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Series / One Tree Hill

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One Tree Hill was a Teen Drama about two half-brothers, Lucas (Chad Michael Murray) and Nathan Scott (James Lafferty), living in the fictional town of Tree Hill, North Carolina. Lucas was abandoned at birth by their father Dan Scott (Paul Johansson), and lives as a loner with his mom and his father's elder brother Keith (Craig Sheffer) serving as his father figure.

Both brothers have a love of basketball, but when Lucas moves from playing in the park to playing for the varsity team, they must deal with the fact that they have to see each other. Aside from having to deal with his issues with Nathan on the court, Lucas must also deal with the fact that Peyton Sawyer (Hilarie Burton), his long-time crush, is dating Nathan (Something not lost on Nathan); being dropped into a new circle of friends alongside his best friend Haley James (Bethany Joy Lenz) and attracting the attention of Peyton's flirtatious Best Friend Brooke Davis (Sophia Bush).

The first four seasons of the show focus on the main characters' lives through their high school years. To avoid dealing with the downfall that Teen Dramas experience when their characters go to college, in its fifth season, the series subsequently jumps four years into the future after they have all graduated. In the seventh season, following the departure of Chad Michael Murray and Hilarie Burton, the show was jumped ahead another fourteen months in order to make their absence seem more credible and less sudden.

The show aired from 2003 to 2012, ending after 9 seasons and 187 episodes.

Tropes used:

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    A to B 
  • Aborted Arc: Erin, the singer Haley meets through the Crisis Hotline & signs to Red Bedroom Records in Season 8, is swiftly Put on a Bus after a few episodes, with Alex taking her spot as the season's new musical talent.
  • Abusive Parents: Dan Scott. Throughout the entire first season, it's made very clear that Dan is more concerned about his legacy as basketball player than Nathan's well being, with him practically bullying Nathan to play basketball "his" way. In episode 1x21, "The Leaving Song," Dan takes over as coach of the Ravens due to Whitey needing surgery, and the viewer sees how bad Nathan had it growing up. Dan's father, Royal Scott, is stated to have been just as bad as Dan was, treating Dan the same way he was treating Nathan.
  • All Guys Want Cheerleaders:
    • Peyton, Brooke, Haley and Rachel are all cheerleaders during the first 4 seasons, and none of them struggle for male attention.
    • Karen used to be a cheerleader in high school, and had both Dan and Keith fall for her.
  • All Just a Dream:
    • Episode 2x20, "Lifetime Piling Up" — After his crash at the racetrack, Nathan dreams about how things would have turned out if Dan had married Karen instead of Deb.
    • Episode 4x10, "Songs to Love and Die By" — Keith visit Lucas following his heart attack, and shows him how life would be if he was a lesser person. It's unclear if it really was a dream or a Dead Person Conversation, as Lucas sees his friends & family worrying about him and Haley following the hit & run, and Keith shows Lucas the scene of the school shooting, prompting him to investigate what really happened in the hallway.
    • Episode 6x11, "We Three (My Echo, My Shadow, and Me)" — Lucas places his friends & family into Film Noir '40s Tree Hill.
    • Episode 8x01, "Asleep At Heaven's Gate" — Clay & Quinn dream together that Katie shooting them was just a dream, whilst bleeding out on the floor of Clay's beach house after being shot.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: In Season 5, Peyton is in love with Lucas, who is in love with Lindsey. After she leaves him at the altar, Lucas becomes this for Lindsey.
  • All Women Are Lustful: The defining characteristic of Gigi Silveri, Mouth's partner announcing the Ravens games during Seasons 4 and 4, is her entirely unabashed lusting after the various hunky basketball players. When she returns in Season 6 following the Time Skip, now college aged, she's grown into a Shameless Fanservice Girl.
  • Alliterative Name:
    • Marvin "Mouth" McFadden.
    • Haley's father, James "Jimmy" James.
    • Brooke Davis became Brooke Baker after her marriage to Julian.
  • Altar the Speed: In the beginning of Season 6, Lucas and Peyton were planning to Elope First, Plan Later before they realized they wanted a traditional wedding. They decide to wait and set a date for the wedding. However, when they learn later that Peyton's pregnancy could lead to her and/or their baby dying before or during the delivery, Peyton begs Lucas to move up their wedding so they can get married before her potential death. Lucas refuses initially, but later gives in: not because she might die, but because he just wants her to be his wife a little sooner.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: "Gizensha no Koe" by Weaver is the ending theme for the Japanese version of the first season.
  • Amicable Exes: Nathan & Peyton, Lucas & Brooke become good friends after their romances don't work out.
  • And Starring:
    • Seasons 1-4
      Barry Corbin as Whitey
      With Craig Sheffer
      And Moira Kelly
    • Seasons 7 & 9
      And Paul Johansson
  • Arc Words:
    • "Your art matters" is first said by Lucas to Peyton in Episode 1x03, and pretty much sums up the series.
    • "Open your eyes" during the second half of Season 4, as Lucas tries to find out the truth about Keith's death.
    • "What's under the clothes?" is used during Season 5, as Brooke tries to impress Owen with her fashion empire, and he responds by challenging her to show him who she is underneath all of the superficial trappings of her life.
  • Artifact Title: In France, the series was titled Les Frères Scott, which directly translates to The Brothers Scott in English. This trope qualified after Lucas was written out of the series at the end of Season 6, meaning there was only one Scott brother left on the show.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Bevin went from being a nameless cheerleader there to make up the numbers in Season 1, to being a recurring character in Seasons 3 & 4 becoming a Love Interest to Skills, and eventually being brought Back for the Finale.
    • Mouth was initially introduced as one of Lucas's friends from the River Court, and to serve as announcer for the Ravens games. With the Ravens not playing in Season 2 (Having lost their first playoff game at the end of Season 1), Mouth was given some character development beyond "The sports announcer kid" & was Promoted to Opening Titles in Season 3.
    • Skills, like Mouth, was initially introduced as one of Lucas's friends from the River Court, but unlike Mouth, rarely appeared without the other River Court guys. In Season 3, he received the character development that Mouth did in Season 2, and was Promoted to Opening Titles the following season.
  • The Atoner: Dan Scott, complete with motivational-speaker TV show and book! Whilst Dan's whole show is based on a lie, he does genuinely try to atone for his actions by being a good grandfather & trying to help his sons, even if Nathan & Lucas want nothing to do with him.
  • Auto Erotica:
    • Brooke actually has a "signature move" where she sneaks into the backseat of a guy's car naked to try to seduce him, which becomes a series Running Gag.
      • In Episode 1x03, "Are You True?" — Brooke ambushes Lucas in the backseat of his car, naked. Peyton implies it's happened before with all the Ravens guys.
      • In Episode 3x05, "A Multitude of Casualties" — Rachel ambushes Lucas in the backseat, naked. Brooke catches them and even lampshades her doing the same thing in Season 1.
      • Subverted in Episode 5x08, " Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want" - Brooke ambushes Owen in the backseat, but it's done to show her Character Development by having her say that Owen hasn't earned "what's under the clothes" yet.
      • Attempted in Episode 6x09, "Sympathy For The Devil" — Owen is the one who ambushes Brooke in the backseat of her car naked... Brooke does not react so kindly and throws him out, leaving him naked in the street.
      • Lampshaded in Episode 6x16, "Screenwriter's Blues" — Missy/Movie!Brooke does it to Brooke, in an attempt to make sure she had the move right.
    • Played straight in Episode 4x21, "All of a Sudden, I Miss Everyone" — Chase loses his virginity to Brooke in the backseat.
    • Played straight in Episode 8x13, "The Other Half of Me" — Chase & Mia are found in the back seat of Brooke & Julian's wedding limo by Skills.
  • Babies Ever After:
    • Nathan & Haley have Jamie in season 4, and Lydia in season 8.
    • Lucas and Peyton have daughter Sawyer in the Season 6 finale.
    • Brooke and Julian have twin boys, Jude and Davis in the season 8 finale.
    • In the series finale, Quinn adopts Clay's son Logan as her own; and Millie & Mouth are expecting following the final Time Skip.
  • Back for the Dead
    • Jimmy Edwards and Keith Scott in Season 3.
    • Lydia James in Season 7.
    • Dan Scott in Season 9.
  • Back for the Finale:
    • Bevin Mirskey, having not appeared since Season 5 after being Put on the Bus in Season 4, returns in the Grand Finale working in the Courthouse when Clay & Quinn go to sign the adoption papers for Logan. She also serves as the witness when they decide to get just go ahead & get married instead of having a big wedding. She also appears after the final Time Skip, the show implying that she's reunited with Skills.
    • While they didn't really return in the Grand Finale, Lucas and Deb as well as Keith returned at some point in the final season.
  • Bath Suicide: Alex attempts suicide this way after being and getting a "The Reason You Suck" Speech from Julian. It fails as Julian gets there just in time.
  • Be a Whore to Get Your Man: Subverted in 3x04, "An Attempt to Tip the Scales". Haley's marriage to Nathan is crumbling badly and Haley wants to fix it, whereas Nathan has given up. A costume party is going on at Tric and Brooke decides Haley should be the classic "get your man to come back to you" costume — Sandy from Grease. When Brooke sees Nathan at the party, she hints to him, "Haley looks hot..." Nathan, disappointed, replies, "Haley always looks hot."
  • Beach Episode: 3x02, "From The Edge of The Deep Green Sea", consists of a beach party put together by Brooke. There's also a memorable pool fight in 7x14, "Family Affair", when a catfight between the James sisters slowly devolves into one.
  • Beauty, Brains, and Brawn: Dude Magnet Brooke is the Beauty, The Smart Girl Haley and Cute Bruiser Peyton is the Brawn.
  • Becoming the Mask:
    • Nathan started seeing Haley at first in order to upset Lucas, but ends up falling in love with her for real in Season 1.
    • Jules was originally hired by Dan to seduce Keith and then break his heart (As revenge for sleeping with Deb) but ended up falling for Keith for real.
  • Beta Couple:
    • Skills and Bevin in season 3 and 4.
    • Mouth and Millie starting season 5.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Nanny Carrie who appears seemingly perfect at first, reveals her psychotic side by trying to steal Jamie and Nathan away from Haley.
  • Big Damn Reunion: Lucas and Peyton at the beginning of season 6.
  • Big Brother Mentor: Chase becomes one to Chuck during Season 8.
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed: Both Kylie and Brooke have appreciative comments about Nathan when they see him naked,
    Brooke: [Upon walking on Nathan showering] So I guess the rumors are true, Mr. Size 14.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: The Scotts. Good God, the Scotts. Fortunately, Lucas and Nathan took notice and defied this, thus leading the next generation to a better direction.
  • Big Storm Episode: "Darkness on the Edge of Town" in season 8, where a massive storm hits the town, causing an accident that drives the plot.
  • Birds of a Feather:
    • Lucas and Peyton, Keith and Karen, Mouth and Millie.
    • Dan and Rachel are a dysfunctional version of this trope.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: In "Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe", Lucas approaches Brooke about her character in his book and he wants to know if he could have her permission for the movie rights.
    Brooke: I'm thinking Natalie Portman should play me. I can call her if you want.
    Lucas: It's set in high school. Does anybody get that? I mean.
    Brooke: Great, so I guess you'll be getting some snot from The CW? At least they're hot.
  • Black Is Bigger in Bed: Subverted. Upon walking into the apartment to find both Mouth and Skills standing naked, Millie notes that she's glad to find out the stereotype is not true.
  • Blood-Splattered Wedding Dress: Happens to Peyton, when she collapses due to her placenta previa after her wedding to Lucas and must be rushed to the hospital for a C-section. Haley's also isn't in the greatest condition after the limo incident in Season 3 (and the Season 4 premiere).
  • Bloodless Carnage: In the school shooting episode, both when Jimmy commits suicide and when Dan shoots Keith, no blood is shown. It's particularly noticeable as later violence in the series does show more visible bodily harm.
  • Book Ends:
    • The Pilot builds up to a one on one game of basketball between Lucas & Nathan; Season 4 (And the characters' time in high school) ends in the same way, albeit with them playing as brothers rather hated rivals.
    • Season 5 starts with Brooke & Peyton flying back to Tree Hill; it ends with Lucas in the airport awaiting a flight out of town. The parallel is furthered by all three characters passing a "Welcome to Tree Hill!" sign in the airport.
    • Lucas & Peyton's story starts with her nearly running him over in the Comet; it ends with the two of them and Sawyer driving away into the sunset, in that same car.
    • The final scene in Season 8 recreates the first scene of the opening titles, itself a scene from the pilot, with Jamie replacing Lucas as he dribbles a basketball across the bridge. The scene was written with the intention of being the final scene in the series, but received a surprise renewal for a final Season 9.
    • The first & last musical artist to perform in the series is Gavin DeGraw, both times the song played being "I Don't Wanna Be".
    • In the pilot, Haley & Karen give Lucas a copy of Julius Caesar, whilst eating in Karen's Cafe after hours. Haley is seen reading the book in the series finale, whilst the characters are hanging out in Karen's Cafe after hours.
    • The series starts with Nathan heading on to Tree Hill High's basketball court with the Ravens, and Lucas arriving at to the River Court. The final shot of the series is Jamie heading on to the Tree Hill High basketball court with his Ravens team. Furthermore, the shots of Nathan & Haley leaving Karen's Cafe to head to the game mirror Keith & Haley leaving the cafe to head to Lucas' first game on the Ravens in the second episode.
  • Born in the Wrong Century: In "Pictures of You", Haley expresses to Skills that she feels that she was born in the wrong time, and she wishes that her son will have a greater feeling of belonging.
  • Bottle Episode:
    • Episode 5x09, "For Tonight You're Only Here to Know" — On the night of Lucas's first game as coach of the Ravens, the girls (Peyton, Brooke, Haley, Lindsey and Mia) get locked inside the school library.
    • Episode 6x17, "You And Me And The Bottle Makes Three," is a subversion — The episode is split into 5 segments, with each segment being focused on a couple (Lucas & Peyton; Nathan & Haley; Brooke & Julian; Mouth & Millie; and Dan & Deb) in a specific location. The individual segments are book ended with a prologue & epilogue.
  • Break the Haughty: Brooke's Season 2 arc — After being a massive bitch in Season 1, she learns in episode 2x03 that her parents are struggling financially & proceeds to undergo a large amount of Character Development over the course of the season as she struggles to adapt to life now that she's no-longer the rich girl.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Toyed with in the finale. Several characters' lines are clearly directed to the audience, despite making sense in context.
  • Breather Episode: Episode 3x18 qualifies, since 3x13 and 3x15 through 17 all have Downer Endings to the max. In 3x18, "When It Isn't Like It Should Be", you've got a cabin getaway, sweet group scenes, Pete Wentz, and Nathan re-proposing to Haley (and her saying yes). D'awwwww.

    C to D 
  • Cain and Abel: Much like Lucas & Nathan, Dan & Keith Scott are also on bad terms as the series opens. However, unlike Lucas & Nathan, their relationship just gets worse as time goes on, culminating in Dan killing Keith in cold blood.
  • The Casanova: Nathan, pre-Haley. His Distaff Counterpart is Brooke.
    Nathan: You want me to write a list of every single girl I've ever...
    Haley: No, no, I guess not every single girl. You can cross Peyton, Brooke, and my sister off of that list.
    Nathan: You really think that's a good idea?
    Haley: Yes! And here. I'll make it easy for you. Take the phone book and just cross off the name of every girl you haven't been with.
  • The Cast Show Off:
    • Bethany Joy Lenz (Haley James Scott), Tyler Hilton (Chris Keller) and Kate Voegle (Mia Catalano) all got chances to show off their singing in the show, with their characters all being musicians.
    • James Lafferty legitimately played High School Basketball, and subsequently did all of Nathan's dunks & freethrows without any camera trickery.
  • Caught with Your Pants Down: In 3x18, this was used hilariously when Rachel catches Brooke in the act. Brooke asks if she could've knocked, to which Rachel replies, "Well, I didn't know you'd be Brooke-ing yourself!" After that, it was adopted into the show's vernacular (a late Season 3 episode, in a joke re-enactment of Haley and Nathan's courtship scripted by Brooke, had "Haley" say the line "And I Haley myself on occasion!").
    • Used again in season eight when Clay tells Nathan that what with his girlfriend being out of town and him not being able to move his arm after getting shot his sex life isn't going so well. Nathan's response? "Why do you think I learned to dribble with both hands?"
    • Also used in season four during an argument between Nathan and Haley after the Brooke/Nathan sex tape. Haley is throwing out all of the VHS tapes in the house for fear of finding another sex tape and proceeds to tell Nathan that "the thought of you Brooke-ing yourself to yourself and Brooke really makes me sick."
  • Celebrity Paradox:
    • There are several references to Dawson's Creek in Seasons 1 & 4. James Van Der Beek pops up as the director for Lucas' movie in Season 6, whilst Chad Michael Murray & Hilarie Burton both made appearances on Dawson's Creek, with Burton playing herself when she was still a VJ for MTV.
    • In Season 6, Skills refers to Coach Carter as his favorite sports movie. Antwon Tanner, who plays Skills, starred in said movie.
    • Julian makes reference to Laguna Beach, which is how Stephen Colletti got his start in acting before joining One Tree Hill as Chase Adams.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The time capsule the students make during Season 2, which won't be opened for 50 years. You just know it's going to be opened before then. It doesn't even last a year, and drives Jimmy Edwards to bring a gun to Tree Hill High.
    • The IM name 'WATCHMEWATCHU' that messages Peyton in the Season 2 finale. It's revealed in Season 4 to belong to Psycho!Derek.
    • At the end of episode 4x01, Lucas can be seen writing part of the episode's voice over on his laptop. It's never mentioned or shown happening again, but episode 4x13 makes the implication that he was writing the first draft of 'An Unkindness of Ravens', the book he eventually publishes during the four year time skip.
    • A literal one in season four. After learning it's hiding place from Haley, Lucas takes Deb's gun (which she had been cleaning earlier in the episode) to threaten Dan after learning the truth about Keith's murder.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
    • Jimmy Edwards is one of the guys Lucas hangs out with at the River Court, and creates with Mouth, but vanishes with no explanation, even being missing Season 2's "Lifetime Piling Up" which retold the events of the pilot with Lucas & Nathan's roles flipped. Deconstructed in Season 3's "With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls, We Slept" when Jimmy takes a gun to school, utterly devastated by all of his friends abandoning him over the past year.
    • Tim Smith is Nathan's Best Friend at the start of the series, and the only named Raven who isn't a major character, growing in prominence after Jake was Put on a Bus & becoming the show's resident Butt-Monkey, before vanishing halfway through Season 3. It's later revealed during Season 4 that Tim transferred to a school for slow students. He returned in Season 5, commenting that he misses high school since no-one's kept in touch with him.
  • Cleaning Up Romantic Loose Ends:
    • During the first season the Official Couple of Lucas & Peyton was slowly built up with the clear goal of eventually putting them together. Come the second season, this was all ignored in favor of Lucas & Brooke due to the real-life relationship between Chad Michael Murray & Sophia Bush, resulting in Lucas suddenly deciding he was truly interested in her out of nowhere. Peyton, however, was retconned into being in love with Jake Jagielski - a recurring character from the previous season, whom she only had a mild flirtation with whilst she was trying to move on from Peyton/Lucas/Brooke love triangle - in an attempt to get her out of the way. When the writers eventually pulled the trigger on restarting the Lucas/Peyton relationship in the third season, after subtly leaving several hints throughout the season that Peyton wasn't quite as over Lucas she first appeared, they brought Jake back for a three-episode stint for no other reason than to show that Peyton never really loved him by having her confess her feelings for Lucas to him when she said "I love you, Lucas" in her sleep. Similarly, the episode before Lucas & Peyton finally got together in the fourth season featured Brooke & Lucas realizing that whilst they cared for each other, they really were never in love with one another.
    • Owen Morello, Brooke's Season 5 love interest, returned midway through Season 6, before suffering a relapse (He was a recovered alcoholic) & sleeping with Millie in the very same episode which started the Brooke/Julian ship. He was Put on a Bus the following episode.
  • Cliffhanger: Every season finale except the ones for Season 4, which marked the end of the high school years; Season 6, which was more of an ending due to Chad Michael Murray and Hilarie Burton's departure; Season 8, which was written as a Grand Finale in case the show wasn't renewed; and Season 9, which was the final season.
    • Season 1: Haley reveals to Lucas that she and Nathan got married; Dan has a heart attack.
    • Season 2: Haley arrives on Nathan's doorstep while their marriage is in trouble due to her touring with Chris Keller. A strange woman tells Peyton she is her mother, despite Peyton's mother being dead (it's revealed she's Peyton's birth mom and that Peyton was adopted). Dan's dealership is set on fire by an unknown person with him inside.
    • Season 3: The limo for Nathan and Haley's vow renewal is driven off a bridge by Rachel Gatina, with her and Nathan's uncle Cooper inside. Nathan dives in to save them and Haley screams for help. Either Brooke, Peyton, or Haley could be pregnant (later revealed to be Haley).
    • Season 5: Lucas calls either Brooke, Peyton, or Lindsey and proposes. It is revealed to be Peyton in the Season 6 premiere.
    • Season 7: Out of all the happy endings present, the very last couple we see could have a tragic end: Katie, the stalker who's been pretending to be Clay's dead wife, shoots Quinn. When Clay runs out, hearing the gunshot, she shoots Clay as well, and leaves the both of them lying on the floor.
  • Clothes Make the Legend: Or rather, the Tree Hill Ravens retiring your number does.
    • #33 — Dan Scott during Season 3; after he made a sizable donation to the school in exchange for it.
    • #01 — Coach Brian "Whitey" Durham between Seasons 4 & 5; In honor of the many years spent as Coach of the Ravens & coaching the first Ravens side to win the State Championship.
    • #23 — Nathan Scott between Seasons 4 & 5; All-Time Leading Scorer, co-captain of the first Ravens team to win the State Championship.
    • #44Quentin Fields in Season 6; In Memoriam
    • #12 — Jamie Scott during the final Time Skip; All-Time Leading Scorer, breaking Nathan's record
  • Code Silver: The fan and critical favorite, widely regarded as the best episode of the show, "With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls, We Slept" (3x16) has Jimmy Edwards come to school with a gun and take hostages in the tutoring center. The tragedy is mostly averted: the only one actually shot is Peyton, who is hit in the leg and survives (barely). However, Jimmy Edwards kills himself and Dan uses the gun to kill his brother Keith, believing Keith is the one who tried to kill him at the end of Season 2.
  • Comic-Book Time: From the pilot to the Grand Finale, the show covers roughly 16 years during the 9 years it was on the air.
    • Seasons 1 & 2 covers the group's Junior year.
    • Seasons 3 & 4 cover the group's Senior year, with Haley being pregnant for the entire fourth season, as is Karen with Keith's child, with both of them giving birth to their children the day of the main character's graduation at the end of the fourth season. Also notable, is that Lucas & Brooke's relationship (Which takes place in the second half of the third season) lasted around 6 months on-screen but just about two in-universe months; whilst Lucas & Peyton's relationship the following season has them together for the same number of episodes but covers a period of time that is at least twice as long, if not even thrice.
    • Season 5 takes place after a four-year Time Skip, and covers a period of a few months — notably, the basketball season is shown to have start halfway through the season, and is stated to still have 11 games left in the finale.
    • Season 6 covers about just under a year as in fact it takes place few days after Jamie’s fifth birthday (which is almost at the end of season 5) and then season 7 starts with his seventh birthday after another Time Skip of fourteen months since the season 6 finale.
    • Season 7, which takes place fourteen months after the season 6 finale, as stated above, sees Nathan not reporting for pre-season training until the following season, which means the season covers a period of few months.
    • Season 8 takes over roughly a year, and features another Time Skip during the final episode of the season of roughly a year.
    • The bulk of Season 9, which takes place just over a year after the season 8 finale, covers about two months. The final moments of the season, and the show, skip forward around 5 or 6 years.
  • Comically Missing the Point: When Brooke, Haley, Peyton, Rachel & Bevin are in a car together whilst fighting with one another, they decide to role-play as the person their grievance is with. After Brooke makes an insensitive remark about Peyton's adopted & birth mothers both dying, Bevin chimes in with "I'm Rachel and I have red hair!".
  • Commuting on a Bus: Skills as of Season 7.
  • Convenient Coma
    • Both Karen and Peyton gave birth while unconscious via C-section due to medical conditions: Karen had pre-eclampsia and Peyton placenta previa.
    • Nathan goes into a coma and imagines life if Dan had stayed with Karen instead of marrying Deb.
    • Cooper goes into a coma after Rachel makes him drive off a bridge.
    • Lucas suffers 2 separate comas. The first forces Dan to admit that he is Lucas' father so Lucas can get proper medical attention. In the second, Keith appears to Lucas to show him what life would be like without him (his very own "It's a Wonderful Life") and to help him remember seeing a witness to Keith's murder.
    • In season 8, Clay and Quinn are in comas after being shot.
  • Continuity Nod: The series do keep to canon.
    • In the second episode of season five, Peyton and Brooke talked to Nathan, now disabled, and cheered him up by saying the second and third best night of his life just walked in, referring to their past relationships with him.
    • In the season eight episode "Luck Be a Lady" Brooke's soon-to-be mother-in-law says that if Brooke's wedding is outdoors she'll have to hang salami to keep the bees away and that's why she should have it in a church. Two episodes later Brooke has a nightmare about her and Julian having a redneck (and outdoorsy) wedding. In one blink and you'll miss it shot you can see salami hanging in the trailer park.
  • Continuity Snarl: In Season 5, Jamie celebrates his fifth birthday. However, his birthday happens in the midst of the basketball season, which is impossible since Jamie was born at the end of the school year in Season 4, on the day his parents graduated from high school & after the end of the basketball season. Considering that Jamie's birthday coinciding with that anniversary was mentioned only a few episodes earlier, it really makes no sense as to how no-one picked up on this. Further complicating things, is that Jamie's seventh birthday happens at the start of season 7 and Nathan (At this point, playing in the NBA) is stated to be in the off-season.
  • Conversational Troping: Peyton namedrops the Princess for a Day trope when discussing returning to Tree Hill for their wedding with Lucas.
  • Creator Cameo: Max, the record store owner Peyton meets twice in Seasons 4 & 5, is played by Mark Schwahn, the showrunner & creator.
  • Curse Cut Short: Kevin Federline's character gets out "What the-" before Peyton switches off the sound in the recording studio.
  • Darker and Edgier: Season 9, with the primary plot of Nathan being kidnapped by Eastern European assassins, and being held ransom... To the people who ordered the hit, so they can get more money before they kill Nathan.
  • Dating Do-Si-Do: To avoid an overly long list, let's put it this way — of the main castnote  of all 9 seasons, the only ones who didn't date more than one other member of that group were Haley, Clay & Quinn; with the later two only coming into the show after Lucas & Peyton had left and the other characters were already with the person they would finish the series with. And this doesn't even begin to include secondary characters like Rachel, Skills & Mouth, or minor characters like Taylor.
  • Dead Person Conversation:
    • Keith had one with Lucas in Season 4's "Songs to Love and Die By"
    • Nathan has them with Quentin Fields throughout Season 6
    • In Season 7 Clay has some scenes where he talks to his deceased wife Sara.
    • Episode 11 of season 9 has one between Dan & Keith, after Dan's death making it a literal example of a Dead Person Conversation.
  • Deconstructed Trope: Chuck Cunningham Syndrome receives this treatment in Season 3, specifically episodes 3x15 & 3x16. Jimmy Edwards, a minor character seen in the first few episodes with Lucas & the other River Court Guys, vanishes without a trace after a few episodes before returning two & a half seasons later, utterly traumatized by his friends all abandoning him for the pretty & the popular.
  • Department of Redundancy Department:
    Brooke: You went in, shoved your magazine spread in his face, and hit on him.
    Rachel: I wouldn't do that to you.
    Brooke: Really? Let's go over the list of things you have done to me. You tried to seduce Lucas when he was my boyfriend, take my spot as cheer captain, and two weeks ago, you told the entire school that I was pregnant! I was just beginning to think you were a real person, but you're just a slutty lying liar who lies.
  • Diegetic Soundtrack Usage:
    • Episode 1x05, "All That You Can't Leave Behind" features "I Don't Wanna Be" playing during the first half of the Father/Son Basketball game.
    • In Episode 1x10, "You Gotta Go There To Comeback," Gavin DeGraw performs "I Don't Wanna Be" at Karen's Cafe.
    • In the Season 5 finale, Gavin DeGraw performs "I Don't Wanna Be" on piano with Jamie.
    • One of the final scenes is the cast attending a Gavin DeGraw concert, and singing along to "I Don't Wanna Be"
  • Double Standard: Noted In-Universe by Skills, after Millie makes a point of Mouth's recent weight gain live on-air, that if their roles were reversed, Mouth would be out of a job.
  • Downtime Downgrade: Lucas and Peyton in season 5. After being in a Will They or Won't They? situation until the beginning of season 4, they finally become a couple for real and promise each other their love is forever, only to discover they’ve abruptly broken up during the four-year Time Skip between the two seasons, begin again their Will They or Won't They? and definitely get back together at the beginning of season 6.
  • Dream-Crushing Handicap: In Season 2, Lucas learns that he can no longer play basketball due to a genetic heart condition inherited from Dan. However, he then proceeds to hide this from everyone & tries valiantly to continue playing with and without his medication, but eventually comes clean after Keith's death. He ultimately gets allowed back onto the team, with his playing time limited to 15 minutes, and effectively retires after the State Championship game.
  • Dub Pronunciation Change: Keith's name was initially pronounced "Kate" in the Italian dub of season 1, but was changed to the original proper pronounce from season 2 onwards.
  • Due to the Dead:
    • After Keith Scott is killed, the Ravens have his initials stitched onto their uniforms above their hearts, and change their colors from white to black.
    • After the death of Quentin Fields in early season 6, the Ravens retired his jersey before their next game, and played the rest of the season as a 4 man team in his memory. They also have "Q 44" stitched onto their jerseys above their hearts.
      Referee: Coach, I can’t let you play with four, unless the rest of your team is hurt.
      Lucas Scott: All of my players are hurting, that’s why we’re playing with four.

