One Tree Hill Boss Touts Series Finale as 'Thank You' Note to Fans, Promises a 'Fulfilling' Ending

How does a show like The CW’s One Tree Hill — which over nine seasons has given us psycho stalkers, heart-eating dogs, coming-of-age teens (and then adults!), car crashes and more weddings, babies, deaths and hook-ups than we can possibly count — plan to wrap things up in tonight’s two-hour series finale event (airing at 8/7c)?

“Quietly,” shares showrunner Mark Schwahn.

Exclusive One Tree Hill Finale Video: Brooke and Haley Leave Their Mark

It seems that after nearly a decade of jaw-dropping and always-emotional storytelling, Tree Hill‘s creator and his trusty team have taken the drama down a notch (or 10) for a series-ender that, if all goes as planned, will play as “a thank you note” to fans.

Here, Schwahn further discusses with TVLine his toned-down approach to the Tree Hill finale — which will pepper in nostalgia-filled interviews with the cast — as well as what to expect from the sweet swan song.

TVLINE | You recently described the series finale as a “love letter to fans.” Can you elaborate a bit on that?
If you’re a fan of the show and you’ve been inside of it for a long time — as you have, Meg — there are some nice Easter eggs in the finale. I designed it that way for people who really care about the show, and I took great pains to assure it was a fulfilling hour for them. The finale has some great stuff in it — some big storylines, some surprises — but it also isn’t afraid to be quiet because it knows that [it can be] and that the fans will care about it. Some moments are a wink to things that have happened in the past. There’s great music in it and the ensemble is there a lot, and those are the things I wanted to leave with the fans for the last hour. That’s why I called it a love letter. I probably should have called it a “thank you note” to fans, really. [Laughs] And I think the cast and the crew would agree. I think they all enjoyed having the bulk of the cast on set. There are a couple moments where there’s not even dialogue; it’s just these quiet sequences and they are so nice. It’s a nice time to be reflective. Long answer, short: For the fans who have been so loyal over the years and have fought for the show, it should be [a finale] that they enjoy. It might be bittersweet, it might be melancholy, but it should be something that they appreciate.

TVLINE | After an incredibly intense final season, it seems everything has fallen into place for our core characters. Is the plan to carry that good feeling through the end of the show?
That was certainly the design this season. I didn’t want to end the series with, say, Dan’s death. We had talked about it, and while I think Dan is so relevant and it’s odd to have a few episodes without him, life does goes on. That’s such a big, significant event that I didn’t want to leave the series after nine years with an incident of grief like that. Tonally, I knew exactly how I wanted to end it — though the situations have changed over the years because we never could put a number on when we were going to end. If you go back and look at our finales, you’ll see that consistency in tone.

TVLINE | Definitely — last season in particular, with the final shot being Jamie, hood over head, walking across the bridge with a basketball. That would have been a perfect ending, too.
Oh, yeah. You could even go back to when Lucas and Peyton left and drove off with the baby [in Season 6], and then in that same episode Brooke went to L.A. to tell Julian she loved him. Or the Utah episode [in Season 7] with the group sledding and climbing the hill together…. You see a consistency in tone. It doesn’t mean there aren’t some great surprises and some challenges in the finale, but the feeling of inclusion with the audience is appropriate for a series finale after nine seasons.

TVLINE | One Tree Hill has utilized its fair share of time jumps over the past few seasons. Should we expect to see more flash-forwards in the finale?
I’ll say this: Once you see the structure of the hour, you’ll understand that it’s a very different kind of episode. It’s such a gift to have nine years of storytelling to draw on, and it’s nice to see the trajectory of a character — especially for a show that was just about character. I remember the quote from Season 1, the one about ravens who would guide travelers to their destination, and that’s what I always thought the show was; these people are just travelers and they’re going to have bumps along the way, and hopefully they’re going to get where they’re going. So, that’s a long-winded way of saying that fans will get to see glimpses of the characters and moments of who they used to be, who they are now and maybe even who they might be. [Laughs]

TVLINE | Is it safe to assume we’ll see some sort of wedding for Clay and Quinn?
The idea of it. [Laughs] I wouldn’t have introduced [the idea of a wedding] and then left it hanging, so that storyline is at the center of their journey. We definitely address it and present a scenario to the audience. Ultimately, they’ll have to decide for themselves whether it was a satisfying one. I will tell you that we all enjoyed it.

TVLINE | And just to put at ease the minds of any worrywarts and naysayers out there, James Lafferty will be featured in the finale?
Of course. You know, everyone knows “the business of show” now… but James loves the show and there wasn’t a moment when he wasn’t going to be in the finale. He’s one of my closest friends and he was always, always going to be there.

