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     Ryan Atwood 

Ryan Atwood (portrayed by Ben McKenzie)

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/ryan_atwood.jpg

  • Abusive Parents: Frank Atwood and many of Ryan's mother's boyfriends. Ryan gets hit in the face by one five minutes into the Pilot.
  • Badass Bookworm: Ryan is definitely a badass, and is later shown to get very good marks despite his standoffish attitude towards academics.
  • Bad Liar: Being honest by nature, Ryan is bad at lying.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: He's stoic, taciturn and usually reserved and level-headed, but has a violent side due to his rough upbringing. He gets better, though.
  • Book Dumb: His school grades are not necessarily bad, but as smart as he is, he could do better. Subverted later on as, while his attitude remains somewhat reluctant, he's revealed to get very good grades while living in Newport.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: He's very intelligent and easily gets good marks, but it seems doesn't care too much about school most of the time. Though it's disillusionment more than laziness.
  • Broken Bird: A male teen example, who has become stoic and melancholic because of his past.
  • Brooding Boy, Gentle Girl: The brooding boy to Lindsay's gentle girl.
  • Byronic Hero: Dark and Troubled Past? Check. Intelligent? Check. Physically attractive? Check. A brooding, troubled and introspective loner? Oh yes. He has many traits, still he's by no means morally ambiguous, being actually a very good natured and kind-hearted Hero with Bad Publicity.
  • Character Development: He becomes less short-tempered as the series progresses; still, he can't tolerate injustice.
  • Chick Magnet: Attracts the attention of Summer, Marissa, Gabrielle, Theresa, Lindsay, Sadie, Taylor, and his one-night stand Chloe.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Lampshaded at separate times by different characters in Season 1, 2, 3, and 4. One episode in Season 3 had Kirsten helping Ryan to figure out he doesn't need to help every Damsel in Distress anymore. One episode in Season 4 had Sandy helping Ryan to figure out he needs to help every Damsel in Distress because it's "his thing" and he "shouldn't turn his back on that".
  • Deadpan Snarker: Leaning more to the Deadpan side of this trope.
  • Delinquents: Subverted, but he had this reputation, mostly due to his brother (who is an actual delinquent).
  • Doom Magnet: He is accused of being one early in the show by Julie.
  • Fish out of Water: During his first months in Newport but he eventually grows out of it.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: The responsible to Trey's foolish.
  • Four-Philosophy Ensemble: The Realist. He's ultimately the Only Sane Man, well-balanced and grounded in reality.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Mostly Melancholic, with shades of Choleric due to his temper.
  • Genius Bruiser: He's very tough and he has been described as highly intelligent.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Mostly subverted, as he really is a nice person, but his exterior would say otherwise. He is a good person at heart and always does the right thing but he isn't exactly affable at first.
  • Good Is Not Soft: A prime example: as expected from The Hero, he doesn't hesitate to harshly punish evil.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: He has blond hair and is immensely good hearted and selfless. He's The Hero, after all.
  • Happily Adopted: He goes from the Orphan's Ordeal to this after being adopted by the Cohens.
  • The Hero: Counts as this as he's the main character and the first one who acts when the situation requires it, but also because he's definitely heroic.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: He's actually a good and heroic person, despite his reputation as outsider/bad boy from Chino.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: He and Seth eventually become best friends other than Foster brothers.
  • Hidden Depths: He's always been interested in architecture, gets good grades especially in scientific subjects, and becomes an architect in the end, indeed.
  • Hunk: Despite his quite short stature, he's an attractive, muscular and manly young man.
  • Insomnia Episode: In "The Sleeping Beauty", where after briefly falling into a coma, he and Taylor are in a parallel world.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: He is a very good and heroic young man, who is quite cynical due to his crappy upbringing, but always does the right thing nonetheless.
  • Mr. Fanservice: He constantly gets ShirtlessScenes.
  • Nice Guy: Deep down he's a kind and compassionate guy, despite his rough, aloof, brooding exterior. His genuinely selfless nature is his most prominent trait.
  • The Napoleon: 5’8 with a short temper to match.
  • Only Sane Man: Ryan is overall the most realistic and grounded of his friends, especially compared to Seth and Marissa.
  • Opposites Attract: Ryan/Marissa (wrong side of the tracks + (seemingly) perfect debutante) and Ryan/Taylor (Book Dumb introvert + intellectual Genki Girl).
  • Parental Abandonment: Ryan never had a father figure for much of his life. In regards to his biological family, a major recurring theme was Ryan being abandoned, Dawn abandoned him twice.
  • Perpetual Frowner: He rarely cracks a smile and often has a blank or scowling expression on his face.
  • Rags to Riches: A poor kid who is taken in by the very wealthy Cohen family.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni:
    • He the Red Hot-Blooded Oni to Seth's relaxed Blue Oni, although it may be somewhat Zig-Zagged, as Seth is more extroverted while Ryan is rather brooding.
    • But he also the blue to Trey's and Taylor's red.
  • Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: When paired with neurotic Go-Getter Girl Taylor in season 4.
  • The Scapegoat: In one way or another, he's almost always scapegoated for something.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Very much so. Ryan is tough and protective, and will never be a coward: when he has to protect people he loves, his rough side comes out. While his methods can be harsh and violent when punishing evil, he always does what's right. On a D&D chart, he'd be Chaotic Good (or Neutral Good with more Character Development when he becomes calmer).
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: The tough, badass Manly Man to Seth's geeky, naive Sensitive Guy.
  • The Stoic: He's not big on talking, and saying he's reserved about his emotions would be an understatement.
  • Straight Man and Wise Guy: The stoic, brooding Straight Man to Seth's geeky, sarcastic Wise Guy.
  • Troubled, but Cute: A troubled teen from Chino with Parental Issues and abandonment issues, who is also Mr. Fanservice, has a really good heart and attracts some female characters.
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     Seth Cohen 

