In the nine years One Tree Hill was on the air we laughed, cried, and fell in and out of love, more times than we can count. We got immersed into the small town of Tree Hill and had our hearts captured by the characters that populate it. So, by the time the ninth and final season rolled around and it was time to say goodbye to both the show and these beloved characters, it was naturally not an easy thing to do. But where a lot of shows fumble over their series finale, One Tree Hill went out as a love letter to its devoted fans, softening the blow of the goodbye.
Do Nathan and Haley Get Their Happy Ending?
After spending the majority of the season kidnapped, Nathan (James Lafferty) is finally home safe with his wife and kids. For all “Naley” lovers out there, they do indeed get their happy ending. But more than that, they have some really great moments throughout the episode. Most notable is a sweet callback to Season 1, in which Nathan gave Haley (Bethany Joy Lenz) a bracelet from a crackerjack box and told her “Don’t say I never gave you anything.” That moment gets a very sweet update when Nathan makes Haley her favorite meal of mac and cheese, and offers her a box of crackerjack for dessert. When she opens up the prize inside it’s a diamond bracelet, and when Nathan puts it on her wrist, he says “Don’t say you never gave me anything, ‘cause you have given me an amazing life.” Um, swoon much?
Their son Jamie is practicing to become just as good (or maybe even better) than his dad at basketball, which causes Nathan to pull him aside and have a talk with him that his father, Dan (Paul Johansson), never had. He tells Jamie that while there will be an expectation for him to be great at sports, he doesn’t have a responsibility to anyone, not even his dad. He tells him to find what makes him happy and to be a good man while doing it, but whatever he decides to do is up to him. After the hell Nathan went through with Dan, it’s satisfying to see him be the kind of man Dan never was for Jamie. It’s almost like a chance for him to heal his inner child and give Jamie the kind of love and support he and every child deserves.
Haley also later shows Jamie the hole in the wall on the roof of the café in which she and Lucas would write their hopes and predictions for the future. She passes the box down to Jamie and tells him to only write hopes and predictions that will make him happy. His first prediction is that he’s going to one day break his dad’s scoring title. And as we find out towards the end of the episode, he did just that. She then echoes a line spoken by Karen (Moira Kelly) as she and Jamie stand on the roof and look out over the town: “There’s only one Tree Hill, Jamie Scott. And it’s your home.”
What Happens With Brooke’s Fashion Businesses?
Throughout the ninth season, Brooke (Sophia Bush) is working on her new store, Baker Man, which would be targeted to baby boys, like one of her previous lines (Baby Brooke) was targeted toward baby girls. With the help of her father, she successfully sets up the company, and by the finale, the Baker Man website is officially launched. In the mini time jump at the end of the episode, we see that Baker Man has now opened up a store right across from Karen’s café. She tells Haley that “It’ll be our own little corner of the world, you and me.” Haley then asks her if she remembers what she was doing when Tric first opened and tells her that she was raising money for herself because her parents had lost all of their money. Now, she owns two businesses and her parents are finally starting to act like parents. It’s the kind of ending Brooke has long deserved. Sure, she may have had money and a seemingly good life because of it, but she was also shallow at times and relied on others to make her way. Now she’s a badass businesswoman with a healthy relationship with her parents, something we never thought we’d see happen.
To truly make things feel full circle, Julian (Austin Nichols) blindfolds Brooke and leads her up to a house — but not just any house, her old house, with the iconic red door. He tells her it’s their new home, explaining that she said the house deserved better and deserved a family, and now it’ll have the best one. Like Nathan’s conversation with Jamie, this feels like healing Brooke’s inner child after coming from such a cold and broken home.
Mouth Uses Dan’s Money for a Scholarship
In a surprising turn of events, Mouth (Lee Norris) is given a cheque for $500,000 from the recently deceased Dan Scott. The note attached simply says “What you do matters.” He uses the money to fund a scholarship in Keith’s (Craig Sheffer) and Jimmy’s (Colin Fickes) names. The scholarship is for college-bound students who want to pursue sports-related majors. He says though he doesn’t want to make people forget about the tragedy, he hopes that one day this scholarship can eclipse it and teach people that what you do and how you do it matters. He and Skills (Antwon Tanner) then drop Jimmy’s catchphrase before signing off. By the end of the episode, during the time jump, we find out that Mouth and Millicent (Lisa Goldstein Kirsch) have gotten married and that she is pregnant with their child.