    E to F 
  • Embarrassing Tattoo: Both used and subverted.
    • Subversion: The first time we see a character with a tattoo, it's Haley, who in a late Season 1 episode is revealed to have Nathan's jersey number (23) tattooed on her lower back. Lucas is not amused, as he feels it's Nathan's way of saying she's his property, until Haley reveals it was her idea and she's proud of it. Her sister Taylor has a distinctive scorpion tattoo on her lower back, and she initially snickers believing that Haley's own tattoo is a way of emulating her. Later on in the series, Lucas refers to the tattoo as her "slutty little tramp stamp".
    • Lucas gets a tattoo of a Chinese character on his arm whilst on a date with Brooke. When Peyton and Lucas are fighting in Season 6, Peyton reveals she hates the tattoo.
      Peyton: First of all, it does not mean what you think it means; I looked it up! Second of all, Brooke has a very similar tattoo... near her lady business!
  • Empty Chair Memorial: For Quentin Fields in Haley's classroom. The Ravens also keep a spot open for him in their starting 5 after his death, and keep his locker empty.
  • Enter Stage Window: Interesting aversion — Lucas's bedroom just has a door to the outside.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: As terrible a person as he may be, Dan Scott is horrified after finding out that his second wife Rachel paid the family of a boy on life support to unplug the machines keeping him alive so that Dan could have his heart.
  • Everyone Can See It: In Season 5, numerous characters (Including Lindsey, who leaves Lucas at the altar when she realizes it) comment that everyone can see that Lucas is still in love with Peyton, even if he can't. After Lucas realizes it & proposes to her, Skills & Brooke both comment that everyone's been waiting on them getting married since high school, even after their break-up.
  • Executive Meddling: In-Universe Fictional accounts of executive meddling are rampant during production of the Unkindness of Ravens movie in season 6, and at the beginning of Season 7, when Red Bedroom Records is almost shut down (due to the absence of Peyton and the fact that Mia is their only successful artist).
  • Faint in Shock: While Lucas is angrily confronting Dan about his role in Keith's death, Karen (heavily pregnant with Keith's baby) is overwhelmed at the news and faints. In spite of going into shock and momentarily being reunited with Keith in Heaven, she and their little girl, Lily, survive.
  • First Girl Wins:
    • Peyton & Lucas.
    • Nathan & Haley are a Gender Flip example.
    • Mouth & Millie are another Gender Flip example. Hilariously, they're also an example of Last Girl Wins being played straight.
  • First Love:
    • Dan and Karen were that for each other. It didn't end well.
    • Lucas was this for Brooke.
    • Nathan and Haley were that for each other. They made it.
    • Lucas and Peyton were that for each other. Despite having other relationships over the course of the series, they always found their way back together as they really never stopped loving one another, becoming each other’s One True Love, so they eventually made it anyway.
  • Five Stages of Grief: 3x17, "Who Will Survive, and What Will Be Left of Them?", is framed in an unusual way by showing title cards of each of the five stages as breaks in the episode. They correspond to the grieving of the cast over the deaths of Jimmy and Keith in the previous episode.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In episode 3x09, the Angel of Death (The manifestation of Peyton's subconscious) lists several of Peyton's worries, including "Should Lucas be with me instead of Brooke?", which isn't openly mentioned again until 3x16 & 3x21.
    • In episode 3x18, Pete Wentz tells Peyton that he kinda already knows Peyton thanks to her podcasts & artwork. Psycho!Derek comes to believe that he & Peyton are soul mates because of this.
    • In episode 4x03, after Peyton makes a sarcastic comment about burying her prom date, and Derek comments that it'd be weird if they had that in common. Episode 4x18 reveals that Derek did, in fact, bury his prom date.
  • Forgotten Trope: After Keith and Lucas get into a car accident, a cop informs Karen that Keith had on .09 blood alcohol level and would be in trouble if it were .1. As of 2007, being legally drunk is .08 in the US. This episode was produced in 2003, before the limit was changed.
  • Formerly Fat: Rachel used to be obese before undergoing plastic surgery treatments to alter her appearance.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: In episode 3x06, Brooke makes a list of potential draft picks in the Fantasy Boy Draft she had organized amongst the cheerleaders. Pausing the episode when Peyton looks at the list actually gives full names for several of the Tree Hill Ravens; and when Brooke is typing up the finalized draft roster in the closing moments of the episode, the viewer is also able to learn the first names of the members of the cheerleaders who hadn't been named previously. The majority of the names are otherwise never mentioned anywhere else in the series.
  • Friends with Benefits:
    • Brooke and Felix, in season 2.
    • Played with in season 3 — Brooke wants Lucas to go along with this idea, but he wants a committed relationship.
  • The Friends Who Never Hang:
    • Of the main five, Brooke and Nathan rarely have one on one interactions. The most notable one is their sex tape found out in season 4.
    • Peyton rarely interacts with Nathan after season 1. An exception is "Pictures of You" in season 4, when they are paired together for a class assignment.
    • In season 1 we see Peyton and Haley starting a friendship, but from season 2 onwards they almost never have storylines without Brooke.
  • Full-Name Basis: The characters often address each other by their full names, especially in flirty or romantic scenes, or when they want to make a point.

