The Cast of One Tree Hill
11 Secrets About One Tree Hill Even The Biggest Fans Wouldn't Know

The nostalgia is real.

by Claire Spellberg and Ani Bundel
Originally Published: 
The CW

One Tree Hill has been off the air for a decade, but thanks to Hulu, a whole new generation of fans has come to appreciate the iconic teen (turned 20-something) drama, and the show’s momentum isn’t slowing down any time soon. If you’re a huge fan, you probably know plenty about The WB/CW series, but there are still a few secrets about One Tree Hill that even the biggest fans wouldn’t know.

When One Tree Hill premiered in 2003, it instantly became must-see TV. What began as a show about a basketball-inspired sibling rivalry quickly became much more as the series dove deeper into students’ lives at Tree Hill High School. Over the course of nine years, the show changed quite a bit. By the time they were in their 20s, the core characters were dealing with parenthood, career drama, and married life.

Despite these changes, One Tree Hill stayed true to its characters. As a result, fans stuck with the series through its ups and downs. But while the series was famous for its onscreen drama, many fans don’t know there was plenty going on offscreen. These secrets about One Tree Hill will make you rethink the series — and inspire you to head over to Hulu for another marathon.


One Tree Hill Was Initially Pitched As A Movie

The CW

Imagine if One Tree Hill had only been a two-hour movie instead of a nine-season series. In Building A Winning Team: The Making Of One Tree Hill, a documentary about the series, creator Mark Schwahn revealed he originally developed the concept as a movie called Ravens (the school’s mascot). However, Schwahn’s plans changed when executive producers Brian Robbins, Mike Tollin, and Joe Davola began lobbying him to adopt the idea into a TV show. It took four years, but Schwahn eventually agreed, and thus One Tree Hill (which was named after the U2 song)was born.


It Was Almost Set In Illinois

Originally, Schwahn wanted One Tree Hill to take place in Illinois, since that’s where he grew up, but the network asked him to reconsider. As Schwahn explained in the 2012 TV movie One Tree Hill: Always & Forever, he never looked back once he got to North Carolina and saw how beautiful it was.


There’s A Michael Jordan Connection

Focus On Sport/Focus on Sport/Getty Images

One of the reasons the series made the switch to Wilmington, North Carolina? It’s where basketball star Michael Jordan grew up. The show was filmed at Laney High School, where Jordan attended, and all of the show’s basketball scenes were filmed in his high school gym.


Hilarie Burton Almost Went Bald Playing Peyton

To fully transform into Peyton, actor Hilarie Burton had to dye her hair multiple times and undergo near-constant styling. After two seasons, the constant processing damaged Burton’s hair so much, she had to cut it off to avoid going bald, prompting a significant hairstyle change for Peyton.


Chad Michael Murray Was Bad At Basketball

The CW

Lucas Scott is a basketball prodigy in the show, but Chad Michael Murray? Not so much. Murray was so bad at basketball, the show’s producers had to hire a coach to make him look even moderately believable. In addition, Murray’s lack of ability slowed down production, as the crew had to reshoot scenes over and over until he made the shot.


James Lafferty Was A High School Athlete

Chad Michael Murray might not have had Lucas’ talent, but his onscreen half-brother, Nathan Scott, played by James Lafferty, was not so hampered. Before getting into his acting career, Lafferty played on his high school basketball team, so he fit right into the Ravens offense. (This fact is doubly ironic, since, originally, Murray auditioned for Nathan, and the producers insisted on casting him as Lucas instead.)


Sophia Bush Auditioned For Brooke Multiple Times

The CW

Sophia Bush became famous for playing Brooke Davis, but she was rejected not once but twice for the role before she landed it. Her initial audition failed because the producers thought she wasn’t hot enough. So, she came back revamped, and this time, she was deemed too racy. Nevertheless, she persisted and landed the part after a third audition.


Haley’s Singing Storyline Was Added Specifically For Bethany Joy Lenz

Most fans would assume Haley’s arc surrounding her singing career was why Bethany Joy Lenz got cast in the role. In reality, it was the opposite. Schwahn cast Lenz as Haley without knowing she had serious vocal chops. After he overheard her singing in a parking lot, he decided to make her character a singer to take advantage of it.


There Was A Fan Contest For “It Gets The Worst At Night”

The CW

Season 4, Episode 17, “It Gets The Worst At Night,” set the cast on a road trip to Honey Grove, Texas. If that seems like a weird choice for the characters, that’s because it was. The writers contrived the story after the town won a contest in which fans wrote in explaining why One Tree Hill should come to their city. The episode was filmed on location in Honey Grove, and kids from the town who took part in the contest got to be extras.


The 100th Episode Had A Special Nod To The Show

To commemorate the show’s 100th episode (Season 5, Episode 12), creator Mark Schwahn wrote the script in the Tree Hill High library. What better way to get inspiration for a memorable wedding (and a terrible kidnapping) than to write in the place that started it all?


No One Appears In All 187 Episodes

The CW

Not a single cast member appeared in all 187 episodes, although Sophia Bush, who played Brooke Davis, came the closest. Though she seems to be in every episode, she’s not in the original pilot, since the writers didn’t add her character until after production completed it. As the show’s original stars, Chad Michael Murray and Hilarie Burton likely would have appeared in every episode. But the series went on so long, they moved on after Season 6, and weren’t in the final three seasons.

All episodes of One Tree Hill are streaming on Hulu.

This article was originally published on