We're still not over it.

Mackenzie Dunn
August 03, 2020
WB, Everett Collection

If you ever watched and loved The O.C., you know that amid the glitz and glamour of the wealthy California enclave where the “core four” of Ben, Marissa, Ryan, Seth, and Summer lived and partied, there was also death, drama, and destruction. Initially, that was what made the soapy show from the early 2000s so popular. But the dramatic death of former queen bee Marissa (played by Mischa Barton) in Season 3 marked a polarizing shift in the show—and Ben McKenzie admits that her sudden exit was “odd.”

In the latest episode of PeopleTV's Couch Surfing, McKenzie revealed his thoughts on his co-star’s death by car explosion.

"It was…very odd to have someone who was in it from the beginning leave, but you know, it was dramatic in all the O.C. ways," MacKenzie said.

Honestly, dramatic may even be an understatement considering that McKenzie’s character Ryan literally carried his love interest’s body out of the wreckage, only to have her pass away in his arms. In the sultry, sun-drenched realm of The O.C. where drugs, gun violence, and tragic accidents intentionally juxtaposed the idyllic setting, this was par for the course, though, and McKenzie said he at least thinks the show "gave her a proper sendoff, hopefully."

As the kind of program that paved the way for cult-loved dramas like Gossip Girl and Riverdale, The O.C. never shied away from melodrama, but even then, Marissa’s death took viewers by surprise. 

In a 2016 interview with MTV the show’s creator Josh Schwartz admitted that even in the pre-Twitter era of TV, there were strong reactions to the killing off of such an integral main character. 

"The people who were the most vocal online weren't speaking for everyone, and we realized that people were very attached to that character. There was a lot of anger and fan art that came our way,” he said. 

Though Marissa’s complicated character never made it to the earthquaking end of the show, she’s the kind of reckless, tragic hero we couldn’t help but root for.