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One Tree Hill Seasons Ranked From Best To Worst!

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Today on Prada & Pearls we have One Tree Hill seasons ranked from best to worst.  With the new One Tree Hill podcast, Drama Queens out.  Which is hosted by Sophia Bush (Brooke Davis), Hilarie Burton (Peyton Sawyer) and Bethany Joy Lenz (Haley James Scott).  I had to rank all the season for you guys!  

Ever since it ended in 2012, One Tree Hill still remains one of my personal favourite high school dramas to date.  If you’re a One Tree Hill fan I highly recommend you listen to the podcast and re-watch the series along with some of the most beloved cast members.

If you’re new to One Tree Hill hopefully this post will help you understand what to expect and if your a fan then you can re-live some of the craziest moments in this round up.  

*Note if you’re going to read the One Tree Hill Seasons Ranked post below, please note that there are some spoilers ahead* 

One Tree Hill Seasons ranked Best to Worst 

9) Season 8

One tree hill seasons ranked from best to worst has to start with Season 8, being the worst.  This season really seems to drive home the fact that the later seasons are struggling.  The story lines are hard to get into and it starts to become obvious that maybe One Tree Hill should have ended after season 6.  However with that said, there are some interesting plot lines that do occur during this season, but are a little played out.

A lot of this season focuses on Nathan and Haley’s child Jaimie, which, if I’m honest, is a little lack lustre.  We do however, see Brooke and Julien get married and have twins which is a nice moment for the couple and really shows how far Brooke’s character has come. 

One Tree Hill tried to bring in some drama with another psycho stalker moment AND another car accident off a bridge (getting a little repetitive at this point).  All in all this season lacks a bit of originality and sparkle that the earlier seasons brought. 

Best Episodes 

1) Episode 11: Darkness on the Edge of Town

2) Episode 22: This Is My House, This Is My Home

3) Episode 12: The Drinks We Drank Last Night



8) Season 7

This is officially the first season without anchor characters Lucas and Peyton.  The show introduces Clay and Quinn who offer some additional story lines, however the show really isn’t the same.  

The first major plot line of Season 7 starts when a random girl says she’s carrying Nathans baby (eye roll).  This plays out for a while and is a little entertaining for a couple of episodes.  We then have the introduction of another stalker (they need to stop with this plot line).  

The best and most emotional story arch however, of this season, is when Haley’s mother passes away.  Haley and her sisters really come together to get through the grief and the trauma which is really emotional and touching.

All in all this season is a little bland and doesn’t have too many memorable moments to it.

Best Episodes

1) Episode 7: I and Love and You

2) Episode 18: The Last Day of Our Acquaintance

3) Episode 22: Almost Everything I Wish I’d Said the Last Time I Saw You

4) Episode 12: Some Roads Lead Nowhere



7) Season 9

Some might disagree, however I think Season 9 is hilarious.  It’s pretty entertaining which is what I find lacking in a lot of the later seasons (mainly 7 & 8).  Yes, I completely understand how ridiculous this season is however it kept me watching!  

There are two major plot lines in this season.  The best is when Nathan is kidnapped by gangsters and Dan, Chris Keller and Julien team up to save him…yes that’s a real plot line.  They were definitely grasping at this stage however I must say that I found this plot highly entertaining and hilarious.  

The other plot line involves Clay forgetting he had a son due to trauma.  I think it safe to say we could have done without this plot line.  

This season is shorter and ends in an amazing tear jerking series finale that had me both laughing and crying.  Jaime (Nathan and Haley’s son) beats his dad’s scoring record at Tree Hill High, old faces return and the gang really comes full circle.  It’s a feel good episode that really sends off the series in perfect One Tree Hill Fashion.

Best Episodes

1) Episode 13: One Tree Hill

2) Episode 11: Danny Boy

3) Episode 10: Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will




6) Season 5

Onto Season 5, the start of the 4 year time jump.  One Tree Hill fans have always been divided on this.  To time jump or not to time jump, that is the age old question.

I personally believe they should have done the college years, solely based on how seasons 5 – 9 actually panned out. However I know that there’s a lot of you that probably disagree.  

Season 5 really shows the changes the gang has gone through during college and how different they are now.  All characters are quite accomplished (which is a hard sell) and also have lingering feelings for each other (another hard sell.).  There’s a lot of getting to know the characters and how they’ve grown, which was an interesting plot line. 

Season 5 is really a completely different show when compared to seasons 1 – 4.  With that said however, there are some strong story lines including Lucas and Lindsey’s wedding, the characters struggling with life after college and the unresolved feelings of Peyton and Lucas. 


Best Episodes

1) Episode 9: For Tonight You’re Only Here to Know

2) Episode 5: I Forgot to Remember to Forget

3) Episode 12: Hundred 

4) Episode 1: 4 Years, 6 Months, 2 Days 

5) Episode 18: What Comes After the Blues?



5) Season 6

This season is the last we really see of Lucas and Peyton on the show, but it’s also the best.  We finally get to see their happily ever after which officially ends their story arch on One Tree Hill.  Watching their love story bloom and culminate in the birth of their daughter is the perfect way to really end season 6.  

We also get another psycho story line involving Nanny Kerry (this brings back a lot of Derek vibes) which sees some of the characters teaming up.  Additionally there are some really difficult moments involving the death of Quentin along with Brooke’s traumatic attack.

All in all, season 6 is a strong one and could have been the end the series.  It has some really high peaks and some really low valleys that take the viewer on an emotional roller coaster, making it a great season.   

Best Episodes

1) Episode 3: Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly.

2) Episode 1: Touch Me I’m Going to Scream, Part 1

3) Episode 5: You’ve Dug Your Own Grave, Now Lie in It

4) Episode 24: Remember Me as a Time of Day 

5) Episode 23: Forever and Almost Always


4) Season 2

Season 2 is definitely an in between season.  There are certain things I love about this season and some story lines that are frustrating.  However it’s in the top four because there are some really great moments, and it’s also in the high school years which are unbeatable in my opinion.

Season 2 starts off with a shock when Lucas shows up with no hair and some of the characters learn Nathan and Haley are married.  As the season develops however we’re introduced to new characters including Andy, Felix, Anna, Jules and of course Chris Keller.  This season really puts a focus on Nathan and Haleys failing marriage and we have to endure Haley’s weird obsession with Chris (yuck.).

The series also tries to bring in some representation, with Anna being the first gay character.  However, they get rid of her and Felix (her brother) pretty quick, which was disappointing.  Dan really becomes the villain of the show and this season really focuses on Lucas trying to bring him down.  Throw in a coma, a fire, a time capsule, someone being paid to marry Keith and that pretty much sums up season 2.   

The best episode would have to be The Leavers Dance which also happens to be the season finale.  A lot of moments culminate in the finale and leave a lot of build up for season 3.    

Best Episodes  

1) Episode 3: Near Wild Heaven

2) Episode 5: I Will Dare

3) Episode 16: Somewhere a Clock Is Ticking

4) Episode 19: I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning

5) Episode 23: The Leavers Dance



3) Season 1

Good old season one, where we’re first introduced to Tree Hill.  This season is such a good one and really sets up the series for success.  One Tree Hill does a great job at setting itself apart from similar shows that aired at the time, like the OC.  They had a more realistic home town vibe, which appealed to a lot of viewers.  

Season 1 is more light hearted and fun compared to the later seasons.  It focuses more on high school angst rather than shock factor cue Nanny Kerry and Psycho Derek.  It’s also great to watch all of the character relationships change and develop.  Specifically Nathan and Haley.       

Additionally season one does a great job at including the parents story lines which seems to somewhat be left behind in later seasons.  It’s interesting to see all of the complex dynamics that the parents share, which I wish was explored more.  We really get a strong understanding of how much Dan hurt Karen and Lucas during season 1.  

Best Episodes

1) Episode 1: Pilot 

2) Episode 6: Every Night Is Another Story 

3) Episode 13: Hanging by a Moment

4) Episode 17: Spirit in the Night

5) Episode 18: To Wish Impossible Things 




2) Season 4

This was a tough one to rank given that I think you could argue season 1 might take the number 2 spot.  However I don’t think anything can beat the psycho Derek character arch, it’s to iconic.

Season 4 is the last of the high school years, and arguably the best years of the show.  It’s a bittersweet season for me personally, since the show really changes after this season.  Season 4 cumulates in some pivotal moments we’ve all been waiting for: the state championship, Lucas and Peyton’s relationship, the demise of psycho Derek and of course the reckoning of Dan Scott. 

The best episode of this season really has to be “You Call It Madness, But I Call It Love”.  It’s prom night in Tree Hill but Peyton and Brooke are being held hostage by psycho Derek in Peyton’s basement.  They must team up like the cheerleader superhero’s they really are to defeat him and repair their friendship.

With that said, this season really shows how far all of the characters have really come over the past four seasons.  It even ends in such a great moment with Lucas and Nathan on the river court that could have ended the entire series.  

Best Episodes:

1) Episode 5: I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness

2) Episode 9: Some You Give Away

3) Episode 10: Songs to Love and Die By

4) Episode 15: Prom Night at Hater High

5) Episode 16: You Call It Madness, But I Call It Love



1) Season 3

One Tree Hill seasons ranked best to worst ends with Season 3!  It is by far the best season.  Both the characters and story lines are more developed, which makes for better quality episodes throughout.  The writers also went for some serious shock value moments in season 3 which definitely kept viewers on the edge of their seats.  

First of all, Nathan and Haley finally get back together which, by this time, is such a tired story line.  Brooke makes some romantic mistakes and is forced to really grow in this season.  Lucas is stuck in a love triangle along with Peyton and to top it all off there’s a murder, a car crash and a pregnancy.  A lot happens in this season. 

One of the most dramatic points, is of course, the school shooting that’s played out in episode 16 called “With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Moulds, We Slept”.  One of the more controversial episodes of the series, in 2006, it was one of the first shows to tackle a topic of this kind.  The show also does a good job at diving into the aftermath of this event and the impact it has on the characters. 

Some of the more fun and memorable moments of the season is the Halloween episode (love a good costume party), the boy draft, Peyton’s search for her birth mother and Brooke creating Hoes over Bros.  Season 3 really builds the foundation for a lot of future story lines in the seasons to come. 

Best Episodes 

1) Episode 16: With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls, We Slept

2) Episode 9: How a Resurrection Really Feels

3) Episode 3: An Attempt to Tip the Scales

4) Episode 22: The Show Must Go On

5) Episode 13: The Wind That Blew My Heart Away

6) Episode 6: Locked Hearts and Hand Grenades


I hope you enjoyed this article that dived into all of the one tree hill seasons ranked!  This was really fun to do, along with naming the top episodes.  One Tree Hill has come such a long way and it’s fun to go back in time and revisit all the crazy plot lines!




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