Seth Cohen (portrayed by Adam Brody)

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/seth_cohen_9.jpg

  • Author Avatar: Seth Cohen is Josh Schwartz.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Seth arguably started as one or Took a Level in Jerkass; while he comes across as an awkward, friendly and adorable geek, he actually has a big ego, talking very much about himself most of the time, definitely doesn't like it when others change the subject (to the point he gets mad and nervous), and can be a cowardly Consummate Liar and somewhat petty, especially when things don't go his way. This is still downplayed, as he's not that nasty and he still is a genuinely good person, despite his self-centeredness.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Socially awkward and sometimes goofy, but this certainly doesn't make him any less smart.
  • Can't Hold His Liquor: Seth Cohen is stealth, and if he drinks it's hilarious.
  • Chick Magnet: He attracts the attention of Summer, Anna, Alex, Taylor, and Paris Hilton.
  • Classical Anti-Hero: Seth is not exactly flawless: he's pretty insecure, self-absorbed, kind of an apathetic coward, socially awkward and sort of a loser. He would be a loner if it wasn't for Ryan and for Summer, respectively his best friend and girlfriend, who understand he's ultimately a good natured guy with a kind heart (although with a bit of a bratty Jerk with a Heart of Gold streak).
  • Cloudcuckoolander: He kinda lives in his own world; justified as he's a geek who loves comic books living in a place where most young people are jocks and party girls.
  • Consummate Liar: Seth can be this at times. Especially when situations don't go his way and he has to save his own skin, to the expense of others. Summer obviously can't stand his insincerity; he gets better, though.
  • Cool Loser: Seth is clearly an attractive, talented, funny and ridiculously rich young man, yet he couldn't get a date for most of his life, despite living in a town full of golddiggers, and was constantly being beaten up by jocks. He apparently had no friends at all prior the arrival of Ryan. It's implied that Seth would probably be popular if he lived anywhere besides Orange County. This is particularly obvious when he briefly moves to Portland, and apparently has no trouble making friends. It's just that he's surrounded by people who are pompous and shallow.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Incarnate. His trademark sarcasm is a notable aspect of his personality, and inherited from his father. However, he doesn't really want to irritate others, despite being sometimes mistaken for being ill-mannered.
  • Ditzy Genius: He's clearly very intelligent, with a quick wit, and a good logical thinker, but socially speaking, he's pretty naive and awkward. This is justified due to the frivolous and materialistic society that surrounds him, as he has no problems becoming friends with people who aren't shallow and brainless (and, of course, said people are even more likely to befriend him if they're kinda quirky).
  • Endearingly Dorky: A socially awkward, self-proclaimed geek and comic book lover with a great sense of humor. He's shown to be a Chick Magnet, being able to attract popular girls like Summer, tough girls like Alex, and girls who are as nerdy as him like Anna and Taylor.
  • Fanboy: Seth is a nerd and loves comic books, anime, and video games.
  • Foil: To Ryan. He's outgoing, quite impractical, carefree and witty, while Ryan is brooding and Street Smart. Ryan had Abusive Parents (at least his father and the stepfathers he had), Seth has Good Parents. Ryan is a naturally selfless guy who comes from a poor family, while Seth is rich, spoiled and used to be pretty selfish most of the time, although he gets better.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: A blend of Sanguine and Phlegmatic. He's quite outgoing, friendly and cheerful, but not bubbly and energetic as Summer.
  • Four-Philosophy Ensemble: The Apathetic, as he can be cowardly and mostly doesn't care about the society that surrounds him, and therefore tends to live in his own world.