    G to H 
  • Game-Breaking Injury:
    • Dan suffered a knee injury in college, and it ended his basketball career before it really began. Of course, it's revealed halfway through Season 1 that the injury wasn't as bad as Dan had said for the past 17 years, and that he could have continued playing... If he'd actually bothered rehabbing his knee.
    • Nathan is thrown through a plate glass window during the 4-year Time Skip after Season 4, and was paralyzed from the waist down. He eventually recovers after months of rehab, and eventually makes it to the NBA. However, the injury comes back to haunt him in Season 8, and he's forced to retire.
  • Generation Xerox:
    • Nathan and Haley are basically a happier version of Dan and Karen (High-School Sweethearts with a Teen Pregnancy) since Nathan, unlike Dan, is able to drop his Jerk Jock tendencies.
    • The Lucas/Peyton/Nathan relationship at the start of the show is essentially Keith/Karen/Dan repeating itself — Broody elder brother in love with his Jerk Jock younger brother's girlfriend. However, it's Peyton realizing that she & Nathan are following the same pattern as Karen & Dan that ultimately leads to her ending things with him.
    • After the time skip, Lucas has essentially turned into Keith thanks to his Uncle role with Jamie and supporting Haley after Nathan's injury.
    • As Jamie grows up, he displays more and more traits seen in Nathan and Lucas. As a teenager, he follows in the footsteps of his father, uncle and grandfather and plays for the Ravens, even breaking Nathan's record as the all-time leading scorer.
  • The Ghost:
    • Brooke's parents, Ted & Victoria, until Seasons 5 & 9 respectively.
    • Haley's older siblings; 3 brothers and 3 sisters. The brothers are never named or seen; Haley's sisters (Vivian, Taylor and Quinn) are named in Season 2, in the same episode Taylor first appears, whilst Quinn becomes a regular character in Season 7.
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: Invoked by Brooke & Peyton in an attempt to motivate Nathan — For every step he takes out of his wheelchair, they will kiss.
  • Girliness Upgrade:
    • Brooke, Haley & Peyton's wardrobe in Season 5, used to show the increase in their age & their maturity following the four-year Time Skip.
    • Mia underwent this between seasons 5 & 6, to show her increased confidence since her first appearances where she was clad in hoodies more often than not.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: The James sisters, particularly when Taylor is involved.
  • Good Bad Girl: Brooke, initially. She makes a big deal out of being able to "sleep around like a guy."
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: A couple examples. Karen refused to have an abortion while pregnant with Lucas, as did Haley whilst pregnant with Jamie, though both were about 17 at the time. In Season 6, it's not so much an issue of timing as it is of medical necessity: Peyton, pregnant with her and Lucas' child, learns she has placenta previa, which could lead to her hemorrhaging and dying during the pregnancy or delivery. Lucas tries for the better part of an episode to guilt her into an abortion, but Peyton refuses even before their baby conveniently kicks for the first time. Later, Lucas agrees with her that they will keep the baby.
    • It's also subverted with Shelley, when she is introduced in Season 4. Brooke is covering for a pregnant Haley by saying she's the one who's pregnant, and Shelley, a "Clean Teen", tries to tell her not to have an abortion should she be considering one. She reveals that she used to be very promiscuous and got pregnant from a summer fling, aborted the baby, and has since regretted it. The experience led to her reforming her image and starting the "Clean Teens" with the slogan "Virgins for Life".
  • Graduate from the Story: This happens to the cast in the Season 4 finale of One Tree Hill, although the show was only re tooled, starting Season 5 with the main characters as adults following a four and a half year Time Skip.
  • Growing Up Sucks: Discussed in the early episodes of season 5, as the characters reflect on the 4 years since graduation.
  • Hand-or-Object Underwear:
    • Lucas is forced to leave the locker room once the guys on the team steal all his clothes as hazing. He has to use basketballs to cover his, well, uh... other balls.
    • Nathan uses a pillow when his towel is snagged away from him in "Deep Ocean Vast Sea".
    • In "Champagne for My Real Friends, Real Pain for My Sham Friends", Lucas is playing basketball with Rachel, when turns to her and finds she's topless with only the basketball as cover. Then she throws the ball at him.
    • In "Pictures of You", Shelley poses topless for a photo with her hands covering her breasts.
    • In "Sympathy for the Devil", Owen is forced to resort to this after Brooke throws him out of her car naked, first with his hands then with a newspaper.
    • In "Touch Me I'm Going to Scream, Part 1", When Nathan catches his mother Deb Skinny Dipping, she uses her arms to cover her chest.
    • In "Deep Ocean Vast Sea", when the ad Nathan was filming gets suddenly canceled, the crew starts taking everything apart, including pulling off the Modesty Towel he was wearing for the ad, making him have to use a pillow to cover himself.
    • In "Your Cheatin' Heart", Alex tries to seduce Julian by stripping naked and coming on to him while they're working, but he rejects her and has her use a pillow to cover herself.
  • Hands-Off Parenting:
    • At the start of the show, Dan really doesn't care what Nathan does — so long as he stays healthy & eligible to play for the Ravens. It's realizing this that drives Deb to start trying to avert this trope.
    • Peyton lives on her own for entire months at a time, due to her father working on a dredging vessel. It's implied that it's been going on since her mother died.
    • Brooke went through this in the first four seasons. Her parents were implied (And later confirmed) to be unhappily married and had never really wanted her, so they gave her their credit cards and pretty much never saw her. They were so hands-off, that they left her in Tree Hill whilst they moved to California in the second season, and allowed Brooke to live in Tree Hill on her own during her senior year.
  • Happily Adopted: In Season 3, it is revealed that Peyton is adopted. At first, she's upset her dad never told her, but he insists it was for the best. She later learns that both her parents were deep into sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll at the time they had her. She grows close to her birth mom, who eventually dies, just as her adoptive mom did. When she meets her birth dad, she's excited to learn he's a famous guitarist, only to discover he's an alcoholic, and she thanks him for giving her up and then calls her adoptive dad to thank him.
  • Happily Ever After:
    • Nathan and Haley.
    • Lucas and Peyton.
    • Brooke and Julian.
    • Clay and Quinn.
    • Mouth and Millie.
  • Happily Married:
    • Nathan and Haley have been married since Season 1, as juniors in high school, and have been identified as a "supercouple." Though there have been complications in their marriage, they've managed to last through the ensuing nine seasons. Their teen pregnancy also gave them a son, Jamie, born on their graduation day.
    • By the end of season 6 also Lucas and Peyton.
    • Halfway through season 8 also Brooke and Julian.
    • By the end of the series also Clay & Quinn and Mouth & Millie.
  • Headbutt of Love: When Lucas finds Peyton in the library during the school shooting, bleeding from the leg and unable to walk, he does this to reassure her.
  • The Hecate Sisters: The James sisters fit this well with Quinn as the maiden, Haley as the (literal) mother and Taylor as the absolute crone.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners:
  • Heroic BSoD: A few over the course of the show, such as Haley's following her mother's death in season seven and Brooke's after being beaten in season six.
  • Hiding Behind the Language Barrier: Felix does this when he first meets Brooke, pretending not to understand English, mostly to mess with her.
  • High-School Dance: The semiformal episode in Season 2, and the two prom episodes in Season 4.
  • High-School Sweethearts:
    • Nathan and Haley, and even getting married and having their son before graduation.
    • Lucas and Peyton are a subversion — whilst they qualify for the trope, becoming a couple in the last few months of their senior year & ultimately getting married, they broke up a year after graduating from high school & then got back together roughly four years later.
    • Within the backstory, Dan and Karen were this, as were Peyton’s parents Larry and Anna.
  • Hollywood Heart Attack: Dan has one at the end of Season 1, but he is found by Deb and survives. It's later revealed that this is due to a genetic heart condition. This leads to a recurring plot point in the next couple seasons. In Season 2, Nathan learns he's in the clear, but Lucas refuses to take the test, but is later forced to by Karen. He's positive for the condition, but bluffs his way out of it by showing her Keith's negative results. This condition, HCM, later turns out to be quite the problem: Lucas suffers a heart attack in episode 4x09, "Some You Give Away", after seeing the then-pregnant Haley get hit by a car, and Dan requires a heart transplant in Seasons 5 & 6 because his condition has deteriorated during the 4-year Time Skip.
  • Hollywood Pudgy: In Season 7, when Millie becomes a model, she is referred to as "plus-sized"—when she's average-sized (which, for a model, would be considered plus-sized).
  • Honorary Aunt & Uncle: Skills & Brooke are this to Jamie, Sawyer & Lydia Scott. Peyton is also this to Jamie, before she marries Lucas in Season 6 & becomes his actual aunt. Season 7 adds Clay as another Honorary Uncle, but he quickly goes down the same route as Peyton by starting a relationship with Haley's sister, Quinn. Conversely, Nathan & Haley are this to Davis & Jude Baker.
  • Hopeless Suitor:
    • Mouth to Brooke in Season 2, though to be fair, Brooke didn't try to lead him on.
    • Mouth (Again) to Rachel in Seasons 3 & 4. Unlike Brooke, Rachel did intentionally led Mouth on & every time he figured this out, it only lasted for an episode or two before he was convinced Rachel had changed and fell for it again. He eventually realised Rachel was never interested in him after she convinced him to skip town a few weeks before graduation, stringing him along for a week under the belief they were starting a relationship, until she began flirting with some random guy in a bar and used the same lines that she was feeding Mouth.
  • Hospital Visit Hesitation: Discussed in an early episode. After Lucas is left in a coma after a car accident, Haley didn't want to see him since their last conversation was a fight, and she stated that "If I go in there, I'll start crying, and I know that I won't be able to stop."
  • Hot-Blooded: The Scott boys, to varying degrees of heat. Dan is the furthest aggressive extreme, Keith is kinder but still gets heated when pushed, Lucas and Nathan are Bash Brothers who have thrown multiple fists to solve problems, and Jamie doesn't have the aggression but has the energy. Many in-universe wouldn't guess it, but Haley is as well, even getting arrested for assault at one point because of an impulsive slap.
  • How We Got Here: Season 9 opens shots of a burning building, Dan Scott and Chris Keller seemingly plotting a murder, Chase in the back of a police car, Julian being assaulted in an alley, and Haley identifying a body in the morgue; edited in such a way that these seem to be directly connected. As the season goes on, each event is gradually seen in the actual context of the plot.
  • Hypocrite: Brooke's treatment of Peyton in season 4, following Peyton confessing that she had feelings for Lucas, considering that Brooke made a sex tape with Nathan on one of his many single night break-ups with Peyton.
    • Haley calls Lucas out for this multiple times throughout season 1 when he gets pissed off over elements of her developing relationship with Nathan. He even gets mad at her for being a one night substitute cheerleader just to help Brooke and Peyton, despite the fact that he's interested in both of the latter who are also cheerleaders.

    I to J 
  • I Call It "Vera": Chris Keller's guitar, Haley James.
    Nathan Scott: You named your guitar after my wife?
    Chris Keller: No, No... I, uh, named it after the pornstar.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Each episode title is the name of a song, such as "Life In A Glass House" or... well, "One Tree Hill".
  • I Just Want to Be You:
    • Played to eerie effect with "Nanny Carrie," who desperately wants to live Haley's life. She is a Stalker with a Crush towards Nathan and thinks his and Haley's son is adorable (and a potential replacement for her own dead son), so she is psychotically jealous of Haley and attempts to get her out of the picture so that she can replace her as Nathan's wife and Jamie's mom. When that doesn't work, she resorts to kidnapping Jamie, contenting herself with being Jamie's "new mommy" even if it means they have to spend the rest of their lives on the run. Dan puts an end to it and rescues Jamie.
    • Played for Laughs with Missy, the actress who was going to play Brooke in Lucas's movie, who follows Brooke around and needles her with annoying and intrusive questions. She's a method actress, and wants to learn and imitate every aspect of Brooke's personality to prepare for her role in the movie. Brooke is not amused.
  • I Never:
    • Happens in an early Season 1 episode. Everything the players can come up with... Brooke has.
    • Towards the end of the first season, the game leads to it coming out that Nikki was the woman who Lucas slept with a day after Peyton ended things with him, and is ultimately the catalyst for Lucas deciding to leave town.
    • Happens during Season 3, with Pete Wentz taking part, and the coining of the term "Brooke-ing".
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Peyton has this with Luke in Season 5, and says it almost to the letter.
    Peyton: Be happy, Luke. I want that with all my heart.
  • Imaginary Friend: Jamie has Orville. Well, to be specific, Orville is Chester's imaginary friend; Jamie just takes him places. Remember that Chester is Jamie's pet rabbit.
  • Intergenerational Friendship:
    • Whitey with Keith & Karen.
    • Sam with Jamie & Victoria.
    • Jamie with Jullian, Skills, Quentin & Brooke.
    • Chase with Chuck.
  • Ironic Echo: Millie's first scene in Season 7 is the exact same as her first scene in the show in Season 5, but with Millie in Brooke's role.
  • Irony: After Keith's death in episodes 3x16, Karen tells Dan that's he's as much to blame for the death as Jimmy Edwards since "You may not have pulled the trigger, but you let him go into that school." Of course, the viewer's know that Dan actually was the one to pull the trigger. On top of that, he initially refused to let Keith into the school & had to be talked into it. By Keith.
  • It's a Wonderful Plot: Episode 4x10, "Songs to Love and Die By" — Lucas questions if there was any point in him being such a kind-hearted person, considering everything that's happened to the people he loves, with Haley being hit by a car & his subsequent heart attack (Thanks to it being the latest horrible thing to happen to Peyton) being the tipping point, with Keith as his guide.
  • Jerk Jock:
    • Nathan was this before he fell in love with Haley, at which point he gradually changed.
    • Dan was this in high school, but never really grew out of it.
    • Quentin Fields was this at the start of Season 5. He was forced to grow out of it by Haley, Nathan, Lucas & Skills.
  • Just Friends: Subverted with Lucas and Brooke. They end their on-again, off-again relationship for good once they realize they really are just friends and between them it wasn’t real love. Played straight with Lucas and Peyton as the two spend the entire season 3 and part of season 4 repeatedly saying they’re just friends. Come halfway through season 4 they officially become a couple as they’ve definitely both realized they are in love with each other (after actually being in a constant Will They or Won't They? situation since season 1) and then they get married and have a daughter after the 4-year time jump.

    K to L 
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Dan gets away with most of the bad things he does. Until the end of Season 4 where he's sent to prison.
    • Brooke during Season 4 — she has an affair with a teacher and steals an exam with Rachel, but receives absolutely no punishment for either offense whilst the other people involved do. It goes so far that Haley is fired from the Tutor Centre over the stolen exam (Her keys to the cabinet holding the exams were used) despite no involvement with the actual theft, whilst Brooke is completely absolved of her involvement when she finally comes clean a day before graduation.
    • Rachel receives absolutely no punishment for releasing the contents of time capsule, considering it leads to the deaths of two people.
  • Lady Killer In Love: Nathan used to be The Casanova around school before he fell for Haley.
  • Lampshade Hanging:
    • One Tree Hill pioneered a particularly tragic (but very effective from a writing standpoint) way to invoke the trope: Jimmy Edwards had been a minor character in Season One, a member of Lucas's initial unpopular clique of friends at the River Court. After Lucas starts hanging out with Peyton and Brooke and after he and Nathan become close, Nathan and Brooke integrate most of Lucas's formerly-unpopular friends into their clique...with the seemingly forgettable exception of Jimmy Edwards, who was never seen or mentioned again for a long time. After a few seasons, Jimmy is brought back into the spotlight, and it's lampshaded just how much he's been traumatized by the fact that his old friends all became popular and moved on without him, and this becomes the impetus for his bringing a gun to school.
    • Episode 3x12 features the kids talking to a guidance counselor about their futures after high school, when the counselor express surprise at Brooke's parents not being around, she remarks that it's not unusual for Tree Hill and that "they should have Milk cartons with pictures of missing parents on them".
    • Episode 4x17 features the gang crashing a prom at a small town in Texas. There then is a montage of the main cast talking to the regular high school students and realizing just how dramatic and unrealistic their lives are in comparison to normal kids.
      Lucas: So nobody has a fatal heart condition? And a father who was purposely set on fire?
      (the kids shake their heads)
    • Jamie's birthday switching places from the beginning of June to somewhere in the middle of basketball season gets a moment in 7x12 when Jamie jokes he was 23 on his last birthday. When the bartender asks when that was, Jamie replies, "June, maybe. It keeps changing" with an Aside Glance.
    • Weddings in Tree Hill tend to be quite dramatic, so when Brooke gets married in season seven Skills spends the entire episode making sure that everything that has ruined past Tree Hill weddings can not go wrong.
  • Last Girl Wins:
  • Late to the Punchline: Karen has a particularly memorable one in Season 3 when she realizes her advice to Lucas—"the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else"—is decidedly not as philosophical as she believed it to be.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: When the timing is inconvenient for you to have a child, you will get pregnant (Karen, Deb, Jake and Nikki, Haley). When you're engaged, your fiancee will get pregnant unexpectedly (Peyton). When you're Brooke, the richest and most successful of all the Tree Hill gang (and the one who desperately wants to have a baby), you're just screwed.
    • As of episode 7x10, it has been revealed Brooke can't have children. The Law at its finest, folks.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • In 2x16, "Somewhere A Clock Is Ticking," Brooke makes the comment that "Love triangles are so last season" — Considering the second season is notably lacking any love triangles, she's kinda right.
    • Brooke's comment to Rachel that hiding in the backseat naked is "so last year, it's two years ago" acknowledges that real-world time is passing faster than Tree Hill time.
    • In 6x08, "Our Life Is Not a Movie or Maybe," Nathan & Brooke's rebuttals to Lucas's "You do realize the book is set in High School" rebuttal to their dream castings in the movie version of "An Unkindness of Ravens"
  • Leave the Camera Running: Stated in the commentary for episode 4x21, "All of a Sudden, I Miss Everyone," that whenever they did this with Paul Johannson, he'd stay in character until they cut — One example is one of Dan's final scenes of Season 4, as originally the shot was just of Dan in his jail cell, before he looks up at a pipe. Johannson ad-libbed the part where Dan grabs his bedsheets & starts tearing them apart to make a noose.
  • Lethal Chef:
    • Episode 4x12, "Resolve" — Peyton tries to make Lucas some cookies, but is unaware of what the term "a pinch of salt" means.
    • From Season 6 onwards, Chase is a Lethal Bartender, to the point that he struggles to make a drinkable Long Island Iced Tea & has to be taught to do that by (18-year-old & thus not legally allowed to drink) Mia.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Lucas & Haley. When trapped in the library with Peyton, Brooke, Lindsey (Lucas's ex-girlfriends & fiancé) & Mia in episode 5x09, Mia jokingly asks if Haley's ever slept with Lucas since Jamie looks more like his uncle than Nathan, which Lindsey & Brooke both agree with; Haley's reaction is a squicked "Gross, he's like my brother."
  • The Loins Sleep Tonight: Happens to Lucas in "I And Love And You". Peyton is playfully teasing him about it while he blames it on them trying to have sex on his mother's bed.
  • Lost Wedding Ring: Subverted in 3x18, "When It Isn't Like It Should Be": there's a reason for it going missing, as Nathan is trying to get a hold of Haley's wedding ring so he can "re-propose" to her at Rachel's cabin. Haley thinks it's gone down the drain and goes through a pointless search, until Nathan eventually gets the ring with the help of Lucas and Brooke.
  • Love Dodecahedron:
    • Oh, so very much! Lucas loves Peyton, who used to date his half-brother Nathan, who had a fling with Brooke, who used to love Lucas, who is Platonic Life-Partners with Haley, who married Nathan, whose agent Clay is dating her sister Quinn. Brooke also had a thing with Felix, who's Anna's brother, who dated Lucas, who almost married Lindsay. Brooke also dated Chase, who started dating Mia in Season 6. And Brooke also had a thing with Owen, who slept with Millie, who's dating Mouth, who had a crush on Brooke and Rachel and dated Gigi. And then there's Jake, who loved, and had a relationship with Peyton, who dated and lived with Julian while living in L.A., who is now in love and in a relationship with Brooke, but their relationship is complicated by Brooke's former model Alexis, Alex for short, and now complicated again by another Alex, a male Australian designer. And it gets more complicated...
    • Just the James family in general, at one point in season 7 — The youngest daughter's husband lost his virginity to the eldest daughter who is now dating the ex-husband of the middle daughter, who is now dating someone else.
  • Love Epiphany: the moment in season 4 when Lucas finally realizes Peyton is the one for him.
    Lucas: When all my dreams come true, the one I want next to me, it's you. It's you, Peyton.
  • Love Redeems: Nathan thanks to his love for Haley. It’s the whole point of his Character Development.
  • Love Triangle:
    • Peyton, Lucas & Brooke in Season 1.
      • Averted in Season 3 and 4, but Brooke is convinced that this is the case.
    • Peyton, Lucas & Lindsay in Season 5.
    • Brooke, Julian & Alex in Season 7.
    • Mia, Chase & Alex in Season 8.

