Top Ten Best Main Characters from the O.C.

A list of the most likeable/admirable characters from the Fox teen drama The O.C.
One of the main criteria I use for this list is growth. In other words, characters who have displayed significant evolution with the events that transpired throughout the series.
The other big factor is of course personality and overall likability.

The Top Ten

1 Seth Cohen

His sweaters are enough to fall in love with

Seth Cohen... If I made a list of fictional characters who most resemble myself in terms of personality, he may very well be at the top. We see Seth go from an introverted loner to a confident, passionate and caring man with the help of Ryan. His story is one of the most remarkable. If you think of Seth in the first episode, you would never imagine him standing on a coffee cart declaring his love for Summer, standing up to take the flack for Taylor during the lock-in, or giving Summer a confession of all his wrongdoings with the stipulation that if he screwed up again, she give it to his parents. And I think for him, Ryan was really more of a confidant whereas Anna is the one who helped him to be a stronger person and Peruse the girl he loves.
When Ryan left to be with Theresa and her baby, Seth was distraught and couldn't bear to live in a world without his best friend. He sacrificed everything, even his dream girl and the boat he named after her to deal with his grief. Would Seth ...more - theOpinionatedOne

2 Summer Roberts

Summer Summer Summer. I think she had the most notable change in personality overall. She started as a seemingly shallow Newpsie in the making, who loved gossip magazines, looking pretty, and watching "The Valley". Well again, because of Anna, Summer realized that she wanted something more than just a pretty boy with money, she wanted someone who she knew would care about her and love her unconditionally. She wanted Seth Cohen. And, in dealing with (or not dealing with) the death of her best friend, she found her true passion in life was to fight for environmental issues rather than be just another Newpsie with a rich husband. Summer also gives people a good look at what goes through a teenage girl's mind. All the complexities and the self-doubt and learning how to be the best she can on her own before being able to be the best girlfriend to Seth. She provided us with one of the show's most multifaceted characters. - theOpinionatedOne

3 Ryan Atwood

Well, I had to put Ryan first since the series revolves around his life. And I mean, really, is there any better example of an anti-hero in a teen drama series. The cards were stacked against him since he was born. His father went to jail for beating his mom, who in the aftermath, became a man dependent alcoholic. Strangely enough, when he and his brother are caught trying to steal a car it turned out to be the best possible thing that could happen to him because he meets Sandy. And after some time adjusting to his new life, he faces new struggles such as how to be part of a family and forming healthy relationships. Julie may be the self-proclaimed "survivor" of the series, but Ryan can't be discounted as a survivor of his own troubled upbringing. A survivor he most certainly is. - theOpinionatedOne

Ryan is such a badass!

Ryan is the best bad boy!

Ryan is the best complex character of my life!

4 Marissa Cooper

I feel like Marissa gets a lot of flack for being the clear cut centerpiece of the show's dramatic plots, but that never bothered me. After all it's supposed to be a teen drama. I always found myself routing for her when she was having issues and I mean, my God, if she didn't have the support team she did... Let's not even go there. It is a drama after all, so most of the situations she faced in the show are only semi-realistic but I really sympathize with her. I mean she was so embarrassed by the overdose which I think was a bit much but whatever. And then to move in with her father and have some semblance of stability only to be blackmailed by Caleb into moving back in with Julie and him AND have her father leave for Hawaii, that's a lot on a teenage girl. I think her shooting Trey is what needed to happen for her to snap out of her bad ways. If it weren't for Mischa Barton wanting to leave the series, I think Marissa would have stayed level headed from thereon out, although they ...more - theOpinionatedOne

I loved Marissa. I know I'm in the minority but I really do. She was funny, interesting and amazing and even though she was selfish sometimes they basically all were, let's be real here.

5 Kirsten Cohen

Kirsten was definitely an acquired taste for me. She seemed a little cold at first, but once she bonded with Ryan and saw how close he and Seth were, she grew on me a lot. Throughout the series, Kirsten was one of the most admirable characters of all. She became like a den mother to almost all of the girls in Seth and Ryan's life... Anna, Marissa, Theresa, Summer, Taylor, Lindsay (who she learned was actually her sister) and they all looked up to her as a role model.
I don't know whether it was the plan all along, I think it was but I could be wrong, but her drinking problem and intervention was one of the overall highlights of the series' plot in my opinion. I thought it was a great story and one that a lot of people can relate to. It was very well done and it really was a smart plot device to display Kirsten as more relatable and vulnerable. It also goes to show again, what a terrific mother she is since it was Seth's pleas to her that made her change her mind about rehab. - theOpinionatedOne

