Lucas Scott has what I believe to be a surprising character change over the course of the fan favorite series, One Tree Hill. He started out as someone I could relate to because he
was on the outside of what was considered the “popular crowd,” observing from a distance and secretly wishing to be a part of it. Ironically, his half-brother is essentially his foil, as he is right in the center of it because he’s the star basketball player for their high school’s team, the Ravens, and is dating Peyton Sawyer, who Lucas has a huge crush on.
At the start of the show Lucas was quiet, reserved, and stuck to his own thing, at least until he joined the basketball team. Once he was on the team, he was thrust into the spotlight because he was the person of interest to both his brother, Nathan, and then Peyton’s best friend Brooke Davis. Although Lucas is willing to be friendly to those in the “in crowd,” Nathan is not and most of the team members initially follow his lead because they’re afraid to do otherwise. Lucas struggles to fit in and gradually develops a positive relationship with his brother after he develops a relationship with his best friend, Haley James. In addition, he undergoes romantic complications when he can’t decide between Peyton and her best friend, Brooke, which I find to be some of the most infuriating moments of the show and within the fan base.
Creater Mark Schwahn said that in designing the show, he created Lucas as “this underdog kid from the wrong side of the tracks” who crosses over to the pretty and popular. He wanted to show what the life of such a person would be like in a basketball atmosphere. I think this is a perfect explanation of who he is as a character because prior to the pilot, Lucas is this poor outcast, but as the series goes on, the viewers kind of forget that he struggled financially, especially after he receives some support from his estranged father, Dan Scott.
Lucas had been described as “caught between being charming and a nerd, a hermit and confident.” Chad Michael Murray, the actor who portrayed him, said of the character, “He’s very introverted.” He described Lucas as an observer, someone who likes to watch people and try to figure out who they really are, as opposed to who they think they are, which was an important part of his character when the show began. When he would narrate the episodes at the beginning or end, I found it to be profound and deep, an aspect of his character I thought the show lost as he developed.
The main reason I found his character so problematic as the series progressed was because he became self-absorbed and almost didn’t care about anyone else. Examples of this can be shown through how he strung along Peyton and Brooke multiple times, and later Lindsey, then the relationship with his mother seemed to change and not for the better. The problem for me was I think his character had a lot to figure out but didn’t go about any of it in the right way.
Another problem I had with his character is that he learns that he has a serious heart condition, but keeps playing basketball anyway. I understand basketball is his passion and he loves it more than anything, but he was so willing to put his life on the line to play high school basketball. After helping his team win the state championship, Lucas suffers a heart attack and retires from the sport with much resistance.
Lucas spends the next few seasons trying to figure out his feelings for the two girls. In the end, he finally chooses Peyton over Brooke, which wasn’t a total shock, since they seemed to be star-crossed lovers almost the entire time. However, I thought it was out of character for him to have him become this guy who strung two girls along for the better part of high school out of indecisiveness. Lucas never seemed to know what he wanted until he didn’t have it and he had something else.
Lucas loved Peyton Sawyer since childhood and got to know her after she breaks up with his half brother, Nathan Scott. However, after he declares his love for her, she asks “why couldn’t you just leave it alone?” meaning she’d rather have a fling than a relationship. Lucas is heartbroken and begins to get to know Brooke Davis, whom he eventually starts seeing and loses his virginity to.
He is still with Brooke when Peyton tells him she wants to be with him, causing him to have this inner conflict over what he should do. Lucas and Peyton passionately kiss at a motel while he’s still dating Brooke and they begin a secret affair, with Brooke eventually finding out and Lucas breaking up with her. This first instance of cheating felt like a stab in the back to me in terms of Lucas’s character. Out of everyone, I didn’t expect Lucas to be the one to cheat. He seemed like this sensitive guy who understood the consequences of what would happen if he were to cheat, but he just didn’t seem to care until it blew up in his face and he was shocked.
After Brooke ending her friendship with Peyton, however, Peyton decides to end things with Lucas, putting her best friend before him. He wants to make amends with Brooke and Peyton, and once again becomes good friends with them. He does, however, kiss Brooke in the finale, and tells her he wants to be with her.
