Why Does Rory Say 'No' to Jess?


In ‘Last Week Fights, This Week Tights‘, Jess is trying to be covert while reading the ‘You Deserve Love’ manual. After reading the manual, we see him confront Rory and try to convince her to move to New York with him, to “live together and be together,” saying that she can count on him now (not realizing she’d have to drop everything). Rory, of course, says no (it was a little out of the question).


This, if you look forward, is pretty much the same thing that Logan does with Rory. Both guys assume that Rory will drop everything in order to go to pursue his dream. Each time, they assume Rory will be ok with this. Perhaps we should have guessed Rory’s answer to Logan when her answer to Jess was also no.

Was Rory right, in this particular case, to say ‘No’ to Jess? Could she have picked up her own dream in New York? Was she saying ‘No’ because she had no feelings for him or because he was asking too much? Or asking too quickly?

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23 thoughts on “Why Does Rory Say 'No' to Jess?

  • January 23, 2010 at 9:48 am

    This is simple, Rory was tired of Jess’ crap, of him “treating her like dirt”. I think she felt if she went with him it would be more of the same. Besides, she was feeling something for Dean again and later on we find out that she made a mistake when she dumped Dean for Jess. She felt that she “really blew it there” with Dean and that “i felt safe with dean” comments to lane.

  • January 23, 2010 at 10:12 am

    I think she answers a lot of this in the next episode – she still loves Jess, but doesn’t feel safe with him (she feels safe with Dean). Namely, she feels Jess is “otherwise perfect” (quote from this website’s summary for the next episode), but the trust isn’t there.

    Not that I think she’d have ditched Yale anyway as that was her dream. But she might have had a counter proposal for him if there had been trust.

    In answer to the other questions – he was asking too much and asking too quickly. I suspect it would have gone badly as well (although I really can’t imagine her ditching Yale at this point); Jess still has someway to go before he reaches his season six maturity (by which time Rory loves Logan). That said, it would probably have been an improvement on what she did instead, but hey.

  • January 23, 2010 at 10:45 am

    I just think it was bad timing. And I also got the feeling that Jess was interpreting the book the wrong way; he new what he needed to do, but he didn’t knew how because he wasn’t mature enough.

    As for Rory, she pretty much explains why she said “no” and it’s totally understandable. She was happy at that time in Yale, she was not going to drop everything at that point.

    I really love Rory and Jess together, if only they had found the right time and place, where they’re both ready and capable of making it work.

  • January 23, 2010 at 10:49 am

    I agree with Lathany. Jess was asking too much and too quickly. She was 18 years old, with a very particular plan — go to Yale, graduate, get job in journalism. Jess didn’t understand that. Luke tried to instill a sense of goal making and accomplishment in him, but it was too late. Jess wasn’t the kid who did the right thing. Rory was. So he was crazy to think that Rory would just drop all she had to do to run a way with him.

  • January 23, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    I think Rory did still have feelings for Jess at this point, but she was never the hopeless romantic who would drop everything in her life for a guy. She was raised to be independent and to not need a guy in her life nor depend on a guy.

    She had given Jess a chance in season 3 and he blew it. He came back in season 4 told her that he loved her and left again. By the time he asks her to run away with him at the end of season 4 he had already left her 3 times. He was not dependable in her eyes. He was saying he was but actions speak louder than words.

    I don’t think this was the time for them. They were very much stuck at this point. Rory was happy at Yale and didn’t want to leave that, it was her dream and what she had worked her whole life for. She couldn’t leave and she couldn’t ask Jess to stay. He was miserable in Stars Hollow, and belonged somewhere else, at this point it was New York. Jess had never chosen to leave New York and go to Stars Hollow, he didn’t like it there and didn’t belong there. Not as a rebellious teenager anyways.

    I love Rory and Jess together they will always be my favorite couple on Gilmore Girls, but yes Jess was asking too much, too soon at this point.

