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Hilarie Burton Morgan Says She and Chad Michael Murray Weren’t Asked Back for ‘OTH’ Season 7

Hilarie Burton Morgan Says She and Chad Michael Murray Werent Asked Back for OTHS eason 7
Hilarie Burton Morgan and Chad Michael Murray Getty Images (2)

Hilarie Burton Morgan is recalling how she and One Tree Hill costar Chad Michael Murray found out they weren’t returning for season 7 of the long-running series – and fans are surprised by her candid admission.

During the Sunday, May 19, episode of her “Drama Queens” podcast, Burton Morgan, 41, told cohosts and former costars Sophia Bush and Bethany Joy Lenz the story of how she and Murray, 42, allegedly weren’t asked back when the show was renewed for another season.

Noting that they were filming a flashback scene in a diner with their respective characters, Peyton Sawyer and Lucas Scott, for season 6, episode 21, Burton Morgan explained that “all of a sudden” their producer, Greg Prange, announced to everyone that the show had been picked up for a seventh season.

“Chad looks at me and he’s like, ‘Have you even gotten an offer? I was like, ‘No,’ and he’s like, ‘I haven’t gotten an offer,'” she began. “And so around us, everyone is hugging and high-fiving. I mean, it felt like balloons were dropping from the ceiling. Everybody was so f–king pumped. And he and I just kind of sat there and we knew it was coming.”

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She added, “And he and I were the highest paid actors on the show, and we knew we were on the chopping block.”

Hilarie Burton Morgan Says She and Chad Michael Murray Werent Asked Back for OTHS eason 7
One Tree Hill Cast Theo Wargo/WireImage

Later in the episode, Burton Morgan went on to tell Bush, 41, and Lenz, 43, that the decision to not have her return to the show was a blessing in disguise.

“I think this is the closure that I needed because I always knew that I was right to walk away from this situation because it was awful – and my life is awesome because of that betrayal,” she said. “I met my husband [Jeffrey Dean Morgan], I had my kids, I got to do White Collar with Willie Garson. My life is so much better because I was betrayed here. And that’s the thing that maybe I want anybody that listens to this to walk away with. It’s like the betrayal just opened the door for all the awesome s–t that I have now.”

Fans were quick to comment on Burton Morgan’s side of the story, as many followers initially thought that the Grimoire Girl author and Murray chose to leave the show on their own.

“I always thought it was her decision to leave … now I’m mad they didn’t bring Peyton back along with Lucas later on,” wrote one fan, who was referring to Murray’s one-episode return as a guest star in the ninth and final season.

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Another added, “Such a mistake to not bring back Chad and Hilarie. I was so upset and the show just felt different after they left.”

The series, created by Mark Schwahn, aired for nine seasons from 2003 to 2012. The show followed two half-brothers, Lucas Scott (Murray) and Nathan Scott (James Lafferty), as they struggled to coexist in the same town — at high school and on their basketball team.

Paul Johansson, Craig Sheffer, Moira Kelly, Antwon Tanner, Lee Norris and Barbara Alyn Woods also made up the main cast when the series debuted.

After a five-year time jump between season 4 and season 5, fans saw the former high school students navigate adulthood after returning to their (fictional) hometown of Tree Hill, North Carolina.

During an appearance on Dax Shepard‘s “Armchair Expert” podcast in 2018, Bush recalled how the the producers “made practice of taking advantage of people’s personal lives” for storylines.

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“It wasn’t OK. It was opportunistic and ugly and when you run a show, you’re like a parent, you’re supposed to protect your flock, and it was the opposite of that,” she told the Parenthood alum. “I think they kind of lived for the drama.”

Bush and the other women of OTH have previously spoken out about misconduct behind the scenes of the beloved teen drama — including harassment allegations against Schwahn. Along with many of her costars, Bush penned a letter detailing Schwahn’s misconduct in 2017. The former cast members remain vocal about the harassment allegations to this day.

“Until there’s some kind of change in our industry, I don’t know how we stop [speaking out],” Burton Morgan said in an April 2023 episode of “Drama Queens,” adding, “The only reason that we made it out is because we had each other.”

New episodes of “Drama Queens” can be streamed every Sunday.

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