Julie Cooper

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Julie Cooper
The O.C. character
Julie Cooper.jpg
Melinda Clarke as Julie Cooper
First appearance "Premiere"
(episode 1.01)
Last appearance "The End's Not Near, It's Here"
(episode 4.16)
Created by Josh Schwartz
Portrayed by Melinda Clarke
Aliases Julie Cooper-Nichol
(name while married to Caleb)
Gender Female
Occupation College graduate
Interior designer
Title Former:
CEO of the Newport Group
Co-founder, NewMatch
Spouse(s) James "Jimmy" Cooper
(ex-husband; 2 children)
Caleb Nichol
(husband; deceased)
Significant other(s) Francis "Frank" Atwood
Lance Baldwin
Luke Ward
Neil Roberts
Spencer Bullit
Gordon Bullit
Children Marissa Cooper
(daughter, with Jimmy; deceased)
Kaitlin Cooper
(daughter, with Jimmy)
Cooper Atwood
(son, with Frank)
Kirsten Cohen
(stepdaughter, via Caleb)
Hailey Nichol
(stepdaughter, via Caleb)
Lindsay Gardner
(stepdaughter, via Caleb)
Relatives Seth Cohen
(step-grandson, via Caleb)
Sophie Rose Cohen
(step-granddaughter, via Caleb)
Ryan Atwood
(adoptive step-grandson)
Sanford "Sandy" Cohen
(son-in-law, via Kirsten)
Summer Roberts
(granddaughter-in-law, via Seth)
Residence Newport Beach, California

Julie Cooper-Nichol (formerly Cooper) is a fictional character on the FOX television series The O.C., portrayed by Melinda Clarke.



Julie was born in Riverside, California, in 1970. She was raised in a trailer park, but left for Newport Beach at the age of eighteen after marrying Jimmy Cooper when she fell pregnant with their daughter, Marissa. Julie has always said that she imagined herself living a life of wealth and privilege from a young age. She almost seems to be estranged from her parents, and has a younger sister named Cindy (who appeared briefly in season one) with whom Julie has little contact.


Julie Cooper is shallow, image-obsessed and materialistic. But underneath her vapid exterior, she is shown to be quite manipulative and cunning, a devious woman who often uses friends, family, and associates to her advantage. She is highly driven, ambitious and always strives for social and financial success. She is an attractive and rather promiscuous woman who often uses her beauty to exploit wealthy and influential men. In the first two seasons, Julie has often been portrayed as a villainous character, but throughout the third and fourth seasons, she is shown to have mellowed, and a more kind, caring side of her is revealed. In an interview, Melinda Clarke (who portrays Julie Cooper) stated that she believed Julie's character also provided much comic relief in many episodes.

Character arc[edit]

Season 1[edit]

At the beginning of season one, Julie is living next door to Sandy and Kirsten Cohen in Newport Beach with her husband, Jimmy Cooper, and daughters Marissa and Kaitlin. When it is revealed that her husband, a financial planner, has been stealing from his clients' trust funds, Julie immediately files for a divorce against him, believing that she and her daughters "deserved better." When her eldest daughter, Marissa, nearly dies from an overdose of painkillers and tequila on a road trip in Tijuana, Mexico (due to hearing the news of her parents' divorce and learning that her boyfriend Luke has been unfaithful to her), Julie attempts to send her to a rehabilitation center in San Diego. She also threatens to battle Jimmy for sole custody of Marissa and Kaitlin. She takes an immediate dislike to newcomer Ryan Atwood, barely acknowledging the fact that he has saved her daughter's life. She warns him to keep away from her daughter and threatens to send him back to juvenile hall if he ignores her warning.

She begins dating Kirsten's father, the wealthy and powerful Caleb Nichol who mortgages the large and luxurious home that she lives in, whilst Jimmy is living in much smaller accommodation. After being dumped by Caleb, she enters a passionate affair with her daughter Marissa's ex-boyfriend, Luke Ward, which ex-husband Jimmy becomes suspicious of. After apologizing to her, Caleb and Julie once again enter a relationship, eventually leading to Julie's employment at Caleb's real estate company, the Newport Group. During this time she is still involved in her sexual affair with Luke, which Ryan Atwood and Seth Cohen become aware of after spotting Julie and Luke leaving a motel room together. Marissa soon discovers that Julie has been having an affair with her ex-boyfriend and uses this to blackmail her mother when Julie threatens to send her off to rehab once again after running away from home. Caleb unexpectedly proposes to Julie on the opening night of Jimmy Cooper and Sandy Cohen's restaurant, the Lighthouse. Luke sees this and later ends up in hospital after a DUI accident triggered by the event. Upon her marriage to Caleb, Julie immediately becomes the most powerful woman in Newport.

