The O.C: Wikis

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The O.C.
The O.C Intro.jpg
Title card
Format Teen drama
Created by Josh Schwartz
Starring Peter Gallagher
Kelly Rowan
Benjamin McKenzie
Mischa Barton
Adam Brody
Rachel Bilson
Melinda Clarke
Tate Donovan
Autumn Reeser
Willa Holland
Alan Dale
Chris Carmack
Theme music composer Phantom Planet
Opening theme "California"
Composer(s) Christopher Tyng
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 4
No. of episodes 92 (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Dave Bartis (season 1)
Bob DeLaurentis
Doug Liman (season 1)
Stephanie Savage (season 4; co-executive producer seasons 1–3)
Josh Schwartz
Location(s) Orange County, California
Running time 42 minutes
Original channel Fox
Picture format 480i (SDTV)
720p (HDTV)
Original run August 5, 2003 (2003-08-05) – February 22, 2007 (2007-02-22)
Related shows Fastlane

The O.C. is an American teen drama television series that originally aired on the Fox network in the United States from August 5, 2003, to February 22, 2007, running a total of four seasons. The series, created by Josh Schwartz, portrays the fictional lives of a group of teenagers and their families residing in Newport Beach in Orange County, California. The O.C. has been broadcast in more than 50 countries worldwide and was one of the most popular new dramas of 2003.[1] The O.C. attracted a strong 9.7 million viewers for its first season, but ratings declined as the show went on. The low ratings led to cancellation in early 2007, after four seasons, and 92 episodes, even after an online petition which gained over 700,000 signatures.[2] Re-runs of The O.C. are now shown in syndication on The WB, SOAPnet, and Channel 4.

The show focuses on the lives of several teenagers, among whom was Ryan Atwood, a troubled teenager from a broken home who is adopted by the wealthy and philanthropic Sandy and Kirsten Cohen. Ryan and his surrogate brother Seth, an awkward and unpopular teenager about the same age as Ryan, deal with life as outsiders in the wild high-class world of Newport Beach, Orange County, California. This includes their often troubled and always dramatic relationships with Summer Roberts, Marissa Cooper, Alex Kelly, Lindsay Gardner, Taylor Townsend, and others. The show also features Marissa's mother, Julie Cooper, and for the first two seasons, her (ex)husbands Jimmy Cooper and Kirsten's overbearing father, Caleb Nichol. School water polo player Luke Ward, Marissa's (ex)boyfriend and early adversary to Ryan and Seth, causes problems in the first season. Drama also arises from Marissa's younger sister, Kaitlin Cooper. These main characters have problems and story arcs with numerous supporting characters from their past, workplace, and school.




In 2002, creator Josh Schwartz met with Joseph "McG" McGinty Nichol and Stephanie Savage of production company Wonderland Sound and Vision. They told Schwartz they wanted to create a television show based in McG's hometown of Newport Beach.[3][4] Savage suggested producing a police or extreme sports 21 Jump Street-style show, but Schwartz knew little about the genre. Having had experience with people from Newport Beach during his time at the University of Southern California, Schwartz came back to them with his own characters.[5] The show was pitched to Fox and Warner Bros in August 2002.[6] Fox targeted a summer launch for the show,[7] and Doug Liman was brought in to direct the premiere after McG withdrew due to his scheduling conflicts with Charlie's Angels 2.[8] The show was confirmed for the 2003–2004 schedule in May,[9] and an August 5, 2003 broadcast date was selected in June.[10]

Schwartz, said that inspiration for the show came from being a fan of Larry Sanders,[11] Cameron Crowe and other "quirky character-driven shows like Freaks and Geeks, Undeclared, and My So-Called Life".[12] Schwartz went to college at the University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television,[13] and later said that The O.C. was "very much based on sort of the experiences I had when I was in college".[11] He also stated that Cohen family in season one resembles his own family life,[14] adding that "The dynamic between Sandy and Seth is very much based on me and my dad."[15]

Filming locations

A photograph of a beach and a pier extending into the sea. In the foreground is a palm tree and a sidewalk, visible on the beach are a lifeguard station and a volleyball net, and on the horizon is a populated hillside.
Manhattan Beach was one of the primary filming locations for the show.

Although the show is set in Newport Beach, financial penalties imposed for filming outside the studio zone meant much of the show was filmed in the Manhattan Beach, Los Angeles County region.[16] Sites in Los Angeles County were used for many different on-screen locations, which include Ryan's hometown of Chino, Luke's father's Portland home, Johnny's fathers Indio office and Tijuana.[16][17][18]

For the first episode, "Premiere", the Cohen family home was shot on location in Malibu. A mock pool house was built for use in the pilot, and taken down after filming completed. The Cohen's home was recreated on a soundstage at Raleigh Studios in Manhattan Beach for filming during the rest of the series;[19][20] the pool was only 4-feet deep meaning that the cast had to act on their knees.[21] External shots of the original house remained in use throughout the show.[19][20] The pilot was shot on 35 mm film stock, while subsequent episodes used digitally post-processed 16 mm in order to reduce the cost of production.[19]

The Harbor School is the local school that the shows adolescents attend. Based on Newport's real-life Corona del Mar High School which executive producer McG attended,[22] the filming location was actually Mount St. Mary's College, a private woman's college in Brentwood, Los Angeles.[16] The University of California, Los Angeles was the location used to represent Berkeley,[23] and the University of Southern California was used to represent Brown University.[24] The FAA First Federal Credit Union building in Hawthorne was used to depict the Newport Group in season two.[25][26][27] Wayfarers Chapel in Rancho Palos Verdes was used twice on the show—once for a wedding and once for a funeral.[28] The Cohen's original home in Berkeley, which they return to in "The End's Not Near, It's Here" was shot in South Pasadena.[29]


The Bait Shop which was the fictional concert venue that staged performances in the second and third season.