TVLINE | I also feel I might be doing the final episodes of the show a disservice if I didn’t ask about their parallels with Dawson’s Creek’s series finale. Clearly, you’re aware of the similarities, given Brooke’s recent line about “the Creek,” but is this all just one big homage to One Tree Hill‘s WB predecessor?
I will say that it originated with Julian’s storyline. It really started with the idea that Julian is in his 20s, which is awfully early to settle, so we talked in the writer’s room about what he loves to do and what he would be passionate about, and the answer is [An Unkindness of Ravens]. So then of course we all thought of Dawson’s Creek, which obviously is this wonderful spectacle that exists in Wilmington [where we film] — I mean, we showed up and made our pilot when they did their finale. But we didn’t want to run away from that storyline just because of Dawson’s. It’s been almost 10 years [since their finale], so our finale is kind of commemorative. Obviously, we didn’t want to be redundant, but at the same time, it’s kind of neat. Above and beyond that, we just wanted to do what that character would love to do. We did put that [Creek] line in because we wanted to acknowledge it… But that storyline was more about Julian and what he’s passionate about than it was a nod to Dawson’s.

TVLINE | So, this is it. The last time you and I will chat about One Tree Hill, and the last time we’ll all check in with these beloved “friends.”
I like the idea that the show is still there, we’re just not visiting every week. Tree Hill is still there and the characters are still doing what they do; we just don’t have the good fortune of being able to see them every week.

Be sure to head back to TVLine at 10 pm EST for our One Tree Hill finale recaplet and Mark Schwahn’s parting thoughts to the fans.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Sam says:

    I’m going to miss this show so much! I’ve watched it since the beginning, back when I was 12.. feel so old. Can’t wait to see how it all wraps up!

  2. sarah says:

    I love this show! I have watched from the start and I am 32! It is one of my all time favorite shows!!

  3. dee123 says:

    So silly for them to bring up DC. Now all i can think of is how perfect that ending is.

    • Chris says:

      Except that the ending was wrong because it screwed over Dawson/Joey, which it should have been in the end. Pacey was great, but so wrong for Joey.

      • jules says:

        absolutely disagree. the show evolved and the showrunners all realized that pacey was a much better choice for joey.
        i stopped watching one tree hill some time in season 7. i guess i’ll need to go back and catch up because all of this talk about the finale is making me nostalgic.

    • Britt says:

      Pacey Witter & Joey Potter were the perfect TV couple….by far! One of the best love stories ever told on the screen!

  4. Tiffany says:

    Can the show please address what happened to Chris Keller. The last time we saw him he was running away screaming. Seriously, he and Dan were the best thing about this season!!!

    • dude says:

      I’ve seen the finale and can tell you that Chris is very much in it. However, I really feel the writers did a disservice to him and Chase in the episode.

  5. Anna says:

    I think I speak for almost everyone when I say…FINALLY! Now if only the CW would cut Gossip Girl loose.

    • dude says:

      Clearly you don’t speak for almost everyone since there are millions of people who love this show and watch it every week. The fact that you’re celebrating the end of a show you don’t watch, that effects you in no way and gets zero promotion, just makes you a sad and pathetic loser.

      • Talor says:

        There are not millions of people watching One Tree Hill. The rating went down after season six and there were really only about 1,000,000 people watching it. Not millions. At least that is what I saw in season 8 when they said the average audience per week is a little above 800,000 people. But i think that is just because it was on The CW, not because it was a bad show.

        • Sarah says:

          These are the viewing figures for the USA but I assure you it is not the only country in the world where the show is watched and therefore millions probably is accurate! I have watched in the UK since the very best episode and love that this show has seen me through high school and university! Sad to see it finish but it seems right now.

  6. Susy says:

    I’m going to miss this show! I’ve been watching from day one and haven’t missed an episode!
    Thanks, Mark Schwahn, cast and crew for nine wonderful years! Sure wish we could have more!

  7. Ali says:

    I’ve been there since the beginning as well (and I’m 36). One Tree Hill was my replacement when Dawson’s Creek ended (which has one of the best series finale episodes). This show has had ups and downs. There were times where I just wanted to not watch the show anymore (Season 4 comes to mind for me), but I continued to watch every week. And I will say..Mark Schwahn has given the fans one heck of a journey through these 9 seasons. I am going to miss this show. But I want to thank this show for that journey and for introducing me to some great music that I will continue to listen to after the show has ended.