6 Sandy Cohen

At first, I saw Sandy Cohen as someone along the lines of Atticus Finch, and that would have been how I saw him for the whole duration of the series if not for the negligence he displayed in Season 3, while Kirsten was trying to be strong in her recovery but he was becoming absorbed in the Newport Group's dealings. I still would say that Sandy is the hero of The O.C. but he messed up his chance at receiving the Atticus Finch distinction. He is the almost quintessential perfect father, except when he became too work addicted and neglected his familial duties. But that being his one and only true failure during the series, Sandy is still a great dad and husband. I mean he let a wayward soul come and live in his home and invited anybody who was ever having a hard time to stay until they were back on their feet... Dawn, Hailey, Luke, Theresa, Marissa, Trey, Taylor, etc. He was tough but fair, kind and warm, a real role model for Seth and Ryan and a shoulder for those in need. - theOpinionatedOne

7 Julie Cooper

Julie Cooper has the most obvious and significant transformation in the whole series. I'll reflect solely on my opinion of her character evolution.

Season 1
-I hate her. I loathe her with a fiery passion. I think she is the devil incarnate. She's a money hungry, golddigging, manipulative, venomous bitch of a person who cares about nothing but herself and her lavish lifestyle. Until Ryan goes toe to toe with her, I feel like there are no redeeming qualities about Julie at all. But nonetheless she does finally show some humanity before the season ends.

Seasons 2 & 3
-Pretty much depends on which episode. I go back and forth mostly but her moments with Marissa are what stand out to me for her better side. You really see her struggling to help Marissa not go down the path she narrowly escaped herself and that's when I like Julie.

Season 4
-I'm officially on her team. It was wrong for her to send Ryan on the "murder mission" but you can still ...more - theOpinionatedOne

8 Taylor Townsend

I didn't think I'd ever come to like Taylor based on her character in season 3. I felt a little sympathetic for her after seeing her Momster, but not enough to like her. But by season 4, she changed a lot. And how about her sexcapades! That was unexpected to me! I think she gave Seth a run for his money with the neurotic personality though. And with Marissa gone, she was really a nice change of pace from the drama as well as being a great source of counseling for everybody following Marissa's death, especially Summer. If I had to pick one thing about her personality that I like the most, it would be her feisty attitude. - theOpinionatedOne

9 Luke Ward

I wish they kept Luke in the series longer, maybe not as a main cast member, but at least on a recurring basis. He really surprised me with the way he changed. He went from a preppy, womanizing, possessive ass to a genuine, kind-hearted, supportive friend who displayed immense growth and regret for the way he acted towards Ryan and Seth, and especially for cheating on Marissa. It took seeing his world shatter around him and having his "friends" abandon him to see that that's the kind of person he was. And to go on to befriend Seth and Ryan, even going as far as to give Ryan his blessing with Marissa, I really came to like him. I knew that the whole Julie thing would blow up in his face, but I think it changed him for the better anyway (and who hasn't had it hot for their friend's mom before). I was glad to see him move to Portland with his father though, especially after his reaction to finding out. And for him to welcome and support Seth when he left home was really a touching moment ...more - theOpinionatedOne

10 Anna Stern

She is the best!

She was my favorite character. I wanted her to end up with Seth. She was almost a main character, it felt like it.
In the episode where she leaves, which is 1x21, it was the first time EVER that I had cried with a T.V. show. Maybe because I was sensibilized by friend stuff in the moment, but, damn... I cried like a baby. It felt like losing someone you care about deeply.

The Contenders

11 Kaitlin Cooper

I wasn't sure how to read Kaitlin when she came back in season 3. I knew I liked her personality from the beginning, but I couldn't really tell what her motives were. When she gave Seth weed though I was like "this will be good". But seeing her sincere side come out, I knew she was a good girl. And the fact that she inherited her mother's crafty manipulative side was definitely a draw for me. She got the better side of both her parents, for the most part. She never minced words, very direct and honest, unapologetically so - theOpinionatedOne

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List Stats

100 votes
11 listings
4 years, 50 days old

Top Remixes

1. Marissa Cooper
2. Seth Cohen
3. Anna Stern
1. Marissa Cooper
2. Kaitlin Cooper
3. Seth Cohen
1. Summer Roberts
2. Seth Cohen
3. Ryan Atwood


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