Alexandra Patsavas, who had previously worked on shows including Roswell High and Carnivàle, was appointed as music supervisor on The O.C..[30] Patsavas worked alongside creator Josh Schwartz, in selecting the music to be used. Schwartz said that he had "always intended that music be a character on the show"[31] The O.C. made indie rock a "main focus of the series" and also its marketing plan,[32] releasing six soundtracks throughout the series. In the second season as a fictional new night club and concert venue, called The Bait Shop, was introduced. It was an undeniable reference to Beverly Hills, 90210's "Peach Pit",[33] and bands including The Walkmen, The Killers, Modest Mouse, The Thrills, Rachael Yamagata, and Death Cab for Cutie all made guest appearances on the show performing at the venue.[34][35][36][37] In addition to having guest artists perform on the show, it also premiered many new music singles from artists including the Beastie Boys, U2, Beck, Coldplay, Gwen Stefani, and The Shins.[38]

Many bands gained exposure through the show which caused increase in sales of their music. Rooney, who were the first band to guest appear on the show, experienced a "200 percent increase in sales" after their appearance.[39] Even artists who just had their songs featured benefited: Imogen Heap became "a household name stateside",[40] and Youth Group, who recorded a song specifically for the show, had "more than 5,000 iTunes downloads [of that track] in its first week" following it being played.[41] However, not all bands were keen to feature on the show. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah were asked to perform, but they turned it down because they were worried that it could diminish their credibility.[42] Some fans and critics echoed that sentiment by stating that such appearances and mass marketing techniques are creating sell-outs.[43]

Generally the music was well received. Ben Spier from Entertainment Weekly described the show as a "mixtaper's dream"[44] and Rolling Stone commented that the soundtrack was the reason people kept watching the show.[45] However, Karyn L. Barr from Entertainment Weekly stated that using acts like U2 on a show that dedicated time to indie bands was "selling out."[46] Noah Davis of criticised the show for neglecting plotlines and replacing them with "the gang's countless trips to the Bait Shop"[47]

Broadcast and distribution

First run broadcast

The first season premiered at 9:00 p.m. (EDT) on August 5, 2003 on Fox, and was simulcast in Canada on CTV.[48][49] The original, English-language version of the show also aired in other continents. In the United Kingdom, the first episode was aired at 9:00 p.m. (GMT) on March 7, 2004 on Channel 4,[50] but subsequent episodes were first shown on sister station E4, a week in advance of being shown on Channel 4.[51] In Australia, the pilot was first broadcast on the Nine Network but the channel later dropped the show.[52][53] Network Ten picked up the show and by the fourth season was airing episodes within days of it being broadcast in the U.S.[54] In New Zealand, the show was aired on TV2,[55] and in Ireland it was broadcast on TG4.[56] In South Africa it premiered on April 1, 2004 on satellite television channel Go and was shown on terrestrial channel SABC 3 in December 2006.[57] In India, the English language channel Zee Café debuted the show on December 30, 2005.[58] For the fourth season, in the week before an episode was broadcast on television, it was available via on demand streaming through Fox Interactive Media's MySpace and MyFoxLocal stations.[59]

It was also aired in non-English speaking countries. It aired across Latin America on the Warner Channel.[60] In France, it aired on France 2 under the name Newport Beach.[61] It aired in Germany on ProSieben,[62] in Switzerland on SF zwei,[63] and in Russia under the name OC – Lonely Hearts on STS.[64] In Italy it was shown on Italia 1,[65] with pay-per view channel Joi being the first to make available episodes of season 3 onwards through the digital terrestrial television service Mediaset Premium.[66][67]


Due to low ratings it was rumored that the show would not return for a fifth season.[68] In June 2006 Fox confirmed that "the current order for The O.C. is 16 episodes", but added that there was a chance to add more installments.[69] In September 2006 Rachel Bilson said that she felt like "the show is over",[70] and co-star Kelly Rowan stated that many of the cast realized the show was close to being cancelled. Rowan said that "when [the fourth season] was picked up for just 16 episodes this year the cast had a feeling the end was near".[71] On January 3, 2007 Fox announced that The O.C. was to be cancelled. In a statement Schwartz said "This feels like the best time to bring the show to its close" adding that "what better time to go out than creatively on top".[72] A campaign was launched to save the show and over 740,000 people signed an official petition on Fox's website.[73][74] There were rumors that the show would be saved, and a move to the The CW Television Network was mooted; however CW president Dawn Ostroff, whose company is partly owned by Warner Bros., confirmed in January 2007 that while the move was discussed it was decided against.[75]

Media releases

The O.C. – The Complete Series

All four seasons are available on DVD in Regions 1, 2 and 4.

