One Tree Hill: Things Only Adults Notice In The Show

One Tree Hill was a popular teen drama that followed the Scott brothers, sensitive creative Lucas, played by Chad Michael Murray, and sporty Nathan, portrayed by James Lafferty, as well as their father, Dan (Paul Johansson), and his brother Keith (Craig Sheffer). And all the while, their various rivalries on and off the basketball court played out in spectacular melodrama. 


Lucas and Nathan share the same father, but Lucas and his mother, Karen Roe, were abandoned by town uber-villain Dan. When Lucas shoots his shot for the varsity basketball team and wins, the family's web of connections only gets more fraught as they struggle to coexist. And that was just the beginning for viewers at home who were along for the strange ride. 

But amid all the infighting, romance, and tests of friendship, there are so many things in the drama One Tree Hill that leave us scratching our heads when rewatching the show. Here are the things only adults notice in One Tree Hill.

In One Tree Hill, teenagers talk like adults

One Tree Hill features an entire cast of teenage characters, many of whom speak like they already majored in English literature. On the regular, Peyton says things like, "Imagine a future moment in your life where all your dreams come true, you know? It's the greatest moment of your life and you get to experience it with one person. Who's standing next to you?" And Lucas? Here's one snippet: "Truth is still absolute. Believe that. Even when that truth is hard and cold and more painful than you've ever imagined. And even when truth is more cruel than any lie." 


Even the non-academically oriented jock Nathan has golden nuggets of wisdom to impart. "Life is funny sometimes. It can push pretty hard, but if you look close enough, you can find hope in the words of children, in the bars of the song, and in the eyes of someone you love," he once said. "And if you're lucky, if you're the luckiest person on this entire planet, the person you love decides to love you back." These are beautiful sentiments, but, in reality, most adults don't even talk like this let alone high schoolers.

Where is the adult supervision in One Tree Hill?

As Lucas Scott's mom, Karen Roe, once said, "There is only one Tree Hill," and everyone in that town searched for themselves in a number of different ways — from creative outputs to romantic entanglements. But a shocking number of the youngsters do this completely on their own, left to their own devices. 


In the early years, Brooke and Peyton essentially live alone in huge houses due to absentee parents. Brooke later moves into an apartment on her own with only financial support from her parents. Haley, who was played by Bethany Joy Lenz, supposedly has a huge family of six older siblings, but we only meet two sisters — Taylor and Quinn — and her parents only appear briefly. Even when Haley gets pregnant during her senior year, she handles it alone. All of this adds to the drama, but it's also a huge reach. If anything, staff at Tree Hill High should have called Child Protective Services on these unsupervised kids.

There are a lot of intimate scenes that are pretty problematic in One Tree Hill

With all the lack of parental and adult supervision, the youngsters of One Tree Hill get into all kinds of trouble on the regular. And as an adult watching the series, one of the more disturbing aspects of this is all the problematic teen sex and, well, way too much statutory rape going on.


Rachel Gatina, played by Daneel Ackles, pretends to be 22 to have an affair with Nathan's Uncle Cooper, and, even after he finds out she's underage, their tryst continues. Brooke also pretends to be older and dates Nick Chavez, who turns out to be her new English teacher. Yikes. While Peyton is 18 when she dates Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz, he was in his mid-20s, making their romance icky to watch as an adult. 

It's also awkward how Nathan loses his virginity to his future wife's sister Taylor, as noted by Fame10, and how his mom, Deb, has an affair with his Uncle Keith. This is all disturbing, and it's only heightened by the fact that everyone in Tree Hill almost without exception is hooking up with the same people in different love triangle permutations.


Publishing apparently works differently in the world of One Tree Hill

Tenderhearted Lucas Scott spends the early seasons of One Tree Hill writing an autobiographical novel called An Unkindness of Ravens that his mother Karen prints and binds for him as a graduation present. The slim volume looks sleek and elegant, and it is quickly picked up by a publishing house for wide release. Not long after, Lucas gets his novel optioned into a movie and, in later seasons, this makes room for director Julian Baker to enter the picture, who first dates Peyton and later marries Brooke. 


