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Long-running teen drama ‘One Tree Hill’ aired its final episode on Wednesday April 4 after 9 seasons and 187 episodes. The series premiered in the fall of 2003 on the now defunct network The WB, then in 2006 the network merged with UPN to form The CW, where the series has aired ever since.
‘One Tree Hill’ originally centred around two brothers who conflicted when they joined the same basketball team. Over the years, the series broadened to focus on their friends, family, lovers, and careers, while the producers utilised several narrative time jumps to either jumpstart new storylines or to account for numerous cast changes.
The final episode of ‘One Tree Hill’ centred around the 10-year anniversary of Tric nightclub, which had been a staple on the series since Season 2. The event saw musical numbers from acts such as Tyler Hilton, Gavin DeGraw – who provided the series’ signature theme song ‘I Don’t Wanna Be’ – and actress Bethany Joy Lenz, who has starred on the series since its very first episode.
Other storylines involved Mouth McFadden (played by Lee Norris) inheriting $500,000 from the recently-deceased Dan Scott (played Paul Johannson), Julian Baker (played by Austin Nichols) turning the characters’ lives into a TV show, and Clay Evans (played by Robert Buckley) formally adopting his son with fiancee Quinn James (played by Shantel VanSanten).
Series creator Mark Schwahn wrote and directed the finale, which featured several callbacks to previous episodes. Brooke Davis (played by Sophia Bush) visited the recreated childhood bedroom of her best friend Peyton Sawyer (formerly played by Hilarie Burton), Mouth used his inheritance to found a scholarship in honour of two characters who died in Season 3′s high-profile school shooting episode, and Haley James Scott (Lenz) told her son, “There’s only one Tree Hill, and it’s your home,” the very same line which Karen Roe (Moira Kelly) told her son Lucas (Murray) back in Season 1.
Immediately prior to the final episode, The CW aired a special retrospective titled ‘One Tree Hill: Always & Forever’, in which the cast and creator spoke about their time with the series. Schwahn said:
This was somewhat of a coming-of-age show. We met our characters as juniors in high school. To spend 9 years with those characters – you can feel so much growth.
While never a massive ratings hit – its highest rated season attracted 4.3 million viewers – ‘One Tree Hill’ developed a cult online following, and integrated enough product placement and fan involvement that it managed to win last-minute renewals year after year.
Now with it ending, ‘Supernatural’ is the only remaining scripted series on The CW which crossed over from The WB, and thus, the passing of ‘One Tree Hill’ marks the end of a specific era for teen drama series.