    M to N 
  • Mama Bear:
    • Considering that this trope includes protectiveness towards children, husbands, friends and the like; Haley has firmly established herself as one. See: Nanny Carrie, Chuck's mom, Dan Scott, Rachel Gatina, Renee, Deb Scott, Taylor James, just season 9 where she helps in the kidnapping of a drug dealer in order to get her kidnapped by the mafia husband back. Most, if not all, of Haley's ActionGirl moments, stem from the fact that she is a prototypical MamaBear
    • Messing with Sam, Brooke's foster daughter is a bad idea. Ask Xavier.
    • Karen and Deb both have their moments as well
  • May–December Romance:
    • Peyton briefly dates Pete Wentz in the third season.
    • Rachel has a fling with Nathan's Uncle Cooper late in the third season, having lied to him about her age.
    • After break-up with Lucas, Brooke goes out with Rachel & picks up an older guy in a bar; she finds out the next day that it’s Tree Hill High’s new English teacher.
    • It’s revealed in early season seven that Rachel has married none other than Dan Scott.
  • Mayor Pain: Dan Scott is a Type A during Seasons 3 & 4.
  • Meaningful Echo:
    • The Pilot ends with Nathan & Lucas playing one-on-one, with the final episode of Season 4 ending the same way, albeit with them now as friends.
    • The series' closing lines are the same as episode 5x13.
    • The final shot of the Ravens' State Championship win in 4x09 is the same as the final shot of their play-off loss in 1x22.
  • Meaningful Funeral: There's been a couple over the years.
    • Season 3: In episode 3x13, "The Wind That Blew My Heart Away", we see Peyton scattering the ashes of her birth mom Ellie in a field where Ellie once saw a concert, and she tearfully says "Say hi to my mom," referring to her adoptive mom, who died years earlier. Girl has no luck. A few episodes later, in 3x17 ("Who Will Survive, and What Will Be Left of Them?"), we get Keith's funeral, and later Jimmy Edwards'. Since everyone thinks Jimmy killed Keith, Lucas finds it difficult to go, but later goes with the river court guys to support Jimmy's mother, who is alone at his grave.
    • Season 6: Episode 6x03, "Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly.", revolves around the funeral of Quentin Fields, who is killed in a gas station robbery. Nathan and Haley have to explain to Jamie, who was close to Q, that he's died, and Jamie leaves a cape that he and Haley had made for Q on Q's grave.
    • Season 7: We learn that in the past, Clay had a wife who died, something he barely told anyone. We see him sitting alone at her casket before she is buried, taking off his wedding ring and placing it on her ring finger before crying.
  • Mile-High Club: Referred to by name when Chase makes out with Mia in his "plane" in Season 7—she asks if he has a minute to join the Mile High Club; he responds he's gotten up to a couple of minutes and you can guess what'll happen from there. They're actually on a flight simulator, as it happens. It's also mentioned in 6x02, when Peyton and Lucas are flying home from Vegas and Lucas returns from the bathroom and says to Peyton he thought she would meet him. She says something about joining the mile-high club and he jokingly responds "maybe I just did."
  • The Missus and the Ex:
    • In the first season, Karen and Deb form a friendship even if Deb's the wife of the guy who got Karen pregnant, abandoned her, and then got Deb pregnant three months later. They later go into business together, Deb helps Karen run against Dan for mayor of Tree Hill, Karen is the one who drives Deb to rehab for her pill addiction, and Deb is the one who's with Karen when she flatlines prior to delivering Lily at the end of Season 4.
    • Peyton & Haley develop their friendship after Peyton breaks up with Nathan, who soon after begins dating (And eventually marries) Haley.
    • In Season 4, Peyton & Brooke subvert this — they are this trope for Lucas, but were friends beforehand, but fell out when Peyton realized she had feelings for Lucas whilst he was dating Brooke, and eventually reconcile after Peyton & Lucas start dating.
    • In Season 5, Lindsey (Lucas's fiance following the 4-year Time Skip) befriends Brooke, but is hated by Peyton, until they find common ground with having lost parents to cancer.
  • Modesty Bedsheet:
    • Used constantly throughout the series with Nathan and Haley. They are often seen Talking in Bed post-sex covered with a bedsheet. It came in handy at least once when Dan walked in on Hayley wearing only this, which made her very uncomfortable.
    • Brooke and Julian are also often seen wearing only this while Talking in Bed, although often Julian is just shirtless and still wearing pants.
    • In "Somewhere A Clock Is Ticking", Both Jake and Peyton are shown wearing this while having sex.
    • In "Almost Everything I Wish I'd Said The Last Time I Saw You...", Quinn is covered with one when Clay starts pulling it down so he can admire her Toplessness from the Back.
  • Mood Whiplash
    • Episode 4x09, "Some Give You Away" — The Ravens win the State Championship, Nathan & Haley find out they're having a boy, Lucas & Peyton finally get together, and then loan shark Daunte tries to run Nathan down but hits Haley when she pushes him out of the way, Lucas has a heart attack due to his HCM, and Nathan beats Daunte to death only for Dan to take the fall.
    • The ending of episode 5x12, "Hundred" — Nathan & Haley's friends and family are at their house, distraught that Jamie was kidnapped at Lucas's wedding, only for everyone to be relieved when Jamie walks in through the door... And then Jamie says "Grandpa Dan saved me" & Dan walks in, and the mood completely changes.
    • The ending of episode 6x23, "Forever & Almost Always" — a very heartwarming & funny episode, with Lucas & Peyton finally getting married... Right until the final scene, with Lucas finding his pregnant wife collapsed on the floor & bleeding thanks to the placenta previa that was making Peyton's pregnancy life threatening for both her & the baby. Cue credits as Lucas screams for Peyton to stay with him.
    • The last moments of the Season 7 finale, "Almost Everything I Wish I'd Said the Last Time I Saw You...". Julian and Brooke are engaged, Haley's pregnant again and happy after all of her depression... and then Quinn and Clay are shot by Katie, the crazy stalker. Roll credits.
  • Ms. Fanservice: A lot of the girls could qualify, but Brooke, Rachel and Quinn are the biggest examples, both getting a lot of Fanservicey scenes and outfits that show a lot of skin.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Dan Scott's reaction after Deb tells him it was her, not Keith, who had tried to kill him in a fire; the revelation coming 7 episodes after Dan had killed Keith in retaliation.
  • My Own Private "I Do": In the premiere of Season 2, it's revealed that Nathan and Haley's sudden marriage was of the Elope First, Plan Later variety. The only people that were present were Haley's parents, as Nathan needed their permission to marry her (he was emancipated; she wasn't, as they were only sixteen). Brooke throws them a wedding reception to make up for not being at the wedding, and "bachelor" and "bachelorette" parties ensue later in the season. At the end of Season 3, they have a vow renewal so everyone can be present — except for Haley's parents, who joke that they went to her first wedding and "it was kind of boring."
  • Naked First Impression: Brooke first meets Felix when she catches him Skinny Dipping in her pool, and he's in no hurry to cover up as he gets out.
  • Naked People Trapped Outside:
    • Owen ends up like this when Brooke kicks him out of her car after he tries her "move" on her.
    • In "Almost Everything I Wish I'd Said The Last Time I Saw You...", Quinn gets locked out of the cabin in only a bikini and is forced to go down to the diner to retrieve the key from Clay, trying to ignore every man Eating the Eye Candy.
  • Never My Fault: Episode 3x06, "Locked Hearts and Hand Grenades" — Brooke (Who has the No. 2 pick) picks Chris Keller in the 'Fantasy Boy Draft', then gets upset when Rachel picks Lucas & promptly blames Bevin, who traded her No. 3 pick for Rachel's No. 5 pick, despite having the opportunity to draft Lucas herself. Lampshaded the following episode by Lucas, when Brooke tries to claim it wasn't her fault. Also, in 3x05 she gets mad at Lucas for deciding, after some failed attempts to commit to her, to ask Rachel out in the context of the non-exclusive dating, telling him it was all just a way to make him fight for her: again Lampshaded by Lucas himself who asks her how he was supposed to know anything about that since she was never clear about what she really wanted and the non-exclusive dating was her idea. Then, when she goes so far during her date with Keller that she ends up sleeping with him in 3x07, making Lucas furious, in 3x08 she puts all the blame on Chris and justifies herself just by saying she was drunk.
  • Never Trust a Trailer:
    • Trailers for 3x16 ("With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls, We Slept") hype the Tonight, Someone Dies aspect of the episode. They just misdirect the viewer to think it's one of the students (Specifically, Peyton) who dies, with absolutely no hint that it's Keith who dies.
    • The promo spot for 5x17 ("Hate is Safer Than Love") is focused entirely on Lucas & Peyton, and shows them falling into bed before Peyton starts unbuttoning Lucas' shirt, with the implication they would be getting back together in the episode. Not only is this scene not present in the episode, but the point in the episode where the scene would have taken place is when Lucas tells Peyton that he hates her & wishes she had never come back to Tree Hill.
  • No Indoor Voice: Amusingly subverted. Brooke takes her foster child, a baby who only slept after much trouble, to Jamie's birthday party, where noisy kids abound.
    Brooke: Do you have an inside voice?!
    Peyton: Brooke, we're outside!
  • Noir Episode: Episode 6x11, "We Three (My Echo, My Shadow, and Me)"
  • Noodle Incident: A bad date Mouth went on
    Mouth: So then she comes out of the bedroom wearing a cape, and then she tries to convert me to Scientology. And then she goes to get me a cape, and I go crawling out the window.
  • "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: Lucas telling Nathan how a donor was found for Dan, but subsequent events led to the donor heart being eaten by a dog results in this being invoked.
  • Novelization: In 2005 there were two tie-in novels.
    • "One Tree Hill: The Beginning" — a prequel novel which takes place in the summer before season 1.
    • "A Heart So True" — a non-canon Brooke centric rewrite of the second season.

