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Transmutation: A Character Study - Nathan Scott (One Tree Hill)


When Spoiler TV decided to do a study of television characters, there was one character that I immediately thought about: Nathan Scott. Nathan grew so much throughout One Tree Hill's nine year run, and I definitely think he deserves an article dedicated to his journey to becoming a better person.

When One Tree Hill first started back in 2003, Nathan Scott was the stereotypical jock. He was entitled, spoiled, and rude. He only cared about himself and his dream of becoming a basketball star. Part of Nathan's problem was his father, Dan Scott. Dan was a former basketball player and all around terrible person. He wanted Nathan to be a basketball player, too, but he wasn't all that supportive. Every time Nathan played well, Dan tore him down. Nathan's dad also had another son, Lucas, who Nathan hated.

Lucas decides to join the Tree Hill Ravens, and Nathan is less than thrilled. Nathan hates the decision even more when Coach Whitey tells Nathan he has to move positions because Lucas is taking his spot. Nathan lashes out and plays pranks on Lucas. Nathan's pranks on Lucas go a bit far causing his girlfriend, Peyton, to break up with him. He eventually stops, but that's only because he meets Haley James.

Nathan's talents were on the court, not in the classroom. He needed tutoring to stay eligible for the team, and the best tutor was none other than Haley, Lucas' best friend. Haley resists at first, but she agrees to tutor Nathan against her better judgment on one condition: he stop bothering Lucas. The first time Nathan meets Haley, he gives her the prize out of the cracker jack box: a toy bracelet. "Don't say I never gave you anything," he tells her. This is one of my favorite Nathan and Haley moments, and it's referenced many times throughout the show.

Throughout the first season Nathan slowly starts to become a better person. He wants to be better for Haley. He also decides to become emancipated because he wants to get away from his father. His relationship with Lucas is still very rocky mostly because Lucas is protective of Haley, but I liked that the show didn't push this relationship. You can't make a friendship happen over night especially after 16 years of hate.

Nathan and Haley get married at the end of the first season which surprises everyone. Nathan's parents are pretty upset about it especially his mom. However, this actually helps Nathan's relationship with Lucas. Lucas realizes that Nathan makes Haley happy, and the two finally start to form a friendship. One of my favorite scenes from the early One Tree Hill days was when Lucas and Nathan travel to Charlotte to watch a Bobcats game. It was one of the first times I felt like the two liked each other.

Of course, One Tree Hill was a teen drama so no one can stay happy for long. In this season Haley starts singing which Nathan is originally very supportive. He starts to have issues when Haley's work with Chris Keller starts to cause her to miss things and interfere in their relationship. Haley eventually goes on tour with Chris and leaves Nathan heartbroken. One of the most memorable scenes to me was Nathan throwing Haley's piano against the wall.

"Tragedies happen. What are you gonna do? Give up? Quit? No. I realize now that when your heart breaks, you gotta fight like hell to make sure you're still alive. Because you are. And that pain you feel? It's life. The confusion and fear? That's there to remind you that somewhere out there is something better. And that something is worth fighting for."

Nathan lashes out at almost everyone especially Lucas, and some might say he returned to his old self. I disagree. He was angry this time because he loved Haley which is something he had never really felt before. During this time he leans on Peyton and the two become better friends. I actually really liked Nathan and Peyton as friends, and I think it shows that Nathan had progressed as a person.

As the third season begins, Nathan's relationships with Lucas and Haley are rough. Nathan and Lucas continue to fight and come to blows during the Ravens season opener. The two start to mend fences when Nathan has to sit out during a game, and he gives tips to Lucas to help him win the game. Haley and Nathan also get back together after she works hard and proves to Nathan she's committed to their marriage and staying in Tree Hill. "The Wind That Blew My Heart Away" is one of my favorite Nathan and Haley episodes. During the storm the two reconnect and Nathan shows Haley the newspaper clippings he kept of her. He was hurt that she left, but he was still proud of her. I loved that they kissed in the rain!

A turning point in the show and in Nathan Scott's life was "With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls, We Slept." The school shooting. Nathan and Lucas both run into the school looking for Haley and Peyton. The two have to split up, but before they do, they have a moment. Neither can say that they love each other, but the viewers knew that was what they were thinking. Nathan finds Haley in the tutor center with the shooter, Jimmy Edwards. I loved that all Nathan wanted was to save Haley, even though it was really stupid of him to go into the school. Ultimately Nathan and Haley are both okay, but we all know how this episode ends: Dan kills Keith.

Everything changes after that episode, but Nathan and Haley's relationship is stronger than ever, and the two decide to renew their vows. The ceremony itself is beautiful, but afterwards is a disaster. Rachel steals their limo and almost runs into Nathan and Haley on the bridge. Rachel drives the car off the bridge, throwing her and Nathan's uncle Cooper into the river. Nathan jumps overboard to save his uncle's life. He risked his life to save someone else's. That's not something Nathan would have done at the beginning of the show.


