As far as teen soap operas go, One Tree Hillwas one of the most iconic and definitely one of the most insane. Spanning nine seasons, a huge ensemble cast, and one really ridiculous dog-eating-a-heart scene that will forever make this show unforgettable, it has absolutely earned its place in history. Some of its characters, however... not so much.
We're all adults here who can recognize that not all characters are created equal, and some of them are just plain terrible. In celebration of the Tree Hill residents who deserve everything this world has to offer and the ones who we'd rather just forget existed, here's a brutally honest ranking of all the major characters of One Tree Hill.
As One Tree Hill's resident cheerleader (literal and metaphorical) Brooke (Sophia Bush) easily snags the top spot on this ranking. Despite her mean girl roots early in the series, she proved herself to be a loyal friend, a wonderful mother and an all-around angel of a human being. When all is said and done, Brooke Davis deserves to be wrapped up in snuggly blankets with her adorable family and protected from the world at all costs.
OK, let's count down all the ways Jake (Bryan Greenberg) is amazing. He's a devoted dad, a good student, an amazing friend, a loving boyfriend and, if certain female characters are to be believed, a pretty awesome lay. And that's all at the age of 17! Seriously, Jake was the MVP on a roster of other players that were constantly tripping over their own feet and feelings.
Skills (Antwon Tanner) might actually be the unsung hero of One Tree Hill. He was a loyal, drama-free friend who was always around whenever anyone needed help. He never asked for anything in return, either, which unfortunately resulted in him being underappreciated. But in addition to being a great friend, he was also really good with kids -- Crazy Nanny Carrie's interference still can't trash that -- and always able to make us laugh. Also, it was really sweet the way he stepped up to make sure all future Tree Hill weddings went off without incident.
If there was ever a character who just deserved to be left alone to his peace and quiet, it was Whitey Durham (Barry Corbin). He was a decent man and a great basketball coach, and yet he had to deal with these crazy kids and their crazier parents all the time. Honestly, watching Whitey retire to his ranch in the country away from all of these psychos was the best happy ending TV has ever given us.
Forget Lucas and his emo poetry, we will take this sultry jock all day, every day. Yeah, Nathan (James Lafferty) started out as a jerk but then he found the love of his life and totally turned himself around. Even when he got knocked down, he fought for his dreams and made us believe that high school sweethearts could make it. Please never forget how adorable of a dad he was when Jamie finally came around as well. He may be No. 23 but he's No. 5 in our hearts forever.
Oh, Haley (Bethany Joy Lenz). Listen, we know she had her moments (see: the Chris Keller affair, irrationally losing it on Quinn for getting a divorce), but overall Haley was a solid partner and someone you felt like you could get a beer with. She's not the ultimate BFF like Brooke, but she was someone we usually wanted around, especially when Nanny Carrie went on a kidnapping rampage.
Poor Keith (Craig Sheffer), you deserved nothing that happened to you. In our ideal world, Keith and his kind eyes and unshakeable moral compass grew old with a family who loved him and a brother who appreciated him, somewhere in Montana where he could raise horses and live off that land. You deserved more, Keith.
Just when you'd given up hope that anyone would come along who would deserve Brooke and all the wonderful things she brought to the table, a beautiful soul like Julian Baker (Austin Nichols) arrived in town. He wasn't just smart and charming, he was good with kids and honest about his feelings, and he had dimples as deep as moon craters. Seriously, where's the real life version of this guy?!
We're attributing at least 60% of Clay's (Robert Buckley) likability to an excellent performance by Robert Buckley, but beyond that, Clay was a pretty fun addition to the later seasons of One Tree Hill. If he hadn't just straight-up forgotten he had a kid for like five years in one of the silliest plots of all time, he may have even rivaled Brookie for our No. 1 slot.
Like Skills, Mouth (Lee Norris) was not really appreciated by his friends sometimes, but that didn't stop him from being a great confidant to Brooke or the kind of friend you could count on to have your back when a crazy lady lies about being pregnant with your baby. Mouth lost his job for disobeying his boss and not reporting on that! Anyway, Mouth wasn't always perfect, but that's also the show's fault for struggling to find worthwhile storylines for his character after high school.