    • jules says:

      i totally agree with you! I’m 33 and while i didn’t start at the beginning (i think i started some time in season 4 after catching up on dvd), this show was definitely a replacement for dawson’s creek for me. I totally miss the days of brooke and lucas and wish that Chad Michael Murray hadn’t royally screwed up his marriage to the point where Sophia Bush refused to be paired with him anymore. And I’ll definitely miss the music. I still listen to “The Funeral” by Band of Horses. RIP Uncle Keith.

    • Dom says:

      Total agreement here. I’m 26 and I can remember being so sad about the loss of DC even with that fantastic finale. But then I found OTH, and Mark Schwann had created something that wormed its way into my heart even further. I almost gave up on season 4 but I stuck with it and am so glad I’ve gotten to take this whole journey with them. TV will simply not be the same after tonight.

      • songbyrd86 says:

        I never actually watched Dawson’s Creek so when they referenced it on the last epi I was a bit lost I have to say lol. I’m 25 and I started watching OTH from the beginning. I remember talking about the show with my mom, and I still think that the school shooting episode was handled with respect and accuracy (with the possible exception of using the shooting to further Dan’s storyline. I miss Keith.) and that was one of THE best episodes of any show ever. It makes me cry whenever I re-watch it. I remember hating Nathan (remember when he was the bad guy??) and wishing that every finale Dan would FINALLY die. Then they did the whole time skip thing which was awesome for me, because now they were finally my age again. I stopped watching the show shortly after that though as It wasn’t nearly as interesting I thought. A couple months ago, I was on hulu and randomly thought “Hey! OTH is still on the air – I wonder if i’ll know anything they’re talking about…” It took me all of 10 minutes to get sucked in again only to find that the series was ending. OTH I’m sad to see you go, but you’ve had a great run. Love this show.

  8. Emily says:

    I’m going to miss OTH so much! Like everyone else has been saying, I’ve watched the show since it first came on. It’s literally been there since the time I was 13 to now being 22. I want to thank all the cast and crew for nine wonderful seasons, and I want to especially thank Bethany and Sophia for being forever classy, and wonderful inspirations for teenage girls throughout the years. Thanks for the memories!

  9. Trista says:

    Age is just a number – been watching this show from the beginning and I am 37! Seriously though – thanks to Mark and the whole Tree Hill cast past and present for producing a show that I wasn’t embarrased to say I watched!!!!!!

    • Ellerie says:

      Me too. I’m 37 and this was the show that took over for DC. My friends (who have also been watching since the beginning and are also mid-30’s) and I are going to have a watch party tonight and I have plenty of tissues on hand. Heck, I couldn’t even get through this interview without tearing up! I’ve told my girlfriends this, but at the end of season 4 this show had such an influence on me… I just wanted to be a better friend to my friends. I know. I’m cheesy. Whatevs.

      • C.C. says:

        Not quite 37, but I will be in October! I was always a bigger fan of Naley and Brucas than Leyton so when Peyton and Lucas got their “drive off into the sunset” ending, I didn’t think I’d miss CMM. But, I do and I wish that he could have made it back for the finale. I am sorry to see OTH end, I’ll miss it so much!

  10. Vannesa says:

    Gonna miss it…but good luck to the cast and crew in their future endevours.

  11. dude says:

    Was 12 years old when this show started. I didn’t want to get invested because I was loyal to The OC but OTH sucked me in and soon enough it was my favourite television show ever. I have so many wonderful memories from traveling to Wilmington to watch them film and meeting the cast. I think it’s fitting that now I’m 21 and getting ready to start my life and this piece of my adolescence is leaving me.

  12. Dominique says:

    I’m gonna miss this show so much. Even though we’ve seen a lot of our faves leave, even now in this final season, I’m gonna miss it <3
    I have to say though; I've already seen the finale, and it didn't really live up to my expectations. I expected more, it was THE FINALE, and it felt more like a filler episode to me. Obviously I'm not gonna give anything away, but I feel like there were a lot of scenes in there that weren't needed, and they should've tried harder with some of the characters, both present and past ones.

  13. Elle says:

    “The idea of it. [Laughs] I wouldn’t have introduced [the idea of a wedding] and then left it hanging, so that storyline is at the center of their journey. We definitely address it and present a scenario to the audience. Ultimately, they’ll have to decide for themselves whether it was a satisfying one. I will tell you that we all enjoyed it.”

    For the fans who aren’t fans of Quinn and Clay,please tell me these episodes aren’t going to be all about them and their wedding?

  14. Steph says:

    I’ve watched this show for such a long time. I’m sad to see it go.

