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'One Tree Hill' Series Finale: What Fans Will (And Won't) See

Tue, April 3, 2012 1:49pm EDT by Andy Swift 28 Comments

Creator Mark Schwahn tells about the wedding, the ‘surprises,’ and the moment that gave him ‘chills.’

One Tree Hill airs its final episode April 4, drawing nine years of small-town drama to a close; but how do you properly wrap up a show with such a complicated — not to mention fan-frenzied — history? If you’re creator Mark Schwahn, you don’t. You simply give the viewers exactly what’s kept them coming back every week for nearly a decade.

“I wanted it to feel like a quintessential One Tree Hill episode,” Mark tells of the two-hour finale. “It can be very heartfelt, but funny and romantic and sweet and have great music. Everybody needed to have signature moments.”

And could one of those “moments” be the wedding of Clay (Robert Buckley) and Quinn (Shantel VanSanten), who became engaged last week in one of the most impossibly adorable scenes of the season?

“That story line is front and center for those characters in the finale,” he reveals. “I think it would have been a shame not to comment on that story line since we set it up.” As for the actual wedding, Mark tells me “there’s a hint of it.”

OK, so we probably shouldn’t expect to see Quinn parading down the aisle in a big white dress. But will the final episode give viewers a glimpse into the future, much like last season’s finale fast-forwarded through Brooke’s (Sophia Bush) pregnancy, Chase’s (Stephen Colletti) tour in the Air Force, and the re-opening of Karen’s Café?

“Yes and no,” Mark says, laughing at my desperation. “I’m a fan of shows that leave, but give you the sense that ‘We’re still here. We just won’t see you every week.’ I like that tone, and I like that feel. So I kind of wanted to leave the fans with that, like Tree Hill will always be here. And I think that’s a nice place to be.”

Though Mark admits there is “one” returning character, and there are a few “events” and “surprises” in store, the finale is more about celebrating what we’ve all been through — both the characters and the fans — rather than what’s ahead.

“It wasn’t as much about surprises as it was about spending one last night with the people you’ve known and loved over the years,” he explains. “There’s actually a voiceover in the beginning that speaks to that. When I sat down to write it, I wrote the opening voiceovers, and my eyes teared up. I got chills. The voiceover essentially says, ‘If you had one last chance to say something to somebody you loved, or to spend time with them, what would you say? What would you do? I felt like that was the challenge for the last hour of the show.”

And it’s not like Mark doesn’t have plenty of practice writing finales. He notes that, during One Tree Hill‘s nine-year run, “probably seven” of the season finales were designed to double as potential series finales, had the network decided to cancel the series.

“Jamie [Jackson Brundage] dribbling over the bridge last year — had that been the ending, that would have been great,” Mark admits. “Had Lucas [Chad Michael Murray] and Peyton [Hilarie Burton] driven out of town with the baby, that would have been fine. And when they all went to Utah, the year we shot Quinn and Clay, we would have ended with them all walking up the hill when they were sledding together as a group. Jamie said, “It’s a long way up,” and Haley [Bethany Joy Lenz] said, “It’s just a hill; we’ll climb it together.'”

The series finale of One Tree Hill airs April 4 at 8 p.m. on The CW.

OK, fans, let’s talk: What do YOU hope to see on the series finale? What will you miss most about the show? We’ve got less than 48 hours until it’s all over, so let’s hug it out in the comments section below.

— Andy Swift

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