  • Fun Personified: He's an Endearingly Dorky, funny and rather eccentric guy, is a geek to the bone, and his nearly constant Deadpan Snarker moments combined with his quirks are hilarious.
  • Give Geeks a Chance: For somebody who is supposed to be a socially awkward geek and outcast, Seth seems to have little trouble attracting beautiful young women.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: He and Ryan eventually become best friends other than adoptive brothers.
  • High-School Sweethearts: With Summer. They get married in the series finale.
  • Hollywood Nerd: He is supposed to be an unattractive nerd due to his social awkwardness and huge interest in comic books and science fiction. This doesn't really work since he's also sweet, funny, and played by the attractive Adam Brody.
  • Intelligence Equals Isolation: In the beginning of the series, though he has glaring social quirks that contribute as well.
  • It's All About Me: He can be incredibly self-absorbed and gets mad when other people change the subject.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Downplayed. He may be self-absorbed, can be a liar and slightly petty at times, but otherwise he's a genuinely Nice Guy, who is ultimately not as mischievous as he looks, and to be fair he's just a bit cowardly and insecure rather than a true jerk. He loves Summer more than anything, and most of his selfless and sweet moments occur when he's with her, or when the situation involves her. When he wasn't accepted to his preferred university, and she refused to go without him, he broke up with her and told her didn't love her anymore just so she would go. And he clearly did still love her. And how can we forget all the times where he looked after her and his mother while they were drunk? Plus, as far as he's concern, Ryan is his best friend and brother and will do whatever is in Ryan's best interests (even when Ryan doesn't want it).
  • Jewish and Nerdy: Geeky and Jewish on his father's side.
  • Jewish Smartass: Half-Jewish, 100% a smartass.
  • The Lancer: To Ryan's The Hero, as he's his best friend and also serves as his Foil. Where Ryan acts, Seth gives advice, and he's more of a thinker than a doer.
  • Large Ham: He's very emphatic and takes what he says very seriously, getting mad if others change the subject.
  • Lonely Rich Kid: Before Ryan's arrival, he had no friends at all.
  • Motor Mouth: Especially when nervous, which happens a lot.
  • Mr. Fanservice: He gets a couple of Shirtless Scenes.
  • Mushroom Samba: In Season 4, Seth takes hallucinogenic berries in an attempt to "heal his animus". He then has a vision of walking through a tripped-out version of the Cohen house until he walks into his room. His room now has a pool in it, where Seth's spirit animal, an otter, flops out of the pool. Seth begins to talk to him. When the vision ends, Seth has been renewed spiritually by 'saving his spirit animal', and is thus ready to love again.
  • Nerds Are Sexy: Played by the handsome Adam Brody and has quite a few girls attracted to him on the show.
  • Nice Jewish Boy: A snarkier version of one but one nevertheless.
  • Opposites Attract: Seth/Summer, nerd + popular party girl.
  • Pretty Boy: To Ryan's hunk, as he's not very muscular, rather slim and with a gentler appearance.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: He's the blue to Summer's red, as he's more relaxed while Summer is a Genki Girl.
    • Zig-Zagged with Ryan. Ryan is more Hot-Blooded, but is also quite brooding, while Seth is more relaxed but also outgoing.
  • Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Snarky Savvy Guy to bubbly, gossipy Genki Girl Summer.
  • Self-Deprecation: Seth's weapon of choice.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: The geeky, naive Sensitive Guy to Ryan's stoic, badass Manly Man.
  • The Stoner: In season 3, after failing to get into Brown.
  • Tall, Dark, and Snarky: He's taller than Ryan, dark-haired, handsome and definitely a Deadpan Snarker.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: As mentioned above, it's arguable whether Seth did this or started as a bit of a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing.
  • Uke: A rare, male het example, to Summer's Seme. He also attracts a couple of seme-ish girls throughout the series.