  15. Steve says:

    I have to admit I was extremely apprehensive about this season. I’ve been watching since season 1 (although I was on Team O.C. at first) but realized very soon how special this show was. The season 6 finale with Peyton and Lucas driving off in the comet with their baby to Marshall Tucker Bands “Cant You See” was perfect. And I really thought they couldn’t remotely create a finale that gave such closure as that one. Especially after, while being into season 7 & 8, they weren’t very memorable for me.

    But the things they’ve done this season have blown me away. This has far exceeded my expectations and I’m so glad this show really outdid itself this season instead of burning out with a fizzle. Whatever happens in the finale, OTH will always be a show that’s very close to my heart and it probably won’t hit me that it’s actually over until the fall when there are no previews about the next journey we’re taking in Tree Hill.

    • I fully agree, I myself was scheptical about this show at the start, but it grew on me over time. What I love most about it is that, as many extreme things that have happened in it, i can relate to it! All the feelings, emotions, Brook and how her family treats her, the battle for love of Payton and Luckas, that’s what makes the show amazing! In the end you learn so much, about love, life. So many lessons in this show, that taught me little by little since i was 13. Going into my adulthood, and now almost 23, i have taken soo much from this show. I will miss you all, and very grad dan was finally forgiven, that episode really made me cry. What a great lesson of forgiveness and second chances.

  16. albtrex says:

    I will miss him SO much. I grew up with this Tv show… I LOVE it.

  17. Sarah says:

    Dawson’s Creek and OTH fan!! Watched both ALL the way through! Never gave up on either. DC I got my endgame OTH not so much! Brucas girl…. But none the less it will be so sad to say goodbye! I’m 29 and the shows ending is reminding me that 30 is around the corner… YIKES!

  18. Kristin says:

    I started watching this in college… The semester it started I was taking a poetry class with non-other than Lee Norris (Mouth). He missed several classes filming that semester (it was his last one before he graduated). I felt like I had to watch my classmate in action and have been watching ever since. For me… It will always remind me of my college days and the only “celebrity” I have had any sort of connection to.

  19. Corianne says:

    That was a perfect ending! Thank you! All day I thought about how sad I was going to be tonight, but that episode made me do nothing but smile.

  20. Talor says:

    The ending was okay. I watched it because I watched it from the beginning but I will be honest in saying it lost my interest after season 6. I tried watching season 7 and couldn’t get into it. But I liked the ending and thought it was alright. So long One Tree Hill.

  21. Ivy says:

    I’m seriously going to miss One Tree Hill, and just like everyone else I grew up with this show. Every episode was beautifully made, and this show has brought so many laughs and tears along the way. The characters were real, funny, sentimental, resilient and brave; each and every one of them. I don’t even have a favorite character because I truly loved them all. Well actually I always admired Brooke Davis but then I slowly came to enjoy them all. Of course having Lucas and Peyton air on the last episode would have been the icing on the cake, but the finale was still amazing! Personally, I’m glad Chris Keller and Chase were there; even though they might have seemed insiginificant, I still think it added a good dose of comedy to such a sad episode. It was a great way to conclude it. I loved every single episode of all 9 seasons. I think one of the great things about One Tree Hill is that is the only show that has truly taught all of us the most valuable life lessons, such as learning from your mistakes, following your dreams in the face of adversity, and believing in yourself, and in the end, each character got to do just that. Plus it always had the best music. The music, the quotes, the art, and the dream was the heart and soul of OTH. That’s what LOVED. No other show has inspired me as much as OTH has. It is truly the best show on earth! I’ve enjoyed it with all my heart, it’s been a great 9 years and it will never be forgotten. A special thanks to Mark Schwahn for creating a wonderful television series, and more importantly, giving us something to believe in.

  22. Emeka says:

    I love dis show i luv peyton ,lucas,jammie,haley,nathan and i luv u brooke,skills nd dat crazy nanny deb,i hate u dan but i lyk u but nt luv

  23. Emeka says:

    I love dis show i luv peyton ,lucas,jammie,haley,nathan and i luv u brooke,skills nd dat crazy nanny deb,i dnt lyk ur character dan but i lyk u but nt luv

  24. David says:

    I say go for a season 10

  25. lee says:

    What a wonderful show OTH was! The first few episodes of season 1 was a bit of a drag but I was slowly getting into it. OTH was beautifully created. The storyline, the script,the music, the cast. It was all perfect. I will take so many memorable quotes from the show. I still wish it could go on like these tedious soapies we have. I must say its a shame to see such a show go, I mean with all the reality nonsense, The Gossip girls, 90210, The secret life of the american teenager etc do not even come close to OTH. -always and forever a OTH fan.

  26. awwwwwwwwww i miss oth they should make more and asee the babies grow up !!!!!!!!!!!!