“Maybe some people just get lost.”
From the moment viewers met Marissa Cooper when The O.C. premiered in 2003, it was obvious that she was far from your average spoiled rich girl. Played by then-17-year-old Mischa Barton, Marissa was a tragic figure, one that never really seemed like she belonged even though she was beautiful, wealthy and privileged. Over the course of three seasons, she experienced an overdose, her parent’s divorce, being held hostage (Never forget Oliver!) and shooting her boyfriend’s brother, to name just a few.
Looking back, it really shouldn’t have been all that surprising that Marissa met a fiery end in the season three finale considering how much living she packed into those three years. For weeks leading up to the episode, Fox had teased a major death was coming. But for it to be Marissa, the show’s female lead? No way.
A least that’s how I felt. When Ryan (Ben McKenzie) pulled Marissa from the wreckage on May 18, 2006—as Imogen Heap‘s haunting cover of “Hallelujah” played—I was 17 years old and, ironically, a wreck. I didn’t see it coming and I couldn’t understand why the Fox hit was breaking up my core four (the group name for Ryan, Marissa, Seth and Summer). I was a high school senior living on Long Island, thousands of miles away from the sound stage, unaware that things behind the scenes of a TV show can often be even more dramatic than what’s happening on screen.