     Marissa Cooper 

Marissa Cooper (portrayed by Mischa Barton)

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/marissa_cooper_4.jpg

  • The Alcoholic: In season 2, she struggles with alcohol and depression. She already drank quite a lot in season 1, and it was at that moment that Ryan started to be very worried about her.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Besides Ryan, there's also Volchok in season 3. She is aware that he is "bad" by most people's standards, but continues to engage in a relationship with him until he cheats on her.
  • Anyone Can Die: Especially surprising considering there was no real warning for it in the press, and the character dies on the way to a bus trip.
  • Attention Whore: Craving attention from her family through her substance abuse and questionable relationships.
  • Broken Bird: Starting off as a privileged do-gooder whose family falls apart, and is then forced to deal with her conniving mother, negligent father, controlling stepfather, and basically everyone around her ignoring her rapidly declinging mental health. She's also almost raped by her boyfriend's brother and is then forced to shoot said brother to save Ryan, which sees her kicked out of her school and forced to move away from her friends and boyfriend. And then there's everything else she goes through in Season 3, including watching a friend die, Ryan breaking up with her and falling into a bordeline-abusive relationship.
  • Byronic Heroine: Even more than Ryan, as she's similar personality wise, but is by far more self-destructive than him. And this very troubled and conflicted girl dies in the end.
  • Damsel in Distress: She's rescued by Ryan more than a few times.
  • Dude Magnet: Marissa attracts the attention of Ryan, Luke, Oliver, DJ, Trey, Johnny and Volchok.
  • Doom Magnet: Not really her fault, but she does attract a lot of drama. Most of it is due to external circumstances for which she is constantly (and unfairly) blamed.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: Bisexual girl Alex.
  • Fallen Princess:
    • Her family went bankrupt thanks to her father and she lost her popularity due to the revelation that her father was stealing from his clients (most of whom are parents of her friends), finally sealing her fate when she overdoses in Tijuana in the first season.
    • In season 3, Marissa is once again broken (despite having been rich again, thanks to her mother marrying Caleb in season 2), due to her stepfather's secret bankruptcy, and she's expelled from the private high school and begins attending public school due to Trey's shooting.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Like Ryan, a Melancholic with shades of Choleric; she's troubled and had an impulsive streak, though unlike Ryan she's also self-destructive and addicted to alcohol (and briefly drugs, before her death).
  • Four-Philosophy Ensemble: The Conflicted. Very conflicted. She's insecure, often self-destructive, and is definitely vulnerable and emotionally unstable. This is mostly due to her family situation, though.
  • Freudian Excuse: Her family situation certainly is the main cause of her emotional instability.
  • Generation Xerox: She has a lot of her father's characteristics, such as his impulsiveness and irresponsibility.
  • Girl Next Door: Literally to Seth and Ryan, despite being a rebellious Broken Bird rich girl unlike the typical Girl Next Door character.
  • Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Although she is much more vulnerable than the typical "party girl".
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Summer. They're best friends for a long time until Marissa's death.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: In the Oliver story-line of Season 3. Her later dalliance with Volchok doesn't count because she is fully aware he is bad for her.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Often wears revealing clothes, has some bikini scenes, and especially her scene where she wears a naughty Bare Your Midriff schoolgirl outfit (to help her sister, tricking a boy making him believe she was a stripper) is very fanservicey.
  • Ms. Vice Girl: Marissa is a good person but has several bad habits, especially drinking. This is due to her emotional instability.
  • Opposites Attract: Ryan/Marissa (wrong side of the tracks + (seemingly) perfect debutante).
  • Rebellious Princess: A privileged rich girl with a history of substance abuse and rebellious behavior.
  • Second Love: To Ryan. The first was Theresa.
  • Socialite: Like her mother and her friends, this is her lifestyle in Newport.
  • Statuesque Stunner: She's pretty tall, attractive with a slender physique.
  • Teens Are Short: Averted: her actress is the only teen among the main cast, but she's rather tall while Summer is pretty short.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Girly Girl to Alex's Tomboy.
  • Tragic Heroine: Word of God said her death in the series perfectly fits her troubled, tragic character.
  • Trauma Conga Line: She goes through some traumatic experiences before dying in season 3.
  • Uptown Girl: To Ryan (the poor kid from the wrong side of the tracks). This is the primary storyline for the first half of the show.