  • January 23, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    The relationship between Rory and Jess had a crucial problem: they didn’t communicate well…sure, they could talk hours and hours about books but oh boy, when they had important stuff to discuss they didn’t know how to handle it. They were both immature for a relationship( jess more than rory)

    At this stage, Jess just begins to mature, the book Luke gave him helped him much but not enough. He didn’t understand that he couldn’t expect her to leave Yale and her mom and everything just to be with him( the guy that left her and caused her so much pain ). And I think that deep down Jess knew that. What shocked him most was that Rory said “no” because she didn’t want to be with him; she clearly rejected him first, and then his proposal…
    But, on the other hand Rory never liked the unpredictable, she was a list-maker girl, and Jess asking her this was crazy and she got scared. Maybe if Jess didn’t cornered her like that, if they had a chance to just talk things would be different, I think she still had feelings for him. At this stage of her life Rory wanted someone dependable (that’s why she returns to Dean), she was too busy with Yale to deal again with Jess’ unpredictability.(but later she choses again the exciting with Logan in disfavor of safe Dean).

    So to answer the questions: yes I think Jess was asking too much and too quickly and Rory did the right thing for her at that moment; she needed to feel safe and she had lost her trust in Jess…besides, while Jess was sure that he loves her, she hadn’t the chance to really fall in love with him because of his leaving in season 3.

    And another thing which contributed at Jess’ proposal to leave Stars Hollow, “to start new”, was seeing Rory with Dean again which brought old memories of her trusting Dean and not him, Dean going to college while he droped out of high school…and I think that’s why he wanted so bad to take her away from that town.

  • January 23, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    Rory has a choice here – Jess or Dean, and she’s already made it, at least on this night. It’s Dean. If Jess had not arrived, Rory and Dean’s first time together probably would have been in her empty dorm room. I remember feeling it before it happened in the next episode. It’s eerie. And Rory has made a deliberate choice, no matter how much she plays the victim, to set it in motion.

    It’s probably Dan Palladino’s best writing of the series on this relationship. He introduces us to Graham (whom we now know would have been the “Logan” storyline if casting had allowed it). Rory is interested, but Graham leaves her in an unsafe spot. And so the wheels in Rory’s head click. She calls the one person who, as she says in the next episode, made her feel safe — sadly it’s the best she can say about him. (“I always knew that no matter what happened, he would be there… I was safe.”) And so this is how Rory rationalizes her call.

    But she’s too smart for that. We can assume she’s talked out on Jess leaving her (probably over the summer with Lorelai) or is just repressing her), but it’s clear she’s thinking about Dean when she watches his wedding. In retrospect, it’s almost disturbing. She knows she’s not supposed to go, but she stands there, knowing falling for Jess is what pushed Dean to break up with her, and now that Jess has left, she regrets it. The pain on Alexis face is perfectly done.

    So, after getting signals that Dean is not happy and will hold her and comfort her, she makes that fatal call. It’s completely her initiative at this point. Her own words reveal she knows he should be with Lindsey, but she calls Dean first. She could have called a taxi to take her to an ATM. We don’t even see her call Paris. She calls someone she knows she should not be calling, sees if he will come to spend time with her, and when he does, she flirts, letting him walk her back to her empty dorm room. She coyly — not innocently — pretends to wonder why he is not with Lindsey, when she knows the answer. He wants to be with her. She doesn’t let him drop her at the school, she gives him a tour of Yale right to her room.

    And so, her plan is already in motion — and Jess interrupts it, the one who represents passion but danger.

    And this is a step backward for Jess. Before he left, he had charmingly let Rory know he’d be visiting her at Yale. I’m not sure he doesn’t “realize” Rory would have to drop everything; he clearly implies that she should, that nothing should be more important than them being together when she’s only 19. (I think she would be 19 here, if we go by her 16th birthday in Season 1). The complete lack of consideration for her is exactly what she’s wary of.