Though Lucas grows closer to Peyton, he becomes set on winning Brooke back, which I
never understood. He clearly has intense feelings for Peyton, yet here he is trying to convince himself he should be with Brooke. Brooke tells him she wants a non-exclusive relationship, so Lucas pretends to be satisfied with that and begins using Rachel Gatina to make her jealous. This petty act drives Brooke too far and she sleeps with Chris Keller, changing Lucas’ opinion of her because Chris nearly destroyed the marriage of his best friend and half-brother. He and Brooke break up for good during Haley and Nathan’s wedding, when she finds out about the kiss he shared with Peyton. Lucas intends to win Brooke back, but realizes soon that they aren’t meant to be after he’s jerked her around all this time.
Now he grows much closer to Peyton, who is in love with him, and eventually saves her from a guy who pretended to be her brother, Derek Sommers who attacks and nearly rapes her, but she is saved by Lucas and the real Derek. After Brooke tries and fails to win Lucas back, Lucas tells Peyton, “I realized tonight that it was over between me and Brooke,” to which Peyton responds, “I love you Lucas” and he replies “Oh.” Again, this seems in character for the new Lucas they made him out to be, but I still couldn’t believe they had him be so inconsiderate. After the state championship, however, Lucas realizes Peyton is the one he wants, and with Brooke’s blessing, kisses her. This part seemed more like the Lucas we were introduced to because it shows that he took Brooke’s feelings into consideration after repeatedly ignoring how his actions would affect her throughout the first couple of seasons.
It is revealed that while Peyton was in Los Angeles, Lucas came and proposed to her, but she said it was too soon, so he assumed it was over and went home. Shortly after he met Lindsey Strauss, his book editor, and started up a relationship with her. While it’s totally normal for Lucas to move on after being rejected, I couldn’t believe he broke up with her over saying no to a proposal because she wasn’t ready. She said she wanted to marry him someday, but not yet, and this infuriated him.
Fast forward three years, Peyton returns to Tree Hill, throwing Lucas and Lindsey’s relationship into disarray, after hints that Lucas still loves Peyton, such as kisses shared between the two. After they kiss though, Lucas proposes to Lindsey, much to Peyton’s heartbreak and Lindsey’s joy. These actions irked me because it solidified for me the person that Lucas had become in the later seasons. He couldn’t decide and he didn’t care who he hurt in the process and I found his lack of empathy appalling. I couldn’t believe someone who had father who treated his mother terribly and he had a close relationship with his mother would be so disrespectful to women.
At the wedding, Peyton prepares to sit through the love of her life getting married, and Lindsey realizes Lucas’ new book, The Comet, was about Peyton all along, which fans were fully aware of. This discovery ends their relationship, though the two still love each other. On a drunken rage, Lucas tells Peyton he hates her, driving her to lock herself up in her own misery. In the finale, he tells Peyton he in fact doesn’t hate her. In the last shot, we see Lucas phoning someone, either Peyton, Lindsey, or Brooke, and asking the receiving person to get married in Las Vegas. It is revealed to be Peyton, the one he phoned and proposed to. She rushes to the airport, where they are once again united for the final time.
The two reconcile and after stomach pains and a cancer scare, Peyton discovers she is pregnant with Lucas’ baby, and shares the joyous news with him. They clash over the fact that carrying the child is a danger to Peyton’s life, leading Lucas, in his fright of losing her, to tell her to give up the baby, but decide to work through the situation together. She refuses, causing a rift between the pair, ending with Lucas saying he’ll have this baby with her. Soon after their lakeside wedding, Peyton goes into labor and gives birth to a daughter named Sawyer Brooke Scott. The family then leaves town together.
This part was surprising to me because it almost confirmed how much Lucas had changed in my eyes. I feel like Lucas in season 1 never would’ve suggested Peyton have an abortion, because even when Brooke had a pregnancy “scare” in the earlier seasons, Lucas was willing to be there for her. However, this time he seemed so adamant against having their baby, although I understand his concern because it meant Peyton could die.