The Best Episodes of One Tree Hill. Ever–Part 1

There’s only One Tree Hill. If there’s one thing to say about this teen soap, it’s that it stuck around even if it never truly got the respect from critics or viewers it deserved. After nine years of love triangles, car crashes and psychopaths, the CW’s favourite small town family is packing up for good as the first episode of its final season begins this Wednesday, so here’s a look at the very best the show has offered us in the past eight years: #20-11

#20 120 What is and What Should Never Be

One Tree Hill’s freshman season saw car crashes, betrayals and blowouts galore but one of it’s most exciting episodes dealt with one character’s internal conflict. After being cheated on by both her boyfriend and her best friend, Brooke feels out of the loop when she’s uninvited from Haley’s first house party. Things heat up when she joins forces with Jake’s crazy ex, Nicki leading to a knockdown-dragout girl fight and Peyton finally swearing off Lucas for good (well…at least until season three).

#19 108 The Search for Something More

It’s the date rape episode! Another gem from season one, this may feel like “a very special episode” but it also marks Tree Hill’s first psycho-run in and the birth of Brucas, which makes it worthy of a mention. Sick of the boy drama in her life, Peyton agrees to go to a college party with Brooke but when she strikes up a connection with a fellow metal-loving partygoer, things take a turn for the deadly!

#18 210 Don’t Take Me for Granted

Haley kisses Chris, Lucas dumps Anna, this is not a good episode for couples BUT watching Jake return to save Peyton from a drug deal and Brooke and Felix getting back together just as Lucas realizes he has feelings for her makes for an addicting TV moment.

#17 722 Almost Everything I Wish I Said the Last Time I Saw You

After three straight years of (mostly boring) “series finale” endings, you couldn’t help but wonder if Papa Schwahn had a real finale in him. Well he certainly proved us wrong, giving fans one of the best cliffhangers of the series. After spending a week at the Sundance Film Festival where Brooke and Julian got engaged and Haley finally put the death of her mother behind her, Quinn and Clay were ambushed at their home by Clay’s crazy stalker and shot, seemingly left for dead…but we knew they’d pull through.

#16 213 The Hero Dies in this One

Chaos unfolds when The Wreckers infiltrate Tric…okay not really but who would have guessed that a simple performance could pull apart Tree Hill’s most solid super couple? When Chris Kellar’s opening act gives Haley the opportunity of a lifetime (touring around America with them) Nathan issues his wife an ultimatum: Go on tour and we’re through. Haley goes on tour. That final montage still gets me *tear*.

#15 603 Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly

The first two outings of season six were mostly shock after shock but when silver-tongued basketballer, Quentin was shot in a gas station robbery, the following episode went straight to the heart, focusing on how his death affected the people around him. From Nathan and Haley struggling to tell their son that his friend was gone, to Brooke coming to terms with her recent attack (later revealed to be by none other than Quentin’s killer) it was a heartbreaking episode. Anyone who doesn’t tear up when Jamie grabs Brooke’s hand is simply made of stone.

#14 216 Somewhere a Clock is Ticking

If there’s one thing Tree Hill does well, it’s a wedding episode, and when the wedding is as scandal-filled as Keith’s faux-engagement to Jules the con artist, fans are in for one explosive union. As the day approaches, Jules (who was paid by Dan to break Keith’s heart but wouldn’t-ya-know-it fell for him instead) must decide whether she’s prepared to get married under false pretenses. There’s much drama to be had but none more shocking than the final twist: Brooke’s family is moving to LA, forcing her to leave Tree Hill forever! Yeah, right.

#13 416 You Call it Madness but I Call it Love

Now this is how you do a psycho-episode folks! Season four found our perpetual damsel-in-distress, Peyton being stalked by a man who claimed to be her brother but was actually obsessed with her. Gross. The storyline gave Tree Hill’s prom episode an exciting twist as Psycho Derrek kidnapped his object of desire, tying her up in the basement. Luckily it’s Brooke Davis to the rescue??!

#12 313 The Wind that Blew My Heart Away

It’s a shame our favourite single perennialed hill didn’t do more natural disaster episodes, it turns out they were pretty good at them. After a major thunderstorm causes mass black outs across the town, each couple is isolated and forced to deal with their own issues. Brooke and Lucas struggle with a massive blowout while Nathan and Haley repair their broken marriage and Peyton prepares for her mother’s imminent death (which ended up closing the episode). Between two epic rain kisses and one hell of a performance from Hilarie Burton, it’s no wonder this episode has become an instant classic.

#11 601 Touch Me and I’m Going to Scream-Part 1

Season six started off with a bang in what was without-a-doubt the most action packed premier of the series. Lucas and Peyton finally reunited for good and Brooke was violently attacked in her store but none of it compared to the horror that awaited Dan Scott. After being hit by a car seconds before his heart transplant beeper went off, Dan awoke to find himself being held captive by crazy Nanny Carrie in her childhood home. Few of the following episodes really lived up to the insanity of the premier but it was one hell of a way to kick off a season.

A Love Letter to Brooke Davis

It’s hard to believe that nearly five years ago I came upon the most influential television character in my life. Brooke Davis has been so many things to me: a teacher, a friend, a shoulder to cry on. Whenever life just isn’t working out I can count on a classic B. Davis episode to put things into perspective and in a mere four months, she’ll be gone forever.

Brooke came into my life at a time when I really needed someone. When I was 16, my group of mostly male friends found out I was gay and while lying and racism were qualities they accepted in a friend, loving another man was something they just couldn’t get passed. Losing a friend, no matter how flawed, is always difficult but losing all of them at once was absolutely traumatizing. Being still in the closet with no one to talk to I decided to turn to the one thing that never failed to pick me up, television.

Yes it’s a silly thing to care so much about but the TV addict in me couldn’t help it, spring break was coming up and I needed something to numb the seven days of isolation. I chose to pick up a new series, One Tree Hill. I went through the majority of season one simply enjoying the dynamic relationships and fun situations but even early on, Brooke was my clear favourite. She’s beautiful, fun and didn’t take people’s crap, basically she was who I wished I was but then something happened, a new side to her emerged, a side I knew all too well.

In the 18th episode of season one, To Wish Impossible Things, Brooke wins Mouth in a date auction. After a night of partying and drinks she breaks down in their limo, still hurt from her break-up with Lucas. “Remember when I told you what girls want?” she says to Mouth. “Girls just want someone to want them back, at least I do.” That line stung deep. Even after everything that happened, all I really wanted was my friends back. All I really wanted was to be wanted.

It was so strange connecting with this character. Brooke was fundamentally my exact opposite, she was beautiful, popular, confident and had a legion of friends yet somehow she felt like my TV persona. We’d both been deeply hurt by the people we trusted the most and struggled to repair that bond. We both loved our friends so deep yet found it hard to truly trust people. We were both secretly insecure and yearned for the approval of others. For the first time since losing my friends, I felt like I had found someone I understood. Watching Brooke navigate through her issues was almost therapeutic as if all my problems could be answered by Brooke Davis simply getting her happy ending. I mean if she could find happiness, was all hope really lost for me?

Half a decade later and I truly feel like me and Brooke have grown up together. Both of us have straightened out our lives and gone on to bigger and better things (she is admittedly way more successful than I am but give me time, she’s got six years on me). My social life no longer consists of TV marathons and crying, I have friends who not only embrace who I am but are excited by it and our journey together has inspired me to become a television writer so I can create a character for other people to connect to. Who knows where I’ll go from here, Brooke may already have her happily ever after but the future is still limitless for me and for the first time, that excites me.