After nearly a decade of drama, 'One Tree Hill' says goodbye in two-hour series finale

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Image Credit: Fred Norris/The CW

One Tree Hill wraps up nine emotional seasons Wednesday night with a two-hour series finale on the CW. I’ll admit that it really will be hard to say goodbye.

I was a high school freshman when One Tree Hill debuted on the then-WB network in September 2003. Like brainy Haley James Scott (Bethany Joy Galeotti) and baby-faced Lucas Scott (Chad Michael Murray), I was navigating my way through teen angst. I tuned in because I had a Dawson’s Creek-size hole in my schedule and I would do just about anything not to do my English homework.

I kept watching because I was instantly hooked on this show that wasn’t afraid to wear its heart on its sleeve. I wanted to be sassy Brooke Davis (Sophia Bush), the wild, seemingly ditzy cheerleader behind the red door even before I knew she’d grow up to be a warm, empowering entrepreneur and a mom with great clothes. I wanted to go steady with Nathan Scott (James Lafferty), the cocky basketball star with a heavy silver spoon in his mouth, long before I knew he’d turn into a resilient father and a sports agent. In short, I wanted to be sucked through the TV screen to the world of Karen’s Cafe and Tree Hill High.

Countless Wednesday mornings were spent discussing what poignant and jaw-dropping story the teen soap would tell next. It’s not a stretch to say the Tree Hill gang and I grew up together. As bookworm Haley Scott prepped for her high school valedictorian speech, I prepped for my own walk across the stage, then only weeks away. When Mouth (Lee Michael Norris) struggled with his journalism dreams, I was trying to carve my own path to storytelling. By the time the drama really started going off the rails with heart-eating dogs and a parade of psycho killers, we were old friends. I knew I’d keep watching no matter how many times Dan Scott committed a stomach-turning act or how many unsuitable men Deb Scott seduced.

That’s why it’s hard to wrangle the best moments out of nearly a decade of shootouts, births, deaths, psycho-stalkers, weddings, car crashes, sex tapes, and inappropriate affairs. We’d be here all day. It’s hard to even pick a favorite cameo appearance — we’ve seen everyone from Kevin Federline to Kid Cudi.

This season tied up a lot of loose ends: From the redemption and death of Dan Scott to Brooke sending her attacker back to jail, most of the demons our characters struggled with resolved themselves. The only question we haven’t answered is what happens next. Tonight Julian and Brooke begin working on the TV show based on Tree Hill and everyone gathers to celebrate Tric’s 10th anniversary. For the show’s swan song, I’m hoping we’ll get a taste of Clay’s life with his newfound son’s budding career, Brooke’s new clothing line, and little Jamie Scott’s future. It’s a tall order, so it’s a good thing we have 120 minutes to do it.

Do you remember watching the pilot? Will you be watching the final goodbye tonight? What do you want to see happen?

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