‘Gilmore Girls’: Yale Scenes Were Filmed at Several Schools, but Never at Yale

Gilmore Girls creator, Amy Sherman-Palladino, did a great job developing a realistic setting for her famed sitcom. Stars Hollow was supposed to be in Connecticut, and to keep the show going after Rory Gilmore graduated from Chilton, Sherman-Palladino sent her to her grandfather’s alma mater, Yale. Yale was said to be mere 30 minutes away from her hometown. While the series did a fantastic job of recreating the East Coast institution, none of the famed scenes were filmed at Yale. In fact, not a single Yale scene was filmed on the East coast, nor were scenes that depicted Harvard University, Rory’s first choice school. 

Were any ‘Gilmore Girls’ scenes filmed at Yale? 

While Rory might have gone to school in Connecticut, the real-life filming of scenes at the Ivy League institution was done clear across the country. Instead of shooting on location. Alexis Bledel and her co-stars shot interior Yale scenes on a soundstage on the Warner Bros. lot, much like the rest of the series. 

Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut on October 18, 1981
Yale University | Jim Steinfeldt/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The production team shot exterior shots of Yale involving Rory and her mother on location at both Pomona College and the University of Southern California. Pomona College, located in Claremont, California, is about 40 minutes from the Warner Bros. lot. USC is just 10 miles away. So, Were any Gilmore Girls scenes filmed at Yale at all? Actually, sort of. Stock footage, including flyby shots, was filmed at Yale, according to several former students. 

The ‘Gilmore Girls’ production staff did work hard to recreate the Ivy League experience 

Rory Gilmore might not have ever actually stepped foot inside Yale’s Branford College, but the production team did work hard to recreate the experience. The soundstage dorm did recreate the look and feel of the suites offered at the college. The production team also recreated the courtyard in fairly accurate detail. 

Branford College seen from the library at Yale University in 2010. There were no 'Gilmore Girls' scenes filmed at Yale
Branford College | Enzo Figueres/Getty Images

When it came to other details about Yale, Gilmore Girls got it right, too. The Yale Daily News is a real student newspaper. The logo used on print copies of the newspaper is accurate, as well. Sherman-Palladino even modeled the Life and Death Brigade after several secret societies that exist at Yale. 

Lorelai and Rory’s season 2 road trip didn’t bring the show to the east coast, either

Yale wasn’t the only school that had a stand-in on Gilmore Girls. Scenes in season 2 depicting Harvard University weren’t filmed at that famed institution, either. When Lorelai decides to end her engagement with Max Medina, she drags Rory out of Stars Hollow. During the duo’s road trip, they end up at Harvard. The production crew wasn’t going to fly everyone out to the East Coast for a few shots. Instead, they found a stand-in college. 

Scenes that were supposed to show Harvard University were filmed at UCLA, instead. UCLA doesn’t look anything like Harvard University, though. The front gates that viewers see Lorelai and Rory stand in front of were created to mimic the front gates of Harvard. The gates are pretty accurate detail-wise, but Gilmore Girls got one thing wrong. 

Johnston Gate at Harvard Univeristy in Cambridge, MA
Johnston Gate at Harvard University | Rick Friedman/rickfriedman.com/Corbis via Getty Images

While those gates are famous, they aren’t often open, as they appear in Gilmore Girls. According to The Couch Manager, students believe it is bad luck to enter and exit through Johnston Gate more than twice. They are supposed to walk through them during their first day on campus and exit through them upon graduation. Actual students enter and exit the campus through one of the other 24 available gates on campus. 

RELATED: ‘Gilmore Girls’: Why Did Rory Choose Yale?