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During its nine-season run, the teen drama One Tree Hill gained fans and critical acclaim alike. For anyone watching the show from its beginning in 2003 until its last season in 2012, the show was a cocktail of heartfelt emotion and bizarre storylines that never failed to entertain. But even with its widespread popularity, there were seasons where either unexpected emotional twists or crazy subplots got a little too much to handle for the viewers.

Cast of "One Tree Hill" : Hilarie Burton, Bethany Joy Lenz, Chad Michael Murray, Sophia Bush
Hilarie Burton, Bethany Joy Lenz, Chad Michael Murray, Sophia Bush and James Lafferty | Theo Wargo/WireImage

What was ‘One Tree Hill’ about?

The show began as the tale of brothers and basketball but became so much more within the first season itself. On the face of it Nathan and Lucas, basketball players in a quaint North Carolina town called Tree Hill were step-brothers. But their dysfunctional family dynamic and a malicious father brought them together not only in sport but in spirit. 

The ensemble, which did not do much for diverse representation, gave a complete sense of a high school crowd. The show over the period of nine years was able to provide many interesting and complicated character arcs for its regulars. Even though from the fifth season the high-school part of the show was over, the writers still managed to portray coming-of-age storylines for its characters as they moved ahead in life. 

Through its stories, the series showed its audiences all the ups and downs that people go through and then some. Finding best friends, finding first loves, soulmates and spouses, heartbreaks and love triangles, but also finding your passion, trying and failing but never giving up — the show had it all.

Who are the contenders for the worst season?

The show’s over-the-top storylines often annoyed its viewers and forced them to forget how much they liked the show. Season seven, which was the season right after fan favorites Chad Michael Murray, who played Lucas, and Hilarie Burton, who played Peyton, left the show. This season was a big contender for the worst season of the show. 

Many fans were extremely displeased with the actors’ exit and the script for the seventh season only cemented the doubts the exit had sown in their minds. A sex scandal for Nathan, which completely threw a tangent in his very well developing arc, Dan’s ridiculous TV show where he pretends to be magically healed of a bad heart and the intersection of these subplots made the season insufferable.

Another season that came very close to being called the worst season was the fifth one. While some critics think that the time jump was a good call, the writers could have come up with a better love triangle than Lucas, Lindsey, and Peyton. More importantly, another love triangle between Lucas and Peyton was too difficult to watch. 


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So then which is the worst season?

Despite many contenders, it is season nine that takes the cake for the worst season. The last season of the show was the worst for several reasons. One of them being that it became pretty evident that the show had run its course. Whether it was Nathan’s kidnapping or Julian’s penance after he leaves the twins in his car, there were many crazy things happening. 

Neither of these however beat Clay finding out that in a fugue state after his wife’s death, his brain had repressed the fact that he had a son. Even as the last episode brought back memories from the previous seasons, the best part about season nine was that it was shorter than usual with 13 episodes.