Every once in a while, people find a show they can truly connect with. These shows, so beautifully and delicately crafted, usually address a myriad of lessons about humanity, and impact the way we perceive the world around us.
Seven years ago, the series finale of “One Tree Hill” aired on The CW, ending nine seasons of drama, action, romance, heartbreak, coming of age, friendship, laughter and some of the best screenwriting and soundtracking any show has ever contributed to the entertainment industry.
In celebration of the timeless spirit that “One Tree Hill” has, here are seven standout episodes that fans still carry with them to this day.
1. “Pilot” (Season 1, Episode 1)
Standout Quote: “Guys kept teasing me about it, about how Nathan’s dad was my dad too. So I asked my mom, and she said he wasn’t, but, I get home, and I hear her crying in her room. And I knew it was true. So I never went back. And I told my mom it was because I didn’t want to have to see his face. But it was mostly because … I don’t want her to have to.”
Originally, “One Tree Hill” was going to become a TV movie. However, as the creators began constructing the screenplay, ideas multiplied and the writers realized they had enough depth and faith in the storyline to extend the concept beyond a mere two hours … thank goodness they did!
This episode is living proof that the show knew what it would become from the very beginning — the basketball, the hatred of villainous Dan Scott, the profoundly compelling voiceovers, etc. Going back to where it all started, the show offered so much complexity and intensity regarding the two estranged half-brothers coming face to face with their interconnecting lives.
2. “I Will Dare” (Season 2, Episode 5)
Standout Quote: “Bless me Father, for I have sinned. You see lately I’ve been having impure thoughts about — Actually, I haven’t been doing very well lately. This is the first time I’ve been in a church since my mom died … I wonder what she would say to me right now if she could see me and see how I’ve been living. I wonder if she knows, on most days I fall short of being the person she wanted me to be … I don’t even know why I did it. You know, my life is pretty good … it is, but I was just searching for something to make it great, something to make it matter.”
When the new kid in town, Felix, invites the group to participate in his outrageous rendition of truth or dare, minus the truth option, the scenes that unfold are nothing short of amusing. Amidst kissing a stranger in a photo booth, forcing the men to sell girl scout cookies in full uniform, getting their legs waxed and returning attire to a clothing store (while wearing them), the above quote portrays one of the series’ most tortured characters, Peyton, at a church confession booth.
Always managing to balance lighthearted humor with a sense of sorrow, Peyton begins uttering this nonsense speech Felix had designed before changing her mind. Instead of reciting it, she admits the guilt she feels about resorting to drugs to help ease the pain of her mother’s passing.
3. “With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls, We Slept” (Season 3, Episode 16)
Standout Quote: “Does this darkness have a name? This cruelty, this hatred, how did it find us? Did it steal into our lives or did we seek it out and embrace it? What happened to us that we now send our children into the world like we send young men to war, hoping for their safe return, but knowing that some will be lost along the way.”
Infamous for episodes that shocked audiences to their core, “One Tree Hill” never shied away from controversial topics or portraying traumatic experiences without a flinch.
The school shooting episode will go down in history as one of the scariest and most heart-wrenching hours of television to ever exist … If you know, you know.
4. “The Show Must Go On” (Season 3, Episode 22)
Standout Quote: “It’s been said that there’s one word that will free us from the weight and the pain of life, and that word is love … That doesn’t mean that is hasn’t been hard, or that it won’t be. It just means that, I found a stillness and bravery in myself with you.”
On Nathan and Haley’s wedding day, the characters each face inner turmoil as they put on brave faces and attempt to celebrate the series’ greatest love story. Encompassing extreme drama, ranging from coming clean about buried secrets to a mysterious pregnancy, this series finale is one of the show’s craziest cliffhangers.
It ends with the iconic image of Haley standing on the bridge screaming hysterically after Nathan jumps into the river to rescue the unstable couple that hijacked their limo and drunkenly flipped it into the water.
5. “Some You Give Away” (Season 4, Episode 9)
Standout Quote: “It’s you. When all my dreams come true, the one I want next to me. It’s you, it’s you, Peyton.”
The State Championship strings together so many unique storylines to provide a jaw-dropping sequence of events. Point shaving, spitefully running someone’s wife over with a car for revenge and sudden heart failure make this episode one that audiences watched on the edge of their seats.
Despite the agony that followed the Ravens’ basketball team’s victory, there was a short-lasting moment of ecstasy when Lucas looked over at Peyton and realized the immense love he has for her, finally bringing the two together after three long years of pining after one another.
6. “Pictures of You” (Season 4, Episode 13)
Standout Quote: “Do you ever wonder how long it takes to change your life? What measure of time is enough to be life-altering? Is it four years, like high school? One year? An eight-week rock tour? Can your life change in a month or a week or a single day? We’re always in a hurry to grow up, to go places, to get ahead. But when you’re young one hour can change everything.”
Throughout the nine seasons, there are a few distinct instances when the show cleverly split characters off into smaller groups to have them interact on much deeper levels.
This time, at the hands of a class assignment, they get paired off and spend an hour revealing each other’s ultimate fears and desires.
7. “All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone” (Season 4, Episode 22)
Standout Quote: “Now is the time for us to shine. The time when our dreams are within reach and possibilities vast. Now is the time for all of us to become the people we’ve always dreamed of being. This is your world. You’re here. You matter. The world is waiting.”
Following their high school graduation, the group heads in the new direction of their individual lives while looking back on the challenges and memories that brought them together over the years.
Tying multiple loose ends together at last, fans witness Dan Scott get the justice he deserves, Nathan and Haley delve into parenthood, and the group of lifelong friends come together once again on their beloved Rivercourt, where Nathan and Lucas face off for another game of one on one, mirroring their opening match-up in the series’ pilot.