Pilot (One Tree Hill)

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One Tree Hill episode
Lucas and Nathan during a basketball game, in the episode's climatic scene.
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 1
Directed by Bryan Gordon
Written by Mark Schwahn
Production code 475360
Original air date September 23, 2003
Guest actors
Episode chronology
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One Tree Hill (season 1)
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"Pilot" is the first episode of One Tree Hill's first season. It first aired on The WB television network in the United States on September 23, 2003. It was written by Mark Schwahn and directed by Bryan Gordon. It saw John Keenan and Melissa Claire Egan guest star as Officer Wayman and Melody, respectively. It introduces the character of Lucas Scott (played by Chad Michael Murray) — a high school student — and his friends and relatives in the fictional Tree Hill, North Carolina.


An important basketball game is going on at Tree Hill High School. The Ravens' team wins, thanks to Nathan Scott's (James Lafferty) final shot. Elsewhere, Nathan's half-brother Lucas Scott is playing basketball with three friends. Nathan and Lucas share the same father, Dan Scott (Paul Johansson), but they live apart: it is suggested that Dan abandoned Lucas and his mother, Karen Roe (Moira Kelly) when Lucas was born, preferring to marry Deb Scott (Barbara Alyn Woods), with whom he had Nathan. Nathan and his team are busted for stealing a school bus. Even though Nathan was driving, his father, Dan, manages to bail him out of trouble, as usual, while other players are suspended.

During a drive, Nathan’s girlfriend (and Ravens’ cheerleader) Peyton Sawyer (Hilarie Burton), nearly runs over Lucas after becoming distracted at the wheel. Lucas heads for Karen’s café, where he has dinner with his mother and his best friend, Haley James (Bethany Joy Lenz).

The next day, Keith Scott (Craig Sheffer), Dan’s elder brother who is close friends with Karen, asks Whitey Durham (Barry Corbin), the Ravens coach, to let Lucas be part of the team. Keith is positive that the kid deserves it. The coach tells Lucas he can join the Ravens. Nathan then challenges Lucas to a basketball match, with the stipulation that the loser will walk away from the team. Later, Peyton’s car breaks down and Lucas comes to her assistance. During a discussion, Lucas relays his history with Dan and Nathan.

Lucas shows up at Keith’s shop by the time Dan is talking to Keith about Karen. Following this, Lucas makes up his mind and accepts Nathan’s challenge. After winning the game, Lucas lets Peyton know that Nathan has to stay on the team because "it's the last thing he wants".

In the last scene, Lucas enters the school’s gym while everyone is staring at him. A last close-up to the park where Lucas used to play: it’s finally empty.


One Tree Hill was first created to be a feature-length movie with the title Ravens. However, Mark Schwahn was convinced by fellow producer Joe Davola that it would be more interesting as a TV series.[1] The series features an unaired pilot episode which takes place in the past. It tells the story of Karen and Dan and how she got pregnant. Then, after Dan marries Deb it skips to the future where Lucas has his first day at Tree Hill High. He meets Mouth and others and realizes that maybe basketball is for him; that is, until he and Nathan get into a fight about Dan.[2]

In the broadcast pilot episode, Brooke Davis (portrayed by Sophia Bush) does not appear and makes her first appearance in The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most. Samantha Shelton also played a character called Reagan in the unaired pilot. She was replaced with the character Haley.[2]


In the U.S., the episode's initial broadcast attracted two and a half million viewers on The WB Television Network.[3] The episode received generally mixed reviews. Critics compared it to The O.C. and Dawson's Creek, but with a more masculine appeal.[4][5][6][7]


  1. ^ "Building a Winning Team: The Making of One Tree Hill" (Documentary). One Tree Hill: The Complete First Season: Warner Brothers Home Entertainment. 
  2. ^ a b "Unaired Pilot at TV.com". 
  3. ^ "Final Nielsen ratings, published every Tuesday". 
  4. ^ McLoone, Tracy (2003-09-29). "One Trick Hill". PopMatters. Retrieved 2010-06-16. 
  5. ^ Wheat, Alynda (2004-02-17). "One Tree Hill (2003)". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2010-06-16. 
  6. ^ Cooke, Paul. "One Tree Hill: The Complete First Season (US - DVD R1) reviews". DVDActive.com. Retrieved 2010-06-19. 
  7. ^ McCracken, Allison (2005-03-18). "Boy Soaps: Liberalism Without Women". flowtv.org. Retrieved 2010-06-19. 

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