The mastermind behind ‘One Tree Hill’ weighs in on one of the series’ most debated story lines: Was Dan Scott officially redeemed?
Well, kids, the day we’ve all been dreading has finally arrived: One Tree Hill‘s two-hour series finale airs at 8 p.m. tonight on The CW. I recently spoke with creator Mark Schwahn about the show’s epic nine-year run, and as is often the case, the conversation quickly turned to its most polarizing character, Dan Scott (Paul Johansson). You’ll be very happy to know that, like the fans, Mark still has very conflicted thoughts about the late villain’s redemption — or lack thereof.
“I always say that when fans used to argue about the story lines, and when our writers room had differing opinions, the show was at its best,” Mark explained. “And that was one of them. We had long-winded discussions in the writers room about whether or not Dan Scott should be redeemed.”
As he who created Dan Scott, I asked Mark if he felt the redemption was earned.
“It’s not for me to decide, and I wanted it to be that way,” he admitted. “I’m not trying to get political about it. It was designed for the fans to decide. There are many that just won’t forgive him.”
Ultimately, Mark said, it was more important for Keith to make up his mind than anyone else.
“You could make a case for family and for anyone who was wounded by the choices [Dan] was making, but for Keith to forgive him was more compelling for me,” Mark said. “A lot of times, [the show] presented a version of us, the audience, that was the best version we could be. And in that moment, I don’t know if any of us could find the capacity to forgive the man who took our life. [Keith] was such a heroic character, and he chose to be heroic in that moment. I felt a lightness for Dan, for his heart and soul.”
Of course, the fans weren’t the only voices in Mark’s head.
“My mom really wanted redemption for Dan,” Mark says. “She’s been so upset with me that he died. She just wanted him to be forgiven, and she felt that he had paid his dues. And she believed he was being heartfelt in his choices.”
Mark then explained his philosophy behind the characters he’s crafted during the series’ nine-year run, perfectly illustrating why fans have remained so passionate about them after nearly a decade.
“We tried to write human beings,” Mark said. “We wrote them flawed and we wrote them heroic and we wrote them everywhere in between, which is certainly what Dan was. I liked that complexity. There weren’t any easy answers for him, and that made for really good drama and really good television.”
What do you think, devoted OTH-ers? After nine years of bad parenting, brother murdering and Rachel marrying, did season nine finally provide Dan Scott with the redemption he so desperately craved? Drop me a comment with your thoughts! This is an emotional time for us all.