Season 2[edit]

In the beginning of the second season the Newport Group is in deep financial debt, and Julie's new husband Caleb is facing possible imprisonment. Julie sends her youngest daughter Kaitlin to boarding school in Montecito, claiming their home "was no environment for a child". She is shown to have a turbulent relationship with eldest daughter Marissa, who often rebels against Julie and blackmails her. Julie is horrified to discover that Marissa has been having an affair with their gardener, D.J., and bribes him with the sum of $5000 to keep away from her daughter as she believed she was only using him to get revenge on her. She has the same belief later on in the series when Marissa enters a lesbian relationship with Alex Kelly. During this season Julie also enters an affair with ex-husband Jimmy Cooper, which Marissa later discovers. Jimmy hurriedly leaves for Hawaii as he worries other people will learn of this secret.

During season two it becomes apparent that Julie's husband Caleb has a sixteen year-old daughter, Lindsay Gardner, from a previous affair. Caleb is eager to adopt her, after suffering a heart attack and realising that his time left on earth is limited, but Julie feels threatened when she realises Caleb's inheritance will be passed on to Lindsay and not her and her daughters. She presses Caleb for a blood test and tries to dissuade Lindsay and her mother, Reneé, by planting seeds of doubt in their minds. The blood test goes ahead, and as expected it is revealed that Caleb is Lindsay's biological father, but Lindsay decides to move to Chicago with her mother to be with the rest of their family. Caleb had appointed Julie CEO of his company, the Newport Group, and in order to give the group an image make-over, Julie decided to launch a magazine, Newport Living. Her past soon came back to haunt her, however, when her ex-lover Lance Baldwin came back into her life. He threatened to release a copy of a sex tape she had participated in when she was a teenager, if she did not pay him $500,000. When Caleb dismissed her concerns and in stead secretly sent two thugs to attack Lance in his motel room, he released the tape at a party originally intended for the magazine launch.

Later on in the series, and following her sex-tape scandal, Caleb files a divorce against Julie after having hired a Private Investigator to spy on her. Much to her shock, Julie learns that Caleb was aware of her previous affairs with Luke and Jimmy and believes she was also involved in an affair with Lance. According to the marriage agreement, Julie was entitled to a sum of $3,000,000 if she had been married for a period of one year. When Caleb tried to file for the divorce, the two had only been married for a period of 11 months and 27 days. In addition to the divorce, Caleb fired Julie as CEO of his company. This was done shortly after he received pictures of Julie kissing Lance at his motel. The timing of Caleb's attacks would essentially leave her with nothing from the marriage. Left with the possibility of being out on the street with two daughters, Julie began to devise plans to secure her life and position. Lance had offered to kill Caleb, but Julie refused the offer knowing that neither of them were killers. When agitated further by Caleb, Julie was forced to finish the job herself and attempted to give him an overdose of sleeping pills in his Margarita cocktail, but found herself unable to go through with it. Minutes later, he died of a heart attack and drowned in their swimming pool. By the end of the season, she seemed to be returning to a relationship with her ex-husband Jimmy (who had returned from Hawaii to attend Caleb's funeral).

