"The Rainy Day Women"- Adam Brody and Rachel Bilson courtesy FOX
After four seasons and countless fistfights, the soap headed into the sunset, and we take a look back on its juiciest twists.
"Welcome to the O.C., Bitch!" "Premiere" (August 5, 2003)
Luke's bon mot to new punching-bag-in-town Ryan (Benjamin McKenzie) quickly became the signature line of the series. Says Schwartz, "Kids from Orange County say they're from 'the O.C.' like it's 'the Ukraine.' I always found it funny so I gave Luke that line."
Marissa Dies "The Graduates" (May 18, 2006)
Marissa (Mischa Barton) died in Ryan's arms after being run off the road by her bad-boy ex Volchok in Season 3's shocking finale. Despite what the rumor mill would have you think, Schwartz contends that the tragedy was not dictated by anyone's off-set antics: "Losing Marissa- and Mischa- was a big loss for the show."
Julie's Affair With Luke "The Telenovela" (February 25, 2004)
Jaws dropped- and temperatures soared- when Julie (Melinda Clarke) bedded her teenage daughter's ex-beau (Chris Carmack) while also romancing her best friend's father, Caleb. Talk about multitasking.
Chrismukkah Is Born "The Best Chrismukkah Ever" (December 3, 2003)
Seth's Festivus-like mixed-faith holiday was almost called something else. "A lot of names were tossed around," recalls Schwartz. "Han-umas being one of them." Oy to the world!
Marissa Goes Lesbian "The Lonely Hearts Club (February 10, 2005)
Coop's Sapphic fling with Bait Shop babe Alex (Olivia Wilde) was too hot to handle- at least by Fox standards. "It was post-Janet Jackson/Super Bowl FCC time," Schwartz says. "And we were forced to end the story line much sooner."
Seth and Summer's Spider-Man Kiss "Rainy Day Women" (February 24, 2005)
Ever the pop-culture avatar, The O.C. scored with this cinematic nod to beauties and their comic-book fanboy toys everywhere. "After the episode aired, we got called from then-Marvel head Avi Arad and 'Spider-Man' director Sam Raimi saying how much they loved it," Schwartz says.
Marissa ODs in Tijuana "The Escape" (September 16, 2003)
The kids' ill-fated run for the border stands as one of Schwartz's favorites eps. "It sums up what I think the show was capable of: feeling real, heightened, funny and, at times, operatically tragic," he says.
Oliver Goes Nuts "The Links" (January 14, 2004)
Although Schwartz calls Marissa's friendship with the unhinged interloper (played by Taylor Handley) "the single most passionately hated story line," he gives the kid props for being creatively crazy. "C'mon people! He broke a plate then punched himself in the head- twice!"
Sandy Serenades Kirsten on Their 20th Anniversary "The Power of Love" (January 13, 2005)
Solomon Burke's "Don't Give Up on Me" never sounded so sweet. "It embodies their crazy love for each other," remembers Schwartz. Plus, "after Peter Gallagher serenaded Kelly Rowan, he got a record deal out of it."
Cage-fighting Ryan Falls for Taylor Townsend "The Sleeping Beauty" (November 30, 2006)
"Like a lot of people, I originally thought it was an odd pairing," Autumn Reeser reveals of the romance that juiced the lighter, quirkier final season. It also- finally!- gave Ryan- the best thing to happen to muscle tees since Marlon Brando- a reason to smile. And that's the happiest ending we could ask for.