As I watched the final seconds of the final episode of One Tree Hill I was reminded that Mark Schwann not only created the little show that could, he created characters that felt like actual people, that I wished were my friends and for one hour every week for 9 years actually did feel like friends (well I can't lay claim to all nine years since it took my sister to introduce me to the show in Season 4 before I got hooked). Together we watched each week as Haley and Nathan struggled to stay together, as Brooke grew from the girl who wasn't quite sure who she was to the strong independent person she became in the end.
Every year this show continued to hold it's faithful audience and the network continued to pick it up again. Every year the writers never had anything solid looking forward so it was never certain if the show would come back and that made each season better. And even though the show ended several seasons in ways that could have been the end, getting to the point of Jamie as a Raven was very satisfactory.
Gavin Degraw began the soundtrack to the last 9 years of our lives with a little platinum hit called "I Don't Wanna Be" and it was only fitting that he should end our journey with the same song. The music of One Tree Hill is forever one of the reasons I watched the show and many of the shows that started out on the WB network. The WB gave little known artists a place to shine in their shows and that's one of the many reasons I watched and continue to watch so many shows on this "tween" network - now called the CW. From "Buffy" to "Charmed" to "Gilmore Girls" to "One Tree Hill" the amount of GREAT music I discovered through these shows is remarkable. OTH is the biggest contributor actually launching the careers of several amazing artists including my hometown girl Kate Voegele, whom I was very sad to not see in the final season.
The show is about brothers, it's about fathers and sons, and it's about friendships. We may have lost some of the characters along the way, whether it be to moving on with their lives outside of Tree Hill or to tragic circumstances, but in the end we still remember the people this show started with and the people it ended with including all the new characters introduced along the way.
When the series jumped ahead 4 years after season 4 I didn't know if it would work, it was going to mean a drastic change in the way we knew our characters lives to be. It also meant the introduction of several new people to the show. People came and left and some came back and in the end every character was written so well that I loved them all - even Dan Scott.
Every good character has to redeem themselves at some point and no one had more to make up for than the man that I thought would never die, Dan Scott. For every unforgivable thing Dan Scott ever did it made for great television when he was on the show. And in the end I was sad to see him go but happy because he did redeem himself, even if it was only a little, this last season. He was probably one of the most complex characters I've ever seen written on TV. Sometimes you loved him and many more times you hated him but man I loved hating him. And in the end I cried when he finally met his fate, and I don't know if it had anything to do with the probably the most likeable character on the show - Keith Scott - making a brilliant return or if I actually did think he deserved a little bit of forgiveness and love but either way his character cannot be matched anywhere on television and probably never will be.
Am I sad Lucas left the show, absolutely. Did I think the show would survive without him, nope. Did the show survive and thrive even without him, you bet it did! As much as it pained me to see Chad Michael Murray and Hillary Scott leave the show for contract reasons and nothing to do with story lines, and as much as I thought the show would suffer with their absence, I was amazed at how the characters of Julian, Quinn, and Clay really picked up the slack. I was so excited in the off season to hear that CMM was returning to One Tree Hill for an episode in the final season, and then completely disappointed when I finally watched that episode. It was great to see him interact with Haley and Jamie but I wanted more and I feel like it was just an excuse to get people excited. The better episode for his return would have been the episode *SPOILER ALERT* that Dan dies. Sure they make mention that Haley tries to convince him to come back and he won't and you can completely understand why Lucas would not be as easily swayed to forgive him but it would have made that episode even better than it was - and that might have been the best episode of the final season.
It's funny how characters came and left and then returned. Stephen Colletti's Chase for example. He came to us in season 4 as a love interest for Brooke who was a member of the chastity club. He left us for a while and then returned to Tree Hill to manage Tric
As much as I rooted for Nathan and Hayley through every year I think the last few seasons pushed me to root for Quinn and Clay too. And in the end I think they had one of the best story arcs of the final season! Clay repressing the memory of a son he had with his first wife had to be one of the biggest plot twists I would have never seen coming. Logan might be an even cuter kid than Jamie Scott was and my heart melted with he called Quinn mom in the finale!
As this final season began and started to progress all I kept hearing was, this season is so dark, I don't like where it's heading, but in the end bad things had to happen because 13 episodes of everyone being happy isn't good television. Now obviously in real life the amount of things this one group of people experience is kind of inconceivable, so thank goodness it's a TV show. Drama makes people watch no matter how unrealistic the scenario, I mean people are still watching the same things play out over and over on Days of Our Lives so why wouldn't people tune in to see things that most definitely do happen to people but maybe not the same 10 people over an over again. In the end I was impressed with they way this final season played out.
In the end the stories told held our interest and the characters are what brought us back to One Tree Hill every week for 9 years. So what will the soundtrack to the next 9 years start and end with? Who knows but "I Don't Wanna Be" will always make me remember my friends in One Tree Hill. Thank God for DVDs!