    O to P 
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Bevin, the resident Dumb Blonde, heavily implies in one episode to be doing this. Her appearance in the series finale further enforces that this trope was in play.
  • Obvious Pregnancy: Both Haley and Peyton went from being flat to having very noticeable bumps during their pregnancies, in very short amounts of time. The exact passage of time has never quite been confirmed. Karen, on the other hand, didn't look pregnant at all.
  • Odd Couple:
    • Mark Schwahn has stated that initial reactions among the fanbase to Nathan/Haley was extremely negative, although the writers had planned it since the beginning. They are pretty much opposites: Nathan was a stud while Haley was a virgin, Nathan was athletic while Haley couldn't even master a basic basketball shot, etc.
    • Brooke's party-loving, school-flunking ways were an odd mix with Lucas' introspective, intelligent ways.
  • Offscreen Breakup: There are several examples during the four-year Time Skip between season 4 and 5. In particular:
    • Lucas and Peyton.
    • Brooke and Chase.
    • Skills and Bevin.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome:
    • Karen talking Brooke's parents into letting Brooke stay in Tree Hill after they move to California for work became one retroactively, after Brooke's mother Victoria made her first appearance in Season 5 & was revealed to be a complete bitch. note 
    • Jamie breaking Nathan's record as the all-time leading scorer for the Ravens & having his number retired, whilst still an active member of the team, during the final Time Skip in the Grand Finale.
  • Official Couple:
    • Lucas and Peyton.
    • Nathan and Haley.
    • Brooke and Julian starting season 6.
    • Clay anf Quinn starting season 7.
  • Official Couple Ordeal Syndrome: Lucas & Peyton. Even though one of the major arcs of the first season is their developing relationship, it takes until halfway through the fourth season — after two love triangles, two dead parental figures, a car crash, drug use, a school shooting, and a pyscho stalker — for the two of them to finally become a couple. And then they break up during the 4 year Time Skip before they finally get back together & eventually get married and have a baby over the course of the sixth season.
  • Old Shame: Invoked after several seasons of Character Development.
  • One Head Taller:
    • Bethany Joy Galeotti (Haley) is five foot three while James Lafferty (Nathan) is six foot two. With about a foot between them, the abundance of forehead kissing in the Naley coupling seems self-explanatory.
    • Sophia Bush is 5'4 and Chad Michael Murray is 6'0. Bonus, because they were a real life couple.
    • Despite being the same age, Chuck is nearly twice as tall as Jamie.
  • Once a Season: After the sucess the show had with Mia Catalano/Kate Voegle in Seasons 5 & 6, the show tried to replicate that formula with Grubbs/Mike Grubbs of Wakey!Wakey! in Season 7, and Erin Macree/Laura Izibor in Season 8.
  • Opening Narration: It was a pretty common device to have Lucas (or, rarely, one of the other characters) deliver an opening and closing monologue for each episode. It would usually be some kind of quote from classic literature that would relate in some way to the theme of the episode. The end of the episode would usually have another quote over a particular song that brings together the different plot threads. An example of the monologues opening and closing the Season 3 finale, "The Show Must Go On":
    • Opening:
      Lucas: At this moment there are six billion, five hundred and two million, eight hundred and sixty seven thousand, one hundred and twenty people in the world, give or take a few and sometimes all you need is one. For better or for worse.
    • Closing:
      Lucas: William Shakespeare wrote: "Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds. It is an ever-fixed mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken. Love alters not with time's brief hours and weeks, but bears it out, even to the edge of doom."
  • Opposites Attract: Several examples, including Nathan and Haley, Brooke and Lucas, Brooke and Chase, Alex and Chase, Dan and Karen, Mouth and Rachel and more.
  • Pac Man Fever: Averted, when video games are shown being used, it's generally acurate. Strangely, however, the show also managed to subvert this with the iPhone (Of all things) in Season 5, with characters answering & rejecting phone calls when the screen shows that no-one is calling, and incorrectly for the hardware. Come Season 6, the characters are shown using the phone correctly, so this would appear to be down to Season 5 being made just as the iPhone was first released.
  • Papa Wolf: Dan may be a Jerkass and he's pretty far from being father-of-the-year material, but make no mistake, if you hurt his sons & grandchildren, you WILL regret it.
  • Pair the Dumb Ones: In high school, Dumb Blonde cheerleader Bevin never interacts with Tim (Nathan's dimwitted sidekick in the first season). Yet, after the four year time skip, it's revealed they are married.
  • Pair the Spares:
    • Season 9 reveals that Lauren (Skills's ex-girlfriend) & David (Quinn's ex-husband) have begun a relationship & are expecting a baby together.
    • Depending on how one interprets the final scene, this can be seen as happening with Skills & Bevin.
  • Parental Abandonment: Dan Scott abandoned Karen and their son, Lucas.
  • Parental Neglect: The entire cast has various levels of this.
    • Lucas grows up with his mother & Uncle Keith, but they’re both missing from his life over the course of the summer before Senior Year.
    • Whilst Dan is actively present in Nathan’s life, he doesn’t care what Nathan does provided that he remains eligible for the Ravens; Deb, conversely, cares about Nathan’s wellbeing but spends a significant portion of her time working away from Tree Hill, to the point she doesn’t realise the type of person Nathan was becoming. Ultimately, these factors lead to Nathan getting his emancipation when his parents separate.
    • Haley's parents left town once she left the house (in fairness to them, she was married, but she was still in high school)
    • Peyton's mom is dead and her father works on a boat (keeping him away for weeks if not months at a time)
    • Brooke's parents, the epitome of this trope, don't seem to pay any attention at all to what she's doing and even whether she's safe, to the point where they leave her in Tree Hill with Karen, Lucas's mom, who they likely don't even know. (In a later season Brooke's mom admits that she never wanted her and her dad wanted a boy, so it's very likely that they actively don't care about what she's doing.)
  • Parental Substitute: Keith, as Lucas' uncle, helped to raise him in Dan's place. Of course, after he's killed off, Karen's boyfriend Andy acts as the father to her and Keith's daughter Lily.
  • Phrase Catcher: "Just say [straight forward & less Pretty Fly for a White Guy version of Tim just said], Tim."
  • Pillow Pregnancy:
    • Brooke does this early in Season 4, when Haley has asked her to make maternity clothes for her when Brooke is the only one who knows Haley is pregnant. Rachel, however, catches her in the act and spreads the rumor that Brooke is pregnant, which goes on for a few episodes until Brooke finally asks Haley to admit it.
    • Peyton also does this in Season 6, when she realizes she'll be showing quite a bit on the day she and Lucas had initially planned for their wedding (before knowing she was pregnant).
  • The Place: Tree Hill is the story's setting. The entire title is usually referenced in the Title Drop below.
  • Platonic Life-Partners:
    • Lucas and Haley.
    • Nathan and Peyton, after the Boy Toy Auction in Season 1 gives them closure to their relationship.
  • Post Humous Character: Whitey's wife Camilla, Peyton's mother Anna, Clay's wife Sara.
  • Poster-Gallery Bedroom:
    • The decor in Peyton's room changes many times over the first four seasons; she's constantly painting and repainting the walls, putting up new drawings, etc.
    • During Season 5, the map of America built from licence plates cut into shapes of the states on Lucas's wall is gradually filled out over the season.
  • Primal Scene: In "Truth, Bitter Truth", Peyton and Anna find the door to Haley's apartment unlocked and fear the house has been burgled. When they burst into into Haley's bedroom, they find Brooke and Felix in Nathan's bed. Anna promply freaks out at walking in on her brother having sex and runs away asking for a Brain Bleach.
  • Product Placement: In Season 3, One Tree Hill really wants you to know that Sunkist is a refreshing drink and that Fall Out Boy is an awesome band (the members of Fall Out Boy, particularly Pete Wentz, show up in person to help drill this message in). Meanwhile, ads for Sunkist were seemingly all over the high school, and in Real Life the show was doing some kind of joint promotion for some contest during the commercial breaks with Sunkist. Yeah, it's safe to say that the premiere that year might as well have opened with the line: "And now, Season 3 of OTH, brought to you by Sunkist and Fall Out Boy."
  • Promotion to Opening Titles:
  • Public Exposure: In Season 4, students are given an assignment that pairs them with a random partner for an entire class period where they have to perform a series of tasks designed to get them to know each other beyond stereotypes. At the end of the class period, they have to take a picture of their partner for the school yearbook that represents what they've learned about them. Mouth gets assigned to work with Shelley and, to represent how he's gotten to see beyond her "clean teen" shirt and reputation, has her pose topless for her yearbook photo.
  • Puppy Love: Jamie and Madison have mutual crushes on one another from the time they're 5 years old, which carry through to the end of the series when they're 4 or 5 years older.
  • Put on a Bus: In most cases, The Bus Came Back sometime later.
    • Jake at the end of Season 1.
    • Andy at the end of Season 2.
    • Rachel, Bevin, Karen, Lily & Whitey at the end of Season 4.
    • Deb during Season 6.
    • Lucas, Peyton & Sawyer at the end of Season 6.
    • Rachel (Again) & Dan during Season 7
    • Mia at the end of Season 8.
    • Alex at the start of Season 9.
  • Putting the Band Back Together: Done in the first episode of Season 5, with Peyton in Los Angeles & Brooke in New York whilst everyone else is back in Tree Hill. Mark Schwahn states in an extra on the Season 5 DVD that it was done within the first episode to avoid people asking why Peyton & Brooke still aren't back in Tree Hill after several episodes.

    Q to R 
  • Ready for Lovemaking: Brooke, naked in the backseat of Lucas' car in the second episode. Peyton goes so far as to describe her leopard-print bra as a welcome mat for the THH Ravens. Brooke's custom is repeatedly lampshaded in ensuing seasons.
    Brooke: Naked in the backseat is so last year, it's two years ago!
  • Really Gets Around:
    • Brooke. As stated above, she was the embodiment of this trope early on. Peyton once remarked that she did it for a purpose, to show she could "sleep around like a guy," and Brooke herself stated "screw the double standard." Currently, among the men in Tree Hill, Brooke slept with Lucas, Nathan, Julian, Chase, Owen, most of the Ravens guys... It goes on. As an adult, and later in her high school years, Brooke hates being reminded of her tenure as the town bicycle.
      Mia: Did you know Chase lost his virginity to Brooke?!
      Haley: Yes... and by the look on your face, I'm guessing you didn't. Well, welcome to Tree Hill; try to find a boy who didn't lose his virginity to Brooke Davis.
    • Both Clay and Alex qualify for this in the later seasons, and they both end up in bed right after meeting. Although in Clay's case it doubles as Sex for Solace as he's sleeping around to try to get over his dead wife.
  • Record Producer: Peyton produces several albums over her time on the show, starting in '‘ high school''. Haley picks up the slack when Peyton’s on bed rest whilst pregnant, and continues to do so after Peyton leaves Tree Hill.
  • Recurring Extra: A number of them — for example, the unnamed members of Tree Hill Ravens in seasons 1 to 4 are recognizably the same group of guys throughout all 4 seasons, and can even be seen in the background at Lucas' two weddings in seasons 5 & 6.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Dan Scott. His unforgivable deed was killing Keith; he made reparations with his time in prison, his efforts to be a good grandfather, and his rescuing of Jamie and, ultimately, Nathan. He is shot in the back with a bullet meant for Nathan and is led into Heaven by Keith, who forgives him.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: One Tree Hill loves this trope. Seriously, you can put characters in different pairings and it's still evident.
    • Siblings variant: Nathan (red) and Lucas (blue), Dan (red) and Keith (blue). Depending on who's sister is she with, Haley can either be the red (to Quinn) or the blue (to Taylor).
    • Couples variant: Lucas (red) and Peyton (blue), Lucas (blue) and Brooke (red), Nathan (blue) and Haley (red), Dan (red) and Deb (blue), Keith (blue) and Karen (red), Mouth (blue) and Millie (red), Julian (blue) and Brooke (red), Mia (red) and Chase (blue), Alex (red) and Chase (blue), Rachel (red) and Dan (blue).
    • Heterosexual Life-Partners or/and Odd friendships also: Brooke (red) and Peyton (blue), Hayley (red) and Lucas (blue), Deb (red) and Karen (blue), Skills (red) and Mouth (blue), Chris Keller (red) and Chase (blue), Junk (red) and Fergie (blue).
  • Rejected Marriage Proposal: Although it wasn’t a proper rejection, but Peyton’s request to hold off on Lucas’ marriage proposal for a year (which however he took as a real “no”), this was the cause of their break-up during the 4-year Time Skip between season 4 and 5.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Clay is introduced in Season 7, having been friends with the Scott family for over a year & being referred to as Nathan's best friend. Justified by his becoming Nathan's agent during the 14 month Time Skip between Seasons 6 & 7.
  • Repetitive Name: Haley's father, James "Jimmy" James.
  • Retcon:
    • At the start of season 3, it's revealed that Peyton was actually adopted by the Sawyers when she was a baby. Whilst it's never explicitly stated before that point that Peyton wasn't adopted, an early season 1 episode focusing on Peyton dealing with the anniversary of her mother's death featured Whitey telling Peyton how much she looked like her deceased mother.
    • When Lucas signs the movie rights to his book over to Julian in season 6, it's stated that the rights will revert to Lucas after 6 months if they don't begin production on the film. Come season 9, roughly half a decade later in the timeline, Julian states that he still has the rights.
    • In the first season, Dan Scott's jersey can be seen hanging in the Ravens' gym implying that it had been retired. In the third season, Dan pays Tree Hill High a sizable donation to retire the jersey to get some good PR at the start of his campaign for mayor. Lampshaded, as Whitey makes an aside comment about how he thought it'd already been retired.
    • This happens In-Universe during the final season, when Julian adapts An Unkindness of Ravens into a TV show — he rewrites history so that he attended Tree Hill High with the rest of the gang.
  • Retirony
    • Keith, who gets shot by Dan a mere two episodes after getting engaged to Karen & an episode after asking Lucas if he could officially adopt him as his son.
    • Quentin doesn't even last a full episode before getting killed by Xavier, after talking with Haley about eventually starting a family of his own.
  • Retool: Season 5 onwards.
  • Rewatch Bonus: For a Teen Drama, there's actually quite a bit of foreshadowing to some of the plot twists.
    • Rewatching the second season finale with the knowledge of who started the dealership fire, it actually becomes clear that Deb was always the intended culprit.
    • Rewatching Season 3 with the knowledge that Peyton realizes that she's still in love with Lucas by the finale puts a lot of the moments where Peyton appeared to be pining after Jake in a different light, as a lot of the things she says don't really apply to her relationship with Jake, whereas they completely line up with her relationship with Lucas.
  • A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside an Enigma: Lucas once observes that despite Peyton's desire to express herself through her art, she doesn't want anyone to know it's her, but also frequently lets the world watch her on a webcam. Peyton responds to this, "I'm just a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside a bitch," but Lucas sees something else: A troubled artist.
  • Ridiculously Successful Future Selves
    • Lucas is a published author, with his book about his time growing up in Tree Hill adapted into an ultimately canceled movie, and he also coaches the Ravens.
    • Nathan is (Eventually) point guard for the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats, and after his retirement, an agent.
    • Haley is a teacher, a singer, songwriter, record producer, helps Peyton run Red Bedroom Records, runs the reopened Karen's Cafe with Brooke, volunteers at a crisis hotline, in addition to being a mother.
    • Peyton is a record producer & runs Red Bedroom Records.
    • Brooke runs her own clothing line & magazine.
    • Mouth is a sports anchor, and later a host of daytime television show.
    • It's worth noting, however, that some of these overlap, making them less ridiculous — Haley's musical career was more a hobby than a legitimate job for her, which is what teaching was supposed to be. It wasn't until that went downhill that she seriously started doing music, and it's not unbelievable that a musician would also be a songwriter and producer. (And she had some experience with the cafe since she worked there throughout high school.) Peyton's record company isn't too successful as they only really have one main successful artist (Mia). Plus, the production work done by both Haley and Peyton was initially funded by Brooke, so most of that probably wouldn't have occurred without Brooke's success (i.e., it's not like they all went out and got successful by themselves).
  • Romantic False Lead:
    • Brooke for Lucas. She blatantly starts just as this in season 1 since Lucas is in love with Peyton and gets together with her just as to rebound Peyton after she rejects him. Then, in season 2 Lucas suddenly decides he is truly interested in her. The two get back together in season 3, but in the meantime the story has already got back on track restarting the Will They or Won't They? between Lucas and Peyton: before the two become a couple for real in season 4, both Brooke and Lucas understand that they were never meant to be and are Better as Friends while he realizes Peyton was the one for him all along.
    • Jake serves as one for Peyton. They date through the second half of the second season, and all the relationship serves only as a smokescreen that allows the writers to disguise a lot of the foreshadowing towards Peyton's true feelings for Lucas as simply being her pining for Jake.
    • Lindsey, Lucas' new girlfriend from Season 5. Mark Schwahn states on the Season 5 DVD that the intention behind Lindsey was (whilst still working towards Lucas & Peyton getting back together) to introduce a new love interest for Lucas, who wasn't blatantly there just to serve as an obvious false lead & could very easily be the right girl for Lucas in a different way to Peyton, but in the end it didn’t work at all as she turned out to be just a rebound while everyone took the Lucas/Peyton reunion as a Foregone Conclusion, turning out to be in fact what ultimately happened.
  • Runaway Bride: Twice. The Scott men just have no luck.
    • Season 2: Keith is left by Jules at the altar, seeing as Dan was paying her to do it and all...
    • Season 5: Lindsay abandons Lucas at the altar when she realizes that Lucas' book isn't actually about a comet at all... because Peyton's car is the Comet, and Lucas unconsciously wrote the book with her in mind. Ouch.
  • Running Gag: A number over the course of nine seasons, but one memorable one is Skills' habit of walking in on people having sex in Season 4 — after the fourth occasion in four episodes, he lampshades it: "Damn, I gotta stop doing this."
    • "[Full-Name Basis] if you break that boxspring, you're sleeping on the floor!"

