One Tree Hill is an American television drama series created by Mark Schwahn, which premiered on September 23, 2003, on The WB. After the series' third season, The WB merged with UPN to form The CW, and since September 27, 2006, the network has been the official broadcaster of the series in the United States. The show is set in the fictional town of Tree Hill in North Carolina and originally follows the lives of two half-brothers, Lucas Scott (Chad Michael Murray) and Nathan Scott (James Lafferty), who compete for positions on their school's basketball team, and the drama that ensues from the brothers' romances.
Most of the filming took place in and around Wilmington, North Carolina. Many of the scenes were shot near the battleship USS North Carolina and on the University of North Carolina Wilmington campus. The first four seasons of the show focus on the main characters' lives through their high school years. With the beginning of the fifth season, Schwahn advanced the timeline by four years to show their lives after college, and he made it jump a further fourteen months from the end of the sixth to the start of the seventh season. The opening credits were originally accompanied by the song "I Don't Want to Be" by Gavin DeGraw. The theme was removed from the opening in the fifth season; Schwahn said that this was to lower production costs, to add more time for the storyline, and because he felt that the song was more representative of the core characters' adolescent past than their present maturity. The credits then consisted only of the title written on a black background. The theme was restored for season 8, in response to audience demand, and was sung by different artists each week.
The series premiered to 2.5 million viewers and rose to 3.3 million in its second week, becoming one of only three shows to rise in their second episode during the 2003–2004 television season. Season one went on to average 3.5 million viewers, and the second season was the highest rated in the series, averaging 4.3 million viewers weekly and a 1.9 Adults 18–49 rating. The series received numerous award nominations, winning two Teen Choice Awards.
On May 12, 2009, it was confirmed that Murray and Hilarie Burton (Peyton) had declined to return for the seventh season, although accounts of what transpired vary. Their characters (Lucas and Peyton) had been two of the five main protagonists, and had provided one of its central love stories, throughout the show. On May 17, 2011, The CW renewed One Tree Hill for a ninth and final season, placing an order for 13 episodes. Bethany Joy Lenz (Haley) and Sophia Bush (Brooke) were signed as full-time regulars for one final season, and Lafferty appeared as a part-time regular. Murray returned for a special appearance during the final season, which premiered on January 11, 2012. The show is the fourth longest running series on The CW network, or the networks that came together to make it up (The WB and UPN), only behind Smallville, 7th Heaven, and Supernatural. The series concluded on April 4, 2012.