Season DVD
Season 1 The O.C. – The Complete First Season
Season 2 The O.C. – The Complete Second Season
Season 3 The O.C. – The Complete Third Season
Season 4 The O.C. – The Complete Fourth Season

Additionally, The O.C. The Complete Series was released on November 27, 2007 in Canada and the United States,[76] which included the first season remastered in widescreen.[77] The complete series was also released as a Region 2 DVD on November 19, 2007 but did not include the remastered version of the first season.[78] Additionally, the DVD included a note from Josh Schwartz, a printed conversation between Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, two rare bonus discs, a season four gag reel, and Atomic County excerpts.

For users in the US, a regularly changing selection of episodes are available to stream free of charge from Hulu and The WB's website.[79][80] For registered members of selected regional iTunes Stores, all episodes of the first, second, and fourth season are available to purchase and download.[81][82][83][84][85][86] These seasons are also available in the US as video on demand from Amazon Unbox.[87] The fourth season was also made available in the Xbox Live Marketplace.[88]


Main characters

The initial season had nine major roles receive star billing. Protagonist Ryan Atwood (Benjamin McKenzie) is a troubled teenager who is thrust into the wealthy lifestyle of Newport.[89] He is sent to a juvenile detention facility after he is caught stealing a car with his brother Trey Atwood (Bradley Stryker, later Logan Marshall-Green) and Sandy Cohen (Peter Gallagher) is appointed as his public defense attorney.[90] When Ryan's mother leaves him, he is taken in by Sandy and his wife Kirsten Cohen (Kelly Rowan), who is a powerful businesswoman.[89] At their home Ryan befriends their son Seth who is a geeky, ostracized teenager the same age as Ryan.[89] Ryan takes a fancy to Marissa Cooper (Mischa Barton), the beautiful girl next door, but she has a boyfriend named Luke Ward (Chris Carmack), who is also captain of the school's water polo team.[89] Marissa's father Jimmy (Tate Donovan) is a financial planner for the wealthy residents of Newport Beach, Orange County, but after losing money steals from his clients. He gets investigated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for fraud, causing him to file for bankruptcy and his wife, Julie (Melinda Clarke), to file for divorce.[89] In a trip to Tijuana, Marissa finds out that her parents are separating, and that her boyfriend is cheating on her with her friend Holly Fischer (Ashley Hartman). Marissa breaks up with Luke, and overdoses on painkillers and tequila, but is saved by Ryan, when he finds her unconscious, lying in an alley. They form a relationship, that is turbulent throughout the first three seasons.

Seth desires to be with Marissa's best friend Summer Roberts (Rachel Bilson), but ends up in a love triangle with new student Anna Stern (Samaire Armstrong) and Summer. Seth was forced to make a choice between them, and chose Anna, however the relationship was short lived and they broke up when Seth confessed his true love for Summer.