    And so she thinks she’s making the “safe” choice by saying no to Jess. It’s psychologically understandable, but troubling — a clear sign of her irrationality with boys. Jess hurt her, so she turns her attention inward, intellectually. She knows Dean only left her ultimately whenever she sent him signals she didn’t want him, so she knows how to reverse it to get the “safe” boy back again, someone she’s attracted to, who always made her feel safe. And so she pursues Dean. She can see he’s hurt when she takes time to send Jess away, and we know in the next episode she will keep calling Dean knowing what’s coming, using his concerns that Jess as bad for her as a tease to get Dean to reveal his true feelings for her.

    This is where the show had real promise with the Rory-Dean-Jess triangle (like the Lorelai-Luke-Christopher triangle) but never followed through by failing to do well in Seasons 4-7 once Milo, Jared, and David had not been made regulars in the cast.

    Note how beautifully this is set in contrast with Luke romancing Lorelai in that touching waltz, after she herself has felt she would be alone forever.

    Do we choose the one we have passion for who is dangerous, to try to see if we can make each other stronger? Or do we choose the one who makes us feel “safe” love — even in this case if it means playing a role in breaking up a marriage….

  • January 23, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    It’s funny. I remember when I was about Rory’s age, my sister used to tell me that when a girl lets a guy take her back to her dorm room and no one else is there, she knows it’s an ambiguous invitation no matter how much she keeps the option to say goodnight at her door open. (Little did she realize that her advice wouldn’t apply to me like she thought!) Totally a big difference between saying goodbye outside and inside…

    Totally agree with this last analysis — when Rory called Dean my stomach hurt. I knew she knew what she was doing, and the tour of an empty Yale — I’m not sure if she was thinking “sex” at this point, but probably she would get Dean to kiss her and tell her how he felt.

    Jess definitely was an interference with all of this (unfortunately, not enough), but I also agree this was really well written to give Rory a choice: someone she clearly has strong feelings for, versus someone she knew was someone she was in control of as much as someone who could protect her. (Well, it’s nicely written except for being unable to explain how Jess knew exactly where to come; I never figured that out).

    The way they have Rory’s mouth saying what she knows she should say to Dean when she means something else, and “no” to Jess when her heart is probably telling her something else … no wonder her head is a mess!

  • January 23, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    seriously hate watching this scene. it gives me so much mixed emmotions. happy that jess is telling her that he knew they were suposed to be together since the moment he met her to such sadness that she chose to shoot him down. i dont think i have ever been more mad at a character than her choosing a married man that she has already rejected and hurt before instead of jess who she obviously loves. i mean i get that he hurt her and that she hasnt gotten over it yet. and i would be less angry at her if she said no to jess and also decided not to pursue dean. and then the way she treats jess later by using him after she knows he still loves her and decided to get his life together because she inspired him. i just get so frustrated. because her and jess are just perfect and it sucks that the timing never works for them. but i guess thats what the writers were going for. breaking the stereotypical two people who are perfect for eachother end up together in the end. sometimes it doesnt end up the way you want it to or the way it should.

    i also lose a lot of respect for dean. he always loved her and was a perfect boyfriend but he always had enough self respect to get out when he thought the feeling were only one sided. when she didnt say she loved him he broke up with her and when it was too painfully obvious that she liked jess he broke up with her. what makes him think that this time it will be different? in my opinion he knew she didnt love him and was just upset that she took a risk on someone she actually loved and that it end up hurting her. dean just wanted to be with her enough now to ignore it.

  • January 23, 2010 at 10:44 pm

    We’re getting ahead of ourselves here but it’s hard not to.

    Both Dean and Rory demonstrate why “adultery” is still wrong, not that it’s a sin, if that’s what you care about, or some moral code. It’s just selfish.

    Dean is so “lovesick” as Lori says he throws away his last bit of integrity. I would say, to Lori’s comments, that Dean’s three walks from Rory all come as Marie said from the signals Rory sent that made him think she didn’t love him. And each time she gives him the opposite signal, he falls for it. Like a lot of us who are lovesick over someone, we do stupid things and waste a lot of time believing “but she/he really loves me” it’s someone else’s fault, or she/he’s afraid to say it, blah blah blah. He may know it deep down, but he’s jumping on Rory’s return before she changes her mind again. And let’s not forget when they have sex, she tells him she loves him.