This is all very aspirational and a huge win for Lucas, but, as an adult watching the show, this whole process is absurd. First-time authors generally get a small starting advance, and they usually have to keep their day jobs. And Lucas' first book isn't nearly long enough to get a traditional publishing deal at all where size and word count really do matter. When the film adaptation of his novel fizzles out, Julian gets a new deal to turn it into a television show instead. This also would never happen since millions of dollars had already been sunk into a failed project.

Why are so many famous people visiting such a small town in One Tree Hill?

Part of Tree Hill's particular charm is its small-town vibe, even though many famous landmarks from Wilmington, N.C., where the show is filmed, set a visual backdrop. And yet magically, Tree Hill is a destination spot for dozens of famous musicians to play in small venues. When Peyton turns the old electric factory into all-ages club Tric, she lands some massive names like Angels & Airwaves, Lupe Fiasco, Fall Out Boy, Tegan and Sara, Kid Cudi, and so many more, as noted by Billboard.


But what gets even more far-fetched is when world-famous award-winning singer Sheryl Crow does an impromptu acoustic set at Karen's Cafe, and so does Gavin DeGraw, performing One Tree Hill's theme song. Yes, this is super meta, but it's also totally unreal.

The band The Wreckers also decides that she wants Haley to open for her on tour when Haley had only recently decided she wanted to be a professional musician. How does Haley, a high-school student, end up on a huge cross-country tour? This is impossible on so many levels, unless a guardian was with her.

In One Tree Hill, the email address for Karen's Cafe has an apostrophe in it

Karen's Cafe symbolizes so much in the One Tree Hill universe. It is a show of Karen's strength and resilience that she would elect to be a public figure as an adult in the same town where her high school boyfriend knocked her up and abandoned her and her son for more than a decade. Karen is a single mother, business owner, and port in the storm for many children in town, not just son Lucas. 


Karen's Cafe is a sanctuary where the kids can have the occasional wholesome moment with a chat over coffee or a low-key date. And it's also the place where random celebrities stop in and throw impromptu acoustic shows. This last point begs a second mention because how could Sheryl Crow organize an event when the Karen's Cafe email address has an apostrophe in it? Yes, on fliers and her business card, Karen's business email is "karen'," as The Talko pointed out. Let's be real — even kids should have noticed this one, not just adults.

Almost everyone in One Tree Hill should actually be dead

There is never a dull moment in Tree Hill, and, watching One Tree Hill as an adult, it's striking just how many near-death experiences virtually every character has during the course of nine seasons that they all miraculously survived. Haley gets hit by a car while she's pregnant, and she and the baby live. Nathan crashed a race car and lives. Lucas has a heart attack as a senior after curbing his medicine to play faster basketball, and he lives. Peyton's high-risk pregnancy was assured to result in her death, but she too lived. Clay and Quinn get shot point-blank by a psycho stalker (one of many in the One Tree Hill universe), and they bleed out overnight before getting found. And both live without any health complications.


These incidents are all core-shaking events and add to the emotional stakes of the story, but watching them play out as an adult is a different experience. Every single one of these very well could have been fatal in real life, but, in this soap opera, the incidents become mere anecdotes.

Everyone became rich and famous by their mid-20s in One Tree Hill

Soap operas are prone to exaggeration, and One Tree Hill sure fits the bill. The show's first four seasons followed Lucas Scott and company through high school, and the main cast graduated at the end of the fourth season. In a surprising narrative twist that was the first of its kind (via E! News), the fifth season does a four-year time jump, and viewers meet the core cast after they've already graduated from college. Unlike the majority of college kids who end up moving back home for a time, the Tree Hill crew hit fame, success, and money almost immediately. 


Lucas is a bestselling novelist and gets a movie deal. Brooke has taken her Clothes Over Bros fashion line global and is the CEO. Haley is a teacher who soon reignites her music career, and Peyton decides to leave the record label she works for in order to start her own, which immediately takes off. While this is all very inspiring, it's also incredibly far-fetched.