    Summer Roberts 

Summer Roberts (portrayed by Rachel Bilson)

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/summer_roberts.jpg

     Taylor Townsend 

Taylor Townsend (portrayed by Autumn Reeser)

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/taylor_townsend.jpg

     Luke Ward 

Luke Ward (portrayed by Chris Carmack)

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/luke_ward.jpg

  • Bash Brothers: He gets there with Ryan, however short-lived it may have been.
  • Big Man on Campus: The popular Newport Beach captain of the water polo team.
  • The Bully: Initially, to both Seth and newcomer Ryan.
    Luke: Welcome to the O.C., bitch!
  • Fire-Forged Friends: He goes from their bully to a good friend of Ryan and Seth.
  • Heel–Face Turn: In the early episodes he was pretty much your typical Jerk Jock, but by the end of the first season he had turned into a sympathetic, likable character.
  • Hunk: A tall, muscular, handsome and manly young man. As dickish as he might have been...
  • Jerk Jock: Early on, as the captain of the water polo team who was dating Marissa and always picking fights with Ryan. He later becomes a Lovable Jock.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He starts out as a complete Jerkass, and eventually becomes a genuinely good friend to the main cast, who is always there to help them.
  • May–December Romance: With Julie Cooper, the mother of his ex-girlfriend Marissa.
  • Mr. Fanservice: He also has Shirtless Scenes.
  • Odd Friendship: With Ryan for the latter half of Season 1, since they start out as enemies. Luke also accepts Ryan's relationship with his ex-girlfriend Marissa
  • Put on a Bus: By the end of season one he had become a fairly major character. However, after the season two premiere he is never seen again.
  • Really Gets Around: He was cheating on Marissa during their relationship.
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     Sandy Cohen 

Sandy Cohen (portrayed by Peter Gallagher)

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/sandy_cohen.jpg

  • Big Ol' Eyebrows: Portrayed by Peter Gallagher, who is known for having thick eyebrows.
  • Brooklyn Rage: He is from The Bronx.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Gives his son a run for his money.
  • Good Parents: To both Seth and his adopted son Ryan.
  • The Idealist: Through and through. He's an idealistic public defender.
  • Informed Judaism: He's Jewish but other than having a stereotypical Jewish Mother his Judaism is only infrequently mentioned.
  • My Beloved Smother: His mother is a handful to say the least.
  • Nice Guy: The creator of the series describes him as "He is never a man who can refuse to help someone". He's kind and compassionate and always does what's right.
  • Opposites Attract: Sandy/Kirsten, geeky Jewish liberal lawyer + WASP princess.
  • Papa Wolf: Has a quiet but powerful moment after rescuing Seth.
    Sandy: Since the minute you were born I knew, I would never take another easy breath without knowing that you were all right.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: As a father figure, he serves as a moral center, often guiding and supporting Seth and Ryan.

     Kirsten Cohen 

Kirsten Cohen (portrayed by Kelly Rowan)

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/kirsten_cohen_7.jpg

  • The Alcoholic: In season 2, when her marriage with Sandy begins to deteriorate.
  • Blonde Republican Sex Kitten: At one point in the show Sandy mentions to another character that Kirsten is a political conservative. There are also a few points in the show where Kirsten criticizes Sandy's "hippie parenting."
  • Broken Bird: Probably the most traditional version, born into a wealthy, emotionally-detached family with a cheating, power-hungry father and an alcoholic mother who dies long before the series begins. She channels this trauma into becoming a "Well Done, Daughter!" Girl and eventual Lady Drunk.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Not to her son and husband's extent, but she's still pretty sarcastic.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Before Ryan joined the family and caused her to soften, although she was rather disillusioned and strict than actually cold. Lampshaded in a touching scene in the fourth season premiere, "The Avengers", when Seth puts together a comic book illustrating the Cohens' lives before he joined the family.
    Kirsten: The ice queen was surrounded by an impenetrable force field and her silver cell phone was her only link to the outside world.
  • Good Parents: Like her husband, she's a good parental figure to both Seth and later to Ryan.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: She may be somewhat distrustful and was a bit distant towards Ryan, but she's undoubtedly kind-hearted and one of the most morally upstanding individuals in the series. And she's a blonde.
  • Lady Drunk: Played for laughs in the first season but builds to drama by the end of the second.
  • Lethal Chef: Played straight at first, then used as Character Development after the end of season 2.
  • Like Parent, Unlike Child: Contrarily to her father, who is a selfish and amoral businessman, Kirsten is a genuinely good hearted and selfless woman who does what's right and cares about others.
  • Mama Bear: Like Sandy, she is fiercely protective of her family and friends.
  • Nice Girl: Although she used to be somewhat diffident towards Ryan at the beginning, she's a kind and gentle woman, and a good maternal figure.
  • Opposites Attract: With Sandy, geeky Jewish liberal lawyer + WASP princess.
  • Sugar-and-Ice Personality: In the first episodes; it takes her a bit to warm up to Ryan.

     Julie Cooper 

Julie Cooper (portrayed by Melinda Clarke)

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/juliecooper.jpg

  • Anti-Villain: Julie isn't outright evil, but definitely morally ambiguous. She's utterly selfish, opportunistic and greedy, but has redeeming qualities. On a D&D chart, she'd be Chaotic Neutral.
  • Chronic Villainy: She switches between trying to be a good mom and being a gold-digging manipulative slut schizophrenically throughout the series.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Although by far more bitchy than icy, Julie Cooper very gradually becomes more sympathetic as the show goes on. By the final season, she had shed much of the bitchiness that defined her in the show's first few seasons.
  • Everyone Has Standards: She may not be the most morally upstanding character in the series, but at least when con artist Charlotte proposes her, she doesn't betray Kirsten, as she considers her as a good friend and she doesn't want to take advantage of her good heart.
  • Evil Redhead: Although evil is a stretch, she's definitely one of the most devious, selfish characters. She's also the main antagonist in early seasons.
  • Femme Fatale: She uses her beauty to exploit wealthy and influential men... And even to seduce attractive boys such as Luke.

    Jimmy Cooper 

Jimmy Cooper (portrayed by Tate Donovan)

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/jimmy_cooper.jpg

  • And Starring: "And Tate Donovan".
  • The Bus Came Back: In the season 4 episode "The Chrismukk-huh?".
  • Good Parents: He's certainly a better parent to Marissa than Julie is.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Irresponsible and immature, but he loves his daughter Marissa. While he committed crimes because of his personal problems, he's still a good man deep down.
  • Put on a Bus: Despite being important enough that he received an And Starring in the opening titles. With his relationship with Hailey ending early in the second season,he kinda just floated around (Literally, he was living on a boat) for the first half of the season as the character had run his course. The writers figured this out towards the middle of the season, so he was written out of with the explanation he was worried, since he was restarting his relationship with Julie, that he was just repeating the cycle that cost him his marriage & reputation so he was going to move to Maui.

    Caleb Nichol 

Caleb Nichol (portrayed by Alan Dale)

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/caleb_nichol_2.jpg

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    Kaitlin Cooper 

Kaitlin Cooper (portrayed by Shailene Woodley (Season 1) / Willa Holland (Seasons 3 — 4)

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/kaitlin_cooper.jpg

  • All Girls Like Ponies: Kaitlin's pony China who had alopecia.
  • Ascended Extra: Kaitlin was pretty irrelevant in Season 1 before she was recast and returned in Season 3 and eventually promoted to main cast in Season 4.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: In season 4, she is portrayed as rebellious and problematic.
  • Broken Bird: Most prevalent in the Alternate Universe of "The Chrismuk-huh?" where after Marissa's death in Tiajuana, she locked herself in her studies and graduated high school at 15.
  • The Bus Came Back: She was shipped off to boarding school off-screen between seasons one & two. She comes back in season 3.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Sarcastic and sassy, with a mischievous sense of humor.
  • Freudian Excuse: Like for Marissa, her family situation, except even more so since she got shipped off to Boarding School and felt abandoned.
  • Generation Xerox: She seems to have some of her famously scheming mother's personality traits.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: She breaks up with her boyfriend Will because she doesn't like how she's changing him.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Kaitlin may be bratty and mischievous, but she has a big heart, and though she doesn't always say it the right way, she cares about people. She once threw a party solely so two girls that she barely knew could attend because they hadn't been invited to the Alpha Bitch's party.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Added to the opening credits in season 4, along with Taylor.
  • The Stoner: Although, she seems to be completely unaffected by it. She never gets stoned.

