Show: The CW’s Gilmore Girls
Featured Characters: Luke Danes and Lorelai Gilmore
While Gilmore Girls has done the best job of showcasing the incomparable bond between mothers and daughters, it’s also done excellent work with organically building up the foreseen relationship between Luke Danes and Lorelai Gilmore. As Brooklyn Nine Nine’s Rosa Diaz once said, “I just want Lorelai to be happy!” Same. That is our motto here too.
We may all have different choices when it comes to Rory’s relationship, but it’s safe to admit that the majority of viewers shipped Luke Danes and Lorelai Gilmore like FedEx (what did we even call it back then? Do we still call it this?). When they first made an appearance on screen together, you just knew, right from the start, that you wanted them together. It would happen someday, and it would be beautiful, but it wasn’t a path that would come easy.
They are our first introduction to the grump and sunshine slow-burn friends-to-lovers romance trope for many of us, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Because really, who doesn’t want to have a local diner they go to every day with a good-looking “friend” who pretends he’s annoyed with you, but you’re actually the best part of his day? And who doesn’t want to fall in love with this said friend that’s always there to offer a helping hand, coffee, and love? Luke Danes and Lorelai Gilmore are like coffee and bagels—a perfect combination that makes everything better. (Or whatever your choice of breakfast item is—tea and biscuits? That works too.) They made each other and their situations around them better in every way.
Luke Danes and Lorelai Gilmore—Where you lead…
Whether someone’s watched Gilmore Girls or not, there’s a high chance the theme song is still pretty well known. And while the heart of Carole King’s track is for the Gilmore women, much of it encapsulates Luke and Lorelai’s relationship down to the last drop of coffee after a third refill.
Lorelai is always the one taking care of everyone around her, but with Luke, someone was taking care of her for the first time—someone was carrying her through the most challenging time in her life and appreciating every bit of her fiery heart along the way. And most importantly, Luke cared for Rory as his own, proving time and time again that he saw her worth in ways it took others years to understand. He found a family in the Gilmores, and because of that, he would consistently do everything in his power to make sure they knew they had a safe space with him, at Luke’s Diner, and in the entire town of Stars Hollow, no matter what.
For a moment, they were all they had, and when the world tried to throw in every frustrating obstacle, the love they shared was similar to the hints of sunshine we see in the pocket of gloomy weather—things would be okay in this small town love story.
Luke Danes and Lorelai Gilmore have one of the best first kisses to exist because when the “will they/won’t they” finally turns into a would you just stand still? The world around them stops just as it does for us viewers.
It’s essentially why their first kiss is so memorable because Luke Danes, at this point, has made it clear that there is nothing he wouldn’t do for Lorelai. He’s crystallized the notion that where she leads, he’ll follow with arms wide open.
It took a while for Luke Danes and Lorelai Gilmore to get together because pushing past the barriers and the heartaches required looking toward the parts of themselves they weren’t ready to share with others. While it was always easy to love how often Luke would put a smile on Lorelai’s face—it was always in the little things like making her breakfast because he knew it was her favorite in town or an actual ice-rink outside of her house because he knows she loves snow more than anything.
Whether grumbling through it or entirely amicable in his approach, he’d do anything for Lorelai. He was also the one person who understood that she needed to talk to Rory above all things after their fight in Season 5. And perhaps, if nothing else, the big, grand gestures, as perfectly subtle as they were, always made him the right partner, like choosing to be transparent even when they fell apart.
From beginning to end, they were partners. And not in a way that many TV couples are, but in the simple moments that reflect our realities. It wasn’t always fancy or bold or perfect with Luke and Lorelai, but it was always right. They were better together than apart because they both saw the parts of themselves others didn’t through stolen glances and a stubborn resilience never to give up showing the other their worth.
They’re each other’s beginning, middle, and end. When Luke and Lorelai promise that they are all in, it’s proof of the detail that how they see each other surpasses what another person could understand. They were all in long before they even declared those promises as everyone around them realized the profound detail that they were the main character in the other’s story.
Luke and Lorelai are both damaged, deeply flawed people who’ve worked extremely hard to be where they are, and together, ceaselessly acknowledging the other’s worth and their adoration for each other makes them that much stronger as individuals and a couple. Together, they appreciate the little traits and quiet characteristics others don’t often see. The riveting chemistry that’s easily visible from miles away makes their relationship a constant delight.
When there were very few relationships on television to follow along with these worthwhile tropes, Luke and Lorelai paved the road for more to follow. The ardent adoration and the comforting appeal of the two of them as a couple made for something truly special. It was easy to watch Gilmore Girls because we believed in them as a couple. You knew there’d be a happy ending because no matter what was going on during the rest of the show and dramatic town hall meetings, after finally declaring their love for one another, Luke and Lorelai were our constant. They were and will always be the grump and sunshine comfort ship.