There’s Only ‘One Tree Hill’: 9 Crazy Seasons of TV’s Greatest Underdog Comes to An End

Today, April 4th, 2012, One Tree Hill will air its final episode. 9 seasons. 187 episodes. Not bad at all for a show that fell in the shadows of the more high-profile teen drama The O.C. when they both premiered in the fall of 2003. While The O.C. was about the lives of rich teenagers + their families, and the outsider who changed their world, OTH was a more grounded drama (despite some of the crazy plotlines that it might be known for). Really, both shows couldn’t have been more different. But now we’re here with OTH ending only now after so many years of being on the brink of cancellation. OTH really was the little show that could, thriving when so many had shot it down.

When OTH first began, it was about Lucas and Nathan, 2 brothers related only by the same father, Dan. Their struggles to come to terms that they are related and their shared love of basketball, along with the usual teenage problems. But really, at the heart of this show was the idea of family and its many forms. Karen being a single mom to Lucas. Uncle Keith, also Dan’s brother, who acted as a father figure to Lucas. Dan, Deb, and Nathan and their tattered version of family. Brooke, completely distant with her family. Peyton, having only her father Larry, who was also away for work a lot. Actually, Haley was the only one with a pretty stable family, but we didn’t really meet them until later. So in a show that at its core was about family, we watched these friends become family to each other. Lucas and Nathan were nowhere near friends at the beginning and slowly embraced the idea that they were family. Haley and Lucas were already best friends, and truly became family when Haley married Nathan. Peyton and Brooke were also best friends and family to each other, because of their lack of real family.

We watched the struggles of the characters as they developed from teenagers to adults, which was made all the more real in season 5, when the series fast forwarded past the “college years” and into adulthood.

One of the greatest things about OTH is that, while you have these wonderfully grounded characters and at times truly real drama, at other times these characters are thrown into ridiculous scenarios/plotlines. We’ve had honest to goodness real drama over the years: high school in general, the school shooting with Jimmy, Lucas’ health issues, Naley’s teen marriage, Peyton meeting her birth mom who then died of breast cancer, Brooke trying to adopt, the multitude of careers, and again, family. On the other hand, we have also had a multitude of crazy plots that fans have come to appreciate over the years for being pure OTH: Psycho stalker Derek, Psycho nanny Carrie, Dan’s heart troubles (most notably that time when an EMT dropped a cooler containing the heart Dan was supposed to receive and a dog ate it), Psycho doppelganger Katie. Can’t forget to mention the long-running “joke” that everyone gets into some sort of car accident (I think the official count is 5 within the 9 years).

The heart of the show never changed, but after original castmembers Chad Michael Murray and Hilarie Burton left at the end of season 6, the show did feel a little different. Maybe because Chad was such an integral part of the show from the beginning, to see him leave, it just felt weird. Austin Nichols’ Julian Baker, a recurring character from season 6, became a regular for season 7. The show added Robert Buckley as Nathan’s agent, Clay Evans, as well as Shantel VanSanten as Haley’s sister, Quinn. I can’t quite put a finger on it, but I look at the show now and I just see a somewhat different show than what it used to be. Maybe because the characters actually grew up and matured (although even at the beginning, beyond the usual teenage problems, all the characters were kind of old souls). Or maybe it’s the fact that I grew up too, alongside these characters through high school, university, and now the “real world”. You know what? I’m going to stick to that – the show feels different because it allowed all the characters to grow and allowed us fans to grow with them.

One of the best aspects of One Tree Hill was definitely the music. I don’t think I have ever seen a show that integrates music like OTH has for the past 9 seasons. Music wasn’t just part of the background; at times music was a part of the storyline, just as much as basketball was in those early years. The producers obviously caught on to the fact that they had an incredible talent in Bethany Joy Lenz, who plays Haley and is also a singer-songwriter. We heard Joy/Haley sing in the first season and that became part of her story, where she eventually went on tour and then in these later years, took over Red Bedroom Records. We also had Bryan Greenberg who played Jake, a fellow Raven and one-time Peyton love interest,  sing a few times while he was on the show. Nowadays, Bryan balances his acting career with a solid music career (he’s got 2 albums out, and working on a third). Then we had Peyton, who was just in love with music – music was a part of everything she was. The funny part of this (to me at least) was that Hilarie Burton came from being an MTV VJ to working on the show. Now Peyton was a character that really brought music to the forefront, from being in charge of bringing bands/artists to play Tric to creating the aforementioned Red Bedroom Records.

Speaking of bands and artists that came into the world of Tree Hill, I really think it’s safe to say that because of its integration of music, the show was a master of cross-promotion. Sure you had some acts like Sheryl Crow, Fall Out Boy and Lupe Fiasco who came onto the show just to perform. But then you had the likes of Tyler Hilton, Kate Voegele, Michael Grubbs, and Laura Izibor, real artists who were written into the show with characters of their own – Chris Keller, Mia Catalano, Grubbs (bartender at Tric) and Erin – and this is alongside Bethany, Bryan, and Jana Kramer. When any of these characters released a song or album in the show, their counterparts actually did release the song/album in real life. Our first real proof of the OTH cross-promotion was in the second season when we saw Haley decide to go on tour with The Wreckers & Chris Keller, despite the strain that it caused to her marriage with Nathan. The plotline was not just some storytelling device – Bethany, The Wreckers and Tyler actually did a concert tour in real life, and were sometimes joined by Bryan and Gavin DeGraw. After that in the third season, we saw a storyline involving Peyton and her birth mom, Ellie, putting together a benefit album for breast cancer; that was subsequently released as the second soundtrack for the series titled “Friends With Benefit.” The third soundtrack for the show, “The Road Mix”, got released coinciding with episode 4×17, where the gang (appropriately enough) go on a road trip to save Mouth and Rachel. Then within season 8, we saw OTH do a little cross-promotion with another one of The CW’s shows, Life Unexpected, with Haley and Mia performing at a music festival sponsored by the radio station where 2 of LUX’s characters work. See? Master cross-promoters.

I’ll end this post with one of the main reasons why I fell in love with this show in the first place. Throughout most of the first 5 seasons and then sporadically in the last 4 seasons, One Tree Hill gave us quotes by famous writers or sort of the inner monologues of some of the characters to cap off an episode. Sometimes we even got really thoughtful lines within the episodes. Without a doubt, I loved these quotes. For me, I look to these as inspiration, as it would to the characters. I also saw these as one of the ways in which the show was different from other teen dramas; it drove the point that OTH had a lot of heart and soul, and was about so much more than the typical teenage drama. It might not have been a critically acclaimed show, but for a lot of us fans, we grew up with these characters watching this show. There’s nothing but love for the series that showed us that whatever life throws your way, whether it be accidents, psychos or loss of a loved one, you’ll come out the other side stronger and wiser.

Thank you Mark Schwahn for bringing this show to life in the first place, as well as Michael Tollin, Brian Robbins, and Joe Davola. All the cast members over the years: Sophia Bush, James Lafferty, Bethany Joy Lenz, Chad Michael Murray, Hilarie Burton, Paul Johansson, Lee Norris, Rob Buckley, Shantel VanSanten, Jackson Brundage, Austin Nichols, Stephen Colletti, Antwon Tanner, Moira Kelly, Craig Sheffer, Barry Corbin, Barbara Alyn Woods, Danneel Harris, Lisa Goldstein, Tyler Hilton, Kate Voegele, Jana Kramer, Bryan Greenberg, and all the multitude of guest stars. You have all made the past 9 years quite memorable.


WHITEY: There’s no shame in being afraid. Hell, we’re all afraid. What you’ve got to do is figure out what you’re afraid of. Because when you put a face on it, you can beat it. Or better yet, you can use it.

Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swaps of the not quite, the not yet, and the not at all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists. It is real. It is possible. It is yours. – Ayn Rand

Out of the night that covers me, Black as the Pit from pole to pole, I thank whatever gods may be, For my unconquerable soul. In the fell clutch of circumstance, I have not winced nor cried aloud. Under the bludgeoning of chance, My head is bloody, but unbowed. Beyond this place of wrath and tears, Looms but the Horror of the shade. And yet the menace of the years,
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid. It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll. I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul. – William Ernest Henley

Do not look back and grieve over the past, for it is gone; and do not be troubled about the future, for it has not yet come. Live in the present, and make it so beautiful that it will be worth remembering. – Ida Scott Taylor

ELLIE: Every song has a coda, a final movement. Whether it fades out or crashes away. Every song ends. But is that any reason not to enjoy the music? The truth is, there is nothing to be afraid of. It’s just life.

WHITEY: Looking back on what I said all those years ago, all the hopes and dreams I had, I’ve come to the conclusion that if having things turn out the way you wanted them to as a measure of a successful life, then some would say I’m a failure. The important thing is not to be bitter over life’s disappointments. Learn to let go of the past and recognize that everyday won’t be sunny. And when you find yourself lost in the darkness of despair, remember that it’s only in the black of night, you see the stars. And those stars will lead you back home. So don’t be afraid to make mistakes, to stumble and fall, cause most of the time, the greatest rewards come from doing the things that scare you the most. Maybe you don’t get everything you wish for, maybe you’ll get more than you could’ve imagined. Who knows where life will take you? The road is long and in the end, the journey is the destination.

NATHAN (V.O.): You know it’s been said that we just don’t recognize the significant moments of our lives while they’re happening. We grow complacent with ideas, or things or people and we take them for granted and it’s usually not until that thing is about to be taken away from you that you’ve realized how wrong you’ve been that you realized how much you need it, how much you love it. God, I love this game.

