They just don’t make shows like they used to, especially teen shows. Think back to the 2000s when The O.C. premiered. It was a show that you had to watch live. There was no DVRing it and saving it for later. It was an event and the Orange County-set show had our attention as soon as the first chords of Phantom Planet’s theme song played.
As brilliant as The O.C. was, even diehard fans have to admit that sometimes the storylines were a little out there. Even before the very-questionable fourth season, there were a few plot lines that had people raising their eyebrows. Let’s think back and take a look at 17 of The O.C.’s most insane storylines. California here we come…
17. Julie and Luke Hook up
There was enough drama with Marissa Cooper (Mischa Barton) and Luke Ward (Chris Carmack). Did we really need to get Marissa’s mom, Julie Cooper (Melinda Clarke) involved in it? Yes, we know that she was considered to be evil and manipulative, but hooking up with her daughter’s high school ex-boyfriend? Just no. Not only is she a full-grown adult hooking up with a teen, but it’s just icky considering her daughter’s history with him.
16. Oliver Coming To Town
As soon as Oliver Trask (Taylor Handley) showed up, you knew he was going to be trouble. Who just randomly switches into someone’s school for no reason? He may have only been around for a couple episodes, but he managed to freak everyone out, cause trouble with Marissa and Ryan Atwood (Benjamin McKenzie), threaten to kill himself and get taken into custody/rehab. Just your average day in Orange County.
15. Theresa’s Baby
When The O.C. wasn’t bringing in new unpredictable characters (see above), they were surprising us with people from the main group’s past. That’s what happened with Theresa Diaz (Navi Rawat), Ryan’s sort-of-ex-girlfriend. Because this was The O.C., when she showed up there was lots of fighting, an ill-tempered soon-to-be-ex fiancé, and an unexpected baby. What does Ryan do after hearing the news of a baby? He decides to help her raise it and take up a construction job. Things got even more convoluted when Ryan goes out of town and Theresa decides to tell him she has miscarried so he won’t feel an obligation to raise the baby. Long story short, they go their separate ways, the baby grows up, she eventually tells Ryan it’s Eddie’s, but they still go to prom together. Did you follow all of that?
14. The Lindsay, Caleb, and Ryan Connection
What was with the weird connections between all of the characters? It seemed like it was impossible to go out with someone new in Southern California without later discovering some bizarre familial connection. Take the whole Lindsay Wheeler Gardner (Shannon Lucio), Caleb Nichol (Alan Dale) and Ryan connection. Ryan starts a relationship with her, only to later realize that she’s the half-sister of Kirsten Cohen (Kelly Rowan), who is Ryan’s foster parent. That pretty much meant Ryan was dating his foster aunt. Her father was revealed to be Caleb during a Chrismukkah episode. Turned out he had an affair with his secretary. With all the drama of the situation, Lindsay takes off to Chicago to be with her mom.
13. Johnny’s Death
Poor Johnny Harper (Ryan Donowho) wasn’t in Orange County for a long time, but he still managed to be involved in one of the wildest storylines. He was part of season three and was the third piece in one of Marissa and Ryan’s many love triangles. Trouble was, he was a shy surfer guy who couldn’t admit his true feelings. Then his dreams of being a pro surfer were dashed when he got hit by a car. Ever the kind person, Marissa helps him recover, inadvertently making him fall more in love with her. Rather than admitting his true feelings, Johnny starts hanging out with Marissa’s sister Kaitlin Cooper (Willa Holland) presumably to make Marissa jealous. It culminates with Johnny getting drunk and climbing up a cliff… then falling to his death.
12. Ryan and Taylor Dating
If you thought that the Ryan and Lindsay relationship was odd, we had Ryan hooking up with Taylor Townsend (Autumn Reeser). Those who found Summer Roberts (Rachel Bilson) annoying took it back when they were introduced to Taylor. She was neurotic, obsessive and tried to break up Seth Cohen(Adam Brody) and Summer. Yet, she somehow ends up getting together with Ryan. And she only does it after she marries a French guy who refuses to sign divorce papers. Ryan helps get her out of the divorce with a kiss. Taylor then falls in love with him and becomes his “sleep therapist” to help seduce him. Do we need to point out that most of this happened in season four?
11. Marissa Shooting Trey
Remember Trey Atwood (Bradley Stryker), Ryan’s older brother who got him into the whole car mess? He appears in time for Thanksgiving, calling on Ryan to help finish the car job. Things go from bad to worse when Trey is released from prison and joins Ryan and the Cohens in an attempt to turn his life around. He starts using and selling drugs and even tries one on Marissa. The climax came during the season two finale when Marissa goes to Trey’s apartment and sees him choking Ryan. She somehow manages to find a gun and *spoiler alert* shoots Trey in the back.
10. Marissa’s Death
Yes, Marissa’s death was one of the saddest moments of The O.C., but was it a surprise? Not exactly, considering Mischa Barton made it pretty well known that she wanted off the show. Was it a bit over the top? Yup. Following their high school graduation, Ryan and Marissa are driving to the airport, when Kevin Volchok (Cam Gigandet) — who had been trying to blackmail Ryan — tries to force them off the road. They crash off on the side and Ryan narrowly pulls Marissa out of the car before the gas tank explodes. It’s really all for not because Marissa dies in his arms minutes later.
9. Ryan Cage fighting
Ah, season four. If you stuck around that long, you will know that the last season had even wilder plot lines. Take Ryan becoming a cage fighter as a way to deal with the death of Marissa. Given his tendency for getting into brawls, it made sense, but what didn’t was him living out of a closet in a bar to avoid the Cohens. Things became even more insane. After desperate attempts from the Cohens to get him to come home, they use a comic to convince him to leave behind cage fighting.
8. Sandy and Rebecca
Sandy Cohen (Peter Gallagher) is the dad we wished we had, so lots of eyebrows were raised when it came to his “affair” with his old girlfriend Rebecca Bloom (Kim Delaney). Being the good guy that he was, Sandy wanted to help her clear her name and they shared one kiss. Kirsten thought there was way more to things and started drinking heavily. The melodrama was almost as crazy as Sandy’s love affair with bagels. Yes, we tried to forget about that, too.
7. Kirsten’s Rehab Con artist
Kirsten was considered one of the stable rocks who held the rest of the absolutely insane characters together. Compared to her father and friends, she and Sandy were almost boring. That’s probably why writers decided to up Kirsten’s character arc by sending her to rehab after the aforementioned Sandy “cheating” on her with Rebecca scandal, and her crush on co-worker Carter Buckley (Bill Campbell). One funeral scene and a drunk driving arrest later, Kirsten goes to rehab. Once she’s finally seeking treatment, she meets Charlotte Morgan (Jeri Ryan), a “concerned” friend who is really a con artist.
6. Ryan’s Dad and Marissa’s Mom dating
Where did this one come from, seriously? Ryan’s dad Frank Atwood (Kevin Sorbo) shows up in season four for Chrismukkah. He somehow meets Julie, has a heart-to-heart with Ryan, and ends up in a relationship with Ryan’s dead ex-girlfriend’s mother. As the show wrapped up, we saw Julie getting her degree and Frank sitting with their son(!) on his lap. Just the ending we expected, eh?
5. Ryan and Luke Set The House On Fire
If there weren’t fights, there seemed to be fires on The O.C. One of the craziest ones took place at the model home. Seth and Marissa hid Ryan in one of the Newport Group’s unfinished houses so he wouldn’t be forced into foster care. Luke, who we can’t forget was jealous of Marissa and Ryan, finds the hiding spot and they get into a fight… and manage to start a fire. Ryan almost dies, but Luke decides to save him. His reward? Getting charged with arson.
4. Caleb’s Heart Attack
Caleb was one of the most evil characters so if he was going to go out, people expected it to be big. He definitely got a grand demise. His wife at the time, Julie, planned to poison him after realizing she wouldn’t get any money in a divorce because they were married for less than a year. There was a last minute change of decision, but fate(?) intervened when Caleb had a fatal heart attack… walking into the pool… fully clothed.
3. Marissa Overdosing in Mexico
Oh, Mexico. It was the source of so much trouble. Rather than keeping the drama in Orange Country, the group took it to Tijuana where things got worse. It started with the frosty pre-trip fights. Then there was the car arguing. That was nothing compared to the scene at the club where Marissa sees her then-BF Luke getting it on with Holly Fischer (Ashley Hartmanf). Remember her? Thankfully, the posse comes to her rescue. Just when we think Marissa is safe in her room, she escapes with a bottle of pills, leaving the group to later find her passed out on the street.
2. The Seth, Anna and Summer Love Triangle
Everyone enjoys a good love triangle, but the one between Summer, Seth and Anna Stern (Samaire Armstrong) made us scratch our heads. Seth was obsessed with Summer for years. As soon as he professed his love for her, he was suddenly intrigued by Anna. Then the trio got into a weird back and forth where Seth couldn’t choose then chose wrong and the girls flip flopped from being frenemies to BFFs who were fighting against Seth. WTF?
1. All of the weird familial relationships
We’ve already touched on a few of them, but let’s take a second to consider all of the connections between the characters who hooked up and sometimes married. There was hardly six degrees of separation between them, and we’re sure that if the show went on for a few more seasons, inbreeding would have been an issue. Ryan basically dated his adoptive step-aunt when he was with Marissa, Julie married her frenemy’s dad, then Julie and Ryan’s dad ended up together. There are just too many connections.