* BadassDecay: Ryan Atwood for most of Season 2.
* BaseBreaker: Taylor Townsend, post-HeelFaceTurn. She's either loved for her personality post-CharacterDevelopment and promotion to the main cast in Season 4 (and for [[spoiler:replacing Marissa as Ryan's One True Love]]), or hated for those exact reasons.
* CrackPairing: "The Chrismukk-huh?" explores Sandy being married to Julie who is having an affair with Che
* CrowningMusicOfAwesome: One episode usually consists of about five indie-rock gems, but "Hide and Seek", "Hallelujah", "Dice", "Life's A Song", "Something Pretty", "Running Up That Hill", "A Bad Dream", "If You Leave", "Champagne Supernova" etc. "California" is a given.
* DesignatedHero: Jimmy Cooper. The show repeatedly has characters talk about how good he is, and he's portrayed as the ReasonableAuthorityFigure in Marissa's home life, but he's still a white collar criminal who embezzled millions from his clients.
* DesignatedVillain: Marissa and Summer immediately dislike Taylor the first time she appears in the show, and it seems like the audience is expected to dislike her too. However, since we haven't actually ''seen'' Taylor do anything villain-like, it just comes across as Marissa and Summer being bitchy for no good reason.
* EnsembleDarkhorse:
** Taylor Townsend went from a minor ''villain'', to a recurring friend of the main characters, to a main character herself, to Ryan's girlfriend.
** Oddly, Summer Roberts. She was originally just suppose to have a small role in the pilot, and ended up being the main female lead of the entire series.
** Alex Kelly is definitely one of the most popular characters but ExecutiveMeddling made her go away.
** Kaitlin, even people that hate Marissa seem to love her.
* FanPreferredCouple: While OfficialCouple(s) Ryan and Marissa and (especially) and Seth and Summer are very popular in the fandom, many fans continued to ship Marissa with her short lived bisexual love interest Alex, long after [[PutOnABus she had dropped off the face of the Earth.]] It is also never made clear whether or not Taylor and Ryan ended up together, but the fans are nearly unanimous that they did.
*** Taylor and Ryan can be good ShipMates to Malex for those who don't [[DieForOurShip want Ryan to die a painful death]].
** The Seth/Anna shippers would like a word with you.
** Seth/Ryan eclipsed any het pairs in popularity at several points during season one and two. This was addressed within the show as well as outside. Addressed as in nearly confirmed.
** Ryan and Summer have become more popular in recent years
* FridgeLogic: If Harbor is such a prestigeous school, why don't they have uniforms?
* FunnyAneurysmMoment:
** Chris Brown's three-episode guest spot in Season 4 as the young fifteen-year-old Kaitlin Cooper's nerd boyfriend is slightly odd to rewatch now.
** Of course this is nowhere near as bad as seeing the late Johnny Lewis who possibly murdered someone as nerdy Chili
* [[GrowTheBeard Growing Back The Beard]]: Season 4 for bringing back the comedy, focusing back on the core characters, and being without [[spoiler: the acting talents of Mischa Barton]]
* HarsherInHindsight:
** Taylor's "I would like to take a moment of silence to remember Marissa Cooper." in "The Shape Of Things to Come"
** Johnny falling to his death, when Johnnie Lewis who played his best friend, did die by falling.
* HilariousInHindsight:
** LucyHale appears as a girl who calls [[PrettyLittleLiars all of her friends bitch]]
** Luke those [[{{Nashville}} gay jokes]] now make a lot more sense.
** Seth's love of comic books becomes this when you find out that his best friend is [[BatmanYearOne Batman]].
*** Or at least that he was [[{{Gotham}} Commissioner Gordon]].
*** Or that Che was [[Film/GuardiansOfTheGalaxy Star-Lord]].
*** And Kaitlin was [[Series/{{Arrow}} Green Arrow's little sister]].
** As of Season 2 of ''{{Arrow}}'', Marissa's sister basically grew up to become Hetero!Alex.
** Chris Brown being was upset that Kaitlin offered him weed. Let that sink in for a minute.
** In one of the final episodes of the series, Seth comments that he should become a critic since he loves watching movies & telling people how bad they are. A few years later, there would an explosion of internet critics who watch bad movies purely to riff on them & tell people how bad they suck; with Seth's snarky personality, it's not hard to imagine him being one of them.