    And wow, if Rory does love him, her behavior toward him starting in Season 2 was pretty horrible. (She told him she did even as she let him walk as she fawned over Jess). And that she acts as if she’s innocent and calls him here to get him to come to her — believable but sad.

    Kudos to Marie for calling this one on her mental state. At least when she was 17 and ran to New York she knew she had a flipout and called it a “stroke” that made her do it. This toying with Dean to the point of sleeping with him while he’s married, I am still at a loss for how she manages to get past this one without realizing she needs help.

    I wish we had some scenes after the end of Season 3 before this one to see if she was so hurt by Jess that she had to be this desperate and afraid to go for anyone except the one person she trusted, encouraging him to become untrustworthy to anyone but her? Definitely hard to watch — well exciting, but still has some shock value.

  • January 23, 2010 at 11:17 pm

    It seems like there were two purposes for Jess’s final plea to Rory to come away with him. The first was that it attempted to correct his mistake from a year earlier when he failed to communicate what was happening with him and the potential he saw for them. This badly flawed plan he springs on Rory now required way too much sacrifice on Rory’s part but was an unfortunate and necessary consequence as he needed to at least take one final shot to be able to face himself in the mirror and move on in his life. I tend to think he was subliminally much more aware that this was a long-shot proposal than he gets credit for, but I can’t argue with anyone who takes this scene literally as a testament to his continuing immaturity.

    The second purpose has been previously alluded to; i.e. he served as a secondary conscience for Rory to force her to slow down and make sure this was really what she wanted to do with Dean. And it might have worked and allowed her to regain her balance if Dean had been merely cordial when Rory saw him outside the diner the following day. This might allow the friendship to re-bloom in a measured rather than primal way and buy Dean the time he needs to wind things up with Lindsay in a more responsible fashion. [This assumes the divorce would have happened without Rory clearly making her intentions known, also a long shot]. But of course he ignores her and when she saw him walking away from her again she completely freaks. And desperate due to her prior failure with Jess and her totally dry year at Yale, she stubbornly refuses to let another chance slip away and makes sure when she sees him at the Inn that there was no doubt about what she wanted. Brilliant writing of a tough story line but ultimately disappointing for all involved as we had higher aspirations for these three characters.

  • January 25, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    They were all too immature to be making such life altering decisions. If Jess truly loved Rory, he wouldn’t ask her to walk away from all of her dreams. If Rory truly cared for Dean, she wouldn’t be calling and flirting with him while he was married to someone else. As I was watching the episodes, I couldn’t believe that Dean and Lindsay’s parents went along with them getting married so young. Obviously, they had no clue what they were getting themselves into.

  • January 26, 2010 at 12:45 am

    agree with lots of stuff said here but the main thing i found interesting was that rory told dean to leave when jess showed up, going against all other signs that she thought she had made a mistake choosing jess over dean. so we could think she did this either because she was really angry with jess and wanted to get rid of him once and for all or she really wanted him to say what she wanted to hear (in my opinion, the latter was the case). i think she wanted to hear sthing v different from jess, if he had come to her with love and maturity and an offer grounded in reality i think she would have said yes – his actual words were all the more painful to hear for her because once again he was not ready for a real relationship and would not be able to give her what she wanted from him. i think dean represented directly what she was missing from jess – hence the propulsion of that HUGE mistake over the next eps. this scene makes me cry, poor jess’ face when she says that final no was just heartbreaking – almost as hard to watch as the last time we see him in philly…sob. there’s a great epic fanvid on this scene on youtube in case anyone is interested…

  • January 30, 2010 at 6:41 am

    I think it was okei to say no to jess BUT TO LOGAN , he was the best of them all , that was stupid , an besides they all could have gone with rory and logan to california , !!!!!!!
    i hated the ending ,, i cried when i saw it !!!

  • February 15, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    bc her script told her to :/ she should have said yes. big misstep by palladinos n i love ’em.