  • Sandy Cohen (played by Peter Gallagher) – (Seasons 1 – 4): An idealistic public defender who takes in Ryan Atwood in the pilot episode, much to the dismay of his wife, Kirsten. As the seasons progress, he opens up his own private law firm and becomes the CEO of the Newport Group, before returning to the public defender's office. He is the husband of Kirsten, the father of Seth Cohen, and the legal guardian of Ryan Atwood. He is a philanthropist, and although living in upper class and a large house, is right-minded and frequently provides his two sons, and wife, with direction and advice. He has good strong relationships with his wife and sons, although occasionally having trouble, especially in season two. Sandy is a graduate of UC Berkeley's Boalt Hall law school. He is from the Bronx. By the end of the show, he is now a professor at Berkeley.
  • Kirsten Cohen (played by Kelly Rowan) – (Seasons 1 – 4): She is the wife of Sandy Cohen, the mother of Seth and former CFO of her father's (Caleb Nichol) real estate company, the Newport Group. Before she met Sandy she dated and grew up with Jimmy Cooper, with whom she remains friends. She is a graduate of UC Berkeley with a degree in Art History. She has had trouble with alcohol, and co-founded of the NewMatch dating service with Julie and in Season 4 she finds out that she is pregnant with a baby girl who is later named Sophie Rose Cohen (Sophie after Sandy's mother & Rose after her own mother). Sophie Rose is shown in the final episode at her brother Seth's wedding being about 6 years old. She is from Newport Beach.
  • Ryan Atwood (played by Benjamin McKenzie) – (Seasons 1 – 4): A troubled teenager from Chino, but lived in Fresno before, is thrown headlong into the privileged community of Newport Beach, California after his mother (Dawn Atwood) throws him out of their family home. Ryan is subsequently taken in by Sandy Cohen who takes pity on him. He forms fast bonds with all the Cohen family especially Sandy's son Seth. When Ryan and Marissa Cooper meet for the first time there is an instantaneous attraction but it will be a turbulent relationship from start to finish. Theresa Diaz, (played by Navi Rawat) Ryan's childhood sweetheart, comes to Newport in search of a job. Theresa and Ryan start up a relationship again. Theresa subsequently ends up getting pregnant and tells Ryan that he might be the father. Ryan moves back to Chino with Theresa to help her raise the baby. Theresa however realizing he still longs for the life he lead in Newport, tells Ryan she's lost the baby so he will go back (he later finds out Theresa was lying). Along the way we see Ryan's relationship breakdown with his brother Trey and his troubled relationship with his mother who is an alcoholic. Throughout the series Ryan's other love interests include Lindsay, a high school friend, who ends up being Seth's grandfathers' daughter from an affair he had 18 years prior. He dates Sadie, Johnny's cousin. Ryan's main love interest for most of the series is Marissa with whom he has an on again/off again relationship, before the two of them are involved in a car accident and she dies in his arms. Ryan becomes angry and turns to cage fighting to vent out his rage. But he is finally able to accept it and move on after reading a letter that was lost in the mail from Marissa the day she had died. He also dates Taylor Townsend later in season four. However, after an earthquake hits Newport, they break up. Six months later however they realize they still love each other and it is assumed they get back together. In the end, Ryan graduates from UC Berkeley and becomes an architect. While walking to his car after work one day, he sees a teen in the same situation he was in years ago. Ryan watches him and then calls out "Hey, kid! Need any help?" which are the last lines of the show. The kid looks up at him and the two of them look at each other as the screen goes black.
  • Marissa Cooper (played by Mischa Barton) – (Seasons 1 – 3): The first of the "core four" to leave the series at the end of season three. Marissa is arguably the most conflicted of the main characters, frequently battling with drugs and alcohol and anorexia. Marissa's relationships with her parents, boyfriends, and fellow classmates are often tumultuous. She is Summer's best friend and Ryan's on and off love interest. Before Season 1, she was Luke's long time girlfriend (since 5th grade). She also dates D.J for a while in Season 2 and then enters in a homosexual relationship with Alex Kelly. Ryan's brother Trey had tried to rape her. When Ryan finds out he immediately goes to find Trey. A fight ensues, and in order to stop Trey from killing Ryan, Marissa shoots him in the back. Marissa and Ryan break up for the last time when her friend, Johnny Harper who fell in love with her died. In the season 3 finale, Marissa tells her friends that she's leaving Newport to sail with her dad who is a captain of a boat that is heading to Greece. After she says goodbye to Seth and Summer, Ryan asks if he can take her to the airport because she was the first person he met and wants to be the last to say goodbye. Marissa agrees and she apologizes to Ryan for all the craziness that has happened between them. Ryan says he wouldn't have done it any differently.....except for Oliver, the psychotic guy who was obsessed with Marissa in season 1. As the two of them are heading to the airport, Ryan's car is rammed repeatedly by Kevin Volchok, a guy that Marissa was dating, but broke up with. Ryan loses control of the car and the car is flipped down a hill. After coming to, Ryan pulls a barely conscious Marissa out of the car as it catches on fire. The car explodes behind them as Ryan is carrying her down the street (similar to when they were in Tijuana after finding her in an alley after ODing on pills and tequila). Ryan tells Marissa he's going to get help, but Marissa begs him to stay. He tries to comfort her, telling her it's going to be okay. Unable to do anything to save her, he watches as she slowly dies in his arms. As Ryan sits in the street, cradling her, flashbacks are seen from when Ryan was originally leaving Newport in season 1 and the two of them share a look. In season 4, after Ryan and Taylor are in a dream after the two of them fall off the roof, Taylor tells Ryan that Marissa is alive because in this world, everything is the opposite. Ryan rushes to the airport to meet up with Marissa is coming in from Berkeley and thinks he sees her, but he is stunned to see it's Kaitlin. Kaitlin tells him that Marissa died 3 years ago in Tijuana after ODing. Since Ryan was not known in this world, he was not there to save Marissa as he originally had.
  • Seth Cohen (played by Adam Brody) – (Seasons 1 – 4): The awkward adolescent son of Sandy and Kirsten Cohen. He is known for his quick quips and pop-culture references. He is also the love interest of Summer Roberts, on whom he had a crush since 5th grade. He dated Anna Stern during Season 1. When Ryan moved back to Chino, Seth sailed to Portland on his sailboat and stayed with Luke and Luke's gay father. Seth comes back home when Ryan comes back from Chino. After one of the break-ups between Summer and him he had a fling with the bartender at the Bait Shop, Alex. He breaks up with her because she has a lesbian ex-girlfriend show up, but eventually he realizes that he loves Summer. He lies to Summer in season 3 about getting into Brown, but only to make sure that she doesn't throw away her dream over him not getting in. The truth comes out eventually and he gets into RISD. He proposes to Summer in the fourth season, knowing that she might be pregnant. After he learns she is not pregnant, the thought of marriage begins to scare him. In the finale, six months after the tragic earthquake, Seth and Summer take time to pursue separate interests and he gets married sometime later to Summer Roberts with Ryan as the best man and Taylor as the maid of honor.
  • Summer Roberts (played by Rachel Bilson) – (Seasons 1 – 4): The socialite of the four main teen characters (Ryan, Seth, Marissa and Summer). She is the love interest of Seth, and best friend to Marissa. She is the daughter of Dr. Neil Roberts. Initially Summer is the "bitch" of the group but it soon became clear this is a cover for her own insecurities. Her mother left when her parents divorced and she has had no contact with her since. Her stepmother, nicknamed the "step-monster", although Summer occasionally mentions her, was shown from behind in season 4. When Seth sails to Portland, Summer finds a new love interest, Zach. On the way to be maid of honor in Zach's sisters' wedding in Italy, Summer leaves Zach at the airport realizing that she is meant to be with Seth. She and Seth believe she is pregnant in the fourth season and they planned to get married. After they find out that she isn't, they break off the engagement, though not their relationship. Six months after the earthquake, Summer and Seth go their separate ways, allowing Summer to pursue her environmental interests, but the two get married sometime in the future.
  • Luke Ward (played by Chris Carmack) – (Seasons 1 – 2): Marissa's jock ex-boyfriend and regular cast member episodes 1–24. Luke is the oldest of the three sons of Carson and Meredith Ward, and the older brother of Brad and Eric Ward (seen in season 4 being Kaitlin's "friends"). When Ryan first comes to town, the two of them get into constant fights, mainly over Marissa. The tow of them eventually set aside their differences and become friends. He had an affair with Julie Cooper after he and Marissa broke up. The first main character to leave the show, Luke and his father moved to Portland after the people of Newport learned that his father was gay. He lets Seth live with him and his father in Portland over the summer break before school starts for their final year. This is shown in the first episode of season 2 before Seth returns home with Ryan.
  • Julie Cooper-Nichol (played by Melinda Clarke) – (Seasons 1 – 4): The mother of Kaitlin Cooper and the late Marissa Cooper. At the beginning of the show she's married to financial planner Jimmy Cooper, but after learning that he had stolen large sums of money from his clients, Julie divorces him. She had an affair with her daughter's ex-boyfriend, Luke, while dating Caleb. She later marries Caleb Nichol and attempts to take-over as CEO of the Newport Group, with no success. Following Caleb’s death, she was left with no money and ends up living in a trailer park. She becomes engaged to Dr. Neil Roberts. The engagement falls apart after Marissa's death, and she becomes single again. Julie becomes involved with Frank Atwood in the fourth season and in the final episode, before Julie's attempted wedding to Bullit, it's revealed that Julie was carrying Frank's baby. In the finale, Julie graduates from college sometime in the future and she now has a son with Frank. She is originally from Riverside.
  • Taylor Townsend (played by Autumn Reeser) – (Seasons 3 – 4): Introduced in Season Three as a neurotic perfectionist student who battles Marissa for full control of Harbor High School's social scene. Summer and Seth become friends with Taylor after learning how lonely she is. In the season three finale, Seth tells her she has become inner circle material, making her a part of the "Fab Five". But shortly after that, Marissa dies in a car accident, thus making her the fourth member of the core four. In Season 4, Taylor comes back from France married and ready to be divorced and then becomes the love interest of Ryan Atwood. She is the daughter of the ill-spirited Veronica Townsend.
  • Caleb Nichol (played by Alan Dale) – (Seasons 1 – 2): Kirsten's businessman father and later Julie Cooper's husband. His character recurs throughout the first season, and he becomes a regular during the second season. Caleb is the show's first main character to die (from a heart attack). The reading of his will reveals that Caleb was broke, and leaves his widow Julie with nothing.
  • Kaitlin Cooper (played by Shailene Woodley) – (Season 1), (played by Willa Holland) – (Seasons 3 – 4): The daughter of Jimmy Cooper and Julie Cooper-Nichol and sister to the late Marissa Cooper. After returning from boarding school, she begins to like Johnny, Marissa's friend, but when he dies she blames herself and goes back to boarding school. She comes home before Marissa is to leave for her boat trip and starts attending high school at Harbor during the fourth season. Her personality is more similar to her mother's rather than her father's, and quite different from that of her older sister Marissa. She dates Chris Brown who plays Will for a short time known as "band geek." In the finale, Kaitlin is shown congratulating her mother for graduating. She has a younger half-brother courtesy of Frank Atwood and Julie.
  • Jimmy Cooper (played by Tate Donovan) – (Seasons 1 – 4): Marissa's and Kaitlin's father (and Julie's ex-husband). He was a regular cast member for episodes 1–34, but his character left Newport for Maui. He dated Hailley for a while after his divorce with Julie. He returns following Caleb's death at the end of the second season and almost remarries Julie. After running into financial troubles (and being attacked), he decides to leave Newport again early in the third season. He lives on a boat for part of season 2, and as of the end of season 3, he is the captain of ship that is sailing in the Greek Islands. He returns in season 4 in the episode "The Chrismukk-huh?", but only in a parallel universe, where he is married to Kirsten, who he dated in high school.
  • Anna Stern (played by Samaire Armstrong) – (Seasons 1 and 3): Anna was Seth's love interest, beginning her stint in "The Debut". Ryan was initially intended to escort Anna at Cotillion, but Seth came through as her "white knight". Originally Anna helped Seth build confidence and win over Summer Roberts even though it was clear to everyone but him that she had romantic feelings for him. On Thanksgiving, Seth juggled Summer in the pool house and Anna in his bedroom, keeping each unaware of the other's presence. When the turkey was burning both girls came to the kitchen and caught Seth. Both were mad at him until he apologized at Harbor School, and at that point they both fell for him. The two decided to share Seth for "Chrismukkah". While at a party Summer and Anna both gave him gifts. He first received a homemade comic book from Anna. Then, Summer showed him her gift. Underneath her dress she was wearing a wonder woman costume and she seduced him, until Anna walked in. Anna felt so childish for her present, while Summer referred to herself as "wonderwhore". It then became clear that Seth would have to choose one of the young women. He chose Anna and on most dates Summer participated as a third wheel. Their relationship was short-lived when Anna broke up with him. Seth went on to ask Summer out and she naturally turned him down because she didn't want to be his second choice. After he explained that Anna broke up with him because it was always Summer, she forgave him and went on to have a quite strong relationship throughout the series. Anna left to go back to Pittsburgh in Season One. She returned for multiple episodes in season three. Seth met up with her at a tour of a college, and she was his prom date. After this she was never seen on the show again.
  • Johnny Harper (played by Ryan Donowho)- (season 3): Johnny Harper was an up and coming surfer from Newport Union High School, who in the third season befriends Marissa Cooper; she transferred to Newport Union after being expelled from Harbor for shooting Trey Atwood. He, his girlfriend, and his best friend Dennis “Chili” Childress are the first and only friends Marissa makes during her short stay at Newport Union. He eventually falls in love with Marissa, even though they both are in relationships, but it remains secret. Johnny loses his chances to be on a professional surfing tour when he is hit by a car after his qualifying competition. Marissa, feeling guilty about the accident because Johnny was running after her angry boyfriend Ryan, takes care of Johnny while he’s recovery. He admits his love to her, but is rejected. He then has a fling with her younger sister Kaitlin, with whom he is drinking on the beach with when he accidentally kills himself by falling off a cliff.
  • Oliver Trask* (played by Taylor Handley) – (season 1): Oliver Trask was a rich teenager whose parents own a chain of hotels. In season one, he meets Marissa Cooper in therapy. They soon become friends because they can relate to each other's substance abuse problems. What Marissa doesn't know is that Oliver was kicked out of his previous school for stalking a girl and attempting to commit suicide due to his rejection. Oliver makes up a fake girlfriend and pretends to have honest, friendly intentions with Marissa. Ryan grows suspicious of this relationship and trys to warn Marissa about Oliver's shady ways. The last episode that we see Oliver in, he pretends to overdose on drugs and asks Marissa to come over. She finds out that he's faking about the drugs as well as having a girlfriend and tries to leave. He pulls out a gun and holds her hostage, threatening to kill himself if she leaves. When Ryan, Sandy, and security show up at the door, Marissa yells out that Oliver has a gun and security kicks the door in. Oliver taunts Ryan by saying that killing himself will be a favor to Ryan. Ryan talks him out of it asking why he would want to do him a favor because Oliver hates him. Oliver breaks down sobbing and lowers his gun and security takes him away.

Reception and influence

U.S. television ratings

A line graph showing the U.S. television ratings for The O.C.

The pilot episode attracted 7.46 million viewers in the United States,[91] came second in its time slot behind the season finale of Last Comic Standing,[92] and was the highest rating show of the night in the 12–17-year-old demographic.[93] Overall season one was the highest-rated new drama of the season among adults aged 18 to 34,[94] averaging a total of 9.7 million viewers.[95] For the second season, the show moved to an "ultra-competitive Thursday"[96] against the likes of Survivor, Joey and Will & Grace, and this is often cited as a cause of The O.C.'s decline in popularity.[97][98] The move improved Fox's performance at the new time slot, but lost the show viewers,[99] with average viewing figures decreased thirty percent from the previous season to 7 million.[100] For the third season average viewing figures decreased a further twenty percent from the previous season to 5.6 million.[101] The Thursday 9.00 p.m. timeslot placed the show against two other very popular shows, CSI and Grey's Anatomy.[102] With the fourth season not starting until November, the premiere attracted 3.4 million viewers,[103] which was a series low.[104] For the final ever episode 6.7 million viewers tuned in which was 76 percent more than the season average of 4.6 million viewers.[105][106]

The most watched O.C. episode was "The Rivals". It attracted 12.72 million viewers, and was the lead-out to American Idol which attracted 29.43 million viewers that week.[107]

