The ‘Gilmore Girls’ Dean Hate May Have Started With His Character Change

Gilmore Girls was a beloved family drama-comedy that originally ran from 2000 to 2007. It sparked a long-awaited revival, and years of rewatches led fans to reflect on the central characters. In particular, there have been heated fan battles over Rory’s three main Gilmore Girls love interests: Dean, Jess, and Logan. 

While many fans have declared themselves firmly on Team Jess or Team Logan — with little sign of the debate ever coming to an end — it’s far less common to be on Team Dean. Some feel the hatred for Jared Padelecki’s character dates back to the show’s first seasons.

The history of Rory and Dean’s relationship

Dean Forester served as Rory Gilmore’s first true love. He’s introduced in the pilot as a crush for the bookworm protagonist. And as their romance unfolded, many viewers found it sweet and endearing. From their supermarket first kiss — which so frazzles Rory she accidentally shoplifts a box of corn starch — to the car Dean builds by hand to gift Rory, there were plenty of adorable gestures between the pair. 

Eventually, their love traverses several dramatic ups and downs. Dean confesses his love for Rory. But she struggles to find the words to respond, prompting a brief breakup until she, too, says, “I love you.” Then, when bad boy Jess arrives in town, Rory’s obvious attraction to the newcomer leaves a rift in the relationship. It eventually comes to a very public head, leaving Dean storming out of the town’s dance competition and making their break up a Stars Hollow affair. 

Speaking of affairs, Rory and Dean later reunite — after he married someone else. When Rory sleeps with Dean in season 4, it causes a rift in her relationship with her mom, Lorelai. The pair continue to date after Dean’s wife, Lindsay, kicks him out. But Rory’s place in “high society” leaves Dean feeling inadequate and out of place. Eventually, they break up for good. 

‘Gilmore Girls’ fans point to a vital season 1 change in Dean’s character

Dean Gilmore Girls
Jared Padalecki (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)

There’s no denying that fans of the show generally agree that Dean was the worst of Rory’s three main love interests. They point to Dean’s jealous behavior, sometimes dramatic antics, and inability to grow alongside Rory’s maturing identity. 

However, some fans have taken to Reddit to point out that the Dean hate might be rooted in an unfair change the writers made to serve the Rory and Jess plotline. As the original poster explains, Dean was initially depicted as someone able and willing to grow and learn alongside the brainy Rory. “Season 1 Dean read books that Rory lent him, understood her pop culture references, and talked about music with her,” they wrote.

Later, however, Dean appears perplexed by Rory’s fast-talking intelligence. “I know they do it to make way for Rory opening up to Jess, but it would have been waaaay more interesting if they had kept Dean in his original personality, but Rory still fell for Jess anyway,” they wrote. “Dean’s original personality was very interesting, the writer’s dumbing him down is one of the great tragedies of the writing on this show.”

Very few ‘Gilmore Girls’ fans are ‘Team Dean’ 

Whether or not the Gilmore Girls writers intentionally changed Dean to leave viewers sour on his character, he typically comes out the loser in the Dean-Jess-Logan battle. Fans debate whether Jess (who matched Rory in depth and intelligence) or Logan (who understood the pressures Rory faced from her family’s monied history) made a better match for the lead character. 

Dean, however, is primarily seen as someone who couldn’t grow past his small hometown role. Some thought he had little to give Rory. The Netflix revival series did take the time to provide Dean with something of a redemption. Rory and Dean bump into each other in the supermarket (the same place they shared that awkward first kiss). Dean reveals he’s moved to Scranton and is expecting his fourth child with a woman named Jenny. 

It may not have been with Rory. But it seems like Dean did get the happily ever after he wanted. 

RELATED: ‘Gilmore Girls’: Proof Dean Forrester Was Never Right for Rory Gilmore