The show documented the lives of Ryan Atwood (Ben McKenzie), Marissa Cooper (Mischa Barton), Seth Cohen (Adam Brody), Summer Roberts (Rachel Bilson) and their parents, all of whom lived in the wealthy enclave of Orange County. Ryan had his fair share of entanglements, first with Marissa and later with Taylor Townsend (Autumn Reeser), but Seth’s relationship with Summer was always No. 1 with fans.
Their onscreen romance was deepened by the fact that Bilson and Brody were dating in real life for most of the show’s run. They split in 2006, ahead of the series finale in February 2007.
Though Seth and Summer were still together after the actors portraying them broke up, the Hart of Dixie alum has said she didn’t mind working with her ex after their breakup.
“Because of what the show was and how young we all were, going through it with someone experiencing the same thing and having that kind of support was really awesome,” she told Nylon in April 2021. “I’m actually grateful that I did have it. It was definitely a unique experience and I don’t think anyone else could have really understood it had they not been in it, so for that reason, it was super helpful and supportive, and I have total gratitude for the whole experience.”
During the show’s original run from 2003 to 2007, rumors often swirled that McKenzie and Barton were dating too, but the Hills alum said they were always just friends. “It’s terribly weird, but it’s kind of amusing now that I can laugh about it,” the Starcrossed actress told Cosmopolitan in 2004. “[Once], we pretended for a whole day that I was dating Adam and Rachel was dating Ben, just throw everyone off.”
While Brody didn’t end up with his onscreen girlfriend, he eventually tied the knot with an actress from a different Josh Schwartz teen drama: Leighton Meester, who played Blair Waldorf on Gossip Girl from 2007 to 2012. The would-be crossover has always delighted fans, but the couple isn’t quite as amused by the coincidence.
“It doesn’t excite us, I think, because we’re just human beings,” the singer told E! News in June 2017. “But it’s exciting to us that it’s exciting to you.”
Keep scrolling for a look back at the O.C. cast’s dating histories: