- ‶I've never done anything″
- —Emily reflecting on her life[src]
Emily went to Smith College and was a History major. She is at home in high society, and hosts functions related to Richard's business and her charity work on a weekly basis, and is very finicky about all of the details. She is a person of taste and appreciates fine things. Both she and Richard are well-traveled and have visited Europe many times. This traveling was shared with Rory when the two traveled Europe together. Outside this world of fancy and niceties, she appears incapable of dealing with her emotions, not wanting to show her vulnerability, seeming at times non-compassionate.
Although much of the Gilmore Girls focuses on the relationship between Lorelai and Rory, Lorelai and Emily's fractured relationship forms a strong counterpoint to the generally positive relationship between Lorelai and Rory. In season 5-6 Emily goes against Lorelai's wishes and along with Richard allows Rory to drop out of Yale and gets her "do-over with the daughter [she] always wanted" causing a rift between Lorelai and Emily and Lorelai and Rory. Emily is a dedicated and committed member of her society lifestyle and of the Daughters of the American Revolution [DAR]. She hosts many events and is instrumental in Rory's involvement in the DAR in Season 6. She has a definite eye for detail and is known for her strict requirements placed on people who provide services to her, (a recurring joke is that there is a new maid every episode) most notable are her interactions with her maids who are always "incompetent". Her history with Maids is a checkered one and includes being sued by a former maid who she had fired for walking too loudly to firing a maid because of Rory's interaction with her. She has had maids from Guatemala, Britain, Ireland, Romania, USA, Portugal, France, Germany and numerous other countries and is constantly criticized for her treatment of them and the expectations she has of them. Though it is mentioned that she pays the best rates.
Although her character provides comic moments, hers is one of the darker characters on the show, being manipulative and vindictive at times. Though this is often not truly the case when it comes to her family. Emily deeply felt the loss of Lorelai and Rory when they left the house a year after Rory was born. Her "manipulations" are often an attempt to provide what she believes to be the best for Lorelai, Rory and Richard and to help Lorelai and Christopher be the family "they should be". The hurt she has felt over the years from missing out on this life is obvious, especially when she learns that Lorelai had broken her leg or when she first sees where Rory grew up at the Independence Inn. She has reached out to Lorelai numerous times over the years and holds people at arms length as much as her daughter does. When Jason decides on Atlantic City instead of a "stuffy old cocktail party" telling Emily she could "relax and hang out" her conversation with Lorelai was heartfelt and honest, leaving herself vulnerable with her daughter for just a moment. She is very loyal and her family is very important, this is evidenced best when coming to the aid of Lorelai when Christopher ambushes Friday night dinner, asking him to leave, and when she discovers that Lorelai has a back spasm she stays with her to make sure she is looked after. She is often a misunderstood character with some wanting only to see the negative due to her treatment of Lorelai, though in truth they are much more alike than either of them would ever admit. As far as their relationship goes in comparison to Lorelai's relationship with Rory, Lorelai and Emily are "mother and daughter always" while she and Rory are "best friends first, mother and daughter second."
She met Richard at a Yale college party, when he was engaged to Pennilyn Lott. Emily was the "other woman" until Richard broke it off with his fiance after she "showed up to the party in that blue dress." He proposed to Emily by a bench at Yale University (subsequently replaced by a trash can), they got married in 1965 when Emily was 23. You can estimate that she had Lorelai at 26. Richard and Emily separate after Richard pushes Jason out in order to return to Floyd Stiles's company and avoid a lawsuit.
For a short time Emily stays at a hotel, but returns to the house with Richard moving into the Pool House. They are shortly at a detente when a stray dog shows up and they both care for it until its owners were found. However, this is short lived and Emily attempts to date, going to dinner with another man after asking Lorelai how it "worked". Richard and Emily only truly reunite when Richard drove into the back of her car at a charity event, after seeing her speaking with the man she had been to dinner with. When they return home they were both obviously unhappy with the situation and Richard moves back into the main house.
- ‶It's Mrs. Gilmore – Mrs.! I am not a cosmo-woman″
- ‶You can't even let Rory have one piece of our lives, even if it's her choice. You hate us that much″
- —Emily to Lorelai[src]
- ‶When a woman gives birth to a crack baby, you do not buy her a puppy″
- —Emily to Lorelai[src]
- Emily is at least conversational in French (as evidenced by her conversations with Michel) and Italian (shown when she travels through Europe with Rory).
- She travelled Europe by herself when she was in college.
- She is Protestant. If her family have stayed in Connecticut since their ancestors arrived, they are either Lutheran, Congregationalist, or Anglican.
- She has a sister, Hope, who lives in Paris, France.
- She went through 14 hours of labor before giving birth to Lorelai.
- When she was 12 she decided her wedding bouquet would be lilies and orchids tied together with a silver bow.
- She's part of a book club.
- She takes a water aerobics class, which Richard wanted to join when he retired for the first time.
- Shopping is one of her pastimes, and she is on very good terms with a Bloomingfield's-esque department store.
- Emily found her mother-in-law insufferable, something that made Lorelai grin with glee.
- She wishes she was as close with Lorelai as Lorelai is with Rory. Also, she admires the way Lorelai is in control of her life.
- According to Richard, she wore an overcoat when they went skinny dipping.
- She was on the field hockey team at college.
- Together with Richard she bought an annex where they can store the bodies of loved ones once room runs out in the family crypt.
- Emily is friends with Headmaster Charleston's wife Bitty, as they are on the symphony board together.
- She keeps her wedding dress in the attic, and offered to save it for Rory.
- She wears St. John Knit in most of the episodes she is in.
- She is on the board of multiple charitable organizations, including the Starlight Foundation, the Hartford Symphony, and the Daughters of the American Revolution. Half of the organizations she chairs.
- She writes notes on her vanity mirror to remind herself of her errands for the day.
- She finds Will Smith attractive.