‘The O.C.’ Producers Express “Regret” Over Marissa Cooper Death


As The O.C. fans will recall, the death of Marissa Cooper in the Season 3 finale was deemed one of the most shocking moments in the show’s four-year history and saw lead star Mischa Barton depart the series for good. Speaking 20 years after The O.C. first premiered, executive producers Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage have expressed regret over killing Marissa off.

During an interview with Vanity Fair, the pair revealed that they should have “come up with a different solution” to write the character out of the show, but “didn’t see an alternative path at the time.” Schwartz continued: “In hindsight, there were lots of other ways we could have written the character off the show — and given Mischa the break that she needed and wanted — that still would’ve allowed for that character to return.” Speaking to the outlet, Savage recalled feeling “tremendous pressure” from the network to kill off a major character. “If we wanted a Season 4, we’d have to do something like that,” she added.

As mentioned, the character of Marissa Cooper (Barton) perished in the Season 3 finale “The Graduates” following a fatal car accident. Recalling viewers’ reactions at the time, Savage revealed that they “immediately had regret” after the episode aired. “It did not feel like that audience had been served or respected in the way that we always wanted and aimed to,” he added.

Speaking to E! Online back in 2021, Barton reflected on her character’s on-screen death, revealing that she chose to be written out of the show for good when given a choice of one day returning to the series.

“It just felt like it was the best thing for me and my health and just in terms of not really feeling protected by my cast and crew at that point,” the actor explained. “Honestly, 15 years on, I do think it’s sad that there wasn’t a better way that it could’ve been handled. But I also do really love that she had this epic death and that it ended like that because it’s memorable and it’s not just another flash in the pan.”

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