One Tree Hill TV Poster Image

One Tree Hill



Teen soap has all the questionable ingredients.
Popular with kidsParents recommend
  • Network: CW
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2003

What parents need to know

Positive messages

As is typical for primetime TV soap-style shows, the series is more about high drama between characters than it is about conveying positive messages. In the show's world, money heavily influences your station (both in school and in life), characters frequently find themselves in conflict with others, families are dysfunctional, etc.

Positive role models

Characters get caught up in all kinds of typical soap opera behavior, including lying, manipulation, cheating, etc. These themes become more pronounced in later seasons of the show as the characters age. Some of the cast members are committed parents.


Early episodes feature high school boys getting into fistfights and shoving each other on the basketball court. Later episodes feature people stalking one another, getting shot at point-blank range, and drowning. Moderate amounts of blood.


Early episodes feature main teen characters buying condoms and whipped cream. Promiscuity/reckless sexual activity is sometimes implied. Adult characters are sometimes shown in bed, and in various stages of undress.


Moderate profanity on the level of  "ass" and "bitch."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Alcoholism and drug addiction is a theme during various seasons of the show. In early seasons teens sometimes drink alcohol; drug use is a subject -- but it's not advocated (an athlete who takes amphetamines collapses, a high school girl at a college party is slipped a date rape drug, etc.).

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this teen drama features all the expected storylines of a primetime soap, including sex, divorce, death, parenthood, and murder. Watch for salty language ("bitch," "ass"), gun violence, and themes pertaining to addiction in later episodes.

What's the story?

ONE TREE HILL is a dramatic primetime soap opera featuring a premise borrowed from Dickens: Brothers who grew up separately, their father denying the existence of one, end up as stars of the same high school basketball team. Lucas (Chad Michael Murray) grew up poor, raised by a sweet but downtrodden single mother. Nathan (James Lafferty) grew up wealthy and pampered. They compete for athletic stardom, girls, and the right to wear the family name "Scott," even though they both hate their overbearing father. Caught between the two is Peyton Sawyer (Hilarie Burton), while boy-obsessed cheerleader Brooke (Sophia Bush) and Lucas' best pal Haley (Bethany Joy Lenz) also get caught up in the romantic drama. As the characters get older, they struggle with problems brought on by adulthood, and by the new love triangles that they find themselves in.

Is it any good?


The series offers a variety of dramatic plots that range from the romantic to the violent and slightly bizarre. Early episodes focus on more teen-related issues, like premarital sex and coming from broken homes, but later plots feature an older cast dealing with marriage, parenthood, and careers, as well as stalkers, murders, and other mature themes.

The grittier storylines, as well as the departure of some of the main characters in later years, may not appeal to fans of the show’s earlier seasons. But One Tree Hill still has the potential to appeal to a new generation of teens. As a result, parents may want to consider tuning in with them -- and using some of the topics for a conversation starter.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the various subjects touched on throughout the series, including sex, the emotions and responsibilities associated with being in romantic and familial relationships, forgiveness, and how much slack you should allow a person in a relationship.

  • How are TV shows able to appeal to viewers over the years? What shows, aside from this one, have remained popular after the main characters have departed?

TV details

Premiere date:September 23, 2003
Cast:Chad Michael Murray, James Lafferty, Sophia Bush
TV rating:TV-14
Available on:DVD, Streaming

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What parents and kids say

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Parent Written bylapall7 March 21, 2012

One Tree Hill = 2 Thumbs Up.

I think that One Tree Hill is an amazing show. It definitely has some inappropriate behavior in it, but it also has some very good messages for teens about life and love. I feel like you should only let your children watch this if you think they can handle it. My daughter and I watch this show together and I know that she can handle in sexual behavior. She is 17 and this show is her favorite. I have watched her fall over laughing and cry her eyes out from it. My daughter watches this show and she doesn't have sex, cuss, or drink. She is very well behaved and the behavior on this show does't influence the way she acts. Definitely know where your child is in their life before you allow them to watch this. If they are struggling with drinking, cussing, sexual behavior etc. I wouldn't condone this show for them just because it may make those things seem okay. This show's perspective on sex is "Sex is okay if you are in love." I don't believe this is true, and neither does my daughter, so whenever something of that nature happens on this show I know I don't have to worry about it influencing her. So just know your child and talk to them about what they are watching.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Adult Written byvllygrlten April 18, 2010

Life lessons are a major part of the script of each episode, well worth allowing preteens to watch

I think that sometimes people who see this will automatically assume that this is not age appropriate for young teens or preteens. However, if you really listen to the script, the show is good at saying more about the world. In particular, the opening and closing monologues/statements are really meaningful. Also the characters may deal with mature stuff, but it is time that people stop automatically deeming a show inappropriate because it has less than ideal life situations. Life is not ideal. Nothing is perfect. Teenagers have sex. Teenagers drink. It happens, it will continue to happen whether or not tv continues to portray it. The important thing is that the show handles it well. The characters do not drive, they drink responsibly. You (as much as I remember) don't see them doing out of control drunk things. As for sex, there are characters that save themselves for marriage. The show even has a group of teens called the clean teens who don't believe in sex before marriage. As for people who said it gave negative messages because of divorce, that is harsh. Divorce is very prevalent in society today. We shouldn't ignore it in the media. If anything shows like one tree hill give children somebody to relate to. It makes them realize that others out there are in their situation.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Adult Written byPanya April 9, 2008


There is no way I would let a child or impressionable teenager watch a show with this much sex and drug/alcohol abuse.