One Tree Hill begins its ninth and final season tonight, and even though it started as a relatively run-of-the-mill teen soap, it’s become a lunatic fiesta that would make a daytime soap blush and makes the racier ABC Family dramas look like guidebooks to being Amish. On the off chance you want to catch up before tonight’s premiere, here’s your handy condensed guide to everything that’s happened on One Tree Hill, from comas to shootings to graduation labors to dogs eating hearts to more shootings.
Lucas and Nathan are half-brothers who don’t like each other, but do like girls — often the same girls, Peyton, Haley, and Brooke — and basketball. They fight, they get held at gunpoint, Peyton’s father gets lost at sea, Lucas falls into a coma, Brooke has a pregnancy scare, and then Haley and Nathan get teen-married. In season two, Peyton helps open an all-ages nightclub called Tric, and becomes involved with drugs and a teen dad named Jake. Haley goes on tour, and Nathan falls into a coma, and Nathan’s dad tries to make them annul the marriage, and Haley comes back. In season three, Lucas and Brooke finally get together, Peyton’s birth mother has cancer, people pretend not to know how to swim, there’s a school shooting — remember, it’s now the first half of senior year — which leaves Peyton seriously wounded and in love with Lucas and thus in a huge fight with Brooke. In season four, Cooper falls into a coma, Haley turns out to be pregnant, Nathan’s sex tape surfaces, Lucas has a heart attack and also investigates a murder thanks to clues he figures out in his dreams, Laguna Beach’s Stephen Colletti joins the cast as bartender Chase, “psycho Derek” the Internet stalker holds Peyton and Brooke hostage until they stab him, and then they go to prom, and then Haley goes into labor while giving her valedictory address.
In season five, it’s four years later, and Lucas wrote a book, Brooke is a fashion designer, Peyton is a music producer, and Nathan is partially paralyzed. Lucas still has feelings for Peyton, which is why his would-be bride ditches him at the altar, Haley and Nathan’s nanny kidnaps their son, Brooke tries to adopt a daughter (now that she’s 22 years old) but has to give the child back, and then Lucas asks Peyton to marry him. In season six, Brooke gets assaulted but doesn’t want to press charges, Haley and Nathan’s crazy nanny resurfaces and tries to ax-muder Haley and her son, and Peyton thinks she has cancer but turns out just to be pregnant, and then she and Lucas get married (and Nick Lachey inconveniently shows up), and she has an emergency C-section on their wedding night. This season also includes a dream-sequence episode written by Chad Michael Murray himself and the infamous dog-eating-a-heart scene.
Time jump again!
In season seven, it’s a little over a year later, and Lucas and Peyton are no longer on the show. But everyone misses them! Brooke is with Julian, Haley gets pregnant again, and suddenly everyone supposedly cares about Quinn, Clayton, and Alex — especially when Clay and Quinn get shot on the season finale. Finally, in season eight, Clay gets a kidney transplant, Brooke’s mother disowns her, crazy Katie comes back to try to shoot more people, Brooke and Julian get married, Nathan has to retire from the NBA, the girls have a water-balloon fight but instead of using balloons they use condoms, and Brooke and Haley open a café.
That all happened in 174 episodes. One can only imagine what will happen in the final thirteen.