Julie Cooper

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This article is about the fictional character in The O.C. For the fictional character in EastEnders, see Julie Cooper (EastEnders).
For the UK politician, see Julie Cooper (politician).
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
Nickname(s) Juju (by Caleb)
Jules (by Jimmy and Taylor)
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 became pregnant with their daughter, Marissa. Julie 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.

Although Julie and Jimmy divorce at the end of season 1, she is shown to still have lingering feelings for him and admits that she did love him but had married too young. They nearly remarry but Jimmy goes on the run when a business deal falls through and he is beaten up by the other party's henchmen.


Julie Cooper is shallow, image-obsessed and materialistic. But underneath her vapid exterior, she is shown to be manipulative and cunning, a devious woman who often uses friends, family, and associates to her advantage. She is highly driven and ambitious, and she 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. When Ryan Atwood first came to live with the Cohens, she notably antagonized him when Marissa chose him over Luke Ward, likely because Ryan reminded her of own humble beginnings, of which she was embarrassed about. In the first two seasons, Julie has often been portrayed as a villainous character with a hidden agenda and ulterior motive, but throughout the third and fourth seasons, particularly after the death of her older daughter Marissa, she is shown to have mellowed, and a more kind, caring side of her is revealed. During the final season, while she is grieving over Marissa's death and coping with Kaitlin's rebellious streak, she realizes that she needs to put her family first and becomes more maternal to Kaitlin and open to her friends. In an interview, Melinda Clarke (who portrays Julie) stated that she believed Julie's character also provided much comic relief in many episodes. In the final season, the character was occasionally a comic foil to the more serious Kirsten Cohen, who is said to be only true friend.

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 of her parents' divorce and learning that her boyfriend Luke has been unfaithful), 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 saved her daughter's life. She warns him to keep away from Marissa 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. After being dumped by Caleb, she enters a passionate affair with Marissa's ex-boyfriend, Luke Ward, which Jimmy becomes suspicious of. After Caleb apologizes to her, he and Julie again enter a relationship, leading to Julie's employment at Caleb's real-estate company, the Newport Group. During this time, she is still involved in her affair with Luke, which Ryan Atwood and Seth Cohen become aware of after spotting Julie and Luke leaving a motel room together. Marissa soon learns about the affair and blackmails her mother when Julie threatens to send her off to rehab again after Marissa runs 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 ends up in the hospital after a DUI accident triggered by the event. Upon her marriage to Caleb, Julie becomes the most powerful woman in Newport.

Season 2[edit]

In the beginning of the second season, the Newport Group is in deep 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 has 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 $5000 to keep away from her daughter as she believes Marissa is using him to get revenge on her. She has the same belief later when Marissa enters a lesbian relationship with Alex Kelly. During this season, Julie also has an affair with ex-husband Jimmy, which Marissa discovers. Jimmy hurriedly leaves for Hawaii as he worries other people will learn this secret.

During season two, it becomes apparent that 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. A blood test proves 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 has appointed Julie as CEO of his company, the Newport Group, and in order to give the group an image make-over, Julie decides to launch a magazine, Newport Living. Her past haunts her, however, when her ex-lover Lance Baldwin comes back into her life. He threatens to release a sex tape she participated in when she was a teenager if she does not pay him $500,000. When Caleb dismisses her concerns and secretly sends two thugs to attack Lance in his motel room, he releases the tape at a party originally intended for the magazine launch.

Following her sex-tape scandal, Caleb files for divorce against Julie after having hired a private investigator to spy on her. Julie learns that Caleb was aware of her affairs with Luke and Jimmy and believes she also had an affair with Lance. According to the marriage agreement, Julie was entitled to $3,000,000 if she was married for one year. When Caleb tries to file for the divorce, the two have only been married for 11 months and 27 days. In addition to the divorce, Caleb fires Julie as CEO of his company. This is done shortly after he receives pictures of Julie kissing Lance at his motel. When agitated by Caleb, Julie attempts to give him an overdose of sleeping pills in his Margarita cocktail but is unable to go through with it. Minutes later, he suffers a heart attack and drowns in their swimming pool. By the end of the season, she seems to be returning to a relationship with her ex-husband Jimmy (who returns 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 puts Trey into a coma. Worried about her daughter's criminal record and chances of going to college, Julie devises a scheme to frame Ryan which involves bribing Trey with $20,000 to claim that his brother shot him. Marissa admits to the shooting, and Ryan and Marissa are saved from possible imprisonment. The reunion of Julie and Jimmy proves to be ill-fated, as Jimmy's financial woes separate the two. She is forced out of the mansion she and Caleb lived in as it is revealed that Caleb was almost penniless and that the company had incurred massive debts when he died. As a result, she and Marissa are evicted from Caleb's mansion and rendered "homeless" for a time. With Marissa staying at Summer's, Julie finds accommodation in a condominium, thanks to con-artist Charlotte Morgan as part of a so-called venture. Julie foils the plot when she realizes Charlotte's motive was to swindle Kirsten of her money but Kirsten becomes furious with her after learning that Julie had been in on it. Left without a place to go, she moves into a trailer park. She and Kirsten later reconcile and enter into business together. She embarks on a romantic relationship with wealth plastic surgeon Dr. Neil Roberts which leads to their engagement (which began on a romantic cruise to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico). Julie moves into 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 will be staying in Newport with Julie. Kaitlin is 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 believe it will be better if Julie has at least one daughter to care for. As Marissa and Ryan are driving to the airport, a drunken Volchok - Marissa's ex-boyfriend - forces Ryan to lose control of his vehicle, sending them off the road and leading to Marissa's death.

Season 4[edit]

At the beginning of the fourth season, Julie, unable to cope with the loss of Marissa, develops an addiction to pain killers. She hires a private investigator to find Kevin Volchok, the thug who caused Marissa's death, and becomes so emotionally invested in avenging Marissa that she ostracizes nearly everyone; Dr. Roberts is caught talking with his ex-wife Gloria because Julie had become distant, the Sandy and Kirsten Cohen "ban" her from their home after learning that she had sent an already grieving and heartbroken Ryan on a "murder mission" by telling him where Volchok was and her younger daughter Kaitlin repeatedly rebels against her and gets into trouble at school. 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 Volchok is arrested and jailed, Julie realizes that she needs to move on with life. 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 reconciles with Kirsten (although she is still no longer a partner of NewMatch). She then has to choose between two men, Gordon Bullit and Frank Atwood (Ryan's father), on Valentine's Day. After both men vie for her affections, she chooses Frank, whose upbringing resembles her own humble roots.

For some time, Kaitlin has despised Frank and tries to convince her mother to marry Bullit. However, Julie 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. After deciding to stay single, Julie goes back to undergraduate school and completes her degree. 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 reveals 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.