Recurring Characters

    Anna Stern 

Anna Stern (portrayed by Samaire Armstrong)

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/anna_stern.jpg

    Hailey Nichol 

Hailey Nichol (portrayed by Amanda Righetti)

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/hailey_nichol_86.jpg

  • Annoying Younger Sibling: To Kirsten. While staying in the Cohen household, due to her continuing irresponsible and brash lifestyle leading to a fight with Kristen and Sandy.
  • Amazonian Beauty: Portrayed by beautiful and muscular actress Amanda Righetti.
  • Bare Your Midriff: While working as a stripper.
  • Black Sheep: Seen as the black sheep of the family, known to have done little with her life.
  • The Bus Came Back: For her father's funeral, in the last episode of season 2.
  • Daddy's Girl: Hailey was Caleb's favorite child.
  • Fiery Redhead: She's a redhead, and definitely energetic and fun-loving.
  • Hard-Drinking Party Girl: She persuades Sandy and Kirsten to go out and throws a party that gets out of control.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Immature, irresponsible and hedonistic, but not a bad person by any means.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Her first appearance has Hailey wearing nothing but her underwear and a top. Later, she briefly worls as a stripper.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: She doesn't get along with Sandy.
  • Playing Gertrude: She's supposed to be 11 years older than Ryan and Seth, but Amanda Righetti is actually younger than both Adam Brody and Benjamin McKenzie.
  • Put on a Bus: She leaves Newport in season 2.
  • Rebellious Princess: The rebellious daughter of one of the wealthiest men in Newport Beach who leaves home at 17.
  • Spoiled Brat: Kirsten's spoiled younger sister, notorious for not doing anything with her life other than spending her father's money.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Squandering her trust fund and traveling around the world at the expense of her father.

    Oliver Trask 

Oliver Trask (portrayed by Taylor Handley)

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/oliver_trask_6.jpg

  • Ambiguous Disorder: It's not certain what's up with him, but he likely has borderline personality disorder, besides having been diagnosed with depression.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: While he seems to be a gentle, if somewhat unstable guy, he's actually a complete psychopath.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: He's obsessed with Marissa.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: His obsession with Marissa turns him into this. He's jealous and manipulative towards her and Ryan.
  • Freudian Excuse: Parental Neglect.
  • Lonely Rich Kid: His parents were largely absent from his life.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: When Marissa rejects him, he threatens to kill himself.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Perfectly able to manipulate Marissa and make Ryan look bad.
  • The Mentally Disturbed: In an early episode, it is mentioned that Oliver was previously diagnosed with depression. However, he also exhibits many of the criteria for borderline personality disorder.
  • Put on a Bus: He only appears in season 1.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Towards Marissa, in a very creepy way.
  • Yandere: It turns out Ryan was right about Oliver's crazy intentions and his creepy, possessive and obsessive personality.

    Theresa Diaz 

Theresa Diaz (portrayed by Navi Rawat)

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/theresa_diaz.jpg

    Zach Stevens 

Zach Stevens (portrayed by Michael Cassidy)

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/zach_stevens.jpg

  • The Ace:
    Summer: He is good looking but not into himself, smart but not a show-off, athletic but sensitive, a politician's son... Hey, he's, like, Newport's Prince William.
  • The Generic Guy: Essentially because he's Seth minus any of the quirks.
  • Lovable Jock: Zach is a water polo player and an athlete but he's a nice guy. Lampshaded in his more jerkish moments when he states "I'm a water polo player. We're never nice".
  • Nice Guy: Like Anna, he was a sympathetic Romantic False Lead.
  • Put on a Bus: He eventually leaves Newport Beach to work with George Lucas on the comic.
  • Romantic False Lead: As Summer's temporary boyfriend, he gets caught in the middle of the Summer/Seth dynamic in season 2.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: With Seth, as they even get into fights because of Summer, but they're ultimately friends.