    S to T 
  • Second Episode Introduction:
    • Brooke doesn't appear in the pilot.
    • Jake is named & has a one second cameo in the pilot, but isn't officially introduced until the following episode.
  • Self-Parody: The gang sees how real high school students look and act when they crash a prom in "It Gets Worse At Night".
  • Series Fauxnale:
    • Season 4's finale, "All Of A Sudden I Miss Everyone," would function perfectly as a Series Finale. However, it was intentional, as the plan was for the show to have a 5-year Time Skip.
    • Season 6's finale, "Remember Me As A Time Of Day," is clearly designed in such a manner that it can serve as a finale for anyone who was dropping the show with the departures of Lucas & Peyton.
    • Season 7's finale, "Almost Everything I Wish I'd Said the Last Time I Saw You," was originally going to end in a more upbeat manner before they were renewed for Season 8, at which point the season-ending cliffhanger was added on. If you didn't know it was a Series Fauxnale, you wouldn't realize it.
    • It was finally played straight with Season 8's finale, "This is My House, This is My Home" — the episode was clearly intended to be the Series Finale, with the final shot of the episode recreating the first shot of the series. However, the show was renewed for a final ninth season.
  • Settle for Sibling: Karen Roe was Dan Scott's high school sweetheart, then when she got pregnant with their son Lucas he left, remarried, and had another son, Nathan. Karen raised Lucas as a single mother but was always friendly with Dan's much-nicer brother Keith before it blossomed into romance shortly before his death. This resulted in another child, a daughter named Lily Roe.
  • Sex for Solace: When he's introduced, Clay is portrayed as The Casanova, but it's revealed he's just using sex to cope with his wife's death.
  • Sex God:
    • Peyton comments on Nathan being good in bed, joking the sex the only thing memorable about their relationship.
    • Brooke is portrayed as a Sex Goddess and she likes to think her popularity with men has more to do with her sexual prowess than sexual promiscuity.
      Julian: [Lying breathless in bed post-sex] That was amazing. No wonder you were so popular in high school.
      Brooke: Excuse me? Sex did not make me popular. I made it popular.
  • Sexy Surfacing Shot:
    • In "You Can't Always Get What You Want", Brooke first meets Felix when she finds him swimming at her pool, and notices he was Skinny Dipping when he climbs out of the pool naked. Becomes a Book Ends scene at the end, where he finds Brooke Skinny Dipping on his pool who also climbs out of the pool in the buff.
    • In "It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)", Nathan watches from his bedroom his attractive nanny Carrie Skinny Dipping in the pool at night. We get a shot of her climbing out of the pool naked and the camera focuses on her face as she smiles deviously to show the viewer she knows he's watching and is doing it deliberately.
    • In "I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight", Clay gets a fantasy of his dead wife Sara climbing out of the pool in a red bikini while "The Cars Moving The Stereo" plays, in a Shout-Out to a similar Fast Times at Ridgemont High scene.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Nathan's basketball career. First, he nearly loses everything he'd worked for over the course of the first four seasons due to being dragged into a point-shaving scandal, only for Whitey to offer him a second chance by holding off on his retirement for a year. However, after the four-year Time Skip, it's revealed that Nathan missed out on his dream by a whisker due to a Game-Breaking Injury on the eve of the NBA Draft which cost him a spot at the Seattle Sonics; he ultimately gets to the NBA by the end of Season 6 after putting the work in to rehab his injury & relearn the game. The trope until kicks in at the start of Season 8, when Nathan has to retire from professional basketball due to the lasting effects of his earlier injury, after only one season in the NBA.
  • Shameless Fanservice Girl:
    • Brooke who's infamous for sneaking into guy's cars completely naked and casually climbs out of the pool in front of Felix after Skinny Dipping. Her video for the Time Capsule even involved her flashing her breasts so there could be a record of her body "at her peak". When that video is made public and goes viral, she's upset for a while... until Peyton points how high the video is ranking.
    • After sleeping on Mouths apartment after getting drunk and puking all over herself, Gigi wakes up and notices she's been changed out of her stained clothes and is now wearing one of Mouth's shirts, and only his shirt. She doesn't mind and openly teases him about it, and when he tells her he needs the shirt back so Millie won't jump to conclusions she just casually takes it off in front of him.
    • Felix is a rare male example, when Brooke catches him Skinny Dipping on her pool he doesn't bother covering herself as surfaces out of the water.
  • Shipper on Deck:
    • Whilst Peyton is in love Lucas whilst he's still pining for Lindsey after she leaves him at the altar, Skills tells Peyton that he's rooting for her. Judging by their reactions after they realize that Lucas & Peyton have finally gotten back together, it would appear that Haley, Nathan & Brooke all qualify too.
    • During their relationship, Jamie apparently ships Skills and Deb.
    • Sam fully supports Brooke/Julian.
  • Ship Sinking:
    • Brucas gets hit with this several times.
      • Episodes 4x08 & 4x09 are the official definitive end of the relationship (after their last break-up happened in 4x01) — 4x08 features Brooke & Lucas realizing they're Better as Friends and really not in love with each other, whilst 4x09 outright has Brooke telling Lucas to tell Peyton he is in love with her, which he does, officially getting together with her.
      • After the 4-year Time Skip between Seasons 4 & 5, Brooke is one of the biggest supporters of Lucas & Peyton getting back together. To the point that she's arguably more excited than Peyton as she walks down the aisle to Lucas.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns:
    • Tim disappears from the show in the middle of the third season, shortly before the school shooting.
    • Whilst not really comic relief characters, Jamie & Lydia Scott are shipped off to live with Peyton & Lucas during Season 9 in the midst of Nathan's abduction under the pretense of Haley wanting to protect the kids from what was going on. The trope is clearly in effect when one realizes that Lydia's too young to understand what's going on and Jamie's already figured out that something's wrong.
  • Shoulders-Up Nudity:
    • Brooke whenever she sneaks into a guy's car naked. Also applies to everyone who imitates it.
    • Carrie when Nathan catches her Skinny Dipping on his pool.
  • Shout-Out
  • Shower of Love:
    • Nanny Carrie tries to seduce Nathan by sneaking into the shower with him. He rejects her, but Haley walks in and concludes this was happening, causing Nathan to tell her it's Not What It Looks Like.
    • Quinn and Clay are shown showering together in the Valentine's Day Episodes.
  • Sibling Rivalry: The main arc of the first half of Season 1 revolves around the relationship between Lucas & Nathan. As the series starts, they don't know each other, due to being half-brothers raised in different households — Lucas is the son of the high school sweetheart abandoned after graduation, Nathan is the son of the college girlfriend who married the former hero of the high school basketball team. They don't have much interaction until Lucas is recruited to play alongside Nathan for the Tree Hill Ravens, with tensions rising due to Nathan viewing Lucas as trying to steal his life. As the season goes on, they eventually become friends, before finally acknowledging one another as brothers.
  • Skinny Dipping:
    • In "The Desperate Kingdom Of Love", Peyton and Brooke go skinny dipping after sunbathing at her father's boat.
    • "You Can't Always Get What You Want" has Felix doing this at Brooke's pool. At the end of the episode, Brooke does it in and tells him that her pool is much better.
    • When a jealous Haley asks her nanny Carrie not to wear a bikini at the pool, Carrie complies... by wearing ''nothing'' when going for a night swim.
  • Sleep Cute: Brooke and Lucas have one of these in Season 5, when Lucas has to help Brooke put the baby she's fostering to sleep. The Brucas shippers squee'd over the implied familial overtones for the couple.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Mouth, in Seasons 2 through 4, thinks he's a lot cooler than he actually is — Such as his being offended when Shelley labels him a Geek in Season 4's "Pictures Of You" when asked to label him either a Geek, Jock, Prom Queen, Loner or "Friendly".
  • Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome: Jamie & Lily were born in final episodes of Season 4, but turn 5 years old the following season. Justified by the 4-year Time Skip between Seasons 4 & 5, with Mark Schwahn stating on the Season 5 DVD that this was one of the advantages of the Time Skip.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: Lily, the daughter of Karen and Keith.
  • Something Only They Would Say: Happens in 3x16, otherwise known as the school shooting episode ("With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls, We Slept"). As Jimmy Edwards has taken a group of students hostage in the tutoring center, Nathan tries to find Haley. He slips his driver's license under the door and Haley goes to let him in, but when the others tell her to be sure, she whispers "Always" to the door. When Nathan comes back with "and forever," the end of their shipping phrase, she lets him in.
  • Spell My Name With An S:
    • Brooke's clothing line "Clothes Over Bro's." is spelt (As noted by Haley) with a grammatically incorrect apostrophe.
    • Lucas's fiance in Season 5 is called Lindsey, not Lindsay, but is frequently spelt as the later by the fandom.
  • Spontaneous Choreography: The Tree Hill girls dance to "Wannabe" by the Spice Girls in the season 4 finale. Partially justified by four of them having cheered together and possibly having a routine already established based on the original video.
  • Stage Mom: Haley has a really minor version of this when she wants Jamie to sing and play piano during a school talent show. He ends up doing a little bit of her act and a little bit of his (cutesy stand-up comedy).
  • Stalker with a Crush: Several.
    • "Psycho Derek" to Peyton in Season 4.
    • Nanny Carrie to Nathan in Season 5.
    • Katie Ryan to Clay in Season 7.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Lucas and Peyton. They are described as being soul mates who are meant to be together by the series creator Mark Schwahn. They had to overcome many obstacles and issues over the course of the series before being able to have their Happily Ever After.
  • Superhero Episode: "Holding Out for a Hero"
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • All the couples who were together at the end of high school have split up at some point of the four-year Time Skip between season 4 and 5, except for Nathan and Haley (who however are in the middle of their worst crisis since season 2). It takes just the time of season 5 though for Lucas and Peyton to reunite and definitely get back together.
    • Peyton, who believes that music and art can change the world, ultimately fails to make any serious progress in her career whilst in Los Angeles as she refuses to present commercially viable artists to the label in favor of the indie darlings that appeal to herself.
    • Nathan only gets one full season in the NBA, as the back injury that ultimately forced him to miss the NBA draft is discovered to be struggling to hold up to the NBA’s schedule.
    • Brooke's various distractions leave her to allow Victoria and Millie to run the day-to-day operations of Clothes Over Bros. It turns out that letting a rather selfish and conniving woman and a former assistant/part-time model be in charge was a bad idea as the pair inflate the company profits for investors only to be unable to pay it off when the economy falters. That leads to Brooke arrested for financial fraud, although Victoria ends up going to jail instead. However, the damage done to the brand, combined with the realization of how many investors were hurt, causes Brooke to decide to simply sell her company off rather than fight a futile battle to restart it.
  • Take Up My Sword: A variation — After Lucas returns to the Ravens after Keith's death, Whitey gives Lucas Keith's old number, saying he knows Keith'd be proud to see Lucas wear that number.
  • Talking to the Dead:
    • Whitey to the grave of his late wife, Camilla.
    • Peyton to the grave of her adoptive mother.
    • Lucas to the grave of Keith.
  • Tangled Family Tree: The Scott family. One notable mention is Lucas's half-sister Lily also being his cousin as her parents are his mother and his father's brother.
  • Teen Pregnancy: This show's chock full of 'em! Lucas and Nathan are both products of this trope, as Dan got Karen pregnant with Lucas right after they graduated high school, left her and went to college, and then got his girlfriend there pregnant with Nathan. Way to go, Dan. In the second generation, Jake Jagielski is a teen father, and Haley gives birth to her and Nathan's son on their graduation day. The trope was subverted by Lucas and Brooke when Brooke thought she was pregnant in Season 1 — it was a scare, but she lied and told Lucas she really was pregnant for the better part of the episode in order to get back at him for cheating on her with Peyton.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Haley gives one to Principal Rimkus as she leaves Tree Hill High for the final time.
    "Congratulations Principle Rimkus, you made a good teacher not want to teach, and good students not want to learn. You be proud of that."
  • Their First Time:
    • Peyton & Haley both lose their virginities to Nathan. Whilst Peyton's happens before the series begins, it's a significant plot point in the first season that Haley wanted to wait until marriage.
    • Lucas (At least, it's implied) & Chase lose their virginity to Brooke, and they're not the only ones to do so.
      Haley: Welcome to Tree Hill, try to find a boy who didn't lose his virginity to Brooke Davis.
    • Mouth loses his virginity to Shelley, the clean teen.
    • Millie loses her virginity to Owen.
  • Theme Naming:
    • Haley, Peyton & Brooke all name their first born child with their maiden name. Jamie is just a coincidence, however, as he was named after his maternal grandfather, James "Jimmy" James.
    • In addition to being named with their mother's maiden name, Jamie & Sawyer Scott share their middle name with their godparent of the same gender (Lucas & Brooke, respectively).
    • Jamie & Lydia Scott share their first names with their maternal grandparents.
    • Jude's name comes from The Beatles song, "Hey Jude", a song which Paul McCartney wrote for John Lennon's son, Julian. Jude's father & paternal grandfather are named Julian & Paul respectively.
  • Third-Person Person: Chris Keller talks like this, which is made fun of by pretty much everyone.
  • This Is Reality: Invoked when Brooke tells Skills that Peyton won't interrupt the vows at Lucas & Lindsey's wedding, and Lucas won't say the wrong name at the altar.
  • Those Two Guys: Junk and Fergie, they're just... there. Save for a random episode where they babysit Jamie, and their frequent appearances on Mouth and Skills' couch playing video games, what real contribution did they have to the show? Lampshaded in the episode with the casting Lucas's movie; Fergie turns up, hoping to see the actors in line to be cast as him. When he asks Lucas where those actors are, he's told that he's not going to be included in the film, as he was Demoted to Extra in the scripting process due to how little he was involved in Lucas's life compared to the others.
  • Time Skip: One Tree Hill pioneered the technique by skipping the characters' college years and only showing them in flashbacks.
    • The skip is introduced in the titular "4 Years, 6 Months, 2 Days", the Season 5 premiere.
    • The Season 7 opener, "4:30 AM (Apparently They Were Traveling Abroad)" also begins 14 months into the future from the Season 6 finale, "Remember Me as a Time of Day", in order to more firmly establish the absence of Lucas, Peyton, and Sawyer and introduce new characters that were already friends with the cast, like Clay.
    • The Season 8 finale "This is My House, This is My Home" skips forward 13 months, bypassing Brooke's pregnancy & the first few months of her & Julian's twins, Jude & Davis
    • The season 9 premiere takes place just over a year after the season 8 finale.
    • The series finale has another time skip, to show Millie pregnant, Skills and Bevin reunited and the kids several years older, with Jamie following in Nathan's footsteps & playing for the Ravens.
  • Title Drop: Given by Karen in the first season finale, and again by Haley in the series finale.
    "There's only one Tree Hill, Lucas/Jamie Scott, and it's your home."
  • Tonight, Someone Dies: The promo for 3x16.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass:
    • Lucas in Season 1, with Peyton pointing out that he’s effectively switched places with Nathan from the start of the season.
    • Millie in Season 7, after gaining success as a model.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Nathan in Season 1, once he falls for Haley.
  • Toplessness from the Back:
    • In "Your Cheatin' Heart" when Alex strips naked to seduce Julian she's shown from the back, until he has her use a pillow to cover up.
    • In "Even Fairy Tale Characters Would Be Jealous" Gigi decides to return Mouth's shirt by taking it off right in front of him revealing she's topless underneath.
    • In "Almost Everything I Wish I'd Said The Last Time I Saw You...", Quinn is in bed covered with a Modesty Bedsheet when Clay starts pulling it down so he can admire her back.
    • In "We All Fall Down" Tara is shown like this when getting dressed after sleeping with Chase.
  • Trailers Always Spoil:
    • The On the Next preview that aired after 7x08 had Brooke's voiceover stating that she thought she could be pregnant. Later, The CW released the clip where she confesses this to Haley before a concert Haley will be playing that night at the town's nightclub. Then The CW releases a promo photo of Brooke drinking at Haley's concert, clearly revealing she wasn't pregnant.
    • The trailers for the Season 5 finale showed the season ending cliffhanger (Lucas phoning Brooke, Peyton or Lindsey & proposing) in the preview.
      • On top of that, the box art for the Season 6 DVD box set spoils the cliffhanger, whilst also trying to build suspense for The Reveal... When there are two pictures clearly visible on the back that reveal who it was (Peyton) — the two pictures are of her and Lucas embracing in their kitchen and the background of the DVD box is Lucas kissing her from the finale.
      • Additionally, The CW allegedly ruined the cliffhanger by editing a promo for Season 6 in a way that made it obvious who Lucas calls, which is why Mark Schwahn, the showrunner, handles making the promotional materials now.
      • And on top of all that, the "Last season, on One Tree Hill" recap at the start of the episode doesn't end on the cliffhanger, but on Peyton telling Lucas that she'd say yes if he proposed to her now, which kinda removes all tension from the following scene.
    • The return of Jake Jagielski at the end of episode 2x10 is a big surprise... Unless you're watching on DVD, where his return is spoilt by the DVD menu, which features a very prominent picture of him at the end of the photo montage on the main menu... Except returning to the menu, even from watching an episode, cuts off the fade-in which covers the image up, making it the very first thing seen when you return to the main menu. And the real kicker? The episode with his return is on disc 3, but the image appears on discs 1 & 2.
  • Triage Tyrant: "I didn't like cheerleaders when I was in school." "But she's pregnant and in pain!" "Guess who's waiting a little longer?"
  • True Companions: Lucas is this with Haley and the River Court gang (Skills, Jimmy, Junk, Fergie & Mouth) before the series starts. By the time of graduation Skills, Lucas, Haley & Mouth have become this with Brooke, Nathan & Peyton. Following the Time Skip between Seasons 4 & 5, the majority of the group become this to Jamie, who views Skills, Brooke & Peyton as his aunts & uncle. By the end of Season 8, this has extended further to include Clay, Quinn, Jullian & Millicent.
  • Twofer Token Minority: The cast is almost entirely White, with a couple exceptions:
    • Anna Taggaro is a threefer-she's female, Latina and bisexual and was in fact the very first bi character of color in the history of television.
    • Gigi Silveri is female and of East Asian descent.
  • Two First Names: The Scott and James family.

