A few years ago, a little show called One Tree Hill aired its series finale and left an indelible, basketball-shaped hole in all of our hearts.
The WB series, which started off being about a rivalry between two very different teenaged half-brothers in a fictional North Carolina town, grew to be so much more. Over the course of nine seasons, it etched out a special place in TV history, amidst all the other (very many) teen dramas. The show was so damn good, even the cast still gets nostalgic and schedules occasional group hang-outs.
Not only did it impart a boatload of timeless wisdom, the show was a veritable factory of swoon-worthy romances. In the first season alone, the show kicked off three epic ‘ships that command devoted fandoms to this day. And, reminder, the show’s been off the air for a full four years.
In honor of One Tree Hill, we’re taking a look back at a few of the romantic moments for the OG couples of the series that made our hearts sing and even almost made us forget about that time a dog ate Dan’s transplant heart.
“You’re always saving me.” (Season 3, Episode 16)
Peyton, shot by school shooter Jimmy, is bleeding to death in the library. She’s trapped there with Lucas who (you guessed it) is always saving her – and she takes that opportunity to confess that she’s still in love with him and kiss him. Of course, at this point, he’s reconciled with Brooke after having cheated on her with Peyton way back in season one, so this is kind of a huge deal. It’s one of the best episodes in the entire series, too.
Also, if you were a Leyton ‘shipper, those terrifying few moments where you thought Peyton might actually die were very memorable.
“It’s you, Peyton.” (Season 4, Episode 9)
Lucas makes the winning basket in the championship game and makes his final choice between Brooke and Peyton — I’m not counting that cheap season five fake-out where they tried to make it seem like Brooke might possibly be the one Lucas called from the airport to propose, despite them not having been together romantically in actual years (cruel move, One Tree Hill). And Brooke, being the greatest gal in all the land, gives him the go ahead to declare his love to Peyton. That flashback Lucas has to their moment at the party seasons earlier, that phenomenal kiss underneath the falling confetti, the sheer bliss on Peyton’s face as she realizes what Lucas means by “It’s you”… wowza. Gets me every time.
“I am so terribly in love with you, and I always will be.” (Season 6, Episode 23)
There have been many, many wedding vows in the history of television, but the wedding vows between Lucas and a heavily-pregnant Peyton are some of the most beautifully written and emotional. Seriously, just watch the scene. Nearly every character is weeping by the end of Peyton’s vows, and it’s SO REAL. Also, it’s set to a gorgeous cover of “Can’t Help Falling in Love With You” by Ingrid Michaelson.
First kiss. (Season 1, Episode 8)
Nathan kisses Haley… and Haley kisses him right back. “Dare You to Move” by Switchfoot is playing. It’s basically early 2000s WB drama in its purest form. Except maybe that time when all of the female leads did a fully choreographed dance to Spice Girls’ “Wannabe.” This moment is so adorable that it almost makes me forget how much first season Nathan kind of sucked.
“Stay with me tonight.” (Season 3, Episode 9)
Nathan and Haley get back together after Haley spends the beginning of season 3 trying to win him back after having left him to go on tour. Also, shirtless James Lafferty with his wedding ring on a chain around his neck. Yes.
Second rain kiss. (Season 3, Episode 13)
Nathan and Haley don’t skimp on their rain kisses. They have at least five throughout the series. Yes, I’m serious. This was also a great moment because it nicely resolved that whole Nathan-was-angry-at-Haley-for-pursuing-her-music-career thing, when he clarified that he was always proud of her when she was on tour, even though she’d left him to do it. Most functional fictional couple ever, despite all the Crazy Nanny Carries and hammy Shakespeare-quoting Russian kidnappers.
“You’re in the NBA?” (Season 6, Episode 24)
Nathan tells Haley he’s made it into the NBA, and Haley is so ridiculously happy for him that it makes you want to cry a little bit watching it, because it feels like your husband made it into the NBA. It’s a small moment but so emblematic of everything that’s perfect about the ultra-supportive Naley relationship.
“Hi Hales.” “Say that again.” (Season 9, Episode 11)
Sure, the later seasons of One Tree Hill weren’t as consistently great as the earlier ones, but you could always count on Naley to pull out all the stops for the epic romantic moments. This reunion, after Nathan was abducted, is one of those moments.
“Tell me that was a goodbye kiss.” (Season 2, Episode 23)
Lucas hugs Brooke goodbye before she leaves for the summer, and that hug turns into a surprise kiss. Which takes Brooke totally off-guard because they’ve spent all season being “just friends” (yeah, right). Lucas confesses his feelings to Brooke and starts to make a case for them to reunite, but she’s not ready yet. It’s just terribly sad and heartfelt and ugh.
“I’m the guy for you, Brooke Davis.” (Season 3, Episode 9)
This line is a theme for them, with Lucas repeatedly busting it out throughout the entire third season as he’s trying to win her back. The chemistry between Lucas and Brooke always felt incredibly organic, and this scene is a fantastic example of that. The I love you’s. Lucas calling Brooke “Pretty Girl” again. The reveal of the 82 letters that Brooke wrote to Lucas the previous summer and never sent because she was scared he’d stomp all over her heart again. Sophia Bush rocking killer bangs. The reunion kiss. All of it. So good.
Rain kiss! (Season 3, Episode 13)
Damn, this show really loved its rain kisses. Lucas gave exactly two of these embarrassing love speeches in his life (at this point, anyway), and both were to Brooke. He lists the reasons why he loves her and it’s just pure gold. It’s up there among the all-time greatest TV kisses, hands down.