Season 3[edit]

At the beginning of the third season, Julie's daughter Marissa is facing possible conviction after shooting Ryan's brother Trey Atwood in order to save Ryan. However, the incident put Trey into a coma. Worried about her daughter's criminal record and chances of going to college, she devises a scheme to frame Ryan which involves bribing Trey with the sum of $20,000 to confess that his brother shot him. Marissa comes forward and admits to the shooting and subsequently Ryan and Marissa are both saved from possible imprisonment. The reunion of Julie and Jimmy later proves to be ill-fated, as Jimmy's financial woes separate the two once again, effectively leaving Julie a widow. She is forced out of the large mansion she and Caleb once lived in as she is left with no money as it revealed that Caleb Nichol was almost penniless himself when he died. For a time, Julie was able to find accommodation in a condominium, thanks to con-artist Charlotte Morgan, in return to accompany Charlotte in a scheme to steal money from Kirsten, which Julie foils (telling her that "there's only room in this town for one manipulative bitch"). She is forced to move in a trailer park and sends Marissa to stay at her friend Summer Roberts' house. She has begun forming a new business venture with closest friend (and one-time stepdaughter) Kirsten Cohen. She embarks on a romantic relationship with Dr. Neil Roberts which leads to their engagement (which began on a romantic cruise to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico). Julie and Marissa move in at the Roberts' luxurious mansion where Marissa has already been living for several months. As her eldest daughter's graduation approaches, her youngest daughter, Kaitlin, returns from boarding school and announces that she would be staying in Newport with Julie. Kaitlin is shown to be strikingly similar to her mother in terms of character, being somewhat devious, manipulative and dishonest. Marissa had decided to spend the following year working with her father on a yacht in the Greek Islands, and they believed it would be better if Julie had at least one daughter to care for. As Marissa and Ryan were driving to the airport, a drunken Volchok - Marissa's ex-boyfriend - forced Ryan to lose control of his vehicle, sending them off the road, and thus leading to Marissa's death.

Season 4[edit]

At the beginning of the fourth season, Julie, unable to cope with the loss of her daughter Marissa, develops an addiction to pain killers. Her relationship with Dr. Roberts is greatly affected by Marissa's death, which leads a heartbreaking end to their relationship. Dr. Roberts leaves to work in Seattle but allows Julie and Kaitlin stay in his house alongside his daughter Summer and Taylor Townsend, who has been kicked out of her own house by her mother, Veronica. After Kevin Volchok, the thug who caused Marissa's death, is arrested and jailed, she finally carries herself through her grief. She begins dating her German fitness instructor, and her daughter's tennis instructor, Spencer. She is set up by Kirsten with Gordon Bullit, an investor in their dating service NewMatch. She is persuaded by Gordon Bullit's son, Spencer (Kaitlin's tennis instructor) and the dating service is soon secretly turned into a male prostitution ring. She is later caught out by Kirsten and fired from the company. Julie since has reconciled with Kirsten (although she is still no longer a partner of NewMatch). She recently had to choose between two men, Gordon Bullit and Frank Atwood (Ryan's father) on Valentine's Day. After both men vied for her affections, and she chose Frank whose upbringing resembles her own humble roots.

For some time, Kaitlin had despised Frank and tried to convince her mother to marry Bullit. However, she explains that ever since her dad leaving, Marissa's death, and the numerous dates with other men, they never had a chance to sit down and be a real family. With that answer, Julie and Frank take time apart and she rekindles her relationship with Kaitlin at an ice cream shop. Unfortunately, they are trapped there when an earthquake hits Newport.

Series finale[edit]

In the series finale, six months have passed and a pregnant Julie is engaged to Gordon Bullit. But Frank interrupts their wedding and Julie chooses not to go through with the marriage. We also find out that the baby is Frank's, a fact of which Julie had already made Bullit aware of. After deciding to stay single, Julie goes back to undergraduate school and finally completes her degree. She is quoted to have said, "Not now Kaitlin, right now I'm trying to figure out who to marry." Years later in a flash-forward sequence set in 2012, Julie graduates with the support of her family, including Bullit, Frank, Kaitlin, and her son. It is not clear if she is romantically involved with either man.


  • Melinda Clarke is the only cast member from The O.C. to have actually grown up in Newport Beach, California.
  • In "The Night Moves", Julie revealed that Bob Seger's 1977 hit song "Night Moves" is the only song she knows all the words to. In Season 1's "The Heartbreak", when she and Luke Ward first kiss and start their relationship, the song can be heard in the background. Later, in "The Proposal", a drunken Luke blasts the song from his car just before he crashes into a truck.
  • Clarke, initially, was only meant to act in a few episodes, but due to the popularity of her character, she (along with Summer Roberts) were added as regulars from episode 13 onward.