We have a lot of questions about One Tree Hill character Brooke's life

Aside from the problematic teen intimacy that first defines Brooke Davis — something that One Tree Hill actress Sophia Bush fought producers on because it was "inappropriate," as reported by USA Today — there are just too many big reaches in her story. For example, in Season 2, Brooke's wealthy dad loses his job and sells everything, including Brooke's bed, as Vice noted. He goes on to get a new job the next week, and then they have an empty house. Yes, this sets up Brooke to be briefly reliant on her friends and boyfriend Felix, but it makes no sense. 


Also, when Brooke decides to start her fashion line Clothes Over Bros out of her apartment in high school, she does so using child labor — even though this is totally illegal and she'd be sued or even jailed for this in real life. And later in Season 6, a 20-something Brooke becomes a foster mother to a teenage girl. How does this even happen? 

How does One Tree Hill's Uncle Keith snag a teaching job?

Beloved Uncle Keith is the father Lucas never had and the partner that Karen never had. That is, before his horrific murder at the hands of his brother, Dan, during One Tree Hill's Season 3 (via TVLine). He is loving and gentle, a Jack Pearson-type character long before This is Us. But there is a huge hole in Uncle Keith's arc that only adults would notice. 


After Dan finds out Keith slept with his wife, Deb, Dan hires Jules/Emily, who is played by Maria Menounos, to pretend to fall in love with Keith with the intention of leaving him at the altar. After this incredible fiasco, Keith decides to leave Tree Hill for a while and teach. However, Uncle Keith is a mechanic with only a high school degree and no higher education at all. How could he suddenly land a job as a teacher with no qualifications? Even mechanics teachers require certifications. It was an odd way to write the character out of the show's main story.

Some of the later storylines in One Tree Hill are absolutely bonkers

After the exit of key characters Lucas and Peyton at the end of Season 6, One Tree Hill, one of several TV series that continued after they lost their star, tried to regain its footing by introducing new characters and storylines, some less successfully than others. One of those characters was Nanny Carrie, whom Haley and Nathan hired to help with their precocious son, Jamie, while Nathan recovered from his back injury. Carrie has a psychotic break and decides she wants to replace Haley. Carrie eventually ends up kidnapping Jamie before getting killed by Dan Scott. This arc is incredibly over the top, even for One Tree Hill.


Another bonkers storyline involves Nathan's agent Clay, who also gets set upon by a psycho stalker, Katie Ryan, who is his late wife Sara's doppelgänger. At first, Clay thinks she is a hallucination, an illusion quickly shattered when Katie shoots both Clay and his girlfriend, Quinn. But Clay's story gets even more bizarre. In his grief, Clay somehow forgot that he had a son. While it should be touching when they finally reunite, it's actually just weird. One Tree Hill really jumped the shark in the final few seasons.

What's with Dan Scott's never-ending attempted redemption arcs in One Tree Hill?

Dan Scott was a villain's villain, and his evil machinations never stopped, even as the show tried to redeem him over and over again. From him eventually coming clean about having taken his own brother's life to him rescuing Haley and Nathan's son from Nanny Carrie, One Tree Hill kept looking for ways to justify his presence in a town that hates him, and revisiting these arcs as an adult watching the show is puzzling indeed. 


But it gets worse when Dan only spends five years in prison for killing Keith in cold blood and covering it up. That's impossible. He should have gotten life in prison and maybe eligibility for parole after a couple decades. And, after he gets out of prison, Dan marries Rachel Gattina, the former classmate of both of his sons and the chick who had an affair with his brother-in-law, Cooper, when she was underage. That's an awful lot to overlook!

Why doesn't the town in One Tree Hill fix that cursed bridge?

When you have just one almost-fatal accident on a bridge, common sense should dictate that the bridge's safety needs to be reassessed and, at the very least, improve and extend the guardrails on both sides. But even after the accident at the end of Season 3 when Rachel and Cooper commandeer Haley and Nathan's wedding limo and drive it off the bridge going into town, the bridge remains just as it was. Because of this, years later in Season 8, Haley's son, Jamie, and Brooke also accidentally go off the bridge in the rain, and, once again, they are lucky nobody died. 


Yes, this is all very dramatic, especially since it echoes back to One Tree Hill's previous seasons for dark narrative effect. But in real life, that bridge would have been totally reconstructed after the first accident to assure nobody would end up drowning in their car as it sunk to the bottom of the river.