Clay and Quinn Officially Adopt Logan
After spending the season trying to remember his son and finally being able to do so, Clay (Robert Buckley) sets out to officially adopt Logan (Pierce Gagnon). As if that isn’t enough to melt your heart, he also calls Quinn (Shantel VanSanten) “mom” for the first time. As they wait to sign the adoption papers, Quinn suggests they get married and forego her plan of a big wedding. She just wants to be his wife before they adopt their son, closing their chapter in the sweetest way possible, complete with Logan and Bevin throwing confetti at them in celebration.
How Does ‘One Tree Hill’ End for the Other Characters?
As for everyone else? Season 6 of the series saw the departure of Lucas Scott (Chad Michael Murray) and Peyton Sawyer (Hilarie Burton). And though neither of them returns for the finale, there are continuous mentions of them since their departure that let us know they’re still happy, healthy, and traveling the world — and that’s all we could ask for.
As thanks for helping rescue him, Nathan gifts Chris Keller (Tyler Hilton) a guitar. But not just any guitar, the same one he sold years ago to pay for Haley’s record. He later performs at the tenth anniversary of Tric, where he sets out to impress a record exec named Frankie Parks (Anna Colwell). She turns him down saying she’s looking for Rock acts, not country acts. So when he performs a rock version of the same song he performed for her, she takes back her initial turndown. He refuses her offer to sign him and instead is approached by Haley who says she is looking for new artists under her label and she wants that new artist to be him.
Meanwhile, Chase (Stephen Colletti) is the new owner of Tric and is still searching for love. And, as mentioned earlier, Bevin (Bevin Prince) makes a guest appearance at the courthouse where Clay and Quinn show up to adopt Logan and eventually marry. And at the end of the show’s time jump, it seems as though she and Skills have reunited and gotten back together.
Speaking of that time jump, the episode kicked off with a sequence of flashbacks as the last of our original characters looked back on their younger selves. Present-day Nathan watches as his younger self shoots hoops on the river court. Brooke watches herself walk through the halls of Tree Hill high school where Julian is now filming his movie. Haley looks back on herself making her senior year predictions in which she wishes she and Nathan get back together again. It then flashes to her and Nathan lying in bed together. It’s especially sweet after the trauma they went through this season.
That’s not the end of flashbacks though. As the episode’s final minutes show the entire group gathering at a Ravens game, we see a young Nathan at the free throw line seemingly smiling at his present self with a young Haley watching from the stands. There’s also a young Brooke cheerleading and winking at the camera/her present-day self. It’s revealed to be Jamie’s (Jackson Brundage) high school basketball game that everyone has gathered for. We check in one last time on every character, with even Bevin making a return. It’s the perfect closing scene, as everything has come full circle for our Tree Hill gang and everything they’ve been through over the past 9 seasons was well worth it.
But the best moment of the entire finale comes during the 10th-anniversary celebration of Tric. Performances from both Haley and Chris happened are wonderful, but the last musical guest is perhaps the most fitting. Gavin Degraw stops by to perform a setlist, complete with some of his most popular hits (and ones that have been featured throughout the show’s run). But the finale of One Tree Hill wouldn’t be complete without a performance of its iconic theme song “I Don’t Wanna Be.” As Degraw reaches the final chorus he pauses to let the crowd take over and the camera pans over all of our main characters singing the words loud and proud. If you somehow managed to make it through the episode with dry eyes, that’ll likely change after this scene. One Tree Hill may have finished out over 10 years ago now, but its charm and legacy live on. It had its flaws and its ups and downs like any other show, but it always stayed true to itself and in the end, gave fans the perfect closure to say goodbye to Tree Hill and its residents.