‘Gilmore Girls’: Luke Danes’ Cell Phone Number Was Very Real

Gilmore Girls fans were desperate to see Luke Danes and Lorelai Gilmore get together. During the show’s fifth season, they got what they wanted when Luke and Lorelai embarked on a relationship. The beginning of their romance wasn’t smooth, though. After sharing a kiss, Luke was pulled away from Stars Hollow. Before he left, he gave Lorelai his new cell phone number. Eagle-eyed fans may have noticed that the writers didn’t fake Luke’s number. It didn’t utilize the standard television prefixes of 555. Instead, the number was very real, and when dialed, it went to a charity.

The real reason 555 phone numbers are used on television shows

When television shows recite phone numbers, they almost always use the 555 prefix. The prefix became famous on television back in the 1960s, and more than 100 phone numbers are currently reserved specifically for television and film use. While 555 might one day became a utilized prefix, for now, it’s only used for directory assistance. The reason the 555 prefix became associated with the film industry is surprisingly logical.

Alexis Bledel as Rory Gilmore, Lauren Graham as Lorelai Gilmore
Alexis Bledel as Rory Gilmore, Lauren Graham as Lorelai Gilmore | Mitchell Haddad/CBS Photo Archive via Getty Images

According to Business Insider, back in the 1920s and 30s, the first two numbers of a phone number were generally spoken as letters, followed by four digits to make up a unique number. The letters correspond with numbers on the keypad. Because the number 5 corresponds to JKL, very few areas used two fives to start their numbers. The film industry adopted the 555-prefix to prevent random calls to real people.

Luke Danes didn’t use a 555-phone number when leaving Lorelai a message on Gilmore Girls

In the season 5 premiere, “Say Goodbye to Daisy Miller,” Luke had to leave his fledgling relationship to help Liz and TJ run their booth at the renaissance fair after a car accident. Before taking off, he picked up a cell phone. He left a message for Lorelai explaining how to contact him. Traditionally, this is where Luke would rattle off a fake phone number. Amy Sherman-Palladino decided to go another way.

Lauren Graham as Lorelai Gilmore and Scott Patterson as Luke Danes in 'Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life'
Lauren Graham and Scott Patterson in ‘Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life’ | Netflix

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The famed showrunner once admitted that she hated the fake 555 numbers that writers always used in television shows, so she decided to inject a bit more reality. Luke’s number, 860-294-1986, is a real phone number. The area code is linked to the portion of Connecticut that Luke and Lorelai both called home. The 860-area code covers a large swath of Connecticut, including Washington Depot, CT. Washington Depot is the town that inspired Stars Hollow.

Luke Danes’ cell phone number in Gilmore Girls was a real number used by a charity

The phone number Luke gave Lorelai as he was driving off to rescue Liz and TJ was a real phone number. Instead of using the 555-prefix, Sherman-Palladino and her team decided to do something good with the number. The digits that Luke gave routed callers to a charity looking for donations for Johns Hopkins’ Children’s Center. According to Entertainment Weekly, Scott Patterson, who portrayed Luke, even lent his voice to the automated message. When Patterson created the message, his brother-in-law, Dr. George Dover, was the director of Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins’ Children’s Center.

Jess Mariano and Luke Danes sit in the window of Luke's Diner in 'Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life' Jess Mariano and Luke Danes in 'Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life'
Jess Mariano and Luke Danes in ‘Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life’ | Netflix

The phone number is no longer part of a charity. With Gilmore Girls’ growing popularity, fans from all over the world have been calling the number. According to Buzzfeed, by 2016, the number belonged to a private citizen annoyed by the constant phone calls. In 2021, those calling the number will receive an automated message stating that the service has been restricted.