Menendez on her.
  • Disappeared Dad: Christopher is mentioned as being on the west coast, but since this is news relayed to Lorelai by her parents, it's implied he's not much involved in her and Rory's life.
  • Advertisement:
  • Education Mama: Lorelai offered to sleep with the headmaster at Chilton as an incentive for them to accept her. She doesn't, but it is one of the first questions Rory asks when Lorelai shares the news.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • The first scene of the show is Lorelai begging Luke for coffee and him scolding her for it (but eventually giving in).
    • Michel being rude and sarcastic to guests and coworkers alike.
    • One of Rory's is that she does the assignment in class while everyone else is reading the final chapters of Huckleberry Finn.
    • Mrs. Kim's first appearance establishes that she is not a fan of Lane being friends with Rory and that she does not like teen pregnancies.
    • Sookie's whimsy chef persona is slightly more extreme than it will be in later episodes.
    • Emily's tendency to treat social commitments like a business deal is firmly established.
    • Emily and Richard get another one when Richard upsets Lorelai by bringing up Christopher, and Emily tries to comfort her by insisting that all she heard her say was "pie".
  • Establishing Character Music:
    • Lorelai's first scene both opens and ends with The La's "There She Goes." The bouncy tune and bubbly lyrics set the tone well for her personality.
    • Sam Phillip's Where the Colors Don't Go is this for Lorelai's childhood home where her parents still live.
    • Kit Pongetti's Our Little Corner Of The World plays at the end, which basically summarizes the episode.
  • Everyone Has Standards: The man who is passing through Stars Hollow has no qualms hitting on a mother and daughter simultaneously, mentioning that he has a friend. But at least he excuses himself the moment Lorelai says that Rory is sixteen.
  • First Love: Rory's is introduced in this episode.
  • Gibberish of Love: Dean introduces himself, and Rory doesn't quite know how to respond. She starts out with her name, and ends with Lorelai in labor hopped up on Demerol (as an explanation for why Lorelai named Rory after herself).
  • Gratuitous Spanish: Lorelai speaks Spanish as well as English to her kitchen staff.
  • Hollywood New England: Stars Hollow is a quintessential New England small town, complete with town square, gazebo, and fall festivals.
  • Insistent Terminology: The Independence is not a motel, it's an inn.
  • Last-Minute Baby Naming: Rory tells the story of how her mother came up with the idea to name her for herself: she was high on demerol and thinking about how men name their sons for themselves all the time so why not women.
  • Literal-Minded: From the sound of it, the Chilton secretary Lorelai talks to on the phone thinks a "bank job" is a job in a bank.
  • Must Have Caffeine: An integral part of Lorelai's Establishing Character Moment.
    Lorelai: Please, Luke. Please, please, please.
    Luke: How many cups have you had this morning?
    Lorelai: None.
    Luke: Plus?
    Lorelai: Five. But yours is better!
    Luke: You have a problem.
  • Non Sequitur: Emily mentions that Lorelai is executive manager now, and Richard replies that "speaking of which", Christopher lives in Califonia now. Lorelai hangs a lampshade on it.
    Lorelai: How is that a "speaking of which", Dad?
  • Parental Hypocrisy: Lorelai understandably doesn't want her daughter to throw away oportunities to be with a guy at the age of sixteen, which is what she did by getting pregnant at sixteen.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Lorelai says upfront that she will spy on Rory and Dean.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Joe is on the road like Jack Kerouac.
    • Rory lost her Macy Gray cd, but Lorelai has it in her purse. Later she listens to I Try from that album.
    • Lane doubts she'll make an impression on Eminem.
    • Rory's class in Stars Hollow High is reading Huckleberry Finn.
    • Mark Twain can't compete with sparkles and bubble gum scent.
    • Lorelai announces that Rory got into Chilton by handing her a school uniform, causing Rory to guess that she's going to be in a Britney Spears video.
    • Lorelai would rather reenact a Stephen King novel than ask her parents for money.
    • Rory claims Dean just stands there like Ruth Gordon from Rosemary's Baby.
    • Moby-Dick is Rory's first Herman Melville.
    • The previous week she read Madame Bovary.
    • Lorelai claims Rory has to turn into "freaking Flo-Jo" to get away from her.
    • Lorelai isn't interested in getting the Mommie Dearest treatment.
    • Rory and Lorelai reenact The Little Matchgirl before ringing the bell at their first Friday night dinner.
    • Rory think Lorelai's questions about Dean are "so Nick @ Nite".
  • Teen Pregnancy:
    • Rory was the product of one, causing people to assume they're sisters since they look very close in age.
    • Rory quips that Joanna Posner, fellow Stars Hollow student, might be pregnant.
  • Quirky Town: Stars Hollow
  • Wacky Parent, Serious Child: Lorelai's wacky to Rory's grounded personalities are introduced in this episode.
  • World of Snark


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: