For some inexplicable reason, Netflix is taking One Tree Hill off of their site on October 1 – that is this Sunday, people! Guess, Peyton Sawyer was right…
Since three days is definitely not enough time to watch all 188 episodes of this pure golden drama, I have tirelessly gone through and attempted to find 12 episodes for you to watch this weekend to get the full One Tree Hill experience.
Me, writing this entire article:
1. “Pilot” – 1×01
Of course, we are kicking it off with the one that started it all. Introduce or re-introduce yourself to all the characters and family drama that reside in the quaint waterfront town of Tree Hill, NC. The pilot episode of One Tree Hill set the stage for what would be nine seasons of love, loss, friendship, music, and the power of the voiceover.
Standout Moment: The Scott Brothers come face to face on the Rivercourt for the first time.
Standout Quote: “I’ll be seeing ya.” – Lucas Scott to Peyton Sawyer
2. The Sparkle Classic Episodes
Okay, so this may be cheating but #2 on the list is actually 2 episodes, but they go hand in hand! The gang attended the Sparkle Classic in Season 1 and Season 3 and both times they were super fun episodes. In season 1 you find Haley putting a cheerleading outfit on for the first time and Lucas and Nathan starting to break down some walls in their relationship. In season 3 we’ve got Brooke having to choose between her dream job and just being a regular teenager. Pick one or watch both because they are both really fun episodes!
“Spirit in the Night” – 1×17
Standout Moment: Mouth reenacting the opponents cheerleading routine perfectly and Tim taking the guys to “Ladies Night” at the strip club.
Standout Quote: Peyton: Ok and if an angry dance-off breaks out, I’ve got your back. Brooke: Great, just don’t stick another knife in it.
“All Tomorrow’s Parties” – 3×14
Standout Moment: The whole team dancing on stage at the end.
Standout Quote: “Most of our life is a series of images. They pass us by like towns on the highway. But sometimes a moment stuns us as it happens. And we know that this instant is more than a fleeting image. We know that this moment, every part of it, will live on forever.” -Lucas Scott
3. “To Wish Impossible Things” – 1×18
One Tree Hill had quite a few episodes where they would split people up into smaller groups ( a few more of which are on this list) because they were always a great way to see different characters interact on much deeper levels. The Boy Toy episode allowed for Lucas and Haley to get their friendship back on track and learn more about each other’s relationships and also put Brooke and Mouth together for the first time, which we all know would blossom into a great friendship. Also, the photo below speaks for itself.
Standout Moment: Jake and Nathan’s boy toy routines, duh!
Standout Quote: “Everyday you wait, is another day you won’t get back” – Whitey Durham
4. “The Wind that Blew My Heart Away” – 3×13
When the power goes out in Tree Hill, everyone is forced to face their issues. Brooke and Lucas grapple over his past with Peyton and Nathan and Haley discuss their futures. Most importantly though, is that this is the episode where Peyton’s birth mom passes away, leaving her with two dead moms, making their interactions throughout the storm even more important. Elle’s final scene followed by Peyton finding her and later spreading her ashes are some of the most poignant scenes of the season.
Standout Moment: Nathan and Haley’s kiss in the rain.
Standout Quote: “Don’t be afraid Peyton, every song has a coda, a final movement. Whether it fades out or crashes away, every song ends. Is that any reason not to enjoy the music?” – Ellie Harp
5. “With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls, We Slept” – 3×16
It was a pretty big deal when One Tree Hill decided to do a school shooting episode as it really hadn’t been done much on TV before. To this day “With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls, We Slept” still stands as one of there series most popular and highly rated episodes. Not to mention, the closing moments of the episode took the show to a whole new level that would prominently and consistently affect everyone up until the series finale.
Standout Moment: After Jimmy Edwards commits suicide, Dan appears inside the school and murders Keith.
Standout Quote: “He’s just a kid. We’re all just kids and we just have this life. And the things you say and do, we feel that. How can you have so much hate in your heart? How can you act like it doesn’t matter? It does matter. What happened to us, huh? We’re just kids, we can’t be like this. It’s not possible.” – Abby Brown
6. “The Show Must Go On” – 3×22
After two seasons of watching Nathan and Haley go through the ringer, it was a treat to finally see them getting the wedding they deserved! Of course, it is One Tree Hill and it was a season finale, so we should have known that things wouldn’t be smooth sailing for long. The closing moment as Nathan jumped off the bridge to save Rachel and Cooper while Haley helplessly screamed is still an iconic moment from the show. Add in a mystery pregnancy and you’ve got yourself a worthwhile episode.
Standout Moment: The closing scene on the bridge. This scene also marked the first time a Led Zepplin song had been licensed for network television.
Standout Quote: “At this moment there are six billion, five hundred and two million, eight hundred-sixty-seven thousand, one hundred and twenty people in the world, give or take a few and sometimes all you need is one. For better or for worse.” -Lucas Scott
7. “Some You Give Away” – 4×09
Ah, the State Championship Episode aka what everyone refers to this episode as. This is probably one of the best episodes of the entire series and if you only want to watch one, this is the one to watch. There are huge moments for all of the characters and many of the relationships. The framing device between the basketball game that Dan played in high school and this game was brilliant. It’s an absolute standout for Peyton and Lucas fans and it ends with such a devastating moment that we should consider ourselves lucky that it wasn’t a season finale back in the day.
Standout Moment: When Lucas makes the final shot, the last shot of his basketball career, it perfectly mirrors his final shot in the pilot and the Season 1 State Championship.
Standout Quote: Hey Peyton. It’s you. When all my dreams come true, the one I want next to me. It’s you, it’s you Peyton.” – Lucas Scott
8. “Pictures of You” – 4×13
This is another episode that paired off all of the characters and it was extremely well done. “Pictures of You” found the kids participating in a project where they are supposed to spend an hour with someone and see what they learn. A lot of them found out that it was easier to open up and be vulnerable with someone that they didn’t really know while others were given the opportunities to dig into friendships that had been more surface level until then. Not to mention it features The Who’s “Baba O’Reilly” in an awesome closing montage.
Standout Moment: When all of the gang are doing their best celebrity impressions.
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.” -Lucas Scott
9. “4 Years, 6 Months, 2 Days” – 5×01
Mark Schwan’s decision to skip college was practically unheard of for a high school drama, but it was a brilliant move that allowed the show to run for four more seasons. It was basically a whole new chapter of One Tree Hill and opened up the door for so many new stories, relationships, and characters to explore. It allowed the actors to play closer to their own ages, which is something they all welcomed and appreciated and it gave us the adorable Jamie Scott.
Standout Moment: Finding out that Peyton called Brooke
Standout Quote: “Sometimes it feels like it was yesterday; graduating high school, saying goodbye. That feeling that you get at 17 or 18 that one in the history of the world has ever been this close, has ever loved as fiercely or laughed as hard or cared as much. Sometimes it feels like it was yesterday, sometimes it feels like someone else’s memory.” -Lucas Scott
10. “Almost Everything I Wish I’d Said the Last Time I Saw You ” – 7×22
It was hard trying to pick which group trip I wanted to include, but I love “Almost Everything I Wish I’d Said the Last Time I Saw You” because it is a huge episode for Brooke, who we had seen go through so much personally and romantically for seven seasons. It’s also an important episode for Haley who had been grappling with the death of her mother the episodes prior. With Lucas and Peyton gone, many thought that the show wouldn’t be the same, but with new additions like Julian, Chase, Clay, Quinn, and Alex they were able to create a group just as lovable as the high school years.
Standout Moment: Julian proposes and Brooke finally gets the boy.
Standout Quote: “Someone once said that death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live. I could tell you who said it, but who the hell cares.” – Haley James Scott
11. “Danny Boy” – 9×11
Love him or hate him, Dan Scott was one of the most important characters on One Tree Hill. He was constantly being redeemed and villainized throughout the show, but in the end, he was completely redeemed after saving Nathan. “Danny Boy” allowed for everyone, fans included, to reflect on their relationships with Dan and all of the havoc that he wreaked, but he ultimately found peace with his son and his brother. It’s a beautiful episode and one of the highest rated ones of the series.
Standout Moment: Dan and Keith walking down the hallway together after he passes away.
Standout Quote: “There are a lot of people that you need to say ‘I’m sorry’ to, but I’m not one of them. I wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for you. My career, my family, my life. No matter what you’ve done, you’re still my father. You’re my father and I love you.” – Nathan to Dan
12. “One Tree Hill” 9×13
It’s the last one – you just have to watch it. It’s filled with callbacks from throughout the entire series and the show’s closing moments will just make your Tree Hill heart burst.
Standout Moment: The whole gang singing the show’s theme song, “I Don’t Wanna Be” in Tric.
Standout Quotes: “Make a wish and place it in your heart. Anything you want, everything you want. Do you have it? Good. Now believe it can come true. You never know where the next miracle’s going to come from, the next memory, the next smile, the next wish come true. But if you believe that it’s right around the corner, you open your heart and mind to the possibility of it, to the certainty of it, you just might get the thing you’re wishing for. The world is full of magic. You just have to believe in it. So make your wish. Do you have it? Good. Now believe in it with all your heart.” -The Entire Cast
“It’s the oldest story in the world. One day you’re 17 and planning for someday. And then quietly and without you ever really noticing, someday is today. And then someday is yesterday. And this is your life.” –Nathan Scott
If you’ve already gotten through those and want to watch some more here are some of my honorable mentions!
“The Games That Play Us” – 1×22
Which one is that? Season 1 finale where Naley gets married and the first state championship game.
“I Will Dare” – 2×5
Which one is that? The gang plays Felix’s dare night
“Just Watch the Fireworks” – 3×15
Which one is that? The benefit concert at TRIC
“When It Isn’t Like It Should Be” – 3×18
Which one is that? The gang goes to Rachel’s mountain cabin. Pete Wentz in there.
“It Gets Worse at Night” – 4×17
Which one is that? The gang goes to Honey Grove, TX to save Mouth. Chris Kellar is there.
“The Birth and Death of the Day” – 4×20
Which one is that? The gang graduates high school.
“Darkness on the Edge of Town” – 8×11
Which one is that? Brooke’s bridge accident.
*All images courtesy of The WB/CW*
Having studied Media & Writing at James Madison University, I always knew that I wanted to do some type of creative writing, but being able to write about zombies, Starks, and superheroes on a daily basis for Fan Fest is my actual dream. While I probably shouldn’t be as proud as I am to be so similar to Nick Miller, I do hope to one day write my own “Pepperwood Chronicles’.