    U to V 
  • Unperson: Dan Scott after confessing to Keith's murder, with the Ravens removing his retired jersey from the gym wall, so as to not remind people of his crime.
  • Unrequited Love Switcheroo: At the beginning of season one Lucas is pining for Peyton's affections, in early season 4 and part of season 5 it's the other way around.
  • Unusual Euphemism: After Brooke is caught having some intimate alone time, "Brooke-ing yourself" became a euphemism both in the show and among the fans.
  • Very Special Episode: Jimmy Edwards shoots up Tree Hill High in "With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls, We Slept".

    W to X 
  • Walking Swimsuit Scene: Quinn gets a lot of scenes wearing only a bikini, seemingly just for Fanservice.
  • Wall Bang Her: Nathan and Haley in a scene in Season 6. In a bathroom stall at Lucas and Peyton's wedding reception, no less.
  • Web Comic Time: Seasons 1 & 2 take place over the group's Junior year, Seasons 3 & 4 take place over their Senior year.
  • Wham Episode: Episode 3x16, "With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls, We Slept" — Jimmy Edwards takes a gun to to Tree Hill High; accidentally shooting (And nearly killing) Peyton, and taking his own life, with Dan also using the gun to kill Keith & frame Jimmy. The effects of this are still felt in the final season.
  • Wham Line:
    • Episode 3x22, "The Show Must Go On" — "Mom, are you pregnant?" "Yes... But that's not my purse."
    • Episode 5x12, "Hundred" — "Grandpa Dan saved me."
    • Episode 5x18, "What Comes After The Blues" — "I'm at the airport and I have two (plane) tickets to Las Vegas. Do you wanna get married tonight?"
  • What Could Have Been: An in-universe example. After finding out Karen was pregnant with Lucas, Dan was going to drop out of college & return to Tree Hill to support Karen & his unborn child, but found out Deb was pregnant with Nathan before he could.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Lucas' box of keepsakes from his brief relationship with Peyton isn't brought up again after the third season premiere.
    • It's never revealed if Jake gets custody of Jenny.
    • Dan's money-laundering scheme gets forgotten about after season 3.
    • Lucas & Skills just kinda stop coaching the Ravens midway through Season 6, with no explanation. Whilst it makes a degree of sense for Lucas as he was suspended for 10 of the Ravens' final 11 games during Season 5, it makes no sense for Skills. One could assume that Principal Rimkus let them go after they were unable to bring the Ravens back to the glory of the State Championship, but considering that the team's star player was murdered & it was their first season in charge, it's hard to pin the blame on them. Regardless, it's never actually addressed on the show.
    • Principal Turner is replaced by Principal Rimkus during Season 6.
    • Subverted with Jimmy Edwards who only appeared in the first two episodes then was forgotten. He came back with a vengeance in season 3.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Haley to Lucas, after he (Albeit drunk at the time, & still depressed after Lindsey left him at the altar) tells Peyton that he hates her & wishes she'd never come back to Tree Hill.
  • Who Are You?: Haley & Nathan have known Chase since their senior year. Jamie, on the other hand, simply can't remember who he is & repeatedly asks this.
  • Who Would Want to Watch Us?: Lucas wrote his novel An Unkindness of Ravens about his life growing up in Tree Hill, which had a movie adaptation scrapped in Season 6. In season 9, Julian gets the idea of adapting the book to create a television show about Tree Hill, essentially making One Tree Hill.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: Season 5 was very flashback heavy due to the four-and-a-half year Time Skip. This left some things not fully explained until a flashback came in—for example, Nathan being in a wheelchair, the reason for which was revealed towards the end of the season's first episode. However, 5x05, "I Forgot to Remember to Forget", showed a night three years in the past that explained things we hadn't yet seen: Lucas proposed to Peyton in LA, which she turned down, leading to the bad blood between them; Nathan let his temper get the best of him on the court, which foreshadows his accident years later; and Brooke tells Lucas how much she wants a baby, though we don't learn what was said in their conversation until 5x12, "Hundred".
  • Whole-Plot Reference: Episode 8x12, "The Drinks We Drank Last Night," is The Hangover with the Tree Hill girls.

    Y to Z 
  • You Remind Me of X:
    • In Season 4, when Haley is pregnant with Jamie & it looks like Nathan might follow in Dan's footsteps by abandoning his pregnant girlfriend/wife for basketball, Karen tells Haley "Welcome to my past".
    • In Season 5, Lucas & Skills quickly realize that Q reminds them of Nathan, pre-Haley.
    • In Season 7, Julian & Chase points out (fairly justifiably) that Alex is just like Brooke was as a teenager. Brooke does not take this kindly.
  • Your Costume Needs Work: Happens to Peyton in 6x16, "Screenwriter's Blues". A movie is being made out of Lucas' autobiography, and Peyton walks in to bring Lucas lunch as the auditions for her character are going on. A woman who is making sure the auditioning actresses stay in line believes Peyton is method acting when she insists she's the real Peyton Sawyer. When Peyton finally gets in to see Lucas, she jokingly recites lines from the script (drawn from their early relationship), and the director states that she's "too old, but she'd make a great Deb." Peyton is offended until Lucas tells the director she's the real Peyton.
  • You Won't Feel a Thing!: In the episode "I Just Died in Your Arms Tonight"
    Doctor: Don't worry, you won't feel a thing.
    Dan Scott: So tell me Doc, how many heart transplants have you done?
    Doctor: [takes electric saw from nurse and turns it on]
    • Luckily for Dan, it turns out to be a nightmare.


Video Example(s):


Brooke and Rachel in Catsuits

Brooke and Rachel wear catsuits when sneaking inside the Tutor Center to steal the Calculus test. Brooke finds them inconvenient due to their lack of pockets.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / SpyCatsuit

Media sources: