Wednesday night, “One Tree Hill” said goodbye to its legions of passionate fans with a two hour finale. The first fifty minutes was a retrospective featuring memorable scenes as well as interviews with the cast and creator Mark Schwann, who emphasized that the show was the ultimate underdog from day one, premiering earlier than expected thanks to a last minute scheduling change with little advance publicity, and slowly building an audience. He thanked the fans for campaigning to keep it on the air when its future was in doubt.
Then, after nine years of basketball, singing, romantic angst, four year jumps forward in time, psycho nannys, and hearts eaten by dogs, the 187th and final episode began. Fittingly for a show that was centered around music, the hour and ten minutes was structured around a concert, featuring performances by Hayley (Bethany Joy Lenz,) Chris (Tyler Hilton) and Gavin DeGraw,who was joined by the entire cast for a performance of the show’s theme song, “I Don’t Wanna be.”
In between the songs, everybody got a well deserved happy ending. Mouth (Lee Norris) received a surprise inheritance of half a million dollars from Dan Scott. In one of the shows many callbacks to its history, Mouth used it to establish a scholarship fund in honor of Jimmy and Keith Scott, who both died in the school shooting back in Season 3. He also got his dream job as a sports broadcaster.
Julian (Austin Nichols) bought Brooke’s (Sophia Bush) childhood house so they could raise their family in the home she always loved. She opened Baker Man across the street from Karen’s Cafe so she and Hayley could see each other all the time.
Nathan (James Lafferty) and Hayley shared several romantic scenes including one where he served her a dinner of macaroni and crackerjacks. Nathan assured Jamie who was nervous about living up to his father’s athletic legacy that he would be proud of him no matter what path he followed. Hayley also signed Chris to her record label.
Clay (Robert Buckley) and Quinn (Shantel VanSanten) had a courthouse wedding and legally adopted Logan.
Then the show jumped forward in time for the last time, as everyone went to a OTH high school basketball game — to watch Jamie Scott, who had now surpassed his father as the school’s all time leading scorer. The characters shared their thoughts through voiceover, as U2’s “One Tree Hill” played on the soundtrack, seemingly offering inspiring advice to the audience.
Quinn: Ambition is good. Chasing things with integrity is good.
Brooke: If you had a friend you’d never see again, what would you say? If you could do one last thing for someone you love what would it be? say it. Do it. Don’t wait. Nothing lasts forever.
The finale managed nearly the impossible: satisfying the vast majority of the show’s fans, whose enthusiasm got #OTH trending worldwide on Twitter:
“Last episode and definitely the best ever episode.” – Hayley Bowman
“Cried like a baby when I watched Gavin deGraw and the #OTH cast sing, “I don’t wanna be. Thank you for 9 years, OTH” – Caitlin Makoul
“I am over the moon that Bevin returned for the finale and was next to Skills for the last few scenes.” – Elice Luella
“I just sobbed watching the last ep of #OTH. Oh my soul… what is life now?!” – Ashley Saffell
“Just watched the series finale of #OTH cried like a little girl. I can’t believe its been nine years. It was a perfect ending.” – Jenna Bauer