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If you're a fan of the WB comedy Gilmore Girls, then this holiday weekend has been particularly good for you. Because Black Friday saw the release of Netflix's Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, the four part series which brought back nearly every original character and setting and updated the audience on how things turned out at Stars Hollow. But not every actor ended up returning. While some, like Chad Michael Murray, declined the invitation to reprise their role, Edward Herrmann was absent for another reason entirety. The actor who played Richard Gilmore sadly passed away in 2014 after a battle with brain cancer. This led many to question if Herrmann's death would be addressed on the series, and it certainly was.
In a moment of art imitating life, we learned that Richard Gilmore had passed away as well. Richard apparently had a massive heart attack four months before the events of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, leaving all three Gilmore women emotionally raw and aching as we see them attempt to move on.
But while Richard Gilmore wasn't physically on the new series, his presence was certainly felt. Beginning with the first episode "Winter" it's clear that Richard would still very much be apart of the show. We watch as Emily reveals a giant painting of the Gilmore patriarch, and he loomed over the living room for the remainder of the series. Episode two "Spring" also brought Richard to the forefront in a big way. Before his death, Richard had changed things around in his will to include Luke. Yes, you read that right, Luke. Money was set aside so that Luke could expand his diner into a chain- an idea that Richard suggested back in the original series. So even from beyond the grave, Richard is still finding ways to butt in and boss his family around. What a champ.
Overall, Edward Herrmann's death was handled with major class in the new Gilmore Girls episodes. The cast was majorly affected when the late actor passed away, and you can see how the real grief informed their performances in A Year in the Life. The sense of loss was palpable for the audience, even in smaller moments like Lorelai acknowledging his absence when Emily started making "friends" at the club. Every conversation regarding Richard's passing felt raw and emotional, and this is largely due to Herrmann's real life death, and how his costars felt about the loss.
While Edward Herrmann's (and therefore Richard Gilmore's) passing is surely tragic, it actually affected the other characters quite positively. Specifically, Emily Gilmore grew a ton in Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. Whenever Richard had health problems in the original series, Emily would completely break down. And while we did see this happen for a bit, Emily ended up changing completely as a character. Her priorities shifted, and she discovered what was important to Emily as an individual, rather than part of a pair.
Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life is currently streaming in its entirety on Netflix.