Season Episodes Timeslot (ET) Season premiere Season finale TV season Rank Viewers
1 27 Tuesday 9:00 p.m. (2003)
Wednesday 9:00 p.m. (2003–04)
August 5, 2003 May 5, 2004 2003–04 #57 9.7[95]
2 24 Thursday 8:00 p.m. November 4, 2004 May 19, 2005 2004–05 #85 7.0[100]
3 25 Thursday 8:00 p.m. (2005)
Thursday 9:00 p.m. (2006)
September 8, 2005 May 18, 2006 2005–06 #105 5.6[101]
4 16 Thursday 9:00 p.m. November 2, 2006 February 22, 2007 2006–07 #123 4.3[106]

Awards and honors

For the debut episode, "Premiere", Schwartz received a Writers Guild of America Award nomination for Best Screenplay in an Episodic Drama,[108] and casting directors Rush and Silverberg nominated in the Dramatic Pilot category of the Artios Awards.[109] Luke's tagline, "Welcome to the O.C., bitch", was placed 83rd by TV Land in its 100 Greatest TV Quotes and Catchphrases in 2006.[110][111][112] The first season picked up four Teen Choice Awards, and was nominated for another two. Additionally it was nominated for the Outstanding New Program TCA Award,[113] and in Australia it won a Logie Award for Most Popular Overseas Program in 2005.[114] For the second season the show was nominated for five Teen Choice Awards, and won four of them, including best drama. It was nominated for the Favorite Television Drama People's Choice Award, and Kelly Rowan won a PRISM Award for Performance in a Drama Series Episode, with Peter Gallagher getting a nomination. The second season finale was nominated for a PRISM TV Drama Series Episode award.[115] The third season was nominated for five Teen Choice Awards and won four of them, including "Choice Drama/Action Adventure Show" and "Choice Actor: Drama/Action Adventure", which Adam Brody won for the third consecutive year.[116]

Critical reception

Fandom and popular culture

The O.C. generated a dedicated and thriving international fan community. Fans of the show, sometimes dubbed OC Groupies,[117] have been active in developing a large number of fan websites, including The O.C. Wikia, and forums dedicated to the program. Famous fans of the show include the Bush twins, Jenna and Barbara,[118] and Princess Beatrice.[119]

One of the reasons The O.C. gained a cult following was the constant flow of references to musicians, films and comic books below the mainstream cultural radar, mainly coming from the character Seth Cohen. One prime example would be in the episode entitled "The Best Chrismukkah Ever" in which Seth creates the 'Seth Cohen Starter Pack' as a Christmas gift to give to Anna and Summer.[120] This starter pack consisted of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, The Goonies, and CDs by Bright Eyes, Death Cab for Cutie and The Shins. Bright Eyes and Death Cab for Cutie are also referenced in a handful of other episodes, more so than any other bands. Seth and friends have attended shows by The Walkmen,[121] Death Cab for Cutie,[122] The Killers,[123] Modest Mouse,[124] The Thrills[125] Tom Vek and The Subways at their local music venue, the Bait Shop. Films referenced include The Goonies, Risky Business, Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Blade, House of Flying Daggers, Hellboy and a set of scenes loosely parodying Spider-Man in the episode The Rainy Day Women.[126] Seth also has a large Ben Folds Live poster above his bed, as well as posters for various other bands including Death Cab for Cutie, Black Flag, The Ramones and Nirvana and a Rockstar North poster, creators of the Grand Theft Auto series. Additionally in one scene there is a close-up of him reading the book Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto and the writer Chuck Klosterman was also mentioned quite subtly in one episode,[127] as was Jack Kerouac's novel On the Road.[128] Additionally, Seth and Ryan play a variety of games on their PlayStation 2 console. The most frequent example comes from season one, which includes a handful of scenes showing Seth and various other characters playing a game from the Dynasty Warriors series and Grand Theft Auto III in the Pilot episode.[129] They also make numerous references to various comic books throughout the series, including X-Men and L.E.G.I.O.N., and cited Brian Michael Bendis as one of the greatest comic book authors of all time.[121]

Seth's tastes were backed up by other characters – Anna Stern shared Seth's love of comic books and Death Cab for Cutie,[130] and in one episode she gets the two of them tickets to see Bright Eyes as a surprise.[131] In the second season, the character Zach is introduced into the show and shares Seth's love of comic books and superhero movies. Marissa spends most of one episode listening to Interpol in her room and in the second ever episode she mentions that she likes punk because she's angry, specifically The Sex Pistols, The Clash, Stiff Little Fingers and The Cramps.[128] Seth is extremely surprised to find out that he and Marissa share an extremely similar taste in music and literature, sharing an interest in the aforementioned punk bands and Jack Kerouac novel. Alex has a concert poster of The Postal Service on the wall of her living room. In season three, Taylor Townsend eventually bonds with Seth over a mutual love of Japanese anime. And Julie Cooper occasionally recalls a youth spent listening to Poison, Whitesnake, Bob Seger and Mötley Crüe.