  • May 27, 2010 at 6:15 am

    I really understand all her NOs except the last one. It should have been smth like ‘it’s too sudden and unexpected, I don’t want to hurt you but it is not the best time’. or at least she should have thought (or pretend to think) about it. because this final NO hurt Jess too much. yes, he is kind of ‘out of the blue’ and unpredictable guy, but for the sake of feelings they definately have (and had) to each other Rory shouldn’t have been to straightforward. it seemed like she was not answering him but angrily convincing herself.

  • December 23, 2010 at 3:00 am

    lol fran, logans a faggot a jerk and didnt deserve rory i was happy when she said no :)
    jess and rory = <3 rory and logan = </3 ..

  • December 23, 2010 at 8:42 am

    A “faggot”? Shame on you. You’re the jerk, “grace.”

  • July 7, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    When Rory took the last of Jess’s creepy phone calls from Venice Beach and told him she may have loved him at one time, That was the end of Jess for all practical reasons..

    Then reason she sent Dean away was to avoid another confrontation between Dean and Jess. By the time Jess showed up Rory had already made her mind up that she wanted Dean back and not Jess.

    Jess never had a chance.. For all his so called compatibility he was too stupid to figure out that Rory needed predictability and order in her life.

    Jess was just as ignorant as Logan.. Through out the whole series Rory stated she wanted to be a newspaper person and travel.

    Jess wanted her to give up her dream and live on a mattress on some floor in NYC

    Logan wanted her to give up her dreams to become his trophy wife in San Francisco. He threw her a bone by saying she had several good opportunities there./………none of which fitted her dream.

    Ironically it was Dean who realized that she was moving on. To quote “I no longer belong here.”

    Jess left as a pathetic sniveling beggar.

    Logan left as the ultimate reject. She shot him down on his grand so called public proposal, What an ass to put her on a spot like that.

    Dean realized it was over and left with dignity.

  • July 9, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    Totally agree with TL, Rory had her mind already made up on that last phone call when Jess went to Venice first off everyone keeps saying how great Jess was but does anyone notice that maybe just maybe Jess actions reminded Rory of her father, the constant unpredictability which she ended up hating her dad for remem bershe told Lane she didnt want to be that girl she felt safe wiht Dean, I love Deans character he may not have been right for Rory but he set the tone for Rory on what type of behavior she should expect from a man, a man that will be there for her and she can count on because of this she was able to walk away from Jess abnd let Logan know she would not allow them to just sleep together a commitment needed to be made

    Jess was the carbon copy of Christopher too immature to handle a girl like Rory he was not ready and because he was not ready he would bring her nothing but grief she saw that happen with her mother she put a stop to it, she was happy at Yale and Dean was right to let her go and enjoy it he always knew school may come between them he brung it up several times while they dated, I enjoyed Logan and Rory dating but he was not the man for her Dean was her hometown love Jess was her bad boy phase love Logan was her college sweetheart love, it was time for her to find her true love I like that she ended up single and free on the series finale, free to discover what true love was all about..

  • December 10, 2013 at 2:22 am

    My take on this scene: A bit of context. First, the scene in Doose’s where Jess stands there as Kirk rings up Dean’s purchases. In this scene, we watch as Jess takes obvious note both of the fact that Dean is married, and that if his attitude is any indication, the marriage isn’t a happy one. Second, the scene between Luke and Jess just before he leaves. Jess has a small speech prepared for Luke too. He’s been reading that self help book Luke loaned him, and he’d learned quite a lot from it…enough that he left on good terms with his mother and expressed both deep gratitude and love to Luke, taking responsibility for his part in those relationships. Those interactions were well thought out – carefully planned. He certainly wouldn’t have planned out exactly the right words to say to Luke to express his feelings, and just decided to “wing it” with Rory, the person he set out to learn how to communicate with by reading the books in the first place. That doesn’t add up. He would have known exactly what he intended to say to her. He would have rehearsed it carefully. And it wouldn’t have included any half-cocked scheme that turned her world upside down. He wasn’t that stupid. So, what happened?