* HoYay: Seth and Ryan
* ItsPopularNowItSucks: Kaitlin Lampshades this in season 3 with "Death Cab's playing on ''[[ShowWithinAShow The Valley]]'' now? Never Listening to them again.", which also doubles as a FandomNod, as both the show & Death Cab's fandoms voiced similar complaints when they appeared on ''The OC''.
* JerkassWoobie: Kaitlin is kind of a bitch but she goes through a lot including being excluded from her own family for nearly two years and having her mom forget her birthday. That's not even counting the [[spoiler:the deaths of Johnny and Marissa]]
* LesYay: When Summer discovers Taylor in her bed at Brown, Taylor's first question is "Wanna snuggle?"
* MemeticMutation: Overdramatizing murder scenes with slow motion & Imogen Heap's "Hide and Seek" [[labelnote:Explanation]]In [[[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=saEzQcayEPM the climactic scene]] of the second season finale, "The Dearly Beloved", [[spoiler:Marissa shoots Trey Atwood in the back to stop him from killling Ryan. As soon as [[spoiler:the bullet hits]], "Hide and Seek" begins playing, inadvertently replacing all of the drama with unintentional hilarity by the sudden and [[{{SoundtrackDissonance}} out-of-place]] soundtrack.[[/labelnote]]
* NeverLiveItDown: People still treat Ryan's wifebeater from early season one as synonymous with his character in season 4.
* NoYay: Despite how close they are, there is very little Marissa/Summer fanfiction.
* OlderThanTheyThink: The theme, Phantom Planet's "California", is loosely based on a 1921 Broadway number "[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California,_Here_I_Come California, Here I Come]]".
* [[OneSceneWonder One Episode Wonder]]: Alex's ex-girlfriend Jodie is quite popular in fanfiction despite only being in one episode (with a cameo in the previous episode)
* RonTheDeathEater: Ryan gets this treatment in many a Malex fic.
* TheScrappy:
** Marissa to a good part of the fanbase.
** Johnny too.
** Oliver, who bypassed being a LoveToHate villain & became outright hated. Whilst it was in part because, after roughly half a season of build up to the Ryan[=/=]Marissa relationship it was promptly torn apart by Oliver, his hatedom extends beyond the Marissa[=/=]Ryan shippers. This is largely because the entire Oliver arc reduced the general intelligence of the entire cast (Marissa, especially) so they wouldn't believe Ryan's sceptism and draw the arc out for 6 episodes, and Taylor Handley's portrayal of the character wasn't subtle enough for the ManipulativeBastard he was supposed to be. [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking And he had stupid hair, too]]. It's telling that over a decade after his last appearance on the show, Oliver is still appearing in "Worst Character" polls.
** Jimmy was supposed to be the cool parent for Marissa, but he generally came off as bland and unlikable. The writers took note and started featuring him less and less.
* SeasonalRot: Season 3, by many. Some say Season 2 as well. If you watched the show for Mischa Barton or the Ryan/Marissa romance, Season 4.
* ShipsThatPassInTheNight: Some fans like to use Jodie and Summer as a BetaCouple to Marissa and Alex. They may have met during the week that Jodie stayed in Newport, even though this usually isn't a factor. This is probably because (at the time *After Anna and before Taylor*) Summer was the only other prominent female teen character.
* UnintentionallyUnsympathetic: Jimmy Cooper. The viewer is supposed to feel sorry for Jimmy, as they watch his life rapidly falls apart in the first half of season one; however, the reason this happens is that Jimmy had mismanaged his family's money on the stock market, and then embezzled from his clients to keep up appearances & try to get back the money he lost in the first place. Subsequently, it's hard to disagree with Julie when she decides to divorce him & outright tells him that maybe he belongs in jail. It gets even worse retroactively, since Jimmy's actions are eerily similar to the actual stock market crash that occured a few years after the show finished.
* {{Wangst}}: Marissa, Johnny, Oliver.
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