Johnny Harper

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Johnny Harper
The O.C. character
First appearance "The Last Waltz"
(episode 3.04)
Last appearance "The Cliffhanger"
(episode 3.14)
Created by Josh Schwartz
Portrayed by Ryan Donowho
Gender Male
Occupation High school student
(at Newport Union High)
Surfer (going pro)
Family Jack Harper
Gwen Harper
Significant other(s) Casey
Marissa Cooper
(was in love with her)
Kaitlin Cooper
Relatives Sadie Campbell
Residence Newport Beach, California

Johnny Harper is a fictional character on the FOX television series The O.C., played by Ryan Donowho.

Character's background[edit]

Season 3[edit]

Johnny Harper was an upcoming surfer, rival of Kevin Volchok and best friend of Dennis "Chilli" Childress. He was a student at Newport Union High School, where he met Marissa Cooper, who had just been kicked out of her old school for shooting Trey Atwood, and developed feelings for her. His girlfriend Casey realizes this and cheats on him with Volchok. Johnny wants to fight Volchok, but is saved by Marissa's boyfriend Ryan Atwood, who is suspicious of Johnny because he realizes he's in love with Marissa. Nevertheless, he and Ryan befriend each other, largely because Ryan was able to identify with Johnny's working-class public school background. Marissa and Johnny's bond grows when Marissa (unable to discuss it with Ryan) talks to him about the night she shot Trey, as it turns out Johnny had a similar experience, as a teenager his father often beat his mother and on one occasion Johnny took a baseball bat to his father, Johnny does not remember what happened but he found himself covered in his father's blood and never heard from him again (we know that Johnny's dad survived the attack as he appears in later episode).

Johnny's surfing career came to an end when a car ran into him after he ran after Ryan at a surfing contest. This and his unrequited love for Marissa led to his downfall. This car crash also leads to how he saw just how much Marissa cared for him which made him fall in love with her. He even tried to stop Marissa from helping him by robbing from a gas station shop, but fortunately Ryan stops him in the nick of time. He starts a short relationship with Marissa's sister Kaitlin but comes to the decision that he has to confront Marissa over his feelings for her. When she replies with a letter, telling him that she doesn't love him, he begins drinking at the beach with Kaitlin. Being very drunk, he climbs up a cliff. Kaitlin calls Ryan to save him but is too late, and Johnny ends up falling to his death. Ryan starts a relationship with Johnny's cousin Sadie Campbell after Johnny's death.

Season 4[edit]

In "The Chrismukk-huh?" while Ryan Atwood and Taylor Townsend are in the parallel universe Newport and a poster is visible at the mall advertising an appearance by "Pac West Surf Star" Johnny Harper to promote his new line of surf boards. This parallel universe takes place in the absence of Ryan from Newport, which implies that if Ryan had never come to Newport, Johnny would never have injured his knee or died.



  • In The OC's fourth season, in the episode "The Metamorphosis", when Seth and Summer are watching an episode from the third season of The Valley, April can be heard talking to her crush about his broken leg and him not being able to ever kickbox again. This is a reference to third season's episode "The Game Plan" where Marissa is talking to Johnny about his broken leg and how he can never surf again.