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|The O.C. character|
Chris Carmack as Luke Ward
|Last appearance||"The Distance"
"The Case of the Franks"
(episode 4.13) (flashback)
|Created by||Josh Schwartz|
|Portrayed by||Chris Carmack
Conner Webb (flashback)
|Occupation||High school student
(at the Harbor School; departed)
|Significant other(s)||Marissa Cooper
Newport Beach, California
Luke Ward is a fictional character in the FOX television series The O.C., portrayed by Chris Carmack. At the beginning of the series, Luke was in a long-term relationship with Marissa Cooper, largely because her mother Julie encouraged it. However, it was later revealed that Luke was cheating on Marissa with Holly Fischer. After seeing the two of them together during their trip to Tijuana, Marissa ended their relationship. This would be one of the two major factors in her suicide attempt. Luke is portrayed as a stereotypical jock.
When Luke, Summer Roberts, and Seth Cohen were all thirteen years old, he had a paintball birthday party at the same time that Seth had his Bar Mitzvah. Summer's father, Neil Roberts, was going to make Summer go to Seth's party, but when Summer's mother left abruptly, she didn't attend either one to deal with the divorce. This, coupled with most students choosing to attend Luke's party, caused Seth to have self-confidence issues for several years.
Luke had dated Marissa Cooper for a long period of time before Ryan Atwood came to Newport Beach, beginning their relationship in the fifth grade on a class trip to the Museum of Tolerance (according to Seth in the episode The Model Home). Luke seemed to love Marissa, even crying when they broke up. Despite this, he had cheated on her for a long period of time.
Luke is a rich, spoiled and popular Newport Beach student and captain of the water polo team who does not have much of a tolerance for outsiders, as shown by his fight with Ryan Atwood (who came from Chino), in the pilot episode. After beating Ryan up, Luke utters what is arguably the most famous line of the series, "Welcome to the O.C., bitch!" which was used as a tagline in trailers for the first season. He also bullies Seth Cohen constantly. However, after a bizarre turn of events, Luke becomes good friends with Ryan and Seth, even accepting Ryan's relationship with Luke's ex-girlfriend Marissa.
Luke was the boyfriend of Marissa Cooper since fifth grade. Very opposed to Ryan from the start, the two often find themselves fighting. However, Luke does show a slightly sympathetic side early on, saving Ryan from the model home fire in the second episode and assisting Ryan's mother during her drunken meltdown at Vegas Night. Marissa loses her virginity to Luke shortly after. When Marissa catches him cheating on her with one of her best friends, Holly Fischer, during a trip to Tijuana, she is very upset and overdoses on painkillers in a street alley. Ryan saves her and brings her to the hospital, where her mother Julie tries to force her into rehab. Luke appears and, feeling guilty for his role in the overdose, shows Ryan and Marissa an escape route.
Luke all but disappears until he and Ryan are begrudgingly paired together for a school project. They bond over cars when Luke takes him to his father's dealership to see the latest sports car models but catch Luke's father Carson kissing another man. When his father comes out, the once popular Luke falls out of favor with his clique and finds himself on the bottom of the social ladder for the first time. Ryan, Seth and Marissa then take him in as one of their own.
After that, Luke becomes a member of the group, more friendly and carefree than he had been earlier, becoming known for his lovable goofiness and love of beer. He accompanies the others to a Rooney concert (where his guitar playing and songwriting talents are displayed) and to a golf resort, where he emerges as a loyal comrade to Ryan. He is the second person, after Ryan, to become suspicious of Oliver Trask and takes Ryan's side in the ensuing turmoil, going so far as offering to "drop the Great Gatsby." He also makes a play on Summer Roberts, who laughs him off.
Experiencing loneliness, Luke eventually becomes sexually involved with Marissa's mother, Julie Cooper, which Marissa eventually finds out about. Luke decides to leave Newport Beach for Portland to live with his father after his parents' divorce. Luke tries to speak to Marissa, but she refuses. Distraught, he drives away intoxicated and is involved in a car crash. Ryan and Marissa visit Luke in hospital where Marissa forgives him and says that she will miss him. In Luke's last scene of the season Ryan promises to visit him in his new home and Luke jokes about becoming the equivalent of Ryan, to fall for the girl dating the captain of the football team and then fight him and have him say to Luke, "Welcome to Portland, bitch."
Luke appeared with his father in the first episode of the second season. Seth was staying at their home in Portland after running away from home following Ryan's departure. Ryan goes up to Portland on Sandy's request in hopes of persuading Seth to come home and the trio are seen playing video games in the living room. Luke is almost never mentioned for the rest of the season. He seems to be faring well and has a new girlfriend, Amanda.
Luke appears only in a cartoon drawing of Seth's in The Avengers when Ryan, Seth, Summer, Sandy and Kirsten are at the comic book shop watching a slide show.
In another episode, Luke briefly appeared in a flashback sequence in the episode "The Case of the Franks" set in 1998 when he was ten years old. He attended class with Seth, Summer, Holly, Taylor, and Marissa, who is not seen in the flashback.