Many people die with their music still in them. Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live…Before they know it…time runs out. – Oliver Wendell Holmes

When so many are lonely…as seem to be lonely, it would be inexcusably selfish…to be lonely alone. – Tennessee Williams

Who knows what true happiness is, not the conventional word, but the naked terror. To the lonely themselves, that wears a mask, the most miserable outcast, hugs some memory, or some illusion. – Joseph Conrad

Time takes it all, whether you want it to or not. Time takes it all, time bears it away, and in the end there is only darkness. Sometimes we find others in that darkness, and sometime we lose them there again. – Stephen King

He felt that his whole life was some kind of dream, and he sometimes wondered whose it was, and whether they were enjoying it. – Douglas Adams

To be nobody but yourself, in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else, means to fight the hardest battle in which any human being can fight and never stop fighting. – E.E. Cummings

PEYTON (V.O.):  At this moment, there are six billion, four hundred seventy million, eight hundred eighteen thousand, six hundred seventy one people in the world. Some… are running scared. Some… are coming home. Some tell lies to make it through the day. Others are just not facing the truth. Some are evil men, at war with good. And some are good, struggling with evil. Six billion people in the world – six billion souls. And sometimes…All you need is one.

Live each season as it passes – breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit-and resign yourself to the influences of each. – Henry David Thoreau

There is no privacy that cannot be penetrated. No secret can be kept in a civilised world. Society is a masked ball, where everyone hides his real character, then reveals it by hiding. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

LUCAS (V.O.): Tree Hill is just a place somewhere in the world. Maybe it’s a lot like your world. Maybe it’s nothing like it. But if you look closely, you might find someone like you. Someone trying to find their way. Someone trying to find their place. Someone trying to find their self. Sometimes it’s easy to feel like you’re the only one in the world who’s struggling, who’s frustrated, or unsatisfied or barely getting by. But that feeling’s a lie. And if you just hold on, just find the courage to face it all for another day, someone or something will find you and make it all okay. Because we all need a little help sometimes. Someone to help us hear the music in the world. To remind us that it won’t always be this way. That someone is out there and that someone will find you.

LUCAS (V.O.): There are moments in our lives where we find ourselves at a crossroads. Afraid, confused, without a roadmap. The choices we make in those moments can define the rest of our days. Of course, when faced with the unknown, most of us prefer to turn around and go back. But once in a while, people push on to something better. Something found just beyond the pain of going it alone. And just beyond the bravery, the courage it takes to let someone in, or to give someone a second chance. Something beyond the quiet persistence of a dream. Because it’s only when you’re tested that you truly discover who you are. And it’s only when you’re tested that you discover who you can be. The person you want to be does exist. Somewhere on the other side of hard work and faith and belief and beyond the heartache and fear of what lays ahead.

LUCAS (V.O.): There comes a time when every life goes off course. In this desperate moment, you must choose your direction. Will you fight to stay on path? Will others tell you who you are? Or will you label yourself? Will you be haunted by your choice? Or will you embrace your new path? Each morning you choose to move forward or simply give up. There comes a time when every life goes off course. In this desperate moment who will you be? Will you let down your defenses, and find solace in someone unexpected? Will you reach out? Will you face your greatest fear bravely? And move forward with faith. Or will you succumb to the darkness in your soul?

HALEY (V.O.): You can choose to blame your circumstances on fate or bad luck or bad choices. Or you can fight back. Things aren’t always going to be fair in the real world. That’s just the way it is. But for the most part, you get what you give. Rest of your life is being shaped right now. With the dreams you chase….The choices you make….and the person you decide to be. The rest of your life is a long time. And the rest of your life starts right now.

Collective Quotes (From Episodes 2×22 & 2×23)

LUCAS: And Hansel said to Gretel, “Let us drop these breadcrumbs so that together we find our way home, because losing our way would be the most cruel of things.” This year, I lost my way.

NATHAN: And losing your way on the journey is unfortunate, but losing your reason for the journey is a fate more cruel.

PEYTON: The journey lasted eight months. Sometimes I traveled alone. Sometimes there were others who took the wheel… and took my heart. But when the destination was reached, it wasn’t me who arrived… it wasn’t me at all.

BROOKE: And once you lose yourself you have two choices: find the person you used to be or lose that person completely

MOUTH: Because sometimes we have to step outside the person you’ve been, and remember the person you are meant to be. The person you wanted to be. The person you are.

BROOKE: George Bernard Shaw once wrote, “There are two tragedies in life. One is to lose your heart’s desire. The other is to gain it.” Clearly, Shaw had his heart broken once or twice.

NATHAN: As far as I’m concerned, Shaw was a punk, ’cause you know what? Tragedies happen. What are you gonna do? Give up? Quit? No. I realize now that when your heart breaks, you gotta fight like hell to make sure you’re still alive. Because you are… and that pain you feel, it’s life. The confusion and fear, that’s there to remind you that somewhere out there is something better… and that something is worth fighting for.

HALEY: This year, I got everything I wanted and everything I wished for but, in a way, I lost even more.

LUCAS: Shaw was right. As we strain to grasp the things we desire, the things that we think will make our lives better—money, popularity, fame—we ignore what truly matters—the simple things— like friendship, family, love—the things we probably already had.

MOUTH: So Mr. Shaw thinks that getting your heart’s desire is a tragedy? I say he’s wrong. I mean, clearly, Shaw never kissed Erika Marsh.

PEYTON: Yes, losing your heart’s desire is tragic… but gaining your heart’s desire… it’s all you can hope for. This year, I wished for love. To immerse myself in someone else, and to wake a heart long afraid to feel. My wish was granted… and if having that is tragic, then give me tragedy. Because I wouldn’t give it back for the world.

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