This leads us to season four; the season I think Nathan's character shows the most growth. Nathan learns he was accepted to Duke University where it's always been his dream to play basketball. The same day he's set to make this announcement, Haley tells him she's pregnant. He's shocked and confused about what to do, but at the press conference he announces he has to think about what he's going to do. He has to think about his wife and his baby.

In this season Nathan has a slight set back. He needs desperately needs money, and when Dan refuses to help, he goes to Dante, a loan shark. Dante gives him money, and tell him all he has to do is when a basketball game by less than 10 points. Nathan reluctantly agrees thinking he'll be done with Dante, but that's not the end. Dante tells Nathan that the Ravens have to lose the state championship. Nathan plays terribly in the first half of the championship, but he realizes that he can't lose. Other people like Lucas and Skills and Whitey depend on Nathan to win the game. He asks Haley if she'll be okay if he doesn't play college basketball. She says of course. And then she tells Nathan that his son might tease him for playing like crap in the state championship.

Nathan plays like himself in the second half, and with the help of Lucas and Skills, he's able to erase the deficit and the Ravens win the state championship. I was proud of Nathan for not giving in to Dante.

"I didn't pick Nathan because he was the star of the team. I picked him because he's Dan Scott's son. But it turns out the kid actually has a soul. I never would have bet on that." - Dante


Dante then runs Haley over, but she and the baby are okay. Nathan confesses to Haley about the point shaving, and then he steps up even more by admitting what he did to Whitey and the media. He knew he would lose his scholarship to Duke, but he felt like he had to do the right thing. When the school decides that Haley cannot give a speech at graduation because of what he did, he goes to the principal and fights for her. At graduation, not only does Haley give her speech, she goes into labor. Nathan and Haley have a son: James Lucas Scott.

The end of season four sees Dan go to jail for murdering Keith, and that was hard for Nathan. Even though Dan was evil, he was still Nathan's father. Nathan is able to mend fences with his mom and he and Haley move back into her house with baby Jamie. Whitey takes a job at a small college and offers Nathan a scholarship. Lucas is also going to same school to be an assistant coach to be with Nathan and Haley. I loved the ending of season four and the high school years of One Tree Hill.

By the time season four ends, Nathan was such a good person, and I loved his character. I was sad to see the high school days end, and I was worried about what would happen. When One Tree Hill returns for season five, we've skipped ahead four years. Nathan is in a wheelchair and missed his dream of playing in the NBA. He was thrown through a window the night before the draft, and the team picked someone else. Nathan is angry and takes his anger out on Haley. She finally tells Nathan that he has a wife and a child that love him, and he better change his attitude. He stops feeling sorry for himself and becomes the husband and father that he was before the accident. He works hard and learns to walk, and ultimately plays basketball again. His road is long as he plays for several minor teams before becoming a Charlotte Bobcat. When he tells Haley he's going to play for the NBA, she is so happy and proud of Nathan for achieving his dreams.

Season five and six also give viewers many Lucas and Nathan moments. They are really brothers now and Nathan helped Lucas when his marriage to Lindsey didn't happen. He was also there as Lucas married Peyton, and when Lucas was scared of losing Peyton and their daughter.

The last few seasons of One Tree Hill deal with Nathan's life after playing in the NBA. He and Haley deal with a woman telling everyone Nathan slept with her, but later learn this woman was lying. Of course she was. By season seven it was established that Nathan was a honest and loyal family man. In season eight Nathan retires from basketball as his back is getting worse. He takes the news well and is at peace with his decision. He achieved his dreams of playing in the NBA and that's more than some people get. He also is happy with his life with Haley and Jamie. I also think this shows that he was not like Dan Scott at all. Near the end of season eight, Haley and Nathan have another baby: a daughter, Lydia Bob Scott.

In the ninth and final season of One Tree Hill, Nathan is kidnapped. Basically the entire town including Haley, Chris Keller, and Dan, work together to save Nathan's life. Dan is shot saving Nathan, and he dies at the hospital. Nathan is able to forgive his father and can make peace with what happened. I'm glad that Nathan was able to make amends with Dan- he deserved that.


One Tree Hill aired its final episode on April 4, 2012. The very last episode features all of the main characters, including Nathan, watching Gavin DeGraw perform at Tric. Then they move on to Karen's Cafe where Nathan enjoys his time with his wife, his children, and their friends. The episode ends with the group going to watch Jamie play basketball at the same school that Nathan played. I loved this ending.

"It’s the oldest story in the world. One day you’re seventeen and planning for someday. And then quietly and without you ever really noticing, someday is today. And that someday is yesterday. And this is your life.” - Nathan Scott

Nathan Scott was one of the best television characters in my opinion, and I can't end this character study without mentioning James Lafferty. I couldn't imagine Nathan being played by anyone else, and James definitely did justice to the role. I don't know if there will ever be a character like Nathan or a show like One Tree Hill again, but I'm grateful that we got to enjoy this nine year journey.




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