James Lucas Scott (Jackson Brundage) may have come into the show halfway through the series, but he somehow instantly felt like a staple of the show when we time-jumped in Season 5. Jamie was cute, devious, sincere, and a million other shades of awesome, even if sometimes he was annoying enough to make you want to shake him. Not hard. Just like, a gentle little love-shake.
Quentin's (Robbie Jones) bluster and charm were both great qualities and drawbacks to his character, but if you didn't cry yourself to sleep for DAYS when he died, then you're not being honest with yourself about how much you ended up loving this character. If he'd lived longer, we might have liked him less, but that doesn't mean we don't still miss him!
Karen (Moira Kelly) was a great mom who tried her best (and occasionally went to Italy and left her teenage son with his questionably capable uncle for six weeks), which is why she falls towards the middle of this list. You were a little good, a little bad, and sometimes that's life, Karen. There's nothing wrong with mediocrity.
Peyton's (Hilarie Burton) multiple violations of the girl code are enough to keep her from the top spot, but it's really her attitude that knocks her so far down on the list. Yes, Peyton's constant emo cloud was relatable when we were in high school, but when you watch this show as an adult you realize that homegirl milked her loner status to an annoying degree and threw way too many pity parties. She and Lucas deserve each other, but they also deserve to be in the middle of this list, sorry not sorry.
This is a controversial spot to put a lead character. We get that. But ultimately think of all the crap Lucas (Chad Michael Murray) pulled over the years (lying about his heart problem, cheating on Brooke, stalking Peyton through her webcam, cheating on Brooke, breaking Lindsey's heart, cheating on Brooke... get the picture?). Admit it, if you knew a guy who fictionalized every relationship he'd ever had and lived his life by obscure verses of poetry, you'd roll your eyes so far back in your head they'd never come back.
Okay, most of the reason that Chase (Stephen Colletti) even qualifies for this list is because he was played by Laguna Beach babe Stephen Colletti and we refuse to apologize for that. He deserves this space though because he helped bring out a softer side in Brooke after years of emotional torture from her parents and even some of her friends. Yes, Clean Teens was stupid, but they were a very cute couple and in an alternate life we wish it could have lasted.
Quinn (Shantel VanSanten), bless her heart, always felt like a bit of a weird addition to One Tree Hill. It was hard to get invested in her storyline when she first joined the show (we get it, you're getting divorced from the most vanilla man we've ever met), but she ultimately kind of found her rhythm. Still, our overall reaction to Quinn is kind of "meh," which is why she falls to No. 17 on this list.
Rachel (Danneel Ackles) was one of those redeemable mean girls when the crew was in high school -- even though she kind of bullied Jimmy to a point where he brought a gun to school -- but she went off the rails in later seasons when she married Dan
(Paul Johannson). That's right, she married Satan himself for his money and it was not a good look. We can't love you until you learn to love yourself, Rachel.
We wish we had better things to say about Millie (Lisa Goldstein) since she was genuinely a sweet, likable girl, but in a cast full of standouts and fan favorites, Millie was always pushed to the sidelines. Her sizzle fizzled way too early on in the series, so sorry girl, to the bottom of the list you go!
She tried to burn her freaking husband alive. That's honestly the most memorable thing about Deb (Barbara Alyn Woods), besides the one cool thing about her -- that she totally just managed to get away with it, no questions asked. She's not anywhere near our favorite character, but she is who we'd call if we needed to hide a body.
Who even decided to give this monster of a woman a redemption arc? Victoria (Daphne Zuniga) was a horrible person who used her daughter's need for love as a personal ATM machine, and then very suddenly and with very little work put in, she was just like a totally chill part of the family? And then she was bad again? Ugh, sometimes terrible parents are just terrible, no deeper look necessary.
HE'S. THE. WORST. [end of argument]
One Tree Hill is currently streaming on Hulu.