This side of the show was spoofed on a few occasions – firstly, when Ryan developed a passion for the band Journey, going against the hip references made by Seth Cohen.[132] In "The Rainy Day Women" episode, Seth decides to dwell on his troubled love life not by listening to his usual obscure indie tastes, but with Boyz II Men's song "End of the Road".[126] Paris Hilton made a guest appearance in an episode, playing an ironic parody of herself. Seth met her and expected her to be as she is on TV, but instead she started a conversation about cult author Thomas Pynchon, stating that "Gravity's Rainbow is his masterpiece!"[127] Seth was suitably stunned. This reference, though likely missed by most O.C. viewers, was to critic Arthur Salm's statement on Pynchon:

the man simply chooses not to be a public figure, an attitude that resonates on a frequency so out of phase with that of the prevailing culture that if Pynchon and Paris Hilton were ever to meet — the circumstances, I admit, are beyond imagining — the resulting matter/antimatter explosion would vaporize everything from here to Tau Ceti IV. (Salm 2004)[1]

The writers also invented a fictional film called Yakuza Prep, which is based on a popular Japanese style of movies, in the third season.

The writers also created a fictional show called The Valley, which was basically the in-show equivalent of The O.C. Characters will frequently make ironic (and perhaps self-mocking) comments about The Valley and its fictional reality TV counterpart, Sherman Oaks: The Real Valley obviously referring back to the show Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County and its bold claim to be real. Comedic group The Lonely Island did a parody of The O.C. called The 'Bu. At Boston College, students created and produced a parody titled "The BC" that received nationwide acclaim and features in The New York Times and CBS Evening News.

The restaurant dubbed the Crab Shack on the show is actually local landmark The Crab Cooker.[133] Scenes from the show were also shot at the landmark Wattles Mansion located in Hollywood.[134]

Complementary media

The characters and setting of The O.C. have appeared in several official tie-ins outside of the television broadcast, including in print and on the Internet.


Eight novelizations have been released by the publisher Scholastic Inc. with the permission of Warner Bros. They are:

  • The Outsider (ISBN 0439660599)
  • The Misfit (ISBN 0439677009)
  • The Way Back (ISBN 0439677025)
  • Spring Break (ISBN 0439696321)
  • Summer of Summer (ISBN 043969633X)
  • Bait & Switch (ISBN 0439745705)
  • 'Twas the Night Before Chrismukkah (ISBN 0-439-7457-13)
  • Cohen! (ISBN 0439745721)

With the exception of 'Twas the Night Before Chrismukkah, written by Andes Hruby,[135] all the books were written by authors Cory Martin and Aury Wallington.[136][137] In addition to these novels Scholastic also published an official biography book titled Meet The O.C. Superstars (ISBN 0-4396-60602), written by Monica Rizzo.[138]

Several unofficial books relating to the show have also been published.

  • O.C. Undercover (ISBN 0312331428), written by Brittany Kemp, published by Plexus Publishing Ltd., is a book that includes biographies of the cast, fashion tips, and information about culture trends associated with the show.[139]
  • Stop Being a Hater and Learn to Love The O.C. (ISBN 1596090065), written by Alan Sepinwall and pulished by Chamberlain Bros., discusses the merits of the television programme, and aims to give a lighthearted view from all ages of the show.[140]

New Match, the company Kirstin and Julie set up, mentioned a website in "The Road Warrior", and an actual website was set up by Fox. This has since ceased to exist.[141]

Licensed merchandise

In addition to tie-in novels, several other types of products based on the series, such as clothes, toys and games, have been licensed for release. Licensed items of clothing released included T-Shirts, Jumpers, Underwear and Flip-Flops, which are sold from the Warner Bros. store.[142] Other accessories available included keychains, notepads and a Chrismukkah wrapping paper.[143] A partnership with Sephora included one of their beauty editors writing on the official OC Insider site,[144] and the inclusion of articles about their products.[145] An official bath set and "OC Beauty To Go Cooling Set" were released in 2004.[146][147] In 2006, Gameloft released a mobile game based on the show.[148] AMC Beauty released fragrances in October 2006, named "The O.C. for Him" and "The O.C. for Her" in 0.5oz and 1.7oz versions.[149] LeSportsac, in a partnership with Warner Bros., released The O.C. collection" in August 2006, which was a fashion line of bags and accessories.[150] Elsewhere Screenlife and Mattel launched a The O.C. themed version of Scene It?, a DVD trivia game based on the first three seasons,[151] and Cardinal Games released The OC Game, a trivia board game.[152]

Additionally websites including and included comprehensive guides of fashion and styles featured on the show, providing details to customers of how to obtain these items.


The O.C. has given rise to a number of spin-offs, some developed and others not. Atomic County was a spin-off based on the cartoon characters in Seth's comic book of the same name. It was created by The O.C. writer John Stephens and artist Eric Wight, who was responsible for the comic book drawings featured on the show. In 2005 Schwartz announced he was writing a spin-off which followed the life of Marissa's younger sister Kaitlin at boarding school.[153] It was set to premiere in January 2006, but the airing of the spin-off never occurred. Schwartz attributed this to Gail Berman, president of Fox, moving to Paramount in May 2005.[154]

There were plans to turn the show into something of a reverse spin-off. Schwartz being the creative force behind the television series Gossip Girl planned to release a spin-off entitled Valley Girls, originally to premiere in the fall of 2009. Schwartz wanted to tie in the younger versions of the characters from both The O.C. and the principals from Valley Girls to establish a continuity with Gossip Girl.


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