    Alex Kelly 

Alex Kelly (portrayed by Olivia Wilde)

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/alex_kelly_5.jpg

    Lindsay Gardner 

Lindsay Gardner (portrayed by Shannon Lucio)

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/lindsay_gardner.jpg

  • Brooding Boy, Gentle Girl: The Gentle Girl to Ryan's Brooding Boy.
  • Go-Getter Girl: She's an over-achiever, and Ryan even becomes more studious when dating her.
  • Long-Lost Relative: To Caleb, Kirsten and Hailey. Caleb is her biological father and Kirsten and Hailey are her paternal half-sisters.
  • Meganekko: Lindsay sometimes wears glasses.
  • Nice Girl: A nice girlfriend to Ryan.
  • Put on a Bus: She only appears in season 2.
  • Romantic False Lead: For Ryan in season 2, to the Ryan/Marissa dynamic.
  • Scholarship Student: She attends Harbor on a scholarship who also drives a lemon, in comparison to her wealthier schoolmates.
  • Shoo Out the New Guy: She is Caleb's illegitimate daughter who occupied the first half of Season Two. Ryan, supposedly deeply in love with her, forgot her during the episode after her departure.

    Trey Atwood 

Trey Atwood (portrayed by Logan Marshall-Green)

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/trey_atwood.jpg

  • Aloof Older Brother: To Ryan, although he's rather brash and completely unpredictable than aloof.
  • Attempted Rape: In season 2, he attempts to rape Marissa, while high.
  • The Atoner: He tried to become this with Ryan's support, but it didn't last.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Towards Ryan. He has risked his own safety to rescue Ryan and also sends him birthday and Christmas presents.
  • The Bus Came Back: In the second half of season 2.
  • Delinquents: Was involved in criminal activities.
  • Evil Counterpart: To Ryan. Besides his villainy, like Ryan, Trey has a quick temper but is more impulsive where Ryan is more controlled.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: It's partly why he screws up so often. He's very choleric.
  • Put on a Bus: Literally in the season three premiere.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: With Ryan. They are vastly different in personalities and outlooks.
  • The Stoner: Trey resorts to his bad boy lifestyle, using drugs and stealing.

    Johnny Harper 

Johnny Harper (portrayed by Ryan Donowho)

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/johnny_harper.jpg

  • Love Hurts: His feelings for Marissa are unrequited, and Johnny is very sad about it, until his death.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Because of his unrequited love for Marissa, he drinks too much and falls off a cliff before Ryan could save him. Sadly, when the doctors try to save him, he dies in the hospital, and his mother calls Ryan to tell him he tragically didn't manage to survive.
  • Nice Guy: He's kind and gentle, although troubled.
  • Settle for Sibling: In his short relationship with Marissa's sister Kaitlin.
  • Troubled, but Cute: A guy with a Dark and Troubled Past who is pretty similar to Ryan. Johnny is a good person, but he had to beat the crap out of his father because of how he treated his mother, and now he's lonely and depressed.

    Kevin Volchok 

Kevin Volchok (portrayed by Cam Gigandet)

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/kevin_volchok.jpg

  • Arch-Enemy: To Ryan, for most of season 3.
  • The Bully: He repeatedly tries to fight Ryan because he wants a rematch after the latter punches him in the face.
  • The Corrupter: When he blackmails Ryan initially to participate in a robbery, along with car theft, to help him escape Newport.
  • Delinquents: A bully and a thief who also blackmails Ryan into a crime.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: Although "gold" is a stretch. This is seen mostly in season 4, but he shows signs of this even in season 3: he was really sad about Johnny's death and deep down, he really cared about his relationship with Marissa, albeit in a dysfunctional way.
  • Jerk Jock: A jerkass surfer dude. He's rude, amoral and lives the typical bad boy life.
  • Last-Name Basis: He's called by his last name Volchok.
  • Mr. Fanservice: He has a couple shirtless scenes showing his abs.
  • The Rival: To Johnny. He's his top rival for a surfing sponsorship.
  • The Stoner: He's on drugs, and also involves Marissa.
  • Tuckerization: Named after Adam Brody's talent agent.

    Holly Fischer 

Holly Fischer (portrayed by Ashley Hartman)

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/holly_fischer_8.jpg

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