    He walks into the hallway of the near-empty dorm and sees Rory there with Dean… unhappily married Dean who is there alone at the threshold of her empty dorm room. Call me crazy, but I think he saw Rory on the brink of making the biggest mistake of her life. And all those carefully planned words, everything he’d been learning and coaching himself with just went right out the window. He needed to get her out of there NOW somehow. So he started spouting craziness. He knew it was craziness. He was making it up as he went along and hoping against hope that she would listen to him and he could get her away from there, and they could figure the rest out later, but she would be out of any immediate danger. In the middle of all those words, I think parts of his carefully prepared speech mixed themselves into the crazy talk as he tried to salvage it. Tried to fix it and say what he’d come there to say. That he was becoming the kind of person she could count on. That they belonged together. That he’d loved her from the moment he saw her. That he was hoping they could give this one more chance.

    But, it was no wonder she told him ‘no.’ He was talking like a crazy person…somebody who was coming unhinged and who wasn’t safe. I do believe that she still had feelings for him, and I think part of her wanted to run away with him, crazy as it would have been… and I think that scared her more than anything. I think the final “NO!” with all its vehemence was directed, not toward him, but toward herself. She WOULDN’T, she COULDN’T give in to him and all the danger and potential heartbreak he could cause her at that moment, she couldn’t just drop everything that was important to her, abandon her goals and her home, and just run away and forget it all – and she had to SHOUT down the part of her that wanted to fling caution to the wind. That was why, when he left, so clearly crushed by her rejection, all she could do was sink onto those boxes, gutted.

    I also think that in a way, the stupidity of starting a relationship with Dean immediately thereafter (just like her conversation with Lane), was an attempt to convince herself that she made the right choice. That she had chosen safety and stability and in the end that was what would make her happy. But, that “happiness” was short lived, empty, and tinged with bitter regret.

    Do I think she should have said ‘yes’? No, I don’t. What Jess was proposing was crazy, and came out sounding even crazier. And neither of them was at a point where they were truly emotionally mature enough for a deep, committed relationship. But, I do wish Rory hadn’t responding by rebounding to Dean. And, I most DEFINITELY wish she and Jess had gotten together during Season 6 after Logan presumed he and Rory had broken up.

  • December 10, 2013 at 9:45 pm

    Hi Iscah-

    Welcome to the converstion.

    A well thought out hypothesis and I think you are reading Rory pretty close to perfectly. However, I think you are giving Jess way too much credit for his motivation in being there. He had no way to know where or who Rory was with so Dean’s appearance would be more likely to kick in jealousy than protection in getting Rory away from Dean. And his appearance freaked Rory so much that it worked immediately and she told Dean to go home and permitted Jess to come in to talk.

    At that point if he really was there to protect her he could have gone through a whole parrotting of Lorelai’s previous listing of the stupidity involved in Rory’s getting involved with a married man. That is not what he did. It was all about what he wanted her to do [and as a result give up] to permit them the opportunity of being together.

    And while Jess may have matured enough to rationally leave on good speaking terms with his Mom and Luke, that was mostly an intellectual exercise. His new relationship with Rory needed to be about redemption for their previous relationship failure, so with her there was an extreme emmotional component to the attempt beyond just a rationally prepared speech. He still was not ready to pull that off without coming off half-cocked and it would be another two years before we could see that from him [thinking of her first] when he visited her at her grandparents and later when she visited him in Philly.

  • December 17, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    Rory was ListsGirl and always will be. Cerebral and thoughtful and not one to act on the spur of the moment. I think if he’d given her some space to think about it, she would have decided differently, but she’s not by nature an impulsive person, especially due to the highly charged circumstances. She could never have said yes, not then. And if she hadn’t gotten into the pickle with Dean, I think she would have replayed the moment and maybe regretted it a little, hopefully notched it up to life experience – and maybe the next time somebody asked her to jump, she’d jump, Jack.


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