It was 9 years ago that One Tree Hill first appeared on our screens with the memorable scenes of two half-brothers; enemies from different backgrounds, Nathan (James Lafferty) and Lucas Scott (Chad Michael Murray) facing each other in a one on one basketball game on the River Court in North Carolina. Since then, the show has become one of the most popular series in CW history.

The thing about One Tree Hill that really sets it aside from other shows of its genre is that it had heart and integrity as central factors in the script. At the heart of the show was the carefully selected music – encompassing both well-known artists and unsigned bands, as well as those struggling to make it but who had an original sound that appealed to One Tree Hill creator Mark Schwahn and music that he felt would capture the spirit of his world. Another essential aspect of the series was Schwahn’s inclusion of classic literature. Many episodes opened with a literary quote whether it was from Shakespeare or Oscar Wilde, from E. E Cummings, to William Henley – each quote was cleverly chosen in accordance to its relevance to the story of the episode. Scwahn said, in explaining why he felt this music and literature was so important, “I was attracted to classic literature because I felt like these stories I was telling were about these kids in this time and yet these quotes from hundreds of years ago applied perfectly to their situations.

He added further, “Kids have a soundtrack to their lives, everyone’s a fan of music.” It’s true that the music and the show itself became the soundtrack to so many people’s lives and the devotion to the series and its characters is clear whenever there is the opportunity to hear fans’ opinions or whenever the cast go out to meet the fans. The strength of the relationship between the cast of One Tree Hill and their fans is also another thing that makes it stand out from many other shows and it is one that was upheld by regular question and answer events and interviews.

Mark Schwahn’s dedication and faith in the script is instantly clear. He worked hard to make it more than your average teen-drama about an American high school. While, during the course of the show he tried to cater for all tastes by having, at times, big dramatic moments with kidnappings, car crashes, stalkers and murders – these were the more far-fetched additions to the plot. In fact, at the heart of the show, and what dominated the majority of its screen time, were the little moments and the interaction between the characters.

The key to One Tree Hill’s success, as stated by series regular James Lafferty is that ‘it resonates with people on a very personal level.

Mark Schwahn used his interest in sport, which he believes is a perfect medium by which to bringing people together and inspiring them to live up to their potential, to begin his story. Like in his earlier project Coach Carter, he really gets to the basis of what sport is really about, working as a team, striving to be the best while not becoming arrogant and losing sight of what matters. In a time when people are often discouraged by what they see or hear in the media, about kids today taking things for granted, throwing away opportunities and sometimes turning their focus to crime and after hearing about overpaid footballers thinking they are above the law, it’s good to see a positive reminder of what it should really be about and Schwahn gives One Tree Hill fans exactly that. Schwahn says in many of his interviews that the story of his show’s development is the ‘ultimate underdog rising to success story’ since when it began people doubted its potential and feared it would quickly disappear, but then after a mere five or six episodes – people started to realize that this show was something special and worth watching.

In an interview with Schwahn about the final episode, which fans believe has captured everything the beloved show was about and rounded everything off perfectly, he said ‘to the fans of One Tree Hill, thank you- because without you, there would be no show.’

After an impressive 187 episodes, Gavin DeGraw’s ‘I Don’t Wanna Be’ is heard one last time as the lights go out on the River Court in Wilmington, North Carolina, and on other locations such as ‘Tric’, ‘Karen’s Cafe’ and ‘Tree Hill High.’ There isn’t a dry eye amongst the cast, but there is a satisfied smile from Schwahn as he knows he has accomplished what he set out to do. It’s the end of an era and for One Tree Hill fans, it’s bitter-sweet….they’re very sad it’s over, but at the same time, very glad it happened.

Steph Scarth